07 February 2010

Fasching

Every year the Damische Ritter organises a Fasching Parade in Munich. For those who don't know, Fasching is the name for Carnival in Southern Germany and Austria. This year's parade took place earlier today and I was there with my camera.

I'm not entirely sure what the group featured in the the last two pictures were thinking - or drinking - when they came up with their idea. I would have thought that Germans especially might be a little bit more sensitive about racial stereotyping. 'Essen auf Räder' means 'Meals on Wheels'.






















06 February 2010

1958

Mention Munich to many British people and two events will come to mind: the Munich Agreement of 1938 and the Munich air disaster of 1958. The latter happened 52 years ago today.

An aircraft carrying the Manchester United football team back from a game in Belgrade had landed at Munich's airport (that's the old airport at Riem) to refuel. After two aborted attempts to taake of again the pilot decided to have one more go. By the time the plane was ready to go the third time snow had started falling and the end of the runway was covered in a layer of slush. The slush prevented the aircraft gaining takeoff speed and it slid off the end of the runway into a nearby street. 23 people were killed including journalists who had been covering the game, Manchester United staff and eight of the players.

In Trudering, near the site of the crash there are two memorials to victims. I visited Trudering a couple of days ago and took some pictures. The original memorial consists of a wooden crucifix with a tub of flowers beneath bearing a plaque.

A new memorial just a few yards away was dedicated in 2004. The names of the vicitims are inscribed on a football pitch shaped plaque on top of the memorial. The small square in which the memorial stands was renamed Manchesterplatz in 2008.



01 January 2010

Happy New Year

As you recover from you night of dionysian excess why not try the Spiegel International end of year pub quiz?

I managed a respectable 29 out of 36 - though I'm not sure whether to be pleased or disturbed that I know so much junk.

Even if you don't do the quiz the page is worth visiting to see the spectacularly unconvincing Angel Merkel barbie doll recently released by the German branch of Mattell. That's her on the left.

30 December 2009

Gay Christmas

Among the many Christmas Markets held around Munich, one of the more unusual is the Pink Christmas Market run by the city's gays. I went last year and was disappointed - apart from a few pink Christmas trees it wasn't that much different from all the other Christmas Markets in town.

Nevertheless, I returned again this year in the company of an Iowa liberal and a Texas conservative to have another look. It was much better. No doubt this was largely down to my fine companions but the drag queen dressed as an angel reciting poems from the central stage was probably also a factor.

Christmas is now a distant memomory and the little booths have been taken down and put away. Now it's time for Silvester - all night parties, gallons of booze and vast quantities of fireworks.

29 November 2009

Hundskugel

While wandering around the backstreets of the Altstast on Tuesday I came across Munich's oldest Gasthaus, the Hundskugel, which dates from 1440.


The name threw me for a moment, but from the sign it's clear that the dogs are playing with a toy ball. (British readers who speak bad German will understand).

Unfortunately, most of the reviews I have seen for the place are less than positive so for my Bavarian fodder I will stick to the very fine and highly recommended - by me - Hackerhaus in Sendlingerstr.

18 November 2009

Münchner Freiheit

For as long as I have lived in Munich (about a year and a half, since you ask) the U-Bahn station at Münchner Freiheit has been undergoing major renovation. Above ground, construction of the terminus and laying of the tracks for the new 23 tram line has been going on at the same time.

Finally the end is in sight, at least for the U-Bahn stop. A couple of days ago I walked down to the platforms to catch the U3 and was met by a shimmering confection of vivid blues and luminant yellows.

It's certainly striking, though it could be a bit much for anyone with a hangover.

17 November 2009

Against Stuff

I ran into a protest march of some sort on Ludwigstrasse today. I think the marchers were objecting to having to pay tuition fees at university.

Bavaria is one of a number of German states that introduced tuition fees for higher education a couple of years ago. Students pay a maximum of 500 EUR per semester. This isn't exactly big money - 1000 EUR per year - but having had free education for so long having to pay any amount seems to be unacceptable.

Die Linke, the Pirate Party and the Greens were all present as well as a host of minor groups (or should I say groups I've never heard of - maybe they're big in Germany).

Tuition fees were not the only object of contempt. Some protestors were carrying banners against capitalism, though they were still wearing fashionable brand name clothing and shoes from eminent capitalist businesses like Adidas and Diesel.

Others were objecting to neo-liberalism. Funny. The German left protesting about Angela Merkel's 'neo-liberalism' in Germany are the mirror image of the American right protesting about Barak Obama's 'socialism'.

The students may not change the law, but at least they had a nice day for their protest and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.






14 November 2009

Dangerous

Coming from a British city (or, since it is Belfast, an Irish city, depending on your politics) one of the first questions I ask when arriving in a new city is, Where should I avoid?

In Washington DC it was more a case of asking, Where can I go? since the list of places to avoid is long. In Tirana, despite the corruption, poverty and organised crime, no-one was ever able to come up with any suggestions so I happily wandered everywhere.

In Munich, the locals and the expats have tried to be helpful. After a few moments thought they will often tentatively suggest the railway station - a little pick-pocketing, some drugs perhaps. Typical railway station stuff - though I have yet to see any of it. Eventually I did manage to come up with a name of a 'bad' district: Hasenbergl. Naturally enough I decided to pay a visit carrying my big expensive camera.

A quick check of my U-Bahn map revealed that I had already been there unknowingly. Hasenbergl is right next to Feldmoching. I had taken the U2 to Feldmoching - the end of the line - and walked back into the city along the U-Bahn route, in the process walking through Hasenbergl.

I didn't remember any graffiti, burned out cars, bars on the windows, boarded up shops, intimidating gangs of yobs, and all the other features typically found in the dodgier areas of British cities, so I decided to go back for a closer look.

Once again I took the U2 to Feldmoching and started walking back into the city. A wide expanse of greenery forms the dividing line between the cosy low rise homes of Feldmoching and the tower blocks of Hasenbergl - presumably the residents of the former did not want the residents of the latter looking over them.

Hasenbergl seen from Feldmoching

Entering Hasenbergl itself confirmed my earlier impression - it's clearly not a wealthy area but it's still perfectly pleasant. The grass is green, there are plenty of trees lining the streets, there are shops and cafes. The apartment buildings appear well kept and clean - at least from the outside - and lots of windows are decorated with neat curtains and flowers in vases.

Cafe Am Hasenbergl

Back in Belfast I lived near a similar complex of tower blocks and it looked much worse, and was a great deal more dangerous, than Hasenbergl. Yet in Belfast, this particular area wasn't considered among the worst.

Hasenbergl's reputation perhaps has more to do with its past than its present. The complex was built in the 1960's to provide social housing for low income families and over the years it has attracted a higher than average number of foreign born residents. There have been social problems but the city has been working to address these, as have voluntary and faith based organisations.

More recently, the area's isolation from the rest of the city has also been addresed. In the 1990's the U-Bahn arrived when the U2 line was extended out to Feldmoching. Last year Munich's newest shopping centre, MIRA, opened at Dülferstraße on the edge of Hasenbergl.

Hasenbergl U-Bahn station

MIRA shopping centre

It's not a paradise, and undoubtedly beyond the surface appearance there are social problems. Yet if this is the worst of Munich then the people of Munich should be grateful.

01 May 2009

One Year On

It has now been a little over a year since I started this blog. 223 posts later I have decided to take a break. Regular readers will have noticed fewer words and more images in recent postings and I will be continuing to blog from Munich at my related photoblog where my goal is to post one picture a day and where commentary will be kept to a minimum.

Thanks for reading and I hope you will visit me at olli in munich's photoblog.