Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
The heart of Munich, Marienplatz, is radiant this time of year – with the gold of the 60+ foot Christmas tree radiating off the Rathaus and the stalls of the Christkindl Markt. Known as Munich’s living room, everyone who visits Munich comes through this platz. But that’s not the surprising thing. It’s that the locals love it too. If you are in Munich, be sure to check it out – but like most of Munich – know that it closes early, generally by 9 pm. It doesn’t stop people from coming downtown – for the nightlife, for the restaurants, and for the nearby bars.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I can’t believe I have lived in Munich for more than one year and I have never done a post on the Hofbräuhaus. Well the truth is that it’s not my favorite part of Munich, as you can’t find a more touristy place. But if you stumble into Munich during the 345 days of the year that Octoberfest is not going on, and you need your fix of a Bavarian beer hall, then you can visit the Hofbrau with 1300 (seating capacity) of your best friends from around the world. The haus was founded way back in 1589 by William V, the Duke of Bavaria, and was one of the first public drinking halls in Bavaria. If you want a real beer hall that is a little less touristy, you may want to try some of the following great beer halls: Augistiner Stube or Keller, Lowenbrau Brewery, or Ratskeller – below the Rathaus.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Germany’s leading mobile provider, T-Mobile, is one of the country’s premier brands. A subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, and based in Bonn, T-Mobile has 35% of the market share with more than 37 million subscribers. In recent years they have come under tough competition with the UK’s Vodafone. O2 has also gained significant marketshare as well, and fended off a takeover attempt by T-Mobile, only to be purchased by Spain’s Telefonia in 2006. In fact, the entire European market is a mix of state backed giants, and enterprising upstarts. So T-Mobile has built its international operation with a strong presence in International markets, and has been successful in 11 European markets and the US to total more than 100 million subscribers, and now one of the most well known brands in the world.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Actually, Oberpollinger is quite chic, but not quite a boutique anymore with a space of more than 40,000 sq meters in downtown Munich. With more than 100 years of history in the Altstadt, Oberpollinger is thought of as one of Bavaria’s premier department stores. And now it’s all dressed up for the holidays, with its art florescent tree sculpture outside (I’m not sure I understand that one) and the Christmas shoppers walking by. It’s a great place for shopping, with one of the best toy stores in Munich, top fashions, and a great gathering place on the top floor restaurant. This isn’t meant to be an advertisement, but it’s a great mix of shopping and Munich history – a good combination during the Christmas season.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Recreating the early 20th century in Munich, Bavarian Film Works used the backdrop of the Paleontology Museum and one of the apartment interiors on Richard-Wagner Strasse to showcase the biography of Hope Bridges-Adams lehmann, the first woman in Germany to complete her medical studies. The conclusion of her studies was not recognized in Germany though, so she travelled to Dublin to finally be recognized as a doctor. From 1896, she worked in practice with her second husband, Carl Lehmann of Munich. It wasn’t until 1904 that she was officially recognized as a doctor. The actress Heike Makatsch (the temptress secretary from the movie Love Actually) plays Hope, and the biography airs next year on ZDF.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
All through the Altstadt you will see the wonders of Christmas – in every window, in every advertisement, in every Christkindl booth. But no place is the phenomenon more evident than in the faces of the children as they stare in the department store windows around Marienplatz. Dream scenes come to life with bears, rabbits, cats and dogs acting out everyday winter scenes. I love watching the families stop by. You can see the breath of the kids on the window, they are so close. At the same time, the parents look on with a sense of self-satisfaction, knowing they are passing on the tradition of Christmas.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Usually celebrated on Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day is a festival specifically for children in many European countries, related to surviving legends of the patron saint of sailors. However, Nicholas is usually known for his reputation as a bringer of gifts, which is where the legend of the American Santa Clause came from. In Munich today, you get the best of both worlds as they celebrate on the 6th and 25th, despite the fact that the relationship here is complex – as Martin Luther replaced the St. Nicholas festival (in his protest of organized religion) with the Christkind or Christ Child celebration. On the eve of Dec 5th small children put a boot outside the front door, and St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets.
Friday, December 5, 2008
As expected, the rain came back to Munich yesterday, but before it took over completely we had this strange transition day that at times was completely black, and next blindingly sunny. At one point, during the evening commute, it appeared someone was shinning a flashlight from the end of a long, dark tunnel. The photos, especially while driving in the car, don’t do it justice – but it was one of the most stunning sunsets we’ve seen since arriving in Munich.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The Apple “Cathedral,” as it was called by the local papers, opened this past week in Munich to much fanfare and huge crowds – all ready to make early Christmas purchases. The 251st Apple store is actually the first in Germany, and is quite the site with two stories of gadgets, computers, music players. It is the first of five stores that will open up in Germany in the coming year. The space will be used over the coming weeks – not only for sales but also for concerts and events to drive traffic to the store. Rumors of a store opening up in Munich circulated for years, and it looks like they got the opening done right; with big cheers from the large crowd, a victory lap by employees to get the crowd pumped up, and the Steve Jobs faithful ready to come back again and again. This shot, of course, lines up Ipod Nanos in the pattern of the Bavarian flag.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Christmas is EVERYWHERE in Munich. If you want to see Munich in its finest, come during the Chriskindlmarkt celebration, where there are 4-5 markets in the Altstadt alone. I went downtown last night, and there were thousands of people, not just in the markets, but shopping, walking around, hanging out in cafes, drinking Gluhwein. It was nice to see such amazing life in downtown. The unseasonably clear weather has certainly helped as well – although I hear we have chance of rain turning to snow beginning today which may liven things up even more. Here you have the tree overlooking the Marienplatz market, which is nice to see but I understand is really only for tourists (see all the price tags) – so expect high prices. One that was particularly festive was the Medieval festival, located in Wittlesbacherplatz. Expect a few scenes from there in the coming weeks as I’m sure to visit again soon.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Only in Europe, and more specifically, only in beer-crazy Munich would you find beer in vending machines. Sure, it’s at a premium (an extra .20), but that’s only because you can buy it during all those non-business hours. Most of Munich shops close by 8 pm, nothing is opened Sunday (with the exception of gas stations) and the local drink markets often close by 2 on Saturdays – which last time I checked was a heavy consumption day. So if you are not one for planning ahead, just make sure you have lots and lots of coins handy.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Back in the heart of the city, for a bit of sunshine and the opening of the Christmas Market Season. Over the next few weeks, you can’t walk through downtown without tripping over a holiday market or two. Of course the center of the Munich Chriskindlmarkt is at Marienplatz, but I’m told that it is generally very expensive and only for the tourists. You can also find markets at Sendlingertor, the Chinese Tower in the English Garden, Wittesbacherplatz (the medieval market), Wienerplatz, and in Schwabing. Even the airport has a market this year. You can find information on all the markets here. I love this photo (thank you guest photographer) because it shows the heart of Munich with its beautiful colors at the Rathaus and the Frauenkirchen, but it also shows an overlay of centuries of history which make up Munich today.