Weyarn in Bayern/ Bavaria

Weyarn is a village about an hour to the south-east of Munich, east of the Mangfalltal, taking the Salzburger Autobahn (highway). It is not spectacular, but the St. Peter and Paul’s church, the monastery founded by the Count of Falkenstein in 1133 and the surroundings are historically interesting.

Unfortunately, one cannot enter the church, there is a glass barrier and bars.

The modern houses in Weyarn present a pleasant contrast to the old monastic building which accomodate the Priory, the Town Hall and the café with its whitewashed vaulted ceilings. The café can be strongly recommended, their cakes are delicious, plum and heavy cream : Zwetschenschmand, apple or cherry crumble, cheese and cream with tangerines : Käsesahne. They also serve lunch tidbits and small meals, such as fresh pasta with chanterelles. There is a large terrace with shady trees or you can sit indoors.

Weyarn is part of a Baroque Route which you can follow throughout Bavaria. Many lovely churches, especially those built by the Asam brothers, are scattered all over.

Cosmos coffee in the Deutsches Museum

Today we decided to drink coffee in the special exhibition of the German Museum, founded by Oskar von Miller, the famous engineer, in 1905. It was finally opened in 1925 and is now the largest science and technology museum in the entire world. Prices have gone up since I last visited, an adult pays €14, so be sure to bring along plenty of time.

The “Cosmos Coffee”, on the second floor passing through the Physics department, runs through May 2020. There are many exhibitions on at the same time, also plenty of demonstrations and guided tours which are free of extra charge.

Our tour guide lived in Venezuela for many years and was very competent. She showed us the plants, the coffee flowers of the more delicate plants, the “talking drawers” with old slogans and clichés, the “smelling machines”, the coffee room, the roasting machines, the different bean colors depending on the roasting temperature.

One cup of coffee requires 140 liters of water to let the plants grow and mature, about 5-7 years. The plant came originally from Ethiopia where it is said the goats ate the berries and capered around more than usual. To the human palate the berries were too acid and hard, so they were tossed into the fire – where they developed a fantastic chocolatey aroma. From Africa, coffee made its way to Al Mokha, Yemen and to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there to many others, reaching the US in the 17th and Russia in the 18th century.

harvest workers on the way home a man sprays pesticides on the plants without a mask

The special roast “Cosmos Coffee” at the Museum is 80% Robusta and 20% Arabica. At the bar you can order from a large menu of 8 roasts and 6 kinds of preparing. The espresso was too strong, but the cappucino was delicious and the young barista makes the best hearts and swirls into the milky froth. You can stand at the tall tables or sit down on the benches and relax with a Florentine biscuit.

City trip: Augsburg 2

We boarded the bus early on a very hot, sunny day and headed off towards Augsburg, about an hour to the west of Munich. This time we didn’t plan to see the sights in the downtown area, but lesser known spots on the edge of town. Our first stop was the Bismarck Tower. You drive through a residential area to the cemetary and walk up a wooded path to the top of the hill Steppacher Berg. Many of these towers were built in honor of the First Reichschancellor after 1868, even on other continents. You walk up the winding stairs to the top and have a wonderful view of the city and surroundings.

Bismarckturm

Our next stop was the large tree avenue Wellenburger Allee in the south of Augsburg. It is about 2 km long, shady, with a nice path for cycling and walking on the side. At the end our treat was waiting: the Schlossgaststätte Wellenburg. The food is German-Austrian, some days there is live music. We enjoyed our drinks immensely.

After a good long rest with Eiskaffee or beer, we boarded the bus again to drive to the canoe regatta area of the 1972 Olympic Games, the rowing area is in Oberschleißheim to the north of Munich. It was built at the Eiskanal near the river Lech and (of course) is used to this day and highly appreciated by canoe lovers. It is fun watching them practise turning over and sprinting through the bends.

the front end of the Eiskanal

Our last stop was the Wasserwerk of Augsburg, a water treatment plant. Augsburger are extremely proud of their pure water, which they claim is the best all around. At the drinking fountains you can fill up your bottles with wonderfully cold water.

After some strong espresso and ice cream at the See Lounge plus a short dip in the river we drove home.

City events: Nymphenburg and Kocherlball, Munich

This week I went to a wonderful concert in the Johannissaal in the Nymphenburger Schloss (castle). It was one of a series of “Liedkunst – Kunstlied” (The art of singing) featuring Angelika Huber (soprano) and Stephan Lin (tenorio), accompanied on the piano by Tung-Hsing Tsai. The room with very high ceilings has room for about 100 listeners, the adjoining concert room Hubertussaal is much larger, for about 220 people. Both grand rooms belong to the oldest part of the castle, the “Brunnturm” from the 18th century, which even today houses one of the oldest mechanical fountain pumps for the large central fountain outside. It was also the home of the elector’s well-servant (kurfürstlicher Brunnknecht) who checked the pump regularly. Both rooms can be booked for events, many good concerts are given on a regular basis.

The castle itself is worth visiting, there are guided tours for visitors. In another wing of the castle you will find the entrance to a great museum “Mensch und Natur”, all about evolution, dinosaurs and animals, birds and human beings all around the world. Entrance is 3,50 for adults, you can book a birthday party or special group tours for kids with specialized Museumspädagogen (educational personnel). There is a fun shop at the entrance with minerals, books, mugs. etc. Downstairs is a large room for school classes with lock-up boxes for their bags and jackets.

If you don’t feel like being indoors, the expansive park behind the castle is great for a nice brisk walk along the canals. In the fall there are the golden leaves, in the winter you may go skating on the canals (safety depth permitting). Some smaller pavilions are tucked into the corners of the park. The Palmengarten Café is not far off.

Around the corner you can enter the Botanical Garden with its lovely café and terrace. Try to be there in February/ March for the butterfly show!

On Sunday July 21, if you are an early bird, you can try out the “Kocherlball” (Cook’s Ball) in the Englischer Garten at 6.00 in the morning. This is a tradition going back to the 19th century when the cooks, gardeners and maids had to get back to the mansion when the rich masters arrived from morning mass. So they organized their ball plein air very early around the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) in the English Garden. Naturally, you will want to wear your best Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses to fit in while whirling around. And if you don’t know how to dance, the Hofbräuhaus organizes free dance lessons to learn all the important local dances. Join the 10,000 others having a ball!

City trip: Füssen, Allgäu – near Neuschwanstein

We took the regional train, a two-hour ride from Munich, on a fine morning to Füssen. Passing the ticket window for tickets to Neuschwanstein, it is only a 4 minute walk to the center. Our group met in front of the Tourist Info Point at the Kaiser-Maximilian Platz. In front of the Info Point there are seven steles or columns with a loose basalt stone on top that dances in circles when the water is turned on. From there we walked to the old part of the town center. There are many lovely little colorful shops. Unfortunately, city planners have evidently not found any solution to keep the loud rumbling through traffic out of the center of town.

Our first stop with the guide was at the town wall built of river gravel from the Lech and wooden beams, of which several parts are still standing. Then we proceeded to the city church St. Mang (Magnus) who slew a dragon (= the evil) as shown on all images and frescoes. St. Mang ostensibly came from Kempten together with St. Gallus. It is legend that his corpse was found in a perfect state of preservation. In Rosshaupten they still have many traditions with horses, where he passed through.

The church is painted white on the inside, with many lovely frescoes and niches depicting saints and Biblical scenes. It was built by Johann Jakob Herkomer after he had been to Rome and Venice in 1717. The stucco was was done by Dominik Zimmermann and the altar by Josef Obermüller where you can see twin portraits on either side of bishops.

In the center you will walk past many enticing shops with beer, wine, clothes, ice cream, bakery goods, market halls, everything. Check out the wheat and baker’s fountain with the bronze flour sacks to sit on.

The name Füssen probably does not originate from Füße (feet) but from fons (lat: fountain) or fauces (lat: gorge). The fountain shown below is the symbol of Füssen. The tourists staying overnight are about 1.3 million whereas the city’s population is about 13 000.

The Sebastiankirche ( St Sebastian’s church) was originally a plague church and built close to the town wall with the Old Cemetary on one side, where you can read interesting epitaphs.

The Holy-Ghost-Hospital Church was built in the 15th century in Gothic style, but burned down in the 18th c. It was later rebuilt in the Rococo style with colorful frescoes of the Holy Trinity. The tripartite window was an idea of J.J. Herkomer and his assistant Zimmermann. The frescoes on the inside show the seven Christian sacraments, in the four corners of the ceiling yoou can find the four (in those days) continents: Africa, Asia, America and Europe. You will also see the seven virtues such as Wisdom and Piety. Holy St. Catherine is the patron saint of the rafters.

Johann Jakob Herkomer was a master artisan of marble, especially the red kind. Marble is basically limestone, which was a long chapter of the town’s history, as can be seen in the old limestone factory with the gigantic smokestack amid all the cultural ‘pearls’. In 1861 the factory produced hemp and rope and twine, now called “Mechanische Seilerwarenfabrik Füssen” using the water power of the river Lech.

Within the Benedictine monastery there are beautiful library / refectory rooms, many lovely statues, a tower with a view and many great exhibits of building lutes and violins. Only the oldest son was permitted to become a lutist.

Our last stop was the castle with its painting galleries and tower with many steps. Take time to stop in the courtyard to look at the painted windows and turrets. If you need a refreshment, there are several great ice cream parlors with gelato e caffè!

Special exhibit : Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe

We met in the somewhat cooler morning to see the special exhibit on Caravaggio in the Alte Pinakothek on Munich’s Museum Mile in Schwabing. The admission fee is at €12 with no reductions, but the works assembled are definitely worth it.

Caravaggio’s real name is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the place his parents were from. Living from 1571 – 1610 in Italy, he is one of the greatest masters of painting light and shadow. Quite often the source of light is a candle or lantern, covered by an arm or shoulder, and giving all the faces around a beautiful golden glow and intensifying facial expressions.

Below is a video detail of Christ’s entombment / Christi Grablegung. This large painting is only given out on loan for a maximum of four weeks. Caravaggio also excelled in painting the muscles of the human body, the difficulties of carrying the heavy corpse to the tomb, the pale tones of the dead, the soft hues of the robes and linen cloths.

The map is one of Rome in the 17th century, the place all aspiring young men wanted to go to. There they could meet and greet other artists and copy their works – a copy was considered an honor in those days, although of course the ensuing work would have its own details, such as in St Peter’s crucifixion where St. Peter lifts his head before hanging upside down, one worker crawling under the cross to lift it on his back, the end of the beam hidden in folds of cloth unlike the original.

Many paintings shown here are by contemporary artists such as Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, Dirck van Barburen, Jusepe de Ribera, Valentin de Boulogne and more.

Below are paintings of Jesus wearing his crown of thorns and the two men who are pushing the crown on with poles and gloves as if this was a regular job.

Above you can see Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple of merchants and money-lenders. Notice the grouping of the bad people to the left and Jesus’ heroic figure on the steps on the right.

Below you see a young lady or a gypsy with a young man, allegedly telling his fortune. Instead she is stroking his hand, a pleasant sensation, which will finally give her his ring off his finger.

The last paintings depict two young boys playing a flute. The right one is carefree with a recorder and loose-fitting clothes. The left one is seen from the back, anonymous, playing a transverse flute in the uniform of a soldier. These two paintings show a sharp contrast between the two situations, which is why the soldier boy is turned away. The flute player loved joyous music before, now he must play marches.

The Caravaggio exhibition really makes you look very much closer at all the details!