Monday, August 31, 2009

The Blind Leading the Blind

Several boys passing by take notice of a blind beggar on Sendlinger Strasse. The blind man is a regular on this spot, and becomes as much of the neighborhood reputation as the trendy stores around him. In general, Munich is a good a safe place for a blind person to be living. There are multiple academies to support blind students and the social programs provide much support for the blind. However, that doesn’t prevent horrible accidents like the one that killed a 29 year old blind woman one month ago – who mistook the space between two U-bahn cars as a door and fell into the tracks. I see blind people making their way through the central station quite often, with a pep in their step that many of the first-time visitors do not even have. It gives me a tremendous amount of respect for them

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee in a Time Machine

I came across this great café on Agustenstrasse, which just called out for a different age. Judging by the interior, I’d say it looked this way since its heyday in the 50s. Old yellow upholstery on the lounge chairs, gold wall paper, and waitresses who look like they’ve worked there for decades. Every time I go by it, it’s filled with couples and friends who fill up the old-school lounge seats or the outdoor seats on sunny days. And somehow with its living room atmosphere, it’s one of those places you feel like you need an invitation for – or to be in the “in” crowd, which is amazing as it’s a bit of a dive. But I think that’s what people love about it – an ageless beauty. This was the scene after midnight the other night, which in itself is strange for a neighborhood café – when everything else seems to close at 8 pm. No surprise that the cafe is a favorte of students at the nearby univeristy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Munich’s own “Red Balloon”

I came across this little girl with a cluster of balloons dragging along wherever she went. It immediately reminded me of the old film, The Red Balloon. Of course, the movie is French – set in Paris. Albert Lamorisse directed the film in 1956, and it immediately became a worldwide favorite. Both of his children starred in the movie. The movie ends as some bullies destroy the friendly red balloon, and other balloons from all over the city come to the little boy’s rescue. At any point, you expect these balloons to take flight, and pull the little girl out of the Hofgarten where she is playing, while a mix of Munich locals and tourists taking notice - and well over the English Garden only to land in some quaint Bavarian village.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inner City Sanctuaries

I’m not quite sure how to describe St. Boniface’s church and abbey, only 200 meters from the central train station. On one hand, it’s a part of Munich history, as it was instated by King Ludwig I as an attempt to reanimate the country’s spiritual life, and today’s houses the tomb of Ludwig I himself. On the other hand, today it is a parish church, serving the surrounding community. It’s a bit strange to look at the building, as it was nearly completely destroyed during WWII, and only partially reconstructed – yet you can see every detail that is new vs old. In some ways, it embodies the German people – certainly shocked and destroyed by the defeat of the allied powers, and in some ways embarrassed by the local role in the holocaust; yet absolutely resolute that today they are doing the right thing. It’s a contrast that I don’t think exists in the US, and honestly one that I hope is never needed there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At Rest

It turns out this is a nice contrast to yesterday’s photo of “On the Move.” Seems construction sites are the same throughout the world – with 5 people standing around while watching one person dig. As a matter of fact, no one was doing much work at this construction site. It seems like the entire city is under construction – with the never-ending construction on highway 9 as you enter the city, an amazing amount of streets torn up, and even well known monuments like the Frauenkiche going through renovation. You see this a lot around Europe these days, especially with the rotating EU presidency, which pumps investment into capital cities every 18 months. Germany is not in that line, but you wouldn’t know. I believe a lot of these projects began before the economic downturn. At any rate, these guys don’t care. They’re picking up a check every month. And as we are finding out through the “Cash for Clunkers” program that has been, a little government investment in a down economy is never a bad idea.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On the Move

A visit to the Munich Airport shows non-stop activity – people coming and going from around the world. Officially called Flughafen München-Franz Josef Strauß – named after a popular German politician, it serves as a hub for Lufthansa. It is the second busiest airport in Germany and eighth busiest in the world, with 35 million passengers per year. The thing that always amazes me about the Munich airport, is how it’s built like a mini Sim-City, with airport overlapping with train, car, bus, bike, and foot traffic. The airport infrastructure is larger than most Bavarian villages around, with hotels, convention center, shopping center, entertainment, cinema, and visitor center, and of course brew pub. This image was taken on one of the many moving sidewalks on the lower level of Terminal 1.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Warhol Meets Munich

Munich’s newest (and by far the most colorful) museum is the Brandhorst Museum, which opened in May of this year. With more than 700 works, including more than 100 by Andy Warhol; the museum is a strong compliment to Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne. The collection stems from the heirs of the Henkel (home & personal care company based in Dusseldorf) trust and Anette Brandhorst. The museum is actually most well known for its colorful exterior. The façade looks like an abstract painting itself, with its 23 different colored glazes as its image changes based upon your vantage point. The museum also has an impressive endowment of €120 million, which in normal years gives the museum an acquisition budget of more than €2 million, much more than any other collection in Munich.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where's the Schinken?

Somehow it doesn't have the same ring as that American phrase - Where's the Beef? Meat is an important element of the German diet, and no type of meat is more popular in Germany than pork. This photo illustrates the scene in hundreds of butchers across Munich. Germans are famous for their sausage. They have 4 basic types of sausage (Wurst) - Rohwurst, Bruhwurst, Kockwurst, and Bratwurst. In 2008, German people consumed 62 kilos per person – of which 40% was pork, according to the German Butcher Organisation Deutscher Fleischer-Verband (DFV). This ranks Germans among one of the highest consumers of meat in the EU, obtaining 39% of their total calorie intake from meat products, compared with 25% in Italy (which could explain the average size difference in the two countries), according to Germany’s federal environmental agency. With that said, meat consumption is on the decline in Germany – mostly because of health concerns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The White Rose

A late-night rendezvous of two lovers at the Ludwig Maximillian University fountains at Professor Huber Platz in Munich. The White Rose refers not only to the look of the fountain behind the couple, but also an intellectual, non-violent uprising to Nazi occupation in Germany during WWII. Professor Kurt Huber came in contact with the movement through some students in his lectures, and the group published a series of flyers calling for the end of National Socialism. Six leaders of the group, including Huber, were discovered by the Gestabo, arrested and killed. The legacy of the White Rose lives on in the media, in monuments like these, and in the German psyche.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back on the Ground

Now that we are done with aerial views around Munich, I thought I would show you some scenes back on the ground. I came across this image, and it struck me as I think it sums up some of the persona of Germans. Amazingly confident. Some might say arrogant. We are regularly stopped on the street by strangers and told we are doing something wrong, or by neighbors who discover we recycled incorrectly. It also reminds me that although some locals are friendly and jovial, many others are unapproachable and stand-offish. Perhaps this is like any place, but this characteristic really seems to stand out in Munich. In the end, I like how this person stands out from the busy market in the background – in this case at the Sendlingertor gate. In this way, it is different from the norm – fiercely independent in a society geared toward conformity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bavarian “Village” Life

Above Munich – Day 15: And for our final day of images from Above Munich, I take you far above the city – this time from an airplane. This photo was taken on the approach to Joseph Strauss Airport, just North of Munich. From this vantage point you can see the endless fields and forests that surround Munich. You also notice how green the region is. Once you get out of the cities, these areas are littered with quaint little villages – each with their towering church steeples, rich decorations, local food markets, and Christmas fairs. Much of life doesn’t seem to have changed for hundreds of years in these small villages. And much of the reason Munich is called a “Large Village” is because with 1.3 million residents, it maintains a lot of that tradition that has lived out in these small villages for centuries.

Monday, August 10, 2009

High Flyin Images

Above Munich - Day 14: And in really big news for Germany, SKY TV has finally arrived. It’s such big news that this advertisement covers the entire side of the Royal Residence. This is big news because even most Germans claim that German Cable is absolutely terrible. Unfortunately, we are still out of luck, as SKY requires a 1 meter dish that management of our old building would not allow. So for now, we are taunted by the ad. Of course, the Residence is already covered over, as construction continues. You can see the poster image of the side of the building below the advertisement. Covering up famous buildings with an image of what the building looks like is a widespread European practice, which I am a big fan of. The advertisements over them, are met with much debate – especially when they are images (like this one) which don’t complement the building.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Munich’s Gothic Revival

Above Munich – Day 13: While everyone knows the front of the Gothic Rathaus with its famous (albeit touristy) Glockenspiel, this photo shows its less famous side – the inner courtyard. You can see the inherent shape of the building, with its endless hallways and grand spiraling cement staircase. You can also see one of its hidden treasures, with the outside beer garden and entry to the Ratskeller restaurant with its six inner courtyards. The type of architecture, considered Gothic Revival, dates back to the 1740s in England as an attempt to revive medieval buildings in line with a resurgence of the Anglican Catholic church. But it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s when most of the Gothic structures around Europe (including this one) were built.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Looking out Across the Isar

Above Munich – Day 12: From downtown, this is the vantage point overlooking the Bell Brook and Au neighborhoods. Most prominent in the picture is the Catholic parish church of St. Maximilian, just before the Isar River. The 70m towers overlook the green park and beaches of the Isar. In fact, every year from mid-May to August 16, a beach bar is set up just up river at the Cornelius Bridge, with these towers as a magnificent backdrop. I have not been there, but I hear it’s great – and you have a couple more weeks before it disappears. But back to St. Max. It was built in 1908 in a neo-Roman style, like several others around town built during this same period, including St. Benno and St. Anna in Lehel. Unfortunately, much of the church was destroyed during WWII, as allied forces used the Isar river to guide their planes during nightfall. When it was rebuilt in 1953, the towers were not quite built to their original grandeur because of scarce funds. They omitted the tower tops.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rooftop Terraces

Above Munich - Day 11: I caught a glimpse of this exclusive private terrace atop one of the roofs of downtown Munich. It seemed a bit of paradise amongst the endless terracotta rooftops and the vertical city of the Altstadt. The terrace had great views of the towers and church tops around the old city, as well as The Residence. Munich has a couple more famous rooftop terraces, including the one at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, which I’ve posted about several times before. I also discovered a rooftop terrace at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this one on the East side of the city. It seemed only natural to list these famous terraces given the focus on views above Munich.