After the dismal rainy days that had been plaguing us for the first half of our trip, the weather finally decided to cooperate and we were gifted with blue, sunny skies for the remainder of our time in Garmisch. Imagine our surprise at discovering we were surrounded by mountains! I actually snapped the photo above of the Zugspitz as we were driving out of Garmisch, on our way back home. Just as we were leaving, we finally got the most stunning view of the week!
For our last full day in Bavaria, we decided it was time to go full tourist and take on the town of Oberammergau. Frequently dismissed as being nothing but an overrun, cheesy tourist trap, we were surprised at how delightful we found this village of woodcarvers and painted houses. We had a delicious lunch at a restaurant that could not have been more kid friendly, complete with an amazing playroom and coloring pages. It didn't hurt that the food was also epically delicious.
If you've heard of Oberammergau, it is likely because of their massively famous passion play, which has been held every 10 years since 1634. It was last performed in 2010, so we were a little late for the show, but we still had a lovely time viewing their gorgeous painted homes. These frescoes, or "Lüftlmalerei" auf Deutsch, are depictions of "traditional Bavarian themes, fairy tales, religious scenes or architectural trompe-l'œil found on many homes and buildings....its name may be derived from an Oberammergau house called Zum Lüftl, which was the home of facade painter Franz Seraph Zwinck (1748–1792)." (Danke, Wikipedia!) Zum Lüftl is pictured on the top right.
We also had a chance to roam around the Rococo church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It is another frenetic display of gilded curlicues, and had the bonus feature of the glittering fellow displayed above. Unfortunately, the only information on display was in faded German, but upon a little internet digging, I think I've identified him as Saint Amandus. And they say you can't take it with you...
Our next stop was at the Ettal Abbey, another church in the... come on, you must know what's coming... Rococo style. As well as being ridiculously ornate and pretty imposing from the road, the Ettal monks are well known for their beer, so it only made sense to pick up a sample pack.
We wrapped up the day with a quick swing through the town of Garmish-Partenkirchen itself. It wasn't much to see, but it seemed silly to be staying there and not at least check it out. We did a brief drive through the middle of town and pulled over for a stop at the parish church of St. Martin, because we just weren't Rococoed out yet.
The next day, we waved goodbye to the beautiful Zugspitz, and began our drive back home. Because no visitor should come to Germany without at least a glimpse of the much vaunted Schloss Neuschwanstein of more recent Disney princess fame, we made a detour to Fussen for a hike up to the castle. (The squat, yellow castle is Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig spent his childhood.) I had already toured the inside of Neuschwanstein a few years ago, and found the rushed 30 minute tour pretty underwhelming, so we decided that since we had the girls with us, we would just view the outside. The exterior truly is the most breathtaking part of the experience. They make it very easy to explore the grounds without buying a ticket, which I thought was quite generous.
And so, with the perfect cap to a Bavarian vacation, we headed back home and I went into recovery before leaving for Provence with my sister a week later!