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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Krampus Run through Munich’s Christmas Market

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Continuing the blog’s feature: Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP)!

Every Tuesday, I re-post a past blog I think is relevant and that you might enjoy seeing again.

This post was originally published on December 17, 2014, and updated on December 4, 2018.

This week the charming, cozy Christmas market atmosphere was interrupted again, for about the 500th year in a row, by the not-so-charming-and-cozy companions of St. Nickolaus. I told you in last week’s post that ole Nick doesn’t like to do the dirty work of pointing out the naughty ones from the nice, so he travels with others who do that job. In Munich’s case, and in many villages in southern Bavaria and the Alps, his companions are the Krampus.

Many Krampus clubs exist whose sole purpose is to dress up like scary demons and run around the Christmas markets whipping people with horsehair whips or bundles of sticks. On the appointed day at the appointed hour, they gather for a very long parade that makes its very noisy way through the Christmas market and surrounding area.

There are 28 clubs in this year’s procession. Each club has a couple of sign-bearers in front and five to ten Krampus following. That’s a couple hundred monsters taking swipes at bystanders, growling and roaring, and tousling lots of heads of hair. Some carry children or young women away – only to return them gently to the ground a few steps from where they stood.

Each Krampus wears an elaborate mask, most of them made of carved wood and real goat or mountain sheep horns. The furs are goat or sheepskins. Some carry baskets to whisk away naughty children. All of them are draped with huge bells and noisemakers on their belts. Their characteristic walking dance is mostly to generate the deafening, awful din. You can catch a glimpse of the giant bells on the backs of the gremlins in this video I made:

Here are some stills of other costumes:

Here are some giant cowbells rigged for sound on this fellow:

And this fellow:

A couple of hours before the procession, there is a children’s program in the courthouse to teach kids that a Krampus isn’t really a devil. They get to see the people without the masks and talk to them and ask questions. In fact, my husband and I saw all the performers walking from the courthouse program to wherever they start the parade. It was there we got a full dose of how loud and obnoxious the noise was. But most of them were carrying their masks under their arms, so the fright factor was mitigated.

This guy made noise by dragging his huge metal shield on the pavement:

There was more than one ham:

And St. Nick, well, TWO St. Nicks came along behind everyone and pretended nothing was amiss:

I still think the St. Nick on the Christmas Tram was the real one. I’m pretty sure these were only helpers.

The crowd didn’t seem too upset about the attention from the Krampuses/Krampii or whatever the plural of Krampus is, though. They rather looked to be enjoying it!

I think the Krampuses were not so evil after all. I forgive them for swiping my ankles with whips and bundles of sticks. And I appreciate them leaving my hair alone for the most part. And for posing so dramatically for my camera.

They are scheduled to make another run next Sunday, so I’d be glad to take you down to the square so they could take their best shot at you! Any takers??

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The Real German Munich Oktoberfest!

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Welcome to the first edition of the blog’s new feature: Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP)!
Each week on Tuesday, I’ll re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy. Please leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.
This post was originally published on December 8, 2011, and updated on September 25, 2018.
Throwback Tuesday Post from December 2011:
Because it’s that time of year, here’s the story of my first visit to the genuine Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany:
My husband and I ventured to Munich, Germany, for my first foray into the biggest beer party in the world: Oktoberfest!
Tuesday morning first thing we made our way to the Theresienwiese, or Theresa’s Field, where Oktoberfest is held. Tuesday morning just before 10am is one of the best times to go; it’s family day and a large part of the visitors are there to bring the children for the rides. That means there are fewer beer drinkers filling up the tents that early.
There is a subway stop that deposits you just outside the fest grounds:

I shot this guy in full Oktoberfest regalia on the escalator:

Here’s my hubby celebrating the fact he is at the Oktoberfest gate!
This was my very first visit to the real Oktoberfest. I’ve been to dozens of little local fests, but this one was all that plus steroids! Think of it as a giant carnival with two midways. One midway has the requisite roller coaster, ferris wheel, bumper cars and other rides along with snack stands:
The other midway, and the main attraction, is lined with giant beer tents radiating out on both sides. Fourteen major breweries build these “tents” each year for the occasion. The “tents” are mostly wooden framework with steel girders and tin roofs.
They had the wherewithal to locate the ferris wheel at the end of the beer midway so I could get this aerial shot of the beer tents. Each one of those giant, long buildings is a beer “tent.”
We had gotten there just before 10:00 a.m., which is opening time. I was able to visit most of the tents all the way down the line and get pretty good photographs inside each one before they started filling up and choking with people.
Here is a typical “tent.” That gazebo in the middle is for the band:
The Lowenbrau tent had a giant mechanical lion over the front door who drank from his beer stein and bellowed “Lowenbrau!” every few seconds! When I showed this photo to my friend Adi, he bellowed, “Lowenbrau!”
After strolling the grounds and getting oriented, we chose the Augustiner beer tent as our first quaff. Here’s our barmaid:
My German friends always told us that they didn’t wait for the foam to settle on the beers before serving them. The “right” way to do it is to let the foam settle then add more beer so the customer gets his money’s worth. Technically, the beer should reach the ring near the top of the glass. The last couple of inches is for the foam. However, things happen fast and furious in the Oktoberfest beer tents, so there’s no time for that sort of thing!
A family from the Basque region of Spain sat down beside us at the table. The coolest thing about Oktoberfest is that you gather best friends from all over the world! Whoever sits at your table with you is instantly your new “family.” These guys were no exception. Here’s our barmaid bringing us our brews:
And the most fun – Ein Prosit! You have to do this when they sing the toasting song!
Here’s a shot of our Oktoberfest “family.” My husband, the Spanish mom and dad, the son-in-law and the daughter. The parents didn’t speak English, but that didn’t stop us all from communicating! Notice the thumbs-up from dad – the mustache and eyebrows are real and that thumbs-up was for me!
Outside there is all manner of goings-on, such as beautifully decked out horses pulling giant wagons with giant beer barrels:
We moved on to the Spaten beer tent later. Here’s a shot of the “oompah” band there. Each tent has its own band that plays German drinking songs throughout the day. BTW, there is even an Oktoberfest TV channel during the celebration!
Our Spaten tent “family:”
Too soon we had drank all the beer we were about to drink for the day, and I had gotten all the photos I wanted from Munich’s famous fest. It was beginning to get very crowded and the weather had gotten hot, so we decided to flee back to the English Garden for the afternoon. So, it was time to bid Theresienwiese “Auf Wiedersehen!” I would highly recommend anyone to go to Oktoberfest. It’s just a big, jolly beer party with lots of Bavarian sights, sounds and food. Oh, and beer. Most of all beer.

I hope you enjoyed a trip to Oktoberfest with me. It was REALLY hard to choose only a few photos of it. It’s an immense and wonderful place – you should really go! I volunteer to meet you there!

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