EAT in Munich:
When Rudi Kull and Albert Weinzierl decided on opening a new Japanese restaurant in the downtown area of Munich the two gastronomers packed their bags and flew to Tokyo. After they had arrived an educated and culturally interested Japanese explained the national cuisine to them. Her name: Emiko. She took them to the noodle shops and cook shops on the streets. But most important were the izakayas, the simple pubs that are frequented by people who come after their work and order some snacks from the extensive menus. What they saw and tasted was translated by Kull and Weinzierl for their own restaurant. And dining follows the sharing principle there, that means: a group orders several dishes and everybody can try out each dish. On the menu you find appetisers like sweet potatoes and soft shell crabs which are dipped in light sauces.
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!
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.
SIGHTS in Munich:
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.
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.
Imagine you're going to the cinema! You're sitting down on the leather seat but only as soon as the back rest has reached the right position. Then you'll order your dinner directly to your seat and feast until the film starts. In the new Gloria Palace in Munich you'll feel like being in a film even before the film has started. It took four months until the tradition-steeped cinema at the Stachus was completed in December 2012. After all there was a lot to renovate. The Grand Dame of German film, Ilse Kubaschewski, took great pains when she built it - but that's already sixty years ago. The Kinopolis Group therefore looked for a new concept and the first thing they did was cutting down the number of seats to half of the original number. Every guest now receives a welcome drink and a waiter is ready to take your orders in the cinema hall. They installed several separate boxes on the balcony with specially designed sofas and own footrests.
STAY in Munich:
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.
Why book sightseeing tours when you can have a view of the Church of Our Lady from your bathtub? Admittedly, the ultimate view from the giant, free-standing wellness tub is only available from the 77 m² tower suite. Yet even some other, less extravagant rooms provide breathtaking sights from bird's eye view. On top of that, the happening nightlife in and around the centrally located Hotel (near the Stachus square) won't disturb your sweet dreams, since all rooms are entirely soundproofed. Moreover, there are personal climate control, free wireless internet, satellite TV and all sorts of special offers: For example the children package, complete with child-sized bathrobes, slippers and snacks. At your request the staff will also provide a play station or a parlour game selection. Doubles start at 170,- euros a night.
Feel like playing pool, multicultural parties and loads of backpackers' advice? Welcome to the Wombat's City Hostel. The trademarked hostels in Vienna, Berlin and Munich combine the yearning and wanderlust of their founders Marcus and Sascha (both vintage 1968). They have experienced and suffered from everything that can possibly assault you on the backpacker's trail: Snoring roommates, disgusting WCs and bedbugs in your sleeping bag. The Wombat's is guaranteed to be different in every aspect except for the potential snorers. It was twice awarded prizes as the cleanest hostel in the world. Otherwise the hostel offers all the advantages of communal living: Cool parties with two (!) happy hours in the womBar, free city tours, one generous breakfast buffet, a chill-out space with hammocks and roofed wicker beach chairs, Internet café and, last but not least, many likeminded comrades that are ready to hit the road from Munich. A spot in a bunk bed costs 12, a double starts at 35 euros per person - off season. Careful when coming during the Oktoberfest, for New Year's Eve or during the high summer season, which is when prices shoot up. With all their love for alternative travelling - even the globetrotting hostelliers have understood the logic of markets.
SHOPPING in Munich:
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!
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.
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.