Sunday, November 29, 2009

Palm Sunday

The butler is in...sort of speak. It's not really Palm Sunday as you know, but it is Sunday and this is a pic of the Palm Garden on the grounds of Nympenburg. Inside, it's a slice out of the 1800s, with its rot-iron detailing, palm trees, and ceiling fans. The building was one of three former greenhouses during the court of King Ludwig II, and claims to have had Germany's first hot-water heating system. It was built in 1820 as a modern marvel, and contributed to the increased interest of the early 19th century botany, which Ludwig had a special interest in.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Munich's Fairy Tale Theatre

Located in the heart of Schwabing, Munich's Schauburg theater is the only children's and young people's theatre in Western Germany with its own dedicated space and performers. Originally called "Munchner Marchenbuhne" the Munich Fairy Tale Theatre, it was founded in 1953, but taken over by the city in 1969 and later transformed from a movie house to a full-functioning stage for performances. Now the theatre's young cast & crew puts on more than 300 performances per year, some brought out into classes & kindergartens. The auditorium itself can be transformed as well into large or small stages, which are used even as a circus arena for special events.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Color Coding

Not all of Munich's students were out protesting and taking over campus facilities (see posts over the past several weeks.) It's great to see some students just flat out studying together, albeit in Munich style with a beer in hand. These students gathered next to the Museum Bandhorst, which opened earlier this year. If you haven't had the opportunity to see the museum, now is a good time as the initial crowds have begun to die down - especially during the week. The musuem, which was nearly all comprised by a gift from the Brandhorst family, includes nearly the entire work (112 original editions) of illustrated books that Picasso completed; 60 works by Cy Twombly, encompasing paintings, sculptures, and drawings; as well as paintings by the American pop art icon, Andy Warhol. The Brandhorst collection comprises more than 700 different works, and it's the breadth and variety of art that will strike you at this museum. That is, if you are not already blown away by the building's colorful exterior.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lady in Waiting

I caught this beautiful image of a woman awaiting the arrival of a friend in the midst of the chaos of the Hauptbahnhof. I love this area because there is so much going on, and it's wonderful to see people in the midst of their journey. In some ways, it reminds me of the loneliness that one can feel in a big city, even when surrounded by others. When we lived in Paris, we were constantly reminded of how anonymous the city could feel, despite being surrounded by 12 million people every day. I think this is true of any city, and it certainly comes across in this photo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sh*# Bahn!

A line streams around the corner at a DB service point, as they try to field questions during a recent outage. As you likely know, the "S" in S-bahn stands for Schnelle or fast, but I've coined my own phrase for the S-bahn after being personally left stranded 5 times in the last 5 weeks. I've now paid more in taxi fares than I have for my entire monthly pass, thanks to the complete breakdown of the S1 line and sometimes the entire network. Sometimes there are emergency busses put in place, other times absolutely nothing - just a lot of chaos. In all, thousands of travellers were stranded, at least once because of an electrical outage to the central system, and several times because of a train breaking down and clogging the rest of the system. I read in the news that they believe the problems are fixed, but I won't be holding my breath anytime soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inside the New Rathaus

With the millions of photos taken of the New Rathaus in Munich, it's seldom you see views from the inside. The building, as the town City Hall, is actually quite open and accessible, and parts of its interior are as exquisite as its intricate facade. Tourists flock here to see the Glockenspiel every day, but few ever see the endless caverns inside. Actually, given the massive layout of the building, many of the corridors seem deserted. But don't let that stop you from seeing the amazing stained glass history of Bavaria that lines the walls, and the stunning views of the inner courtyard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reflections on the Residenz

To move you away from yesterday's hard rock/pop theatre post, I thought I would bring you something more in Munich's sweet spot - the classical concerts at the Munich Residenz. Between the Gastieg and the Residenz, you could easily have 5-10 performances per night to choose from. The Residenz has 12 different performance venues, and judging by the lines they had at least 3-4 in action last night. I've looked all over, and it's nearly impossible to find a single site that shows all the listings, but here are just a few coming up in the ramp up for Christmas. Master pianist Piotr Anderszewski will perform works by Bach, Schumann, and Beethoven, and Stefan Moser, the cembalo organist, will play a series of concerts with the ensemble Serenata Concertante. Or the one that sounds the most interesting to me, is the Schubecks Vino Klassic, that incorporates music, wine tasting, and a gourmet meal. After the one-hour concert, there will be a romantic promenade through the old city to the mansion of the famous Munich composer Orlando di Lasso, where you will enjoy wine with connoisseur Thomas Riedel, and be served a gourmet dinner by chef Alfons Schubeck.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

I mentioned last week that Munich has some of the worst signage of any city I've ever been to, and this example just solidifies it. I'm not sure who the heck put these two acts together, but they couldn't be targeted to any more divergent audience. Slayer, the California based hard rock band, with CD covers including topics of serial killer, satanism, and warfare. Then you have Abba, The Show - the clean cut theatre musical, which reached 100,000 viewers during their last tour. And despite playing in very different arenas in town, some how the two are plastered together all over town.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Man On Campus

With 80,000 University students in Munich, Monday means it's back to school for a large percent of the population. There are two major universities in Munich - LMU, founded in 1472 in Ingolstadt and is now a leading research center in Germany; and the Technical University of Munich, specializing in architecture, engineering, economics and medicine. Then you have the University of Applied Sciences, voted the best practical university by the German Centre of University development, which focuses on applying sciences to practice. Or you will also find the Royal Academy of Arts, which was founded in 1770, focusing on painting, graphics, sculpture, and architecture. But then there are hundreds of smaller shcools around town - everything from film, to art, to theatre. Thanks to Luca for pointing out that the protests around Universties in Munich and Germany continue to intensify, with the students demanding "Education for All," asking for better conditions in classrooms. 5000-7000 students marched around the city and continue to ocuppy several campus buildings around Munich, and at schools around Germany and Austria.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Geeky Chicy at the Muffatwerk

We caught the opening night of Ingrid Michaelson's European tour in Munich last night. The American singer will hit four German cities in four nights with her mix of music and comedy during her acoustic tour for Everybody, her latest CD release. The show was at the Muffatwerk Ampere, a club on the backside of the Volksbad, and just across from the Gasteig and Deutsches Museum. It was an interesting club, and great for an intimate show, with no more than 500 people attending. And the wide format of the hall, meant you were never more than 30 feet from the stage. Apparently when they are not running concerts there, it's quite the place for disco lovers. When the weather is nice, there is an exceptional beer garden outside, surrounded by parkland at the base of the Isar.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Olympic Deja Vu

This past month Munich took its first major step to hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. Partnered with Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden, Munich submitted their bid and launched the process for becoming the first city to ever host both the Summer & Winter Olympic games. The bid includes a two-cluster approach, with a set of ice sports in Munich, snow sports in Garmisch, and bobsled sports near Berchtesgaden. Some of the facilities already exist for these events, including the track at Schonau am Konigssee for bobsledding, luge and skeleton - where the 2011 championships will be hosted. Likewise, Garmisch will be hosting the World Alpine Championship in 2011. Munich facilities like the Aliance Arena can also be used possibly for opening/closing ceremonies. Either way, the road to the Olympics is a long one - with the deadline for the mini bid book submission in March 2010, and the final round of candidates selected in July, 2010. The final decision will be made in July of 2011. But with strong backing from BMW and Finanzgroup, we're sure to see a good bid.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sign Language

I have to say that Munich has some of the worst signage I've seen in any city. Even for the biggest shows that come to town, you see these little florescent signs, which look more like something on a college campus that an ad for U2, Coldplay, or the Rolling Stones. Seriously, every European city from Belgrade to Brussels to Budapest - all have great billboards and postings for upcoming bands. So why not in Munich? It must have something to do with its desire for order - there are places for posting billboards and there are places for not posting billboards.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Turning Over a New Leaf

And a new season in Munich. This is a great time in Bavaria. The days are cold and crisp with the sun low in the sky casting long shadows over the tree-lined streets. The is the scene on a quiet street in Neuhausen. This part of town is a little off the beaten path for many who get caught up in the Schloss of the Nymphenburg neighborhood. However, Neuhausen has Munich's largest beer garden, the Hirsch Garden with a capacity of 7000 seats. At the center of Neuhausen is Rotkreuzplatz or Red Cross Place, an interesting mix between open market, 70s block city, and chic boutiques. It embodies much of the contrast of Munich - old yet modern, traditional yet innovative, reserved yet friendly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winter Wear

As Winter approaches in Munich, every year they do an amazing thing. They cover up all of the statues around town with custom-made boxes to prevent freezing and cracking of the marble or stone. It's amazing because all of the box cases are custom made for each statue. Even on some of the largest fountains in the city, you will find custom-made boxing to protect it throught he harsh Bavarian Winter. I thought an interesting way to tell about that, is to show this cute little Box Top climbing above one of the casings on the grounds of the Nymphenburg palace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Munich's Mystic Side

So what do you suppose happens at an Esoteric tradeshow? I came across this billboard in the Schwabing neighborhood, and I'm not sure I get it. Which I guess is no surprise when you look at the definition, and it says "that which is available only to a narrow circle of enlightened, initiated, or specially educated people." I guess I'm not that person, but with over 150 vendors coming to Munich, it's quite clear that many of the Munich locals do in deed get it. In fact, I've seen quite a few organization focused on the esoteric around Munich. Apparently there is no shortage of Munich locals who slant to the slightly mystical.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Higher Learning

So this is one of those situations where the translation of German news doesn't quite give the entire story, but as far as I can tell students have taken over the Academy of Arts in Munich. I don't think it was a hostile takeover in the form of the riots that took place in Paris several years ago (that's just not Munich style), but here's what I can put together from the news. It was a movement that came out of Vienna, Austria, focused on cheap or free education for all students as a God-given right. Whenever students start talking about God-given rights or having the same protection as their parents, I know we are in Europe. There have been banners of "Burn the University" outside (see additional items in the photo), which would be a real shame as the building and the school was founded in 1808 by Maximilian I of Bavaria, and is one of the oldest and most signifincant art academies in Germany and certainly at the heart of the Art Nouveu movement that was so influential in Munich. If you know more details, please share.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Apollo’s auf Wiedersehen

One of the most popular spots in the English Garden is Apollo's Temple or Monopteros, the iconic temple atop a hill overlooking downtown. Last night at sunset, it was crowded as nice weather brought people out from around Munich. Despite the crowds, this couple was able to capture a moment of solace to watch the sunset (I mean aside from me taking the photo). The Greek style temple was designed by Leo Von Klenze, the court architect to Bavarian King Ludwig I, responsible for most of the Greek rivival buildings around Munich - the Ruhmeshalle overlooking the Octoberfest grounds, the Glyptothek and Alte Pinakotethek museums, Ludwigstrasse, and the Residenz. The 15m hill that the temple is built upon was actually man-made in 1832, using leftover building materials from the recent work on the Residenz.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

An American in Munich

This weekend, Munich is hosting the four nations hockey championships, including Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, and the US. We attended the first night of action of the Deutsches Cup, with the US beating Germany 3-2 in a shootout at Olympiahalle. The locals were not so pleased, but we couldn't stop waving the American flag and singing the National Anthem (they sing it after the game for the winning team.) The level of play was quite good as the American team pulled many of their best players from European hockey teams to compete in the tournament. Games continue through the weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Smoken Stroll in Lehel

Just across from the great Hofgartenkaserne building, the old military facility built in 1801 that sits at the edge of the Hofgarten, is the neighborhood of Lehel. It's one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town, as it's literally a stone's throw from the Altstadt, English Garden, and the Isar River. I caught this picture on a little side street called Pilotystrasse, which has a line of old but remodeled apartments. I remember viewing one when we first moved to Munich, and it was a renovated attic on the 6th floor with views overlooking the residence and just about every spire in downtown. Spectacular. Non functional, as the attic was literally pieced together, but spectacular all the same. Despite a roar of traffic that surrounds Lehel on Franz-Joseph-Strass-Ring, Prinzregentenstrasse, and Widenmeyerstrasse (three of the busiest in Munich), once you are 100 meters into the winding streets of Lehel, it's quiet and peaceful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Going Postal

In Munich there are fewer more well known brands than Deutsche Post - present all over Germany. Little did I know that they were present all over the world. In fact, they are the world's largest logistics group. Headquartered in Bonn, Deutsche Post has 470,000 employees in 220 countries. It has leveraged its monopoly business as the only German mail carrier (70 million letters delivered per day), and has expanded agressively since privitization in 1995. Since then, it has acquited industry giants DHL and Airborne Express, among many others. Now the company manages three distinct brands: Deutsche Post, DHL, and Postbank, their financial division. But back to the title of my post...our experience has been a bit of a nightmare when it comes to everyday engagements with the Deutsche Post. I'm afriad the local post is the same everywhere in the world.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Backpacking Through Europe

This site brings new meaning to this pop-culture term. The view is part of an exhibit at the Haus der Kunst at the base of the English Gardens. You may remember this museum as the one made famous by Adolf Hitler for his showcase of German "approved" art and today is made famous for beinging anything but nationalistic art. Instead, it stays on the cutting edge of showing some of the more innovative modern art travelling through Munich. The current exhibit from Chinese artist, Al Weiwei, is no exception. For the facade of the museum, he collected 9000 backpacks in five different colors to represent the number of children who were killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The design makes up the sentence in Chinese, "...for seven years she lived happily on this earth." - a sentence in which a mother of one of the earthquake victims commemorated her daughter.