Strolling Around Munich

We connected from LAX through Heathrow to Munich. Uneventful, except that I was smarter this time and packed us a lunch to eat instead of relying on their (icky) food.

Travel Story: The couple in front of us, older than us by about twenty years we figure, seemed mighty uncomfortable on the plane. She got up and down and up and down and just as we pulled into the gate, bolted for the bathroom. Upon returning, as we all stood waiting to get off, she announced out loud, that all of us sitting around her may have noticed that she was sick but don’t worry that her illness was not contagious, just something that happened to her when she flew. Okey, dokey. A little too much information, I think.

But as we toddled out after them, all of our luggage in hand, it was apparent that they were ill-equipped for the journey up to the main airport and beyond and their wheelchair hadn’t arrived. They looked lost. I felt sorry for them, but really couldn’t do anything for them. Dave and I discussed this later and decided that they thought they were 50 years old, just like we think we’re 30 sometimes. A common problem. I decided we should start making age-related adjustments, and NOW.

Okay, maybe later, just as soon as we get back from Munich.

Just for the record, London Heathrow is a big airport with too many people and too many gates. However they have nice security people who still had one of our iPhones saved after we left it in security. That was a heart-stopping moment.

We took the train into the city center, then transferred to the U-Bahn, or their mass transit system, which is very efficient. Then to the Hotel Printzregent, where we are staying. Love the pillows. We think this is the same room we stayed in last time.
An armoire in the hallway.

The weather is posted everyday on the wall.

Back on the U-Bahn and to Marienplatz, a central square that is ground zero for tourists. We joined them all on this fine Saturday afternoon, the weather a bit crisp, but sunny.

The large door to the New Rathaus (or Townhall), which was built between 1867 and 1908, in a neo-Gothic style, or so the guidebook says. I had gone to Borders before the trip to choose a guidebook for Munich. I chose it on the basis of weight, so some details are missing, but it has a great map in the back. The “Neues Rathaus” also houses the Glockenspiel, the famous chiming clock with moveable figures.
Doorway out to the Marienplatz.
Doorway to the inner courtyard of the Rathaus. Love the frog.
First you notice the buildings in a place, then the people. This waitstaffer was checking his cellphone messages. The long white apron is typical for Germany and we also saw it in Prague, too.

An older couple in typical Bavarian dress. We also noticed this group below, all decked out in their leiderhosen, and hats with feathers. We also loved the guy wearing socks with his sandals.

Signs of the impending Oktoberfest are all around us, especially these cookies with ribbons through the top. Make of lebkuchen (gingerbread), they are heavily frosted with designs and lovey-dovey and good luck sayings. We started seeing them everywhere, in the shops and in shop windows with trachten-moden (traditional dress), the cookies looped around their necks.

I asked a shopkeeper if this was typical, to wear them around their necks. Oh yes, she replied. But first we drink the beer. Then the cookies go around the necks.

So that’s the secret.

Many buildings have unique painting and designs, very Bavarian-ish in style. We like it.
This monk, with his outstretched arms is found on the tops of buildings, and of course, on the manhole covers. He’s one of the motifs we see repeated everywhere, as Munich means “of monks.” Read the linked article for more info.
The dancing figures of the Glockenspiel in motion. I did take some video, but left the passwords to YouTube home. Check back MUCH later, for updated video.
The jetlagged couple.

Munich’s Apple store.
I know, I should be noticing the BMW store, but that’s way out of town.

Okay, so we decide to try and get something to eat. We think it’s time to eat, it may actually BE time to eat, but the night is falling and we’re tired, so after looking at a few different restaurants, we stop here. The travel guru Rick Steves always says to watch out for places that bring you a menu in English. And Russian, Chinese, Italian and Spanish, but we’re too tired. So we get a cranky waiter who spoke perfect English even though he kept yelling at me that he didn’t (that was when I asked him what “Swabian noodles” were.) I suspect he had no clue either. Anyone? Sometime the translations are more trouble than they’re worth.

So I asked for the German menu again and they were spaetzle. So the above plate has roast pork with mushrooms. By this time we were still freaked out that we had to pay $5 for a small (about 8 oz.) bottle of water, so we just shared the Tourist Dinner (as we’ve come to call it) and sighed heavily when we remembered the manna we ate in Italy. (Really, this tasted much better than it looks. It’s hard to mess up roast pork around here. It’s practically their national dish.)

We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

This shop has its Oktoberfest garland all ready: greens with bunches of pretzels tied together with a distinctive blue/white diamond ribbon. The blue/white diamond pattern is like the Bavarian theme, found everywhere. I think it’s also on the Bavarian coat of arms.
We walked down the street toward Karlsplatz, another large square, only it’s round, where we saw our first “Tor” or city gate. We tried to figure out how to take the electric tram home, a lovely form of transportation, but the lines to our side of the city are all torn up.
So, back on the U-Bahn, where this newer version is all one giant open car, with circular open connections where a normal train-car connection would be. Nice.

And it’s nice to be here in Munich.

Menu from Munich

Let’s talk food: Munich, specifically. Given the readership of this blog, that shouldn’t be too hard, as you all like food and partake in it daily.
We come downstairs the first day and this sign, hanging over the fresh breads section, is an invitation. We accept, and proceed to our nice day, by starting here.

We pick a corner table, put down our room key so they can track us, and head back to the buffet.

Our first pass includes slices of ham, smoked cheese, breakfast sausage, bacon, a small seeded roll, a small strudel-thingie.
And juice. They have three kinds of beverage on the juice bar: apple, orange and plain old water–a rare commodity around here, so I have to mention (see Drinks, later on). You can also select from their extensive list of teas (no thanks), hot coffee (ditto), and hot chocolate. My languages are all meshing in my mind so I continually call it “chocolate calda,” a mash-up of what I remember from Italy.
The sausage links are not like the States’ version. Ours are mostly grease tasting, with some flavor. These are all flavor, subtle and not earthy, and with a finer texture (no small pellets of ingredients to waylay you).
The following are pictures of their main breakfast buffet. To the left are pastries–in this case, strudel, which I haven’t seen since that first day.
The weird part of the buffet, of which I never eat includes shrimp in some sort of white mayonaisey sauce, salmon, marinated olives, peppers and fish salad. The yellow round things are chunks of butter and in the lower right are soft cheeses with a variety of outside coatings: herbs, peppercorns, etc. I have tried those.
The middle part, with fresh peppers (here they call them paprika), a caprese salad (tomatoes and fresh mozzerella–I guess they’re making the Italians happy, but I never had that for breakfast in Italy!), sliced ham, meats and cheese slices. On the right is oatmeal, and past that is the fruit compote. Above those are two kinds of yogurt. Are you feeling full yet? Obviously there is a possibility of gluttony here; instead, on that first day, we merely overate. We haven’t eaten that big of breakfast since.
And the Grand Finale! Weisswurst on the left, with some other kind of unnamed wurst (sausage/brat variety) and on the right, bacon (almost gone–it’s popular) and the breakfast sausage.

Weisswurst is a Bavarian specialty, usually served only for breakfast, for in the old days it was kept in a vat of hot water on the back of the stove and wasn’t any good past breakfast time. When we were here before, I tried to get one for lunch. Sorry, was all they said. I just can’t face this for breakfast.


We had goulash soup that first day for lunch. A small cup of goulash soup for we were flagging and needed a little something, but were still full from breakfast. This had small diced vegetables in a full-flavored tomato base broth.
Toefelstrudel, or something. It has raisins and apples imbedded in a soft cheese, all wrapped in strudel. It’s how I gained 5 pounds on my honeymoon, some fifteen years ago. We shared this.
And now to my advice for those of you who want to invest wisely in today’s stocks and bond markets: buy Munich drinks. No kidding. The bottle on the left costs about $4 and the apple juice (fizzy) on the right cost about the same. We haven’t figured out how to get tap water yet (the cranky waiter from the first night told us he wasn’t allowed to sell it–yeah, I know. Just give it to us free. . . ) but we’re trying to figure out a way around the fact that our drinks costs as much as our meal.
Okay, so our meal cost more on this night, but it was the same story: $5 drinks. And these aren’t even the famous brew that Munich is known for. Apparently there is some concern here in this town that the underage are drinking too much. They believe that one reason is that the soft drinks, or water, costs more than the ales and beers, so it’s cheaper to buy an alcoholic drink. We noticed. Non-drinkers are at a definate disadvantage here.

The first thing the waiters will do is ask you what you’d like to drink. I think Germans come in knowing their favorite ale and blurt it out. We are dumb tourists who ask to see their menu and then figure out the cheapest thing and go for that.

Last night I told Dave to just consider it our “tip,” that is to say, that we Americans are used to tacking on 15 to 20% on each bill, which they don’t do here (usually you round up to the nearest Euro, and in nice restaurants, add 3-4% or a bit more). Our drinks are the equivalent of that 15%. We’re trying to wrap our heads around this. Really.

Dave liked the little piggies with the coin in their mouth in the upper left. On the upper right, are the boars, with coins in their mouths. We try to figure out their customs by pure conjecture. Are these good luck treats for Oktoberfest? For year-round? For fun?

We also saw large cones everywhere. Think ice cream cone, but made of cardboard wrapped with colorful paper and LARGE, like 18″ tall. I finally asked, and was told they were for the schoolchildren and were filled with candies and small toys for the first day of school. School begins here September 14th, so they are for sale everywhere.

Dinner that first night was at a local Bavarian specialty restaurant: HofbrauKeller, in Wienerplatz, about a ten minute walk down the street from us. We’d been here before in 2004 and I’d written down what I had because I liked it: Bratenpfandl, which is a leg of pork, a piece of suckling pig and some duck, served with red cabbage (had a touch of spice), a potato dumpling and a semiknudel (or bread dumpling). It looks like a lot, but by the time you carve out the bones and the skin, it’s a more normal portion.

HofbrauKeller is also one of the top ten Beer Gardens of Munich, with a huge area for table under a canopy of spreading chestnuts. We didn’t see it (I’m quoting from the guidebook) but apparently they also have a children’s playground. I guess it’s so the children can guide the parents home afterwards, but Dave tells me his friend Dietmar could quaff five of those very tall glasses of beer and still function.

Dave had Beef Rouladen “Housewife Style” (they’d given us an English menu). It was beef filled with bacon and pickled cucumber, served with red wine sauce, butter vegetables and mashed potatoes. The pickled cucumber? A pickle.

Ah, Apple Strudel with warm vanilla sauce.
How We Still Stay Married and Happy After 20 Years.

On our honeymoon, we were in a Bavarian eatery and had each ordered their version of the prix fixe meal: salad, entree and dessert. True to habit, Dave finished first (he was the last in a line-up of six children so learned to eat quickly). Being a new bride, I offered to give him a bite of my dessert.

He left me a bite.

So after that we get out a fork and split it. Right down the middle.

Monday’s breakfast was more of the same–er–less of the same, and for lunch (after a very long walking walking walking day) we finally stopped about 3:30 in the afternoon for a salad and a pretzel and Highway Robbery Drinks. It was a great salad.
Tuesday’s lunch was at the Rathaus in Marienplatz. Dave was at his conference, and I was out schlepping the town, so I decided to be bold: have weissewurst and pretzel. This was the pretzel basket. In America, you can eat whatever’s in the basket and it’s the same price. Many places here dock you by the piece (another discovery on our honeymoon when we tried a little bit of every bread in the basket and were charged for “5 gebaken” or something. Surprise!), so I was careful to only eat one.

The waiter told me it would take 25 minutes for the weissewurst to be ready. I was happy about that because then I could sit and do my journal and write my postcard and not be bothered. When it finally arrived, it looked like this:

He had to show me how that yes, this was what I had ordered, by gesturing: pick up the spoons Dear Tourist, plop that link over onto your plate and with the bretzel (that’s what they call it), enjoy. It wasn’t until later that I’d read the bit about them being served in the hot water.
Okay, some amount of trepidation here. What if this is completely gross? What if I hate it? I squeezed out the sweet mustard on the plate, cut off a piece of the wurst and cut it into a smaller piece, and then again (it was now the size of a chocolate chip) and dipped it heavily into the mustard. I tried not to make a face as I put it into my mouth.

Surprise! It was very good. It had flecks of herbs throughout so it was a very mild flavor. The texture was even more velvety than the breakfast sausage served at our hotel–this was almost like a firm puree and very appealing. The next bites I took were more normal, and coupled with the pretzel, a fine lunch. I still can’t wrap my head around eating them for breakfast, though.

The view, looking up, from my table.

Dave had heard about the restaurant Kafer from a foodie friend of his, and that it was VERRRY pricey, but amazing food. The view above is not that restaurant, but instead is the bistro downstairs, at a fraction of the cost. They close precisely at 8 p.m. (this IS Germany, after all) so as not to interfere with the dinner business of the restaurant. Dave got home from his conference, did some emails at we arrived here (after a short walk from our hotel) at 7 p.m. It took a while for them to translate the menu for us (very nice people) but we were all seated and ordered by 7:10 p.m.

Kafer’s main business downstairs is an upscale grocery store: think specialty foods. Like roses crusted with sugar crystals for decoration. Like candy-coated dark chocolate dragees that are the size of your thumbnail in 15 different colors, including “stone.” Like a full menu of prepared foods, and a fruit stand and a vegetable area, fish, wine, “flesh” and bread areas, not to mention the gift shop and linens area one half-level up. A foodie’s heaven, a smaller twin to the famous Dallmayr shop near Marienplatz. (I went there too, more on that later.)

Bread, not charged by the piece.

The butter was placed on our plate by the server, a small round tube wrapped in foil.

I had duck liver ravioli, served with morel mushrooms. An earthy, but delicious, taste.

Dave’s was a vegetable strudel with a white creamy sauce, atop a bed of steamed vegetables: turnip sticks, white asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. Light and refreshing (we shared bites of both entrees).

Dessert was a raspberry tart. Instead of a pastry crust, which I find sometime to be tough, this had a shortbread crust with a light filling, and raspberries that they’d just picked from their vines out back. . . or so it tasted. We split this, too.

And how does a tourist get through a long day of hiking around?
Chocolate! In all different flavors!

Remembrance of Things Past

We begin the day in the area near our hotel, strolling along Printzregentstrasse. This photo was taken near the UBahn stop, near the Printzregentheater. (I love how they string all their words together–reminds me of some of my English students. I used to think they needed correcting; now I know they’re merely part German.)
We see lots of surface decoration on the houses around here. This is a prime example. We catch the 100 bus, which takes it over to Odeonplatz, where we get off in order to head to the Theatinerkirche, or Theatine Church.
Stunningly yellow, it’s a bright contrast to the buildings around it.

Mass was being said, so we entered quietly and took a seat in the back, pulled in by the live choir singing to a full-throated organ. The rest of the mass, when there wasn’t the choral music that I love, was time for reflection on my family–after all, it was the Sabbath. I thought about Barbara, with her heart disease, and was saddened for her. I think the sadness came from the somber tones of the mass, and certainly wasn’t helped along by the scene below, taken later that day. One of the princesses of the Wittelsbach realm had lost her daughter and this was a memorial to that event.

I thought about each of my children after that. I had written about them in the last journal I’d kept when we had traveled to Munich five years ago. So much had changed. Some situations were better, others were still trials of a different sort. We’d included our brother-in-law Richard in every prayer that trip, newly diagnosed with cancer, and now we include his widow, who is off to a yearlong mission of service at the LDS temple in New York City.

It was interesting to get that five-year perspective, and as I sat in this soaring church, immersed in the strict choral harmonies of some ordered German composer, I thought of how Heavenly Father must view us with his perspective and wonder how often we miss the boat about what’s most important in life. Maybe, as illustrated by the memorial above, it is in relationships, keeping them going, figuring them out, loving more completely, repenting where necessary and most importantly–learning to forgive. For as I’ve gotten older, I think the whole grand plan and design rests on Christ’s shoulders and his twin gifts to us: repentence and forgiveness.

We went back Monday, when the sun was shining more brightly to take more photos of this church, our favorite. Look for a future post.

Music man, outside the church.

We headed to the Residenz next, Munich’s great royal house. We had wanted to go back there every since that fateful day when, as Dave so delicately put it, we had a computer malfunction and lost the photos of the previous trip. (For the record, I was the computer malfunction; still learning a new program, I erased the photos.) It was interesting to stroll around the Residenz, remembering places and sights we’d seen and enjoyed, but really hadn’t remembered because of the lost photos. “Oh, I remember this,” one of us would say, and the other would nod in agreement. Or we’d remember what was next in the tour. We decided not to get the audiophones as we’d done that before and forgotten it anyway. Such an interesting thing, this memory. Like the sea washing the beach clean every day, and our photos are the collected and saved seashells in the glass jar at home.

Look for a separate post on the Residenz at a later day.

Since it was Sunday, we decided to make churches our focus, and went to Frauenkirche next, built in the 15th century.
Walking across Munich, we see Loden Frey, the store dedicated to Loden cloth and traditional wear, reflected in its neighbor.

More dirndls. I love these dresses!

The door handles of the store.

We headed to Asamkirche, but it was closed for renovation. On the right is the front, and on the left, its neighboring jewelry store, which was closed (everything is closed on Sunday).
Out through another city gate: Sendlinger Tor, catch the UBahn to Odeonsplatz and catch the 100 bus. Seeing people looking over the side of the bridge in Englisher Garden, I say to Dave– “Surfers!”

While get off at the next stop and while we wait to cross, we see the BierBus, or Beer Bus.

Have keg, will travel, as long as the people sitting down peddle hard–it’s the means of locomotion.

Yep, the surfers. This stream comes out from underneath the bridge at a good clip, hitting some sort of pipe, which creates a moving wave.

Just a friendly reminder.

The surfer would jump in, take a few passes back and forth, then dive into the froth behind them, giving the next person a chance. It was fascinating to watch and I’ll post video later. Dave later commented that it was a very efficient way to surf.

We kept walking. Dave stood in the middle of the street to get this one. No wonder they call us crazy tourists (don’t worry, I kept watch).

Playing with our time-lapse photography at the base of the Friedensengel (Angel of Peace). It was completed in 1899 and commemorates the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. It is based on the Greek Goddess Nike, before she became a shoe company, and stands twenty feet tall from its baselt ahough looks can be deceiving (I thought it was much taller). This area of town (near Europaplatz and about 2 blocks from our hotel) is a nice area, with big houses and is quieter than the city center.
Child’s face is in response to the question from his mother: “Have you cleaned your room yet?”

Up on top, the base has four mosaics; this one was lit up by the afternoon sun.

And that’s our first full day. Not bad, for jetlaggers.

Auf Wiedersehen!

The Residenz

The Residenz was the Royal Family’s residence, the place where they hung out for hundreds of years until the Allies (that was us–sad faces, please) bombed it to smithereens in a few hours one day, in order to Do What We Had To Do. The German pamphlets are very nice about this fact, and never mention the complete loss of this amazing palace. Truthfully, the stats are that 23,000 square meters of roof was reduced to 50. Much of the artwork and many of the treasures had been moved to a safe location

But don’t worry. The Nazis, in all their tidiness, photographed this place ad nauseam, so with the fragments of this palace that were left, the archived artwork and treasures, all those photographs (and I’m sure some war reparations money), they rebuilt the thing. Dave and I both agree it’s one of the most impressive royal houses we’ve seen, perhaps because it’s a highly edited collection.

The Shell Grotto. I’m going to get Dave busy on the weekends building me one of these.

We call this the Dripping Medusa statue. What you can’t see is that the rest of Medusa’s body is at this guy’s feet and water is squirting out of her neck, too. Very inventive.

The next room is called the Antiquarium because they keep antiquities in there. This guy is not one of them.
The scale and shape and size of this hall is so harmonious. It’s a pleasure to walk in and be in, and perhaps you can see from the people in the picture, it’s very large, but full of light and interesting things to look at.

Because this is a blog post, I’m going to give you the edited verion, the highlights according to Elizabeth. One is the ceiling corner of the next room (below). I have three more corners, but won’t post them, because you get the idea from just this one.

I liked the old-fashioned bee hive (looks like a hut of straw) and all the gilt bees attached to this ceiling. Money was no object, if you were a king, and so much of the ornamentation attests to this fact. But when I think that much of this is a reconstruction, I was amazed at the skill of the twentieth-century artisans who were able to put this decoration onto the walls, ceilings, doorways, hallways, everywhere. In the other four corners, they had a ship, and a palm tree, and a dragon on fire, not to mention the scenes in between the corners, with full-scale people lounging around showing the times of the day (didn’t photograph those as I was enamored with the bees).

More gilt.

The door to the Four Horses Salon and adjoining Kaisersaal (Emperor’s Hall). Last time we were in Munich, our conference had a reception here in the Residenz with the Deputy Secretary (equivalent to our Secretary of State). The conference organizers put in to the Secretary’s office for a reception and that office chooses the place and provides the food and hor d’ouvres on their budget. We lucked out and were here.

Detail of a door jamb.
Here’s the big hall, with its pieced marble floors, huge paintings and chandeliers. This is the one place you can linger, as it has chairs you can sit in. The reason why the call the adjoining room the Four Horses room is that it used to have a painting of Four White Horses on the ceiling, but no longer. Damaged in the war. This sort of thing happened over and over–referring to what was there, but is no longer. I can think of many instances of this in my own life, where the perception and memory are stronger than what exists now. And then there are the other times, where I’m madly scrambling just to keep up with “what is.” Sometimes it’s tiring to relearn.
This room is tiny, a small chapel just for the King not too far from the larger family chapel. It has a silver-encrusted altar, and piedra dura scenes around on the wall. Using Albrecht Durer as a model, craftsmen from Italy pieces together depictions of Mary’s life in stone–kind of like paint by number but with rocks and glue. So there’s silver and black on the altar, stone all over the walls, and the ceilings are painted a brilliant blue with gilt decorations. Amazingly, it all works together.

Looking up into the cupola. We were prevented from entering by a velvet rope, so the angle is skewed (the stone floors are original and they’re trying to protect them).

Stone on the left, a glimpse of ceiling, then the altar.

I like photographing mailboxes when I travel, and this little slot above the putti’s head and wings, tied with ribbons, reminds me of a mailbox slot. If you could post a letter to Heaven, what would you say? (Putti is the high-tech generic name for Cupid.)
Coming out of the chapel, is this Stag Hallway. Even the plain spare walls become beautiful with the shiny marble floors and the sun shining in.

This is the Green room section, repete with mirrors. Apparently having a plate glass mirror was a real sign of wealth in the 17 and 1800s and this room (and some of the next) showed that off. This fireplace is at the end of a cross-shaped arrangement of rooms, and while the photograph doesn’t really show this, it reflects back two galleries just like it.

At the other part of the “cross” what’s reflected back, five galleries away, is this exquisite little mirrored room, with gilt framing holding little jars of blue and white porcelein. While Dave likes the Four White Horses area, I’m crazy for this room and the Red Cabinet (next).
Many rooms are kept curtained and dimmed (like the Stone Rooms, which didn’t photograph well), but as soon as we arrived here, the sun came out again from behind a cloud and lit up the place. If I were a King, or his Queen, I’d spend most of my day here. This was right off of the Royal Bedroom.
(I’m pretending to live here.)
This is the Red Cabinet, a tiny room with miniature scenes covering the walls. The website states that “With the exception of the two sets of doors and the miniatures, the Miniaturenkabinett was completely destroyed in the Second World War. It took many years of painstaking work to reconstruct the stucco, the carving and the red japanning.”  It’s stunning.
The chandelier is made from ivory.

The last hall of the Residenz is the Family Portait Hall (my name for it). Stacked three high in gilded frames are portraits of the Wittelsbach family.

We were happy to have the chance to come here again, and went out into the day, heading over to the Yellow Church (look later for a post).