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Munich, Shopping for Trachten Clothes

February 15, 2004


Dear Friends and Families,


It had been almost a month since Marianne and I had managed any personal travel. Since my business travel keeps me away most of the week, we'd slipped into a stay-at-home weekend routine. But that's not why we're here so we needed a destination.

Marianne had been looking at traditional clothes (called "trachten" ) from southern Germany. She'd heard that Munich was the place to go, and that's just a couple hours from my weekday home in Erlangen. This meant she left Frankfurt Friday after work, along with thousands of others, and we spent that night at my regular gasthaus, the Hotel Strauss.

Saturday morning, after a 45-minute delay from a malfunctioning parking lot machine, we left town and jumped on the autobahn, expecting a quick trip south on the A5. Unfortunately, this was the peak weekend for Alpine skiing and the A5 is a main autobahn to the central German and Austrian Alps. As we approached Munich, traffic slowed to a crawl and all we could see for miles ahead of us were cars with ski boxes on top. We inched along for an hour before we found our exit. I can imagine the ski enthusiasts still had several hours left of bumper to bumper traffic!

Through good navigating (Marianne's) and good luck, we followed city streets down to Hotel Uhland, where we'd stayed once or twice before. (If we ever make it to Oktoberfest, this is a great place to stay. It's a short stumble from the main celebration grounds.) We dropped off our car and bags and hurried to the subway, into the town center. Hurrying to shop is a German Saturday tradition, or requirement, since store hours are short and no store is open on Sunday.

Downtown was crowded with shoppers and a few folks starting the pre-Lenten Fasching celebration. We wandered into a few department stores and, while here in Bavaria they all stock trachten, nothing looked too special. Then I spotted a good-sized hat store, filled with traditional brimmed caps sporting decorative boar-hair brushes. Since my balding head was getting cold, I just HAD to have one.

From there, we went to Loden Frey, the most famous trachten haberdasher - five floors of traditional clothes for men and women. Down here in Bavaria, these clothes are not just for special occasions but can be seen every day in offices and businesses and Loden Frey has an enormous selection.

Marianne found several coats to her liking, but just one that was in our price range since authentic trachten isn't cheap! Cute dirndl-dress outfits in tourist brochure pictures can run a couple thousand dollars. She passed on those but did get a very nice long coat in the very traditional black with dark green trim. Meanwhile, I had managed to find a wool sport coat, with the traditional lapel-less cut and an almost-traditional plaid pattern.

We returned to the Munch streets looking (almost) local. After all that work shopping, we were hungry so we headed to the Ratskeller restaurant beneath the ornate City Hall. There we enjoyed samples of Bavarian food, although trying to keep "low carb" wasn't easy in this land of beer, bread and potatoes. The large and ornate room was also filled with Valentine's Day decorations, perhaps not so Bavarian but a nice touch for Marianne and me.

Sunday, we decided we needed to accomplish something touristic. From out tourist-trilogy of church-museum-castle, we chose "museum". Munich's Pinakothek Museum has an extensive art collection in three huge buildings. We had seen two of the three so we decided to concentrate on the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, which had been under construction the last time we were here.

I suppose the contemporary art collection is "wonderful", or at least "important", but somehow we glanced at "things" and saturated within minutes. The floor showing famous German industrial design kept our attention a bit longer, but, in the end, we have to say we did not give the Pinakothek the time it deserved. Maybe we've finally reached our limit on European art museums. .... .... Probably not.

We ended our Valentine weekend with a Monday morning drive back to Erlangen, where I started my work week by waving goodbye to Marianne as she returned home to Frankfurt. We DEFINITELY need another trip where there's no rushing back to jobs - especially jobs 200 kilometers apart.


Take care, stay in touch, and try your nearest traditional clothier for something different.


John and Marianne

This was not our most photogenic trip but this Carnival band helped dress up the street.

The center attraction was the Rathaus or City Hall. The imposing front dominated Mxxxx Square and the inner courtyard held a spiral tower. One of the highlights was a visit to the Ratskeller, or City Hall Basement, for Valentine's Day dinner.

At the Pinakothek Contemporary Art Museum, we were drawn to the displays of German-design, whether it was a moving display of not-so-famous furniture or stationary displays of normally (fast) moving German cars and the famous Bavarian Motor Works motorcycle.
Here are are back home, in our most Bavarian of outer wear.


Hotel Uhland Garni: http://www.hotel-uhland.de/enwelcome.html

Pinakothek Museum: http://www.pinakothek.de/pinakothek-der-moderne/englisch/englisch.htm

Loden Frey: http://www.loden-frey.de/de/start.htm

Trachten clothes by mail-order: http://www.1stbavarianonlineshop.com/englisch/index.htm


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