Archives for posts with tag: Munich

I last visited Munich in 1986. British Airways was running a last minute travel deal that, with our student discounts, cost us something like $50 for round-trip airfare between London and Munich. One of my classmates at Oxford had a cousin who was studying in Munich and offered to put us up— it seemed like a great plan. So we purchased the tickets and left the following afternoon. I hadn’t really taken the time to think through the experience of being an American Jew visiting Germany for the first time. I didn’t have any German friends. And though my Great Uncle was a professor of Germanic literature and had many friends in Munich, that world was never part of my own experience. I de-planed (though I don’t think we had that verb back then) and hearing the flight announcements amidst the bustle of the Munich airport, freaked out. I felt as if I had been thrown into the plot of some old WWII film and felt on edge and oddly vulnerable for the entire trip. My decision to visit Dachau focused my attention even more in the past rather than the present. And to add insult to injury, my friends and I only seemed to end up in restaurants with not a single option for a vegetarian—so meal after meal of beer, bread, pretzels, and pickled vegetable side dishes left me cranky. I didn’t open myself up to really experiencing the city or meeting anyone who lived there and to this day remember mostly what was going on in my own head rather than anything about where I was visiting. So I was especially delighted to have a chance to have a second date with this fabulous city.

The Jewish Museum in Munich

It is still poignant for me to visit Germany. But my social experiences over the years have shown me how deeply many Germans have tried to bring their history to the forefront. I really loved spending this past week in Munich. I was very touched by my visit to the Jewish Museum, run by the city of Munich. The museum is part of a three building complex with the museum, a Jewish community center, and a synagogue. Each building is only a few feet from the others. The design of the building is stunning– restrained and even a bit severe. While the synagogue has a glass crown on its stone base, the museum is the opposite– a completely transparent glass base supporting a building entirely clad in smooth natural stone. The glass surrounding the museum contains contemporary quotes of how various Germans who agreed to be interviewed feel about the museum and what it represents. Although the main floor has walls entirely of glass, the building is a black box that reveals absolutely nothing about what one might find inside. What I will remember most is a part of the permanent exhibition housed in the basement. It consists of a small number of objects—actually, it is eleven objects. I counted them. And most of the collection isn’t even full objects. They are partial objects; they are nothing: a one inch by three inch torn fragment of an ordinary letter, a broken dish, one pocket sized prayer book. A sign on the wall explains, simply and directly, that it is impossible for the museum to create a display of Munich’s Jewish history because these few fragments are all that remain. All aspects of Jewish life in the city were eradicated in 1938. I spent a bit of time looking at these 11 ordinary objects and am still thinking about them now.

Enjoying Bavarian cakes with Markus and Paula outside the Jewish Museum.

My favorite day in Munich was a morning spent at the Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s gorgeous and frenetic outdoor market in the heart of the city’s old town. It dates back to the early 1800s. We snacked on amazingly delicious sandwiches of pickled herring and raw onion stuffed into hard rolls, drank fresh squeezed fennel and pineapple juice, and consumed an obscene number of huge soft pretzels. Our friend Markus had picked us up at the airport clad in his authentic Bavarian lederhosen and our friend Paula had helped make all sorts of arrangements for our family. So we shopped at the market for a dinner with them, their children, and Markus’ mother, who lives in Munich.

Our apartment in Munich.

Jenny had rented us a fabulous apartment in the Schwabing section of the city that is owned by an artist. The apartment had very tall ceilings and the owner’s stunning and colorful artwork in every room. Through our market exploits, we covered the long dining room table with local Bavarian cheeses, three different kinds of pickles, a selection of olives (including the show-stealer—a large green olive marinated in rosemary and preserved lemon), dark seeded breads, grilled octopus, marinated shrimp, a bounty of vegetables, chantarelle mushrooms, yogurts, dips. . .at one market, the owner gave me a bottle of lovely olive oil just for buying so much.

Enjoying a final pretzel at the Munich airport, en route to Copenhagen.

We had a terrific dinner—and Markus’s mother told us that Thomas Mann had lived in the same block as our rented apartment. The thick, soft Bavarian pretzels became a regular part of our life in Munich—we ate them for breakfast, as well as between meal snacks, and sometimes as meals themselves.

Auf wiedersehen - but we will be back!

The city has such a great vibe that we all left wanting to return. We hope that our friends Martha and Pete will do a sabbatical there next year to give us a good excuse to return!

— Seth

Woodworked sculptures.

We went to Munich to visit Paula, Markus, Benjamin, and Sebastian.

Paula organized art classes for the kids with an artist that she knows. The artists name is Tine. The first day we made sculptures out of wood and sawed them with saws. On the second day we did print-making. We also made smiley lips out of candle wax and painted it. You could see the wax after you painted it.

With our decorated sculptures.

On Wednesday we made sculptures, this is how we did it: we made wire and shaped it for the bones, then we covered it in newspaper so that it would be fat, then we covered it in tape so the newspaper wouldn’t stick out in spikes. Then we cut plaster and did it like paper mache instead with plaster. On Thursday we went to the zoo to draw animals. On our last day, Friday, we decorated the sculptures that we did on Wednesday. I REALLY liked the art class- even Eli said he liked this one!

At the beer hall!

One day we took the U-bahn and went shopping. Eli got a soccer jersey and I got a turquoise pony-tail holder. Eli and I got haircuts and we went to an old-fashioned German beer hall for dinner. We had a really fun time there. I laughed so loud that the people at the next table asked if we were from the United States.

At the brush stand at the market.

We went to a large outdoor market. It had different small shops one sold only brushes and another had every possible kind of scissors. There were shirts and plates and all kinds of stuff. There was also an arcade where we went on a ride call “alaround.” It went super high.

Munich is a pretty place, I loved it there.

– Nell

On Thursday we woke up very early and ate some yogurt and pretzels and took the U-Bahn, which is the subway system inMunich. (and by the way, Munich has the BEST pretzels ever). We got off at Marienplatz and we waited for our friends Markus, Sebastian, and Benjamin (who are moving to Madison next week). Markus grew up here in Munich. We took the 52 bus and got off at the last stop, Tierpark, which is the zoo. We went to the gate, but realized that we were at the wrong gate. So me and Sebastian ran to the other gate, where we were supposed to meet our art teacher.

We then headed for the tigers. We all drew some tigers. We were going to the giraffes and elephants but we passed penguins which we drew. Then we found a sloth crossing the room upside down on a ladder – as athletic as most of my friends. Then we went to a red panda, but he was moving too fast to draw. So we drew baby turtles. Finally, we got to the elephants. But it was closed because there was a baby elephant. So we went next door to the giraffes. Then we played on the playground.

Dessert crepe at a Jewish restaurant called Cohen's!

In the afternoon we went swimming. Our art teacher’s son, Fritz, joined us. Fritz speaks German and has only had 1 year of English, but he speaks it really well. We all went to Sebastian and Benjamin’s house for lunch. We wrestled and got ready to go to the pool. After we got changed, we went into a tunnel in the shape of a circle. You had to swim against the current. When that got boring, we went on a waterslide that was taller than the building itself. We made a chain. It was me, then Sebastian, then Fritz, then Nell, then Benjamin. We all laid on our stomachs and our backs, too. Then we all went home for dinner. I had an okay dinner, but dessert was amazing. I had a crepe with warm chocolate sauce and ice cream.


On Friday, after art class, we went to a large outdoor market for lunch (Viktuelmarkt). I had a roast bratwurst; it was really good. And our friend Paula bought a bunch of Bavarian cakes. And we had more pretzels, and amazing blueberries. After lunch, we took the S-Bahn (suburban train) out of town for about half an hour. We went for a hike on a small mountain near the edge of the Alps. Here is an estimate of how long it took to get to the top: 1 hour of me and Sebastian running. Once we finally got to the top we could see everywhere. There was a monastery on top. Then it started pouring rain so we went to a beer garden. Me and Sebastian and Nell drank 1.5 liters of Spezi, which is a combination of Coke and Fanta. We bought around 10 pretzels that were the size of me and Nell’s heads put together. And mom bought everyone ice cream.

Mega pretzels

Then me and Sebastian ran down the hill. We were annoying Sebastian’s big brothers Theo and Alexander, who are in high school. They ran ahead and we chased them. Then we had cramps so we had to walk and we couldn´t see his brothers. Me and Sebastian had to find our own way to the S-bahn station. But the signs were confusing and they led us in the wrong direction. Bahnhof means train station. We got lost, then we remembered a market that we had passed going up the hill. We kept walking and walking and had to ask a couple of people for directions in German. Eventually we got to the station but we both didn´t know our parents’ phone numbers so Sebastian was going to call his house inFrance. But then his big brothers showed up. Then the parents showed up. We took the train home and went to bed without having dinner because it was so late.

Eli and Sebastian enjoy their meat (the beers belong to the grown-ups)

By the way, Munich is a great place to be a carnivore.

– Eli