Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Munich to Mongolia

Two musicians gathered a crowd as they performed a wide variety of Mongolian Chants in downtown Munich yesterday. The throaty chants fascinated the passers by, despite non-stop competiton from other street performers. It seems more and more performers show up every weekend, to the point that there is one nearly every 50 meters around Marienplatz. Although I don't find many connections between the two M-locations, one that surprises me is the prevelance of the swastika in Mongolain culture. You often see it at churches and temples. I loved the colors and the music, and it sure beat the usual silver man - who just stands as a statue for hours at a time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cohesion Makes us Strong

That's the theme of a anti-violence campaign backed by players of the FC Bayern Football Club (pictured here), as well as the Archidiocese of Munich, Bavarian State Ministry of Interior and the Munich Police. The initiative was created in response to recent violent attacks on local U and S-bahn trains, encouraging the citizens of Munich to stand in solidarity against an increasing trend of crime. The movement was inspired by Dominik Brunner, who was killed while trying to protect a victim of an attack on the S-Bahn.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And then the Scrooge

Not even 50 meters from the cool kids snowboarding (from yesterday) was the person I affectionately call the scrooge. I was walking around taking photos of everyone on the frozen pond. Coming from a place where lakes never freeze, it's quite a novelty to see so many people celebrating the Winter time on the ice. I approached for about 10 seconds, and he stopped the whole hockey game to tell me I was doing something wrong - a common German trait. His exact words were, "You are taking photos, but you don't know us. You are not allowed to take photos." What is it about the Germans who are so eager to tell you when you do something "wrong?"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

High Flying

You don't need to go up to the Alps to find high flying snowboarding, this scene came from Munich's East park. Tracking down about 30 feet of snow bank, and getting lift off a beer garden bench (half elevated). These cool kids, as soon as they heard I was doing something online, wanted to get into a photo. What is it about the young kids in Germany, that seem to break down barriers? After two weeks of dumping snow in Munich, you can find snow everywhere.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

German Heli-Skiing

In actuality, this helicopter is more about safety than adventure. The ski patrol shut down the runs to do a practice rescue mission in Tirol. Many European countries don't allow heli-skiing, and I've been unable to find any regulations for Germany or Austria for that matter. In fact, many Europeans travel to Canada - for the ultimate skiing adventure. Heli or not - the afternoon makes for an amazing color on a clear day in the alps.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shopping in the Hood

One of my favorite neighborhood markets is the Elisabethmarkt, located in Schwabing. It's a mix of permanent and make shift stalls where you can get your daily dose of fruit, vegatibles, and breads. The market was created in 1931 at Elisabethplatz, which was named after the Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria. At the Northeast corner of the market is a pavilion called the Milk Hut, which was built by the physician and teetotaller (someone who practices abstinence from alcohol) Carl Brendel, who supervised the distribution of milk every morning. His priority was "keeping the poison of alcohol from the people" Yet in the end, he wasn't so successful as it's now repurposed as a beer garden restaurant known as the Wintergarden.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Night at the Circus

It's the topsy-turvy world of Circus Krone, said to be the largest circus in Europe. Founded in 1905, and run by at least 3 generations of the Krone family, this is really a Munich establishment - located just west of the Central Train Station. The permanent arenea was destroyed in the allied bombing after WWII, but then rebuilt and now seats 3000 spectators. We went to the Winter circus, which was much more about acrobatics than animals. It was fun for the kids, but perhaps I miss the good old Tigers and Trapese.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From the Fuhrer's HQ to a Forgotten Era

I came across this amazing museum the other day - the Museum of Castings of classical Images. I walked in and reconginzed it immediately as the place that Adolf Hitler stood with all of his top aids, and in fact it is the former SS offices, headquarters to the Nazi party in the middle of the Mazvorstadt neighborhood. Used today as a mix of the Musical College, several art galleries, and home to a variety of classes - the building is a clear connection to the past in Munich. We got to this point and were buzzed in, but somehow missed our opening. So in true German fashion they declined our entry. It's as if we didn't know the secret handshake and didn't enter with extreme efficiency - so they decided no! Perhaps another time. On a side note, sorry for the delay in posting. All I can say is that work has been busy like never seen before.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Along for the Ride

We were back on the canals after more than two weeks of sub-freezing temperatures. This little guy, a.k.a. Spider Boy was off for a ride on one of the traditional Bavarian sleds, which sell for about 250 euros by the way. It's great to see entire families out skating, some even out with baby strollers. You can rent skates, and I understand you can even skate at night as they pull out the flood lights.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Intimate Dinner for (Thirty) Two

In the heart of the Bavarian National Museum you can find one of the most important and impressively preserved silver settings of the 18th century. The dinner service of Hildesheim's Prince Bishop, Freidrich Wilhelm of Westphalia is beutifully preserved, and gives insight into the life of royalty at the time. The Bavarian museum is an amazing hodge podge of Bavaria - from 17th and 18th century musical instruments, to impressive models of entire cities, from fine porcelain to Baroque paintings, from armor knights of the middle ages to Renaissance statues.
Overall, the museum collection seemed a bit random, as you couldn't tell how one room connected with the next. With that said, it was the building that was one of the most impressive parts of the museum.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Overlooking the Prince's Street

A couple looks over Europaplatz and Princeregentenstrasse and the city of Munich. This spot, at the foot of the Angel of Peace statue in Northeast Munich, is one of the many viewpoints along the Isar River. The street is one of the major thoroughfares through Munich, and one of the four original city royal roads. It was built in 1891 and named after Luitpold, the Prince Regent of Bavaria. At the time, it was a prime address for the middle class. Today it is filled with many museums, and is the location of Adolf Hitler's former appartment at number 16.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To Drink, or Not to Drink. Most Say Ya!

There are no shortage of beer steins around Munich. It's safe to say that Munich is certainly one of the hubs of beer stein production, and all for a very good cause. Almost since they started brewing beer in the middle ages, they were making interesting "vessels" to consume it in. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th century, artists made these steins exclusively with the brewers' guilds. But around the turn of the century more than 28 breweries and approx. 1900 pubs realized they had to differentiate themselves, and started making glassware with the Brewery logo. The result is that today there are only 6 major breweries (now all owned by the conglomerates - except for Augustiner), and a scattering of small outfits that arguably make much better and much more authentic beer. This picture, of course, shows more touristy steins than anything else, but I love them because I think they are so much a part of the Bavarian personality. Prost!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Skating in a Winter Wonderland

With more than a week of sub-zero temperatures, it seemed most of Munich flocked to the frozen lakes around the city. Here you can see the canal leading up to Nympenburg Palace, and the thousands of people playing games of Eisstockschiessen (or Ice Stock Sport - a sort of curling mixed with shuffleboard). We skated at the end of the canal today, and it was really fun, but at the same time crazy. I'm always so surprised when there is no order in Munich, but this was a good example - with really, really bad skaters playing hockey in the middle of the open skating surface and pucks whizzing by passing skaters. At any rate, I love this time of year in Munich, when you can skate on the frozen ponds with the palaces as your backdrop. Truly a unique Munich experience.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Tiffany Girls

An innovative exhibit at the Villa Stuck tries to cast "A New Light" on the inter-workings of the New York Tiffany workshops. For more than a century, it was believed that all Tiffany glass was designed by one person - the company's founder, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and produced nearly exclusively by men. But this first major exhibit of Tiffany glass in Munich focuses on the work of Clara Driscoll, who led a team of glass cutters who became known as "the Tiffany Girls." The exhibit, which has more than 60 examples on display, shows that many of the popular designs were actually developed by Driscoll and her team of glass cutters. I loved the exhibit and the museum, and the only downside is that the curators base the entire premise on personal letters from Driscoll to her family. Either way, the exhibit casts an even brighter light on the life of single women working in New York City in the late 1800s. Check it out for yourself, but it only shows until Jan. 17th.

Friday, January 8, 2010

(Bus)ting Out!

In the spirit of the MVV motto "1 network, 1 timetable, 1 ticket," (that really is their motto - I'm not making that up) I thought it was time to share a ride on the local bus. I've shown the U & S-bahn trains and stations many times, and the bus system is just as impressive. In most cases, the busses run every 5-10 minutes during the day, and they make travel quite easy, as they show a video screen of the next several stops and generally annouce the street name on approach. And as all things German, clean, efficient, and generally on time. The only disadvantage over the trains this time of year is waiting out in the cold. Ohter than that, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kitzbühel Calling

Perhaps there is no better place to be stranded in the mountains than the lavish Ski resort of Kitzbuhel. At only a 1.5 hour drive from Munich, the Tirol region of Austria is one of the area's finest. Kitzbuhel is considered the regions crown, with its midieval village, and home to the annual World Cup downhill skiing competition - whose highlight is the downhill with its famous Streif slope. I had never seen anything like it, with what seemed to be an endless range of slopes. We spent all day there, and only covered about 1/3 of the mountain. Happy Exploring. The ski season is just starting.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Little Retreat House

South of Munich is the old Schloss Fürstenried, which although was built in the 1700s, is used on a daily basis today. The beautiful symetric castle is used as a retreat house for the Archdiocese of the city of Munich and Freising. We tried to get a closer look, but unlike many other castles around Munich - this was as close as you could get. When it was originally constructed by Elector Max Emanuel, it was desgned as a hunting lodge, as the Fürstenried forrest surrounded on all sides. At various times, the facility has been used as Kloister, a hospital, and a school - in one case where Pope Benedict studied. Today, you may speed past the Schloss on your way to Garmish, if it wasn't for the stunning roofs stretching over the fences to garther the attention of those cars going by. But unless you are part of the archdiocese, it may be one Schloss that's left unexplored around Munich.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Celebrating 2010!

Here's one final scene of the party on New Year's eve, also known as Silvester in Germany - after St. Silvester, whose feast day falls on Dec. 31. . I drove by Konigsplatz (shown here) on the morning of Jan 1, and all you could see was devestation. There was debris on every spot of land, bottles for launching rockets lining all the roads, and piles of old firework shells. I was even concerned about driving down Brienner strasse, for all the broken bottles that lined the streets. However, within hours the cleaning crews had much cleared already. 2009 was a year more difficult that any of us could have imagined, but the feelings in Munich - as much of the world - are much more opptimistic for 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ring of Fire

More pics from the mayhem that is New Year's Eve celebration. I'm still trying to come to terms with just how crazy it was. I left when groups of teenagers started shooting rockets randomly into the crowd. There was no attempt to avoid people, and there was no one there telling them not to do it. Not very German at all. The only thing I can make of it is that locals live each day with so many restrictions that they simply need these outlets where anything goes - look at the Fasching celebration, look at New Years, look at Oktoberfest. At any rate, it was a celebration like no other, and one that went across the city.