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.
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!
Most people admire the Glockenspiel at the New Town Hall from down below. Insiders know better and make themselves comfortable in the eponymous restaurant. The entry is a little hidden between the Asian restaurant Sasou and a mobile phone shop. Yet those who find it are rewarded with copious breakfast choices, a reasonably-priced lunch menu until 4 p.m. (around 12 euros), 70 international wines, coffee and delicious cakes. From the panorama windows and the sunny rooftop terrace you have the best view onto the Glockenspiel in the tower of the New Town Hall, which has been going round and round since 1908, every day at 11 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. (the last performance doesn't take place from November till February). In the evening, when the dancing figurines call it a day, the bar welcomes you with wonderful drinks.
STAY in Munich:
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.
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.
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.
SIGHTS 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.
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.
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?
SHOPPING in Munich:
The success story of Pool began in the mid-1990s when the two managers Cambis Sharegh and Pete Hannewald opened a small store on Müllerstraße. By now there are four stores based in Munich and the online store verypoolish.com - which was founded in 2009 and is worshipped by fashion lovers - that rate among the business family. Pool offers a variety of hip designers like Julius, Maison Michel Paris and Neil Barrett. Apart from high fashion for women and men there is also a sophisticated and cosmopolitan assortment of decorative home accessories, lifestyle and beauty products. The look of Pool is cool and sexy. And that does not come by chance. Co-owner Cambis Sharegh is a known house DJ with gigs in international clubs in Munich, Berlin, London and Cape Town. Furthermore he is a music producer with his own record label. Thus, it's not surprising that Pool is also a trendy address for CDs and vinyl and they also organise parties and events.
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!