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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
In Japan, eating is a serious business. So serious, that in the Kaito one gets the impression of descending into a dimly lit, mysterious food temple in which foreign laws apply. Every meal is a piece of art, served according to aesthetic and philosophical considerations. If it wasn't so delicious one could almost be tempted to leave the meals untouched. In the Kaito, the tradition of Japanese gourmet culture is celebrated like nowhere else in the city: All the sauces are prepared by hand, and every day you can order fish of superlative quality. If you want you can dine very traditionally on the Tatami mats in the Japanese room. And if all of that is a tad too serious for you, you can move over to the party room with its Karaoke machine, and don't forget a good bottle of Sake. A little fun doesn't hurt - not even among the Japanese.
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:
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.
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.
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.