Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Long Night of Music

OK – so this isn’t at night at all, but for people like me with small children we have to start early. This annual celebration brings out more than 25,000 music lovers to 80 different locations, from church music to blues, flamenco to hip-hop. And living up to its name, it keeps Munich going til 3 in the morning. A very successful Long Night a the Museum started this spin-off event. The organizers establish a special bus shuttle to take you from gig to gig. This particular photo was taken at Marienplatz, but every neighborhood in town had its ownc elebration.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Schwabing Flea Market

Today was a day for residents, businesses, and even visitors to sell their goods on the streets of the Schwabing neighborhood. In concept, it’s a wonderful thing. Why throw things away or let them rot in a storage area, when you can “recycle” them by finding new owners. The downside, of course, is that some people keep way too much junk and you end up spending hours looking for hidden treasures. And in the case of this photo, who wants to buy a green bra? It turns out it was part of a neighborhood wide green environmental effort. One thing that was amazing about it, is that it brought thousands of people out onto the streets. I was only passing through on my bike, but Emily at Servus Munchen spent quite a bit time exploring. Check out what she came across.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stresse Strasse

Everyone has heard of Seseme Street, but I laughed when thinking of this street as Stressame Street. But then again, I’m not sure they have that sort of thing in Schwabing, where this picture was taken. It was taken in the backroads of Schwabing, one of the small streets that lines the side of the English Gardens. It’s really a splendid slice of Munich life, living with the English Gardens as your backyard. And three blocks over is lively Leopoldstrasse, where you can find more cafes than anywhere else in the city. Lets hear it for stress free living in Schwabing. :o)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Venus de Silo

An elegant goddess from the Greek island of Mylos is a bit misplaced with all the silos of wine, jam, and sweet cider of an Italian deli in the Viktualienmarkt – which happens to be in Munich. Yet somehow she seems to fit. Perhaps she realizes that Munich is the Northern most Italian city, and the Italians are neighbors of the Greeks. And in the end, all she wants to do is add a bit of beauty to some unique surroundings. So perhaps she is not so far from home, or perhaps Munich just suits her.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Munich Heats Up

Most of Munich head for the water and for cooler environments as temperatures took everyone off guard and went into the 80s and 90s farenheit for two days. It was quite uncharacteristic for this time of year. The image shows one of the bends in the Isar river, the Marianen Bridge, and the Maximilianeum, which houses the Bayerischer Landtag or Bavarian State Parliament. The park that lines the Isar through most of downtown Munich, is really quite amazing. In addition to the beaches along the Isar, the maximilliansanlagen has hundreds of acres of trails, which sit on several levels of the hill that lines East side of the Isar. One thing that is very unique to Munich thanks to these intricate bike lanes, is you can start in the heart of downtown and ride your bike out to the surrounding forests or to farmland – without ever crossing lines of traffic.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Golden Starches

They don’t mess around when it comes to the brand and logo, and why should they? The golden arches are ranked in the top-10 recognizable brands in the world – right behind CocaCola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, Nokia, Toyota, and Intel. Disney and Mercedes make up the last two according to Business Week. I have read that McDonalds’ first European branch was opened in Munich in 1971 (just before the Olympics). The restaurant is still there in Obergeising at Martin-Luther-Str. 26, and it has a plaque on the wall telling the world. I read a related story that says McDonalds has a thing called Hamburger University that 275,000 have graduated from. Crazy! As an American, of course, I just think it’s too bad that many of the things that get exported are some of the worst. The US has so many amazing things…it’s too bad that we’re often known for things like fast food.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Munich is cracking down on speeders. I know…it seems counter-intuitive in such a rich car culture, in the land of the no-speed limit autobahn, and in the home of BMW – but it’s true. As the article reads, Bavaria is significantly increasing the fines if you are caught speeding. This is a big departure to the "fair warning" signs on the highway which usually appear within a KM or two of statonary cameras to catch speeders. It’s really quite civilized, and I’m sure it has to do with citizen rights or something like that. But perhaps this is all coming to an end in such an abrupt change that it made the cover of the local news papers. All I can say is whatever you are driving – a Porsche (as pictured), BMW, Mercedes, or Audi (which make up the majority of cars in Munich) – your free wheelin days may be coming to an end. Be careful out there!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Olympic Flame Could Strike Twice

Munich has jumped into the running as a candidate city (or region) to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. As most people know, Munich hosted the 1972 Olympics (hence the photo of the Olympia Center here), and if approved it would be the only city in history to host both the Summer and Winter games. Munich is teaming up with Garmisch-Partenkirchen for all skiing events and Schonau for tobogganing, luge & skeleton - while the opening/closing ceremonies and big skating/hockey competitions would take place in Munich. Garmisch already hosted the winter Olympic flame in 1936. Already in the running against Munich is Reno (USA) and Pyongyang (S. Korea) – but expect more entries before the IOC makes any final decisions in 2011.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Man About Town

Ever get the feeling that life is just passing you by? That’s the feel of this image in the U-bahn station at Marienplatz – the heart of Munich. The train flashing by and all he cares about is his newspaper. I love that his reflection appeared on the outside of the train though. The U-bahn system is really quite amazing. Here are some numbers, which I find quite impressive. Frequency of trains: 2 minutes during peak times. Number of trains: 550. Construction of trains: 1967 to present. Number of stations: 94. Average distance between: Just under 1KM (bus and tram are about half that). Number of employees of MVV: 2699. Escalators: 726. Lifts: 163. Video Camera 902 (about 1/10th that of London.) Happy Trails to You!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tulip Town

It seems overnight, the entire city of Munich is filled with Tulips. In every platz, every city square, and in front of every public building – you find tulips. I’m not sure the rhyme or the reason, but it really brings the city to life and ensures everyone knows it’s time to break out of the winter hibernation. This particular scene is taken from what I believe is one of Munich’s more beautiful areas – Gartnerplatz. And the building in the background is the City Theatre, which has been used as an opera house since it was designed in 1865. Since that time, it has been Munich’s second opera house after the National Theatre, and in fact has stayed much truer to its calling of Opera. It’s one of Germany’s most active theatres with more than 200 performances each year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trails for two

In what’s becoming one of my favorite Munich parks (after the English Gardens – of course) is the royal grounds located just outside the city limits – at Schlosspark Schleissheim in Oberschleissheim. The gardens, which are some of the few Baroque gardens in Germany, seem to go on forever, and you have a fifth of the crowds that flock to Schloss Nymphenberg in central Munich. At the edge of Lustheim Palace (there are three palaces on the grounds) is a quaint little town called Lustheim, which leads to an extensive forrest called Berglwald. Berwald forest seems to be on a route of migratory butterflies, and is also a popular place for fox hunting, which has taken place there for the past 30 years. Go there on a weekday, and don't be surprised if you have the park to yourself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hamlet Living in Munich

In what could be best described as a little hamlet between several major roads – Tegernsee Landstrasse and Silberhornstrasse – is a quiet oasis of colorful homes, small businesses and community centers. The small neighborhood borders the Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral overlooking the bluff onto downtown. The small neighborhood had tons of character, with many of the houses providing a drawing board of designs and small details that only a small village can unveil. This particular photo attracted me because of the distinctive colors, and contrast to the outside world, which was in large part shown in the encroaching streets signs.

Monday, May 19, 2008

With No Particular Place to Go…

And why should they – with 14,000 different plants at their finger tips, 22 hectacres of open space to wonder, and more than 200 plants protected in Germany which they can not touch. They can also find the largest collection of Orchids in Germany in this location. Of course, they are at the Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of the city. So kick up the feet and enjoy the amazing colors, smells, and beauty of the gardens.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Always on the Outside

The beautiful arches of the arcade and galleria that surround the Hofgarden frame a homeless person sitting in the corner smoking. There is lots of symbolism in the image: The Residence arcade which is generally forgotten after the famous Gazebo or pavilion at the center of the Italian park built originally around 1570. The smoker, pushed to the edges in an area of Germany that since 2008 has some of the harshest smoking restrictions in public places. And the homeless person far away from those who come to be seen along the grand promenades of the renaissance gardens.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Said Beer, Not Deer, My Dear!

One of the many claims to fame of the Hirschgarten is its deer, but this is just the beginning. The German word hirsch translated means deer, of course, but the real spectacle of the "deer" garden is the fact that it is a beer garden that seats more than 8000 people. It is Munich’s largest beer garden as well as its largest open air restaurant. It sits in one of the old hunting grounds of Schloss Nymphenburg, west of the heart of town – a 200 hectacre (494 acre) park with hunting lodges and lakes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Window Dressing

This off-kilter scene of windows and shutters is from a building facade on Veterinärstrasse, a street no more than 100M, yet one that is a critical connection between the English Garden and the University district. The shutters make up a mosaic of color, patterns, and filler between the windows. This building is just off the corner of Professor Huber Platz, an area named after Kurt Huber – a professor at Ludwing University. Huber became well known as a central member of the White Rose group, which carried out resistance of the Nazis. Huber was arrested, stripped of his tenure and standing at the university, and then assassinated. The University in later years dedicated the Platz in his memory.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


She'll possess you. Then destroy you. She's death on wheels. That was the tagline of the 1983 Stephen King thriller, Christine. It was a story about a nerdy high school boy who restores a 1958 Plymouth Fury into mint condition, and then soon becomes possessed by Christine – which has a life all its own, several in fact. Of course, the movie has nothing to do with Munich, but this car was so out of place on the streets of Munich that I immediately made the connection. The nameplate “Butchers” on the back of the car helped connect the car to the movie. It’s quite often you find vintage cars in Munich, but not generally vintage American Cars – and it seemed everyone passing by stopped to take a look.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mix & Match

This photo is living proof that you can find interesting scenes on even the most non-descript block of Munich. I was amazed at how these colors, designs, and shapes came together – and in many cases didn’t. The fact that the buildings haven’t been washed down only makes them more interesting, showing the wear, the age and some cases the neglect of these buildings. This particular photo was taken on Karlstrasse, a block or so outside the Altstadt. It’s filled with primarily office buildings, and on Sunday (when I walked through) the street had no life whatsoever, but somehow the building facades made up for that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Room With a View

I believe one of the best views in Munich is from the roof top lounge of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. From there, you can see all the spires that make Munich famous, and look across the rooftops of downtown and into the surrounding neighborhoods. The lounge is actually part of the Blue Spa, so don’t be surprised if you see a few people lounging in bath robes while you are perusing the view and enjoying a drink. Actually, it was the spa which was my first introduction to the hotel, which unfortunately was a bit of a let down. For my money, I suggest the spa at the Charles Hotel, and then a nice drink at the rooftop of the Bayerischer – which is about 300M away. Go around sunset, and see the sights of Munich glow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dual Pillars

With the sunny weather, it’s been amazing how many University classes have migrated out of the classrooms and into the parks this week. I’ve come across quite a few – an acting class in a park off Lindwurmstrasse, a literature class in the English Gardens, and this art class in front of the Glyptothek Museum, focusing on perspective. A funny topic given that they are showing up in this blog. The thing I really liked about this photograph is how the two women somehow represented and looked like the columns they were drawing. Life imitating art, I suppose.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I thought this photo perfectly catches the spirit of Mother’s Day. It’s taken from a store window visible from Marienplatz. Despite the fact that I show you a store on Mother’s Day, note that you can’t spend Mother’s Day shopping in Munich, as it falls on a Sunday when all shops are all closed. Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. The German date is consistent with that in the US, but it is celebrated in Feb in Norway, March in most of Eastern Europe, and most of the rest of the world celebrates at some point in the month of May. The good news of celebrating today, is it’s part of a three day weekend in Germany as whit Monday is celebrated the following day. (Thank you guest photographer)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Waking Up Leopoldstrasse

As the main artery through northern Munich, Leopoldstrasse (and Ludwigstrasse which covers the section through the University district) is the heart of Schwabing and the capital of Munich’s café lifestyle. The neighborhood was once known as the bohemian center of Munich, and attracted artists, students, and many creative types. That history is now long gone in Schwabing, with the endless cafes along Leopoldstrasse, the highest rent prices in town, and a slew of trendy restaurants. Regardless, Schwabing still remains one of the most desirable parts of Munich to live in. Despite a mobile community, Schwabing still has the top restaurants, the broadest shopping choices, and continues to be the lifeblood of Munich. From my standpoint, I was just amazed by the energy at 10:30. The line up of cars, the people going places, and the people getting their day started. It’s Munich on steroids. Enjoy.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Retro Metro

Down below the Munich surface streets is an interesting underground of 97 U-bahn stations that connect the city and transported over 601 million passengers (actually that number includes the TRAM, S-bahn and busses as well) in 2007. One of my favorite stations is the colorful Westfriedhof (or West Cemetery) station, pictured here, on the U1 line out past the Olympic Park. The blue lights radiating from the ceiling to the rock like walls, and the large dome Yellow & red lights are stunning. The U1 line stretches 12 KM, which seems short, but note that all 6 U-bahn lines operate within the Munich city limits – with the exception of the U6, which crosses the city border in Garching. The U1 line originally opened in 1980, but the Westfriedhof station was part of an extension that opened in 1998. Despite record numbers of passengers, the MVV is planning a 3.8% ticket price increase beginning July 1 to pay for further extensions.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Morning Fix

About a week ago I told you how difficult it is to get news specific to Munich in English, so instead I serve up a bit of news in German. And no better place to catch up on what’s going on in the world then at the edge of the English Gardens – in a small sunny Hofbrau beer garden. I’ve been very curious how these things work. I see beer gardens that serve only a single beer and are sponsored by the brewery, but it is unclear on whether they are owned, sponsored, or simply supported by the brewery. Anyone know? At any rate, the top news in Munich newspapers today includes the coronation of the new Russian president, a German banking scandal, some news on Munich’s Nazi past and future, and of course a story on FC Bayern’s 2-0 victory.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lenin Bashing

We’re not talking about bad mouthing former Soviet leaders, but rather raging all night at one of the hottest club scenes in Europe. More than 20 clubs are packed into an industrial area just outside the Ostbahnhof or East Train station. The area is known as Kultfabrik, and has developed into a maze of bars, clubs, skate parks, cinemas, game halls, climbing walls, flea markets and concert halls. It has become a bit of a Disneyland for clubbers, each with its own theme. This specific shot was taken from Kalinka, the Russian disco. In early June, they are planning a barbeque with 12,000 grilled steaks, 5000 turkey sausages to keep the party crowd going all night long. €10 gets you all club access.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Munich Posh

Despite the fact that jeans wear well in most of Munich, there are pockets of the city that seem ultra chic. One of those grand promenades is Brienner Strasse, where it connects with Odeonsplatz. You will find exclusive galleries, antique shops, cafes, and top of the line clothing stores like this shot of the Hackett Store. Brienner Strasse is likely considered Munich’s 2nd shopping street after the Haute Couture center on Maximillian Strasse, which is home to the famed “schicki-micki” as the city’s fashionable set are known. In fact, Brienner Strasse is one of the four royal avenues constructed under the reign of Maximilian I around 1812. Today, it is simply the trail of the jet-set crowd.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Surf’s Up, Dude.

Who ever heard of surfing in land-locked Munich? It happens to be quite a tradition, dating back to 1972 where locals would find waves on the Isar River that created man-made hotspots for surfers. The one that seems to have the most staying power (perhaps because it’s in the center of town and pulls the most captive viewers) seems to be in the English Garden. It’s a little spot where the Isar River flows through an underground tunnel and creates the perfect wave for surfing. The river is known as Eisbach or the Ice River, and on weekends you can find as many as 10 surfers in line there. But a warning to the adventurous – the rocks are only about 40 cm below the surface. And despite posted warnings (basically the sign says don’t surf for risk of death), the flow of water worshipers keeps growing and growing.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

You Aint So Bad…

In Munich, much is based upon the honor system. The U-Bahn/S-bahn, for example, has a punch system when you enter, and no one on the train checks. Rather, a roaming set of DB police come through occasionally to ensure you have tickets. I have been checked 2-3 times in the hundred or so rides I’ve taken the train. Yet the horror of being pulled off a train in front of a crowd of strangers is enough to ensure most people are compliant. Parking in Munich is sort of the same way. Most people pay to park because of the fear of getting caught, yet the fine for such offense is generally much lower than the cost of parking – often 5 euros. Given that you are only occasionally ticketed, and it doesn’t count against your record – my suggestions is just welcome that meter maid. Her bark is far worse than the bite.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saturday Market

We’re back in the Viktualienmarket or victuals market in central Munich. No where else in the city will you find such a variety of foods, flowers, decorations and ingredients – all spread across 140 stalls on 22,000 square meters. In this particular booth, you find a wide variety of wines, olives, oils and peppers (Thank You Guest Photographer). The square was originally formed in 1807, when the market outgrew Marienplatz. King Maximilian I issued a decree to move the market a few meters to the south-east. Since WWII, the city added all the wells you see today. They once fed into seven brooks which connected to the Isar River. At the center of the market is the May Pole ( the focus of the May Day celebration earlier this week), which was erected at the time of general literacy to tell travelling sales/craftsmen the major industries of the town.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I’m Too Sexy For These Steps…

I’m a model, and you know what that means, I shake my little tush on the catwalk – so went the 1992 Right Said Fred song. In this case, the sexy steps are those leading up to the Museum of Antiquity in Konigsplatz. A great place to shoot at mid-day given that it appears not many people are attending the museum (see previous posts). This is one of several shoots per week that occur between the museums and monuments of Konigsplatz. Munich has a few modeling agencies but pales in comparison to fashion centers of Berlin and Hamburg. Germany actually hosts a reality TV show called Germany’s Next Top Model, modeled after the US series. The show is hosted by none other than Germany’s top model - Heidi Klum.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

At the convergence of May Day, Father’s Day, and Ascension Thursday, Munich holds its annual celebration throughout the city – the largest in Marienplatz and Viktualienmarket. Being our first year in Munich, we decided to check it out and left a little let down after such wonderful celebrations throughout the year. Any resemblance to a Bavarian holiday was well lost with the Indian troop performing group, the line up of political booths, and the rock bands on Marienplatz. The redeeming factor of the celebration was all the activities for kids – woodworking stalls, art classes, and of course face painting.

The Morning Paper

Given the high percentage of Munich residents who speak English comfortably, I have been surprised at how difficult it is to keep up with Munich News in English. There are fantastic news sources for all of Germany, including Deutsche Welle and Spiegel, as well as less known sources such as Google News and Expatica German News for the American slant. One site that does bill itself as a local source is the Local News, but I find coverage much more focused on sports. I would be very interested in whether you know of any other sources for Munich specific news in English. If all else fails, my best bet is to just punch the local paper into Windows Live Translator. It’s not ideal but does give me 70%+ of the information. I guess this is a reminder to brush up on my German.