Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Public Works

(Thank you Guest Photographer). The Amount of public art in Munich is absolutely staggering. You see sculptures in fountains, in public squares, and on boulevards throughout town. You can even find them in front of apartment buildings or on random street corners. I'm not sure how they are commissioned. I even looked in vain to find a total number of works, but no doubt Munich natives like exposing themselves to art. This particular photo was taken at Lenbachplatz, home of the Palais on Lenbachplatz. This particular part of town along the Altstadt ring road is interesting in that it was clearly a cultural center in Munich's history, but now has been reduced by the hum of commuting traffic, while many of the buildings today are a mix of businesses and nightclubs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Almighty Altbau

Known in Munich as the “old buildings,” the Altbau is a well sought after apartment characterized by its high ceilings, hard wood floors, and amazingly large entry ways. Most of these buildings were constructed in the early 1900s or between the world wars, and many of them have been reconstructed in the past decade to bring out the best of both worlds – old world craftsmanship with new world advances – such as add-on elevators, state of the art electric, and fine lined kitchens. One of the key things that separate these buildings from the rest of Munich’s post WWII box design (which seems like the majority of apartments), is the intricate detail on the façade.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kristos Anesti

Although most of Munich celebrated Easter several weeks ago during the Catholic recognition of the holiday, Orthodox Easter was celebrated today. In celebration, this photo comes from the entry way vestibule of the Greek Cathedral in Munich, located near Odeonplatz. The relief was created by Nikolavs Gysis around the turn of the century (1900 that is). It is a brief example of the amazing art available within the church, despite the buildings decay over the past several decades. Despite appearances, the building was constructed in 1494.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What’s 180K between friends?

(Thanks for the Guest Photo). Sounds like a lot for a car, but not in car crazy Munich. Just wait til you hear the description of the S600 – with Distronic Plus Adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains your chosen following distance, (ABC) Active Body Control to counter roll overs in aggressive maneuvers, and even seats that warm, cool and massage. 510 horses sends it from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds (a description that has no relevance in Germany where everyone drives much faster). That’s not a car, it’s an experience. This is just one of many Mercedes showrooms in Munich, including the huge Mercedes showroom at Donnersbrucker.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Waiting Game

Sorry for the delay, but very good distractions. Perhaps this post will explain why. It’s amazing how the look of hospitals are the same throughout the world. This was taken in a patient’s room at the Frauenkinkik in Munich, but it could have easily been taken anywhere. With that said, it’s interesting how delivering a baby in the US is different than in Munich. Here are three very specific examples: 1. The lock down on security that exists in the states doesn’t exist in many places in Europe. 2. The role of mid-wives is paramount in Germany and they deliver babies as doctors stand back and engage only in emergencies. 3. And the checkout was a breeze. Once the doctor says it’s OK, then no other protocol necessary – not even a check whether you have a proper car seat. Let’s hear it for personal responsibility. Everything in between, felt like the same ol butter and bread.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Seat of Power

From one form of power to the next…this image captures two of the driving forces of Bavaria – Parliament and the Isar River that runs through downtown Munich. Both define everyday life in Munich. The Maximilianeum, was originally built as a home for gifted students back in 1874, but since 1949 has been the seat of Bavarian parliament. Apparently it houses a unique combination in Germany with both the parliament and senate in the same building. King Maximilian started the building project at the end of the street in his name, one of the “royal avenues” of Munich. The building gives an impression of great distance from the city, due to its site on a rise on the far bank of the river Isar, yet it stands only a five minute walk from the Altstadt or old city. Surrounded by the parkland along the Isar, it makes for a great escape from the city. Thank you guest photographer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Simple Elegance of Bogenhausen

Nestled in the Northeast corner of town, Bogenhausen is one of the largest neighborhoods in Munich, and one of the most diverse in terms of architecture. The heart of the neighborhood lines Prinzeregentenstrasse, and is by far its most exclusive – with many turn of the century buildings that make it one of the most exclusive parts of the city to live. In addition to mansions that line the Isar, you will find a mix of consulate buildings and high end offices. As you travel north you run through a mix of modern villas built after WWII, and then eventually hit the high rises of Arabellapark, which were built to meet the demand for hotel rooms during the 1972 Olympic games. Many Munich celebrities call Bogenhausen home, and perhaps it’s most famous was tennis star, Boris Becker.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Never Trust the Suits

Perhaps an appropriate closing image from a fenced off Olympiadorf. I created several posts back in March about this fascinating student housing project in Munich. A sea of 1-level student bungalows, all personalized with brilliant colors, funny slogans, or slices of pop culture. I went back to share this unique place with a family member, but was surprised to see all of the bungalows fenced off for demolition. You can’t even get to them anymore. At the time of the first visit, it looked like they would take the complex down row by row, but now looks like it will be one fell swoop. Well, I’m glad I was able to see this slice of Munich before it disappeared forever.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Inner Peace

I had never seen this version of the angel of peace, but it happens to be everywhere in Bavaria. You will find it overlooking the city of Munich (see March 24 post), at local churches, and in this case at cemeteries. This angel was found at the Alter Nord Friedhof or Old Northern Cemetery. What caught my attention about this image is not only the serenity of the angel’s gesture, but also the comfort of the setting – with all the trees in background. Europeans tend to think of cemeteries differently than Americans. The thought of spending any time in cemeteries for Americans seems somehow morbid. Throughout most large European cities, cemeteries are often well used parks with jogging trails and bike paths – or for finding 10 minutes for a peaceful interlude with an Angel.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Underground Art World

With all the art galleries and museums around Munich (I’m told hundreds), it’s no surprise to see a painting post here…but this image wasn’t from a gallery but rather in the U-bahn, Munich’s underground subway network. In the heart of the museum district at Königsplatz, you will see a subterranean art gallery with sculptures, paintings, and other forms of art. Maybe the station itself isn’t enough to cross town to see, but the museums above it certainly are – the Glyptotek, the museum of antiquity, and the Greek Königsplatz temple. Why the Greek theme there? Apparently, the son of King Ludwig I was Otto, first king of Greece. Ludwig was a great admirer of Greek Culture, and supported the Greek struggle for liberation. His goal was to create a part of Greece in Munich by planning Konigsplatz. In the spirit of the previous post, cheers – or in Greek, Yiamas!

Friday, April 18, 2008

His and Hers

Ahhhhh. It’s Friday, and a sunny one at that. It’s been a long week, and we all deserve a good beer. I thought you could join for a bit of cheer from Bavaria Park, a small but beautiful park in the southwest corner of town known as the West End. This particular beer garden is just outside the Deutsches Transportation Museum, which I understand is amazing. I don’t know much about the West End, but I find it quite interesting. It’s a mix of warehouses, new apartments, and some post WWII buildings. It’s also very popular with non-Germans, so you have a very strong Turkish community and a feeling like no other place in Munich. If you get the chance, try the Augustiner Braustuben attached to the brewery. Great traditional beer hall at a price subsidized by the brewery. So Prost from the West End of Munich!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hidden Treasures

Munich is a great city for finding its hidden faces. Sometimes you stumble upon a quiet back alley corridor, sometimes you come across a peaceful lane for two lovers, and sometimes you can sit alone on a park bench without another soul in sight. Whatever you discover, it’s amazing how often you can find yourself alone. And rather than feeling lonely, you feel like you caught an exclusive glimpse – one that’s all your own (only to find out later that others have shared this same sight or something just like it that is all their own). This particular glimpse was from a cottage on the grounds of the Schloss Nympenburg. I may have seen 10 people all morning, but I can assure you this view was all mine. :o)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

How could the creators of one of the cleanest, most efficient, and well used subway systems in the world…develop this system for ticketing. I have read the instructions in both German and English, and I’m still not sure if I’m paying the right amount. Usually that’s not a problem though, as Munich uses the honor system for travelers. You’re expected to punch and validate your ticket at entry – but no check point exists to make sure you do so. About the only thing prompting this compliance, is the fear that the rambling DB police will come on your train and ask you for a valid ticket. If not, you suffer the shame of being escorted off the train and a hefty fine. So what’s a guy to do? I cop out and buy the monthly pass from my favorite English speaking ticket vendor for wherever I want to go. No ticket purchases, no validation, and no fear of public humiliation. Just free wheelin all through town.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reflections of Royalty

Through the reflection you see Munich’s mighty Residenz, the home of Bavarian dukes, electors and kings for the past 600 years. The first buildings were erected in 1385, but you see significant influences through the centuries from Maximilian 1 to Ludwig I, from gothic to rococo, to baroque to renaissance. Nearly every major period during that time is represented in the walls of the Residenz. Today the Residenz is the largest downtown palace in Germany with 130 rooms and 10 courtyards, as well as being known as having some of Europe’s finest room decoration

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Munich Mirage

A sea of Paulaner red in a thirsty city. That’s a sight for sore eyes, even as the distribution facility is directly across from East Cemetery. Perhaps it has something to do with getting closer to heaven after leaving this world. Either way, Paulaner is Munich’s largest brewery, and the impact of having several local heavy weights in the industry is that exports are shipped all over the world, and locally you can get a case (20) of beer for about 12 euros – once you get beyond the deposits for bottles and these lovely carrying cases. Going to a local Getranke market in Munich, is like being a kid going to the candy store – every variety you can think of. But back to the photo, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news – but these crates are empty.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Order Over Chaos

If there is one thing that is paramount in Germany, it’s order. You see it when you’re driving – just try to pass someone in the city without getting honked at, or try driving slow in the left lane. You see it when you’re walking – as most everyone waits at the stop light, even if traffic is not coming. And you certainly see it in the way people think, work, and even play. This funny scene with four crosswalk signs in one intersection gives a small glimpse of that order. As long as you don't step out of line, you'll fit in fine.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Walk in the Park

If you thought Nymphenburg Palace and the Residence were the only “Schloss” around town, think again. There are quite a few palaces that are just on the outskirts of Munich and provide a hint of the wealth and power that ruled Bavaria for centuries. In the distance, you see Lustheim Palace, one of the three castles at Schleissheim Palace. Several of the palaces sit approx a kilometer apart, and we saw no more than a dozen other people there during the 2 hours we walked there. It was like we had the whole park to ourselves. Surrounding the palaces is the grand park, one of the rare preserved baroque gardens in Germany.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tropical Burst

Thought I would share one more image from the Munich Botanical Gardens. Despite the look of the photos, it was really a month too early to be at the Botanical gardens. Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple small areas with flowers in bloom, and plenty of cherry blossom trees. You also have the greenhouses that provide some year around blooms. But you just know in mid May, it’s going to be stunning – an amazing celebration of color. So set your calendar now, and ramble from the Botanical Gardens into the grounds of Nymphenberg Castle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Full Bloom

As the temperature reaches into the 60s (15c), the Munich Botanical Gardens springs to life. Situated in the Northwest end of Munich, the gardens are world famous with more than 14,000 plant types. Spread across more than 4,500 square meters and with comprehensive greenhouses, the gardens show plants from damp tropical areas, cool mountain forests, and arid desserts. The Gardens are also attached to the Schloss Nymphenburger castle, which is part of the reason it receives more than 400,000 visitors per year.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Asian Persuasion

Munich is well known for its traditional Bavarian cuisine. Weisswurste with freshly baked Brezen is a local favorite eaten before noon. An urban myth claims it’s a great cure for a hangover when mixed with beer, when in fact it was simply the best time to eat them during the non-refrigerator era. However, it’s the international cuisine that is getting noticed more and more often. Of course, being the “northernmost Italian town,” Italian is the most common import, but with more than 5000 restaurants you can find everything from Bavarian pork knuckle to Sushi. For those in search of new options, here is a good restaurant guide and breakdown by district. Some of our early favorites include the Park Café for Bavarian, Enchilada for Mexican, Sangeet for Indian and Antipasti for Italian

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kinder Care

For 200 years the organizations that make up the University of Munich Children’s hospital have been providing care, research and education for children’s health. The clinic provides everything from emergency care, outpatient, as well as specialties around Cardiology, Diabetes and many others. It is one of four Emergency room centers in Munich for children and more than 10 general centers. I just couldn’t resist this photo of the three kinders, which was clearly from a different era. I also couldn’t resist the opportunity to say that if you ever have an emergency, the equivalent of the US’ 911 is dialing 112 in Munich.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Flower Power

Red tulips may not be your choice for hood (or roof) ornament, but it seems to work for Munich’s Wedding Planner at http://www.weddlinghelfer.de/ – “turning your wedding into a dream”. What’s perhaps even more interesting than this tiny red car rolling through town with tulips in it, is the decorative element on the building behind it. You will find these images all through Munich, mostly as design elements on non-descript buildings built in the 1950-70s. I am not sure the history of these illustrations, but they have an incredibly diverse range of subjects, and in some cases are the only decorative element on building exteriors.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Every Dog Has its Day

And I think that day is today. At least for the dogs that pass by the Michaeligarten in the Ostpark. Located at the edge of one of the best beer garden’s I’ve seen in Munich (and that’s saying a lot) this doggie troth supports every dog’s drinking habbits – Weissbier (wheat beer), Helles (lager), Dunkles (dark), Radler (Helles+lemonade), and Russ’n (wheat beer + lemonade). The beer garden itself, sits aside a great lake and playpark, and has a stage for live music in the summers. It also is about 100m away from Michaelibad, Munich’s largest swimming complex (which is also saying a lot, as Munich has some of the best swimming pools I’ve ever been to).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weather Beaten

I caught this glimpse of a worn wooden window cover on Bavariaring, next to the Theresienwiesen. It is where one of Europe’s biggest parties, the Octoberfest, takes place. I was attracted to the great colors, but also by the interesting contrast between the worn thin window, and the amazing mansion it was attached to. The neighborhood of Ludwigvorstadt is no stranger to turn-of-the-century estates, but the ones that line Theresienweisen are some of the finest in Munich. If you're looking for other fantastic buildings, check out the mansions lining the East side of the Isar River in Haidhausen or Bogenhausen. Most of these today are used as foreign embassies or turned into offices.

Friday, April 4, 2008

ICE, ICE, Baby!

Often considered the pride of Germany, the Ice train links over 32 locations in Germany and travels regularly in excess of 175 miles per hour. In fact, an ICE train set the speed record way back in 1988 at 253 miles per hour. The line between Munich and Augsburg (to the west of Munich) is the busiest in the network with more than 300 trains per day. And unlike it’s neighbors like the TGV (Trains de Grand Vitesse) or the Japanese Shinkansen, the vehicles, tracks and operations were not designed as an integrated whole, but rather integrated into the pre-existing system of railway lines. Unfortunately, a side effect of that legacy is that the trains can only reach full speed on sections of the tracks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

In the English Gardens, just North of the 2R ring road is a spot where a small group of locals meet nearly every weekend to play – what I would describe as German curling (without the ice). I am not sure the real name of this sport, and will have to ask some of my local experts, but it looks like fun and keeps the regulars coming back. It’s sort of a mix between shuffleboard and curling. So around noon, you can often find them - beers lined up on the side, cracking better jokes than tosses, and all having fun as one of the boys. ADDITION: For the record, the sport is called “Stockschießen” normally Ice Stick Shooting and you can find more information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_stock_sport (Thanks Andreas for this bit of fact finding).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oh Yes, Oh Yes It's Springtime!

Not so fast. You may have tulips on the table, but there are still scarves around the neck. I think we’ll get good use out of those wool blankets. Despite all the collective wishes (as I understand Spring is wonderful in Munich), we are looking at rain and temperatures not to exceed 45 degrees F. throughout the week. This shot was taken a few blocks from the Central Station at a funky bar that spills out onto the cold streets.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Slice of Munich History

If you are curious about Munich, here it is. I would be hard pressed to put any more in a single photograph. The photo was take from the Hofgarten, the former royal court garden which was started in 1570. You also see the edge of the residence, which was constructed by the Wittlesbach family who ruled Bavaira for 800 years. The Residence was started in the 14th century, but countless additions have given the building influences from several different eras. In the background, you see the Catholic Theatiner Church, which was built in 1663 in Italian high-baroque style, and with its yellow Mediterranean appearance quickly became a well known sympol of the city. And finally you see the 300+ foot twin domes of the Frauenkirche, which was constructed way back in the 1400s.