Friday, February 29, 2008

Walking Man

I’ve mentioned Walking Man before, but this is the first time showing the 17-meter high sculpture that is literally walking across Leopoldstrasse. Designed by American artist Jonathan Borofsky, Walking Man was commissioned by the Munich RE Insurance company, and is installed so customers walk through the legs of the statue when entering the building. Borofsky has done hundreds of similar “bigger than life” sculptures, including the Hammering Man series in Frankfurt and Seattle. The sculpture was made in sections in Sun Valley, California, then assembled in Munich over 5 weeks. It has a steel inner structure and a fiberglass outer shell, as well as a staircase inside the upper body. At the top is a time capsule with written statements of the workers on the sculptures, as well as the workers from Munich Re Insurance.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Fleeting Glimpse

Nestled in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood, is an Italian villa built in 1882 as a home for the renown artist – Franz von Lenbach. Today, Lenbachhaus is used as a museum and attracting many locals as it is considered one of Munich’s best hidden secrets. The villa has an amazing courtyard, including the view of this intimate unnamed statue. The museum just recently reopened after several years of reconstruction, and is the home of many new modern art exhibits from around the globe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Pulsating Translucent Shell

Considered one of the most modern stadiums in the world, the Allianz Arena premiered for the opening game of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Today it is home to FC Bayern Munich, with more than 130,000 paid ticket holders. The stadium seats 66,000 fans and the exterior provides a cascade of red, white, and blue, but at the same time provides a somewhat transparent shell. An additional unique feature is how close the fans can get to the playing pitch, as there is no track or surface between the fans and the payers. Currently, Bayern is sharing a leadership position in the league as it just advanced to the semi-finals of the DFB Cup.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Through the Open Window

This photo was taken from the sixth floor of the brand new Charles Hotel in Munich. The city has a surprisingly low capacity of hotel rooms for the size of the city, so at several times of the year all hotels are completely booked. The Charles Hotel is on the high end with a 5 star rating. Overlooking the old Botanical Gardens, you can see the domed roof of the renaissance and neo-baroque Justizpalast or Palace of Justice, which was built in 1897. It is one of the best examples of late nineteenth century German art and structure. The building was damaged in WWII and although the exterior was rebuilt, the interior never recovered its original charm. I believe the brick building is the New Palace of Justice, which was built in 1908, and you can just catch a glimpse of the Frauenkirche.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sweeping Canopies of Acrylic Glass

The Olympic park in Munich played host to the 1972 Summer Olympic games. It was the second time Germany hosted the summer Olympics (the first was 1936 in Berlin), and the intent was to change the view of Germany in the eyes of the world – to show a more optimistic Germany during the “Happy Games.” The games saw US swimmer Mark Spitz win 7 gold medals, as well as the tiny Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut win gold, and the Soviet upset of the US basketball team for the gold. However, the games will be forever remembered for the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists in an event that came to be known as the Munich Massacre.
Today, the Olympic park continues to be a sports mecca and leisurely hub for the city.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shadow Boxes

Sunset in Munich creates ominous shadows as it closes out a day where temperatures nearly reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Munich has had an uncanny amount of sun so far this year, which has really made for a mild Jan/Feb. However, perhaps these shadows cast a glimpse on what is to come as the forecast calls for grey skys through Thursday.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brilliantly Simple & Curiously Serious

That’s the description of Camper Brand’s concept “Meeting-Point Shop” in downtown Munich. The company sells shoes, but the designers wanted to create an alternative meeting point in the center of the city for their shop – leveraging the triangle shape of the Funf Hofe Building on Theatrestresse, the Bavarian flag-like Camper obstruction pattern, and the dark-earth transparent camper red. In the end, what really attracted me to this photo was seeing the three couples strolling by the windows of the “Meeting Place” concept store. Perhaps the Meeting Place concept is working.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Long Haul

No, this is not a stretched photo, but a picture of the Airbus A340-600 Super Stretch at the Munich airport. It has the capacity of a 747 but with twice the cargo capacity. With the ability to seat 419 passengers, it represents the tremendous increase in traffic through Munich. In 2007, Munich Airport increased its passengers by 3.2 million to a total of 34 million, making it the seventh busiest airport in Europe. Only Madrid grew faster in Europe. Munich set a single-day record of 122K passengers in 2007. Despite all this growth, Munich was named the best airport in Europe and the fourth best in the world, after Asian hubs in Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore. The infrastructure at the airport – including flights, trains, autos, buses, retail, services, conferencing facilities, etc – is larger than most surrounding cities.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Red Skys At Night…

Not exactly “Sailor’s Delight” from inland Munich, but the city at the base of the alps has experienced a seemingly high number of sunny, clear (albeit cold) days so far this year. This photo captures the last glimpse of that sun and was taken at the outdoor skating rink in the Bogenhausen neighborhood. The rink is seasonal, as they cover one of the many large swimming pools on PrinzregentenStrasse to make the skating surface. This rinks and pools are one of the many managed by SWM, the city utility company. The SWM facilities are quite amazing and represent true community centers, often with multiple pools, a fitness and wellness center.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lowenbrau Keller

The Lowenbrau Keller is a bit of history for Munich, as one of its premier beer halls. Making beers since 1861, and opening the Keller in 1883, this Munich landmark still delights the visitors and locals alike. Despite being destroyed in WWII, the building was reconstructed in its original form at the intersections of Nymphenburg and Dachau Strasse. Filled with individual halls which can be rented out, the Keller now serves a broad selection of beers those from Franziskaner, Spaten, Stiegel (from Salzburg), Paulaner, Hofbrau house and of course the Lowenbrau original. The Lowenbrau brewery ties little resemblance - beyond name and logo - to the Lowenbrau beer distributed in the US.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oral Fixation

I came across this hidden café (you wonder why) in Maxvorstadt with a special un-official sponsor – the Latin pop star Shakira. Not sure if Shakira has ever broken through the American market, but in most of the rest of the world she’s one of the hottest artists around. I recently read she is in the top-5 money makers for female musicians this past year – up there with Modanna, Celene Dion, and Barbara Streisand. Based upon her sold out concert in Munich this past year, you can see why. However, I don’t think she’s pulling in any royalties for this dive.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A City Oasis

Located only 100 meters from the Central Train Station is Munich’s old Botanical Gardens. Just north of the old law courts, the park has a broad range of trees, some of which are quite exotic, reminding of its former glories. But way back in 1914, the city suffered from such air pollution that it could not support some of the more rare breeds of plants, so the botanical gardens moved out next to Nymphenburg palace. The space has been used as a park ever since. This photo was taken of the Neptune Fountain, which was constructed in 1935 as a centerpiece for the gardens. At the edge of the park is the popular Park Café – a popular haunt of the Nazi party in its day, but now is used as a nightclub and a beer garden.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Haunted Munich

Well maybe Munich doesn’t have a lot of haunted houses and buildings (that I know of), but this photo of the back of the rathouse sure gives that impression. I’ve shown the new town hall several times, but this photo is actually from the back of the building on Landschaftstrasse. It may be the forgotten side of the town hall, next to the glitzy and tourist Glockenspiel, but as you can see the detail of the building is quite impressive. Today this is where city mayor, Christian Ude, has his offices. It is also where you will find the Ratskeller, a popular and traditional German beer hall and restaurant.

Schloss Nymphenburg

One of the Munich’s gems is its Bavarian Castle & grounds, Schloss Nymphenburg. Built in 1664 as a summer residence west of Munich, the palace was built in a rococo style. And for those of you who weren’t quite sure (like myself), the term rococo describes a style of French interior design characterized by elegant and ornate furniture, ornamental mirrors, and detailed tapestries. The 200 acre grounds, one of the largest green spaces in Munich, began as an Italian garden, but since has been rearranged in styles from France and England. One piece of advice, don’t ride your bikes through the grounds. It’s forbidden, and we speak from experience by saying you will be yelled at.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sun on the mind, Snow in the soul

With more than 100 ski options within a couple hours of the city, Munich is a skier’s paradise. And despite the allure of the Corsican sun in this photo, there’s no question what locals are passionate about – snow, snow, snow. You can go by car, bus or train, as these two women coming out of the Hauptbahnhof or Central Station. Bavarian ski resorts have a reputation of being low key with less of the jet-set clientele as their Swiss, French & Austrian counterparts; however, they are inexpensive, packed with locals, and close by. Highlights include Garmisch, site of the 1936 Winter Olympics, as well as Sudelfeld, a resort with 22 different lifts connecting 25 miles of runs.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kids' Stuff

Munich has to be one of the best cities in the world for children of any age. There is simply a staggering array of choices. Biking through the Olympic Park or English Gardens, one of the world’s largest urban parks. Swimming at public pools that are more like water wonderlands than anything you might see in the states. Indoor and outdoor ice rinks. The Deutsches Museum with its own kids world. Indoor play areas like Lollihop that keep kids entertained for hours on cold, snowy days. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the surrounding lakes and mountains – all within 45 minutes drive. This photo was taken at i-camp, which supports the arts through regional theatre performances. I loved the photo because of the contrast between the worn and experienced ballet slippers, and the new energy of the kids ready to perform.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No Soliciting

Like every other developed city in the world, Munich has strict laws against unwanted door-to-door soliciting. However, what fascinated me about this picture was its contrasts – how welcoming the gate’s colors are (even as rusted) while the sticker had a definite stay-away message. Given that this photo was taken across the street from the grounds of the Octoberfest, it looks like it has experienced every last bit of that wear and tear.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Headless Horse. Ah Man!

It was quite unfortunate to see such a fixture come down in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood, but yesterday the Trojan horse outside the Museum of Antiquity came tumbling down after nearly 2 years. Actually, it was taken apart piece by piece, and at points with a chainsaw. The horse was the flagship of the Myths of Troy exhibit at the museum. The de-construction captured quite a crowd, much more than usual as the museum tends to be the “red-headed step-child” of the Glypotek across the street, which at this point had about 150 people basking in the sun on its steps. And yes, I can attest – the center of the horse was as hollow as could be – as of course it should be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Goin Ape!

When was the last time you saw a bull driving an Ape? An Ape 50 that is. Built by Italian manufacturer, Piaggio, more than 1.6 million Apes have been sold throughout the world. They started building the vehicle in 1948 to fill a gap in the market for a small-engine (125 cc) motorcycle van. I’m really not making this up. I had never heard of such a thing, much less known there was a market for it. Initially they were used for delivery and sanitary work, now they are used for everything from mobile coffee shops, to mobile pubs, to catering (like this one). Given that Munich is called the “northernmost Italian city” you will be sure to see a few around town.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hidden Bavaria

Bavariaring Strasse lines the expansive grounds of Theresienweise, where the Octoberfest takes place every year in the Southwest side of Munich. During the month long celebration in September, skies are often grey and streets are filled with people from around the world. Most of the rest of the year though, the 19th century mansions that line the street are drenched with sun and stand in near solitude – looking over towards the 20m bronze Bavaria Statue. Sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler envisioned a large Athena statue, but of course localized it to look more German – without a helmet, an Oak wreath, and sword instead of spear.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Car Cathedral

I’m not sure what people in Munich are more passionate about, their beer or their cars. Based upon the $250 million showroom BMW recently opened just North of the city center, cars may have the edge. This image shows the architectural wonder of the building, “Its undulating steel forms, suggesting the magical qualities of liquid mercury.” The new showroom will see 800,000 visitors this year with more than 45,000 picking up their new cars, finding them bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable – 80% of those will be purchased by Germans. The building is quite a site, sitting next to the four-cylinder headquarters, the BMW Museum which looks like a giant soup bowl, and across from the 1972 Olympic Park.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Munich Movie Madness

Munich loves its movies, and with no strong language preference, Munich really prefers movies in VO – or version original. That means you can see English language movies in at least three different theaters in Munich – Cinema Muenchen (where this photo was taken), Mathäser Cinema, and the Museum Lichtspiele. The latter labels itself as a “Kult Kino” or a cult cinema, focusing on non-blockbuster films, with four different theatres each seating about 30 viewers. It also supposedly holds the record for the longest running showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – 27 years. For those who like to stay home and watch, the Amerikahaus houses a collection of more than 10,000 titles. That’s one way out of the 30-minutes of ads shown before most movies in Europe.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Art Nouveau in Munich

Although Art Nouveau was created in Paris around the beginning of the 20th century, it found a strong following in many countries around Western Europe, including Belgium, Austria, and Germany. Known as Jugendstil from the base word Jugend or youth, Munich was considered the center of the German art nouveau movement with popular artists like Otto Eckmann, and Richard Riemerschmid. These karyatid type sculptures are located on what today is a non-descript building with retail shops on Theatinerstr in the altstadt or old town. However, most of the Art Nouveau architecture in Munich can be found in the Schwabing neighborhood, known as an artists meca during the turn of the century.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

All great things must come to an end. The Fasching (German phrase “to pour from a barrel”) season of masquerades, formal balls & street parades is now officially over in Munich. Given Bavaria’s strong Roman Catholic background, we now begin a much more somber Lent season. This image was taken from the façade of little known St. Benno’s church, in Munich’s quiet Neuhausen neighborhood. St. Benno was named Bishop of Meissen in Saxony in 1066, and is well known for standing up to Emperor Henry IV, who tried to make the church dependent on the state. Benno was buried in Meissen, but at the time of the Germany reformation (400 years later) as the countryside turned from Catholic to Protestant, his body was moved to Munich and from that time St. Benno has been considered the patron saint of the city.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dancing in the Streets

Several hundred thousand Munich residents and a few of their closest friends converged on central Munich today for the final day of Faschings 2008, a Bavarian version of Carnival. What turns out to be the city’s second biggest festival (after Octoberfest), was met with good weather and good spirits well into the evening. The heart of the celebration was at the Viktualienmarket, which has a long tradition dating to the nineteenth century, including the dancing of the Market Women ~ a must see next year!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Faschings 2008

Munich’s own version of Carnival is in full swing. The annual celebration runs for the week prior to Fat Tuesday, and much of central Munich is decorated for the affair. You’re likely to see women (and men for that matter) out at the bars in sparkly dresses and funny hats, or any other kind of party outfit. Originally the event was a pagan festival, but over the years it became associated with the Catholic Church. Given that Bavaria remained primarily Catholic through the years, the city uses it as one more reason to party. Many people get Tuesday afternoon off of work and collect at the Viktualienmarkt for the big celebration.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


A glance outside the Alter Nordlicher Friedhof, or the Northern Cemetery. Nestled between Schwabing (known for its lively café atmosphere) and Maxvorstadt (known for its many museums), the cemetery was opened in 1868, and after 800 burials, it closed in 1939 as “the inn was full.” It was used by Catholics and Protestants alike – if you can believe that – and marks the resting place of many prominent 19th century Munich citizens. Today, it is a place to take a break from the busy city or find a path for walking or jogging through the neighborhood.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

In the Company of Giants

Friends enjoy the sun on the façade of the Glyptothek museum, while Greek statues watch over them. The Glyptothek is one of hundreds of museums and galleries in Munich. It was commissioned by the Bavarian King Ludwig I to house his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. Architect Leo von Klenze proposed three different facades for the museum: Greek, Roman & Renaissance, but in the end chose Greek to match the collection, and it was constructed from 1816 to 1830. During WWII, the area around the museum – known as Konigsplatz, was used for Nazi rallies. Today, each summer the locals rally in a different way, as Konigsplatz transforms into one of Munich’s outdoor theatres.

Cozy Coffee Break

Sometimes you just luck out. How else did these two women end up with the only cushy seats in a packed outdoor café. With more than 100 people sucking up the few rays of sun in January, somehow these two women end up in the King and Queen throne. Munich is actually filled with cafes and bars, and when the sun comes out – those cafes spill into the streets. This café is located in the heart of the city, nestled between Odeonsplatz, the Hofgarten, the Residence, and the entry into the “Golden Triangle shopping and pedestrian zone.