This is just a bonus post, a compilation of some travel pictures that I thought might be interesting to share with you. As mentioned in previous post, Hubby and I are homebodies who enjoy staying at home and roam around our local neighborhood most of the time, but once a year during summer vacation, we like to experience a completely different culture and places by traveling for about fifteen days. Last summer we went to Italy, and this year we hop around several places: Bavarian Germany, Berner-Oberland Switzerland, and Salzkammergut Austria. We usually don't visit too many places, since we want our trip to be a relaxing experience, and we like to immerse ourselves and taste local life instead of just being tourists who dash in and out of a place just for a day or even just an hour - just like what some group tours do!
Here are some impressions of our first stop at a charming town in Bavaria, Germany, called Garmisch-Partenkirchen, or GaPa. It used to be two different towns, Garmisch and Partenkirchen, then in 1936 Hitler ordered the two town mayors to unite both to host Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee was going to pass over Germany as the host, because there were not enough hotel rooms in the host town, hence the unification order. Our local tour guide told us that both mayors were given only mere eight hours to do so.
GaPa is located near Munich, only 90 minutes by train that leaves every hour from the train station, so it's very easy to reach. We went there straight after landing at Munich airport from Indonesia.
Now, originally, it was Oberammergau, famous for its Passion Play and detailed mural paintings on the houses, that first attracted me to start dreaming of visiting Bavaria. During my internet research, I stumbled upon GaPa - which has similar painted architecture - , and decided that I would much prefer to stay there as a base for our Bavarian adventure because it's proximity to Munich. It turned out to be the best decision I could make about our itinerary!
GaPa is surrounded by the North Tyrol Limestone Alps, so just by being there, everywhere your head turns, you feel like being wrapped around in the beauty of the Alps that surrounds you. In the picture below you can see that even the short walk from our hotel to the city center turned out to be some sort of scenic walk, because of the Alps backdrop.
Though the Lord's creation already provides beautiful background for the place, people of GaPa still take a good care to decorating their houses and surroundings, making it even more charming and beautiful. Look at this building that housed a drugstore. It's so cute!
This blue building is a shop in the city center.
One of the many small roads behind the bustling city center's pedestrian zone. Look at the pretty murals on the walls! Most of paintings, I noticed, had either biblical themes or local folklores. The fact that I didn't hear American English (or any English whatsoever) nor Chinese nor Japanese languages in the area, made the experience strolling GaPa as a foreign traveller felt even more surreal; because then you understood that you have found a truly hidden gem. Despite its relatively close proximity to the big city of Munich, it was not yet "discovered" by the throngs of international tourist group tours and busses, I guess. In my previous travels, I always met a lot of tourists or travellers from the following countries: US, China, and Japan. There were of course, many local visitors.
Here I was wearing a traditional, handmade, Balinese batik in the shape of butterfly, with a pink tanktop underneath. I love the eyelet look detailing and the pretty pink color, and I always try to bring a batik or two when I travel abroad because I like batik and it signifies Indonesian national costume. Here's a closer look of the butterfly top, which also worn in this post, as you can click here.
But even if I was charmed then, I was not prepared for the quaint beauty that was waiting at the other side of the town, just a little walk further up. Across this rustic-looking timber bridge, lies above the clear water river of GaPa, awaits a place so quaint to me, I never thought it really exists.
Frühlingstraße. An old neightborhood in Garmisch part of GaPa, where right before my eyes, the childhood storybooks that I used to read as a little girl suddenly come to life.
There is nothing pretentious or touristy about this quiet neighborhood. The houses are charming and quaint because they are charming and quaint, not to attract tourists. Strolling the neighborhood with my husband, we fell into a comfortable silence as we passed one neat house over another, each one feels prettier than the last. There were no one else but us on that Saturday evening. It was so quiet you didn't hear anything except the birds, and some noises from inside the houses we passed through. Once we met two children playing outside until their mother called out for them to come inside (it was dinner time). A German old lady sat on the bench at her front porch, smiling and nodding at us. Another lady was watering the flower pots on the balcony.
Pictures don't do justice to describe the calm, demure beauty of Frühlingstraße. It feels surreal, yet genuine to walk there hand in hand with my husband. At the same time, it felt somehow, oddly, familiar. Even before I learned how to read, I had storybooks with illustrations of houses and neighborhood exactly like this place. With wooden shutters and colorful flowers on the windowsills and balconies, fireplace logs stacked against the front wall, old ladies and children and manicured country gardens and fresh air. I can't describe it in proper wording, but I felt transported back to my childhood where everything was pretty, enthralling, and innocent.
I felt such peace and calmness and joy and gratitude in my heart, that unconciously I began to hum the song "The Lord's Prayer" and Hubby followed suit. We sat on a bench in front of someone's porch and just sang quietly, letting the magic of wonders of the place engulfed us, enjoying the view of the city and the Alps spread in front of us, surrendering to the moment and the place and the present. We thought of nothing, spoke nothing, just embracing the experience of being there.
Then we walked again and I saw my favorite spot in all of GaPa, or in all of our entire trip.
Standing there near the low wooden fence, seeing the tiny wooden cabin in the middle of the lush green garden with colorful, pretty flowers, I had an odd feeling of de ja vu that I was once there before.
Then I remembered.
When I was little, I think about three years old, I had this book.
It was packed full with beautiful tales and stories with colorful illustrations of children, fairies, animals, landscapes, houses, and other things that stretched my childhood imagination. And many of those, I could find here in Frühlingstraße. There was one story, titled "Our Field", about three children who found a "secret" field that was actually a private field 'hidden' and surrounded by many trees and bushes, where they spent all summer playing and having fun. The story said that to enter the field, one has to pass through a low wooden fence, walk accross a green meadow with lots of flowers, and the illlustration is exactly like this property and this garden!
OK, perhaps my memory was wrong. It was not exactly like this, but if I must imagine what the "secret field" or "secret garden" of that story looks like, it would be something like this. The first time I saw it, I said to Hubby, "I simply can't believe my eyes. The secret garden and all those stories I read as a child, they were all real!"
Have you ever had an experience like that? When it felt at the same time surreal yet familiar?
Enough walking in the childhood memory lane! Here's a typical window of houses here in Frühlingstraße. As you can see, it has wooden shutters, lacy curtains, flowers on the window sill, and fireplace logs stacked against the wall underneath the window. Our local tour guide explained that the logs must be air-dried for three years to be completely dry before usage, if not it will cause smoky fireplace! Note, we didn't use local tour guide all the time, mostly we roamed on our own, but we did hire a private tour guide when we needed to go to different towns for castle tours.
Also, don't be deceived by the country, rustic, quaint look of the houses here. German engineering I think is considered to be one of the best in the world, and I was quite amazed by how they installed their windows, which can be opened to multiple directions. Another thing that amazed us is how environment concious the people of Bavaria are. Many houses and farms that we saw use solar panel to generate electricity, many households grow their own vegetable gardens, and we couldn't see any littering on the streets nor public places. Everywhere we saw, it was spick and span clean and beautified with plants and flowers and everything was arranged with the utmost attention to details to make the dwellings as delightful on the eye as possible.
GaPa is a very pleasant, relaxing town. No wonder that the US Army has a small military base there where they sent soldierss who have been going through war to the place to recover. I imagine it's not just recovery for the physical wounds! The calmness and relaxed atmosphere of this town, as well as its bountiful natural beauty, must helps to heal non-physical wounds, as well.
It was a perfect choice for us to unwind after busy months of work and long flight from Indonesia. Here are some scenes from our three-day stay in this charming town.
Waking up to the view of Alps is really something! This is the backyard of our hotel.
When we had breakfast el fresco, these little cute guests made a "visit" to our table, begging for food.
Our tour guide mentioned that GaPa is a Catholic region, meaning about 60% of the residents are Catholics. Thus, we had no difficulty finding a Catholic Church for Sunday mass during our stay. We couldn't understand a single word the Pastor said, it was all in German, but fortunately, Catholic mass all over the world basically follow the exact same routine, so we could follow the service easily enough.
We went to St. Martin Church in the city center. We are very pleased to see that many people here still wear their traditional Bavarian clothing with pride. It's a sight to behold, because Bavarian clothings are very pretty and colorful. You can see in this picture here of the outside of the Church. I also wore Indonesian traditional batik dress to attend the service.
Here's the batik dress. This picture also shown how meticulous GaPa people are in decorating and beautifying their surroundings!
This is a closer look of the batik pattern, as worn on this post (click here).
I really love the interior of the Churches here in Bavaria. To my untrained eyes, they look just similar and just as opulent and intricate as those that I saw in Italy, but with brighter color palette. In Italy, churches have mosaic windows, which filter the sunlight into beautiful multicolor shades; but at the same time, they block a lot of the natural lights and make the inside of the church quite dark. In Bavaria, they used a lot of white paints and leave the windows bare with transparent glass that allows natural lights to come in. It's more of a personal taste, but I prefer the Bavarian bright, white and gold palette better. Eventhough I must say that all churches that I had seen in Europe are just magnificent, inside and outside. And both Hubby and I are so thankful to have an opportunity to worship eventhough we were in a faraway land.
I'm linking up to these wonderful Ladies: