Monday, March 31, 2008

Just the Two of Us

Or so you would think – as a couple enjoys a bit of peace at the lake in the middle of the Olympic Park. It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than three decades since the 1972 Olympics, yet the site is full of life. It’s even more difficult to believe that 166 million paying visitors have experienced the site since then, not to mention all the ones who just visit for a walk, jog or rollerblade through. Every year more than five million people pay for one of the many services at the park – 72,000 seat Olympic Stadium, 16,000 seat Olympic Hall, the tower, tennis courts, swimming pool, aquarium, Ice Center, etc. Contrast that to similar Olympic sites around the world that struggle to find its identity only years after the games. That’s it…sports complex, entertainment center, hideout for two.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Campers

One of the greatest innovations known to man, placing the kids park next to the beer garden. Nearly every large beer garden has them in Munich, and it only makes sense. This way, it’s a bit of a fun ride for everyone involved. This particular view is of the kids park next to the Chinese Pagoda in the English Garden, one of the largest and certainly most touristy beer gardens in Munich. Most of the families this morning were speaking English. However, you just can’t beat the atmosphere, as by noon the band was playing from the Pagoda. Prost!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The World Hits Munich Stage

Nearly 100 demonstrators led a silent but powerful protest in the middle of Munich’s Odeon’s Platz today, to raise awareness of the controversy created by the Chinese crack down on Tibetan protesters. Outfitted in masks, silent, and standing in solidarity – the demonstrators made quite an impact without saying a word. The impact has been felt around Europe, where the European Union has been by far the most vocal of the Chinese government in their handling of the Tibetan protests. There has been talk all week of boycotting the upcoming Olympics in China, but for the most part has amounted to European leaders deciding to not participate in the opening ceremonies.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Couples Only

I’ve already talked about what a great city Munich is for bike riding. In fact, It’s one of the best in the world. Other cities around Europe, have created innovative bike riding programs, like the “Velib” in Paris where you can rent bikes inexpensively all over the city and then drop them off near your destination. The difference is that Paris created the program to ease congestion. Munich locals bike simply because they’ll do anything to get outdoors. Not only are there bike lanes everywhere, but bikers actually have the right away. And by the way, it’s completely flat. And as you can see by this image, it is safe to leave your bike out on the streets with a simple lock on the wheel. Even cute blue and pink bikes are safe.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

French Quarter

A colorful district within the Haidhausen neighborhood, the French Quarter, as it’s known in Munich, sits just north of Rosenheimerplatz. The neighborhood is filled with boutiques, galleries, cobbled lanes, a maze of streets named after French cities, and of course French restaurants. Originally built as a working class quarter, it has grown into one of Munich’s more affluent districts “brimming with creative spirit and personifying continental savoir vivre.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Men are From Mars, Women From Venus

Two boys have fun sparring on the snow covered grass along Munich’s Isar River. Contrast that image with the delicate, half naked image of a young woman overlooking the scene. Her gesture is vulnerable, yet powerful at the same time. This unmarked statue stands south of Munich in one of its many open parklands. The bike paths draw south from here past the zoo along the Isar, and before you know it you are outside the city and well into farmland or even forest. That’s one more thing that amazes about Munich, how quickly you get beyond the urban boundary and are in a completely different world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Silent Snow Fall

As temperatures dipped below freezing, Munich saw every type of weather imaginable – snow, hail, rain, and sunshine. I caught this quiet break at the Ostfriedhof or East Cemetery. It really was quite peaceful as the rest of the world rushed to work, school, etc. The cemetery was a nice oasis of calm and beauty. Home to more than 35,000 graves, it has no shortage of celebrities. During the dark period of Nazi-Germany the crematorium disposed of more than 4000 Dachau concentration camp victims. Ironically, in 1946 the remains of 12 German War Criminals executed in Nürnberg (von Ribbentrop, Göhring, Keitel, Kaltenbrunner), were cremated here and their ashes tossed into the River Isar to prevent any kind of grave cult by Neo-Nazis. Like any other German cemetery, the "resting periods" are not eternal, but rather 25-50 years. If no-one contributes to the care of the grave, and pays another "resting-period-fee", the grave is leveled and will be re-used

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Angel of Peace

Overlooking much of downtown Munich is the Angel of Peace, sitting almost 120 feet above the banks of the Isar River. The bright gold sculpture (especially on sunny days) is meant to commemorate the 25 years of peace following the Treaty of Versailles in 1871, which led to peace between France and Germany at the time. The statue portrays Athena, goddess of wisdom and peace; but also goddess of strategic war, as she holds Nike in her hand, the goddess of victory. Today, many people pass by the moment without even noticing as the Prinzregenten Strasse is marred with traffic throughout the day. Perhaps the saving grace is that on either side of the statue, you have the parklands that line the Isar River going for miles and miles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Take an Easter Pause

There’s so much going on these days, let’s use Easter as an excuse to sit down in the sun, relax for a moment and…simply breathe. This looks like a great setting for it. With the sun shining, and hidden away from work and all the other commitments in the world. This particular setting is in the courtyard of the Lenbachhaus in Munich’s Maxvorstadt neighborhood, the former residence of painter Franz von Lenbach. It is now a modern art gallery, but is quite the setting as an Italian villa among the streets of Munich. In the Italian spirit, we’ll all relax for a day and worry about the world tomorrow.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Goin Places

I suppose I could have shown a nice photo of Easter Eggs or chocolate, as there’s no shortage of either in Munich a day before Easter. However, I thought I would show what’s really going on – and that’s the mass exodus of Munich as the schools are out for another week. This is also a good photo for daydreaming. Care for an Easter week in Milan, Berlin, or Salzburg? You can get to all three locations, and many more from the Hauptbahnhof, Munich’s Central Train Station. And based upon one of the comments - yes I'm sorry but no more flip boards. The trains and the stations are now state of the art. On a normal day it sees more than 350,000 travellers a day. Travel Safe and Sound!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Fun Ride

It’s Friday in Munich before a holiday weekend, so I thought you would enjoy a bit of fun. I’ve talked several times about how much fun Munich is for kids, and here’s some proof. These two girls turn a single motorcycle into a ride for two. This small park is a hidden gem, nestled behind the Glyptotek Museum in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood of Munich. It’s one of hundreds like it, connected to parks, churches or even cemeteries. There’s always more room to play. Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Urban Jungle

As modern as the new Academy of Fine Arts building is in the University district, its neighbor is equally old. The new building, which you see the interior of here, was built in 2005. Its neighbor was constructed in 1887 in Venetian Renaissance style. The Academy was founded in 1808 by Maximillian I of Bavaria, and is one of the oldest and most significant art academies in Germany.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Femme Fatale

What an impressive image this Amazon female warrior makes. It was one of Von Stuck’s most famous works. A well known and successful artist from Bavaria around the turn of the century, Stuck found early fame and fortune and eventually taught at the Academy in Munich. His art was often considered haunting, erotic and occasionally humorous. This particular sculpture sits outside his former house, Villa Stuck, which is not only a work of art in itself, but also reflects the times of Munich. Built in 1898, it was the center of an artist community around the turn of the century, but was largely unused during the Nazi crackdown of the second world war. After the war, Villa Stuck was a major private gallery and then a public museum. Today the museum continues to show exhibits of art from around 1900 as well as modern & contemporary art.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Pied Piper

An impromptu crowd gathers around a street performer in the Altstadt pedestrian zone. Front and center is a class of young children – with mixed levels of interest. In the background is quite a contrast with the Swatch store and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, or SZ – Munich’s own “South German Newspaper” The SZ was the first paper to receive a license from the US military Administration in Bavaria, five months after WWII, and they’ve been considered the liberal voice around Bavaria ever since. The pedestrian zone, one of Europe’s largest, fills up quickly on sunny days with many musicians, street performers, and entertainers.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Patricks Celebrations Continue (at least in our house)

One more day of celebrations for the Patron Saint of Ireland. The pipers were fantastic!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day

A picture says a thousand words, but perhaps even more when it’s captured and sent from a phone where you can add more words on top of the photo. This image shows some of the close to 10,000 people watching the bag pipes lead off the parade. For the 13th year in a row, the Irish have taking to the streets in Munich for their annual parade – leading down Ludwigstrasse and ending in a bash at Odeonsplatz. The parade was created in 1996 to accommodate the growing Irish population in Munich. But now for the more helpful information in case you missed the festivities. The parade was sponsored by the following Irish pubs around town. The Irish Folk Pub, Kilian’s Pub, Molly Mallone’s, Finnegan’s Wake, O’shea’s, and the Shamrock Pub.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Who Says You Can’t take it with you?

This painting on the side of a building in Schwabing is interesting enough – zodiac connections between the stars, some sort of character out of the bible breaking through the sun and the moon, etc. What really caught my attention though was that someone had packed a suitcase for him. It was very clear that no one had set the suitcase down momentarily. Rather, it was set out for this world traveler. I suppose if you have several galaxies to visit, it’s a good thing they packed light. There is a lot of this around Munich – public art that is not explained, but somehow appreciated.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Urban Oasis or Urban Myth?

I wanted to take you back to the Olympiadorf or Olympic Village – one because I found some amazing colors in the student housing area (as in this photo), and also because it’s an interesting test in urban living. Described as the world’s only settlement in which separation of car & pedestrian traffic succeeded, the Olympiadorf houses approx 10,000 residents of Munich in more than 4600 apartments across more than 40 hectacres. With more than 70 different floor plans ranging from small single unit studios to 140 m2 penthouse apartments, the Olympiadorf offers many options. At the same time, the press has been critical – labeling it a concrete fortress. Check it out for yourself. Let me know your thoughts – model or mass housing?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ratskeller & the Munich Monk

There are Ratskellers all through Germany, traditional cellars below the town hall that serve inexpensive local fare. Munich has one of the best. The restaurant seems to go on forever, yet feels quite small as it is a an intricate link of rooms, hidden nooks and intimate booths. At the entry to the Ratskeller courtyard is this image of the Munchner Kindl (child) and the Munich coat of arms. The symbol dates back to the 13th century, but has evolved dramatically – often taking the form of a young boy or even a woman. Likewise, what the monk is carrying changes as well – anything from a bible to a radish to a beer mug. The Munchner Kindl is said to the inspiration for the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. Not sure that is true, but I certainly see a resemblance.


A secret glance inside Munich’s Greek Orthodox church, Salvator Church, built in 1494. Located close to Odeonplatz, the Gothic brick church was originally a chapel for the cemetery which was moved to outside the city in 1789. Despite its age, and consistent damange through the years, the church is today seat of the Metropolitan of Germany, and the heart of Munich’s Greek Orthodox community. Immediately adjacent to the church is the House of Literature, a centre of a public events focusing on books.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fly Away Hair

Believe it or not, this is an ad for a hair salon. Several of these futuristic models grace the front of the Lippert hair salon near the central station. I'm not sure it makes me want to come in for a cut, but it certainly stopped me long enough to take a few shots.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Island Boulevard

A peaceful view on the Auf der Insel along the Isar River, just outside the Altstadt. The Island runs the length of the Volksbad swimming pool, an amazing art nouveau building and baths. In the distance is the St. Lucas Church. The Isar runs from the Alps, 295 km through Bavaria and empties into the Danube River. Most of the islands that line the Isar keep changing shape due to the annual floods, but this Island and the Museumsinsel (where the Deutches Museum is located) were built up during the 19th century to withstand such floods. I love the way the trees literally stretch across the path reaching out for the Isar.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hangin in Haidhausen

A couple and baby enjoy the sun in Haidhausen’s Wiener Platz. Ironically though, the area is known as the “French Quarter” as many of its twisting streets are named after French cities. The neighborhood changes dramatically from block to block, between Rosenheimer and Einsteinstrasse - lined with ethnic restaurants - and all the streets in between lined with upscale apartments and posh new shops. The neighborhood was severely damaged in World War II, but was Munich’s second largest redevelopment area in the 1970s, leading to an upgrade from its blue collar image – and ranking it up with popular Lehel and Schwabing neighborhoods. Today, because of that mix, it houses the East train stration, the Paulaner Brewery and the Kultfabrik, one of the largest night club areas in Europe. It also houses some of the cities most beautiful 19th century mansions, top galleries like the Villa Stuck, and the Prinzregententheater, one of the most striking art nouveau buildings in Germany.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Germanic Amazon

The Bavaria Statue represents the patron saint of Bavaria, standing more than 60 feet above Theresienwiese where the annual Octoberfest is held. The statue weighs 87 tons, and at times you can climb the 66 stairs within the statue to see the view over Munich. Standing next to Bavaria is a lion, the symbol of Bavaria. Both were commissioned by the mad King Ludwig the II, who had an incredible impact on the Munich we know today. What caught my eye about this picture was how the two men appear to be approaching the statue as if to be crowned with the oak wreath. Today, the Teresienwiese is one of the few wide open (non-park) spaces within Munich.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Where Art Thou, Juliet?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet,” said Romeo. And for that matter, what’s in a city – as the last place I expected to find Shakespeare’s Juliet was in the middle of Munich. Verona, Italy’s most famous maiden was transferred to Munich as a gift from the cities of Verona and Vicenza, and now sits just outside Marienplatz. Like many statues, passers by rub the statue for good luck; but I’m sorry to say they’ve chosen her breast as her luckiest attribute. This photo shows her more modest side.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Color Explosion

Not the first but maybe close to the last of colorful scenes from the Olympiadorf or Olympic Village. The student bungalows built for the 1972 Olympics, all individually decorated in everything from beer slogans to pop culture to Bahama blue colors, are unfortunately being demolished. In 2007, the local government decided that they would be too expensive to refurbish, so row by row, bungalow by bungalow, they are disappearing. At the time of the announcement, more than 2000 peaceful demonstrators showed up, but a small group of drunken “gate crashers” began tearing doors off deserted bungalows and starting a riot (burning down two of the bungalows in the process). It took 150 officers to disperse the crowd. Today, all was peaceful with the exception of the bull dozers close by. Thanks to resident Munich expert, Michael, and artist Petra Voegtle for helping me discover this place.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


The Chinese Tower is a landmark in Munich. It’s in the heart of the English Garden, said to be the largest city park in Europe. It was built in 1789, but like much of Munich it was destroyed during WWII, but then rebuilt in its original form. The structure is 75 feet and five stories tall, and was modeled after the “Great Pagoda” in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. With 7000 seats, the Chinese Tower has the second largest beer garden in Munich, after the Hirschgarten (8000 seats).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Strength & Elegance

Munich’s beauty is in its details. Munich has an endless amount of amazing things to discover – even if you have to sometimes look for them. It isn’t a city like London, Paris, or Amsterdam – where sites, daily life, and sometimes people jump out at you. Things are a bit more laid back in the heart of Bavaria. You wont find the bigger than life attractions here. No Eiffel Tower, no Big Ben, no Red-Light District. What you will find (if you’re looking) are very friendly people; an amazing outdoor quality of life; and enough museums, galleries and details to blow you away.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fast Train a Commin?

Keeping with the theme of politics, one of the biggest controversies in Munich surrounds high speed trains - specifically the Transrapid magnet train. That may seem strange from a country that produces the ICE (InterCityExpress) train which can go 253 MPH, but the controversy is over this high-speed magnetic train linking the airport to the central Munich station, a trip that will take 10 minutes at 220 mph to cover 37 km. What’s so bad with that? It’s the price tag: 1.85B euros. The government wants to show off Germany’s tech prowess, but more than 13,000 protesters thought of better uses of the money.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

German Politics

Munich citizens went to the election polls today, and although there was no surprise in electing Social Democrat Christian Ude as Mayor - he surprisingly received a 2/3 majority over CSU challenger Josef Schmid. At the same time, as I understand it, voters narrowly elected a neo-nazi as town councilor. Honestly, It is difficult to get a perspective on this, as there is very few news sources for Munich in English, and like most things Munich stays under the radar of the German country press of Deutsche Welle and Spiegel. So if you have insight on the election, please share it with us. The thing that struck me about this image is how much of a drawback it is to the propoganda posters of the past century, making good use of Bavaria's symbol - the Bayern Lion. The Bayern party is generally very conservative, and known for as little change as possible. This year, their big cause was to overturn the anti-smoking law. Thanks to Munich resident expert, Andreas, for his insight.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Daddy and Me

Munich seems to be one of the greenest cities on the planet. I don’t know if this is true, but the amazing variety of parkland goes on and on. The English Garden (where this photo was taken, is one of the world's largest urban parks), Luitpold park, Nymphenburg Palace, West Park, the green area lining the Isar River, and the Olympic park make Munich a great place for walking or bike riding through town. In every park, you will find clearly organized paths, a mix between common areas and hidden hideouts, and of course beer gardens. This is Munich after all. Honestly, what attracted me most to this photo was the tight bond between father and son as they walked through the gardens together.