Winter Olympics and painted houses on the German Alpine Street

Flags outside Olympic Ice Sport Centre in Garmisch-Patenkirchen

Dave the motorhome is parked in a Stellplatz in Murnau am Seehausen, sort of (N47.68416 E11.19306). We’re parked up next to the fully occupied motorhome spaces. We haven’t seen anything of the town, but headed here as it’s only a Euro a night to stop, with a service point and electricity I can see why it’s full.

I was so tired this morning, I’d woken around 4am and could not get back to sleep, no reason, just wide awake. I finally drifted off and was woken when Jay got up at 8.30, I rolled back over for an extra 30 minutes lie in. We set off towards the Deustsche Alpenstraβe (German Alpine Road) that we had been following yesterday.

Turning off a main road towards the height restriction sign nudged something in my sub-conscious. The limit was 2.5m, hmm, now that sounds familiar – a quick look at the laminated piece of paper which is always on our dashboard confirmed it, Dave is 2.75m and that doesn’t include the aerial and other paraphernalia on the roof. Shouting at Jay, ‘we can’t go down here, we can’t go down here’, was to no avail as we were already on a one way slip road, so we cautiously carried on, but there was nothing low around. Huge lorries drove past in the opposite direction, well if they got through what ever it was, we’ll be able to so on we went. A few kilometres more and another height restriction sign with more information darted past before we’d had chance to try to digest or badly translate what is said. Panic was starting to set in, one more sign told us that the height limit was somewhere up ahead, and as there was only one road up ahead, it led to the Deustsche Alpenstraβe, so it was time fr a u-turn.

Our route for today, sort of!

We headed back up towards Bad Tolz where we stopped last night, I was personally gutted as along the route we were going to take were towns with names like Winkel, Fleck and Wackerberg – they would have kept me entertained for the majority of the journey, but it wasn’t to be. Back in Bad Tolz we took a nice big, wide, tall red road to the motorway and flew along it with no worries of Dave’s top being trimmed or stuck under anything. We planned to pick up the Alpenstraβe in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. As we neared the town we hit a traffic jam, we haven’t seen one of those in ages. The novelty wore off after about 30 minutes, but it gave me time to read up on the town we were heading for. As you can probably tell by the name, it was originally two towns until Chancellor Adolf decreed that they should become one in order to host the 1936 Winter Olympics. With Germany’s highest mountain sitting right next to it, it’s no surprise that it’s mainly known as a ski resort. But we parked up and had a pleasant hour or so strolling around the streets.

Charlie and Jay sitting in a garden in the main shopping area of Garmisch

Despite the best efforts of the tourist information and no doubt the Fuhrer himself, the town is still divided. Physically a train line runs straight through the two towns, but it’s not just that, there are still two Rathaus (Town Halls), two main shopping areas and a sign telling us that there are two McDonald’s in Garmisch. We walk around both main shopping areas, Garmisch is pedestrianised with souvenirs shops and old-fashioned painted houses, Partenkirchen’s is on a busy main road with more modern shops, so doesn’t have the kerb appeal of its co-joined neighbour. As we’re making our way back to Dave we pass the Ice Stadium from the IV Winter Olympics in 1936 with its flags proudly flying. The building has stood the test of time, but does look a tiny bit tired in the summer sunshine.

Flags outside Olympic Ice Sport Centre in Garmisch-Patenkirchen

We spot the huge ski jump on the other side of town, so before we get back on the Alpenstraβe we nip over there for a closer look. The original ski jump and stadium from the 1936 games were made of wood and knocked down not long after the games to make way for concrete replacements in order to hold the V Winter Olympic games in 1940, however a sign tells us that the games had to be given back after Germany started World War II. But, the stadium built for the games that never were is still there and now used for other ski jumping events which has required a bigger jump to be built. The impressive structure was finished in 2007 and a drawing of its dimensions shows it dwarfing an Airbus 360 aeroplane.

Jay in the Olympic Ski Stadium

Feeling the need to do something active after seeing all these Olympic sites and Team GB’s outstanding performance, Jay took a very quick spin on the summer bob-sled before we headed back to Dave.

Jay qualifying for the Winter Olympics bob-sled in Garmish-Partenkirchen

Checking our GPS for points of interest in the area, I was pleased to see that I hadn’t missed all the amusingly named places today. Jay has pointed out that I can’t actually mention the name on our site as may get blacklisted, so lets just say that the mountain next to us if pronounced in German would be ‘Vank’, which totally made up for missing out on Winkel!

Hmm, now what is there interesting around here?

Tempted as I was to stop at the Stellplatz next to the chairlift so I could get more photos of funny signs, I didn’t want to cough up the €16 a night, so we set off back through the town and north to Oberammergau.

Last one, I promise!

In the traffic jam earlier I’d read that Oberammergau is famous for wood carving, it’s Passion Play and Luftmalereien (paintings on building facades), so we followed the Deustsche Alpenstraβe and stopped off for a look around. The shops selling wood carvings were crammed full of every religious icon and Alpine scene you could imagine in various sizes, some painted, some bare wood. Well they have been carving stuff up here for around 500 years. They were amazingly beautiful, and also amazingly expensive – so we didn’t pick up any additions for Dave.

The last supper wood carving in Oberammergau

Stopping off at the ‘Pilatushaus’ a leaflet explained all about the Passion Play, but not why the Pilathaus is so-called (however after spotting a Nun outside it I looked a bit closer at the paintings on its front and they’re of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, so that mystery was solved). The play has going since 1634 after the councillors of the town vowed perform it if plague deaths would end. So now every 10 years the whole village gets involved to put on the play depicting the life of Jesus – women sew costumes and men grow beards! Unfortunately it isn’t taking place this year, so we made do with watching a man carving wood (I can now see why they are so expensive) and looking around the intricately painted houses in the town.

The Pilatushaus (and Nun) in Oberammergau
Wood carving in the Pilatushaus
Red Riding Hood story told on a house
Hansel and Gretel story told on a house
An entire Dan Brown novel of symbols on one house!

By now the evening storm clouds were gathering, so we set off to find a spot for the night, tired we arrived at Murnau am Seehausen to find all the motorhome spaces full, so we parked up in a normal parking bay (Dave just fits in them) and paid out Euro – we’re tucked in for the night and Jay has just rustled up a fab Goulash for tea. Our parking ticket gives us until 8am on Friday morning, so we might have a cheeky day here tomorrow and explore the town a bit.

Ju x

Bonus pics for any marketing / advertising bods out there – saw these today and they made me chuckle (click on the image for the full pic)

Cheesy advertising, but at €200 they’re a bargain
From the look on their faces it was the idea of the one in the middle!
Don’t have a clue what this is advertising, but luckily Jay didn’t spot it while driving or we might have run into someone!

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