Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swan Song

In the middle of the English Garden at the Chinese Tower, is not only one of the city’s largest beer gardens – but in true Munich form a great playpark and one of the best carousels I’ve ever seen (even after living for 3 years in Paris where they know their carousels). A children’s carousel was first created there in 1823, but by 1912 a replacement was needed – and this is the version that is used today. It was designed by a sculptor from Swhabing named Joseph Erlacher and the decoration painter August Julier. Alongside the usual horses, the carousel has less expected creatures to ride, such as an ibex, stork, flamingo, and this Swan. Its wooden roof and pillars were restored from 1979 to 1980.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lady in the Leaves

Towering over Munich are the spires of the Frauenkirche or Our lady church, standing 100 meters or 328 feet above Marienplatz. That may not seem high by US standards, but most European cities have strict height limits, and It’s generally the Cathederal that strands higher than any other. The church was built in 1468 to accommodate more than 20,000 people. Ironically, the city of Munich only had 13,000 inhabitants at that time. The church was partly destroyed during WWII and the total reconstruction lasted until 1993. If you get the chance, take the 180 steps up one of the 2 spires and get a first-hand, close up look at those copper onion domes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alone in This World

Sometimes on rainy days, you will seek out any color you can find for a photo. And it’s been a weird mix in Munich, with a rainy spring and summer. So when I came across this painted light post in the midst of these trees, I had to capture it. It was even more interesting to pass the next day and see it painted back to black. I would say the red paint was part of some sort of protest, but it was only this one pole amongst the many that line the Glyptotek Museum. You can find random graffiti all over Munich, but this is perhaps a first. Perhaps always a mystery.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spaten Brau

After all that bike riding around the 800 KM of bike trails (from yesterday’s post), it’s time to catch a cold beverage from Spaten (shovel) brew. In this case, many kegs of Spaten brew. Know that this scene is enough to bring tears of joy to most Munich residents. The Spaten brewery is well rooted in Munich’s history, with more than 600 years of brewing tradition in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood. But things have certainly changed, because only one of the Munich breweries are still independent – that being Augustiner Beer. Spaten Beer is actually part of a group of high profile Munich brands, including Franziskaner and Lowenbrau. Ironically in the world of consolidation, they all seemed to be owned by in bev, the same Belguim brewing conglomerate that recently purchased Anheuser Busch – now the largest brewer in the world.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Riding Through the Isar

I have mentioned several times before that Munich is one of the best bike riding cities in the world. One of the biggest reasons is the more than 800 KM of cycling paths, and get this – bikers not only have the right away – but drivers respect that right to bikers. It’s safe and amazing. There are points where you can ride from the heart of the city along the Isar, and make it all the way to the forrest in the North or South, without ever stopping for cars. This picture was taken from Zweibrukenstrasse with the Isartor or Isar Gate in the distance. The Isartor is part of the original wall that surrounded Munich, and is one of three gates that remain, including Sendlinger & Karlstor. The Isartor tower was build in 1337 and was the main thoroughfare towards the Isar River. It was recreated to show the dimensions and appearance of the original structure and today accommodates the Valetin Museum.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Day at the Theatre (Church)

And to more pleasant images, a common view from the royal Hofgarten looking towards the Theatinerkirche or Theater Church. The church and the garden represent the tremendous Italian influence in Munich through its history. The Church was built in 1690, a process that took nearly 30 years, and created in Italian high-baroque. The dome and towers were added later and the façade was finally completed in 1768. The interior is a must for visitors to Munich. Amazing detail lines every spot in the Church which is lined with white stucco ornaments. You will also find much of the Wittlesbach family buried here, the royal court which led Bavaria for 750 years. The platz in front of the charge – Odeonsplatz – is the site of many cultural events throughout the year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sexy on Stripes

So back to interesting sights around Munich. Here’s something you don’t see every day, but not every company is Crumpler. An Australian company with a track record of outlandish marketing efforts, with an outlet right smack dab in the middle of Schwabing. The company was started years ago as a messenger service, but when one of its employees built a handmade messenger bag to get his beer and pizza home, the company found it’s true calling. Now with more than 1300 locations worldwide, the company is on the cutting edge of fashion. Last year, the company offered a beer for bags program in New York that offered bags in trade for anyone who brought in beer. The stunt put Crumpler on the Madison Ave cool set. Sexy on Stripes seems to be the latest from the company. Check out their “Crumpler Makes you Sexy” German site.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Recent Munich Moments

Munich Pop History Day 8.5. So this completes our look in 850 years of Munich history. There were so many items that were not mentioned in Munich history, which are quite visible today in Munich. Here are a few recent items… The 1981 opening of the Neue Pnakothek museum. The 1992 opening of the new Munich Airport growing to the 7th busiest in Europe with 34 million passengers per year. The 500th anniversary of the Frauenkirche in 1994. The 2006 World Cup football championship in Germany and the Allianz Arena (pictured here) which changes color based upon which team is playing… And now enough with the past. On to the future. I saw in the local Munich paper yesterday that most of the seats for this year’s Octoberfest (starting in just 2 months) are already reserved. So make your reservations today!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Munich Masterpiece

Munich Pop History Day 8: Few events over the last 40 years have had a bigger impact on Munich than the 1972 Summer Olympics. The Olympics were the first of many events in Germany to “re-brand” Germans to the rest of the world, and at the time it was to show Munich as a new, democratic and optimistic city to the world. The official motto was “the Happy Games, and was the first to have an official mascot – “Waldi” the dachshund mascot. The games were known for the architectural wonder of the Olympic grounds (which still exist today), and amazing performances by swimmer Mark Spitz (7 goal medals and 7 world records in 7 events), Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut who won the all-around gold, and the US basketball team that was upset by the Soviet Union – breaking a 36 year winning streak. However, the 1972 Olympics will go down in history as the Munich Massacre because of the killing of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. Today, the Olympic park facilities are used by millions of people every year, and the Olympic housing (including the apartment of the Massacre which still exists) now houses more than 10,000 people. And now, Munich is a city candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympics. If they win, Munich would be the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Munich in the Third Reicht

Munich Pop History Day 7: Konigsplatz, although built by crown prince Ludwig, was one of the greatest propaganda backdrops for Hitler and the Nazi party (This site is a must see for images of Nazi Munich). The Nazi party was started in Munich’s Maxvorstadt neighborhood, after a long period of food and fuel shortages in Germany. Hitler captured the unrest in a hotbed of of right wing movements that led to the 1923 Beer Hall Putch, an attempt to overthrow the government and seize power. 10 years later, the NSDAP headquarters took over a building one block from Konigsplatz, which are today used as a Music school. These buildings, are hopefully all that’s left of a movement that led to more than 50 million being killed during WWII. As the Nazi headquarters, the city was hard hit during the allied raids – more than 71 air raids over six years. You walk around this peaceful and quiet neighborhood, and it’s hard to believe. Nearly 80 years later, and very little has been forgotten here in Munich. Germans, by and large, hold the guilt for past events; and neighboring countries hold Germany to blame for unspeakable crimes. And yet, the city changes. Last year, a $17M Jewish museum opened in the Altstadt, and recently a documentation center opened to help people understand Munich’s past. The journey continues…

Monday, July 21, 2008

City of Art & Culture

Munich Pop History Day 6: The arts have always been an important part of Munich’s history, as this example of the ceiling of Nymphenburg palace illustrates (thank you guest photographer). Based upon a groundswell of artist colonies throughout Munich, Maximillian I of Bavaria founded the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1808, one of the oldest and most significant art academies in Germany. The academy played a significant role in the Jugendstil (youth movement), the basis of the Art Nouveau movement in Munich. Most people don’t know Munich as a base for Art Nouveau, but it was one of the cities linked with Paris, Brussels, and others that led the movement. Influential artists, like Otto Eckmann, Richard Riemerschmid, and Hermann Obrist led this movement from Munich. Much of this momentum continued until the exile of much of Munich’s artistic community by the Nazis during WWII.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beer Rushing From the Hills

Munich Pop History Day 5: Munich’s beer culture? Where else to start but the oldest brewery in the world. The Weihenstephan brewery, located in a beautiful garden setting up in the hills of a Munich suburb, called Freising, lays claim to being the oldest operating brewery in the world. The Benedictine abbey began brewing beer in 768, and received its first brewing licenses from the city of Freising in 1040. For centuries the brewery has been the possession of the state and is known now as the Bavaria state Brewery, and is operated in conjunction with the Technical University of Munich School of agriculture. Both a production and a learning facility. Combine that with the Reinheitsgebot, the beer purity law of 1516, and you start seeing the beer culture emerge. The purity law is the oldest food regulation in the world, and still exists today. It limited the ingredients in beer to barley, hops, and water, and in the 20th century added yeast (which was in short supply for bread making at the time) as a key ingredient. On the positive side, it prevented unscrupulous brewers from adding fruit, herbs, eggs, tree bark, fish bladders and who knows what else. It also prevents the addition of corn syrup and rice, which is popular among American beers. Within the past few years, the Reinheitsgebot has become popular in America because of the emergence of microbrews, but in Germany it is nothing new as more than 900 breweries still adhere to it today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Mad King Ludwig II

Munich Pop History Day 4: Or so they say. Apparently the story around Ludwig is a bit sketchy as he was deposed on grounds of mental illness, but then died a day later under mysterious circumstances. Whether he was mad or not, his presence is felt on a daily basis – mostly through his fairy tale castles that dot the Bavarian landscape. Known as an eccentric, he was heavily involved in art and architecture, and avoided government affairs, which caused endless frustration for his leaders. This lack of support for the incoming Emperor, Wilhelm I of Prussia, may have finally did Ludwig in, but he objected to Bavaria becoming a state within a broader Empire. So Ludwig retreated to the arts, and was a devoted patron of composer Richard Wagner, and some say saved his career as without him we would not have the famous Ring, and many of his other classics. Much of his life was based within fantasy, which led to his fascination of castles, such as Neuschwanstein, Herrenschiemsee, Linderhof, Hohenschwangau (pictured), and others. “The Darling King” as he was called is still thrilling the locals as well as nearly 20 million visitors per year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The House & City that Wittelsbach Built

Munich Pop History Day 3: If you’ve never heard of Wittlesbach, then you are missing an enormous part of Munich history. The Wittlesbach dynasty ruled Bavaria for more nearly 750 years. Twenty years after establishing Munich, Henry the Lion was deposed – some say for his refusal to provide aide to other German Dukes, and others say the Emperor accused him of breaching the peace in the region. Regardless, Otto I Wittlesbach became Duke of Bavaria in 1180 and Bavaria was passed down within the family until 1918. The Wittlesbach family decided they wanted a city similar to Paris, and to achieve that parks, libraries, museums and Universities were erected. Much of the city as it’s known today was formed by the Wittlesbach Dynasty. During that time, they created the gigantic Residence, which you see a picture of the Hall of Antiquities here. Most people are much more familiar with the mad King Ludwig II for his creation of many near-by castles. The Ludwings were, in fact, part of the Wittlesbach family as well.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Munich Pop History Day 2: As I understand the story, way back around the time that Munich was founded, the real Bavaria powerhouse was the city of Freising – which is currently a suburb of Munich located just North of the airport but was founded 500 years earlier. Freising grew into a city because it possessed the one bridge that crossed the Isar River, and thus controlled the salt trade coming from nearby Salzburg into Western Germany and France. When Henry the Lion founded Munich, he burnt the bridge at Freising in order to create a new market town in Munich, which was in his duchy. By charging a toll for passing, Henry built Munich into a viable city. Munich surrounded the monestary of Trappist monks, who built their parish at the present day site of Alte Peter, which is just beyond Marienplatz. The shift was a defining moment for Munich’s history, and the bridge stood near the present day Isartor Gate, which is the home of the Deutches Museum and the Volksbad (pictured here).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Henry the Lion

Munich Pop History – Day 1: With the 850 year anniversary of Munich this summer, I figure there is plenty of history to talk about. But given the fact that I’m not a native, and quite frankly don’t know a whole lot about Munich history, I give you my own version – that of history which is quite visible in Munich today. For the next 8.5 days, I’ll touch on major events in history that you see evidence of every day in Munich. Here’s the first… Everywhere you go in Munich, you find Lions. There are literally hundreds of ceramic versions painted different colors, but you also see references to lions in crests, municipal statues, and even in storybooks. This particular lion lives outside a Lottery administration building at Carolinaplatz (appropriately painted gold for luck). The origin of the Lion in Munich and Bavaria dates back to 1157 with Henry the Lion founded the city and thereby made the lion the foremost symbol of the city. The lion happens to be his heraldic animal and was placed on family crests. Despite many years of service to the emperor, a breach occurred because of compensation demanded for support in a war vs Italy. In the end, Henry’s lands were confiscated and he was banished to England, only to have his son, Otto IV, become emperor in 1209.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Better with Leather

Munich isn’t exactly known for its leather goods, but being so close to Italy pretty much guarantees that you will find a stand or two at each market. I took this photo because I was impressed at the variety of leather accessories available. Yet, after spending a few minutes at the stand, I decided I couldn’t actually find what I was looking for. One of the more traditional seasonal markets in Munich is coming up, and is worth putting onto your calendar. It’s the Auer Dult at Mariahilfplatz in the neighborhood of Au from July 26-Aug 3. The 20,000 square meters transforms into Europe’s largest market for tableware.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cult Classic

A Munich icon, the Museum Lichtspiele, shows a mixture of big cinema bloskbusters with cult movie classics like the Blues Brothers, The Big Blue and others – all in version original. They are famous with the claim of being the longest weekly showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is getting close to 30 years now. Inside this “Kult Kino” are three amazingly small and intimate theatres, each with about 30 seats per room. Arrive early, pick up a German size beer, and enjoy a film or two.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Four in the Fountain

A group of University students pose in a very unique fountain set up each summer in front of the beautiful Italian Villa – Lenbach House. The building is now a modern art museum in Maxvorstadt, and the fountain is one of the many public service functions that pop up around town. What’s so unique about the fountain is that spray jets create a circle wall of water. As you approach the water wall, sensors on the outside and on the inside shut off that section of the fountain. The wall recedes, you walk in, and it comes back up to surround you. So it’s strange to see fully clothed (and dry) people playing in the center of the fountain. What’s even more amusing is to see people approach who don’t know there are sensors, and then try to time the water jets. This fab four, on the other hand, are seasoned pros.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Munich's Gay Pride Celebration

Although big crowds showed up in support of Munich’s Gay community during the Gay Pride celebration today, I am told that both Berlin and Cologne are much larger hotspots for gay and lesbian enthusiasts. One reason is that Bavaria tends to be socially quite conservative, perhaps the most conservative federal state in Germany. Munich clubs are often dominated by pretty clothes, while in contrast many bars go for the traditional Jeans & Leather style. If your preferences are somewhere in-between, then I’m told Camp and Kr@ftAkt can be good options. Most of Munich's gay cafes, bars and shops are located in the city center in the area Glockenbachviertel close to the subway station Sendlinger Tor.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dantebad, Bad, Oh So Bad.

Munich locals love the new refurbished Dantebad swimming pool in Nymphenberg/Gern, possibly too much. As the temperature stretched over 90 degrees, it felt like all of Munich was there. And for good reason, after a 5 million euro refit that includes a multi-level toddler’s pool (pictured), a large waterslide in the paddling pool, a true swimming (laps) pool, and even a nudist area (which seems like the only rule that orderly Germans don’t mind breaking). I’ve said before that I believe Munich does swimming pools better than just about any city I’ve ever been to. You’re unfortunately going to have to share them though.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Checkin Out The Boys

A woman in the Central Train Station catches a quick glance of the music men currently being promoted around town, but without missing a stride. Personally, I believe there is a huge difference between the music of James Blunt, Jason Mraz, and Kid Rock – but that’s just me apparently. Munich gets its fair share of bands touring through. The big names of the summer are Eric Clapton, Nelly Fertado, and today’s show Jack Johnson.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cold War Relic

Out in the far west of Schwabing lies a deserted emergency shelter that once held the prospects of supporting more than 3000 people in the event of an atomic bomb. The shelter, located at Heßstraße 120, once provided a 12,000 square meter living space far underground. It was maintained until about 10 years ago until it was converted to office space for the Emergency Disaster Response center. Now, after being unused recently, the current plan is to leverage the space for the fire brigade, and develop with integrated directing center. Thank goodness we don’t have use for these relics any more.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Typical Munich, or Typical Cliché?

A recently opened exhibit at the Munich City Museum explores this very question. As part of the 850 year anniversary celebration, the city has installed “Typical Munich” into the permanent collection, and explores these popular images – Weisswurst, the Frauenkirche, and pretzels – and investigates the many things that get lost behind these iconic images. Part of the exhibit will highlight 45 local films that were filmed across 10 decades, that focus on Munich as its centerpiece. Perhaps they will hit on some of the other classic themes in Munich – Lederhosen & dirndls, fast cars, and lots & lots of beer. What has been your typical Munich experience?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Illuminating Residence

In the heart of Munich is the largest downtown palace in Germany, the Residence or the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs. Originally started construction in 1385 as the court of the Wittlesbach and later Ludwig rulers, the building mixes ranaissace, baroque, rococo and classicsm styles throughout its 130 rooms and 10 courtyards. This particular view looks at the royal ballroom on the top floor, and provides a brief view of all the treasures packed into this building. We made it through less than 1/3 in about 90 minutes. You could easily spend an entire day here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Study the Classics

There’s always something interesting going on around Konigsplatz in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood of Munich. I like this photo because it shows a student from the nearby universities studying at the steps of the Konigsplatz monument with classic Ionic columns. I thought it was an interesting photo before I noticed her 1980’s versions of Vans shoes she’s wearing. Yes, Spicoli in the 80’s iconic movie “Fast Times” wore the same shoes. In the background is all the equipment for a photo shoot. Not sure what it was for, but the model was posed on all fours looking quite animalistic when I walked by. So today, I passed by the exact same spot and there was another photo shoot going on at the fountain across the street, this time several women in bathing suits. Sorry…I forgot my camera today for that one.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tollwood Hippie Fest

I finally caught up with the three week celebration that has become a mainstay for 20 years in Munich’s Summer culture, that is the Tollwood festival taking place at the Olympic Village. And while it may have some respectable acts like Billy Idol, The Neville Brothers, Simply Red, Lorenna McKennitt, and the Bangles; in the end it was a bit of a hippie fest. I rode all over the Olympic park before finding it below the Olympic hill, a space I believe reserved for the weekly flea market. There was certainly a mix of crafts in the “Market of Ideas” area, but the bulk of the stands were a mix of rasta hats, flowery clothes, and garden chairs. And attending the event were a lot of shirtless, hairy, and sweaty people - many of which did not think highly about deodorant. In what has become known as a “Tent Spectacle” or a township of tents and stages, the event only sells certified organic food – despite the wide offering of French fries, sausages, and beer. Like many things in Munich, it was a bit of a contrast – half entertainment and half beer fest, half people watching and half spectacle (as the photo shows) , and half corporate and half hippie fest.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Stag party

I spend a lot of time talking about how customs are different in Munich than in other parts of the world, but of course you have some that seem the same worldwide. One of those seemingly universal traditions is stag night, where a close group of friends takes “their boy” out for one last night of humor and commraderie. This creative group, pictured here walking through the city center pedestrian zone, provided shirts for all the attendees stating, “Not Me!” I won’t mention what the groom was wearing or not wearing…

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Local Color

I’ve talked about Haidhausen many times on this blog, as it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in Munich. You have an interesting mix between what they called in Paris – BoBo. Slightly bohemian and slightly bourgeois. A strange mix of new and old, as well as artistic yet well off and hip. The area around Leonhard strasse in Haidhausen is a good example of that. In general, it is surrounded by blocks of desirable accommodations, but each street takes a very different flavor. Leonhard Strase, for example, is a back alley, while neighboring Preysingstrasse is filled with cafes, art galleries, and historic buildings. Take a walk around, and find a different look around each corner.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Makes the World Go Round

One last attempt, and then I’m moving on. It was, afterall, just a football tournament (obviously, an American speaking). This is my last attempt to cheer up the Munich locals for losing vs Spain in the Euro 2008 championship. So you don’t have a football champion, but where else in the world do you have a Beer carousel. I’m not joking here. This is a carousel, minus the cute little horses, and adding the incredible size beers. The surface does go round and round, which makes getting off a bit of a challenge. But in the end, who cares if it’s Franziskaner beers, which I think are one of Munich’s best. I did hear about the Munich locals converging on Leopodstrasse and celebrating with all the Munich Spanish who came out of the woodwork. Nice to see the spirit spinning by.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Somber Munich?

OK, so the main storyline is that Germany lost to Spain 1-0 in the Euro 2008 finals. And the mood in Munich is quite somber today, so I thought I would provide an image that may cheer everyone up. I was yelling and screaming for Germany all the way, but in the end I think Spain played too well. Well, making to the finals was not all that bad. So I share this photo that I captured out of the window of a jewerlers in the altstadt. It kind of reminds me of the scenes from the game. A little of everything going on in the stands.