Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good things in Germany

Guten Tag, my little pumpkins, the B and J travel show is in Germany, and there are very many good things to enjoy....

A random list of good things in Germany:
  • Apple cake
  • Mechanical toys
  • Old trucks and vans
  • Buildings with pale pink or yellow facades – with white plaster decorations or fresco’d geometric patterns
  • A clean, quiet, efficient public transport system (oh yes, hallelujah, hooray)
  • An amazing sewing shop - the (Kauf)Haus of Sinne! (you translate that one....)
  • Pubs, particularly grad student places with cheap, good food and a convivial atmosphere
  • Sausages
  • and.... not to be confused.... sausage dogs with wavy tails and friendly faces.
Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Copenhagen. It’s been a very brief 3-day visit to Munich, but a most enjoyable one. We came here specifically, on James’ request, because of the enormous Deutsches Museum, the technical museum for the nation, three halls of which are based in Munich, two halls (museums in their own right) elsewhere.

It’s the biggest conglomeration of technical museu-ology in the world. Munich also happened to be one of the hubs out of which we could pick up our round-the-world flight again (it conformed to all the criteria including obscure rules about airlines and total mileage – dull but important). And so here we are.

Yesterday, we looked around the Deutsches Museum, Munich city branch, which is a bloody huge place, with halls of boats, aircraft, paper-making, printing, ceramics, and even a hall for mechanical toys! We had a lovely day there while the rain chucked itself all over Munich – sight-seeing yesterday would have required a boat (or perhaps a submarine?!)

James got a little overheated in the aircraft hall, while I wandered cheerfully through rooms of ceramic kilns, printing presses, glass furnaces, toys, pottery, models and displays, artefacts and art shows.

It was mainly deserted in places and most relaxing – I borrowed James’ beloved moleskin notebook and sat on the floor, drawing objects that took my eye. What fun!

The exhibits mainly follow a pattern, which includes a bit of didactic history illustrated with objects – so for example you see some pre-Egyptian pottery, and then one or two objects describe the evolution of pottery techniques, through Greek red-figure ware, with panels showing how it was done, to Bavarian urns and beer steins, and models of people working kilns, factories and painting workshops.

They even had a great series of ‘how it’s made’ porcelain figures, with each piece (arm, leg, head, body) encased in its mould, then the pieces being assembled, then the under-fired version, the first painting, and finally....

Voila! ‘Your porcelain shepherdess in an unlikely pose is ready for your purchase, Sir.’

I could have spent many rainy days puzzling over the captions (some in English), and looking at the displays, with many a stop to gaze out the windows over the pepper-pot rooftops of the town, the rain and the river.

The highlight? The toy section. Hundreds of examples of toys, building blocks, meccano, and lego-like construction kits, some activated by solar lamps, some with turn handles, many in their original, faded and battered boxes. The best were the advertisements and posters in the cabinet with the toys.

I loved the design and the irony.....

(would Hans really be handing the toy to Karl in such a polite fashion? I think the real picture would have been more along the lines of; “TONK! Gimme that Karl – WAAA!”

… and the colours and typefaces.

(I hung out in this gallery for quite some time.)

Then last night, we strolled up to the university, which is just a step from our hotel and all around this area (there was a lecture going on in the room directly opposite our hotel, most amusing), and we found an excellent grad-student style pub, relaxed chatter and good food, with a waitress who smiled widely, wracked her brains and wished us a very nice weekend as we left. Very hubsch, and a friendly place.

It’s been great to visit, even if briefly, and I will be sad to leave.

But there's cherry strudel to look forward to next time we return....


No comments: