From Oberammergau, where we had stayed for a week, we expected to have a leisurely one hour drive from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district to our next destination in the Algäu, to the town of Pfronten. We know from past experience that many interesting diversions lay in wait every few miles or so along the way.

First, we had to traverse a very imposing bridge that would make life difficult if it were not there. Then not far down the road, we found a sign pointing to the outstanding Rococo Wies pilgramige church, Wieskirche. We couldn’t resist stopping there to renew old memories.

The bridge from 1929 that made our route possible.

The bridge built in 1929 that made our route possible.

Die Wies

Wieskirche

1740s design by the famous Dominikus Zimmermann

1740s interior design by the famous architect Dominikus Zimmermann

Traditional frescoes and stucco  work

Traditional frescoes and stucco work around the organ

We proceeded down the road a piece until we found another sign pointing to a Christmas market in the village of Steingaden, population 2700. We found parking near the tithing barn and went inside, turning off the road at the Maypole.

Many towns have Maypoles, depicting trades to be found there.

Many towns have Maypoles, depicting trades to be found there.

Tithing barn

Tithing barn

Artisan booths inside the barn, quite festive

Artisan booths inside the barn, quite festive

Locals enjoying sausages with melted Raclette cheese.

Locals enjoying sausages with melted Raclette cheese, and mugs of hot mulled wine.

Across the street in the massive, beautiful building was a display of traditionally decorated trees. We took a good look and enjoyed coffee and homemade pastries there while an ensemble played seasonal music on traditional instruments. For sure, we were having a good time.

Decoration in the administration building hallway.

Decoration in the administration building hallway.

One of the decorated trees

One of the decorated trees

A music group entertained us.

A music group entertained us.

We thought this was it and were about to go to our car when we saw action across the highway in the main part of town, as it turned out. Santa was about to deliver treats to all the good boys and girls of the town.

Santa comes on a horse drawn wagon.

Santa comes on a horse drawn wagon.

Santa (actually St. Nicholas) doles out treats while the youth band plays for the crowds.

St. Nick is busy for quite a while.

St. Nick is busy for quite a while.

St. Nicholas, or Weihnachtsmann, in parts of Germany has a scary assistant named Krampus who accompanies him. Here he is with the dark locks.

Krampus, or Knecht Ruprecht is not really a bad guy, but a bit scary.

Krampus, or Knecht Ruprecht is not really a bad guy, but a bit scary.

Youth band

Youth band

Brass section

Brass section

Wandering around amongst the town folk, I couldn’t resist capturing some interesting characters and winter wear.

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Now we must speed along to Pfronten because our hostess is expecting us to arrive before dark.

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