Friday, July 18, 2008

GERMANY - Munich


"Munchen im Februar", "Munchen im Marz" and so on, is a free monthly paper with complete listings for museums, galleries, concerts, theatres and cinemas. The free fortnightly "In Munchen" provides similar information. Both are in German only, but it's relatively easy to figure out what's what, and both are available in bars, restaurants and similar venues. Listings information in English can be found in "New in the City Today", which is a free paper, and the more useful monthly magazine "Munich Found", which costs 3 Euros. The latter contains restaurant reviews and other articles in addition to detailed listings.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, a region in southern Germany where the landscape, architecture and dress define what visitors consider to be quintessentially German. It's a celebratory and social place. People live life to the fullest there, and that atmosphere exists year-round. Whether you visit during Oktoberfest or not, Munich is a great city to experience.

Munich's ultimate highlight is, of course, the Oktoberfest! However, this charming city has plenty more in store for its visitors. Discover the city centre at your leisure, take in some of the famous museums or visit the Olympic park, then relax in one of the many cafés and beer gardens, or in the English Garden.

Weather averages for Munich
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2 (36) 3 (38) 8 (48) 11 (53) 17 (63) 20 (68) 22 (72) 22 (73) 18 (66) 12 (55) 6 (44) 3 (38) 12 (55)
Average low °C (°F) -4 (24) -3 (25) 0 (32) 2 (36) 6 (44) 10 (50) 12 (54) 12 (54) 8 (48) 4 (40) 0 (32) -2 (27) 3 (39)
Precipitation cm (inches) 4 (1.9) 4 (1.7) 5 (2.1) 7 (2.8) 10 (4.0) 12 (4.9) 12 (5.0) 11 (4.4) 8 (3.3) 6 (2.4) 5 (2.1) 5 (2.0) 92 (36.5)
Source: Weatherbase[5] Feb 2007
Munich has a continental climate, strongly modified by the proximity of the Alps. The city's altitude and proximity to the northern edge of the Alps mean that precipitation is rather high. Rain storms often come violently and unexpectedly. The range of temperature between day and night or summer and winter can be extreme. A warm downwind from the Alps (a föhn wind) can change the temperatures completely within a few hours, even in the winter.
Winters last from December to March. Munich experiences rather cold winters, but heavy rainfall is rarely seen in the winter. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of −2 °C (30 °F). Snow cover is seen for at least a couple of weeks during winter. Summers in Munich city are fairly warm with average temperature of 19 °C (70 °F) in the hottest month of July. The summers last from May until September.
-- RAIL MAP of Munich
* For its population, Munich has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world, incorporating the Munich U-Bahn (underground railway), the Munich S-Bahn (suburban trains), trams and buses. The system is supervised by the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund GmbH).
- The main railway station is Munich Hauptbahnhof (Hbf), in the city center, and there are two smaller main line stations at Pasing, in the west of the city, and Munich Ostbahnhof (Ost) in the east. All three are connected to the public transport system and serve as transportation hubs.
We've been toying with how to get around in Germany. Do we: rent a car, ride the bus, ride the rain or walk? Planning and getting around has been and is still my greatest fear in the fact that getting lost is easier done than said. So one of the biggest questions I have had is whether or not just one simple purchase of a rail ticket will be good on any of the different trains (i.e. IC, ICE, S-bahn, U-bahn, trams and busses). I don't want to buy the wrong one. I hope to answer that very same question here for you now in my investigation into the planning to get around in Germany.

In 1923 Hitler and his supporters, who at that time were concentrated in Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and seize power. The revolt failed, resulting in Hitler's arrest and the temporary crippling of the Nazi Party, which was virtually unknown outside Munich. The city would once again become a Nazi stronghold when the National Socialists took power in Germany in 1933. The National Socialist Workers Party created the first concentration camp at Dachau, 10 miles (16 km) north-west of the city. The city is known as the site of the culmination of the policy of appeasement employed by Britain and France leading up to World War II. It was in Munich that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assented to the annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region into Greater Germany in the hopes of sating the desires of Hitler's Third Reich. The city was very heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II - the city was hit by 71 air raids over a period of six years. After American occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous and - by comparison to other war-ravaged West German cities - rather conservative plan which preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957 Munich's population passed the 1 million mark. Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian in the Munich massacre, when gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team. The majority of residents of Munich enjoy a high quality of life. Mercer HR Consulting consistently rates the city among the top 10 cities with highest quality of life worldwide - a 2007 survey ranked Munich as 8th. The same company also ranks Munich as the world's 39th most expensive city to live in and the most expensive major city in Germany. Munich enjoys a thriving economy, driven by the information technology, biotechnology, and publishing sectors. Environmental pollution is comparatively low. Today, the crime rate is very low compared to other large German cities, such as Hamburg or Berlin.

MARIENPLATZ - Platz means square or plaza in German, and the Marienplatz (Mary's Square) is the heart of Munich, where everyone meets and visits, and there's definitely a lively atmosphere that tourists, of course, love. It's also the site of a number of historic attractions. On one side is the new city hall, which is magnificent in its medieval-style architecture. If you're wondering what the old city hall is like, just look right across the street. The old city hall actually looks newer than the new city hall, which was built in the 19th century using neogothic designs. The MARIENPLATZ - a large open square named after the Mariensäule, a Marian column in its center - with the Old and the New Town Hall. Its tower contains the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Three gates of the demolished medieval fortification have survived to this day - the Isartor in the east, the Sendlinger Tor in the south and the Karlstor in the west of the inner city. The Karlstor (destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt afterwards) leads up to the Stachus, a grand square dominated by the Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) and a fountain. It's also the site of a number of historic attractions. For a small fee, you can take the elevator in the new city hall to the top of the tower for a great view of Munich.
Go to
St. Peter's Church. For FREE you can climb to the top of its tower, built in A.D. 11, and it's the oldest parish church in Munich. If you climb to the top of its tower, you'll get one heck of a view of the city. Unlike the new city hall, however, the church has no elevator, and there are over 300 steps. When you get to the top, you'll be looking down on what is known as the Old City of Munich. You would never know that a lot of the architecture you see is rebuilt. After World War II, much of Munich was destroyed. The people of Munich faced a choice, "Do we plow everything over and build a modern metropolis, or do we save the past?" Of course, they went with the past, but surprisingly, the vote was narrow. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
TRANSPORTATION: U-Bahn -> S-Bahn: Marienplatz
Odeonsplatz: One thing about Munich - there are lots and lots of platzes. However, the Odeonsplatz is formed by some extremely distinctive architecture. The church, the Theatinerkirche, has an unconventional, mustard yellow finish. You can't miss it. Then, there's a monument flanked by two lions and a set of very unassuming steps. It was on those steps that Hitler first clashed with police in 1923; he was then put in prison, where he began writing Mein Kampf.
- RESIDENZ - This building was once the private home of the Wittelsbach family. They ruled Bavaria for four centuries, living in this home for over 400 years. Today, it's a museum, so you can actually see how they lived. There are so many rooms that half are open in the morning, and the other half are open in the afternoon. But don't worry -- the really important rooms are open all day. The large RESIDENZ palace complex (begun in 1385) on the edge of Munich's Old Town ranks among Europe's most significant museums of interior decoration. Having undergone several extensions, it contains also the treasury and the splendid rococo Cuvilliés Theatre. Next door to the Residenz the neo-classical opera, the National Theatre was erected.
TRANSPORTATION: S-Bahn: Odeonsplatz
-Four grand royal avenues of the 19th century with magnificent official buildings connect Munich's inner city with the suburbs:
* The neoclassical Briennerstraße, starting at Odeonsplatz on the northern fringe of the Old Town close to the Residenz, runs from east to west and opens into the impressive Königsplatz, designed with the "Doric" Propyläen, the "Ionic" Glyptothek and the "Corinthian" State Museum of Classical Art, on its back side St. Boniface's Abbey was erected. The area around Königsplatz is home to the Kunstareal, Munich's gallery and museum quarter.
* Ludwigstraße also begins at Odeonsplatz and runs from south to north, skirting the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, the St. Louis church, the Bavarian State Library and numerous state ministries and palaces. The southern part of the avenue was constructed in Italian renaissance style while the north is strongly influenced by Italian Romanesque architecture.
* The neo-Gothic Maximilianstraße starts at Max-Joseph-Platz, where the Residenz and the National Theatre are situated, and runs from west to east. The avenue is framed by neo-Gothic buildings which house, among others, the Schauspielhaus and the building of the district government of Upper Bavaria and the Museum of Ethnology. After crossing the river Isar, the avenue circles the Maximilianeum, home of the state parliament. The western portion of Maximilianstrasse is known for its designer shops, luxury boutiques, jewellery stores, and one of Munich's foremost five-star hotels, the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
* Prinzregentenstraße runs parallel to Maximilianstraße and begins at Prinz-Carl-Palais. Many museums can be found along the avenue, such as the Haus der Kunst, the Bavarian National Museum and the Schackgalerie. The avenue crosses the Isar and circles the Friedensengel monument passing the Villa Stuck and Hitler's old apartment. The Prinzregententheater is at Prinzregentenplatz further to the east.
- Two large baroque palaces in Nymphenburg and Oberschleißheim are reminders of Bavaria's royal past. Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace), some 6 km north west of the city centre, is surrounded by an impressive park and is considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful royal residences. 2 km north west of Nymphenburg Palace is Schloss BlutenburgBlutenburg Castle), an old ducal country seat with a late-Gothic palace church. Schloss Fürstenried (Fürstenried Palace), a baroque palace of similar structure to Nymphenburg but of much smaller size, was erected around the same time in the south west of Munich. The second large baroque residence is Schloss Schleißheim (Schleissheim Palace), located in the suburb of Oberschleissheim, a palace complex encompassing three separate residences: Altes Schloss Schleißheim (the old palace), Neues Schloss Schleißheim (the new palace) and Schloss LustheimDeutsches Museum's Flugwerft Schleißheim flight exhibition centre is located nearby, on the Schleißheim Special Landing Field.
- the BMW Headquarters next to the Olympic Park
- A landmark of modern Munich is also the architecture of the sport stadiums
(Lustheim Palace). Most parts of the palace complex serve as museums and art galleries.
- English Garden: - Munich is a green city with numerous parks. The Englischer Garten, close to the city centre and covering an area of 3.7 km² (larger than Central Park in New York), is one of the world's largest urban public parks, and contains a nudist area, jogging tracks and bridle-paths. It was devised and laid out by Benjamin Thompson, Count of Rumford, an American, for both pleasure and as work area for the city's vagrants and homeless. Nowadays it is entirely a park with a Biergarten at the Chinese Pagoda. You can also surf. Yes, that's right, you can surf in landlocked Munich. There's a perpetual swell at a point in the Isar River.

Rent a boat on the lake, relax at the Chinese Tower beer garden or enjoy a respite in the Japanese Tea House. Walk up to the Monopterus Pavilion for a spectacular view of Munich.

- Other large green spaces are the modern Olympiapark and Westpark as well as the parks of Nymphenburg Palace (with the Botanical Garden to the north), and Schleissheim Palace. The city's oldest park is the Hofgarten, near the Residenz, and dating back to the 16th century. Most known for the largest beergarden in the town is the former royal Hirschgarten, founded in 1780 for deer which still live there.
- The city's zoo is the Tierpark Hellabrunn near the Flaucher Island in the Isar in the south of the city. Another notable park is Ostpark, located in Perlach-Ramersdorf area which houses the swimming area, Michaelibad, one of the largest in Munich.

- Munich is home to several professional football teams, including 1860 Munich and Germany's most popular and successful club, FC Bayern Munich. The Munich area currently has two teams in the Bundesliga system, which comprises the two top divisions of German football. The city's hockey club is EHC Munich.
- Munich has also hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics and was one of the host cities for the 2006 Football World Cup which was not held in Munich's Olympic Stadium but in a new football specific stadium, the Allianz Arena.

Munich has 46 of them to visit.
- The Deutsches Museum or German Museum, located on an island in the River Isar, is one of the oldest and largest science museums in the world. Three redundant exhibition buildings which are under a protection order were converted to house the Verkehrsmuseum, which houses the land transport collections of the Deutsches Museum. Deutsches Museum's Flugwerft Schleißheim flight exhibition centre is located nearby, on the Schleißheim Special Landing Field. Several non-centralised museums (many of those are public collections at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) show the expanded state collections of palaeontology, geology, mineralogy,
zoology, botany and anthropology.
- The former Dachau concentration camp is 16 kilometres outside the city.
- Munich is a major European cultural centre and the domain of many prominent composers including Orlando di Lasso, W.A. Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Max Reger and Carl Orff. With the Biennale, founded by Hans Werner Henze the city still contributes to modern music theatre.
- Next to the Bavarian Staatsschauspiel in the Residenz Theatre (Residenztheater), the Munich Kammerspiele in the Schauspielhaus is one of the most important German language theatres in the world. Since Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's premieres in 1775 many important writers have staged their plays in Munich such as Christian Friedrich Hebbel, Henrik Ibsen and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Hofbräuhaus and Oktoberfest:
- The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, arguably the most famous beer hall worldwide, is located in the city centre. When you have a beer in Munich, you want to do it right. You want to have the whole experience, and to get that, you need to go to the Hofbräuhaus. Everything you've read about this place is true -- the waitresses wear brindles, and there's a live oompapa band. You just walk in, sit down and start making friends. The feeling of gastfreundlichkei (hospitality) is immediately overwhelming. It's perfect. It also operates the second largest tent at the Oktoberfest, one of Munich's most famous attractions. Where: Am Platzl 9 U-bahn and S-bahn: Marienpl Hours: Daily 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
OKTOBERFEST: For two weeks, the Oktoberfest, attracts millions of people visiting its beer tents ("Bierzelte") and fairground attractions. The Oktoberfest was first held on
12 October1810 in honour of the marriage of crown prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities were closed with a horse race and in the following years the horse races were continued and later developed into what is now known as the Oktoberfest. Despite its name, most of Oktoberfest occurs in September. It always finishes on the first Sunday in October unless the German national holiday on 3 October ("Tag der deutschen Einheit" - Day of German Unity) is a Monday or Tuesday - then the Oktoberfest remains open for these days.
Beer: Munich is a great place to become acquainted with German beer. Don't forget you have to have the pretzels with your beer. Drinking beer and relaxing with friends in a good beer garden is a way of life in Munich. As a visitor here, you don't want to miss it. Munich is famous for its breweries. Radler, a lemonade beer mix and the Weißbier (or Weizenbier, wheat beer)(white beer, which is fruity and light and has a lot of carbonation) is a speciality from Bavaria. Helles (light in terms of taste) with its translucent gold colour is the most popular Munich beer today, although it’s not very old (only introduced in 1895). Helles and Pils have almost ousted the Munich Dark Beer (Dunkles), which gets its dark colour from burnt malt, the most popular beer in Munich within the 19th century. Starkbier is the strongest Munich beer, containing 6–9 percent alcohol. It is dark amber and has a heavy malty taste. It is available and popular during the Lenten Starkbierzeit (strong beer season), which begins on or before St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th). There are around 20 major beer gardens, with four of the most famous and popular being located in the Englischer Garten and the largest one in the Hirschgarten.
- The Weißwürste ('white sausages') are a Munich speciality. Traditionally eaten only before 12:00, (a tradition dating to a time before refrigerators,) these morsels are often served with sweet mustard and freshly baked pretzels. Leberkäs, Bavarian baked sausage loaf often served with potato salad, are another delicacy of the region.
- The most famous soup might be the Leberknödel Soup. Leberknödel is a bread dumpling seasoned with liver and onions.
- Schweinebraten (pot roasted pork) with Knödel (dumplings made from potatoes and/or white bread) and Kraut (cabbage) or a Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) are served as lunch or dinner. Beuscherl, a plate of lung, heart and spleen is also served with dumplings.
- Popular as dessert is the Apfelstrudel apple strudel with vanilla sauce, the Millirahmstrudel a cream cheese strudel, Dampfnudeln (yeast dumplings served with custard) or Auszogene, a fried pastry shaped like a large donut but without a hole. Not forgetting the famous Prinzregententorte created in honour of the prince regent Luitpold.
- Some specialities are typical cold dishes served in beergardens: Obatzda is a Bavarian cheese delicacy, a savoury blend of smashed mellow camembert prepared with cream cheese, cut onions and spicy paprika (and sometimes some butter). It's often served in the beergardens as well as Radi (radish), white radish cut in thin slices and salted, and Münchner Wurstsalat, Munich's famous sausage salad with thinly sliced Knackwurst marinated in vinegar and oil with onions on a bed of lettuce. Popular grilled meals include Steckerlfisch is a local fish, such as trout or whitefish, speared on a wooden stick, grilled and smoked on charcoal - the typical feature is the crispy skin. Another classic is A hoibs Hendl (half a grilled chicken). A Maß (die Maß) is a litre of beer, a Radler consists of half beer and half lemonade.

- The Viktualienmarkt is Munich's most popular market for fresh food and delicatessen. A very old feature of Munich's Fasching (carnival) is the dance of the Marktfrauen (market women) of the Viktualienmarkt in comical costumes. The Viktualienmarkt has been Munich's main food market was founded in 1807 as a small herb market. Today it sells fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats and all sorts of foodstuffs. It's also a great place to practice asking for things in German! TRANSPORTATION: U-Bahn -> S-Bahn: Marienplatz
- The Auer Dult is held three times a year on the square around Mariahilf church and is one of Munich's oldest markets, well known for its jumble sale and antiques.
- Three weeks before Christmas the Christkindlmarkt opens at Marienplatz and other squares in the city, selling Christmas goods.

Nightlife in Munich is thriving with over 6,000 licensed establishments in the city, especially in Schwabing, which is still the main quarter for students and artists. Some notable establishments are: the touristy Hofbräuhaus, one of the oldest breweries in Munich, located in the city centre near Tal; Kultfabrik and Optimolwerke, former industrial areas converted to host many different discos and pubs; Munich's gay quarter is in Isarvorstadt, surrounding the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz, also known as the Glockenbachviertel.

- For its population, Munich has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world, incorporating the Munich U-Bahn (underground railway), the Munich S-Bahn (suburban trains), trams and buses. The system is supervised by the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund GmbH).
- The main railway station is Munich Hauptbahnhof, in the city centre, and there are two smaller main line stations at Pasing, in the west of the city, and Munich Ostbahnhof in the east. All three are connected to the public transport system and serve as transportation hubs.
- ICE highspeed trains stop at Munich-Pasing and Munich-Hauptbahnhof only. InterCity and EuroCity trains with destinations East of Munich also stop at Munich East. Since 28 May 2006Nuremberg via Ingolstadt by a 300 km/h (186 mph) ICE high speed railway line.
- Cycling is recognised as a good alternative to motorised transport and the growing number of bicycle lanes are widely used throughout the year. A modern bike hire system is available in the central area of Munich that is surrounded by the beltway.