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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-12-20 11:13:49

Munich

Germany

CALLING

ey call it the city of laptops and lederhosen but, as Norah Casey
discovered, Munich is home to beautiful architecture, river surfers,

fantastic beer gardens and the elusive state of gemuetlichkeit.

102 IRISH TATLER

LIVING

I landed in Munich Sunday lunchtime. By Monday of Bavarian Duke Wilhelm V in 1568, who was

night I had visited one of the world’s saddest responsible for building the city’s first brewery. It’s

places, honed business pitches with young global a magical little performance of 32 life-sized figures

entrepreneurs, sampled the best of the city’s jousting and bowing high up on the 260-foot

breweries, caught the daily Glockenspiel barrel tower with some 43 bells. The lower part features

dancers, lost an hour mesmerised by river surfers, the famous Schäfflerstanz, the barrel

visited the world’s biggest pub, stumbled upon maker’s dance. A small golden bird The glockenspeil show
chirps from the top of the glockenspiel
sunbathing nudists and sipped Champagne at the

city’s coolest private members’ club. It’s some city. to signal the end of the 15-minute

I’ve left out the best bit, but I will share it at the end. show which starts daily at 11am, with

I never expected to like Munich. If a city could extra summertime shows at midday

be a person, then to my mind, Munich was an and 5pm.

oversized, beer-swilling, car-loving man decked out

in lederhosen; strong on traditional values and a bit THE ENGLISH GARDEN
Weird and wonderful, the Englischer
lacking in a sense of humour. I couldn’t have been Garten is one of the largest city parks
in the world, and a must do even if you
more wrong. The city’s motto is ‘München mag are only in the city for a short visit.
Despite being miles from the ocean,
dich’, which means: Munich loves you. In less than this enormous park is a surfing destination. At the
southern end of the park the man-made Eisbach
two days, the feeling was mutual. river has developed a surfer’s wave which attracts
lots of locals on summer days. Not only is it a
Müncheners use a Bavarian word, gemuetlichkeit, beautiful, sprawling green space to relax and chill
out in, it has creeks, lakes, several beer gardens, a
which roughly translates as ‘a feeling of cosiness and Japanese teahouse and a colony of nudists.

good humour’. It’s the state of bliss you feel on a

sunny afternoon, sipping beer surrounded by people

sharing the same state of contentment. When it was

explained to me I recognised that feeling. All too

rare in life, but something special when it happens.

I experienced gemuetlichkeit on a sunny Monday

morning wandering aimlessly through the Altstadt

(old city). I sat, along with a group of lunchtime THE NATIONAL River surfers riding the waves
PASTIME
workers, on rocks in a circle around the cooling

fountain overlooked by the Palace of Justice. A You can’t visit Munich

small group of older street performers were giving and not try the national

it all, children were dodging in and out of the spurts drink. There are

of water shrieking and laughing, and I was eating breweries, beer gardens

the best buttered pretzel in the world. It was a little and beer halls galore

moment of magic. Gemuetlichkeit. (even the airport has

The home of Mozart, Wagner, Mahler and Strauss its own brewery called

is a city of contrasts. The scars of history are evident Airbräu). There are,

in the new builds nestling close to the grandeur however, the ‘big six’, the

of the baroque, rococo and gothic facades in the oldest Munich breweries:

old town. Despite heavy bombardment by Allied Augustiner, Hacker- The English
Gardens
Forces during World War II, many historic buildings Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner,

were spared and others rebuilt. So, today’s Munich Spaten-Franziskaner.

is much like it was back in the 1800s including I don’t drink beer but when in Munich

the famous Neues Rathaus, the city hall. Unlike and all that. When we went to dinner at

other fast-moving cities, Munich Augustiner Bräustuben, one of the oldest

Stachus fountain is low-rise. By law, no building breweries in Munich, the waiter laughed
is permitted to rise higher than
heartily at my suggestion that I might try

the 500-year-old Frauenkirche a gin and tonic. When he was finished

(Cathedral Church of Our Lady), wiping his eyes and letting the surrounding tables

which is the official landmark of know what I had asked for (in German!), I pointed

the city. at one of the tall glasses of frothy, golden beers at

the next table. He nodded and said, ‘Augustiner

THE DAILY SHOW Edelstoff? Good choice’. It was. Over 670 years
I just about made it to the
Marienplatz (the town square) ago the monks began brewing at the Augustinian
for the midday daily jousting
and dancing barrel makers’ performances at the monastery and it has survived many incarnations
Rathaus-Glockenspiel, Munich’s famous mechanical
clock. The upper part of the glockenspiel re-enacts and two world wars. Made strictly according to
the city’s most famous and lavish wedding, that
the 1516 Reinheitsgebot purity laws, Bavarian beer

must only be made from malted barley, hops and

water (yeast has since been added) with no added

chemicals or preservatives. Adhering to nature’s

IRISH TATLER 103

Dachau

Making an emotional, and important, pilgrimage.

Dachau had a profound effect on me. We that this place has witnessed. I found minutes later they were suffocated to
death through prussic acid poison gas
went on our own late in the afternoon myself touching the bars on the windows, (Zyklon B). A photograph shows bodies
piled high in the very place I now stood
when the tours and crowds had abated the old light switches, the deep doorway alone with the incessant rain battering the
roof. I was transfixed at the spot where
and stayed far longer than we expected. of the interrogation room designed to the gas was pumped into the spartan
concrete room. The fake shower spouts
The rain and wind lashed down on us as mute the sounds of the screams. Ghosts clearly visible while the lethal gas holes
less so. The solitude of the late afternoon
we walked through the gates emblazoned lingered in that place, pure evil mixed allowed far too vivid a picture of the terror
of those people crowded together, the
with the words Arbeit Macht Frei which with unimaginable human suffering. I realisation of their impending death as
the doors were bolted shut and the gas
translates as ‘work sets shed tears on and released. I took photographs, because
that is what travel writers do, but I almost
you free’. The phrase Nothing off throughout the felt I had sullied the memory of those souls
was also posted at the afternoon but by the by doing so.
entrance of Auschwitz. end tears seem such
In the summer of 1940 the crematorium
Tens of thousands beforehand can an empty response to was built to cater for the influx of new
of people died at the scale of depravity prisoners. Some 11,000 people were
cremated between then and April 1943.
Dachau, the first Nazi prepare you for and suffering that took
concentration camp, place at Dachau. We returned to Munich by bus, train
and tram. Silent and reflective. It was
which opened in 1933 We went to the a powerful and emotionally draining
afternoon. It was one of the most
at a former guns and standing in a cramped barrack room important experiences of my life and we
munitions factory. It’s where prisoners slept debated on into the night the capacity
for evil that inflicted such horrors on
about 16 kilometres room where so top-to-toe. There was fellow humans. I don’t think I need to visit
north west of Munich. barely room to move another concentration camp. Once is
enough.
The grey clouds in the bunks. As you
settled low above us NOTE:
as we walked along many people lost walk the now-empty There are lots of organised tours
rooms, a glance at the and guides that will take you
to Dachau. We chose to go on
the barbed wire fence their lives pictures on the walls our own. It’s free to enter and
and crossed the roll transport you back the exhibits and signposting
are informative and graphic.
call ground where to what these walls The trams, trains and buses and
punctual and relatively easy to
prisoners were forced witnessed: humiliation navigate.

to stand motionless for an hour, mornings and abuse suffered by the inmates.

and evenings. So many sick and exhausted We went to the crematorium and the

prisoners lost their lives on that ground. gas chamber last. Nothing beforehand PHOTOGRAPHS BY NORAH CASEY USING CANON POWERSHOT
SX710HS; CANON POWERSHOT SX60HS; CANON EOS100D
Their fellow prisoners were not allowed can prepare you for standing in a room

to help them or even acknowledge their where so many people lost their lives.

deaths. The sign on the wall tells me that the four

The bunker camp prison was the centre furnaces could cremate two to three

of terror where prisoners were imprisoned corpses at a time. Right in front of the

alone in the dark for weeks, only being fed burning ovens was the execution site

every five days or so. They were tortured where most hangings were carried out so

and beaten by the SS guards, subjected the bodies could be directly transferred

to ‘pole-hanging’ in the courtyard and to the incinerator. The ovens, preserved

unknown numbers were murdered or in the incinerator where the bodies were

took their own lives. The Gestapo isolated burned, need no embellishment. They

political prisoners for months, even years. stand stark and solid in the silence, aged

We got lost in the gloomy corridor of with use. The work they have seen doesn’t

cells, peering through the peepholes bear thinking about.

at the tiny, cramped spaces where the The gas chamber is home to mass

‘special prisoners’ were kept. I could see murder where up to 150 people at a time

marks etched on the walls in the dimly lit were duped into believing they were

spaces and imagined the human suffering entering a shower room. Less than 20

104 IRISH TATLER

LIVING

Hofbroihaus Anadologlu, is listed as one of the world’s top
100 cocktail bars and has won many accolades
core ingredients apparently significantly reduces including Best European Bar and Most Innovative
the chance of a hangover. We clinked glasses and Bar. The heart of HEARTHOUSE is the kitchen
chorused “prost” on more than a few occasions, where chef Florian Gürster, of Hakkasan and Nobu
believing in that promise! We dined on traditional fame, serves up eastern-inspired delights. The food
Bavarian dishes; meatballs, schnitzel pork knuckle, is great, the cocktails are amazing and the service
bratwurst and boiled beef. The food was good. The is impeccable. This is an arty, classy place to meet,
hangover was epic. Don’t believe a word of it about eat and do business in Munich and if you visit the
the purity of the beer. braeustuben.de/en city, do everything you can to visit. It’s breathtaking.
thehearthouse.me
THE WORLD’S BIGGEST PUB
There are many reasons to visit Hofbräuhaus, the OKTOBERFEST
buzzy, boisterous 5,000 capacity beerhaus near
Marienplatz was frequented by Lenin, Mozart and Think Munich, think
Hitler back in the day. Locals keep their personal
beer glasses in special chambers in a safe, passed Oktoberfest, but the
down through the generations. It was opened in
1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V, as the city has so much more
official Royal Brewer, although it is hard to get a
sense of the historical significance of this behemoth to offer. Imagine you
of a pub. The three-story hall was packed the
Sunday we were there with a jovial crowd swinging only visited Dublin on
and swilling from steins of frothy beer to the
cheery oompah Bavarian band. There are 24 other St Patrick’s Day and
Hofbräuhaus franchises in the world, including
ones in Bangkok, Dubai, Stockholm and a full-scale thereafter, that was
replica in Las Vegas.
your impression of the
COOLEST CLUB IN TOWN
From the old to the new. My final city. For those of you
night in Munich was a speaking
engagement at the city’s first and who are still keen to go,
coolest private members’ club which
opened last year. The HEARTHOUSE then you can join over
is an extraordinary mix of avant-
garde, techno wizardry with beautiful seven million tourists HEARTHOUSE
light-filled rooms and is home to two who flock to Munich
restaurants, two bars, a night club
and a variety of meeting spaces. It’s pretty special. between 16 September Making connections!
The award-winning interior features coloured
stone bars, mirrored surfaces and screenarounds and 3 October, consuming their collective
(featuring a live feed from Cannes the night I
visited). The Japanese-inspired bar, Circle by Cihan body weight in beer. Prices skyrocket during

Oktoberfest but it doesn’t deter the revellers

who arrive from early morning to get a seat

in one of the 34 coveted brewery tents. Even

going to the toilet (over a thousand extra are

erected for the event) risks losing that seat, so

it takes some stamina and bodily discomfort

to get through the all-day beer drinking.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Munich has many Christkindl Märkte and a
special Christmas tram, Christkindltram, that runs
through the city centre during Advent. The biggest
and best known is Tollwood, but the whole city
has a Christmassy feel with lots of places selling
Christmas biscuits (Lebkuchen) and the traditional
spicy red Glühwein. Marienplatz, the main town
square, is the place to go if you want to do some
Christmas shopping along with a Christmas market.
Woodcarvers’ stands are a short walk away at
Sendlinger, while the artisan market at Schwabing,
Münchner Freiheit, is worth a detour. There is
nothing more magical than Englischer Garten in the
snow and the pretty Christmas market, Chinesischer
Turm.

AND THE REST
My packed two days didn’t allow for all that
Munich has to offer so I asked my new-found
Münchener friends what they would recommend.
It holds no attraction for me but football fans head
to the home of Germany’s most successful and

IRISH TATLER 105

LIVING

most famous football club FC Bayern München Residenz
at the Allianz Arena. Also on the tourist list is
the Olympiapark which was the site of the 1972
Olympic Games and serves now as a venue for
rock concerts, festivals and cultural events. It was
formerly Bayern Munich’s home stadium prior to
the Allianz Arena being completed in 2005.

Munich has over 45 museums but top of the list
is the Deutsches Museum, a great interactive science
museum that attracts a million visitors annually.
Other worthy stops include the Nationaltheater,
home to the acclaimed Bavarian State Opera; next
door to it the contemporary Munich Residenz,
particularly the Hercules Hall which is home to the
Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestra. A visit to the
Odeonsplatz is also worthwhile especially if you
can catch one of the summer open-air orchestral
concerts. If you love cars then Munich is the place
to be as it is home to one of the world’s most iconic
brands, BMW, which even has its own museum.

THE BEST BIT ABOUT MUNICH

I was excited to be finally getting to visit and speak my life. I buried all of those years so deep that I

at Globe Business College (Globe-college.com), hardly remembered someone who was so important

founded and run by an amazing Irish woman Dr to me then. An inseparable friend. I mentioned

Susan Walsh. Globe is an Irish-German College her on The Late Late... and later on Ray D’Arcy’s

which has a unique ethos and a particular focus radio programme. A friend from Northern Ireland,

on the children of business owners. It’s a vibrant Francine, who trained as a midwife in Scotland

learning environment which caps the student intake when I was specialising in burns nursing. We

at just 120. The ethos and inspiration come from came to London together. We were best friends

Susan and are evident in the innovative throughout my early 20s, mad young Irish girls

BMW Museum approach to creating future leaders. careering around London getting into trouble and
Fresh from the new Jackie Chan
acting like maggots. Francine has been on my mind

movie, renowned actor David Pearse, a lot during those weeks after The Late Late...

of Vikings, Grabbers and The Guard I hadn’t seen her for 25 years or more. I was a

fame, was on hand to help our budding little late arriving for my speech to the business

entrepreneurs deliver the perfect pitch. group in Munich and a little flustered. A woman

Irish-based expert on diversity, David approached me. I didn’t recognise her

Walsh delivered powerful nuggets on at first until she said something that

emotional engagement. took me back to those days. Francine.

More than a blast from the past. A

SERENDIPITY gift. Circumstance, serendipity, fate? I
Only two weeks before, I had talked to Ryan
Tubridy on The Late Late Show about domestic don’t even know if I believe in any of
violence. Talking about the abuse I suffered at the
hands of my first husband was incredibly difficult, those things but here in front of me
much harder than I thought. It brought me right
back there, to those moments and to that time in was a woman who had been my best

friend and she had just walked back

into my life a couple of weeks after

I had talked about her on national

television. We lost touch because that’s

Munich Town Hall what happens in abusive relationships. The angel of peace
Francine and I caught up as much as

we could that evening, she now lives

in Munich and she had heard that I was coming to

speak. She stayed on for dinner and she met my son,

Dara. I have yet to meet her two sons. Hopefully I

will soon, as she is coming to Dublin for a proper

catch-up.

Munich: you have me on the hook, in more ways

than one.

106 IRISH TATLER


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