Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cracks in the Surface


And speaking of University kids (from yesterday’s post) lets now talk about where the hang out.  Max & Moritz is a popular dance club in Munich, and these are just a sampling of the creative “eye catching” ads they are running around Munich.  Ironically, the name of the club is developed from a popular children’s story in Germany about two mischievous kids who go about playing pranks on just about everyone they know.  You have the gun powder in the teacher’s pipe, the beetles in the uncle’s bed, or the stealing of the chickens and blaming the dogs.  All ends well I suppose, as the two kids are eventually caught in their own hoaxes.  In one tail the two kids sneak into a closed bakery and fall into a vat of dough at the bakery and are thoroughly baked, or another version tells of them slitting some grain sacks, only to be stuffed inside, taken to the mill, and ground to bits for the nearby ducks.  I suppose the moral of the story is careful which path you choose.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Welcome to University


Once you get within several blocks of the Munich University district, you know anything goes.  Restaurants suddenly transform into cafes, card shops are replaced with copy shops, and there is an over-abundance of free WiFi for all those web addicted students.  So I had to laugh when I came across this sticker posted all over the University district.  I suppose it’s just summing up all of what the University experience is supposed to be – free though, starting from scratch, and the ability to question anything (or at least that is what University is all about in the states – not so sure in Munich).  Or perhaps, it’s a mix of that with the over-dramatic style of the college kids.  Either way, I love it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Picture Perfect


Why not take a bit of the fairy tale castle with you?  This upscale card shop in the Isarvorstadt neighborhood sure beats a snow globe. Neuschwanstein, one of the most visited places in Germany, has 1.3 million visitors annually, and during the summer the number of visitors gets as high as 6000 per day.  What you may have not known about this mythical castle is that it was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park.  And why not, it was actually designed by a theatrical set designer, Christian Jank, and not an architect – as King Ludwig’s homage to Richard Wagner.  Over the years, it has taken a prominent place in pop culture, as featured in the movies “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and the Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm.” Regardless, the castle is one of the most photographed places in the world, and has become a global symbol of the era of Romanticism.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Munich’s Gold Medal Airport


Our focus turns once again to the Munich Airport, for several reasons – all of them good.  For starters, Franz Joseph Strauss airport was named best airport in Europe, and fourth best overall in the world, according to a survey of more than 10 million passengers by the London Aviation Research Institute.  Munich edged out Zurich, last year’s winner, and now ranks below only Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong.  I can’t argue here, having been to all of the airports mentioned, and nearly all in Europe.  Munich’s Terminal 2 is one of the cleanest, most efficient, and convenient of places, and Terminal 1 is segmented to feel like you are flying out of a tiny airport.  Well, the situation only gets better as the Bavarian government just approved a plan for a second S-bahn tunnel for an express train that will reach the center of Munich in 20 minutes.  We are reminded this coming weekend that it can’t come soon enough – with the airport expecting 1.5M passengers over the Easter weekend – with 17,000 takeoffs and landings.

Friday, March 26, 2010

High Rent District

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Rent prices in Munich were listed far above any other city in Munich by a market research firm.  Munich was listed at 11.15 euro per sq. meter - a full 2 euros higher than the second place city, Frankfurt, and 3 euros higher than the third place city, Stuttgart.  Cologne, and Hamburg rounded out the top 5.  Berlin actually was listed in 11th place at 5.66 per euro.  A global economic crisis, and a building boom over the past few years that added more than 20,000 apartments in Munich have done little to lower prices in the area.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Body Awareness


For more than six decades, the Austrian artist Maria Lassnig has been painting through what she calls an exploration of the body. Now in her latest exhibit (promoted in photo above exhibit), at the Lenbachhaus Kunstbau, she highlights much of her post war abstraction images, but with a special focus on the past 10 years. Leveraging her time living in some of the art capitals of the world – Vienna, Paris, New York - Lassnig shows images that emerge from inner body sensations. Now, over the age of 90, she is revealing over 40 previously unseen works – including many large format images. The show runs through May 30.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ludi & Leuchtenberg


Riding Past the Ludwig I statue on the street of his name, you get a quick glimpse of what buildings were like in Ludwig’s day.  In the background is the Palais Leuchtenberg.  The 250-room palace is the largest in Munich, and now houses the Bavarian Ministry of Finance. The buildings set the standard and the mold for all other buildings that still today line Ludwigstrasse. It also bumps up against Odeonsplatz, the Hofgarten, the Residence, Siemens Headquarters, and quite a few other prominent addresses in Munich.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coming Out of the Winter Slumber


For 5-6 months, Munich hasn’t been exactly buried in snow – but it certainly has had more than its share.  All of Europe has been hit hard this year with a Winter blast that has not been seen in years.  So it’s quite exciting to see locals come out of their houses for the first time this year, and even to have the sun shine with long shadows across beautiful houses like this one in Bogenhausen.  Of course the next 8 days call for mostly cloudy skies, but we’ll take what we can get.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mary Looks Over Bavaria


The patron saint of Bavaria is none other than Mary, hence the main square of Marienplatz.  The earliest stories of St. Mary as the patron saint of Bavaria started as early as the 800s, and led to many churches dedicated in her name – including the dome of Augsburg.  You can also find Mary atop the statue in Marienplatz, as well as on the sides of the modern Residence.  I happen to find this one in the endless quarters of the Rathaus.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Storybook Facades


About as close as you can get to a storybook gingerbread house in Munich is the famous Reffini House, just south of Marienplatz off of Sendlinger Strasse.  It’s actually made up from a collection of three individual units, which are lavishly decorated with fresco images from the turn of the century.  The house is named after Johann Baptista Ruffini, a major salt merchant from Bavaria.  The house was originally built in 1905, but has origins to buildings constructed in the 1800s.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Luxury Makes a Comeback


Although car companies have taken a beating over the past few years thanks to the weak economic climate, several German car manufacturers surprised the market by turning a profit in Q4 – all based upon their sales of luxury lines.  What does that have to do with Lamborghini, you may ask.  Well, it’s actually a German run company these days, as a subsidiary of Audi, which in turn is a subsidiary of Volkswagon.  Yes the Italian icon, known for sleek designs, speed, and luxury – isn’t all that Italian anymore, and it’s supporting Volkswagon’s recovery as one of the few lines that are profitable.  Likewise, BMW returned to profit, only because of the success of their high end 7 series, while sales of the rest of their product lines remained weak.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame


At first glance it seems a bit strange.  In one of Munich’s most prominent squares, Odeonsplatz, there are statues of war leaders who oversaw two of the more significant losses in Bavaria’s military history.  Pictured is Karl Philipp von Wrede, who was defeated by Napoleon in 1814, and on the opposite arch is Johann Tserclaes, who was defeated by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.  But upon further review, you find that both were quite decorated, and had successful careers leading the Bavarian army.  Tserclaes, known as the “Monk in Armor,” commanded the Imperial and Holy Roman Empire forces and had a string of victories over the Bohemians, Germans and later the Danish.  Where as Wrede distinguished himself in opposing the Austrian invasions of 1805 and 1809.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gravy Train

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Munich’s public transport system, MVG, won top honors as the best run and serviced network in Europe by the Automobile Clubs of Europe. Despite my frustrations with the S1 line’s checkered on-time record (and showing up record for that matter), MVG had the best on-time record, functional connections, and multi-language kiosks (introduced in the past 6 months). Other networks that received high ratings were Helsinki and Vienna. The Automobile Club’s only criticism of the network was its price. Along with London, no other city in Europe charges more for a single ride. That hasn't stopped locals from taking the public transit. A seperate study commissioned by the National department of transportaion shows that 50% of locals use public transportation, the highest in Germany. Ironically, the study also shows that Munich locals have more cars per capita (every other person owns a car) than any other city in Germany. So what can you make of this? People in Munich are well paid (enough to buy cars), environmentally consious, and certainly leverage the heck out of their transportation system.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beer for Strong Men (and women too)

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Welcome to a special time of year in Munich, a period called the Strong Beer Season – where all the local breweries make a unique brew that is higher in alcohol content, stronger in taste, and often darker in color to get locals through the Lent season. The original Strong Beer, called “Salvator” was actually made by monks as a way to provide more dissolved solids to ease fasting during the season of Lent. Well the Season lasts through March 27th, and you can find Strong Beers from each of the big 6 breweries in Munich at each of their signature beer halls.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Open Air Jam Session


There’s nothing like rolling up a Grand Piano and supporting band out into the center of Marienplatz.  I was once told that Munich was a city of real sophistication, primarily because it has several classical music companies.  Well anytime we can move from “Chrome Man” (those irritating people who spray paint themselves and stand like a statue) to a classical concert in the middle of the city’s busiest square – they have my vote.  It was great to see the reactions to those passing by, who knew they were seeing something quite unique, and were able to appreciate the spectacular setting for the free concert.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Lake House


One more image from the icy English Garden, this time of the famous Seehaus located about 1 KM from the famous Chinese Tower.  If memory serves, the Chinese Tower seats about 6500 people, the Seehaus can seat 2500, and if you continue just a bit further North to Hirschau, you get about 1000 seats.  Each site along this progression becomes less touristy and more intimate.  The Seehaus, pictured here was actually built in 1789, and it was encapsulated in the plan of the American, Benjamin Thompson, who was the Bavarian Minister of war and social reformer, and promoted the idea of a National park.  There are few other places like it in Munich.  Even from across the half-frozen lake, you can see people sitting at the lake side to enjoy the view, the swans, and the local brew.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Do the Walk of Life


A long trail of locals map out across the frozen plain of the English Garden.  With the sun shining bright, locals took to the parks on Sunday, and with good reason.  The Beer gardens were all open and ready for business.  Even the outdoor beer gardens did a steady business.  The other good news is you are much less likely to see naked men in the park these days.  Something to be thankful for.  The English Garden is one of the places in Munich that successfully blends urban and rural living, with nearly 4 square KM of parkland leading from concrete forest to real forest.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Snow, Snow, and More Snow


I apologize for the lack of regularity in the posts, but in all honesty we just returned to Munich, only to be bombarded with another snow flurry. We had hoped that after 3 weeks, Spring would show up – like where we travelled. But no such luck. More below freezing temperatures, and more snow, much like the East Coast of the US. At least the sun came out later in the day, and it cleared off. Good news is that the temperatures are supposed to inch higher each day for the next 10 days. Fingers crossed, as Spring in Munich is FANTASTIC!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Going Underground


And now for another “man about town” as I showed yesterday. This popular image you will find at nearly all U-bahn stations and underpasses around town.  I took the photo because I was sure there was a good story behind this retro-looking symbol – complete with the hat, suit and complimentary swagger.  Yet I’ve looked and looked and can’t find any details about who designed it, how it was adopted as standard signage, what timeframe it’s from (my bet would be 40s to 50s, but that’s based upon an American’s perspective, not German), and possibly most important of all – does he have a great German name.  If you know of any details, please fill me in.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Man About Town


It’s a bit ironic, in fact, that the man labeled “Walking Man” has spent his entire Munich Existence in one place – at the entrance to the Munich RE company, which commissioned the project. He did, however do some travel from his California birthplace, where he was made in sections at the La Paloma factory in Sun Valley, and then assembled (great photos here) in Munich. Made of a steel interior, and a fiberglass skin, the statue even includes a staircase inside which enabled the builders to assemble it piece by piece. Today, and for the past 12 years, it is a Munich Landmark on Leopoldstrasse.