Wed-Thurs May 26/27, 2010

We crossed the Austrian/German border yesterday and drove through Bavaria (Bayern). Germany’s largest state is well endowed with natural riches: its snowy peaks, rushing streams and velvety forests stirred our romantic hearts … and it’s yummy tortes (cakes) filled our rumbling tummies. The cake shown here was eaten at our lunch-stop by two ladies who shall remain nameless (beginning with Heather and Vivien).

We had time en route for a visit to the magnificent Lindenhof Castle (built high in the alps by crazy King Ludwig). But at the end of our visit it suddenly bucketed down, and our entire Mad Midlife group got soaked to the skin – with the result that we arrived at the village of Oberammergau looking like drowned rats!

Not that it mattered. Because (i) we quickly dried out in our rooms at the Wittlesbach Hotel (smack in the heart of town) … and (ii) we were quickly captivated by beautiful, magical Oberammergau. Located about 100kms southwest of Munich, this small alpine centre is surrounded by majestic mountains – and is famous for its peace and quiet, its gorgeous scenery, its wood carvings and frescos, and (of course) its once-a-decade Passion Play.

We had time (last night and this morning) for a wander-around, a photo-feast, and some shop-shop-shopping. Then, after lunch, we claimed our first-class seats in front of the giant outdoor stage where some 2400 locals re-enact the dramatic final days in the life of Christ – before a packed-out audience of 4700. The dialogue was in German (not that we had any difficulty following the story, with the aid of our “textbooks”). And the play lasted throughout the afternoon and evening – with a nice, long dinner break.

The Passion Play (in case you don’t know) dates back to the year 1633, during the Thirty Years War. After months of suffering and death due to the Plague, the villagers made a vow to God that, if they were spared, then every 10th year thereafter they would perform a play about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. There were no more lives lost to the Plague … the villagers have kept their word for more than 375 years … and the 2010 Play will continue to be performed five-times-weekly through until October – with over 500,000 visitors expected from all around the world.

You’ve gotta believe me when I tell you that our attendance at the Passion Play today was a moving, inspiring, unforgettable TREAT! And we’ll all be talking about it for a long time to come …

Oh, one final excitement: a couple of us on the Mad Midlife team were interviewed tonight by BBC radio for a backgrounder they’re doing on the Play. So waddaya know about THAT?

TOMORROW: With just a couple more days to go, we’ve got one more long drive through Germany – to Frankfurt, via Munich and Heidelberg … so don’t hang up yet! 

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.P.S. If you want to leave one lucky-last message for someone in the Oberammergau Gang, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) beside the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And if you want a better look at our map and photos, just click on them and they’ll enlarge –  magic!