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!


Kris McCracken said...

I make it a point to pick up a tea towel from every city that I visit. You will be glad to know that our Munich tea towel (one of my favourites) is still going strong after 5 years!

Bluefish said...

Hi, what are the must see sites in Munich?

Troy said...

The easiest (but less helpful answer) is it depends on what you like. This would be my advice:
1. Marienplatz and pedestrian area in historic center of town. In this area, you can hit a number of amazing areas, including the Hofgarten at the base of English Gardens, the Residence, the Jewish Heritage Museum, the Viktualian Market, and the Ratskeller or Hofbrau (a bit touristy for me) house.
2. Bike ride or walk through the English Garden. Amazing park in the center of city, which seems to go on forever. Lots of great beer gardens, surfers on the Isar river, and a few people sunbathing nude (a good Munich experience), and endless bike paths that run along the Isar river.
3. Olympic Center. Home of the 1972 “Happy Games” Olympics, which turned out to be known for the Munich Massacre where several Israeli athletes and coaches were killed. Despite its history, the center today is an outdoor hub of modern Munich, with weekend festivals, concerts, and nice walkways for blading, biking or strolling. It’s also across from the BMW Museum and the Olympic tower for 360 degree views of the alps.
The next tier would be a mix between palaces (Nymphenburg or Unterschleisheim are great), Dachau (definitely not my thing, but some feel the need to go), touring Nazi Munich, the museum quarter at Maxvorstadt, or great neighborhoods like cafes in Schwabing. To me, the best part of Munich is bike riding. You ride for an hour or two, explore the city on great/safe bike paths, then there is always a beer garden within 100 meters (each with a different personality and a different beer). A lot of people come for Octoberfest, but to me this is the true Munich. Then of course, you have the mountains within about 1 hour. I hope you enjoy.

Kelly said...

Those would be my top three suggestions too, but I would add Nymphenburg Palace and perhaps Frauenkirche. Although for churches, I prefer Theatiner Church. All are probably full of tourists though.

Troy said...

I am with you, Kelly, on the choice of church. I am not sure if the Theatiner Church was not bombed out, but it has a lot of the amazing detail inside, which the Frauenkirchen does not have. You can also stroll out the door into Odeonsplatz for a coffee, or into the Residence or Hofgarten. Nice choice.

Troy said...

If you want a very detailed view of Munich Favorites, take a look at the June 1 post at Servus at http://munichbavaria.blogspot.com/. Emily has lived in Munich longer than I have, yet still takes an ex-pat interest in mind. It's a great guide.