Sunday, June 29, 2008

Flag Wavin in Germany

Tonight Germany plays Spain for the Euro 2008 football championships. And all around town, German flags have been flying from cars, buildings, and even painted on faces. I am told that public displays of German pride are a new phenomenon in Germany. 60 years of history since WWII is simply a blink of the eye in Europe, and the public shame about German war crimes run very deep, especially here in Munich where Hitler came to power. But Football brings the world together, and all of that changed during the Germany hosted World Cup two years ago. Not only did Germany push a more opened “brand” out to the rest of the world, but it sounds like it did some convincing inside the country as well. It’s going to take more than a few sports tournaments (yes, even football) to change the view from German neighbors, but for this short time it’s nice to see this civic pride swell up in Munich.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Feed the Lion

Having been to Octoberfest several times, I can attest that the waitresses indeed deliver 4 liter-size beers per hand, but rarely are they this provocative. Lowenbrau (or Lion’s beer), one of the major breweries in Munich, has a popular ad campaign that always shows people having a good time out at the beer gardens. It often leads with a play on words or some hidden connotations, and this one is no exception – as Feed the Lion (or at least that is what my broken German gets me). Regardless, it is now the weekend and a hot one at that in Munich, so be sure to get out to one of these beer gardens and enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

His & Hers`

Get ready for another summer weekend of festivals around Munich. On the line up this weekend, includes the Munich Film Festival, Summer Tollwood Festival in Olympic Park, Festspielnacht focused on opera, and the Familienfest. This photo was taken during set up – before the crowds arrived. I love the contrast between his and her faces, and the moment of solitude around them. And, oh yeah, there's this little game for the Euro 2008 Championship - between Spain and Germany on Sunday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Get the lead out

She’s calling you. No time to sit around. Munich has far too many sports options – from biking to running, to skating, to swimming, to football. Munich offers it all, and for many is considered an outdoor wonderland for sports fans. One of the favorites, as I’m told, is Monday night rollers where hundreds, or even thousands, fill the streets of Munich. Other popular choices include biking in the English Garden, skulling in the Oberscheisheim, or swimming at one of the many wonderful swimming pools around town. This particular photo was taken in front of Nike Town for Women in Schwabing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Narrow Perspective

I caught this glimpse of St. John’s Baptist church in Haidhausen through a narrow passage way that leads up to Johannisplatz, a large green open space that surrounds it. The church is one block away from the popular Weiner platz, and dominates the neighborhood of twisting streets. I find this neighborhood fascinating, and one of the most interesting around Munich. One for the great cafes and restaurants, two for the great apartments, and three for the characteristic French Quarter that surrounds the neighborhood. By the way, Germany beat Turkey today 3-2, their toughest opponent so far in the Euro 2008 tournament. On Sunday, they will meet the winner of the Spain/Russia game for the championship. Get ready for a big celebration!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mosaic Masterpiece

Munich continues to expand its extensive museum district, with the coming addition of the Brandhorts Museum opening this year. The museum will be an extension of the Pinakothek der Moderne, and will display illustrated books from Pablo Picasso, as well as modern works by Andy Warhol and others. The most striking point of the museum though is the exterior though, detailed with three color mosaic zones. Composed of multiple layers of varying opacity, the appearance of the skin will change when seen from near and far, appearing more uniform for distance, revealing greater subtlety when approached.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Perfect Symmetry

A lone musician plays a classical tune in temple of the Hofgarten. The pavilion was designed in 1615 with eight arches to divide the garden into eight beautifully symmetrical sections. If you’ve never seen this park, it’s well worth your trip. It is the old grounds of the residence. You will often find street musicians here, especially on weekends. Not your average banjo playing performer, but often a classical trained musician with a big crowd. We are talking about Munich afterall, well known for its classical music and its great musical history.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Climbing Ivy

Inside the Frauenkirche, you can hold 20,000 people. It’s among the largest hall churches in southern Germany. Although most of it was destroyed during WWII, the space has a certain presence to it. It is very modern, but you can see the amazing history hanging outside its walls, or in this case in the stained glass that lines it windows. Construction of the church commenced in 1468, and the icon towers were added in 1488. The city of Munich passed a provision that no building would exceed 100 meters in the center of town, so it will continue to be the symbol of Munich.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Augustiner Man

I love this image as it mixes Munich’s love for beer with the MAN truck line, which somehow makes an appropriate pairing. I am told that Augustiner Brewery is the last of the family run breweries in Munich. All others are managed by large conglomerates. One thing I can’t figure out is what the relationship is between the breweries and the restaurants or beer gardens that server their beer – is it sponsorship, partnership, or ownership. Let us know, if you know how this works in Munich.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Local Freshness

Staying on the theme of fruit juices, and their amazing popularity in Germany, you can also find countless open fruit stands throughout the city. They are quite visible throughout the altstadt and along Leopoldplatz, but each neighborhood seems to have its own stands, and you can smell the fresh fruits before you even reach the stand. This is the best way to get fruit and vegetables as you never know when your apples at the store will be imported from New Zealand, or any other place around the world. Germany (and the surrounding countries) have amazing agriculture and produce great fruit and vegetables. So why import?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apfel Addiction

Germans love their juices, and Munich is no exception. Germany is the world leader in juice consumption (followed by a distant Austria and the US), taking in nearly half of the juice consumption of the entire EU. The undisputed popularity champ, as this photo indicates, apple juice of course. The average Germany drinks 40 litres of juice per year. I don’t have an accompanying number for beer consumption, which likely is much higher, but you can often find fruit drinks at coffee stands and bars. So be sure to juice up before you go.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wood Works

With all the festivals going on in Munich, you often find various wood shops for the kids. There seems to be a genuine interest to teach young children how to build things and to get them comfortable with tools of the trade (just take one trip to the Deutsches Museum, and you will see it first-hand). It’s cute because the kids love it, as they may not get the chance to play with dad’s tools. It usually requires a small cost, but then kids can make (or break) just about whatever they want.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At Europe’s Cross Roads

Every day we’re reminded that Munich is at the heart of Europe. – not only from a geographic stand point, standing as a connecting point between Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. But also as a political and economic center for European commerce. Companies like Railion take advantage of that centerpoint. As an international subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, one of the largest transport and logistic companies in the world, the company moves more than 100,000 carriages a day, and is the number one European rail freight and land transport company. And you thought Munich was only about the commuter trains. In the end, I just really liked the colors of this image – especially for something that is generally as unattractive as a freight train. With more than 3.7 billion in revenues and 25,000 employees – there’s definitely a fast train a comin.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On a Wing and A Prayer – Germany Advances

With two wins and a loss, Germany advances to the final round of the Euro 2008 football tournament. Germany’s latest opponent, Austria, fell 1-0 in a strange game that saw both German & Austrian coaches ejected from the game because of a heated exchange. After seeing this ejection, and then seeing German coach Joachim Low immediately talking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the stands, it looked like her response was, “hey, we’re in Vienna and I have no pull here.” Regardless of the officiating or the game, the party was going quite strong here at the Lowenbraukeller, as it was in most beer gardens around town. They had set up a tent to cover 1000 people from the rain and the beer was flowing. So much so that I tried to buy a water at the end of the night, and it was more expensive than the beer. Only in Germany. Next up, Germany plays Portugal in the sudden death round.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

True Bavarian Gusto

The 850 year Munich anniversary party continued today, with an absolutely packed Altstadt. There were places today, where you simply couldn’t move. They city came out in force, and as I understand it there were a few people coming in from out of town for the party. As the city planned to pass out 850 pieces of birthday cake on one side of Marienplatz, a mobile lumber yard was brought through the center of town. And what can be described only as “true Bavarian men” went to work on a tree trunk the size of a beer keg – taking breaks of course for a smoke of a pipe or a drink of a beer of course. The Frauenkirche and the Rathaus look on from the background with noted approval.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

MarienBLAST – 850 Years of Munich History

Today kicked off the summer long celebration throughout Munich of Stadtgründungsfest, the Munich city founding party. Munich came into existence 850 years ago, in 1158, and the Altstadt has turned into a party zone, with concerts, street entertainers, hundreds of crafts, and of course Bavarian beer gardens. In fact, Munich turned its living room (Marienplatz) into one big beer garden (photo taken before the fesitvities began) so locals and tourists could enjoy International folk music, a medieval playground, and a parade presenting Bavarian traditional costumes. 300,000 were expected to attend the festivities. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Deportation Class

No. This isn’t a satirical comic on the cut backs and charging for bags by airlines in the US. Rather, it is part of one of the more politically outspoken street murals I have seen in Munich. This particular painting is on Nordendstrasse in Schwabing near the Elizabethmarkt. On the mural, you will find commentaries on world politics, Munich issues like immigration, as well as (oddly enough) images of the local businesses and restaurants.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bavarian Alpine Village

Well not exactly, as this picture was taken over the Isar on the Mariannenbrucke, but I love the Bavarian Alpine hats that the couple are wearing. And everyone knows Munich is more of a village than a city. These are very popular all over Bavaria, and even more so as you enter the mountains. The Church in the background is the Lutheran Saint Lukas Chruch, located along the Isar river and on the edge of the Lehel neighborhood. The inside of the church is just as beautiful as its exterior with a mix of early gothic, but heavy influences from the Rhineland.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

A homeless man finds shelter from the wind and sun on a warm afternoon behind the Alte Pinakothek, one of the more well known museums in Munich. The museum generally hosts exhibits by the masters from the middle ages, but outside you get a real sense of here and now. Not just because of the homeless person, but because of the hundreds of people who play and rest on the grass around the museum. Despite the fact that Germany has an estimated 600,000 homeless, and an additional 250,000 homeless immigrants, I took this picture because it really was an exception. Beyond the Central Station and a few well-trafficked streets, the Homeless are not all that visible. In fact, this side of the building is usually crowded with University students and tired tourists exiting the museum.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Real Men Eat Weißwurst

I love this photo for the boy on his tractor and the father walking behind him to the butcher to pick up their Weißwurst. Many Americans may not know the significance of the white sausage, but it brings quite a bit of history and bravado with it. When served with a pretzel, mustard, and of course a Weissbeer, it is said to be the cure for a hangover. My hunch is that it’s the beer that kills the hangover, while people in Munich (by in large men) just like the taste of Weißwurst and pretzel. This myth is only one of many that (I care to share here) have been constructed during its 150 year history in Munich. Now you will be hard pressed to find ANY pub or beergarden that doesn’t serve it as the Munich delicacy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Book Ends

It’s not every day you are surrounded by Homer and Aristotle, the great Greek storyteller and philosopher. But when you are standing in front of the Bavarian State Library on Ludwigstrasse, you should expect the royal treatment. The entire street was built in early Italian Renaissance style and commissioned by Kind Ludwig I. The first thing you will notice is the uniformity of all buildings along this stretch of the street. The next you will notice is the four huge statues at the entry of the library (the others are historian Thukydides and the medical scientist Hippokrates). Then you may discover that the library is one of the largest in the German-speaking world with 9 million books, and celebrating its 450th anniversary. Finally, you will discover that despite the fact that most people in Munich are quite friendlz, not all of them are - as these two prove in immediately turning away from the photo. Oh well, say cheese to an amazing history, architecture, and collection of books.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer Street Fest

The summer festival season is officially underway, with much of Munich celebrating the annual Streetlife Festival this weekend, which stretched most of the length of Leopold and Ludwigstrasse and into the Altstadt. For those familiar with Munich’s active summer cultural season, you can expect to see even more as the city celebrates its 850th birthday this year. And this car-free gathering, that shut down several of Munich’s busiest streets, is just the beginning with a theme of eco-friendly ways to improve life in Munich. Festival organizers expected 300,000 attendees this year, but I have my doubts. We showed up at 3:30 on Saturday and they were still setting up. Combine that with some HUGE rainstorms and Germany’s first game in Eurocup 2008 and attendance may have been limited. But if you’re interested in some of this summer’s other events, your best options are Munich Found Magazine and in Munchen magazines, or you can check or Munich Blog.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Europe is Ready…Euro 2008

Today kicks off the biggest sports tournament in Europe, the Euro 2008, pitting 16 national football teams against each other to see who is the best in Europe. And despite the fact that the tournament is hosted by Austria/Switzerland, you wouldn’t know it hanging out in Munich. Taking a page from their super successful World Cup, Germany is embracing the tournament as if it was their own. In fact, Germany is being picked by the odds makers to win the tournament (see sidebar). Go to any of the major beer gardens, and huge screens are set up to keep the party going. I’m convinced that Munich will look for any reason to party, and according to locals fussball is one of the best reasons. These boys gave an appropriate warm up in a make shift soccer field in Odeonsplatz. Fussball is everywhere!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Munich's Other Market

In truth Munich has many markets, but one of the more prominent ones is the Elizabeth Market in the heart of Schwabing. It is quite intimate and friendly in comparison to the huge Viktualien Market in the center of Munich. You will find your fair share of flowers, fruits, cheeses, and of course wonderful wines (mostly from Italy). The market (and neighboring street) was actually named after empress Elizabeth of Austria, who was the daughter of the duke Max of Joseph in Bavaria and cousin of King Ludwig II. Despite being heavily damaged from bombs during WWII, the market has a history more than 100 years back. One of the things I love about it is how these small market stalls create cozy eating areas – often with only 2 or 3 tables – so you can stop in for lunch and not only pick up the freshest tastes in town, but also have someone prepare it for you right there. Now that’s what I call a market.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vintage Import

Like so many things in Munich, you have this amazing contrast between old and new, classic and modern. On the left, is the modern German Headquarters of Conde Nast Verlag (which opened in 1979), publishing house for popular international magazines that include Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, GQ, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and approx 107 others that reach 120 million “income-strong” readers. On the right, you have the classic looking government buildings of the ministry of finance. And in the middle is a beautiful Jaguar. I’m not even a car fan, but I (and everyone else who passed by) loved this machine. My guess is one of the execs from Conde was working over the weekend. So next time you pick up one of these titles, know that you’re supporting those “income-strong” residents of Munich.

Crossing the Chasm

A lone biker crosses from the edge of Promendeplatz into the Alstadt at sunset. Led by the montage of colors and patterns beneath his feet, the biker has a safe passage from the new to the old town. The Platz sits just outside the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, one of the nicest hotels in Munich today, and once part of the former Palias Montgelas, The platz was one of the prominent salt Markets in Bavaria and throughout Central Europe, but today simply marks one of the more interesting segways into central Munich.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kitsch Pitch for Munich

Every city has its tacky souvenirs – its snow globes, the key to the city or license nameplates. I came across this collection of kitsch souvenirs in a small shop outside Marienplatz. There’s no shortage of Munich images here – the Frauenkirchen Church, the Munich Kindl, and of course the bold tribute to Octoberfest. What you likely didn’t know is that the world Kitsch apparently has origins in Munich. It’s a Yidish word that generally means art of questionable or commercial quality, and it is widely believed that the word originated in Munich art markets of the 1860s and ’70s, used to describe cheap, hotly marketable pictures or sketches. Kitsch appealed to the crass tastes of the newly moneyed Munich bourgeoisie who allegedly thought they could achieve the status they envied in the traditional class of cultural elites by aping, however clumsily, the most apparent features of their cultural habits. Hmmm…you learn something new every day!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Back Below Ground

Several weeks ago, I told you about this incredible network of trains that have become such a life blood of Munich. I wanted to bring you back underground once more because this is new territory for most Americans. Remove New York, D.C., San Francisco and there really is no such thing as mass transit in the US. Many cities may have good bus connections, but in Munich, for example, there is a well thought out mix of trains, busses and trams to take you just about anywhere in the city. A single ticket generally works on all forms of transportation. And those systems link into the suburban trains, regional trains, and make easy transport to and from the airport. In some ways, pubic transport becomes the great equalizer. Unlike many American cities, you have a mix of ethnic, cultural and socio-economic people travelling on public transport – and this makes it a true public service.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Shop on the Corner

Today is the June theme day for Corner Shop on The first shop that came to mind was Obletter, the huge toy store in Karlsplatz. It sells toys from all over the world and for all ages. Of course, it specializes in toys made in Germany (as the picture shows), so you will find plenty of wooden toys, cars and airplanes, and model train sets. The store was established in the 1880s, and is one of the largest toy emporiums in Munich. One of the descriptions included the following, “The toys often look suspiciously capable of coming alive beneath someone’s Christmas tree, like the Nutcracker ballet.”