SIGHTS in Munich:
Nothing may aspire to greater highs than the onion dome of the Frauenkirche - Munich continues to be well-grounded. For comparison: The Cologne Cathedral is almost 160 metres and the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt even 259 metres high. Yet the building regulations have something to be proud of, since from the top of the south tower you have a wonderful view onto the rooftops of Munich as well as the nearby Alps. Construction began in 1468. It must have been conceived as some type of Ark of Bavaria, because the giant building provided room for 20,000 standing people - at a time when Munich, with its 13,000 inhabitants, was really something of a big village. Who knows, maybe some feared the revenge of the devil? He is said to have stomped his foot on the ground, enraged that he had been fooled or out of sheer anger about the imposing house of god. The footprint, complete with a hooked tail, is still visible in the entry hall. Who knows what other mischief Beelzebub is still up to?
A team like the FC Bayern München got fans all around the world. The German record champions are the number one on the eternal table of the Bundesliga. In Europe they range among the five most successful teams with six European Cups. But there's more that fascinates fans of Germany's most successful club: the stadium built by star architect Herzog & de Meuron. The view from outside and from the stands are an aesthetic spectacle. But what does it look like behind the scenes? The VIP tour through the Allianz Arena reveals these secrets and opens doors that are usually closed for the common stadiumgoer. What does it feel like to sit on the coaches' bench? What do the VIP boxes look like? Where are the guests of honour pampered during the games? All this will be answered. You can even peep into the sanctuary of the football temple, the dressing rooms. That's where the coach gives either praise or has a whinge during half-time breaks and where bottles are popped after a successful season. In order to be a fly on these walls you don't even have to be a football fan.
It doesn't always have to be Neuschwanstein Castle. But a little bit of castle is inevitable, and at least you can reach Nymphenburg by tram. The magnificent palace is just as much part of the Bavarian identity as beer and pretzels. The castle owes its existence to a happy occasion: The birth of Elector Ferdinand Maria's and his wife Adelaide of Savoy's heir to the throne in 1664. At the time, Munich was truly a village, and Nymphenburg was so far out on the countryside that it served as a summer residence. In the course of the years it was changed according to the prevailing style. Today, walls and ceilings are for the most part covered with extravagant baroque paintings. For its inhabitants the Nymphenburg Palace was much more than a castle to show off with. It was a place of life, love and birth - i.e. that of the famous Fairy Tale King Ludwig II in a bedroom that is open to visitors. Another attraction is the beauty gallery of King Ludwig I., which immortalized the most beautiful Munich women of his time. Today, maybe the most striking thing is the enchanting palace garden with its lakes, canals and water fountains.
STAY in Munich:
In this charming, family-run pension, categories lose their meaning. It's true that you cannot expect princely luxury from the Pension am Kaiserplatz. Instead there are ten individually furnished, charming rooms. You've got the choice: Would you like Art Nouveau, Old German or rustic peasant art? Or rather modern in the first place? Bathroom included or shared shower and WC? The Art Nouveau villa is located in the middle of Schwabing, yet it is so quiet that many guests have long become regulars. Which is where the catch is: With doubles starting at 49,- euros (singles 31,- euros) the place is such good value and with its ten rooms so small that you must reserve in advance! Otherwise your visit in Munich might still end up costing a king's ransom.
Wilhelmine architecture meets avant-garde design, paired with a pinch of French lifestyle. The hotel Sofitel Bayerpost is a five-star hotel with aha experience. If you head for the heritage-protected building with its venerable façade, you will be surprised inside - by finding contemporary design at its best. In the magnificent lobby, 396 rooms and the famous Nymphenburg banquet hall, the guest finds modern classics of furniture design, simple shapes and quiet colours. The in-house restaurant Schwarz & Weiz impresses on three floors with exciting architecture and a tasteful trip through the Bavarian gourmet cuisine with French accents. Sophie's Bistro serves daily specials from the lava stone grill with ingredients fresh from the market - in summer also on the terrace.
Whether in the King Ludwig or Empress Sissi room - in this guesthouse kitsch is part of the programme. The baroque furnishing blends in perfectly with the renovated Wilhelminian-style houses around the Gärtnerplatz and the Glockenbachviertel, for many the chief party district in Munich. This is where the creative and individualist, the crazy and rare birds live. The neighbourhood, which used to be something of a gay bastion not so long ago, has turned into a haven for a colourful bunch of people with the highest birth rate in the city! The retrograde flair of the guesthouse, however, should not cover the fact that the guest can expect all the comfort of the (post)modern age, including wireless Internet and satellite TV. Tip: The two tower rooms on the second floor are particularly spacious and therefore ideal for families. Doubles start at 110,- euros a night.
EAT in Munich:
Secretly and quietly: This beer garden oasis is located on the highest mountain of the city (564 m) and, luckily, is missed by most. No mass processing, no packed tables, and with Ayinger beer the - subjectively speaking - best wheat beer in Bavaria. The summit has a bizarre history: After the World War II, the people in Munich didn't know where to put all the debris and, orderly as they are, carried it all to this one spot, making a mountain: The later Olympia Alm was built. During the construction of the area for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the workers met at a kiosk that evolved into a beer garden. But beware: In order to reach the source of a cool refreshment or a giant portion of spear ribs, you'll have to climb the mountain for at least 10 minutes. This won't make you fit for Olympia, yet it might be a start.
Lilac walls, silver deer heads and kangaroo burgers - there is something fishy about the Waldfee. The menu is one that should make the trolls and elves of the alpine forests happy: Porcini and other mushrooms, cheese pasta from Kärnten and original Wiener Schnitzel, also lots of game and Austrian desserts that taste bewitchingly fantastic. Only the question about the kangaroo remains: What business does the marsupial from Down Under have in the Altschwabing neighbourhood? You never know. But don't worry too much about it, enjoy the enchanted atmosphere, share your giant portion of Kaiserschmarrn with other forest dwellers and be happy to be alive. Because after the Waldfee, you will all live happily ever after.
You cannot blame the food if you regret walking into the Tantris. And with this kind of superlative quality, the prices go without saying. Depending on the time of the day and day of the week, you'll have to figure 100 to 200 euros per person. However, you will get something really special for it: The Tantris is the pioneer among the German gourmet culture. In the year 0 of its foundation (1971 AD) it was still believed that the Teutonic had nothing to offer to the world other than sauerkraut and curry sausage. Then came Eckart Witzigmann and cooked up two Michelin stars for the Tantris. The Gault-Millau gave 18 points, and today the restaurant with its ambiance full of relish and verve is known to be one of the most important talent factories for creative chefs in Germany. Some find the orange red design of the seventies simply too much. Yet this top-class restaurant is a product of its age, and it didn't bend simply to catch the changing fashions. Tip: You can introduce yourself to the Tantris with the Saturday afternoon special menu. There are four courses including white, red and dessert wine for 115,- euros per person. It's important to reserve beforehand!
SHOPPING in Munich:
apartment20 hits the young Munich fashion scene on the head. With so much success, few manage to resist. In this cult shop you find not only top labels such as colcci, Nolita, Sonja Kiefer, BLC, Gaultier, D&G, Dior, Tom Ford and many more. No, it also brings real glamour and metropolitan flair to Schwabing, which sometimes battles a somewhat provincial image. Many, mostly German, celebrities have been seen, including Basti Schweinsteiger, Ricky Martin or Olli and Simone Kahn. Many people don't know that apartment20 is one of the top-selling fashion temples in Europe. Its founders discovered event culture when most others were still decorating shop windows: Before Christmas you can peek at a real Christmas strip on display, and year-round there are live DJ presentations and video installations of aspiring young directors. Tip: Once a month the shop sponsors gay events in the Kloster Club and every fortnight a club night in Two Rooms. Free tickets for these events are available in the shop.
In this shop you find hip fashion for people who enjoy swirling through the air: Snowboarders, surfers, skaters and every one who catches air from one happy cloud to the next. Fans of big street wear labels from the US, Sweden, Iceland, and England won't stop raving about this futuristic-psychedelic room: Behind transparent walls with a flexible shelving systems there are coloured fluorescent tubes that plunge the decidedly ascetic interior into a changing bath of colours. The brands: Analog, Nikita, WESC, DC, Encore, Evisu, B by Burton, Arcus, Insight, Fenchurch, Albin, EVAW, LRG, Quest, Zoo York, Hurley, Vans, and others. Never heard of them? Then it's time to take a look. The colour bath alone is worth a visit!
Even lamps, vases and baby plaids tell stories - especially when two crazy French women have created them. The Vase d'Avril, for example, the first product of the Parisian designer duo Catherine Lévy and Sigolène Prébois, who are the women behind the label Tsé Tsé: 21 test tubes that will bring a colourful spring flower meadow into your home. Or the Guirlande Cubiste, a lamp in the form of 15 hand-folded white and colouredl paper cubes with mysterious lighting effects. Everything got started with the two designers thinking about interesting objects for themselves, little crazy things that beautified their lives. To this day there is a lot of esprit and joie de vivre in their design, and each piece gives you the feeling of truly owning one-of-a-kind piece. There are only three shops worldwide that carry the entire Tsé Tsé product line. The shop in Munich also offers many other - mostly French - brands for tableware, home accessories and furniture. The great thing about it: Many of the things even fit into your carry-on luggage.