Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Week in Germany: Saturday (Again)

28. 01. 2012

We woke up to snow this morning. Overnight snow had left a light covering, and the snowfall continued into mid-morning. Not much accumulation, but enough to look very pretty like icing decorating trees and buildings.
Munich's Opera House

An easy tourist schedule for the day, as promised to my doctors, was made possible by Munich’s excellent public transportation network.

First stop was Johanna Daimer’s Felt Shop, a tiny half size space filled with felt in all colours and all possible thicknesses. Megan and I discovered the shop when we were here, back in the day when felt was not a booming area of handcraft and good wool felt was hard to come by. It was Christmas Market, and every woman in Munich was lining up to push their way into the narrow shop to procure whatever local hausfrauen needed for their Christmas decorations. Not that I need any felt at the moment, but I wanted to make a tribute return visit. And their little packets of felt cutouts are very charming.

We followed the felt pilgrimage with "the best Wienerschnitzel in Munich" according to a 2010 article in The Guardian. And it was indeed superb, made with white veal, so principles had to be tossed out the same window used for French foie gras meals, but it really beats the pork or pink veal versions. The price has increased slightly to 24 euros.

Another thing I love about Germany is that you can eat meals when you are hungry.  No waiting until 12:30 or 7:00 p.m. for lunch and dinner as you must in London in their effort to be continental. The worst is having to wait until 10 p.m. for dinner in Spain! My scheduling for the morning took less time than expected, so we turned up at the restaurant shortly after 11:00, and there were people already eating. Since we had eaten little breakfast, we were ready for lunch, and by the time we left at 12:30, the restaurant was heaving.

The next thing to love about Munich is Bus Line 100, called the Museum Line, that does a loop around the major museums on the north side of the city. When we were looking at what Munich had to offer, Bob had seen a brochure for Villa Stuck, an Art Nouveau house museum, and said that was his first choice for an outing. From the restaurant we easily found the bus which dropped us right in front of the Villa, in an outer residential neighbourhood of the city. The ride took us through beautiful snow covered park lands along the banks of the River Isar.  (I forgot my camera, but Bob was able to take a few photos.)
The monument is the Friedensengel, or Angel of Peace, unveiled in 1899
to commemorate the 25 years of peace after the Franco-German Wars of the 1870s.  
The Villa Stuck was fantastic in every sense of the word. Over-decorated, over-gilded, over-dramatic, and utterly beautiful.  Franz Stuck — he became Franz Ritter von Stuck when he was knighted — was a leading artist of the German Jugendstil wing of the Art Nouveau movement, and his house with its Gold Medal winning (Chicago 1893; Paris 1900) furniture and decoration is his masterpiece. He was also a professor of art, who counted Paul Klee as one of his students, and he is said to have described the Villa as “frighteningly wonderful.” Sadly I have no interior photos, and I can't find any links that include photos, so I admit to brazenly lifting images from Google here.
Bob took this one of the exterior
Music Salon

The Museum also has additional gallery space that hosts exhibitions of work from the period around  1900. The current exhibit features French artist Jules Chéret who is known as the father of the modern poster for his work advertising cabarets and musical performances. He was also a painter, illustrator, designer, and decorator. A previously unknown artist to us, but his poster work is  clearly the foundation for work by artists whose names are very familiar. The link to the exhibit includes a slide show of some of the work on display, although the text is in German.

After a wander through the museum, it was time to rest my leg again, and Bus 100 took us across the city to the Railroad Station where our hotel is nearby. On the way we passed the many other museums we will have to save for a next visit.

And tomorrow we fly back to London.

A Week in Germany: Friday

27. 01. 2012

Today has sped by. I slept. I read. I knit. I sent e-mails. I read e-mails.

I watched 5 minutes of TV, but the only English language channels are BBC World (boring); CNBC (more boring); and Bloomberg (totally boring).

However the Abu Dhabi Channel had camel racing—LIVE camel racing according to the screen caption.

Bob brought me breakfast and lunch and snack food before he left this morning. I can recommend “Kinder Schoko-Bons … für die Extra-Portion Milch.” I’m sure even non-German readers can parse that one out, and recognize the advice I’m sure all good mothers appreciate.

The swelling is going down on the foot which looked so plump and smooth, like a baby foot, or more likely, a foot pumped up with Botox. The purple discolouration is not quite as purple now. Perhaps some holiday activity can resume tomorrow.

That's not my leg, but Duke Henry the Lion, sovereign ruler of Lower Saxony and Bavaria, and the founder of Munich in 1158 as a market city to help him gain control of the Southern German salt road from Bishop Otto I of Freising. Frederick Barbarossa settled the dispute by assigning the route to Henry, but some of the revenue to Otto. (All cribbed from the City Museum's exhibition guide.)

Here is Henry in full splendour.

A Week in Germany: Thursday

26. 01. 2012

The trip has taken a unfortunate turn in the excellent city of Munich which I have visited several times before and have in mind a list of places for a bit of shopping. However, more on that later because the day began bright and sunny.

I love the tabletop Christmas tree
Breakfast in a marquis café in the Viktuallen Market with homemade Apple Cake with Whipped Cream. Then Bob went off to a meeting while I went to the Radspieler a design and textile shop Megan and I discovered when we were here in 2005 for the Christmas Market. In business since 1841, and someday I will go back and buy meters and meters of furnishing fabric and dirndl fabric. But it is the kind of shop that has so many beautiful things, I am hard pressed to decide what I can’t live without, then decide I can’t decide, and leave with the smallest item in hand. So a money saver in the end.

Met up with Bob at the nearby Assam Church which is so gold encrusted that it is headache inducing.

Followed by an excellent lunch of Potato Soup and Liverwurst with raw onions and pickles, accompanied by the winter brewed “starkbier” or strong beer because in the winter a nourishing beer was needed as an antidote to the cold.

Bob had a free afternoon so we headed to the Munich City Museum to learn more about the city from a special permanent exhibit done a few years ago to celebrate the city’s 800th anniversary. An excellent little booklet in English was on hand to explain the history and the artefacts on display. I find Germany so confusing since it was divided into autonomous states well into the 19th century, everywhere you travel, the guidebooks are discussing new sets of princes and kings, electors and dukes. There are paintings of endless royals who were patrons of the highest arts, but there is no way to fit them into a coherent framework.

The section on poster art of the early 20th century was most interesting. We knew our favourite poster artist E. McKnight Kauffer had studied in Germany before coming to London in 1914 when war was declared, and here we could see the work that influenced him.

We had reached maximum absorption capability when we discovered the museum also housed a huge and fascinating collection on the history of puppets, really marionettes, and amusement parks.
The beast . . .
. . . and the beauty
The city history exhibit pulls no punches in the difficult mid-20th century history stating clearly that Munich is responsible for Hitler’s rise to power, but the exhibition itself seemed a bit disjointed unlike the displays in earlier galleries. As we were leaving the museum, we realized the Nazi era display had been given a special exhibition space with a separate entrance, but we were just too tired to face any more information.

When we arrived back at the hotel, I discovered I was perhaps tired because the lower leg, foot, and ankle attached to the knee I had injured last Sunday, and which seemed to be healing, was very swollen and had turned a not very healthy colour of bright purple. So we learned the location of the nearest hospital from the hotel and took a cab to investigate the German health system.

The hospital seemed to be some sort of huge university complex. The emergency room I went to, as directed by the very helpful cab driver, had only one other patient in the three hours I was there. I was attended by a cast of movie star handsome doctor, medical student (who had spent a year doing research in Boston), and radiologist, and that was just the men. Between their English and my occasional brain flashes of high school German returning in puffs of memory, we were able to convey our information back and forth.

Fortunately they found nothing to be wrong in the way of blood clots, thrombosis, arterial damage, and whatever else they looked for in the sonogram and blood tests and EKG. Eventually they wrapped my leg in a compression bandage and told me to keep my foot elevated and not to walk around for a day to see if the swelling would go down.

So now I am to look forward to a day in a hotel room. Thankfully this hotel offers free internet, and The Pickwick Papers on my Kindle will last through the next few months, and I am way behind on the cushion cover that I am knitting for the Olympic athlete donation scheme.