Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Moon Over Munich

The moon shines bright at dusk over the Theater Church on Odeonsplatz. Turns out this is quite a rare scene this fall as Munich has been hit with a wash of rainy and cloudy days. Some have argued that Munich no longer has a Spring and Fall, but goes directly from Summer to winter, dropping 40 degrees Fahrenheit in 1-2 days – which is exactly what happened about two weeks ago. So we’ll enjoy the semi-clear days as we get them, especially with such a wonderful backdrop.

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Engineer's Wet Dream

If you’re looking for techno cool, it doesn’t get better than the Deutsches Museum, the largest science and technology museum in the world. The main building on “Museum Island” in the middle of the Isar river has more than 55,000 Sq meters of exhibition space, and that doesn’t include newer additions like the Transportation and Air-space museum. There are more than 100,000 objects on exhibit in the areas of science, Materials and Production, Energy, Transport, Communication and information, and the Children’s Museum. Exhibits include objects from mining to atomic physics, from the Altamira cave to a magnified model of a human cell. They extend from the Stone Age to the present time. Collecting historically significant objects is still one of the Museum’s central tasks, so that the stock is constantly growing. Among the particular highlights are the first motorized aircraft built by the Wright brothers, the U1 submarine, the first program-controlled computer (Conrad Zuse’s Z3), and Diesel’s original engine on the island; the first motorcar by Karl Benz in the transport museum; and the Douglas DC3 at Schleißheim. (Thank you guest photographer, and yes I’m still taking a break from Octoberfest. J)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Water Town

When the drunken madness of Octoberfest becomes too much, you just need to get out of town! More than ever, we felt like we needed a break. So we drove 60 km west of Munich to an amazing village of Wasserburg, a medieval town surrounded on nearly all sides by water. I saw it for the first time on a flight into Munich, and its geography is unforgettable, with the Inn river bending around it and a narrow spit as the only connection between the city and the rest of Bavaria. Then Stephanie Levy raved about Wasserburg on her blog. So we decided to pay the small village a visit – and we were completely overwhelmed. The streets are lined with brightly painted buildings dating back several hundred years. The city surrounds a fortress and remnants of the original wall still circle the old town – which is mostly pedestrian zone. And even better news – it’s open on Sundays. With most of Bavaria closed on Sundays, it was a lovely treat to arrive during a market day – with an interesting collection of food, clothes, and wooden toys. The village is lively with 17 schools and colleges and a cultural mix of events. If you get the chance for an extra day, it’s a wonderful excursion from Munich – especially when all the world is here for Octoberfest.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thrill Ride

Of course, everyone knows Octoberfest as the non-stop 16-day party. But what many people don’t realize is that it is one of the best theme park and thrill ride events of the year. A good 60% of the park is dedicated to rides, concessions, and non-beer related activities. Of course, this requires you to leave one of the big tents to discover this. In fact, there are more than 70 rides and shows – from high tech to old style entertainment. Apparently, 20 people had to be rescued off of the premier rollercoaster Saturday, as they were stranded more than 100 feet up on the Olympic loop, which has 5 different circles to simbolize the 1072 Olympics in Munich. The ride has been an Octoberfest mainstay for more than 20 years. This particular photo was taken at one of the newer rides. In fact, there are two new rides at Octoberfest this year – Psychedelic which is a hippie labyrinth and the new Alpine Coaster – the longest and biggest roller coaster without loops in the world.

Old Leather Pants

So yesterday I talked about the origin of the dirndl, and I thought it would only be appropriate to give the mens’ clothing the same focus. Lederhosen or leather pants, which you really can’t see in this photo (but believe me, he’s wearing them), were traditionally worn by Germanic men of the Alpine and surrounding regions and are often worn with bold blazers or a checkered shirt of red and white. Lederhosen has become part of the adolescent lifestyle in Bavaria with children wearing them for hiking or as part o the boy scouts, despite the fact that they represent quite a bit of Bavarian bravado today. Lederhosen became quite popular throughout Europe – especially with riders, hunters, and others - but it eventually became a mainstay in Bavaria as the look of the locals.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wall Flowers

Ladies in waiting, I suppose. Three women wait anxiously along a busy corridor, as men in the section above look on. It’s a matter of the men watching the women, who are watching the passing men. Such is life at Octoberfest. So I thought I would take this opportunity to explain the whole dirndl thing. Dirndls are traditional Bavarian and Austrian outfits, that have become a fixture of Octoberfest. Ironically, it was originally a uniform for peasants or as a folk costume, but today a dirndl can be worn as formal attire in Munich. Generally the colors are rich and dark, but a whole new line of popular designs are quickly changing that – with brightly colored and ornamented trim, or revealing cleavage or high skirts. These three have a more traditional style, which often is an indication of being local. Either way, I like the image of women in waiting in the ultra-aggressive German Octoberfest settings. Like many things in Munich, quit a contrast.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bavarian Heaven

That’s how they describe the Hacker-Festzelt tent at the Octoberfest. Described as a piece of Heaven because of its blue sky and clouded ceiling, the tent is said to be one of Octoberfest’s best. Traditionally, the crowd of nearly 10,000, is made of of people from the Bavarian countryside, so you are less likely to have too many tourists. German is definitely the language spoken here and the lederhosen & dirndls are quite authentic, which can be rare at Octoberfest. The tent’s beer is from the Hacker-Pschorr brewery, which traces its ancestry back to 1417, nearly 100 years before the enactment of the Reinheitsgebot Purity Law, the world’s first law regulating food, which ensured that beer was made with the purity standard. The beer, albeit an Octoberfest Maertzen blend, has not changed for more than 580 years. About the only ironic thing about this Bavarian paradise, the band is a rock band and not the traditional Bavarian fare. Oh well, rock out to AC/DC with a beer the size of a `keg, and the beautiful clouds hanging above your head.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tent Teasers

So as I am told…there is a large group of Fest-crashers (mostly women dressed in revealing dirndls) who scour the tents looking for opportunities to squat at people’s tables. Why is that important? Because you can’t order beer (or food for that matter) unless you are at a table. And quite often, they end up at tables with older men who are so pleased to have the company that they buy beer for the tent teasers throughout the night. It becomes a bit of a game to see if they can 1. Get a seat at the table and 2. Get free beer along the way. The photo, as it turns out, shows one example – as over the course of the night 3 of the four tables our company bought had been taken over by strangers, and this woman was seen with at least 5 of the men in our party. I suppose in the midst of the party and the madness of Octoberfest, it seems like a small infraction.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

You are likely to see a little bit of everything at Octoberfest. These are just a couple scenes from the festivities today. I thought I would share with you just a few little known facts about Octoberfest: Beers include approx. 5.5-6% alcohol. So just watch yourself. Dates for Octoberfest were changed so the event ends on Oct. 3rd – German Unity Day. There have been 24 cancellations since the festivities began in 1810 – mostly because of war, disease, or inflation. Generally you need a seat or a spot at a table to order beer in the tents, so you are limited to the 100,000 spots available – all of which are reserved months in advance. The Hofbrau tent is the largest tent of the Octoberfest, accommodating 10,000 guests. Supposedly tents take a “quiet Octoberfest” approach before 6 pm, playing music only up to 85 decibels, before really letting lose for the rest of the evening. Despite all of your desires, smoking is banned in all Octoberfest tents, in compliance with a Munich-wide smoking ban. Consumption: 69K hectoliters of beer, 79K liters of wine, 222K liters of coffee, 521K units of chicken, 284K pork sausage. Toilets: 980 seated and more than 878 meters of urinals. Quite a party!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Munich Mardi Gras

In what was more like Mardi Gras than Munich – I mean with twice the drunken, and half the disorderly (this is Germany afterall) – thousands of locals marched through town in the annual Costume and Riffleman’s Parade. The parade today paid tribute to the historical roots of Octoberfest, as hundreds of troops showed off their colorful folk clothing in a procession again toward the site of the Octoberfest, the Theresienwiese. Nearly every troop had several drink ladies, marching with a small keg of brandy and shot glasses. Others had the tap going from the float, and would pass around a beer stein. More than 900,000 people joined the Octoberfest over its first weekend – that’s equivalent to two-thirds the population of Munich, all drinking beer at the same time. This fest takes over this city, and captivates the locals and tourists alike. Most of the city center is packed with people, and it’s difficult to catch a downtown headed train that is not filled with men in lederhosen and women in dirndls. Oh what a beautiful place.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

And So It Begins...

The 175th Octoberfest kicked off today in Munich with a parade and the sound of Prost throughout the streets. Thousands of people lined the streets leading to the theresienwiese, and then followed the parade into the Octoberfest grounds to begin the celebration. By 9 am, visitors flocked to the beer tents and many closed doors by noon as they were already filled. More than 6 million are expected to attend this year’s festivities, as the world’s largest festival. Since 1818, you have had the strong presence of the big six Munich breweries – Spaten, Lwenbrau, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Palaner, and Hacker-Pschorr. Despite much consolidation in the beer business, you still see these six breweries at the heart of the Octoberfest.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Local Girl Makes Good

Susanne Bommer is among a growing group of Munich designers who are making a name for themselves beyond the city limits. But unlike a lot of the German design talent, Boomer is bucking the trend to work internationally and stay close to home. With a store in the Haidhausen neighborhood (Pictured here) and a second one opening in Schwabing, Boomer was recently awarded Munich’s avant garde prize for fashion. She has become known for a style with timeless elegance, yet never being predictable. Unlike other designers, Bommer doesn't throw away last season's collection, but freshens it up and uses it as the basis for her next collection. Lately, she has expanded to now have 20 stores in Japan and several in Italy. Yet despite here international success, Munich is where her heart is, and where she tends to stay for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The People's Pool

One of the most attractive pools I’ve ever seen is based on the side of the Isar River. The Volksbad, or people’s pool, is an amazing mix of Moorish, Roman, Art Nouveau and South German Baroque buildings – all in one. And did I mention, it’s great for swimming too. The building opened in 1901, thanks to the donation of Carl Mueller, a Munich engineer, whose only stipulation was that the city of Munich builds an attractive swimming pool. And the city did just that, as it’s been called “grandest baths in Germany” Inside, you will find a Gentleman’s Pool as well as a Ladies pool, a Finnish Sauna, steam baths and at one time there was even a doggy bath, which unfortunately disappeared during the last renovation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Blue Riders

A small but very influential group of artists changed the face of modern art through “German Expressionism” in and around Munich. Around the turn of the century, these seven productive artists were amazingly influential. Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabiele Munter, August Macke, Alexei Yavlensky, Paul Klee and Alfred Kubin were among the group, and paired with a similar group out of Berlin called The Bridge, made up the heart of German Expressonism. Unfortunately, the group had a short life as several were called to duty in WWI – some for Germany and some for Russia. Kandinsky and Jawlensky regrouped after the war with Klee, and had a prolific career, only to be banned by the Nazis in the late 30s. Today, one of the world’s best collections of the Blue Riders is at the Lenbach Museum in Maxvorstadt, the Florentine villa across from Konigsplatz. In addition to their permanent exhibit, they have two additional showcases on the Blue Riders coming in the next few months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Angel in the S-Bahn

Sometimes there are benefits to carrying your camera around during your normal commute. I’ve shared photos from the amazing Munich underground (U & S-Bahn that is) with you before, but the public transit is just such a way of every-day-life in Munich. Besides, I like the dreamy effect in this photo. It’s amazing just how much is connected in Munich. Yesterday, I talked about the 1972 Olympics in Munich. It turns out that the S-bahn was introduced in 1972, as a project to improve infrastructure for the Olympics – along with the new airport, hundreds of new hotel rooms, and the creation of the Olympic village that is still used today by more than 10,000 residents. The S-bahn, combined with the U-bahn which started operation back in 1938, make it one of the best transportation networks in the world.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Canopy of Olympic Dreams

When you see this image, think of seven gold medals. Of course, the image is the roof of the innovative swimming and diving structure that captivated the world in 1972 (Munich locals can swim 7 days a week here). Before Michael Phelps proved to be the most celebrated Olympian of all time, American swimmer, Spitz, dominated the pool with a flair all his own. Unlike Phelps, who allowed the media to make predictions for him, Spitz predicted 7 gold and world records in 7 races, and that is exactly what he did. Spitz left what was West Germany at the time before the closing ceremonies, after Palestinian militants killed Jewish athletes and coaches. Despite the “Munich Massacre” as it was called, Spitz returned to the US as a national hero, said to be the second most recognizable face in America (second only to Richard Nixon). He has since made a career as a corporate spokesperson, a short-lived acting career, and eventually a real estate business in Beverly Hills, close to where he has settled today with his family. To this day, he refuses to race his kids in his backyard pool, because as he says, “I don’t care if you are my son. If I’m racing, I’m going to kick your butt.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spanish Tales

So often I end up capturing photos because they represent some sort of cultural difference I find interesting, but other times I end up with shots that show an interesting perspective of Munich. In the end, I just like the colors in this photo and the way the shadow of the tree is almost transparent. Of course, the famous Spanish fictional character had nothing to do with Munich. In fact, you could say that the quixotic characteristic of doing noble things in an absurd way, or the desire to perform acts of chivalry in a radically impractical manner, is very un-German like (even in Munich). Well, if you get the chance to visit this restaurant, it seems to get good reviews (and not just for its beautiful walls). It is one of Munich’s oldest Spanish restaurants, standing next to the English Garden since 1965, and it said to offer traditional Spanish cooking without anything fashionable. I guess that means good food at low prices.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Star Gazing

Two visitors snap a shot of Munich’s 249 ft tall town hall, the Rathaus. Known around the world for its famous Glockenspiel, where 43 bells play a 15 minute song with 32 mechanical figures of musicians and knights as they re-enact the marriage festivities of Duke Wilhelm V to Renate von Lothringen in 1568. Despite its imposing structure, the building becomes quite welcoming to visitors with its ratskeller restaurant, which takes up nearly the entire basement and courtyard during the summers. Down below, in Marienplatz, you can pick up just about any tour imaginable – bike, segway, or walking tour through Munich. I can personally vouch for the daily walking tours that meet at 10 am. They are a wonderful way to learn about Munich.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Main Drag

This view looking down one of the four royal roads, Ludwigstrasse, looks much like it did back in this mural from 1842 – with the exception of the cars & lights. You see the Theatre church to the right, the grand arches of the Feldhernhall, and the Rathaus in the distance. Royal indeed. This photo is taken just beyond the Ludwigskirche, the Universty’s Catholic Parish. The dual steples are built in Romanesque architecture, marking the transition from the Italian renaissance buildings leading all the way to Odeonsplatz. The Ludwigskirche also has the worlds largest fre co of the Last Judgment, measuring 62 ft in height by 38 ft in width. Unfortunately, the façade of the church has been a bit neglected – looking today like it could use a good white washing. Passers by catch a glance of the great church as they stop at the red light along the royal road

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All in the Family

The Ancestral Gallery or Ahnengalerie in the Munich Residence not only walks you through Bavarian history, it also illustrates how the Wittlesbach family uses wide-ranging connections of marriage as a means of emphasizing the court’s importance, power and dynasty. Walking through this beautiful hall, is like walking through Bavarian history. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Munich Residence is how painstakingly it was rebuilt after the war. 23,000 Sq meters was reduced to 50 during the allied bombing. The first sections of the Residence was opened in 1958, and other main sections have been re-appearing ever since. It’s safe to say that there are still areas of the enormous chateau that have yet to be seen since WWII.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Barrels of Love

I wandered through the Viktalienmarkt, and as usual I was drawn to the Italian deli with its amazing selection of olives. The market, located just outside of Marienplatz, covers 22,000m and as more than 140 stalls and shops selling flowers, exotic fruit, poultry, meat, and fresh juices. I am told that despite its wonderful food, very few of the items are grown by the sellers there. Look for the hand-drawn signs that have the word “eigene” for those harvested by the stall workers. The word Viktualien, which throws most Americans off, comes from the Latin word for food, and is managed by the same city organization that manages the Elisabethmarkt, Pasing Viktualienmarkt, Wiener Markt.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fritty Woman

Why be pretty when you can be fritty. This is a small fast food joint in the Kultfabrik area of Munich, self proclaimed SUPER party zone. Said to be one of the largest in Europe, with a maze of bars, clubs, skate parks, cinema, game halls, climbing walls, flea markets and concert halls. I have not seen the area at night, but I understand it’s “off the hinges” The entire warehouse area, located near the Ostbahnhof, was at one time a huge noodle factory. But when the factory closed, some creative marketers turned it into a little something for everyone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Italian Renaissance in Munich

Modeled after the Loggia die Lanzi in Florence, the Feldherrnhalle or Field Marshal‘s Hall is the most prominent structure in Munich’s Odeonsplatz and brings a bit of Italian renaissance to Bavaria. The monument was commissioned by King Ludwig I to honor the Bavarian army, but today it is best known for its role during the Beer Hall Uprising led by Adolf Hitler. 16 Nazis and four policemen were killed during the subsequent riots, and once the Nazis came to power, Odeonsplatz became a shrine to the fallen Nazi “martyrs.” All passers-by were required on threat of arrest to greet the honor guard with a Nazi salute. A small alley way behind the monument became almost as famous, called Viscardigasse, for all the locals who took the passage rather than being forced to give the Nazi salute. Today, Odeonsplatz is one of the cosmopolitan centers of Munich, at the intersection of Ludwigstrasse, Briennerstrasse, and the Royal Palace.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clay Court(ship)

Well as the most famous hard court tennis tournament, the US Open, comes to a close this weekend, there’s an interesting contrast with the love for clay courts across Europe. I have come across 10 or so tennis clubs in Munich, and I have yet to see a hard court, or a grass one for that matter. Munich’s only ATP Tournament, the BMW Open played in April, is of course played on clay. In fact it is one of 10 clay court European tournaments leading up to the French Open. The US has only one tournament during this same time period, which has led to criticism from some of the top US players in the game. They claim that the lack of a tennis tour in the US is why the US continues to struggle in Grand Slam tournaments. I’m not sure why the love for clay in Munich, and in the broader continent; but it’s great to contrast the two styles.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wedding Crashers

So first of all, I can assure you I didn’t crash this wedding – despite how fun that would be. I didn’t know the bride, the groom or anyone else at this event. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I was there taking pictures of the Erloserkirche church in the heart of Schwabing, which was quite beautiful by the way. Then the doors swung open, the music was blaring, and out walked the bride. Personally, I like the sunflower touch and effect. Well, all of our best to the couple from Munich Daily Photo!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Party Bus

One thing that Germans are known for all across Europe is their love for travel and adventure. No matter what country you are in, you are likely to meet Germans along the way – many of them choosing alternative means of transport, such as motor home or motorcycles. In this case, a group from Coburg (nearly three hundred kilometers North of Munich) hired a nostalgic style bus to make the trip from Gevers Adventure Travel. For those who have ever been to Malta, they use these buses as the public transport – very cool! The guys were great too. I raced along side the bus for a while, and once they realized I was taking pictures, they all hammed it up and started taking pictures back at me. Sounds like a fun way to explore Germany.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Neighborhood Living Room

Four days ago I showed you a defaced May Pole. This one is in perfect shape. 15 days ago, I showed you a gateway to Italy. This street lies on a gateway of its own – this time to Vienna. The place (or platz) is Wiener platz, and it’s one of the nicer squares in Munich. Surrounded by the great and diverse neighborhood of Haidhausen, the Wiener Platz was named in 1891 after the Innere Wiener Street, which was the original road to Vienna. Even though it is Munich’s smallest permanent grocery market, it was bombarded during WWII, but then painstakenly reconstructed. It’s latest re-generation ended in 2002, and it’s now the jewell of Haidhausen. The Maypole, which was provided by the “friends of Haidhausen, was added a year later and clearly showed the central significance of the square.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Coffee Fit for a King

The bright yellow façade in central Munich symbolizes one of the most established local brands to ever come out of the city. Dallmayr Delicatessen has roots all the way back to the 1700s, when the family-owned company turned a grocer’s shop into a brand enterprise known throughout the world. By 1995 Dallmayr was one of the first local establishments to be run by a woman, as Therese Randlkofer took over for her widowed husband and helps establish the company as the supplier to the Royal Bavarian Court – as well as 14 other European royal courts at that time. In 1931, hard economic times after Black Friday force Dallmayr to diversify, and an entrepreneurial 19-year old named Konrad Werne Wille purchases raw coffee, strands at the roasting machine himself and organizes sales. The Dallmayr coffee brand Prodomo is born. Despite being completely demolished during WWII (like most of the Altstadt), today Dallmayr delicatessen attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

US Import

So how do you gauge the health of an expat community. Is it the number of people, how active they are in keeping traditions alive, or perhaps how high they rank in local government and business. I’m not sure which one is most critical, but I can tell you that any time you start seeing US Mailboxes, you’ve reached critical mass. Well in fact, Bavaria has the largest American expat populations throughout Germany – twice as much as in Berlin and seven times the amount in Hamburg, Germany’s two larger cities. More than 22,000 Americans live in Bavaria, which represents more nearly half of all expats in the region. It also represents 23% of the Americans throughout Germany. Largely attracted by global companies, such as BMW, Siemens, Munich RE; as well as top technology companies – such as IBM, Microsoft, and HP. If you mix that in with the two internationally known Universities, and you have a big American draw to Munich.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sister City: Italien Quest

If this doesn’t look like Munich, it shouldn’t. As part of the Daily Photo community, we are celebrating the Sept. theme day – which is Sister Cities. Now this was a difficult one, as Munich actually has seven sister cities: Kiev, Cincinnati, Sapporo, Bordeaux, Edinburgh, and Verona. I picked Verona because of its close ties to the Bavairan capital. Not only are there beautiful Juliet statues all through the city of Munich, but I’ve spoken many times of the cities ties to its Southern neighbors. Well, here’s some context to some of that connection. Way back in 1786, the famous philosopher Goethe, set out on a quest to for Italian adventure. Fueled by the midlife crises he was experiencing, he jumped into a coach without much luggage, assumed the name Filippo Moller, and left on a journey across the Alps for Verona. His notes became the basis of “Italian Journey” a metaphor for millions of postwar Germans, who every summer flee their lives seeking a rebirth of sun and vacation – 5.9 million of them in fact. This story is in the persona of Germany’s travel obsession. Today, Germany has named its cultural organization after Goethe, and the story lives on.