Sunday, May 30, 2010

You Look Fabulous!


Looking out from the high-end Escada shop overlooking the National Theatre in Munich. you see a bit of Munich’s exclusive side. At the edge of Maximillian Strasse, you will find Munich’s highest end shops – including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss, and Bulgari. It’s wonderful to be here at night, as the theatre performances spill out into the streets, and locals look for cafes, restaurants and local hot spots.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brothers & Sisters to the Rescue

Day at Museum 194a

Even if it is just to prepare for this year’s finals at Munich’s LMU. There is always a crowd outside the University buildings at Leopoldstrasse, and no shortage of students hanging out around the two large fountains that represent the Living Room or Lounge of Munich’s biggest University. Known as Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, the open space was named in memory of Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans Scholl. Both were students at LMU, and founding members of the White Rose resistance movement, a non-violent opposition group to Nazi Europe. Most of the members were prosecuted by the Nazis, and later became country heroes for standing up against almost certain death.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hang 20, Good Buddy!


Who cares if it’s illegal?  Who cares if it’s dangerous?  Who cares if it’s the hottest sight in town?  Nothing is going to keep this pooch off his board, as he hangs out with the renegade cult which is the Eiasbach.  You know, those guys who surf just where downtown meets the English Garden and makes a single perfect surfing wave.  So the buzz on the street is that for the first time in years, this strange sort of Urban surfing has been made legal – just about two weeks ago.  I mean everyone ignored the law anyway, but it’s still an interesting shift by the authorities. Well that explains that everyone and their dog is now coming out to the surf scene.  Can anyone confirm that it is now legal to surf in the English Garden?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Football Fanatics


It’s enough to make you cry in your beer.  FC Bayern makes it to the Champions League Final for football, and loses to Inter-Milan 2-0.  The fact that Bayern didn’t even register a goal was particularly painful for locals and fans around the world as FC Bayern has previously won 22 German championships, and 4 Champions League finals.  Hopefully it will not erase the fact that they had an amazing run to the final.  Perhaps some good news for Bayern, as they resigned star Frank Ribery through 2015. I actually saw Inter-Milan play early in the year against Barcelona.  It was the only game I saw in person this year, and it turned out to be the most uneventful 0-0 game I had ever seen.  Inter-Milan did absolutely nothing to win, and Barcelona did absolutely nothing to win.  It’s hard to believe this was the same Inter-Milan team I saw that went on to win the triple crown.  Shows that after 5 years of living in Europe, this American still doesn’t understand the game of football. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ready to Take Over the World


I love the image of this little bike about to take over Max-Joseph-Platz.  The grand arched building in the back is the Hauptpost or main post office, which was built in the former Palais Torring-ettenbach.  But I’m sorry to say that it is a facade.  The entire building is gone as they rebuild from the inside, and the facade is the only thing remaining.  It is draped with an image of the facade, which I love about European construction sites.  I have to say it’s quite strange to see this thin line of the facade and no building behind it.  The 12 column arcade, when not under construction, is one of the more elegant buildings in Munich.  No big surprise, it was inspired by Tuscan style, built after the Pitti and Rucellai Palaces in Florence.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oktoberfest in May


Just in case you can’t wait for Oktoberfest, you can get your mini-fix at the Lowenbrau Keller’s Night of Tracht. If you are not familiar, Tracht of course is the traditional Bavarian outfit. Although it is often associated with German outfits, it is something very specific to Bavaria and Austria. It was originally worn by farmers and peasants, and now is synonymous with Oktoberfest. The Lowenbrau Keller is one of my favorite outdoor beer gardens (although our experience eating in the restaurant was not as positive), especially for big events like football matches. if you get the chance, pick up a world cup match there with friends. This is truly a unique Munich experience.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Figure Heads


A glance at the facade of the University Church on LudwigStrasse, which looks to be opened for the first time in more than one year.  It had closed for renovation, and the re-opening was significantly delayed as they discovered asbestos , which needed to be removed.  I have never been in the church, but I’m told the frescoes inside are some of the best in the world.  The frescoes are done in large scale, one measuring 62 feet in height by 38 feet.  The dual towers of the church were meant to balance the diagonally opposite Theatinerkirche.  As for this view, it’s the angle from down Schellingstrasse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

At a Snail’s Pace


Perhaps it’s a bit ironic that outside the Deutsches Transportation Museum, which is dedicated to all things that go fast, is a super-sized version of one of the slowest creatures on the planet – a snail.  But that is the case outside the historic exhibition halls of the Theresienhöhe.  Just above the popular Oktoberfest grounds is the latest branch of the Deutsches Museum, which opened in 2003.  The museum investigates the technical aspects, economic, political, social and culture dimensions of transportation….and in the end they have a whole lot of things that just go – unlike the creatures on the outside.  Perhaps it’s the beer garden in the background of the photo that is slowing everyone else down?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Storms are a Brewin’


If you are living in Munich these days, you may be wishing you were not. For the past 20+ days, we’ve seen no sightings of the sun at all. And to look at the 10-day forecast, it’s just more of the same. A lot of rain, rain and more rain. I believe the latest forecast mixes that rain with showers, and long grey overcast days. It’s really quite depressing for the middle of May. It appears there will be no Spring at all in Munich, and we’ll end up right in the middle of Summer. This is really a shame, because this is by far the best time of the year in Munich. Oh well. Perhaps next year. In terms of the image, it's a glimse of one of the buildings in Lenbach Platz, overlooking some unsettling skies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking to the Heavens


One more scene from Church Days in Munich.  This is the view from St. Peter’s Church, where members of the fire department are dropping a sign that says “Sundays is a gift from Heaven".”  From this vantage point, you can see one of the ground fire crew taking a photo of his team mates, while a reporter for a local TV station holds a microphone out to hear the cheers across Marienplatz as each line of the sign was revealed.  Both were standing atop a local fire truck for the vantage point.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Youth for Christ


As Church Days continues in Munich, you see no shortage of enthusiasm for the church.  It’s almost as if the groups have come out with even more energy as a show of support for the Catholic church that has been devastated by scandal in Germany and across Europe.  Here you find a youth Christian group singing at the main stage at OdeonsPlatz.  Most of downtown remained closed throughout the weekend as hundreds of community and church events occurred across Munich.  It seemed, everywhere you went around Munich, you see large Christian tour groups, many of which are wearing church symbols.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So Just How Catholic is Bavaria?


I’m not exactly sure, but enough for 300,000 participants to overtake the center of Munich as part of Church Days which kicked off yesterday.  The event kicked off with one of Europe’s largest outdoor masses (minus at St. Peters in Rome, of course).  And it was held where else – but at the Theresienwiese, where the Oktoberfest is held every year.  With more than 3000 political and religious events planned, this is stated to be the largest religious event of its kind in Europe.  The headlines in the paper read this morning – Music, religion, and no alcohol – which of course is a rare experience in Munich.  Pictured here is the backdrop of the big amphitheatre stage set up at Odeonsplatz, where down one street you could hear bands playing, and along the other there was absolute silence as large groups led prayers or processed through the city with a chain of more than 180,000 candle barers.  From the outside of the Altstadt, all you could see was that traffic at the center of the city was absolutely paralyzed, and that facilities all over town had been refitted to host church events.  Angela Merkel speaks on Friday, and even the pope made statements for the event about the need for stronger punishment of abusers in the church.  Amen to that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sitting by the Dock of the Bay


Well it’s not exactly a dock and certainly not a bay.  It is a lake, in fact, in the middle of Munich’s West Park.  But really, who the heck cares with you see the first sun in about a month.  That’s reason for everyone to come out – and they certainly did to drink beer and feed the ducks.  If you can get past the fact that it is a completely artificial park, it’s really quite a pleasant place.  It includes 178 acres of land and was built in 1983 as a layout for the fourth international Garden Show.  Today it boasts ponds stocked with carp and turtles, a rose garden with more than 20,000 roses, and a Chinese + Japanese Garden.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Watching the World Go By


Welcome to one of the cooler parts of Munich.  Sandwiched somewhere between Schwabing, Maxvorstadt and the center of town is the University district.  Both LMU and TUM – Munich’s major Universities are centered only a few blocks from each other here, despite the fact that their facilities stretch all over town and miles into the suburbs.   What I like about this area is the endless set of cafes and little family owned shops.  You can sip coffee in one place, go next store for a vintage T-shirt (pictured), buy a mix of popular and never-before-seen artwork in the next, and then finally sip spirits at the local wine bar in the next shop.  The neighborhood is fiercely independent, extremely casual, and at the same time a bit sophisticated.  A really niche mix.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Hills are Alive…


Somewhere out there is Spring.  It hasn’t hit Munich yet, but no one has told the trees and the local flowers.  For the past 10 days Munich has been hit with endless rain, and the next 10 days calls for 9 days of more rain.  But somehow, despite the forecast, the sun came out today and shocked everyone out of their apartments and into the parks.  I caught this pairing out in the hillsides surrounding West Park.  Actually, if you are out beyond the city you will find endless fields of gold, as it’s the season for Mustard Seed.  In the meantime, you take what you can get.  I unfortunately had so much sun today, that I didn’t plan accordingly and was simply drenched by the time I returned home.  Yes.  Spring is out there somewhere, but no where near Munich.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Best Beer Hall in Munich


Yes, I know.  Those may be fighting words.  This is the heart of good beer, and you don’t mess with breweries that have existed for 700+ years.  But when you seek something beyond the touristy Hofbrauhaus, or even the traditional Ratskeller (I actually really like this one  a lot), and the unfriendly aire of the Lowenbraukeller – you need to check out the Augustinr Braustuben.  Built into the edge of the famous Munich Brewery, the Augustiner Braustuben is also subsidized so the food and beer is amazingly inexpensive.  In true Bavarian fashion, think long benches and celebrating a nice brew with those you’ve never met.  Of the original big-6 breweries in Munich, this is the only one that is still family run (all others are owned by conglomerates like In-Bev).  It was founded in 1294, but moved to this location on Landsberger Strasse in 1885.  To this day, you can still see the beer trucks exiting onto the busy street, beer being brewed as you eat, and a great festive beer hall just outside the center of the city.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Livin on the Edge


The Central Station in Munich, like many other central stations in Europe has it's mix of characters. Given it’s central location and its influx of out-of-town people (350K passengers per day), it’s always a bit of a mixed bag.  That’s my nice way of saying that every central station in Europe is a good place to avoid.  But as the only major terminal in Bavaria, and with 32 tracks split over the original three train stations, you’re sure to find a peaceful point.  I found this one at the very end of those 32 tracks.  Next to the hustle & bustle of the station, this was really nice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sex in the City


Well not exactly, but you can see the underlying story of the popular HBO TV series. The show is really about the bond between women, and their connection to the city beneath their feet. I came across this much younger crew in the middle of Munich, and it was the first thing I thought of. The Munich Altstadt is a place for meeting, a place for shopping, a place for being you. I met a couple today looking for the way to the Altstadt, and I realized that this is the area that foreigners know as Munich. The old buildings, the outdoor cafes. It’s hard to believe that it was absolutely destroyed in WWII and painstakingly reassembled based upon the meticulous documentation by Nazi troops who knew they were about to be defeated. They utilized color photography for the first time and documented – street by street – all of downtown. Today, we are completely thankful for it, and for creating an environment where girls can be…well girls.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rock Around the Clock


Speaking of doing things indoors (from yesterday’s post), be sure to visit the current exhibit at the Amerika Haus in Maxvorstadt.  Showing through the 28th of May is an exhibit documenting and celebrating more than 6 decades of Rock & Roll music.  You will find photos of everything from the Rolling Stones to Green Day, from Buddy Holly to AC/DC.  Here you have a glimpse of a signed guitar played by Bruce Springsteen from his Born in the USA tour.  You will also see all sorts of Rock & Roll memorabilia, including entry tickets to Woodstock.  Many of the photos were published originally in Rolling Stone magazine, to give you an indication of the quality of the exhibit.  The exhibit is free so check it out.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy to be Back in Munich


And even happier to finally have an internet connection again.  It’s amazing how much we end up depending on it for just about everything.  Actually, after 7 days in the sunny Umbria region of Italy, the re-entry into Munich wasn’t the best – as it was rainy and cold, 25 degrees Fahrenheit colder as a matter of fact.  But this image I came across at the entry of West park sure cheered me up.  And lots of things going on in Munich to be excited about – such as the Long Night of Music on May 8th, the BMW Open Tennis Tournament through May 9th, as well as all sorts of ballet and concerts.  We’re going to need lots of indoor events though, as rain is forecasted for 8 of the next 10 days.