Sunday, January 25, 2009

MUNICH!!!
















Munich!

It's wonderful to be back! I love this city--eine meiner Liebslingsstaedte auf der Welt (one of my favorite cities in the world)--with its plentiful pedestrian walkways, great public transportation, and feeling of Gemuetlichkeit. I have spent much time here in the last six months, and would gladly spend much more.


Munich is beautiful and cozy in the nicest way. It's also safe-- the locals are proud to tell you that it is the safest city in Europe--and it's possibly the only city/ urban area where I have felt 100% comfortable out on the street alone at 11 p.m. on a weeknight.


The Altstadt (old town) is roughly a circle and easily walkable. But anywhere within the ring--and within much of Munich as well, you are only 1-3 blocks away from a tram, bus, underground (U-Bahn) or subway (S-Bahn, Schnellbahn). The map above only shows the U- and S-Bahn connections... And the connections are frequent, at least on the main lines.


I arrived late on a Saturday and ran a few errands before taking a walk through the beautiful Marienplatz. Because I had spent nearly two months this past fall in Munich, it felt like coming back to a home away from home. Ahhh.


Munich and Bavaria are very traditional and Catholic, so almost everything commercial closes down on Sunday. But stores stay open every other day until 8 p.m. Still, I knew I'd have to hustle if I wanted to fill my frig with inexpensive yummies and basic food for Sunday.

One of my first stops was a bakery in the S- Bahn station at Karlplatz/ Stachus (one stop from the Hauptbahnhof/ Central Train station). They've got a Nougatthaler that became a total favorite my last time here: two shortbread cookies with a dense hazelnut/chocolate cream filling that's not gooey. Delicious! Then the usual things: carrot salad (the Vinzenmurr chain makes one that I love), Feldsalat (my favorite kind of lettuce lately), Balsamico for the dressing, a bit of ham (Schinken), a couple of Semmel (small plain rolls), and a little jam. Then I was set for food for Sunday.


Next up: a new Asterix. I love reading graphic novels and I especially find it fun to read them in foreign languages. It's a great way to gain reading proficiency (up to a point) and increase vocabulary. Asterix and Obelix (from France) have been favorites ever since I encountered them in Switzerland when I was 15, and they're available in a number of languages. Hmm, so many to choose from. This was hard.

Over by Karlplatz/Stachus, across from the Hugendubel bookstore and right at the end of Neuhausstrasse, they've put in an outdoor ice skating rink for the holidays, just like in San Francisco. It made me feel right at home yet again. They have these huge plastic bears on mini-skis that the kids can push around if they don't know howto skate yet: adorable and sehr praktisch. I stopped and watched people skate for a while until I got chilled.

When I'd left Munich in November, there was a new installation going in at the end of Neuhausstrasse. (Neuhausstr. is one end of the pedestrian walkway that leads to the Marienplatz). It was finished a day or so before I left and was still up, smack in the middle of cobblestones, old, architecture, and restaurants like the Augustiner. Called "The Traveller," it was installed to promote the new Louis Vitton store and is by Belgian artist Arne Quinze.http://www.arnequinze.tv/. It 's a neon reddish_orange mini-forest of urban trees, if a forest were made of wooden 2x4s stuck into cement. The piece should stickout like a sore thumb, as it doesn't fit in at all--and it does in a glaring and jarring way. Yet somehow it winds up being intensely cool, very interesting, and somehow does fit--or perhaps I'm just used to it.


What I'm reading: Finished The Accidental Sorcerer (K.E. Mills). The book got darker and more serious from about the midpoint on--sort of changing its genre a bit in midstream, which made the middle a bit messier than it needed to be perhaps--but it was still a good read. I'm looking forward to getting the other books in the series from the library when I get home.


What I'm listening to: Studying Joseph Marx Lieder for my upcoming concert.
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