ONE PER­FECT DAY Lap­tops and leder­ho­sen

Leonie Coombes makes a fly­ing visit to Mu­nich

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - News -

F it were pos­si­ble to dis­til the essence of Ger­many into just one city then it would be Mu­nich. Lap­top and leder­ho­sen is the ex­pres­sion the lo­cals use to de­scribe the city’s blend of old and new el­e­ments. Flam­boy­ant ar­chi­tec­ture, hearty hos­pi­tal­ity, en­gross­ing his­tory and the best of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy make the Bavar­ian cap­i­tal an en­gag­ing des­ti­na­tion.

There is no more amenable place in which to be­gin a Euro­pean hol­i­day, thanks to the state-of-the-art-air­port. But it is only the be­gin­ning. Should you have just 24 hours in this ac­ces­si­ble city let the lyrics to that beer hall favourite, the Chicken Dance , be your an­them. With a lit­tle bit of this and a lit­tle bit of that it is pos­si­ble to sam­ple the best of Mu­nich.

Best palace: Palaces r’ us could be a re­gional motto thanks to the in­dus­try of Lud­wig II, king of Bavaria in the late 19th cen­tury. The most con­ve­nient and re­lax­ing palace for vis­i­tors to Mu­nich, how­ever, is the one in which he was born. Ten min­utes from the city is Nym­phen­burg Palace, the for­mer abode of elec­tor Ferdinand Maria, which was com­mis­sioned in 1664. Other rulers added to it over the years un­til the fa­cade reached a ridicu­lous 600m in width. It seems no one thought of build­ing a trans­verse wing.

Its baroque and ro­coco-style rooms are so os­ten­ta­tiously gilded they could in­duce glow blind­ness. Go out­side and let your eyes rest upon the sooth­ing green vis­tas of the palace’s 80ha gar­den. Long canals form an axis par­al­leled by lines of trees and paths. Peo­ple sit on bench seats, soak­ing up the seren­ity and late-af­ter­noon sun. As an an­ti­dote to jet­lag, it is un­beat­able.

Best churches: The beauty of a fly­ing but­tress doesn’t bring ev­ery­one to a stand­still. In mainly Catholic Bavaria, how­ever, where so many churches needed re­build­ing af­ter 1945, re­li­gious ar­chi­tec­ture is a topic of in­ter­est. The eye-catch­ing twin onion domes of Frauenkirche, built in 1525, fea­ture in most pho­to­graphs of Mu­nich. But two other churches, one mod­ern and one old, stand out for at­ten­tion.

Michael­skirche, cen­trally lo­cated at Kaufin­ger­strasse, is a Re­nais­sance church but glitzy enough to her­ald the baroque. It is a suit­able fi­nal rest­ing place for Lud­wig II, whose in­su­lar lifestyle and predilec­tion for showy cas­tles led many to be­lieve he was mad. In­sane or oth­er­wise, he was loved by the peo­ple and his tomb is al­ways cov­ered in flow­ers. This church was heav­ily bombed dur­ing World War II, as was Frauenkirche, and som­bre pho­tos of the dev­as­ta­tion are dis­played inside the en­trance.

In dra­matic con­trast is the ul­tra-mod­ern and much ad­mired Herz-Jesu-Kirche in the Neuhausen dis­trict close to the city. Boxy, glassy and bare, this church built in 2000 has front doors that open out like two gi­ant flaps to cre­ate an un­usual in­door-out­door space.

Best tourist at­trac­tion: There are many wor­thy things to see in Mu­nich but the Glock­en­spiel, cen­trally lo­cated in Marien­platz, is im­pos­si­ble to miss. Adorn­ing the New Town Hall, this amus­ing clock fea­tures me­dieval fig­ures per­form­ing the Sch­laf­fer­tanz, or coop­ers’ dance, as they cel­e­brate the end of the plague. Art im­i­tates life; the coop­ers were in­deed the first to ven­ture out in 1517 af­ter the plague passed through, their courage fu­elled, per­haps, by a few ales. The Glock­en­spiel fig­ures per­form their dance at 11am, noon and 5pm each day.

Best lo­cal food: Weis­s­wurst, or white sausage, may look un­invit­ing but don’t be de­terred. Con­cocted from minced veal and herbs, th­ese pale and flac­cid ex­cuses for snags are sur­pris­ingly de­li­cious. Con­sumed by scrap­ing the fill­ing from the cas­ing, and ac­com­pa­nied by potato and sauer­kraut, white sausage forms a for­ti­fy­ing meal.

Best restau­rant: To reach the culi­nary heart of a city when time is short, the best restau­rant is the one serv­ing re­li­able lo­cal fare in at­mo­spheric sur­round­ings. Ratskeller is not a ro­man­tic din­ner kind of place. Nor is it over­run by ro­dents, as the name may sug­gest to those of

Up and away: Mu­nich air­port was voted Europe’s best us with­out any Ger­man. Ratskeller means town hall cel­lar, its con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion in Marien­platz. This large hall with its fres­coed, vaulted ceil­ings is sub­stan­tial. So is the food. Pork knuck­les, sausages, beef and duck, shel­ter­ing next to ver­i­ta­ble alps of car­bo­hy­drate, say wel­come to Mu­nich. Picky eaters have no place in this city. Drown any fears about choles­terol in beer, also avail­able here.

Best beer hall: There are many places in Mu­nich to down a litre or two but the Hof­brauhaus, in walk­ing dis­tance of Marien­platz, is an in­sti­tu­tion. Es­tab­lished more than four cen­turies ago as a brew­ery and place

Feel the width: Nym­phen­burg Cas­tle was added to by a suc­ces­sion of rulers un­til its fa­cade had ex­panded to a more than am­ple 600m

Waiter with a full load at Ok­to­ber­fest where the com­mon folk could drink, it was ex­panded in 1610, knocked down and re­built in 1897, al­most bombed into obliv­ion in 1944 and re­opened in 1958. An oom­pah band pro­vides mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment to drink­ing while stout frauleins, clutch­ing as many as 10 one-litre steins at a time, keep up sup­plies of am­ber fluid to a max­i­mum of 1000 pa­trons. Plenty of lo­cals drink here but those who find it a bit over­whelm­ing and touristy should have a beer at the re­laxed Chi­ne­sis­cher Turm in the Englis­cher Garten, Mu­nich’s vast city park. www.hof­; www.chi­

Best shop­ping: If dirndls and leather shorts are not for you, try the so­phis­ti­cated bou­tiques on Max­i­m­il­ianstrasse for de­signer-la­bel goods ga­lore. Even if you are just a win­dow shop­per, this wide av­enue is worth prom­e­nad­ing. Re­nais­sance, Gothic and neo-classical fa­cades come to­gether here in an ar­chi­tec­tural ac­cord that can be ad­mired from the many out­door cafes.

Best mu­seum: There are mu­se­ums that take you back in his­tory, those that trans­port you to the fu­ture and those that make you hate your car. Mu­nich’s BMW World is all three. The re­cently ren­o­vated mu­seum has a fas­ci­nat­ing range of BMW cars and mo­tor­bikes se­lected for their con­nec­tion to so­cial and en­gi­neer­ing his­tory. You don’t need to be a car freak to be en­ter­tained, es­pe­cially when many ex­hibits are sup­ported by sound and light shows that demon­strate 21stcen­tury tech­nol­ogy.

Sep­a­rate from the mu­seum is the new fu­tur­is­tic com­plex called BMW World. Fronted by a swirl of steel and glass known as the Dou­ble Cone, its cut­ting-edge ar­chi­tec­ture har­monises with the nearby 1972 Olympics Sta­dium. Though the ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance of BMW World is dra­matic, it hardly com­pares with the real-life drama inside. Above a shiny show­room floor filled with cars look­ing for homes is a mez­za­nine level, where buy­ers take de­liv­ery of their fac­tory-fresh BMW. Mums, dads and cars are in­tro­duced and not rushed into leav­ing. There are things to be learned and the han­dover takes 40 min­utes. The big mo­ment comes when it’s time to leave the se­cu­rity of BMW World and, as th­ese proud own­ers drive away with their pre­cious new pos­ses­sion, it’s hard not to get a bit choked up. (Why them, not me?)

At this point it’s a good idea to or­der a con­sol­ing cup of cof­fee or lunch at one of BMW World’s cafes. You can also flick through some brochures and maybe buy a BMW cap or jacket. It’s not the same as driv­ing out in a turbo-charged con­vert­ible but we all have to start some­where. Leonie Coombes was a guest of Lufthansa and Mu­nich air­port.

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