Making the Most of München, Part Two

München, the capital of the German state of Bavaria, is an interesting mix of modern elements and old world charm. This is the second post in a series on Making the Most of München.

BMW Headquarters and Museum
While much of the tourist activity in München centers on the Altstadt (old town), including the famous Oktoberfest and the Christkindl-Markt (Christmas market), there is much to do and see elsewhere in the city.

In addition to being the capital of Bavaria, München is also home to the headquarters of BMW, which stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). A complex of buildings that are open to the public include BMW Welt (World) and BMW Museum, and a BMW Factory.

BMW Welt is a modern building filled with all types of BMW products including its flagship automobiles and motorcycles, Mini Coopers, and Rolls-Royce automobiles. Many of the vehicles are open and guests can sit in or on them, making it a great way to get up close and personal without having a sales person breathing down your neck. It also provides numerous photo ops, of which many people take advantage. There are also several gift shops with merchandise reflecting the individual brands: BMW, Mini, and so forth.

BMWs ready to be picked up by their new owners
On the second floor mezzanine is an area where people who have purchased a BMW can pick up their car directly from the factory. Photos are taken, champagne is poured, and keys handed over.

BMW Welt is located immediately next to the Olympiazentrum U-Bahn station, is free to visit, and has four restaurants on premises.

The BMW Museum has an entrance fee of €9 per person, and special exhibits have additional fees. The museum also has a restaurant. Tours of the BMW Plant are available Monday through Friday for €8; however, reservations must be made well in advance, and photography is strictly prohibited.

Next to the BMW complex is Olympiapark, the grounds of the 1972 Munich Oly
mpics. The grounds have been well preserved and many of the facilities are still used for sports activities, often by local and amateur teams.

Olympic Tower
The 290-meter tall OlympiaTurm (Olympic Tower) provides visitors a great view of the area including, when the weather is good, the Alps about 100 kilometers to the south. An elevator ride to the observation decks at about 200 meters up (including two decks that are open to the air) is €5,50. There is also a restaurant at the base of the tower and a revolving restaurant in the tower itself, called Restaurant 181, though prices at Restaurant 181 are as high as the restaurant itself, ranging from €62 for a four-course meal to €155 for the “avant garde” menu, not including extras one might select.

Back on the ground near the base of the tower, there are stands equivalent to food trucks that are becoming popular in areas of the United States. The weekend I was there, one sold crepes while another offered various kinds of German sausage and sausage sandwiches for about €5. Not that the food was in the same league as the revolving restaurant, but neither were the prices.

Olympic Village
The area also includes the Olympic Village, where the attack on 11 Israeli athletes by members of the Palestinian group Black September began on Sept. 5, 1972. Two of the athletes were killed shortly after the gunmen sneaked into their quarters at Connollystraße 31 in the predawn hours; nine others died in a gun battle at the airport as the hostage takers were attempting to flee.

During my bus and U-Bahn (underground train, or subway) trip to Olympiazenstrum, I changed from the bus to the train at a place called Odeonsplatz, an area near the National Theatre, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Munich Residenz (the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach), and the Theatine Church.

It is an interesting area to spend some time, perhaps visiting the Residenz, the church, and other sites, or just wandering around people watching.

It was in Odeonsplatz that I saw two of the most unusual sites I’d seen on that particular trip.

Classical music on the Straße
A young man – either a student or perhaps an instructor at the Bavarian Academy – had wheeled a baby grand piano to the Platz and was playing classical music for the passers-by. Who would have thought of a classical pianist as a “street musician”? But it seemed quite appropriate for the area, and his skill had garnered him a fairly good-sized collection of coins and bills.

Another sight that made me sit up and take notice was that of locals sipping their coffee, tea, or wine at an outdoor café, despite the fact that the temperature was barely above freezing.

Locals enjoying the crisp weather
Austrians are a hearty bunch when it comes to dealing with the cold, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an area outside of an established ski village or resort, where restaurants provide blankets to people can bundle up against the cold and sip their beverages outside. But there it was: probably no more than 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, yet folks were enjoying being outdoors in the sunshine, cold as it was, wrapped in red blankets and sipping on their wine, Glühwein, or coffee.

The bus to and from my new hotel, the Hotel München Palace, also passed a number of attractions as it made its way between Trogerstraße and Odeonsplatz, including the Bavarian National Museum, the Museum Villa Stuck, the Angel of Peace column on the shore of the Isar River, and the Englischer Garten, a 1.5 square mile public park along the river bank.

How to get to and from all the things München has to offer will be the subject of a subsequent post.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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