Munich - January 2012
16.01.2012 - 21.01.2012 -5 °C
Aahh Munich...picture book perfect.
It's another city I've lived in for a few years, and it was interesting seeing how it'd changed since I was there last...NOT!
It's a quaint town...and the people of Munich would shoot me for sayng that...after all they demand it be recognised as a world city...and some think that by acting pretentious and upping prices they might be able to achieve this...but the people really just have to understand that it's just too cute to be a big city...and besides real world cities are pretty down to earth usually.
I'll never see it that way, not as long as women in Dirndles still run around the place...no matter how contempory the new styles may be and certainly not whilst men wear their feathered hats!
But it's still a place to be enjoyed...and offers far more than the vomit ridden, knicker flashing October Festival that many an Anglo tourist come here for.
I only had a few days up my sleeve and I guess as for the rest of Germany I was really struggling to get into tourist mode...and I've been to many of the museums heaps of times before...so I was more interested in soaking in the spirit of my old town.
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The Opera stands proud.
You can pass along quaint streets filled with lucky lions
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Just give the nose a rub!
The Townhall is stunning and holds a magnificent Glockenspiel that plays each day.
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The Hoffgarten is pretty to stroll along in summer
And just around the corner is the Siemens World headquarters.
No escaping that place.
Disappearing around the corner and down a back street you find a bunch of local cafes. Even a good English book store...Hugendubel.
And the Fuenfhoefe for shoppig...to buy nicer, more fashionable things.
Then of course there is Lodenfrey, a very flash department store, where you can buy a real and high quality Dirndel for Church on Sunday, if not every day!
So, you want a true Bavarian breakfast...well don't run to some trendy but cruddy place for a European breakfast...sheesh...you get that meal at any hotel where you stay. True Bavarians love a Weisswurst Breakfast. That mean pork sausages and wheat beer! Yummo! No kidding! I love it. It might seem a bit odd having beer for breakfast..but if you leave it late, until 11-11:30am...it's kind of like an early lunch. The place to go for this in Munich is the Franziskaner.
Just don't get hit by a bike after you've had a beer or two...The locals will ruthlessly defend their right to ride on their bike paths...oblivious to the fact that this tourist heavy town doesn't understand the rules.
The other truely Bavarian meals, is a good pork knuckle. For me this meant heading into The Ratskeller.
It's right underneath the Rathaus on the main square...and they make a mean pork knuckle. I think I had my first ever there...back whe I was 18 and couldn't speak the language...and that day I saw it snow for the first time in my life....ah memories.
Of course I avoided the Hofbraeuhaus like the plague...I can't stand the place. I used to live at Isartor and bus loads of touist would come past my place each morning, heading to the Hofbraeuhaus, and stagger back drunk latter on....blurrr...
All the restaurants I've mentioned so far are much better than this. If you want to have a look inside do, but I'd recommend you eat elsewhere.
In fact there is even a really good brewey/pub on Im Tal between the Main square and Isar Tor...oh..and a makeup shop where you get 20% of everything (scent etc for men too!)...just ask!
This brings me to a point...food in town is fine, so long as you stick to the German restaurants that focus on German food, or at least ones by the nationality that actually makes the nations food they're selling (eg: Italian, Turkish etc). Michelin Star restaurants are an exception to the rule because they are simply good, whatever style they make...yet they get the star in part for sticking to the local foods.
I always err on the side of caution when an international food restaurant opens here, because in my experience it's usually depressingly bad... I've even had food poisoning a couple of times, at the so called, good and trendy ones...and it often struck me that the average Joe doesn't recognise just how poor the quality is....not good enough for an International City...but then again it's a town, eh...so keep away from them...and enjoy German German German!
In fact it was the years spent here being deprived of a decent meal that encouraged my love for cooking!
One of my favourite parts of town is Haidhausen...it's another french quarter, I suppose....and it's fashionable in an Elwood kind of way. Nice book shops and boutiques, restaurants and pubs...right next to the city centre and very very local. Look it up when you're here.
The Isar itself is such a pretty river. I used to spend a couple of hours each day walking it's banks.
The Viktualien Market is the main market in the centre of town and pretty...but extremely overpriced...it makes Prahran market look cheap. I used to shop here though, firstly because it was next door to where I lived and secondly it was the only place I could get some "exotic" (for Germany) ingredients, and thirdly because I could afford it.
It's times like this that help you to realise just how lucky we are at home. All the exclusitivities of Munich are a stock standard expectation in Melbourne today. We have culture that appreciates and expects choice and quality, so we get it. Unfortunately in Munich this isn't the case...so you have to look hard, pay up, or eat rubbish.
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Dallmayrs is a food hall and delicatessen and an institution...it has been around for 300 years...and it is accordingly expensive...but this time it is worth it... Like all places that could if they wanted, the staff are actually pretty grounded, and it's a nice place to enjoy a Champagne with friends.
A foodie visit there is a must and the place just keeps pulling in the crowds.
I was pleased to find Manufactum had moved next door too. It's a mix between a cookwear and hardware store, only fancy. It definitely worth a fly through if you're into this kind of thing.
I took a side visit to visit an old friend in Aschau am Chiemsee. Chiemsee is just lovely and the lake is about an hour south of Munich. It's also where Crazy King Ludwig II built a replica palace to Versailles...only living in it for about a week from what I can remember...well worth a visit.
What I hadn't thought of is that Aschau is also the home of one of Germany's most famous Chef's! 3 Star Michelin, Heinz Winkler! Well..how could we not go for a coffee there...being a flashpacker and all!
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After a coffee, and Blackforest chocolate cake later, we made the spontaneous decison to go back for lunch! Why not, you only live once. So Kristin organised for her two gorgeous children to be looked after for a couple of hours whilst we pampered our stomachs stupid! Yuuuuuummooo!
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And much to my girlfriends embarrassment, I gushed and gushed excitement on meeting Heinz...yes..first name basis for me!...friends you know. And I even scored a foodie groupie photo! Woohoo!
Note that the waiter knew how to frame the shot...
I'm guessing I'm not the first starstruck tourist who has passed through, and he acted just perfectly. Whilst chatting with him, i realised that he also worked with Kurt Guttenbrunner from Wallse in NYC...fantastic. We had a chuckle about how small the world is before bidding fond farewells.
It was late though and time for me to roll myself back to Munich.
The one museum I was keen to have a quick look at was the Spielzeugmuseum...that is, the Toy Museum.
You see, Bavaria, particularly Nuremeberg was the centre of toys worldwide. Not having time for the museum in Nuremberg, I was keen to get back to this one, for there was one collection in particular I wanted to see again.
It's located on the main square in the Gateway tower...right next to Juliet.
Oh..and give her a rub for luck...just not her nose!
The museum holds the history of toys from the stone age. It's fascinating to see how they evolved from clay, to paper cutouts,
I used to love playing with paper dolls.
Then onto wood and metals
Mrs Steiff started making stuffed toys from her bed and is probaly the most famous teddy bear maker of all time.
Then of course, little Engineers were groomed with the steam driven toys...
Bomber plans were even made during war time!
And little girls had nightmares from wandering robotic dolls!
And if this didn't work, well one woman decided to create baby dolls that looked more realistic, creating faces of life like babies, whether they be considered cute or ugly!
How's this for chucky! Spot her? More nightmare material!
The main reason I came here though, is that I remembered the Barbie display and particularly one fascinating piece of history that I'd be prepared to bet you probably never ever knew....
Barbie, as we know her today is from the USA and named after the owners daughter, Barbara....but I can't call her Barbies creator...
Because Barbie, or Bild Lilli as her real name is, was created by Reinhard Beuthien for the first edition of the Bild magazine. She was created to fill a blank spot in the magazine! She was post war, and ambitious..she had her own job but no qualms about hanging out with rich men! She was cheeky and had no reservation talking about sex. She was so popular as a cartoon character that they quickly started producing her and this ran from about 1950 to 1964.
With a mostly male readership, she was sold at bars and tobacco shops for amusement...she was considered to be an adult toy, not appropriate for children and often referred to as a sex toy! She was so popular that she sold widely throughout Europe.
There you go...boys do have a thing for Barbie dolls.
So it was during this period that that Ruth Handler, one of the founders of Mattel was travelling through Switzerland, when she spotted Bild Lilli and bought two. One for her daughter, and one to show her company.
She thought that young girls wanted a more adult doll, that they could practice "life" with, rather than than baby dolls that were the only type available until then. Well...it took another 5 years or so before she was able to buy the rights to the Bild Lilli doll, had her name changed to Barbie and Bild Lilli became American.
It was first then that she started to get a tan, changing away from her buttermilk skin, and the black and white bathing suit...She received a whole new set of American clothes. Barbie lovers claim she's a multi talented young woman, who has had a series of professions from Pilot, and Astronaut to homemaker....
We even saw her being the statue of liberty if you recall...the shining light welcoming immigrants to American consumerism!...See how much she has changed!
Wasn't Bild Lilli prettier and classier...
Barbie haters, claim she is damaging young women's self-esteem, and that she represents an unrealistic picture of women etc.
For me she was just a doll...I never really registered the oversized breasts, and luscious long legs, and minute waiste....but I desperately wanted a Barbie when I was little. It didn't damage me...after all pretty girls can be Engineers too! Although my uncle sticking a pin threw her head as a joke was kind of disturbing...and he became a doctor!
I had to have a chuckle about some of the accesories on display though....they're unashamedly politically incorrect!
Barbie baby with cola??
And my favourite!
How to lose weight!
ooohhh....Playing with little girls minds...
Apparently on the back of some of these books, the even wrote the message, "don't eat!"
Don't think Botero would appreciate that distorted beauty message!
But girls aren't dumb and a doll isn't going to influence them that much...more likely any nuerotic people they have around them, will accomplish that...a doll is, after all, more of an escape.
So I happily left the museum, please to have educated myself a little further.
I had one more night to go, and needed a good sleep...you see I had just changed my plans...
The last two weeks of my travels, I had planned for Spain...but it just wouldn't stop snowing.
And I was being taunted by Betty, the friend I stayed with in Erlangen...She and her family were keen for me to join them skiing and she knew how desperately I wanted too!...so a change of flight later, I had myself all set up to go snowboarding in Austria!....and even drove down in my old car! How's that for nostalgia! Lightening even recognised me and purred all the way...