Tag Archives: Munich

€1 Sundays pt. 3: Bayerisches National Museum

Of my triad of €1 museums, the Bayerisches National Museum holds the greatest amount of intrigue and history by far. At 167 years old, not only does this composite collection’s own history supersede that of its current colleagues, but stands as one of the sole representations of Bavarian history from its own perspective. 

Its story begins in 1825 with the death of King Maximillian I Joseph of Bavaria and his kingdom’s transfer into the hands of his grandson, King Maximillian II. 

Driven by his promise to fulfill his grandfather’s wishes of establishing a collection of the Wittelsbach dynasty’s artifacts and preserving the royal family’s history, Maximilian II began exploring the developing world of national museums.

In 1851 he attended London’s World Fair, where he was instantly inspired by the emerging trend of nations showcasing timelines of their technological and historical achievements to the public through collections housed in museum galleries. Taking this notion to his own dominion, Maximilian II committed to collecting an extensive record of Bavaria’s royal achievements and history. 

Of course, as an 1800s Bavarian King, Maximilian II left the cultivation of his ambitious project to the charge of the Royal Bavarian Director of Archives, Karl Maria Von Aretin. Realizing his vision, Von Aretin succeeded in identifying and preserving the cultural record of Bavaria. 

With an initial focus on art and artifacts of the Middle Ages, Von Aretin set out to represent all of Bavaria’s recorded eras up to 1800. This required the king to pull pieces from his Residenz Palace in Munich as well as from other Wittelsbach palaces around the country. 

Opening in the year 1855, the Bayerisches National Museum found its first home at the Maxiburg in Munich’s Kreuzviertel. For 45 years, the collection lived at this late 16th-century residence for Bavarian Dukes.

Just a few decades after its 1900 transfer to its current occupation of a wing in Munich’s Pinzregentenstrasse, the museum underwent reacquisition under the aspirations of Hitler. 

With a plan to transform Munich under his authority, many pieces were taken from Maximillian II’s collection to serve Hitler’s personal preference and to bolster the emerging museum branches such as the Bavarian Army Museum and the Achaologische Staatssammlung. 

As WWII raged on, the museum was forced to evacuate its walls, preserving its pieces while great halls of the building were bombed and dissolved into rubble. At the end of the war, the museum’s directors began restoration. 

Save for an assembly of shattered porcelain crockery, the museum’s great pieces were salvaged; and, with the completion of restoration in 1955, welcomed a new wave of patrons. 

The current gallery spans from Late antiquity to Art Nouveau, leading you through a layout of Bavarian history that covers all aspects of their cultural life. Wooden furniture and halls, silver cutlery and porcelain plates, ivory figures and tusked candleholders, woodwinds and strings and pianos, backgammon and chess sets, weaponry and armor, sculptures and tombs take you through an extensive experience of Bavaria.

With an eerie beauty, the pieces housed by the Bayaerisches National Museum exude a haunting presence; heavy with the history they have seen, the dark wood, pressed metal, and bright ivory emits somber energy that goosebumps your skin as your eyes graze their collection.

Domesticity

To wake every day to a cross over your head, 

the weight of what you can and cannot do 

resting heavy on your bed. 

To hear the creak of wooden voices,

crying with linseed mouths,

a pale orifice drawn across Wittelsbach blue and white. 

Dresser doors swing stories open with their hinges,

obscuring frozen faces with their open arms. 

To break sleep, grateful for this wooden metropolis,

no dirt floors or thatched roofs, 

your feet cross timber grain 

and your blonde hair never sees the sun inside.

You sit prettily, back pressed straight with corset ribs,

elbows resting on that round, splinterless corner.

Eyes locked in contest with the circled portraits,

faces guarding kitchen tables.

The green man sings as he cooks,

pipe kind and warm 

he hangs this tight wooden room with the thick smoke

of breakfast. 

This Emerald before Oz,

he gifts you comfort 

before commercial. 

Porcelain and Ivory Affair

Even dainty fingers,

white as European wet dreams,

take hue from Chinese porcelain-

imitate from African ivory.

These precious, delicate, white fancies taken

and rocked to sleep by foreign ships,

sung lullabies by sirens, and

polished by salty lips.

These fabrics trekked through more culture

than the white-washed figures 

they twist to impersonate. 

Here, they are painted 

with the thin-thistled brushes

of cleaner hands,

unsoiled by the virtue of the world’s dust.

They are looked upon 

by powdered eyes, and 

judged down the noses of those cultured 

by the blood in their veins.

Here, they say:

foreign pieces- how profound!

How remarkably mendable,

how ready and white they glisten-

primed for European salvation.

Duels

Even in stone, our fair eyes are downcast,
subservient to the stare of our chisel-toothed masters.
We are unworthy of our husband’s and son’s silver.

As our children weigh their small bodies down for battle,
the only silver we touch is to our lips.
The only iron linked in the gifted chains around our necks,
hanging like the noose of a dead man.

But we are not dead,
the men and their manly fruit do the dying for us.
Count us lucky in their final moments.
Who are we to complain?

We are the lucky to lie lifeless in wooden cage houses,
where our bodies are used to spawn more militia for death.
The lucky to make no tough choices
just take the brunt of their consequences;
privileged to bear more sons,
to break our bodies into breeding and bleeding life.

We, the lucky to dwell in locked stone towers,
running our hands through the same locks again and again
until the hair catches on our rounded fingernails,
until it is caught in our throats
like a cat hurting herself with grooming.

Nothing to do but look at our reflection in mercury mirrors.
Admire our luck.

Call dark circles our smokey eye,
bruises our blush, and
bless these lips into a smile.

Garments (18th Century)

No iron cast, but we are cast in silk.

Our armor these iron hips that force distance.

A welcome defense, a delay between you

and unguarding our garters. 

Beautiful, in linen and lace, we step

allure with ribbons and 

incite with shapes 

unachievable without tight breath

and even tighter bones that break our own.

Our eyes droop with deficient breath,

so you see our delicate weakness. 

You can take a sword, 

swift and sharp, 

carving through your ribs.

Would you give the same silent grimace

to iron carving your ribs into a new shape?

Could you swig shallow breath

and not drown in silk chainmail?

You say yes with your simple minds,

and your arms catch our feigned falls,

eyes dripping down our bodiced necks.

No doubt you linger on how easy it would be to break,

to snap our pretty bones and 

paint our dyed dresses cherry red.

This isn’t the worst you could do,

though you think it so. 

The worst we do is bruise your pride,

sentencing you to nothing 

but the knowledge of a simple answer

to a question, you will never ask. 

You will separate linen and skin,

worse than skin and bones.

You will ruin tomorrow,

worse than taking it away.

You will hold our hands and necks gently,

and still smell the metallic juice 

of cherries.

€1 Sundays pt. 1: Pinakothek Der Moderne

On Sundays, some of Munich’s best museums are open to the public for only €1. 

Locals and tourists alike pour through their open doors, starting their week with the wonder of great master paintings, modern models, and Bavarian history.

I started my day with the Pinakothek Der Moderne. The spherical tin spaceship by the entrance the perfect introduction to the building’s futuristic feel, reminiscent of the 1970s perspective on the aesthetic.

The architect, Stephan Braunfels, took advantage of the building’s open space. Wielding windows and white walls to bounce and tunnel sunlight into its spaces. 

Premiering in September of 2002, the museum is approaching its 20th anniversary. 

Boasting four museums under one roof, the Pinakothek Der Moderne displays first a collection of art, second work-on-paper, then architecture, and finally design. Their composite making the museum home to one of the largest modern and contemporary art collections in Europe.

As I walked through the exhibitions, my attentions were drawn to two of its distinct collections. 

Design Für Olympia

A million tongues to say the same:

We challenge you.

Wir fordern dich heraus.

We charge at your records, seu sucesso, lou manuia

at your pride.

tua superbia.

We are better than your finest. 

Nous sommes meilleurs que vos meilleurs.

The lines you ski into this powdered soil are nothing. 

We carve, we carry, we achieve! 

Your common colors stand 

in stark contrast to our victory.

But us, our individual, who do we choose? 

Country or Culture?

People or Pride?

Does it matter?

What is loyalty but to ourselves?

Will our millions cheering carry our best

through their final breath on the world’s stage?

An exhale of warm air makes the same cloud

blown from different mouths.

Aren’t we all imposters in this game?

Stretching our bodies into ancient shapes.

Taking archaic tradition

and calling it our rite.

Wir fordern dich herausWe challenge you (German)
seu sucessoYour success (Portugese)
lou manuiaYour success (Samoan)
tua superbiaAt your pride (Latin)
Nous sommes meilleurs que vos meilleurs.We are better than your finest (French)

Mix and Match Collection

Side by Side & Stretched

into industrial shapes.

Your camera-flash red and my smog gray.

Your overlap and my outline.

Drawn faces,

through zigzagged truths, speak.

With the voice of photographic snaps,

still in their motion.

This perpetual pulling- closer

& closer they beckon. 

Arent we better at a distance?

Drag your tired body far enough

to appreciate our curves.

No eyeglass exposé of our gaps. 

Just watch,

light bulb minds & naked limbs dancing

with stagnant yearning- bursting from form.

Begging to scream a million of life’s secrets

in each harsh stroke, to tell

trapped truths in each arched eyebrow,

every severed line asking you to fill its empty. 

Iced Coffee Escapades pt. 1

Einen Icekaffee bitte? *insert a poorly mimed pouring motion*

Eight times out of ten, this question is met with a sharp “nein” and a sympathetically confused smile. As for the other two, the answer is, “ja! Ice cappuccino?” 

As a barista (in America at least), ordering an iced cappuccino proves you know nothing about coffee. Yet, in Munich, it means you are ordering the only iced drink on the menu. Thus I am actively trying to fight the instinct to roll my eyes and instead appreciate the fact that I am getting ice in my drink. A small sacrifice for the sake of staying cool.

Perhaps it is the American in me or simply my infantile refusal to burn my tongue on a piping hot cup. Either way, the outcome is the same: an essential hunt for caffeine over ice! It must be done. 

Before my arrival in Europe, I knew I was kissing my beloved 32ounce Dunkin iced coffee goodbye; and that ice in anything other than a cocktail would be hard to find. 

I digress. I have done the work (very hard work I know), and below is my first guide to discovering the best places for iced coffee in steamed espresso-loving Munich. 

Kaffee Espresso Kolonial

With an eclectic spread of vintage furniture and decorations, the Kolonial serves ambiance with a side of high-quality espresso. Much to my excitement, their menu includes an excellent iced cappuccino and a small selection of pastry items.

If you forgot to bring your own entertainment- that is no problem here as there are more than enough vintage posters, intriguing fixtures, and engaging signs populating the walls. The most common type of posters displayed in the Kolonial are the old cigarette advertisements that hail from different countries and regions of Germany.

Though I loved looking at all of the colorful decorations inside of the cafe, my favorite part of this cafe exists outside. In the shape of a cigarette-smoking bird with a bouncing hat and beer in hand, the best of Kolonial greets you from the window adjacent to the very front door.

Sallis: Kaffeerosterei & Espressobar

A few blocks away from Kaffee Espresso Kolonial is Sallis, a charming spot for locally roasted espresso and light fare. If their selection of morning sweets weren’t enough to win me over, the chalkboard menus finished the job.

Locking eyes with the menu, I saw not only one choice of iced drinks but many. Cold brews, iced lattes, iced cappuccinos, and iced chai lattes are only the headliners. 

Sallis is truly a cafe after my heart. 

Even sweeter was the beautiful barista who made my iced latte and offered me a selection of apricot, raspberry, and vanilla-filled butter croissants. Opting for the raspberry croissant, I was not disappointed. 

The flakey pastry paired with raspberry jam and perfectly roasted espresso quickly jumped to the top of my list of best ways to start the day. 

Unrestrained from the “cafe” box of other coffee shops in the area, Sallis offers a wide selection of espresso beans and related products. For the coffee connoisseur who desires local espresso brewed at their own hands, Sallis has everything you need in one utterly charming shop. 

Rischart Cafe

 Situated just outside the Rotkreuzplatz train station, this cafe is ideal for grabbing a quick coffee to go before boarding your train. That being said, Rischart also provides a lovely outdoor pavilion nestled under a vibrant awning of green, making the cafe a seemless extension of Munich’s tranquil blend of nature and community. 

Inside, Rischart offers a wide selection of freshly-baked pastries, traditional sandwiches, and of course, iced coffee. After pursuing the spread, I decided on the Bavarian sandwich and asked for an iced coffee.

The barista immediately said yes, and poured my drink out of a pitcher of cooled coffee. Real iced coffee at last! I nearly jumped for joy. No mix of steamed milk that falls lukewarm over a sparing cluster of ice, Rischart keeps it simple. Just how I like it.

As I sat outside to enjoy the views of local farm stands, the soft flow of bike traffic, and the pavilion’s centerpiece fountain statue, I had no choice but to appreciate the quaint moment of urban serenity Rischart fosters. Taking a bite of my sandwich, I fell in love with this Bavarian staple. 

Serving ham, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and mustard on a perfectly sized triangle of sesame seed bread, this classic sandwich exists across many bakeries and cafes in the city. Yet I’d wager that Rischart knows best. I could (and will) order this sandwich ten times over, and still, it will satisfy. 

Cafe-Konditorei

On the quiet street of Blutenburgstraße, Cafe-Konditorei occupies a soft space for pastries, juices, wines, and coffee. Looking in, you are met with a vibrant window display of orange and yellow flowers and wooden butterflies dressed in violet. 

Advertising its Geeister Latte Macchiato from outside, I was drawn in after translating the word Geeister into iced. An instant favorite, this drink is as rich as it is sweet, without being deeply bitter or sickeningly sugary. 

If you, unlike me, want something other than coffee to drink, Konditorei still has you covered with a variety of juices and iced teas. Taking your beverage of choice to the tables out front, you are surrounded by modest apartment buildings and small local shops. 

Konditorei stands as one of the only AM eateries in its immediate area; yet remains calm as locals, young and old, come and go. Watch bikers make their way down the cobblestone pavement aside young families pushing strollers and holding hands with their little ones, and you will become a part of the peaceful atmosphere this cafe promotes. 

As my journey through Europe continues, there will surely be many additions to this series. 

For now, I will leave you as I always do, with a poem.

Espresso Trist

swirls of milky white

meet eager browns.

as the penetrating aroma teases.

and it is all too easy

for me to fall in love.

again, with something

so constant it should capture no interest. 

but still, 

my breath is stolen from me

as i blush and stumble 

through our first conversation.

my hands grasp 

chilled plastic

and we sweetly graze

lips in our first

kiss.

the pounding- buzzing- overwhelming 

chatter of the world

is silenced.

in quiet observation 

of our love affair.

but our touch vanishes. 

every drop pulled 

through loving lips drains you.

my sweet distraction

torn from my clear-cupped soul.

yet

there it is again. 

the deep aroma

tugging me in a familiar direction. 

The Beginnings of a Munich Love-Affair

If Berlin is New York City, then Munich is Chicago. 

Straddling the heavy traffic of tourism, business, and university youth with abundant nature, authentic culture, and neighborly warmth, Munich is truly the beating heart of German Bavaria. 

As an American girl with German heritage, fitting in is easy… as long as I don’t open my mouth. Yet sadly, a smile only lasts so long before it is my turn to speak, and “Hallo, Danke” falls short of ordering me Rosé. Once this happens, the mirage is shattered, and I must reluctantly accept the “English menu” from the lovely waiter who just spent five minutes conversing with my blank-grin face. 

At one such place, Pizzazza, my inevitable glass of Rose was so good I agreed to go on a date with the bartender. Walking down Nymphenburger Straße with someone who has lived here for over ten years, you can’t help but feel the comforting presence of community that undeniably envelopes the city. Smiles meet smiles as you cross paths with pedestrians, and once you break the ice, they are eager to hear where you are from, what you are doing, and what you think about their captivating city. 

Aside from the countless family-run businesses contributing to Munich’s neighborly atmosphere, another amiable presence lies in the lush and strikingly green parks that mark every few blocks of the metropolis. 

Grunwald Park is a great place to start, offering a bite-sized preview of what Munich’s larger parks supply. In grassy clearings, the young sunbathe and play football across from play structures populated by their even younger counterparts. As you walk along the park’s bench-lined path, you will find people sitting with their partners, friends, and dogs, enjoying the sweet sounds of nature that ring through the trees.

Crossing Grunwald, you meet one end of the Schloßgartenkanal river that feeds into the Badenburger See lake resting behind Munich’s Nymphenburg Palace. For fans of expansive manors, carefully manicured gardens, gushing fountains, gaudy gold embellishments, and statues that hover between artistically impressive and uniquely disturbing, the Versaille-inspired Nymphenburg Palace and Park will captivate you. 

Perched perfectly across the street from the palace’s entrance, Metzgerwirt restaurant provided the refreshing Dunkle beer and delicious potato soup I needed after charting just a percentage of Nymphenburg Park’s 490 acres. 

Despite the humidity of Munich’s July, it remains the most walkable city I have visited. Level ground and the shade the frequent forests afford make each journey as interesting, beautiful, and exciting as the destination. 

On my journey home from Nymphenburg Palace, I couldn’t help but take a moment on a riverside park bench to greet its unphased ducks and write.

Warm & New & Known

Soft sun glazes over eyes

owned by ancestors-

My iris blueprinted by bavarian veins 

before braving the word America.

Where we stay crisp & starched,

bleaching over heritage with pop culture,

tumbling our DNA through the melting pot

of oil and water who refuse to see 

likeness in each other’s liquid humanity. 

From short lens I scream:

See through this cycling,

and go home. Find your old,

find something new where it all began-

add, elaborate, stop bleaching.

Hear the harsh letters fall,

schön from honey blonde lips,

the same sweet you have & harvest.

New veins pump blood as ancient as the Bavarian spruce,

whose roots network under my planted feet.

Pulsing, absorbing, rediscovering its own soil.

Pushing honey into new leaves, just

to taste them again with the next season. 

Circling, cycling, a ringed infinity

showing me how 

my drops of honeyed blood bleed home;

telling me this is only where we start.