Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Walk in the Park


I have shown the Alte Pinakothek before, but I’m amazed every time i see it – not so much because it holds one of the more important collections within Germany, but more because of the building itself.  You can see – in vivid detail – the scars left from the allied bombing in Munich.  The entire center section was destroyed during WWII, and you can see the distinction between the old & new.  Within its walls – old and new – you will find a mix of what was in the original Wittlesbach collection, dating back to the 1500s; but also vast artwork from Mannheim, Dusseldorf, and Zweibrucken – which were moved to Munich to protect during wars that followed the French revolution.  The building itself was originally built in 1848 to display the Ruben’s “Last Judgment” – one of the largest canvasses ever painted.  And the gallery became a model for those built in Rome, St. Petersburg, and Brussels.  Today, you find a mix of Germany, Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French & Spanish collections.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Empty Doors & Empty Windows


For all of those in Munich that are mourning a city without the popular Lenbach Haus (pictured here – under construction through 2011) and the ability to view paintings by the famous Blue Riders – we have good news.  The Lenbach Haus has a new exhibition of the Blue Riders in its excess showing hall across the street.  The hall, which is actually located at the Konigsplatz U-bahn entrance, is hosting the show from now until Sept 26.  The show has a broad selection of watercolors, drawings and prints, with many works being showed for the first time.  In addition, the exhibit will have more than 50 works by Wassily Kandinsky, highlighting the amazingly successful final show the Haus put on before closing.  If you want to know art that is specific to Munich, this is it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sleepy Sundays


Well there’s a lovely idea!  Sunday in Bed.  Well it’s actually the name of – no big surprise – a bedding store in the Isarvorstadt neighborhood.  And while spending an entire weekend day in bed may seem far fetched for someone in the US, it’s not out of the question for Europeans.  You see, Sunday’s are different in Europe.  First of all, everything is closed.  Very few stores are open – even in the heart of the city.  So if you want to go grocery shopping, really your only option is a single grocery store at the airport.  I know that because we’ve had times where we didn’t prepare on Saturday, and then we realized we were out of milk or diapers for the kids – those sort of things that just can’t wait til Monday.  Also, you are not allowed to work or make loud noises in many buildings on Sunday.  It’s actually against many building codes.  And finally, Sunday is meant as a day of relaxation, where you will find most people out at a park or beer garden, hanging out with friends.  It may seem strange to Americans, but it happens to be one of those European traditions we hope remains when we return to the US.  Afternoons in the park with friends – wine, bread, cheese and sunshine.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Join the Club


It’s Saturday, so it’s time to go with the flow.  Hang 10 on one of the best (actually the only) wave in Munich.  It’s a single wave caused by an outflow in the English Gardens, which happens to be perfect for surfing.  I’ve shown it many times here, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a shirt to celebrate this cult following in land-locked Munich.  It mixes images of beer bottles with the Bavarian lions – holding a surf board.  This is the topic of movies, and is extremely popular in Munich.  Large crowds gather to watch these renegade surfers – especially given that surfing in Munich has always been Illegal.  And with good reason, as there are points where cement blocks lie only inches below the water.  But the locals know exactly how to navigate the local waters, and now have a T-shirt to commemorate it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Silent Protest


I’m not quite sure what to say about this photo, except that it shows some underlying thinking in Munich.  This is not a place where people generally speak out against the establishment – at least not publicly.  This certainly is not France, where labor unions are amazingly powerful – to the point where many businesses struggle to operate as unions regularly go on strike.  Also unlike the French, you don’t have these wide spread strikes in the public sector – crippling transportation.  Instead, you get more protests like this – as pictured in the University district – one that is behind the scenes and not where anyone has to come face-to-face with anyone else.  The one exception I can think of lately was also in the University district – where students took over part of the campus.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Passion for Driving


Here is something that most Americans don’t understand: Despite the US having a car culture, despite the fact that car making is so engrained in US history, and despite the fact that it is the largest market in the world for car sales (today) – Germans have a whole different standard for cars.  The cars in Germany are engineered for a different purpose – not for getting from one place to another, but for the experience of getting from one place to another.  The cars are made with such precision, that they are more responsive than most Americans can imagine.  And the roads are built to support that passion for driving.  So while it may be un-thinkable to drive 100, 125, or even 150 miles per hour on US roads, it happens every day throughout Germany.  And no where is that passion for driving better illustrated than at BMW World (pictured here).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wall of Honor


Walking through the Hofgarten at the foot of the English Garden is much like a history lesson in the many German military victories. In this case, you have an image of Ludwig IX der Reiche and his 1462 victory in Giengen, which lies in the east Baden-Wurttemberg region – on the border of Bavaria. Germany beat Ghana tonight 1-0 for the right to advance to the elimination round, and they are hoping for one more battle victory when they play England on June 27th.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Up in the Air


Sometimes being an applicant city is much more fun than actually winning the bid for the Olympics.  After all, once the initial party is over, locals have to live with the high costs, the inconveniences of building, and the endless debate over whether they will ever get the value back.  If any city in the world has maximized their Olympic investment over the last 50 years, it’s Munich from the 1972 games. The Olympic Park facilities is an urban park oasis, which is used by millions of people per year.  The Olympic athletes village is one that still houses more than 30,000 people.  And even its outlying facilities – from the regatta to the shooting range, to the horse riding facilities – they are all used still today – albeit for other purposes than originally scoped.  So it with enthusiasm that the city celebrates its official applicant status.  Pictured above you see some of the pre-decision parties at Marienplatz, even with Mayor Ude in the balloon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Now Not Quite So Certain


It seems all of Germany is scratching its collective head in wonder of what happened to their national team since game 1.  After playing a lack luster game against Serbia in a 2-1 loss, locals are even questioning if Germany will make it out of the first round.  There seems to be amazing mood swings, where it seemed there was nothing that the team could not do, to the exact opposite.  There’s no shortage of support, as most of Munich shut down Friday afternoon during the game.  Germany’s next test will come on Wednesday as they take on Ghana.  Perhaps by then the fans, and the team can get back into that game one frenzy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And Now…Back to the Games


This is the scene in the store-front window of Karstadt shopping center at Marienplatz, and it’s played out in different versions all over Munich, Germany for that matter.  We’ve now been through 20 games, and no team has unleashed the fire-power that Germany has in their 4-0 victory over Australia.  Actually the only other team that has showed any offensive prowess has been Argentina, who started with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria, but then let loose with a 4-1 victory over Korea.  Most other games have been within one goal or even a tie.  So we see the next phase of Germany’s quest tomorrow when they take on Serbia in its second game.  It’s funny, having asked 10 people who the favorites are, they all say you can’t count out Germany.  They always show up, are disciplined and play hard.  We saw that in game one, and tomorrow we see if that continues in game two of the World Cup for Deutschland.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Brother is Watching


I don’t know if I ever talked about the need in Germany to register, but it’s quite serious business around here.  If you are only staying for a few days in a hotel, than there is no need to do anything as you are automatically registred– but if you are staying for more than 4 days – even with friends – as I understand it you are supposed to register with the local authorities.  If you move to Germany you have to register within the first three months, and if you move from region to region within Germany you have to de-register in one place, and re-register in the latter location.  I’ve even seen locals worried because they did not register a house guest who was staying a week. After all that, I can’t tell if it’s the government or me who is paranoid.  Based upon the looks of this car, I’d stand in line to make sure they know you are there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Michael Lives on in Munich


Don’t ask me to explain…I really don’t understand it.  Why would there be a shrine to Michael Jackson in the middle of Munich?  Right in front of the Bayerisher Hof, one of the top hotels in Munich, you sill find a statue covered with pictures, candles, and flowers celebrating the life of Michael Jackson.  I’ve looked all over the web, and the much photographed and not explained memorial has been alive and well since the day Michael Jackson died. Not sure how long this shrine will live, as one of the commenters on a photo blog said he’s absolutely sick of all the rubbish surrounding the statue, so if you see it all missing some day – you know who to blame/thank.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Having a Ball in Germany

Let me start out by saying, I’ve got NOTHING!  Despite everyone in the city talking about the German crushing of Australia in the first game of the World Cup, I’m afraid that I was not at one of the many beer gardens that I could hear from our living room window (so I use some other pic that looks like a ball again) .  I don’t think anyone, even Germans, expected the national team to come out so strong in the tournament.  Germany, generally considered a long shot for the title, sent a strong message to the world that it was ready.  If my information is correct, Germany scored more (non-penalty) goals than both teams combined in the 7 matches before this game – as they beat Australia 4-0.  Having watched the game on TV, it could have easily been 8-0.  Well, i’ll try to catch a bit more of the beer garden celebration over the coming days as we go into the second set of games.  Large screens are set up all around town for the event.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let the Festivals Begin


This weekend marks the beginning of the Summer festival season in Munich, and the Altstadt has come to life.  Even on Sunday, you see an endless row of tents thanks to the Hamburger Fish Market (pictured here) in Wittelsbacherplatz, the Builders fest in Odeonzplatz, and the Craft Festival running along Theatinerstrasse – just to name a few.  Coming up, you have Munich’s birthday celebrated June 12-13, the Greenfarm Festival celebrating Irish music, among many others.  Pictured here, I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of such festive spirits – a stand selling Prosecco, Chablis, and Sangaria.  If none of that works out, you can always try the hundreds of beer gardens around town which have brought out big screen TVs for the World Cup matches.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Football on the Mind


As Germany launches its bid for the World Cup in a few days against Australia, all eyes turn to South Africa. Although Germany is not favored to challenge top seeds like Spain for the award, you can never count them out. Seems like they are in a mix of outside chances, including Argentina, Italy, England and the Netherlands. And there are a bunch of smaller names that could serve as spoilers – such as Serbia or Portugal. Of course, this is no soccer ball, but an overhead sculpture at the entry of the City Center Fünf Höfe, shopping center. The center opened in 2003. The area used to be Munich’s central banking district, but after various banks merged, and HypoVereinsbank moved their offices, it was turned into a high-end shopping mall.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Last Word in German Finances


Housed in an old mansion in Bogenhausen, you find Germany’s highest finance court – one of the five supreme courts of Germany. The high court is the last word on legality of taxes, duties, child allowances, etc. The mansion was originally built by painter Ernst Fleischer, but was taken over in 1919 by the finance ministry when the government bought the park region around the building and the castle – which had fallen under ruin. It is just one of many, many mansions in Bogenhausen which house government buildings or embassies.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Heat Wave

IMG_0148 And then…out of no where…the sun struck with vengence.  What a difference a few days make, where temperatures in Munich are hitting close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. All of a sudden, the city is packed, tourists are flowing on double decker busses with the top down, and everyone flocks to the parks.  I caught this photo early in the morning, before anyone showed up to Luitpold park.  My suggestion is to find a spot in the shade, pick up a beer at the beer garden, and fall asleep resting assured that the Munich we all came to loathe (rainy) will be back later this week.  One of my favorite places to just hang out at a beer garden is the one pictured here, in Luitpold Park (near Olympic Park).  At the old Baumberger Haus, you find a nice beer garden with lovely lounge chairs and a nice park for the kids.  You also find a Mexican & Brazilian restaurant in the bottom of this century old mansion, while outside you can gaze at the richly decorated facade with flower garlands, mussels, and mysterious faces.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Courage & Conviction


I have previously written about the Munich Courage organization (see billboard in photo), set up to promote a community stance and defense against violence to individuals.  But I thought it was an appropriate placement of this image in front of what will open up as the Munich Documentation Center, which will investigate Munich’s role in the rise of the Nazi era.  The purpose of the center, which is slated to open in 2011, is to create an open debate and dialogue about how such a movement came about, and to ensure that we remember as to never repeat the historical tragedy.  I can tell you from a personal view that I’ve witnessed such a conflicted view of Munich’s history in the movement, and an incredible difficulty to even discuss such topics openly.  Perhaps the new center will be able to change that.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Masters in Munich


On a perfect day (meaning the sun has shined for the first time since the Fall) in a perfect setting (outdoor stage at Konigsplatz), for the second straight year they invited the master Guitar player, Eric Clapton to play in Munich.  Then they made it one step better with Steve Winwood.  Here’s a quick pick an hour before the concert as thousands of people waited to enter the concert grounds.  I stopped by around 9 pm to hear a few of Clapton’s hits, and the sound just beyond the grounds was perfect.  I had hoped to continue the enjoyment from a terrace only 100M or so away, but I have to say I was blocked by the fifth floor karaoke party with a mix of some pretty bad singers.  I mean of any night they could have picked, they had to select the night when all the locals were out on their terraces catching the sounds of an outstanding concert?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blurring Lines that Were Black & White

2010-03-28 2010-03-28 001 003You may be witnessing one of the few occasions where lines in Germany have turned a shade of grey.  You know the context, certain lines should not be crossed in Germany, under just about any circumstances.  We’ve had neighbors bring our bag of trash to the door and tell us what we did wrong, and we’ve had recycling left week after week because cardboard wasn’t flattened or because it was pulled together in a sac.  But if you really, really want the garbage or recycling crews to make an exception, perhaps you just need to give them some incentive. Four bottles of Tegernseer Helles.  Yeah…that might do the trick.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Theme Day: Funny Signs

South end 063

In hopes of aligning with the thousands of daily photo sites around the world, June 1 is theme day, and this was one of the funnier signs I’ve seen around Munich.  Keep in mind that the Munich locals aren’t generally known for their sense of humor, and you don’t get the play on words you find elsewhere.  You also don’t get the dry humor of the Brits.  So, we will have to settle for a neighborhood beauty salon that seems just right for the little kittens around town.