Saturday, 21 January 2012

surviving the plague with a Schäfflertanz

Der Schäfflertanz (Cooper's Dance) commemorated on Munich's Neues Rathaus

If you've ever been to Munich, the capital of Bavaria, there's almost no way you missed going to the Marienplatz. Here's how Wikipedia describes it in Architecture of Munich

‘At the center of the city is the Marienplatz - a large open square named after the Mariensäule, a Marian column in its centre - with the Old and the New Town Hall. Its tower contains the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, an ornate clock with almost life-sized moving figures that show scenes from a medieval jousting tournament as well as a performance of the famous "Schäfflertanz" (roughly translated "Barrel-makers' dance". The "Schäffler" supposedly were the first to dance in the streets after the plague ended, thus encouraging the people to do so themselves).’

Which introduces our topic quite nicely. If you've been to the Marienplatz and looked up at the tower and seen the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, you might not have realised that this dance is sometimes reenacted with traditionally-clad dancers. Even if you live in Munich, you might miss it. That's because the live version only happens every seven years.

Earlier in the week, I went to see the Schäfflertanz where I thought it was supposed to take place, but I got the days mixed up. Figured I'd missed my chance, and would have to wait another seven years. Too bad, right? Not so fast.

Out of the blue, a friend invited me to come watch them dance at a village (Feldkirchen) near the city. I jumped at the chance, and here are my photos:

First the band arrives. You can hear the drumming from far away as they make their way through the snowy streets. You can see glimpses of red behind the band. Those are the dancers who're about to perform the Schäfflertanz.

There they are. Can you see how happy they look? It really is an honour to be able to do this traditional dance. This group of dancers comes from neighbouring village called Kirchheim.

And here they are processing...I assure you I wasn't trying to get the guy in front when his eyes were closed.

And here they begin the Schäfflertanz in earnest. There's a lot of complicated steps and spinning and twisting. They've most certainly practised carefully. The precision is admirable.

While they're dancing and the band is playing, there are two clowns going round painting some of the spectators' noses red.

Before I went to see this, one of my Bavarian friends assured me that getting one's nose painted red would bring good luck. Doesn't sound bad, does it? Your blogger with the reddest of noses.

This dancer praised our host, and said a few ceremonial things. Every official German gathering has this sort of speech. He did well, but I was curious what came next.

Then this guy told a moderately filthy joke, but the punch line was in indecipherable Bairisch (Bavarian), so I could only guess what it was. The rest of the joke was funny I guess...but I do wonder what made all the others laugh.

Then the dancers line up and march back from whence they came. And the band plays on...

Best of all? I remember my other camera (that takes decent video) in the last moment, and am able to shoot this little video: 

Now that you hear the music with the video, you can scroll back through the photos above while listening. The band plays the same tune the entire time.

So there you have it. Am pleased I needn't wait another seven years to see the Schäfflertanz. Oh, remember the photo back at the very beginning? I panned out a bit more to get this shot:

The green dragon crawling up from below is meant to symbolise the plague. Remember? The one we've recently survived. That was a relief, wasn't it?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

under the gaze of Karwendel in Mittenwald

Mittenwald from above with Karwendel in the background.  This is a beautiful village just north of the Austrian border.  Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Mittenwald.

The area was not only historically important as a trading route, but fiddlers around the world know Mittenwald as a place where they make excellent string instruments.

If you look in the lower right-hand corner of the photo, you can see a relief of just such a fiddle.  They've been doing this a while.

I also like the owl with the book in the lower left-hand corner.  Wisdom and all that.

Here's a nicer photo of Karwendel.  The mountain looks down on all that happens here.  The motto on the website of the village is 'Urlaubstraum unterm Karwendel' (Holiday Dream under Karwendel).

Here are two signs that mean exactly the some thing.  The Bavarian one (with the blue and white striped pole) says 'national border', while the Austrian one (in red and white) is a bit more ominous with its 'pay attention: national border' warning.  It's possible the Austrians know something the rest of us don't.

This has little to do with the village of Mittenwald, but it was such a nice waterfall I had to include it.

There are so many of these beautiful balconies with beautiful flower arrangements.  I could fill entire blogposts with just photos of them.  But that'd get a little boring after a while. Instead, I'll include one or two when appropriate.

And here's a statue celebrating the village's above-mentioned history of instrument manufacture.  Quite a nice memory, eh?  The reflection on the neck impressed me especially.

Roman Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul

And here's one last photo of a beautiful couple of balconies, a maypole on the right and Karwendel looking down on everything.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

timeless in Bayrischzell

This is one of the places in Upper Bavaria that I most like to go. It's called Bayrischzell, and is just north of the Austrian border. It's an ideal destination for both skiing in winter and hiking and parasailing in every other season. The church is a focal point of the little village and a very popular place for marriages.

The interior of the church is very baroque. Not my favourite style, but beautiful nonetheless.

The Fresco is the best part of the church's interior. Beautiful, eh?

It's not fog. We're at a high enough altitude that these are low-flying clouds.

There's been a lot of rain during this trip, but one of the advantages was this very clear rainbow after a particularly rainy day.

According to the sign, this is the Petershof Weinstüberl (wine bar), but I think it's simply a private residence now.

There are countless waterfalls here, but this is the one you almost have to pass going up Wendelstein.

Wendelstein has a weather station, a restaurant and it's own little church. This mountain looks down on most everything happening in the little village.

This was the Blaskapelle leading the parade through town on Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi). Bavarians have more holidays than any other Federal State in Germany. For most city folk that means having a lie-in and enjoying the day off. For small towns, the community often spends the holiday in church and in communal celebration.

The town's dignitaries and the police

The ladies in their Dirndl (some really don't look happy at all).

And the gents in their traditional Jackets and Lederhosen.

This is the Schützenverein, which is a very important part of the social fabric of aGerman town. Rather than me go on and on about it, here's what Wikipedia has to say.

The Blaskapelle playing at the end of the parade, before they can go inside and have a well-earned Bier.

And here's a shot of the little village from above:

The church is in the foreground a bit left of centre, the pool is over on the right, and the train station (and tracks) are up above on the way out of town.

And finally : taking us back to Munich is the Bayerische Oberlandbahn (the BOB).

If you'd like to know more about Bayrischzell, here's the information on Wikipedia: Bayrischzell (in German).

Monday, 30 May 2011

nude sunbathing in the cemetery

The naked sunbathers season is upon us again, and I always smile at how taken aback some of the tourists are. A friend of mine who used to live in Munich always reminds me of the nude sunbathers he saw in one of the cemeteries here.

I've never seen that, but I can certainly imagine it happening. Here's an article I found on the English page of Der Spiegel:

Munich Park Crowd Lead to Cemetery Play

I could pontificate on all of this, but I'll let the article speak for itself.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Goodbye Bavaria

This is probably the photo I liked most of all from Michael's visit, so I decided to revisit it in the final blogpost. After this one, I'll be going back to my dry, unread travel blog talking about the minutiae of living in Bavaria. You can hardly wait, can't you? Ella and Louis took to Michael like he was one of the pack. He's always had a way with dogs, and this was no exception.

Here's Michael in front of the Mariensäule. He saw copies of the mythical beasts that you find at the base of the column in the München Stadtmuseum and was thrilled to see the originals here.

His last full day here, we finally went down to the Marienplatz and watched/listened to the Glockenspiel go off. Here's a Youtube video, so you can feel like you're there: with us at the Glockenspiel

The photo without the flash made the train station brighter, but this was a nicer photo of Michael. Here he is about to board the Lufthansa Bus, which'll take him back to the airport. #brotherstrip was an undisputed success, but he at this point he misses his family monumentally. Let's not make it another 37 years till you come back again, yeah?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Going to Karneval!

We took the opportunity of Michael's visit to go to Cologne for the Carnival, or as they write it Karneval. Normally, this blog is all about Bavaria, but this was an understandable exception.

So here we are waiting for the Geisterzug (ghost parade). The way it was explained to me was that the big parade on Rosenmontag was cancelled in 1991 because of the first Gulf War. The people were so upset by this that they had an impromptu parade dressed as zombies and ghosts. Since then, it's become a part of the week's festivities, and we luckily got there just in time to watch it.

On the way home on the first night, we found drummers in the underground. You can see Michael dancing in the hamburger hat behind the others.

The best photo of the Cathedral had Michael in front of it. Nice, eh? We really were fortunate with the sunshine while we were in Cologne.

Had to show this, because I love the perspective of the clowns both in the foreground and the background. These guys had to walk so many hours in these cooking costumes. Certainly working for a higher cause.

This sad clown was included, because he so seriously wasn't feeling it this day. Must've been too many Kölsch beers the night before. Or that morning.

Really not sure what this is all about, but the German talks about a duet. So it's papier-mâché French and German sausage rolling on the ground with one another, and I assume it's symbolic for cultural understanding. We saw some odd things during Carnival, but this might've won the weirdness contest.

Michael loves hippos, so here he is in front a hippo float. You should've seen his smile when this one came round the corner.

Took quite a few photos of the exterior of the cathedral, but this one from inside was the one I liked the most. We learned plenty about the history of the site and the development from a relatively simple church to one of the most famous structure's in the world. Here's some information if you're interested: Cologne Cathedral.

Michael with the bells of the Cologne Catherdral. There were cards that we could've purchased that proved we made it this far, but this photo seems to have done the same thing. We were there. #Winning.

After all of the faux hedonism over the weekend, it was nice to see a statue of Pan. This was my favourite photo of the trip.