Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hello Bavaria! - Munich Day 5

As you may have seen in my previous posts about Munich, I was lucky enough to convince the company I work at to send me to Germany for five days for a design conference called Push Conference. This post marks my final day in the beautiful country, in which I treated myself to some sightseeing and a tour of the excellent museum district, or Kunstreal.

I had been planning to check out the synagogue I had walked by on my first day. Google Maps told me there was another smaller synagogue on my walking route, but as I searched for it down a residential alley, I realized I was on private property and moved on. Ah well. Another five minute walk took me to the big beautiful synagogue I had seen earlier, which was in a sort of Jewish Square that also had a Jewish Museum and community centre. I wanted to peek inside but...I couldn't find a door! There were two huge wrought iron doors that definitely hadn't opened in a long time, so I searched around the whole building for another entrance. There was a sort of ‘secret’ door cut out of the brick, that didn't seem to have a handle.

For scale, I think my head came up to the second Hebrew letter from the bottom.

I was at a loss. I walked back to the front, and a security guard in front of the community centre waved me over. I told him that I wanted to see inside, and he said I could come back for evening services at 6:00 when the synagogue would be open. Well, at least I didn't stand around there all day looking for a door.

The outer perimeter of the Jewish Museum (next door to the synagogue). The walls were covered in Jewish perspectives on the Holocaust.

And so I began my day of museum-hopping. All the museums boast a one-euro admission on Sundays, so I aimed to see as many as I could. I started with the Munich Stadtmuseum (State Museum) which was right next to the synagogue. I knew I had a few museums to get to, so I just looked around the gift shop for a few minutes and then moved on.

Eingang means "Entrance"!

A mini model of Munich (say that five times fast)!

I walked a few minutes to Marienplatz to mail my postcards and bought a cheese pretzel - super tasty. Then I took the subway to Odeonsplatz, the closest stop to the museums. As I walked up the stairs from the subway, I was greeted by the most wonderful music floating down the stairs from some buskers. Munich has the best buskers.

Despite my best intentions, I walked in the wrong direction for a few minutes, until I corrected myself. As I walked toward the museums, I realized I was in the neighbourhood I had stayed in last time I was in Munich!

A crazy window display. Woolheads.

Ah, Die Neue Sammlung. Sammlung means collection in German. 

My second museum of the day was the Pinakothek der Moderne - an amazing museum with a large industrial design section. There was this amazing larger-than-life wall with all these designed object perched precariously inside it like the largest shadow box you've ever seen.

Note the people for scale.

Hey look! It's both the chairs my parents own, across the way from each other!

Happy record player!

A timelapse of the entire industrial design section of the museum. Yes, it was that cool.

There was also an exhibit on Murano glass that I especially liked. It was held in a circular chamber with a glass ceiling meant to echo the material. Very lovingly curated.

This was crazy. 500 Japanese steelworkers were each given a bar of chocolate and asked to mould sculptures from the silver foil wrappings after eating the chocolate.

Probably the weirdest thing was an exhibit called Himalaya Goldstein's Roomthis strange room made up to look like someone's living room, totally dark, with projections floating over all the furniture in a weird, psychedelic way. It was a bit surreal to walk around the room and sit in the furniture (as was encouraged).

After a few hours there, I moved onto the Brandhorst Museum across the street. Although slightly smaller, this museum reminded me of the AGO in the way the art was curated amongst the cedar wood floors. The basement was extremely weird but pretty cool, with all these small chambers showing experimental films. I especially loved a room that displayed all sorts of generative chance art, with a ‘painting’ by Andy Warhol (urine oxidized on a sheet of copper). The museum unfortunately did not allow photography (but I snuck some anyway).

The two museums (and others as well) share the same field. It reminded me of a university campus.

After that, I got a little cookie cake pastry and took a small detour to see the hotel I stayed in about five years ago - Hotel Antares. It looked very different from the last time, but I remembered the Thai restaurant across the street and knew I was in the right place. Some images of my stroll:

I ate my cookie cake and walked into the English Gardens. There were some kids feeding bread to the ducks. by the pond, which was nice to watch.

This pond happened to be right behind the Museum der Kunst, which was the secret goal of my trip. I had visited this museum in a haste during my last trip because we were in the middle of a city-wide scavenger hunt. The gift shop was cool and so was the art in the foyer, but I was running out of time and kind of museum-ed out by this point. I walked around the lobby for a minute and then left to go to the Eishbachwelle - this crazy little surf wave in the middle of the city where surfers go and their fans sit on the bank to watch them.

I actually remembered it from the last time I had been to the city. I sat there for a bit, and then walked to the Lehel subway stop to go to Karlsplatz because I hadn't seen it yet and felt it was the last main subway stop to see. I also got a McDonalds weisswurst sandwich (because how could I not?!) and walked along the shopping district back toward Marienplatz.


It tasted like it looks.

I checked out the east and south sides of Victualsmarket on my way back to the synagogue for 6:00 on the dot.

It was about five minutes past 6:00 when I began to wonder what was going on. These huge old doors of the synagogue were not opening, and I knew from this morning that there were no other doors. Finally, I decided to go and speak to the security guard to understand what was going on. He ushered me into the community centre, asked me a bunch of questions about why I was there, was I Jewish, how active was I in the Jewish community in Toronto, and took my driver's license. He pushed me through a metal detector, and directed me down a set of stairs.

All of a sudden, I was in a hallway filled with names, which I concluded to be the names of Holocaust Victims. I walked down the hallway and up the stairs on the other side, when it clicked. I had gone through an underground tunnel to get to the synagogue! This was incredible. I was so stupefied that I almost walked into the men's section of the temple. Big no-no. I found my way to the women's area on top and sat down in the back to watch the services. Since it was a Sunday night, the place was pretty empty...about 30 people total.

How to put on tefillin (in German!)

The place was simply beautiful. An ancient stone and brick shell, emptied out from the inside and outfitted with modern maple wood and a glass ceiling of tessellated triangles to make a million stars of David superimposed on the heavens. I was able to watch the sky change colours through the ceiling as the sun set, which in itself was an otherworldly experience.

At first I thought this was an Orthodox synagogue, but then two women came in to sit beside me who were wearing pants. So I didn't know what to think. Then, as they would not shut their mouths during the entire service, I realized they were tourists like me (only more rude).

So I moved down closer to the cantor to hear him sing better, and realized that they were singing a song I knew from my own synagogue in Toronto – Adon Olam. I sang along and it was quite nice. After services concluded and many of the men had shaken hands and left, I felt it would be alright to take a few photos of the interior (without flash of course) from my seat in the women's area. As soon as I had taken three photos, a man ran over to me and began reprimanding me for doing this. I tried to explain that I thought the synagogue was beautiful and wanted to share it with my friends in Canada, but he wouldn't listen to me. So I left. At least I didn't talk through the whole service, so I didn't count myself as terrible as those ladies.

I cooled myself off a little and walked back to Marienplatz to watch some very talented buskers, and then took the subway  one last time to Sendlinger Tor. On my friend's recommendation, I got a Bazi box (all the traditional Bavarian food inside a Chinese takeout box) and went home to pack and go to sleep.

See? So many talented buskers in this city. What a great way to end my trip.

This was a wonderful few days in Munich, and I was so happy to have the opportunity to go back and visit again. Next time though, I'll be sure to visit during Oktoberfest of course!

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