Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Flowers

The flowers at the foot of the Gärtnerplatz Theater are always a highlight of the summer. The theater dates back to 1865 and was last redesigned in 2006. People often gather at the the small fountain or around the greenery to enjoy the nature or simply to people watch.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Such a long word for such a fun time. A 'Junggesellenabschied' (bachelor fairwell) and 'Junggesellinnenabschied' (bachelorette fairwell) meet in the pedestrian zone for one last hurrah with friends.

This is the perfect time of year to see these small gatherings, funny costumes, and a great example of a fun custom. One of the highlights typically includes a basket filled with random things that the bachelor or bachelorette work to sell to on lookers or bar patrons. The proceeds are used to buy the group drinks for evening.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Baby

Storks are said to bring the babies in Germany. The legend began during pagan times in Northern Germany when families would hope to have storks nest on their roof tops to bring fertility. Here a family's home is decorated for its newest addition.

Many of the zoos around Germany, including the Hellabrunn Zoo here in Munich have stork habitats where visitors can hear them clapping their bills in between delivering babies to their new homes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wedding gifts

Occasionally in Munich department stores there will be a table where the bride and groom will place gifts they'd like to receive for their guests to purchase, however gift registries are not very common. Cold hard cash seems to be the gift of choice and finding a creative way to present it is sure to win points. Some fold bills into origami shapes, forms, or characters, while others painstakingly freeze or incorporate coins into ice or gelatin.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Dancing is always an essential part of wedding celebrations - particularly dancing a Waltz. There are also a variety of speeches, skits, singing, and perhaps guest appearances. It seems Bavarians really let their hair down when it's time to celebrate a wedding. I've witnessed a magic show, slide shows, and even performances by people dressed up as Michael Jackson and Elvis.

Bouquet tosses are done, while garter tosses are not. Also, freezing the top layer of the wedding cake to eat on the first anniversary isn't typical.

Dessert buffets, balloon releases, late night currywurst, fireworks, and time capsules to open on the first anniversary seem to be the trends.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wedding Attire

Carrying on with the wedding theme it can be difficult to know exactly what to wear. Some wedding parties opt for ultra traditional tracht of the finest quality, while others are comfortable celebrating in jeans, which don't seem festive enough for a wedding. It's also possible to be surprised with a change of clothes turning dinner into a black tie affair complete with tuxedos and cocktail dresses. The closer the proximity to a large city the more formal the celebrations tend to be, but it's always interesting to see the mix of attire.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Church Wedding

Bavaria is heavily Catholic, however the trend seems to be living with a partner for years before getting married. Every wedding I've attended in Bavaria the bride and groom have been married civilly for about 6 months before having a church wedding, although some forgo that all together.

The consensus also seems to be out on whether people are permitted to kiss in the Bavarian Catholic church. When in doubt or when things seem 'modern' (such as having a restroom at the church) I'm often told that's something the Evangelicals (Protestants) do.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


One of the funniest idioms in German is, "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof" (Literally translates to: I only understand train station) meaning 'I'm not quite following or don't understand'.

My guess is it's a reference to those speaker systems announcing things with a bit of static. Even if you understand German you might find the perfect time to use this saying after hearing some people with a strong Bavarian dialect.

There are more polite ways to tell someone what they are saying isn't so clear, such as a simple 'Wie bitte?', but using idioms is always a fun way of feeling like a local. Sometimes a little gruffness is crucial to survival here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The Kreisverwaltungsreferat on Poccistraße is affectionately called the KVR and is a place foreigners of the city love to hate. They deal in all things resident, visa, or work permit related. It should be advised to arrive early to avoid waiting in the dreaded queue. If unable to arrive early don't panic... it's quite a fascinating look into Germany's changing society. There are a myriad of languages being spoken and often large groups of people accompanying one another. Information is not consistent across the board, so in addition to bit of documentation bring plenty of patience.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Season Opener

Today marks the season opening for the Bundesliga with a game between FC Bayern München and VfL Wolfsburg. This cover of 11 Freunde - a magazine for 'Füssballkultur' playfully uses the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with various players and a couple WAGS (wives and girlfriends) in the mix. (Interestingly the Beatles largely got their start in Germany often playing concerts in Hamburg's infamous Reeperbahn area. )

VfL Wolfsburg's most expensive player transfers include 10€ million for Simon Kjaer and 9€ million for Mario Mandzukic. Munich received Toni Kroos as a loan return, thus proving once and for all money can't buy everything.

Here's to hoping a repeat performance for FC Bayern winning the Bundesliga again this year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fruit Stand

The Kaufingerstraße pedestrian zone between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz often has many fruit stands. They typically have affordable and seasonal produce. Interestingly the prices can vary substantially. I tend to be cautious if there is an 'angebot' (sale), because occasionally the fruit is moldy. It also appears many will display their more picturesque fruits along with a sign stating no self service.

That being said once you find a good one to frequent the sales people are more friendly and just maybe you'll receive some of the nicer produce that they mysteriously pull from behind the table.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Andechs Monastery

The first pilgrimages to Andechs were way back in 1138 and it continues to be a a right of passage for Munich residents and adventurous tourists. If the weather is right it's a nice day trip to the swanky Starnberg area.

While the church is quite a sight Andechs attracts many visitors that not only pay a visit to the Benedictine monastery, but to sample the beer which has brewed since 1455. If you end up going by S-bahn be prepared to hoof it for about an hour before being able to praise the Lord for that fantastic beer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Declining Birthrate

There have been may factors that are said to be to blame for the declining birthrate in Germany: an over educated population that focuses on careers, marrying later in life, the cost of raising children, and of course the bedding. Surprisingly this isn't a photo of a burnt orange 'Asian' themed duvet, which is hopefully a dying trend.

Foreigners are often surprised to learn couples often sleep in their own bed that is pushed up to their partner's and don't even think about sharing covers - each person has his or her own!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Horizons Crossed

sunflower biking
Munich has aims of becoming the most bike friendly city in the world. It's no doubt they are well on their way with fantastic bike paths located in and around the city as well as bike compartments on both the S-bahns and the trains.

There are over 200km of bike trails around Munich with clearly marked signals that are exclusively for bikes, which make this inexpensive mode of transportation also quite safe.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


A bit of guerilla marketing appears on a Schwabing street encouraging passersby to call the A-team if they have problems.

Street art isn't widely seen around the city, however advertisers are growing savvy in attempting to find new ways to catch people's attention, in this case as a promotion for an upcoming movie.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bayern München's Future

soccer boys
A young group of boys gathers with their coach before football / soccer practice. Perhaps one of them will grow to join the Bayern Munich Junior Team. Many of the first team are either from Munich or within a 70km radius of the city.

Author Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book Outliers that a child's birth month strongly correlates with their success in sports. Children born closer to the registration cutoff dates have more time to develop and grow giving them the competitive edge.

Since there is so much talent in and around Munich perhaps it's just the steady diet of pretzels and würst.

Friday, August 13, 2010


audi A1
Audi unveils its newest car - the A1, which is meant to be competition to BMW's Mini. One of the joys of living so close to the factories is being able to pick up your new car directly from the production line. Some even offer trips to those who come from abroad to ship them back to their homeland after driving them around Europe.

Having cars at the airport immediately signifies to visitors that they have arrived to Munich, which is automobile heaven.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Photo Shoot


At one of Munich's 'Schickimicki' (see + be seen) bars a photo shoot takes place. In the past owner Charles Schumann has been seen in commercials for Campari, although oddly the bar has been covered so it appears as if it could be anywhere. It's anyone's guess as to what this is for.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


What separates two people most profoundly is a different sense and degree of cleanliness
- German scholar and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Often when people visit Munich and Germany they are surprised to see how clean it is. People clean up after their dogs, they throw their trash away in the proper receptacle, of course, and even though eating and drinking on the subway is allowed it's generally pretty tidy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Puppet Theater

It's nice to see children enjoying a puppet show outdoors as opposed to being inside watching television.

The area is surrounded with well known theaters exclusively for this ancient form of entertainment, including the Salzburg Marionette Theater and the Augsburg Puppenkiste. The very best part is hearing how involved the children get while screaming at the puppets.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Munich loves it's annual celebrations. Sommerfest has been happening since 1982. What was supposed to be a one-time event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the olympics is now an annual celebration held at Coubertinplatz.

Nearly 250,000 visitors attend the events, which range from the typical festival rides and foods to events for people with dogs and evenings filled with fireworks. There is also the 'Boatmans' tournament', where people try to tip each others boats.

It's a fun event in a beautiful setting.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


One of the simple pleasures of being a Munich resident is walking through Marienplatz as the tourists gather to watch the Glockenspiel - daily at 11:00 (also at 12:00, and 17:00 in the summer).

With cameras ready there are always plenty of mouths gaping open as they stare up at the 16th century chimes high upon the city hall. There is quite a bit of build up for what is a pretty uneventful tourist attraction, but watching the spectators always is reason to smile.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hand Painted

Several movie theaters around the city have hand painted signs, which give a personalized and artistic touch to what has become a mass produced and instantaneous advertising world. It's nice to see that the tradition lives on.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Excuse me

Germans aren't often known for their humor. It's there and often in satirical form, but it's not easily identified when learning the complex language, which isn't exactly flexible.

When I saw this port-a potty I had a nice laugh. Although here ASS is an acronym and 'miet' means rental it's so literal, which seems very German.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sausage burger

Visitors who don't enjoy stretching out of their comfort zone can always stop at McDonald's - the global fast food giant. They may be surprised to see several different items on the menu, including beer and for a limited time the 'Nürnburger' made with sausages.

The HoWe wurst factory that supplies the sausages is owned by Uli Hoeneß former general manager and president of Bayern München.

Munich loves beer, sausages, and football... it always comes full circle.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Despite seeing a slight slump in the economy there are many building projects going on around the city. It's a place that is continually evolving and reinventing itself, which is one reason it's such a great place to live. I enjoy seeing the various layers and complexities of the city as it rebuilds.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Voters decided last month to put an end to indoor smoking at restaurants with a 61% against smoking with under 40% of voter turn out. This past weekend the ruling went into effect, so theoretically all smoking indoors should be a thing of the past. If the new laws will be enforced is another question.

Bar and restaurant owners can be fined up to €1000 or risk losing their license if they are repeat offenders. Smokers risk being only fined about €5.

It's yet to be seen how this will affect area businesses, however Oktoberfest celebrants will be granted a one-year reprieve since tents aren't yet equipped with areas for smokers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Auto Test

Germany is very car oriented with Audi + BMW in Bavaria and Mercedes + Porsche in nearby Stuttgart. On occasion you may notice a distinctly patterned car on the streets of Munich. They are unmarked, but nearly impossible not to notice. The bold patterns and swirling designs are meant to hide the contours of these yet to be released designs while giving their test drivers a better idea of how the car handles in real situations.

Stop and go city traffic (particularly around the Hauptbahnhof) as well as the stretch of autobahn between the airport + Allianz arena are hot spots to see these yet to be released cars.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Visitors to Munich are sometimes disappointed by the lack of options in going out at night. While entertaining is typically done outside of people's homes and apartments, many bars and restaurants close relatively early. Amazingly even the biergartens close before midnight. The best areas to find something going on tend to be Schwabing, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, and the Glockenbachviertel.