Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Michael Jackson Craze...

Michael Jackson might be loved more so by Europeans than Americans. People are crazy about him here. My opinion was finalized when I saw the following tribute last week. The hotel bellman said that the shine to MJ has been their ever since his death. It is at the foot of a well know composure that has no relation to MJ. Apparently in the hotel right in front, he had made some wave to the people in the park from his balcony. I saw look a-likes and women coming every night to light candles. Their were fresh flowers and handwritten notes and drawings too. I couldn't believe it...

These pics were taken the first day in Munich which was a few days before his death anniversary. On the actually anniversary, the day we left, there were huge wreaths of fresh roses. It was crazy. I saw that in the morning. I bet there was a gathering that night.

The shrine above was in Munich. But does the hotel below look familiar? The famous shot of MJ dangling Blanket over the balcony in Berlin? People still point to that hotel as MJ's favorite. My goodness...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


One of their two opera houses. We didn't get a chance to go inside.

Went to a museum to see Rueben's, Rembrant's, and a Leonardo D'Vinci. And I saw my first El Greco ever. I recognized it from afar and couldn't believe it. I didn't realize Germany even had one. I did all my elective projects on him in grade school. I have a small print in my room in fact.

Hiked to the top...

to see the city skyline from above...

Town Square of 200 year old clock of Town Hall with its figurines striking noon and turning in unison.

Saw the huge 'Walking Man' modern art...

Home of BMW manufacturing. More car talk than I knew what to do with. Andrew drove in a simulator. The sweet German lady didn't think we Americans even knew what they were.
Walked up on the most amazing street performers ever. Can't say I had ever bought a street performers CD until now

Another great market. White asparagus at the end of season...

What do you call these? I've seen them a few times over here now.

Bavarian colors--blue and white--and the maple tree thingy...

Centrally located...
(I'm a spec on the balcony)


We went to a local pub to watch the USA vs. Algeria game. I thought I was going to get trampled when we scored in the 93rd minute. I didn't think to get a pic to later but this place was going crazy. Andrew was in a mosh pit of people giving hugs and acting a fool.

Then we walked around soaking up the Germany spirit stopping in and out of cafe's to check the score. I couldn't believe the Germany pride all around the square. Had to dress the part considering...

Then we got a text about the Wimbledon match that was lasting so long. My brother played against Isner at a Southern Regionals when he was 14. That's my claim to fame...

Gladly opened these doors to Lodon-Frey...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wood Carving in Oberammergau...

Andrew and I bought our first nativity set last week. We had a special experience picking it out. As I mentioned the post below, Oberammergau is famous for their word carvers. But there are only 50 left in town with the trade. Every cutsie shop is inviting with the frescos on the outside to then find great woodcarvings inside. Andrew and I must of walked in 15+ little shops looking for a nativity set that stood out to us. We were drawn to the depiction of Mary with this one set. We met the carver who was so nice and of course I asked a thousand questions. He is a 7th generation wood carver coming from the oldest family is town. His relatives have been here since the 1500’s which goes back before the passion play. He played John the Apostle and Nicodemeus another year in the PP.

This nativity set was for sure our favorite of all we had seen. The set has a lot of pieces which gives us the flexibility to add to it in the future. He has little angels tucked in the scene too. For example, the donkey can come over Mary’s shoulder and he had an angel that fits on the donkey’s back perfectly that is leaning forward due the hush sign with her finer. It’s sweet. And Jesus is a separate piece too. In most we saw, He was attached to the manger. Simple things but after seeing many nativity sets, these things stick out to me. You can get a set ranging from an inch tall to 2 feet+. You can get them painted or not. It's was neat for me to explore.

The best part of the story is that Andrew called home to chat with his mom about her beautiful nativity set because she was here ten years ago. She highly recommended the shop she got hers from. She went to look up the name and we realized it was the exact same place. What are the odds? This shop isn't in the main city square either.

Andrew couldn't of been better about nativity hunting. We took the search very seriously as this will be the nativity we anticipate teaching to our kids about.

The name of the store is Albl-Krippe and his site is here.


I wish I new the name of this piece of art. It is a pic of a pic so not doing it justice but this is what inspired the way he made Mary as well as the others.

We went to a local wood carver's house to see the demonstration. He doesn't have a shop. He just doe work as he is commissioned to do so for people. It is a fascinating trade really. His wife does the painting. He has huge planks of wood outside under a shed that is drying out. It has to dry for almost 5 years before it can be worked with.

He is working on a crucifixion for a church in Germany.

I took a couple strokes at it. Either the wood is soft or the tool is sharp but it glided through the wood.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Passion Play in Oberammergau...

Being in Oberammergau was really special. I was familiar with the Passion Play but couldn’t being to grasp how powerful it was until we came. Not only the performance, but this town and the history behind it is something I will really cherish experiencing. Since I’m not an eloquent writer and I have a lot going through my head, I’m going to list out some highlights and some of the things I learned that stood out to me. I’ve been looking forward to jotting down these things and organizing it together…


Oberammergau is a town of about 5,000 people surrounded by mountains.

· In 1634, the people made a vow to the Lord to perform a play on the passion of Jesus’ life (ever 10 years) if He spared them from the Black Plague that had already taken a portion of their people. No one received the plague thereafter.

· You have to have been born of lived in the town at least 20 years to be in the play.

· Woodcarving is the #1 trade here in the town. There are only about 50 word carvers left in town that have learned the trade from their ancestors. It’s amazing the work they do. More love about this later…

· The city lives and dreams the PP but they are centered on the quality of their wood carvings.

· Until 1990, women who were married could not perform in the play. Women were putting off marriage so they changed that in the 90’s.

· The P.P (Passion Play) has been performed every 10 years since except on two occasions—during WWII.

· Hitler actually attended the play after being appointed and used it as propaganda. The depiction of the Jewish people in the play has since been changed since Hitler’s approval at that time.

· The Passion Play is a symbol of strength and perseverance despite wars and diseases and anti-Semitics.

· Every 10 years they perform the play 5 times a week from May 15ish to the start of October. The theater fits 4,500. The play is about 6 hours long with a 3 hour intermission.

· It can be tough and tricky to get tickets. They sell tickets in a package deal with a hotel room and dinner plans. Or to get a ticket you have to prove you plan on staying the night in at least a nearby town.

· The visually attractive Frescos make the village so charming from religious things to fairy tales with a 3-D look as opposed to 2-D.

· Some might think I’m a bit starry eyed about it because no doubt they make a ton of money on the PP but I really think the people perform as a matter of faith as opposed to a solely a money maker.

· About the actual PP… 50% of the town people are directly involved with the play. There are horses, camels, and sheep in the play too. It’s amazing how great the voices are for such amateur performers.

· The people grow their beards and hair out 1-2 years before.

· Although the entire play is in German, the biblical account is familiar to where you aren’t lost at all. And there is a book given to follow the words in English.

· This is the first year the first act was in the afternoon and the second at night. Usually it is morning and afternoon. I loved the second act being in the evening as it got dark. Although the crowd sits indoors, the stage is outdoors but with a protective overhang. The way the light shines in at night and then it gets dark just about the time Jesus is condemned and suffers in the Garden of Gethsemane.

· Every year the play is a little different—different director. This year they added static scenes in between the larger accounts. They were Old Testament accounts. White angels would come out and sing the depiction of the Old Testament set up which with portrayed with bright colored backgrounds. It was amazing. And then they would walk off and we were on to the next account of Jesus’ life.

· Although the play is 6 hours, it doesn’t seem that long at all. Each scene is amazing. From Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to the last week of Jesus’ life to the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the betrayal and arrest, mocking, scourging, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Exaltation.

· The only thing I would change is more work and emphasis on the Resurrection. At the ending, I thought ‘Is that it?” As grand as they made the crucifixion, I thought they could do the same with the Resurrection.

· - Those performing in the play do not get paid. It is volunteer.

Because the play is so long everyone goes really casual. The first act we were way to overdressed. The second act I had on leggins and a sweatshirt and we brought a cushion and a blanket to wrap up in there at our seats. We had a little light to follow the program translation too.

- e


Baden-Baden is quite the town to visit. Not so much about the history but more so about the lifestyle and beauty all around.

The rose garden was unreal. I couldn't of imagined so many roses in full bloom.


The outdoor concert hall where an orchestra plays in the afternoon free of charge. The world cup team's flags were beautiful too.

The theater...

There is a beautiful river running through the town that locals walks along. The real-estate in the area is breathtaking.

Local tennis tourni....

The casino is a must see even if you don't gamble. It is so ornate it's crazy but not in a Las Vegas way at all.

Horses roulette... really old setup not used much any more.

Black Forrest...

The Black Forrest is so neat. The trees are so tall and dense at the top making it dark below. Every once in a while we would get an opening of great scenery. It's high in the mountains too. The quaint little German towns are sparse throughout.


We brought the tripod on the walk. It straps on the back perfectly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heidelberg, Germany

This castle was a fortress in the 1200's and then in the 1500's was added on to becoming a palace. By the 1700's it was ruins because the palace could not fortify itself. In WWII, the US actually used this area as a base camp. If you look closely you'll see the statues in the wall representing members of the royal family dating back. There was another wall that was similar representing the 7 virtues. Each women represented a different virtue. I loved them. 'Charity' was holding children with a loving look. Faith had a big log it looked like that she had broken in two. Justice was carrying weights and measures. Hope had a an expression on zeal and strength. It was neat to interpret each one. That was my favorite part of this castle.
The inside of the castle is unfinished and not many original pieces.


The view to town from the ruins...