Happy 856th Birthday, Munich! And the Dallmayr store!


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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on June 18, 2014 and updated on June 11, 2019.

I’m learning that, for life here in Munich, it’s best to check the events calendar in advance and possibly even make reservations for weekend events. The trip downtown from where I live via public transport is complicated by subway track construction (we have to take a detour on a bus instead of riding straight in). BTW, no one drives into Munich! Plus the city gets so crowded on weekends, especially in the good weather we’ve been having.

But last weekend we got lucky. On Saturday morning my husband and I checked online and discovered it was Munich’s birthday and they were having a Stadtgründungsfest (“City Founding Party”). Going strong after 856 years, wow! We had no idea. Are we bad citizens?

In honor of the anniversary, the city was putting on a street fair so we made the trek early. We have learned to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If we plan so that we’re done by noon we can still manage to walk around fairly freely. After that, it’s shoulder to shoulder and no fun.

We arrived by subway at the Odeonsplatz stop, which was one end of the street fair. The other end was the famous Marienplatz where the Glockenspiel resides, about half a mile away – an easy walk on this mild, sunny day.

The Munich city walls were torn down in the 1800s. To build Odeonsplatz they tore down a 500-year-old city gate. Odeonsplatz then became the grand entrance to the city.

We emerged from the subway to see the square populated by beer tables and umbrellas with small wooden stalls around the perimeter. The stalls were occupied by modern-day handworkers and artisans, such as metalworkers, contractors and roofers.

A Blasmusik (“oompah”) band was setting up on a stage in front of the Feldhernhalle (“Field Marshall Hall”). This magnificent structure was built in the 1840s by King Ludwig I (the sane one) in the style of Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy, to honor the Bavarian army. It’s seen its share of demonstrations and celebrations, including an attempted coup by Adolf Hitler in 1923. The police were not amused and Hitler was jailed for a little while as a result. He wrote Mein Kampf while incarcerated. You probably have at least a general idea of what happened after that.
It’s fun that the first song the band played was “Happy Birthday” – even if the singer’s German accent made it sound more like “Hippy Bus-day.”
The Feldherrnhalle stands in good company. To the left as you face the hall is the Hofgarten, an Italian-style garden built by Duke Maximilian I as the court garden of the adjacent palace that served as a residence to generations of rulers since the 1300s.
To the right of the hall is the Theatinerkirche, the beautiful Theatine Church built in the late 1600s. It commemorates the long-awaited birth of an heir to the Bavarian ruling family. What a baby present! You can see the church in the background beyond the fest stall for the builders guild in the photo below. Notice the little evergreen tree atop the construction – I believe they do that in the States, too, for good fortune on the construction site.
Above the oompah music I heard an accordion playing a different song. I saw this street musician on the opposite corner. I was hoping to snap a photo and be on my way, but he stared directly into the lens barrel so I kinda had to go give him some money after that. You can see yet another orchestra at the cafe in the background.
We started down Ludwigstrasse to peruse the wonderful handmade goods on display:

There were so many signs prohibiting photos at the booths, so I eventually gave up. Munich is famous for this. But I can report there were many, many, many beautiful, wonderful things to see!

The copper lion statues flanking the entrance to the palace I mentioned before bear copper shields. The small lion heads on the copper shields are considered good luck if you rub them, so they are very shiny. James and I made sure we accumulated some luck as we passed by:

Eventually we emerged from the other end of Ludwigstrasse at Marienhof, which is one block from Marienplatz. Marienhof is now a large, grassy lot lined by benches. When I visited here a few years ago it was a massive construction site. They were expanding the subway stop under the square and found a lot of Roman artifacts. They halted construction for six months or so to give archaeologists a chance to recover the find. Then they finished the subway!
Here’s a glimpse of Marienhof – the best one I could get that day. Under that grass is the renovated subway station:
Along one side of Marienhof is the famous Dallmayr shop. It modestly calls itself a delicatessen, but it’s a huge, fantastic gourmet food shop! It was a trading company founded around 1700 and named Dallmayr in 1870 after its owner. It was sold in 1895 but it still bears Dallmayr’s name.
Dallmayr’s is famous for its coffee. After the stock market crash in 1929, the company began roasting coffee to sustain its floundering business. It worked and they have parlayed it into a mega-industry.
The store is still at the same location (yellow building here):

You aren’t supposed to take pictures in there, but I managed one standing in the doorway:

I’d been wanting to visit Dallmayr for a long time, but it was always so crowded. Today it wasn’t bad, so we went in.

Oh my! What a store! They have a gourmet coffee department, of course, and a gourmet tea counter, a gourmet candy counter, a gourmet vegetable counter, a gourmet deli counter, even a gourmet fresh meat department with rib-eye beef from Nebraska! They have sushi, wine, smoked meats, olive oil, vinegar, salt, spices, I can’t even tell you!

Upstairs they have a fancy cafe-bistro and next door is an upscale restaurant. Above the cafe is the kitchen where they make lots of the goodies downstairs. I believe the coffee is roasted off site these days.

One thing that’s missing is a secret underground tunnel just for me to go from Dallmayr directly to Kustermann, the gourmet kitchen shop a couple of blocks away. Maybe they have stalled construction due to Roman artifacts!

We continued to Marienplatz. Along the street was a department store selling the garb:

FYI, the Lederhosen on the mannequin costs 679 Euros (about $950), not including the shirt, sweater, hat, socks or shoes. Across the street is the Rolex store – just across from the Prada shop!

By the time we got to Marienplatz it was getting really crowded. There was a stage set up next to the Glockenspiel and stilted young ladies in costumery were blowing bubbles and dancing to the music being played.

Next a group of dancers took the stage as we were making our way through the crowd to the next subway station:

We encountered a large beer stein made out of balloons accompanied by an energetic girl cutting up with the crowd. Her “traditional” Dirndl was also made out of balloons!

After we left the center of town we took the train to the main station and then walked a few blocks to the Augustiner Keller Biergarten. But that’s another blog post. You’ll just have to wait to see the pictures of the yummy food we had there to restore ourselves!

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Augustiner Keller, One of Munich’s Biggest Biergartens

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on July 2, 2014 and updated on June 4, 2019.

If May was devoted to Paris, June’s TBTPs will be featuring Germany in the summer. It’s Biergarten season there, after all!

A few weeks ago I posted photos of Munich’s birthday celebration. As if the street fest weren’t enough, afterward my husband and I visited the huge Augustiner Keller Biergarten near the main train station.

To get there, if you stand in the part of the train station where you can see the long-distance trains, head out the exit to Arnulfstrasse. Hang a left and walk maybe 4 or 5 blocks. It will be on the right.

The Herzlich Willkommen (“A Hearty Welcome”) sign at the entrance:

This Biergarten is so big it has its own Maibaum (Maypole”) that’s even taller than the one in my neighborhood:

The typical Biergarten table setting:

More scenery – you can get an idea of the size of this place. And this is only about a third of the table-service area. There is an even larger self-serve area behind it.

Then came the food! I had the Schweinshax’n (“roasted pork joint”) with potato salad. This is one of my favorite Bavarian dishes. If it’s done right, the meat just melts in your mouth! This was good, but the best one I ever had was at Mahrs Brewery in Bamberg.

James had the Halbhend’l (“half chicken”), which is right up there with the Hax’n in my book. The half-chicken is also a traditional meal. They sell a prepared spice rub for this dish in any supermarket here.

The afternoon was pleasant and it was a very relaxing rest after walking through the street market downtown with all the tourists. About the most exciting scenery here was a waiter trucking liters of beer to a group of young men nearby:

And he also delivered two tureens of Munich’s traditional sausage, Weißwurst. The tureens are traditional, with lion’s heads for handles. The bowl is filled with hot water and the sausages float in the water. A plate covers the tureen and the pretzels are put on top. Along with a beer, this is considered the best breakfast around. And you can get them any time of the day.

As we left, a group of young men, probably a bachelor party, was waiting at the entrance:

Can’t figure them out, seriously!

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Raising the Maypole (Maibaum) in Bavaria near Munich

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on May 8, 2014 and updated on April 30, 2019.

Each year on May 1st most European countries celebrate May Day, which is the equivalent of Labor Day in the US.

My husband and I were preparing for a walk around 8:00am last week and noticed some bustling activity at the pub across the street from our apartment.

This pub, or Gasthaus, which is attached to the local fire station, has been closed since we moved here last fall. It’s been under renovation, and we were guessing that, in light of how long it takes for renovations in this country, we wouldn’t see it open until next fall at the earliest.

However, we’d seen posters around the neighborhood announcing the erection of a new Maypole on 1 May. The particulars of a Maypole in Bavaria are too numerous to go into in this post. But I wrote an article about it you can see by clicking here.

I’d seen the fire department cutting down the old Maypole in front of the Gasthaus several months ago. But both my husband and I were taking side bets that they wouldn’t be ready for the new one. We were dead wrong!

On our walk we saw all sorts of activity, from last-minute landscaping to setting up tables to positioning food and beer trucks. Although we’d had no plans to attend the activities that day, we quick-stepped home to grab the camera and came out at the appointed hour: 10:00am.

The fire department, an integral and central organization for any German community, was in charge of all this. They had just moved in the new Maypole by trailer when we arrived.

Because we arrived so early, I was able to position myself on the front lines so I could get good photos. Presently, the band took up their position across from me. The Gasthaus is the building on the right in this photo:

Next to me was a stack of shingles that the firefighters eventually attached to the pole:

During a WHOLE LOT of milling about of firemen and firewomen, I got some crowd shots. Here’s a young man hanging posters all decked out in his Lederhosen:

Another Lederhosen-clad young boy:

Aren’t they sweet all dressed alike???

And who is this young man (no Lederhosen – yet!)?

Eventually the crowd gathered. The fire truck in this photo has a winch attached. You can see the cable which tethers the Maypole, which is still lying down in front of me:
Eventually, too, the firefighters gathered and the pole was raised incrementally with copious amounts of checking, checking and double-checking in between small raises. There were guide ropes and support poles that had to be moved and adjusted between each raising, being careful not to damage the shingle brackets or lose control of the tree. The entire process took OVER TWO HOURS!
Initially there was a sawhorse positioned about mid-pole. As the lifters raised the pole, two men pulled the sawhorse closer to the base of the pole. After the stability was ascertained and the next move determined, a man with a megaphone who continuously stalked about would give the command, “Baum hoch!” Which means, “Raise the tree!” Then everyone would give a mighty heave and the tree would raise a few inches – excuse me – centimeters. Then the process would start all over again. I heard “Baum hoch!” a few hundred times that day.

An announcer told us the Maypole was about 24 meters high, which is approximately 26 yards or about 78 feet! It’s the trunk of an actual tree and has a large evergreen wreath with Bavarian blue and white streamers suspended from the top portion.

Here are some shots of the operation:

Here’s a guy tending the sawhorse looking suave in his typical fireman overalls:

Even the pole supports had pole supports!

As the pole rose higher and the workers moved in front of me, I got a few shots of them close up:

As the tree rose higher and higher in front of me, my lens was not wide-angle enough to get the whole Maypole in the frame:

Finally, about 12:30pm, success!

If I’d known I would be standing there for over two hours, I might not have taken up my post. But I did manage to record lots of video of the activities, so here is a video where I condensed all that time into less than five minutes, only showing you the actual movement of the Maypole toward its apex. You can see the sawhorse moved and the pole supports and the guy with the megaphone in there. (Music credit: Music credit: “Bin Hier Zuhause”, “Happy Medly Polka”, “Lucky Hannes”, “Tamys Polka” – Ludwigs Steirische Gaudi, ww.musikbrause.de; Creative Commons License (by-nc-nd)) I hope you enjoy it!

After the Maypole was perfectly perpendicular, a hulking man secured it into the steel bracket that had been sunk into the ground and stabilized a week or so before. He wielded two wrenches at once!

Then, of course, the Burgermeister had to say a few words:

With all the work and formalities out of the way, it was finally time for beer and food! Here’s a big plastic chicken on top of a food truck:

The most delicious schnitzel sandwiches were on hand. If you want to try your own hand at schnitzel, click here for my blog post with a recipe for them. You simply make the schnitzel and put them directly onto fresh Kaiser rolls. It’s surprisingly yummier than it sounds!

And, of course, some beer to help us celebrate:

We wended our way to the back courtyard of the new Gasthaus, which will become, I’m sure, the Biergarten. The place is not officially open yet; that happens this coming weekend. But apparently there will be a gold stag and wild boar somewhere on the grounds:

We took a break back to our apartment, thinking a nap would be a good idea. But it was wrong timing. They began doing the traditional Maypole dance while I was at home! I quickly grabbed the camera again and headed back out. I only caught the tail end of the streamer dance, but I managed to see the entire kindergartners’ performance. Here’s a video that condenses all of that. Keep your eye on the little girl in the pink apron – she’s quite a ham and I love the way she takes her bows at the end. (Music: “Bin Hier Zuhause”, “Tamys Polka” – Ludwigs Steirische Gaudi; ww.musikbrause.de; Creative Commons License (by-nc-nd))


During the day, kids could make their own little Maypole at a table set up near the big one:

Later the entire grounds turned into a Biergarten. The official tree of Biergartens is the Kastanienbaum, or chestnut tree. And it’s not a real Biergarten unless the tables are on gravel or grass. No pavement allowed; that’s a beer terrace. In this photo, you can see the chestnut tree with the white “candle” blooms. The tables are on the grass, so we can call it a real Biergarten!

The music and partying continued long into the evening. Later there was a DJ and dancing and lots of drunken singing until about 11:15pm. I hope it’s not an indication of the weekends to come once the Gasthaus opens!

Some trivia for you: Why is Labor Day in the US celebrated in September? Encyclopedia Brittanica says:

In 1889 an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions declared the date of May 1 as Workers’ Day to commemorate the Haymarket Riot in Chicago (1886). Five years later, U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland, uneasy with the socialist origins of Workers’ Day, signed legislation to make Labor Day—already held in some states on the first Monday of September—the official U.S. holiday in commemoration of workers. Canada followed suit not long afterward.

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Berninger Winery in Zell-am-Main, Bavaria, Germany – no, not Beringer

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on April 30, 2014 and updated on April 16, 2019.

I’m so gratified to see that my blog post titled Devil Chix a couple of weeks ago had a fun effect. I was invited to dinner with some friends just before Easter and they served this:

Plus, another friend and I made these on Easter:

We even named them, back row from left: Puppy Chick, Blue Chick, Fat Chick, Minion Chick, Sunglasses Chick, Groucho Chick.

Front row from left:
Jealous Chick, Clown Chick, Ran-Out-Of-Filling-So-Used-Cheese-Spread Chick, Regular Chick, Jealous Chick II.

But I digress. This week I want to describe a wonderful evening at a Weingut (winery) that I recently enjoyed with my husband and German “parents,” Hilde and Adi.

We visited Weingut Restaurant Berninger in a small town called Zeil-am-Main. It’s near Bamberg, where I lived for a few years until last fall. For the record, the place is a family business run by Jürgen und Ute Berninger, address: Ziegelanger 33, 97475 Zeil a. Main, Germany.

I’d been to Berninger a couple of times before with Hilde and Adi; this time my husband joined us. Here was the courtyard and vineyards on this fine spring evening as we arrived:

As with most wineries in the region, the grapes are grown on the estate and made on the premises by the family and staff. Then, at the restaurant, the wine is featured, along with local traditional cuisine.

Here are a couple of the wines we sampled:

This beautiful bottle is a sweet white called Bacchus, which is also the name of the grape variety. I love the name because it’s named after the Roman god of wine and intoxication. Although I generally prefer red wines, I love the aroma of Bacchus wine – it smells just like white grape juice.
Notice on the label that it says “Deutscher Qualitätswein.” The literal translation is “German Quality Wine.” However, it’s actually a legal classification set by the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweinguter or VDP (German Wine Regulations). Qualitätswein is an inexpensive, everyday wine. Its grapes must have reached 15 degrees of natural sugar content and the label must bear the name of the wine-growing region. In this case, Ziegelanger Ölschnabel (I think). This region’s name hilariously translates as “Long Goat Oil Beak.”
There is one category below Qualitätswein, which is table wine, and that’s called Landwein or Tafelwein on the German label. The grapes have to come from a vineyard that could produce Qualitätswein, but the sugar content only has to reach 14 degrees.

The next bottle here is the Berninger Rotling, or what we in America would call rosé, made from mixing red and white wines together:

Its label states Deutscher Prädikatswein, among other things. This designation is the third and highest category of German wine. Prädikatswein must be made of ripe grapes with a higher sugar content than the other designations. Also, a maximum of three grape varieties can be included in the wine, with 85% of the wine coming from the variety mentioned on the label. Aside from sulfur, no preservatives can be used. The label must bear the wine region’s name and the wine must be made in that region.

Within the Prädikatswein category there are several levels depending on natural sugar content and other factors. This label has the word Kabinett. This means that the grapes have at least 19 degrees of natural sugar content, which is the lowest level for this category. The alcohol content hovers around seven percent for this wine.

Of course, we had to accompany our wines with wonderful food! Here is a shot of my husband’s Jägerschnitzel in keeping with last week’s blog post:

And Hilde’s Zwiebelbraten (onion roast):

And Adi’s Schweinelendschen (pork loin):

And that was our wonderful evening out!

Have a great week!

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Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany, and King Ludwig’s Herrenchiemsee Palace


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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on April 15, 2015 and updated on April 9, 2019.

Yesterday was just the most marvelous experience! For years I’ve been wanting to visit Chiemsee (pronounced “keem-zay”), a lake in the foothills of the Alps in southeast Germany. Well, this week I did!

The lake is just over 30 square miles in area and lies about 1700 feet above sea level. There are a few islands in the lake, one of which bears Bavaria’s King Ludwig II’s palace called Herrenchiemsee, which was intended to be a copy of Versailles Palace in France. You’ll remember he was Bavaria’s “mad” king and the one who built Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.

My husband and I left Munich about 10:00 a.m. and drove for just over an hour on uncrowded autobahns through a beautiful natural recreation area to reach a quiet town called Prien right on the lake. We found a handy parking space and paid a ridiculously low price to an jolly older man who would make an entire blog post in himself. He actually made me re-park my car in the unmarked gravel lot because it was too far away from the car next to me. I moved it about six inches.

Then, we walked the short distance to the waterfront.

We were famished, so we stopped here for lunch:

As I was trying to shoot the Alps across the water, the mountains were photobombed by our cheery waiter:
I sent him off to get our beers and was able to get the Alps at last:

We had a wonderful lunch there in the sunshine and lingered over it for a while. Long about 1:30 we meandered over to the boat docks and booked passage to the island with the palace. We boarded the good ship Siegfried and set sail, voyaging about 15 minutes to the island.

We soon approached the island. Here you can see the dock and abbey on top the small hill just beyond:

We then had to buy a ticket to tour the palace; fortunately there was one in 45 minutes with an English-speaking tour guide.

Of course, we were in Germany so there was some kind of walking involved. We had the choice to either walk the two kilometers (1.2 miles) to the palace, or take a charming horse and carriage to the door. We opted for the walk. Here was some scenery along our path:

You could see evidence of the high winds we’d had a few weeks ago in the forest:

Presently we came to a clearing on a small hill and were rewarded with a magnificent view of the palace:
It did, indeed, look like Versailles, without the left and right wings. And the gardens were much smaller, but very well manicured.

We had some time before our tour, so we lounged on a bench for a few minutes. Just then, the garden fountains began to pour their waters forth:

As is the case with most tours, we were not allowed to take photos inside the palace. But I will tell you that the place was GOLD in capital letters from top to bottom! And because Ludwig never actually lived here – he ran out of money then died before it was completed – everything was in mint condition. Truly an exact copy of Versailles inside and out (as far as it was built anyway) and absolutely amazing. The Hall of Mirrors is even longer than the French one.

Only 20 of the 50 rooms that were built were finished on the inside. But we even got to see a portion of the unfinished palace. The walls are actually standard red brick; the marble, faux marble, gold-leafed wooden sculptures and mirrors are all hanging on the brick walls underneath.

After our 25-minute tour, we moseyed back along the path to the dock. Next to the abbey is the church for the monks:

And next to that is a cafe where we had a much-needed coffee and water break. Here’s the view from our table of the path we’d just trekked:

And here’s the view of the lake from there:

That other island is Fraueninsel, meaning “women’s island” – so-named because it has a nunnery there. The island we were on is called Herreninsel, which means “men’s island” – so-named because the king was a man.

Soon it was time to board ole Siegfried and be on our way back to Prien. It was much colder on the return trip, but we managed to survive. Since it was about 5:00 p.m. and rush hour, we decided to have dinner in Prien at the same place we’d had lunch. It was also wonderful, seeing this little seaside village get ready for evening. By the time we left a couple hours later the traffic had cleared and we had a nice, easy ride home.

And that was on a Tuesday! I hope you enjoyed our trip to the mountain lake. There are two more lakes on my list, so you may see them soon. May you enjoy your spring as much as I am enjoying mine. I’m looking forward to a trip to Paris in the next couple of weeks – so stay tuned!

Photo for No Apparent Reason: