The Witch of Oberammergau

At the foothills of the Bavarian Alps we were in a rush to make it to Oberammergau. Stranded in a dark pine forest on a winding metal road and fords, we pondered laying breadcrumbs so not to be lost.


When we finally made it to a sealed road at Saulgrub, it became a race against the fading light to get to the campground. We were not normally in such a haste, but planned to leave our bikes the following day to do some tourist sightseeing.


Arriving after 8pm, we came across a very quiet camp site. Only one other tent and a collection of campervans. There was no-one at reception, so we set our tent and went to have a shower. To our surprise, this place needed a fob-key. Not only for showers, but to use the restrooms as well. Some German campsites were very untrusting of their campers, particularly those that arrived in the night.

We should have known that beady eyes were watching us.

Waking in the morning, the weather had turned for the worst. Getting up in the night to use the toilet in the wet, made worse by having to find a bush (not having a fob-key). As we cooked our porridge a bony woman peered over the very bush we used last night.

“Ahhh, Hallo. I saw you. You must check-in” she said. Her lipstick curled in a snarl; a fuchsia pink, like her poncho. Begrudgingly, we both followed her to the reception where we were rewarded with a key in exchange for a bond. Tamson was taken to the warming room where she was shown the racks to put our wet clothes and the child-sized oven she had roasting in the corner.

“If you want to stay another night, you can have the dorm accommodation. Only an extra 5 euros” she gleefully suggested.

We mentioned we planned to do a few sights and we would be heading out in the afternoon. Walking to the bus depot, we saw the sights of Oberammergau, with walls painted with scenes of the Brothers Grimm tales. The Town Musicians of Bremen, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood we picked easily. A few others had us stumped.


Taking the bus to Linderhof Palace, we marveled at the opulence of King Ludwig gone “mad”, before walking through ancient forest and back by noon to our campsite.


While I finished packing the bikes and filled the waterbottles, Tam came running out with a worried look on her face.

“I just returned the fob and she says we have to pay for two nights accommodation!”

What? We had barely stayed a full day? Apparently the fine print (in German) read that we had to check out at 11am. Check-out? We had a small patch of grass in a large picnic area! You could have fitted another 30 there! She apparently waved her crooked witch finger at Tam rasping; “I saw you come in. I wrote it in this book. See! Here! 8:23pm!”

I could see the internal dilemma Tam was having in weighing up the situation. The witch had taken Tamsons’ personal details and the only money she had was for our first night stay. Lucky Tam didn’t take in the wallet. “Shall we just go?” Tam said without much more hesitation. Packed. Ready. “Let’s go!”.

Tearing off down the driveway we happened to catch the interest of one of the residents. A small dog with a booming bark and teeth like razor blades came lashing out, alerting everyone to our flight. I managed to swerve, but Tam wasn’t so lucky. The dog delaying her long enough to hear the shriek of the witch behind her. With fiery embers in the witches eyes she raised her fist and glided back into the reception, no doubt to summon her army of flying monkeys. We were long gone by now, not looking back down the series of turns we took to throw her off our course.

Settling in to camp, the sky glowed a crimson red. Maybe the witch was still hot in pursuit. Maybe she would find us in the night. But alas, for now, we were safe from the Witch of Oberammergau.


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