Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Time in Germany

Germany is such a beautiful place, especially around the holidays.  Kyle and I have taken advantage of being in such a wonderful place this season.  Just over a week ago, we went down to Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps to relax and to get in the Christmas mood.  I can't imagine a prettier place than at the foot of the Alps during the holidays!

I found a great deal on Travelzoo for two nights at a five star hotel in Oberammergau including a three course dinner, a welcome drink, and a discount package for site seeing in the area. The offer was too good to pass up!  This was my first time staying at a five star hotel, and it was pretty awesome.  The Hotel Maximilian was simple, elegant and a great place to relax.  They knew that Gizmo was coming with us, so they had a bed and a dish set up for him.  So cute!

Our hotel

View from our room


It was a beautiful drive down to southern Germany that took just under three hours.  Oberammergau is famous for it's Passion Play presented by the towns people every ten years.  The town has been performing the play since the 1630s, when they vowed to God that if they were spared from the plague, that they would produce a play for all time about the passion of Christ.  They were spared, and have been performing the play ever since. It's such an interesting and unique part of the towns' culture.

The Passion Play Theater

We spent our afternoon and evening nosing around the quaint little town and it's Christmas market.  I love the colorful murals painted on the exteriors!  That evening we had our fantastic dinner at the hotel. We tried venison for the first time, and it was amazing!











We had pretty blue skies for our morning walk around town with Gizmo!







The next day we drove about 20 minutes south to the gorgeous town of Garmisch.  On the way we stopped at the tiny town of Ettal to check out their amazing monastery.  (The monastery is also a brewery!)  Once in Garmisch, we had a great lunch and I LOVED my salad! It had sausage and pretzel croutons...my kind of salad!  Anyway, it was really nice to walk around Garmisch and enjoy all of the decorations and its small Christmas market.  The town was just as pretty the second time around as it was last October!  Germany's tallest mountain, the Zugspitze stands above the town and is so impressive!

The little town of Ettal

The monastery in Ettal




Garmisch!




Gorgeous sunset on our drive back to Oberammergau

Our reflections in a huge brewing kettle

That evening we took advantage of our hotel's spa.  It has a series of showers and saunas that you go through to relax and detox your body.  I'm not really a sauna person...I kind of feel like I'm suffocating in them, but it was something fun and different.  One of the saunas had a temp of 90 degrees celcius, which is 194 fahrenheit.  I stayed in for 10 minutes, and Kyle stayed in the max amount of time for 15 minutes.  It felt like we were in a crock pot!  At the end, we did feel nice and relaxed, so I suppose it was worth it!

Room service after the spa!

We headed home the following day, but we made a slight detour on our way.  We had been to Neuschwanstein castle (the most famous castle in Germany) before with my sis and brother-in-law, but it had scaffolding on it, and it was raining so we didn't get any great pics of the outside.  We thought it would look beautiful in the snow, so we drove by to get some pictures.  It is definitely a breathtaking site!  Gizmo was impressed too!




Spectacular views on our way to Neuschwanstein

There it is!




We stopped on our way home in a beautiful town called Kirchheim Unter Teck for lunch.  It's a gorgeous little town, aand I was very excited to see that their Christmas market was going on!



Fast forward about five days, for our day trip to Nuremberg!  (Nürnberg auf Deutsch) This was our first time to visit the city, and we will definitely need to go back to see more of the historical sites, especially from WWII.  We visited a few of the main sites, but we spent most of our time at the world famous Christkindlmarkt, which is Germany's most well known Christmas market.  That city really knows how to do Christmas!  The entire city is decorated beautifully, and the main market is set up in the huge town square.  The square is covered with rows of vendors selling hand crafted things like nativity sets, ornaments, toys, lace, scarves, and Nuremberg's specialty, prune people!  There are also a lot of tasty treats like pretzels, lebkuchen (like gingerbread), chocolate and Glühwein.  It's a treat for all senses!  We had such a wonderful time!




A view over the market




Heading up to the castle for a good view over the city

View from the top




Prune people



Looking pretty at dusk with the lights turning on



Germany is such a beautiful place, especially around the holidays.  We're so excited for my cousin Erin and her boyfriend John to spend Christmas with us here!  It will be a very memorable Christmas!  Frohe Weihnachten!