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.
Exclusivity doesn't always mean high prices: : In this middle-range hotel you won't even loose that comfy feeling after a hearty day at the Oktoberfest: On those comfortable water beds it seems difficult to distinguish a slight dizziness from the cosy wobbling of the bed. One thing is certain: Electronic smog cannot be blamed, since you can block off such waves via a cut-off-plug. The charming, privately run place in is located in an upscale neighbourhood near the Theresienwiese, where every year towards the second to last September weekend the Oktoberfest (Wiesn) is happening. Asside from singles and doubles they also have family rooms and apartments without kitchen on offer. In any event, you won't need one, because breakfast is so abundant and the location so central that top Munich restaurants are within walking distance. Tip for parents who are itching to discover Munich's nightlife: The hotel offers a babysitter service. Doubles start at 76,- euros a night.
The hotelier is an advocate of the theme hotel idea, but with a soft touch: In the Advokat the guest receives personal attention and his inner self is caressed. After the Admiral, which was his first, extremely successful boutique hotel in an old-fashioned, cosy style, he opened the Advokat in 1996 in the look of the sixties: polished travertine flooring, half-curtains at the wardrobe, and globe lamps. The creative class, in particular, appreciate this: Actors, theatre directors as well as people working in the fashion and publishing industry are regulars. In 2006 the Sightsleeping®-jury of the Bavarian Marketing GmbH awarded the hotel's lobby a prize for its loving design. And Vogt won't skimp on endearing little gestures: for example the bedtime reading next to the bed (and not a bible!) or shining red apples on the pillow. Doubles start at 150,- euros a night.
EAT in Munich:
The Bräuhäuser (brewery halls) are part of Munich like the Guinness venues are of Dublin. On both sides you simply cannot pass them up. And you shouldn't, really: After all, the beer mug banging, weißwürschtel (Bavarian sausage) eating and six Maß (one litre of beer) in front of the bosom Bavarian way of life is more than just a cliché. Indeed, the Lederhosen (leather trousers) were already an emblem of Munich long before the laptop was invented. And nowhere can you experience this slice of Munich life better than in the Weisse Bräuhaus, the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria. Parking is limited, so tourist busses only show up occasionally, which is why it's not overly packed. Whether you'll have, with your freshly brewed beer, a g'scheide Brotzeit (i.e. black and white collared pork in vinegar and oil, or homemade Obazda, a Bavarian cheese speciality), or even originally Bavarian vegetarian food (homemade Reiberdatschi - potato pancakes - with sauerkraut and apple sauce), this will only be one of the most beautiful pastimes in the world.
Nomen est omen in this all-in-one pub of the lazy Munich partying crowd. The concept has been the dernier cri in London, Barcelona and New York for years now, yet in Munich it's already bombed once: The famous club Pacha tried in 2003 to cater to its guests over the entire night-out to no avail. Now the VICE has started over with a similar idea, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, a trendy bar and take-away snacks all in one house on three floors. It doesn't matter whether visitors have their croissant with orange juice as a jolly start for the day or as an after-hour morning bite capping full night clubbing. In the VICE everything is permissible, and even the prices for the changing lunch menu are more than fair at 6.90 euros. A few of words to taste: Melon Carpaccio with roasted seafood and honey chilli marinade, or chopped turkey with ruccola olive paste. If only it tastes half as good as it sounds it would go very smoothly, indeed.
Last meals obviously leave nothing to be desired, and such is the case in the Last Supper! Images of saints smile from wood-panelled walls, and the furnishing is rustic. What looks like a pious Bavarian tavern at first glance, is a heathen gourmet temple at the second, one where people sacrifice to the god of gluttonousness. Chef Tobis Gietz and the waiters always crack a joke, the stereo is playing Sex Pistols, and the guests are so hip that any organizer of church congresses would be green with envy. Boris Becker, Horst Tappert and the German punk band Toten Hosen have already been spotted. And even the food fills us with awe: You don't get anything a la carte, yet there are three daily changing menus for 31 euros each, which can be mixed and matched as you like. For example beef carpaccio with Parmesan cheese, duck with chestnuts and red cabbage and crème brulée. Enjoy your meal as if it were your last!
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?
The greatest treasures of art history are on display. We just need to open our eyes, pause for a moment and marvel. Let's start our tour with the Alte Pinakothek: You can admire more than 700 masterpieces of European artists from the 14th to the 18th centuries are on display, including famous ones such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Dürer, Rubens, and Rembrandt. Head on to the Neue Pinakothek, a unique collection of European art from neo-classicism up to art nouveau, the romantic Caspar David Friedrich, impressionists like Manet and Monet or the pioneer of expressionism, Vincent Van Gogh. Finally the Pinakothek der Moderne, which, in reality, is four in one: Visual arts, graphic arts, architecture and design of the 20th and 21st centuries under one roof, one of the biggest and most surprising museums of its kind worldwide. Art is not simply hung on the walls. It turns into a happening, something that is searching for a dialogue with the observer. In the Neue Sammlung of the design museum you can sail from time island to time island, docking at the avant-gardes of the 20s and 30s, dropping by the Pop Art design of the 60s and experience post modernism and purism.
For a long time it was the uncontested hip neighbourhood of Munich. Then came (supposedly) the yuppies and drove the artists out. Nevertheless, it continues to be the best place to party. On warm summer nights every one who feels like some fun meets on the steps in front of the Gärtnerplatz theatre or in the green spaces, drinks beer and enjoys the City. If you want you can start your party night with an opera or a musical in the Staatstheater - or simply join one of the many in-bars to warm up for a full night of clubbing. For example the hip Café King, which is located in a former filling station, or the cosy Holy Home. 30 years ago, the Glockenbach was one of the poorest working-class neighbourhoods in Munich, and many apartments stood empty. Then came the artists, lesbians, gays, students and immigrants. In the Mylord rather opposites types such as Freddy Mercury, the Bavarian heavyweight politician Franz Josef Strauß and the filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder had loud parties (even if not necessarily together). The yuppies and real estate speculators have long discovered the district, and many of the crazy birds of former times have been driven out. Some may regret that. Yet it's no reason to ring in the end of alternative culture in Munich.
SHOPPING in Munich:
Tsé & Tsé
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.
In this cosy concept store you can, with good conscience, stock up on precious things to wear, decorate your house with and pamper yourself. The leitmotif is the principle of sustainability: Furniture from plantation teak wood, or clothes by the Natural Wave Label of shop owner Oliver Wiesent. The fashion is anything but boring. Linen is combined with silk, and the classic natural colours with hearty orange and red. Aside from his own, Wiesent also offers other sustainability labels, such as the Spanish EseOEse & Yerse or the Scandinavian Brittinger. If you want, you can ride on the eco wave right in front of your doorstep, since, aside from fashion, furniture and natural cosmetics, you'll also find kitchen ware, home accessories and handmade semi-precious stone jewellery.
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!