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Right now I’m at Newark Airport. Since I have some free wifi at my hotel, might as well post about the first day of the RTW trip! May 8th, 2010.
I’ve always found it funny that the iconic German sex shop, Beate Uhse, has a branch in the Munich Airport:
The window is filled with… well, things you wouldn’t want your kids asking, “Mommy, what is THAT for?” But, that’s Germany!
My first experience with German/Austrian TV had the following news stories in prime time:
- 7:30: Re-enactment of a police sting that busted a child pornographer. Complete with a box of videos with unsubtle titles.
- 7:45: A piece on tanning beds. I was a bit shocked when the woman dropped her robe, standing naked in front of the tanning bed while explaining the details.
- 8:00: Feature about a famous motorcyclist who’d had a bad accident and had severe damage to his junk. As he lay there in bed, with a football-sized bandage covering his otherwise naked crotch, his wife says “This is the 22nd operation. I only hope that it works and we can soon have sex again.”
Welcome to Europe!
Posted 6 years, 11 months ago. 4 comments
Legend says these hybrid fairy-tale animals live in the Bavarian forests. As they’re quite attracted to pretty women, the best way to catch one is to have a lovely lass search for one at night in a forest clearing. When a Wolpertinger shows itself, the Fraulein should bare her breasts, which will leave it stunned and easy to capture.
Here are a few Wolpertinger on display in Munich:
If you’re not bothered by stuffed things, check out the Wolpertinger and other (non-fictional) animals at the Munich Hunting and Fishing Museum on your next visit. It’s right downtown between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. For more information on some cool and non-touristy things to do in Munich, check out my guest post on Trekhound!
About the Wolpertinger
Posted 6 years, 12 months ago. Add a comment
In case you didn’t see Part 1 and Part 2, that’s because they were published quite a while ago. I’ve been busy with snowboarding, and decided that this final post & video about a summer hike would anyway fit better once spring arrived.
After crossing the Höllentalferner glacier, we continued climbing up the wall for a long time.
As we neared the top this beautiful view greeted us:
Here’s the Eibsee, which we could also see briefly from the train on the way down.
Now, for the final video. High-def views over the Höllental and everything beyond!
Watch “Climbing Zugspitze: Part 3” in HD on YouTube. A big thanks to Danny Galixy for letting me use some of his fantastic instrumental music for these three videos!
We made one slight error, in that we planned to hike back down. But the ascent went slower than expected with our acrophobic friend, so we took the train down instead. That would have been no problem, except that we’d left some sleeping bags and shoes at the hut, planning to pick them up on the way down.
So… after arriving back to the car in Hammersbach, Scott and I did a lightning-fast hike up the bottom section of the mountain. This time we chose to go via the Höllentalklamm, a gorge with a river, instead of the longer (but fee-free) Stangensteig. When I say lightning-fast, I mean the signpost said 2 1/2 hours, and we did it in 1:15. Our Smartwool shirts were soaked with sweat!
In the end I’m glad we did this bottom section twice, because the Höllentalklamm was gorgeous! You walk up narrow staircases cut into the rock, with splashing waterfalls and scenic views everywhere. I’d recommend if you are hiking up and down, to go up Höllentalklamm and down Stangensteig to take in both scenic routes.
For the full details about the hike, where to stay, where to rent gear, and all that – check out Part 1 of this series. The end of that post has all the hard facts listed in English for your Babelfish-free understanding. Part 2 of the Zugspitze series is all about the via ferrata sections (where you’re clipped to the steel cables on the cliffside) and the glacier.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and seeing what Zugspitze is like. Let me know if you have any questions I can answer about the hike or the mountain! I’m happy to help fellow English speakers figure this baby out, because almost all the information out there is in German (grin).
For the surfers I met briefly today at the Eisbach in Munich: the gallery of my best photos is below, after the YouTube video. Val from Killians (hope I remembered your name right), I didn’t find any pics of you – but I can certainly meet up sometime and try to take a few! I live right near the Eisbach. Just leave a comment and I’ll email you.
Photos were taken with a Nikon D90 and the 18-200mm VR lens.
Go to YouTube to watch the video in HD!
Getting to the Eisbach Surfers’ Wave:
The snow this winter isn’t that bountiful, so I’ve been quite often to nearby glacier ski resorts. I’ll give a few details later about the charming town of Lanersbach in the Zillertal valley. But first you have to see the temperature at the top of Hintertux Glacier on our first day:
“Heiter” usually means fair, clear, or bright. But in this case the sign was WRONG. Outdoors it was cloudy, snowing lightly, and the wind was blowing at 40-50km/h (up to 30mph). –22C equates to –8F… and the wind chill, well, that was around –38C (–37F). Keep in mind that’s before accounting for the speed we were moving downhill (directly into the wind). I got a bit of frostnip on my ears, so I wore a liner cap under my helmet on the following days. “Gefrorene Wand” was quite accurate on this trip: Frozen Face!
It wasn’t all snow and frostbite. One evening we went to Kleine Tenne in Lanersbach, and found that Captain Morgan Austria was there with the Captain Morgan Twins and their bikinis! Paul was kind enough to pose for a photo with the twins.
Good music, a kicker (foosball) table, and Zillertal Pils made it a great night, although we were a bit too tired from the cold to party like rock stars. We made it back to the Kleine Tenne one more night, when the Bavarian party band Chari Vari was there… although none of our group was a big fan of the folky-rock style with double accordions.
The rest of the trip was all about skiing and snowboarding. Here is a choice view from the quad chairlift above Sommerberg, where you can see the neighboring T-bar:
And, on the last day, this beautiful view of Hintertux greeted us upon arrival. You can just see the moon over the peaks toward the left side of the picture.
Getting to Lanersbach:
- Here’s a Google map of Lanersbach. I highly recommend Lanersbach if you’re going to Hintertux for an extended trip. It’s about 10-15min drive to the mountain base by car or ski bus, and you have a much wider selection of nightlife and restaurants than in Hintertux itself. The town is about 2h drive from Munich, and a little less from Innsbruck.
- There is a Spar grocery store in Lanersbach, but beware, in Austria the stores close very early (6:00pm I believe).
- Restaurants are plentiful, and we went to several on the one-way street (north of the main street). Hermanns Klause restaurant (associated with a bed & breakfast) had tasty food, but was smoky. The restaurant at Hotel Jaeger had a non-smoking area, salad bar, and excellent food. As one of our party was sick at home, they even made a “to-go” entree and gave us a real plate & silverware with it. Of course, one night we went up the hill to Madseit to our favorite: Alte Huette at Hotel Berghaus. I had a fantastic lamb schnitzel, a dish I’d never seen before.
- Kleine Tenne had a good number of people on both Friday and Saturday nights. We were lucky that it wasn’t too smoky, but don’t expect a non-smoking nightclub in Austria. There was another nightclub next door that we didn’t try out, so clearly there is some party potential in Lanersbach if you’re there on the right week/weekend.
- Skiing possibilities abound: you can ski Eggalm right in Lanersbach, try Rastkogel or Finkenburg a few km down the valley, go up the valley to Hintertux, or even drive 20min down to Mayrhofen for a larger-town experience (and Austria’s steepest prepared ski slope “Harakiri” with 78% grade!).
If you give Lanersbach a try, I hope you enjoy the trip, and come back here to tell us about it!
Posted 7 years, 1 month ago. Add a comment
On the island of Mainau in Bodensee, one can find a multitude of flowers. It’s known in German as the Blumeninsel, and lies just across from the German town of Meersburg on Bodensee. There are probably millions of flowers scattered around in thousands of gardens on this botanical island. Here’s a favorite shot of mine from the butterfly house:
This was taken with my Nikon D90 and a 70-300 VR lens, which does a great job of shortening the depth of field.
A few more shots of flowers on Mainau will be coming up eventually! If you want to be notified, just subscribe to the blog with the orange RSS / Email buttons in the left sidebar.
Getting to Mainau:
- Here’s a Google map of Mainau. I arrived at the ferry terminal on the right side of the island, coming from the nearby town of Meersburg. But you can also arrive there by car and park easily in the large parking area.
- One tip: if you arrive at Mainau later in the day, you can get the Sunset ticket (1/2 price compared to the normal €15.90 entry fee). It’s good after 17:00, which in the summer is no problem! Winter prices are much cheaper at €7, but then you can’t see many flowers, so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do the sunset ticket, make sure you still have a way home, as the ferries from Mainau may stop running early (I had to take a bus to another town, then ferry back).
Posted 7 years, 1 month ago. Add a comment
When you think of a glacier, you probably already think “cold.” But of the many days I’ve spent at glacier ski areas this year, none were colder than this past Sunday and Monday at Stubai. The temperature was about –15 to –20C (that’s 5F to –4F) on Sunday, and in the evening the winds picked up. Monday the wind chill must have been way below –20C, even though the temps warmed up a few degrees. Check out the snow being blown from the peaks:
Now, don’t get the impression it wasn’t FUN! This was one of the best ski weekends I’ve had this year (from 18 days snowboarding so far). The snow was perfect for carving, and off-piste there was about a foot of powder.
For those wishing to travel to Stubai, don’t expect huge nightlife. The nearest big town is Neustift im Stubaital, and it’s nothing like Mayrhofen, St. Anton, or Sölden for nightlife. We stayed in a small Pension in Milders, near Neustift. “The Farm,” the big apres-ski place in Milders, had a total of 3 people at 9:30pm (and they were all smoking). However, BIG PROPS to Restaurant Steinadler, which we found was non-smoking. That’s very rare for Austria. Besides that, the food was fantastic. Here was my Cordon Bleu (which also came with a salad plate and a side of cranberry sauce):
I had a surreal experience there. I dropped my fork, and as I looked around for our server (maybe 7 seconds later), there she came – with a new fork. Apparently she had heard it from the other room, and recognized the difference between fork and knife hitting the ground. Amazing!
Pensions (= Bed & Breakfasts) vary quite a bit throughout Germany and Austria, but in my experience you’re guaranteed a decent bed and a simple breakfast for a bargain price. Our pick in Milders was okay, but a few features might turn off some travelers. Ask yourself: what percentage of today’s Americans would physically be able to sit down on this toilet!?
The next morning we went back out for more adventure on the slopes. It was a windy day, but once we were on the slopes (wind at our backs) it was great. I figured out the settings on my bindings and boots to let me carve like crazy on my Virus Xtremecarver, leaning all the way over so my nose was almost touching the snow on every turn. And the views were fantastic!
Check out this distant mountain formation which looks like a bowl full of clouds:
Getting to Stubai
- See this Google Map for the location of Stubai; you’ll find Neustift im Stubaital along the road leading to it. Note that it’s 16km or so from Neustift (the nearest large town) to Stubai.
- Pensions (= Bed & Breakfasts) are a great place to stay. Usually the proprietors are very friendly and helpful. Often the room is fantastic for the price; although sometimes it’s a bit lacking in one area or another. Occasionally you find “WC im Flur” which means a shared bathroom in the hall, but you’ll often save €5-10 a night for such a room.
- I highly recommend the restaurant Steinadler in Milders. Non-smoking, fantastic food, friendly service, and psychic at bringing replacement forks. From the card I picked up there, I found they also have a Pension with a quite reasonable room rate (€24 per person for double room with breakfast; even cheaper in the summer at €20). Google map here. Milders is a cheap taxi ride from Neustift central, in case you’re there on a weekend and want to try for bigger nightlife than “The Farm” apres-ski in Milders.
Posted 7 years, 2 months ago. 4 comments
Recently I visited the BMW Museum in Munich. I’d been putting this off because it’s a bit pricey at €12 for adults. But as I’m a car lover, I can say I really enjoyed it! There’s a lot of motoring and motorsports history tied up in this brand.
Let’s start with motorcycle sidecar racing. What the heck is this thing?
I found a short video that explains better than I possibly could with words. Let’s just say: the sidecar rider is the master of disaster.
Next up: a beautiful BMW 328. To be more specific, the 1939 328 Mille Miglia.
Here’s one of my favorite cars of all time: the Z8, as driven by James Bond. “Moneypenny, would you like to go for a ride?” . . . “Oh, James!” You can see Pierce Brosnan’s previous Bond car in the background: the BMW Z3.
Here’s a little number I never saw in the States, though I’ve actually seen a few of them on the roads in Germany. In active use! See the door handle? That’s right… the front of the car, including the windshield, IS the door. And yes, it only has three wheels. But there IS a luggage rack. (if anyone leaves the comment “how cute” I may either buy you one, laugh myself silly, or become ill… I’m not sure which)
This one I have to include, if only because I have this car: the Z3 M Roadster, in Estoril Blue. Mine’s from the US, was bought used, and I didn’t pay as much as you’d think. But, really? I chose a car that’s museum-worthy? Sweet!
This last car was in the special exhibits section, which as of Jan ’10 contained concept cars. The skin of the car is made not of metal, but of fabric which moves with the car’s wire frame! And the tailors, ahem, engineers did a fantastic job of making this car look alive. I’m not sure what scares me more, the double eyes or the flaring nostrils as it gets ready to accelerate toward me.
Let me say, the lighting in this room was very strange. I actually thought the car was light brown, until checking for more info on this blogpost about the GINA. (which has great pics of the doors opening… you’ve gotta see it!)
Finally, I’ll leave you with a short clip of the very cool engineering art piece / kinetic sculpture at the entrance to the museum.
- Google maps link to the BMW museum. Get there by car or by U-Bahn (U3 Olympiazentrum).
- Admission prices are a bit steep, €12 for adults, though there are discounts (kids, seniors, families, groups of 5+, etc).
- Check the BMW Museum website for the latest details.
- What else you’ll see: F1 cars; rally cars; the M1; many “series” cars; the first BMW car model; lots of motorcycles; rooms full of airplane motors, car motors, and racecar motors; art cars; etc… if this sounds exiting to you, go there. But it’s NOT for everyone.
- Right next to the museum is the free BMW Welt = BMW World, which is half displays and half showroom. You can always see the latest model BMW cars and motorcycles there.
Posted 7 years, 3 months ago. 13 comments
On January 6th, Germans celebrated “Heilige Drei Könige” – Epiphany. I had an epiphany of my own when I visited the racetrack in the town of Steingaden, where crazy people race around an ice-covered track on motorcycles with 1″ spikes on their wheels. Here’s what I saw at the 12th ADAC Eisspeedway races!
Each race was under two minutes, only a few laps. Here’s a YouTube video I took of one race:
There were 20 races for the day, with an additional 2 tiebreaker races and one special race (I didn’t understand what that was for; maybe to celebrate that no one was injured?).
Below, I got a lucky shot of the motorcyclist on the right just as his bike hit the hay-bale wall sideways! Fortunately he was OK and kept riding.
And here’s one of the closest finishes of the day. The rider on the left of the photo took it…
…and you can see him celebrating here, and winning the ever-prestigious “Dave’s Wheelie of the Day Award!” Just imagine doing a wheelie on a motorcycle. While wearing a leather snowsuit. While it’s -5C and snowing outside. While riding on a track made of crushed ice. Then, standing on the seat. With one leg. Yes… that takes cojones.
Finally, my little experiment with background motion blur: I believe this was at 1/100, ISO 1600, pretty high zoom on the Nikon 70-300 VR lens. To do this I just tracked the motorcycle as best I could, keeping it centered in the viewfinder. If only I’d had a press pass to stand in the middle of the oval, hehe. Next time!
Here is a full gallery of the Eisspeedway Rennen photos (even more wheelies!). If you want to experience snowsport craziness on your own, check out some other events on the MSC Steingaden website, listed below. Next up seems to be Skijoring, “where skiers are pulled across the ice/snow by motorized vehicles.” I assume that also requires spiked tires, mu-hahaha!
- Steingaden can be found here on Google maps. I believe the track is north of the town center, but you’ll see signs for sure. It’s about 1.5 hours from Munich.
- Here is the website of the MotorSportClub Steingaden.
Posted 7 years, 3 months ago. 4 comments
For the first time, I went out to one of the bridges in Munich to see fireworks. This is NOT the same as fireworks in the US. Everyone buys big bottle rockets that are illegal in most states and shoots them off from their just-drained champagne bottles. Yes, thousands of drunk people shooting off big fireworks in a crowd. There were trams running over lit fireworks, ambulances driving by every five minutes, and the air was thick with the smell of pyrotechnics.
In a word: Awesome! (okay, except for the people IN the ambulances)
Location: Reichenbachbrücke. Shot with a Canon Powershot SD1000 pocket cam. I was there with Wingnut & Dylan. Tasty beer, great atmosphere, and most importantly, good friends. One of the best New Years’ celebrations ever…
Happy New Year, und einen guten Rutsch ins neues Jahr! I invite you to see what The Onion thinks of man’s love for setting things on fire. I am no exception… hehe.
Posted 7 years, 3 months ago. 5 comments