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!
SIGHTS in Munich:
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.
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?
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.
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.
EAT in Munich:
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.
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.
Here costly taxi rides from the restaurant to the bar and on to the club are unnecessary. In the Zerwirk, the second oldest building in Munich, you go from the bar restaurant Etage Zwo (you guessed it: it's located on the second floor) one floor down into the Crux, one of the coolest clubs in Munich. The renowned gastronomes Carl Walderdorff and Stefan Oelze , both trained in star-rated restaurants, know each other from the trendy Nage & Sauge restaurant. They applied the same successful mix of stylish food and casual ambiance to the Etage Zwo: The food is Meditarranean, international and modern with a touch of the best of Bavarian cuisine. Care for a taste? For example, there's a fantastic chicken, wrapped in bacon, and buttermilk crème with candied sesame seeds for desert. After the meal you can move on to the bar at the entry, where you ring in a long Munich night. Finally, you can slip down the stairs to rock out. What else could you wish for? Only the taxi drivers have a reason to complain.