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August 25-26, 2010

Wednesday August 25, 2010

              I woke at 2:55, 7:15 and 8:30; finally getting up at 9:10 and went out and did my run heading to the pier on the lake.  I got this shot of the door to our room and then the check-in desk downstairs.


            I never got the full story of the painting hanging on the wall there.  By blowing it up, you can see the words "Die Isar" which is the Isar River we saw in Munich.  I guess she (the River) is helping steer him to safety?


            I got some shots of the hotel (left) and the swimming building (right & below.)

        Another shot of the hotel and a peek inside to see what the pool looked like.


            Then I ran down by where the boats were moored; very refreshing.

            I took some shots across the lake...

...and tried to zoom in on Heereninsel, the larger island in Lake Chiemsee, where the huge palace is situated (see 2007.)  This was the best I could get with this camera.


            Here is a map of where Prien is and a photo of the little land strip sticking out into the lake which they have made a park of.


            There is a statue there of the "crazy" King Ludwig II.


            I ran by a few of the other hotels and cafes in the area.

            Prien is the port where you catch the boats that take you to the famous islands on the lake; Herreninsel and Fraueninsel.  As I got near the the dock area, I ran through the front yard of the huge and fancy Luitpold am See Hotel [Seestrasse 110, +49-805-160-9100] right near the dock.

            Right near the dock there is this large map of the lake.  Here is a BING map showing the docks and our hotel.

            Here you can see the proximity of the islands (insel) to Prien.

            This is the end of the line (left) for the little small gauge train which runs from Stock to Prien.  The train station (Chiemsee-Bahn) is on the right.

            I found some interesting perspective maps at a store during my run and took a photo of them.  The first one shows from Munich (left) to the North Sea (right.)

            This is a large map of the Chiemsee region.

            The last is a perspective of the Alps looking from Bavaria (bottom) in the north to Italy and the Adriatic Sea (top.)  You can see all the nice little lakes in southern Bavaria (below.)

            I went past the parking lot entrance to where the ships go out (the place we parked in 2007) and headed back to the hotel.  This is the size of the moss growing on the roof of our hotel.

            I decided since breakfast was mandatorily included in the hotel fee, I would head over and join them for breakfast.  We had to take this path (below left) over to the other hotel building where it is served.  It was a lovely setting and the weather was fine for sitting on the patio.

            This was the panorama view looking back at our hotel (excuse the line.)

            At 9:40, I got a table on the patio and got my breakfast.  It was the usual buffet-style breakfast and I had Petrusquelle bubbly water, coffee, a Kaiser roll, scrambled eggs with liverwurst and a sandwich of ham and cheese on dark rye bread.  It was pretty good.


            The others joined me and a got a nice seat under an umbrella; the sun was hot.


            After breakfast, I worked on the computer for a while and then walked back to the front desk at 11:20.  I got a photo of Bridgette (above right,) our very pretty receptionist and asked her to prepare our bill.  She told me I had to check out back at the other building where I had breakfast.  I went up and packed and at 12:00 checked out of the hotel which cost �120 for Marcia and I.  At 12:30 I packed the car with our bags and then gave John the new chip I got him for his phone.

            At 12:40 John and Najwa wanted to take the boat to go see Herreninsel and the palace so at 12:45 I drove Marcia and I to downtown Prien.  This was my first time driving the Mercedes.  As you pull into downtown, there is a large church complex at the intersection.  To get this photo it took four pictures PhotoStitched.

            I found a place to park and wandered around and at 1:00 found a place to have a cappuccino.  It is called Casa Kronast [Marktplatz 7, +49-80-51-663-9555.]


            I got my cappuccino and Marcia had an iced decaf coffee.  I then started working on my ESCRS meeting lectures.

            Our waitress was very nice (below left.)  There were several other places nearby.

            I took a break and took a careful look at the documentation on this first European car rental I have ever done.


            Then I looked at the envelope they gave us with this map on the back.

            Looking closer at the details, I see that they list countries where it is forbidden to drive a Mercedes in (the yellow/gray hatching.)  Looking at the map I see that Italy is marked with that hatching.

            Wow, we are back to what I noted months ago at home with the original contract.  We have a drop off in Venice, Italy but it is forbidden to drive the car in Italy.  Does this make any sense?

            While using the restroom facilities, they had all these large posters on display.  I was not sure what the art was supposed to elicit.  Below right was a metal etching.


            This must have been quite some dinner party.  There was no description of when or where it was held.

            At 2:20 Marcia went to a local Apotheke and then we got back to the car.  At 3:10 I drove us back to the hotel.  We got back and waited for John's ship to arrive.  Marcia relaxed on a bench and enjoyed the wonderful scenery.  Finally their boat came in (below right) so we headed back to the car.

            At 3:00, John and Najwa got back from boat.  As you can see, Marcia and Najwa had fun being packed in the back seat with the luggage.  Below is our Mercedes.


            We were all loaded and ready to go, so at 4:15, John drove us from Prien (A) east then south-east to Ettal (B) 77 mi (131 Km.)  We took a pitstop at 4:50 and then kept going.

            We climbed up the mountains and at 6:15 we finally pulled into the town of Ettal after a two hour drive.  You can see (left) the distance we are from Oberammergau.  "Ober" mean "Over," so obviously there is an Unterammergau (below left.)  "Unter" means "Under."  Below right, the map shows the town is really centered around the famous Kloster which you can see just to the right of the orange pin.


            The main road through the town is B23 (below left) and from the center map you can see our hotel is just across the road from the Kloster (orange roofs.)  Below right is an aerial map of the hotel property.

            John maneuvered us into a small spot in front of the hotel and we all unsqueezed ourselves from the tightly packed car.  Then we had the fun of pulling all the bags out and giving them to the bellboy.  At 6:40 we checked into the Klosterhotel Hotel Ludwig der Bayer [Kaiser Ludwig Platz 10, +49-8-822-9150.]  Pretty impressive looking place, don't you think?

            We entered the hotel and I went up to the receptionist (below) to check in.  They were ready for us and she gave me our full package of official tickets.  Note the lounge and the little bar around the corner through the central archway.

            This set of tickets is really professionally produced.  Below left are our two tickets to see the Play.  We were given Gate (Tor) N, Row (Reihe) 7 and seats 101&2.  On the right is our sheet of two tickets each for lunch and dinner as well as tickets to see the Oberammergau Museum.  They had already removed our hotel vouchers.  For the first time I discovered that the cost of the actual ticket to see the Play was �150 ($200) per person.


            They also gave us each a book (below left) for the entire dialogue of the Play; one side was in German (left) and the other side was in English (right.)  They also had programs for the Play on sale (below right) but we didn't buy one.


            She gave me our keys to our room (#218;) the cover was quite colorful.

Background: I booked all this for the four of us in consultation with John.  I first discovered you can only order tickets for the Oberammergau Passion Play through an American travel agency.  I chose Nonstop Travel [833 111 Torrance Blvd, Torrance CA, 310-324-5500]


which specializes in German-speaking countries.  Yvonne Malka (310-594-2525) was my agent and she handled it all for me.  She was wonderful and made it easy.  There are several classes of tickets and the seating at the play depends entirely on the quality of the hotel you choose (You can't buy the best tickets then sleep in a tent.)  Since this would be the only time in our lives we would ever be here, we chose to buy the best seats we could.  Then we had to choose between two grades of hotel and we chose the cheaper of the two.  That put us in Ettal rather than Oberammergau.  The package deal includes breakfast each day, dinner the night before, lunch before the play, and dinner during the intermission interval.  It also included the shuttle to and from Oberammergau, tickets to the museum and any local assistance.  Just to give you an idea, our package cost $1066 per person (for Category1a.)  Of course the next time you can go is in the year 2020!

            We got up to our room and it was a lot better than I expected.

            I took a look out the window and what a beautiful view.

            At 7:40 I picked up John at his room and we all went down to the bar in the terrace outside the hotel.  Here is their menu for drinks and food.


            The three of us enjoyed a glass of Ettaler beer and Marcia had a glass of wine.


            At 7:50 we all went inside to the restaurant at the hotel where we were to get our dinner which was included in the travel package.  We found our designated table and relaxed.  I did not have high expectations for this "free meal."

            We started with bottles of T�nissteiner water and a 2007 Wilhelm Walch S�dtirol-Alto Adige Chardonnay.  Then we were given this extremely fresh garden salad.

             We all had this wonderful Bavarian potato suppe (soup) (below left.)  The Germans really know how to cook potatoes.  This was so good, and I had two bowls.

            Marcia had the lake fish with new potatoes and spinach (above right) while I had this large plate of pork filets in pepper sauce with spaetzle (below left.)   You can see from the photo on the right how perfectly this was cooked.  It was fantastic!


             I forgot what John and Najwa had but we all finished our meal with this incredibly perfect apfelstrudle with a cream sauce.  Just look at it; it was that good.

            Our waiter was Christof and he took very good care of us.  This entire meal was included and it was excellent.  I would highly recommend it.

            After dinner, at 7:50, we all took a little walk through the town of Ettal which was not very lively.  We then went to our room and I got to bed at 10:20 PM.

            Some background on the Oberammergau Passion Play. The first one was held in 1634 to fulfill a promise the town made after praying to be saved from the Black Plague in the Middle Ages in 1633.  They continued this promise every 10 years since that time (except 1770 and 1940 by WWII.)  I first heard of it during my German classes at Catholic Central High School in Troy, NY and thought it would be interesting to go and see it some day.  That thought stuck in my mind all these years.

            All the actors in the Play must be residents of the town.  To me it is incredible that they have continued to do this for over 375 years.  The finances are becoming a problem and there is word that the Bavarian government may have to take it over to save it.  Better hurry for 2020, it may not last another 375 years.

            The play runs 5 days per week from May to October.  It is put on in two parts.  This year the first part runs from 2:30-5 PM followed by a 3 hour intermission for all to go to dinner.  The second part runs from 8-10:30 PM (theoretically.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

            I woke at 12:05, 1:15, 2:55, 5:35, 6:45, 7:35 and then was woken by Marcia at 9:30.  I got up at 9:35 and went down to the breakfast room to see what everyone was doing.


            They were enjoying breakfast so I took a look at the offerings.

            Even though it was free, I was not going to eat just prior to running.  On the back wall of the room, they had this large painting which I assumed was about King Ludwig.

            At 10:45 I went outside and found their spa room.  It was located in the building where the pool is.

            I finally found the room with the treadmill.


            I had the usual MPH/KPH conversion problems but figured it out by checking my notes I kept on this on my Palm device.

            Above is the Jacuzzi they have next to the pool.  The air conditioning wasn't very good for running in that small room so I went outside (view back at hotel below) and continued my run to their famous Kloster, which we had visited in 2007 on our Germany trip.

            The Kloster of Ettal is very historic.  Ettal Abbey was founded on April 28,  1330, by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in the Graswang valley, in fulfillment of an oath on his return from Italy, on a site of strategic importance on the primary trade route between Italy and Augsburg. The foundation legend is that Ludwig's horse genuflected three times on the site of the original church building, where a statuette of the Virgin Mary ("Frau Stifterin" or the "Ettal Madonna") of the Pisano School now stands, a gift from Ludwig to his new foundation.  This statue soon became an object of pilgrimage.  The church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.  Here are photos I found of the Kloster and the beautiful pulpit inside,

            The foundation originally consisted of a Benedictine double monastery - a community for men and another for women and also a house of the Teutonic Knights.  The original Gothic abbey church, built between 1330 and 1370, was a modest structure in comparison to the great churches of Medieval Bavaria.  The abbey suffered great damage during the Reformation at the hands of the troops of Maurice of Saxony, but survived the troubles of the Thirty Years' War (1618�1648.)  In 1744, the abbey and the abbey church were largely destroyed in a fire. The subsequent spectacular re-building in the Baroque style, with a double-shelled dome, was to the plans of Enrico Zuccalli, a Swiss-Italian architect working in Munich, who had studied with Bernini.  Remember, he built the Residenz and the Theaterinkirche.

            I wasn't able to get a photo of the splendid dome but found this one.

            The abbey was dissolved in 1803 during the secularization of church property in Bavaria.  The site was acquired in 1809 by Josef von Elbing and sold by his descendants in 1856 to Count Pappenheim.  Some small building works were completed during the 19th century, principally the renovation of the fa�ade and the twin bell towers.  In 1898, the buildings were acquired by Baron Theodor von Cramer-Klett and, in 1900, he gave it to the Benedictines of Scheyern Abbey, who re-founded the monastery here.

            Above is my shot of the front and below is the view looking back at the outside buildings while standing in front of the Kloster church.  Below I just put the two photos next to each other...

... and below is using Photostitch to join them into a panorama.

            Below is a map of the complex.  Above, the left building is #3 and the gate opening in the other building is labeled Stendort while below right is #1 on the map.  #8 is our hotel.



            Inside, the church it is quite baroque and spectacular.


            Here are shots of the statuary on the outside of the Kloster.

            Below is an example of blocking out the morning sun to get a good photo.  It was impossible until I maneuvered so the sun was just behind the steeple.


            They had these very large posters showing the family tree (Stammtafel) of the German Kaisers (below left) and of the Bavarian Wittelsbach family (below right.)  I left them large here so they are readable.  To download a full-size picture to read the details, just right click on each photo.

            Walking back to the hotel I saw these large maps of the Ettal-Graswang-Linderhof ski regions showing the ski areas and elevations of the mountains.

            A few flowers brighten up the day.


            On my way back, at 11:15, I stopped at the Sparkasse (ATM) to withdraw some �s.  John joined me and I showed him how to use the chip card.


            The Klosterbrauerei truck was making a delivery (below left) and I got a shot of a 6-bottle set of Munich Hacker-Pschorr Ocktoberfest beer.


            I got back to the hotel to change and get ready to go see the Play.

            Out my window I could hear the loud clanging of the cow bells as the herd grazed in the field abutting up against the mountains - a beautiful scene.

            I found the others and at 12:05 we caught the double-length bus across the street from the hotel to go to Oberammergau.

            There weren't a lot of people on our bus.  We arrived in the picturesque town and wandered around looking for our designated restaurant for lunch.  It really is a very cute little town.  It was late in the evening when we were here in 2007.


            I am making an another exception today and am going to eat lunch.  At 12:20 we found s'Wirthaus Restaurant [Wolfgang Ortner, Dorfstrasse 28, +49-0882-294-8770] and went inside.

            Our server was Steffi (left) and she was very sweet.  She told it us it was all self-serve and we should go up to the trays (right) and get as much of whatever we wanted.


            We took our assigned seats and relaxed.  This place was not as fancy as our hotel but it wasn't bad.

            I started with a tasty vegetable soup followed by a plate of coleslaw, corn and sliced beets.

            Then I had boiled beef with horseradish sauce, potatoes and carrots, turkey filets, rice and pasta.  It was all pretty good.  We enjoyed the company of this trio of ladies who were also seeing the Play.

            Marcia had a nice salad and then a small plate of a chicken leg and some pasta with carrots.

            Then for dessert there was a nice assortment of German cakes which I enjoyed a taste of each with a nice cappuccino.

            At 1:30 we finished up and Marcia and Najwa went shopping while John and I walked around to explore.

            We wound up doing what everyone did, looking through the Christmas shops.


            After taking pictures, I noted this big sign forbidding photography.

            Below left is the shop and then we bump into the ladies buying things.


            They certainly had a large array of things to look at.


            I had to get this shot of John in front of the Christmas tree.



            Here is artwork on one of the buildings and a map showing where the theater is.


            The Play starts at 2:30 so we started to head to the building (below) which is at the end of Theaterstra�e.  To get in we had to enter on the right side of the building and then find the correct letter door entrance.  Our's was N.

            We got inside and the place was packed (below.)  We were sitting relatively in the front (7th row) but definitely in the center.  Photography of any kind was absolutely forbidden ...

... but then I noticed this guy behind me taking pictures (above, and below left.)  I got this great shot of John and Najwa.


            From the shots below you can see how far back we were.  I would have been quite unhappy with the cheap seats way in the back (see above.)  Below left is the bare stage and on the right is the opening scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

            The following photos took a lot of Photostitching and editing of zoomed pictures.  Below is the entire empty stage.  Remember, the building holds 3000 spectators and the cast consists of over 2000 resident actors.  As you can see, the stage itself is open-air but the audience has a covered roof.

            Here is again is the opening scene in panorama.  The actor playing Jesus is on the far left (white robe.)

            This is a scene of Jesus teaching in the Temple carring the Torah.

            I didn't take pictures of every scene but I had to get the Last Supper; first the breaking of the bread (they used a very large flat loaf) ...

... and the blessing and sharing of the wine. Note the lighted Menorah on the table.

            Here is a photograph of the scene as displayed outside on a large billboard.

            Here is the scene of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

            It was right on time and at 5:00 the intermission started and we left.  We have three hours free to walk around.

            I was very thirsty so at 5:20 we stopped at Eis-Caf� Scocci [17 Dorfstra�e, +49-8-822-1614] and I drank two cokalites.  John and Najwa had some ice cream.

            At 6:05 we walked back to s'Wirtshaus and sat outside this time at their outdoor table.  John and I each enjoyed a Hacker-Pschorr Munich helles beer and the ladies each had a glass of weiss wein.


            John and I discussed some aspects of the play that bothered him and we had an animated interplay.  He felt that the Menorah on the table at the Last Supper was added only because of pressure from Jewish groups.  I felt that regardless of what the cause was, since Jesus and the Apostles were all Jewish, and it was the Passover Seder dinner, there would have had to be a Menorah on the table.  Now John is Eastern Orthodox Catholic and I am Roman Catholic.  I think I won the discussion, but I'm sure he thinks he did.

            At 6:30 we went inside to get our buffet dinner and sat outside and enjoyed it.  I had cucumber salad followed by a large plate of almost everything: pork filets with potatoes, chicken curry on rice, lachsfilet (fish,) boiled potato and cheese spaetzle (below left.)  Marcia had pork filets, chicken curry on rice, salmon, and a little cheese spaetzle (below right.)  Her plate was a little smaller than mine.

            My plate was so good it's worth a second shot.  We all had an apfel tart (right.)

            We finished up and then walked back at 8:00 to see Part 2 of the play.  I have one real complaint about the seating.  The row in front of you is so close there is barely room for your knees.  It is almost impossible to cross your legs and sitting there for 3 hours was a torture for me.  If I had long legs, I would not have been able to sit through it all.  At the end I couldn't wait to stand up and get out.

            Throughout the Play, there were times where they had to change the scenery.  They filled it in with long narration dialogue (in German) while they displayed a live still diorama of a scene from the Old Testament that tied in with the Passion.  Below is how it looked to us.

            Here is a close-up.  I did not photograph all the many others.


            Here is the scene of Jesus (red robe) before Pontius Pilate (leather suit.)

            Below are the scenes of the Crucifixion.  It was most realistic, with the soldiers raising the crosses erect using ropes which they then removed.  This is probably how it was done in Roman times.  Sorry for the blurriness.

            I don't know how the actors were able to stand it.  Crucifixion kills you, not by the nails in your wrists, but by hanging suspended by your arms which slowly wears you out trying to lift yourself to use your diaphragm to breath.  You die by asphyxiation.  The actors were breathing heavily.  Their wrists must have been attached by hidden ropes.

            Below are shots of the final scene when the actor playing Jesus just appears on stage (way in the back in upper photo) ...

... and then walks to the front (below, center) and just stands there saying nothing; a symbolic representation of the Resurrection.  The Play is now over.  Because of the lighting and magnification, the pictures are blurry.

            The whole play was very dramatic and well performed.  Remember it was all spoken in German, but most of us know the story.  You could read along with the provided book that had the dialogue in both English and German.  I grew tired of that because you'd be missing what's going on.  This second half was supposed to be 2� hours but, as the waitress warned me, it was really three.  We left there at 11:00 and my legs were finally relieved.  We then headed to the Oberammergau Museum [+49-8822-824-1500] which is all about the Passion Play.

            First we saw the Church Crib started in 1742.

            They had a series of dioramas of the Play over the centuries.

            There was a series of statues of Biblical figures protected in plastic cases.  L-R: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, David, and two women dancing with Death.


            There were many interesting pieces of art.  I can't explain the naked woman astride a tortoise.


            They had stained glass windows, a pieta, and Christ chained at the pilar.

            This wood carving of Christ was a little unusual.  Here was the view out the window from the top floor.  We're really in the mountains.

            When I go through museums, I really don't have the time and the patience to stand there reading all the text they display.  I take a photo of it and read it later at my leisure.  Here is the complete history of this Passion Play.  Just scroll down, if not interesting to you.  Here is from 1633 to 1840.


Here is from 1850 to 1970.


            Here is from 1977 to 2010.  It seems this is the first year the Play extended into the evening hours.  The Rossner Experiment was pretty controversial.

Below is the story and a picture of the first text used for the Play.

            Here are just a few examples of the costumes displayed from previous decades.

            We left and while walking by the outside of the building, they had these large posters showing some of the actors who played the various roles over the years.  Below are those that played Jesus (left) and John (right.)


            We walked back to where you catch the bus and it took us back to Ettal and we arrived at the hotel at 11:20.  I went to the desk and they gave me a letter that had been personally left at the desk for me.  I could not imagine who would have known I was here AND dropped something off.  It turns out it was from our friend Dr. Urs Vossmerba�mmer.  He was here also seeing the Play based on my previous mentioning of it and wanted to meet up with us.

            We went with John and Najwa to the neat little bar in the lobby and had a large Ettaler beer and weiss wein.  I sent a text message to Urs and we got to bed at 2 AM.

        Now on to Venezia and Paris!


KJH                                                                                                 Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #11 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD


Ettal, Germany

Sent 4/21/2011 [coincidentally, Passion Week 2011]

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