Mittenwald was probably the town that I was most excited about on this trip. The quaint little town at the very base of the Alps with the beautifully decorated houses was my biggest draw apart from the Grossglockner. And did it live up to the expectations? Yes. Much more than, in fact.
The drive to Mittenwald from Oberammergau was past stunningly beautiful scenery. Lush green fields and tall conifers lined the roads.
As we were at the base of the Alps, we naturally drove through quite a few tunnels, structures I love to take pictures of.
One can’t help but gasp when this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Approaching Mittenwald, we drove over a small hill as we drew closer to the Alps. The hubby, now desperate for rest, drove at full speed through the curves. As we drove into Mittenwald, we missed nearly all the routes to get to our apartment. Incidentally, this was the only apartment during our stay (much to my chagrin). I had thought that vegetarian food would be really tough to get in this tiny quintessentially German town, which was the main reason for booking an apartment, but i had underestimated Mittenwald and the capacity of my child to eat pizza. We finally reached the corner of the street our apartment was on, and the hubby stared in awe at the huge snow-capped mountain just behind.
“I could get used to this view,” I said as we trudged our bags up the staircase into our apartment and flung open the door to the balcony to look onto the mountains and instead looked straight into the town cemetery. “No way!” exclaimed the kid.
There went my dreams of having tea on the balcony. The new plan was to keep windows, doors and curtains boarded tightly shut! The apartment was lovely with a hall that doubled up as a bedroom, another small room and a well stocked kitchenette.
Food was now a priority and we set off promptly towards the town where we had passed an Italian restaurant on our drive in. Sadly, it was closed, so we walked deeper into the town center, stunned by the gorgeously painted houses around us.
It is all too easy to forget food when every turn you make springs up a prettier sight than the last one.
And where the Karwendel mountain range comes as the backdrop to charming houses.
We must have stopped at least 20 times on the short 10 minute walk till the town center. The pretty little houses with paintings on their walls charmed us no end. They weren’t as ostentatious as in Oberammergau; they were just right. I loved them and was glad that I chose to stay in Mittenwald instead of Oberammergau. We turned into the main street in the town center and were even more thrilled.
While the camera growled for attention, the child growled for food. We ducked into a “doner” shop and had a superdelicious lunch of falafel sandwich, non-bland pizza and shwawarma, one of the best meals of our trip.
As we stepped out of the little shop, our eyes on the walls of the houses around, we almost fell down. There was a small open trough running through the street and many other streets in the main center. God knows why.
Laughing at the Mittenwald “gutter”, we headed back to our apartment for a bit of shut-eye (for the hubby) and many games of Uno (for the two of us). Rested enough, we headed back into the picture-perfect town in the evening. What really shocked us here was how people drove. It was a small town with narrow streets, most cobble stoned, without foot paths and people drove like they were on the Nurburgring circuit. That would be my only complaint about Mittenwald.
This time, we walked away from the center towards the train station that was flanked by the mountains. Broad roads were lined by trees and fantastic painted chalet type houses.
I didn’t know what I loved more, the paintings around the windows or those on the walls. All I know is that Mittenwald totally lived up to its reputation of being a “living picture book”, as described by Walter Goethe, the famous German author.
The train station, a simple building, had the huge Karwendel just behind. I felt I could reach out and touch the mountains in Mittenwald.
There is a cable car here too, the Karwendel car, but we chose not to take it in favour of the Zugspitze that we did the next day. So, we walked back to the town center, but not before turning back to see the trees all lit up by the blazing evening sun.
The main streets were even more charming in this light.
Turning around the end of the street, we walked onto a street with even more beautifully painted houses and hotels.
Chairs and tables were placed outside the cafes and we’d love to have stopped and sat but for the fact that we were still full from the heavy lunch.
We walked till the end and turned another corner to see yet another row of adorable houses.
And a maypole with the different occupations of the residents on it.
Returning back by a different route, we found a supermarket for groceries and a small memorial for an Olympic skiing champion who hailed from Mittenwald. What great respect to show a sportsperson! We Indians have a lot to learn.
We walked on further beyond the main street to where the houses seemed to be built on the hill just behind. Light coloured with wooden roofs and windows, they looked just as fascinating as the pastel coloured ones.
There were lots of sports and jewellery shops in this area, all with very nicely done shop windows.
As we walked ahead, we came upon a huge wooden violin. Violin making and wood carving are two of the biggest occupations in this town.
Mittenwald used to be an important town on the trade routes till the late 17th century when shipping routes took it out of the equation. About that time, Mittenwald resident Mathias Klotz learnt the fine art of violin making from Italy and returned to his home town to make outstanding violins including Mozart’s concert violin.
After this long wonderful walk, we returned to the apartment where we were too scared to sleep in the other small room that directly overlooked the cemetery and huddled close to each other and slept off. We kept the windows closed but it got too suffocating and hot at midnight so I had to get up to open the window. The eerie glow over the cemetery met my eyes and I rushed back into bed, trying not to think about ghosts, spirits and the like. Needless to say, sleep was fractured that night. However, the next morning we awoke to this beautiful view.
I wasn’t exhilarated as it was the day to go to Zugspitze and I didn’t want any clouds floating about. However, it turned out to be a great day (previous post: Germany Austria May 2018: Zugspitze, the top of Germany) and when we returned in the evening, the kid and I promptly set out to walk through this lovely town again. Alone now, and unbounded by time, we took a very leisurely stroll and enjoyed mother daughter time together.
I was surprised by the raft, but later read up that Mittenwald was used to be on the river Isar trading route from Munich, so rafting (flosserei) was hugely important in these southern Bavarian towns.
We ambled slowly towards the town center, taking this opportunity to visit the small town church, whose tower was so gorgeously painted.
The service was on, so we headed out. I don’t like gate-crashing services; I feel it’s a very personal time for the worshippers, not for visitors, so we came back later on. The streets were totally empty either because of the service or because it was May day.
It was a great opportunity to click people-free pictures of the frescoed buildings.
And notice the stunning flowers in the flower beds.
Or capture pretty flower filled window sills.
We walked back to the church once the service was over and sat for a few minutes, enjoying the frescoed ceiling and amazed by the named pews. “What would happen if these people left the town?” asked the smart kid.
We took a last stroll on the deserted streets before we headed back, taking time to pose against flower beds, colorful houses and cafes and even door knockers.
The kid was entranced by the delicate carvings on some of the houses.
The mother by the charming shop names and paintings.
Mittenwald had cast a spell on us for sure. A spell that has stayed on us since then, something that’s tough to break. I fell totally in love with this simple pretty town nestled amongst the mountains, a town that belonged to Enid Blyton land, not mother Earth.
I can’t end this post without saying a huge thank you to Yogesh Shenoy for telling me about this town. I would certainly never have found it by myself, and I would have missed a masterpiece if not for him. So thanks a million Yogesh.