Jun 2, 2009

munich

[catching up #1] an assortment of thoughts:

  1. there's quite a lot of art in munich (i cherrypicked and went to the glyptothek, the moderne*, and the brandhorst).
  2. the munich subway train stations have no faregates, only a ticket validator. this is quite nice and for sure reduces cost of enforcement. but such a fare system (essentially self-checking) only works when a few conditions coexist. rule-abiding, non-freeriding users are probably critical, but the incentive structures built into fares is also important. in munich, a single trip in the two central zones runs about EUR2; a 7 day unlimited pass for the same zones is EUR11.50; the fine for not having a valid ticket is EUR40. clearly, the only intelligent decision is to buy the long-term unlimited pass. this encourages high-volume usage and reduces the need for enforcement. the same thing, by the way, happens in zurich (on which more anon). if only we knew which were necessary and which were sufficient.
  3. shops close early. you can't buy a band-aid after 8, but you can be drinking beer and eating sausages til well past midnight. on balance, this is a good thing.
  4. and what beer and what sausages. holy crap. special mention: thanks to patrick, we made an excursion to the stunningly touristy andechser pub in the old city and had some draft andechser doppelbock. dark in the glass, crisp, surprisingly clean-tasting, very aromatic with citrus and malt.
  5. also, the grocery stores sell beer for less than the price of bottled water, less, in fact, than the price of PBR in cambridge, mass. this was a cause of joy in munich and now, as i write this in cambridge, a source of crushing despair. i thought of buying water for the grilling excursion, but the thought perished rapidly.
  6. the isar river runs through munich and is remarkably clean and cold. near thalkirchen, there is a gravel bank where enormous crowds gather to grill on myriad disposable grilling devices and drink beers cooled by immersion in the river. our grilling was almost thwarted by defective matches and failure to completely read the detailed instructions on the grilling device. competence prevailed, and we eventually succeeded in attaining perfectly caramelised bratwurst, herbed pork loin, and white asparagus (you know it is spargel-season when asparagus costs EUR4.60 for a half-kilogram and EUR5 for one kilogram), accompanied by copious quantities of toasted rye bread, cheese, and summer beverages of choice, which are
  7. either a radler (wheat beer or lager mixed with lemonade or lemon soda) or an apple-soda (exactly what you'd expect). both are quite civilized, much like
  8. quark. why have i never before encountered this remarkable dairy product? it is so versatile, delicate-tasting, and available in germany in a panoply of baked goods
  9. which include breads! you can buy them by weight, they are baked fresh every day, and they are strong, brown, and full of spices. the pretzels (or brez'n) are chewy, glossy, flecked with salt and, if you're lucky, still warm.
* what is a pinakothek? it is a mystery.

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