Munich with a map


Widenmayerstraße to Literaturhaus [On foot]

Unable to find a book shop after an hour of walking through the city centre, I decided to visit Literaturhaus, site of the famous Oskar Maria cafe.

On my way I stumbled upon a curious Michael Jackson memorial. In a tiny park opposite the Bayerischer Hof hotel, beneath the statue of sixteenth century musician Orlando di Lasso, lies a host of MJ memorabilia placed or hung on all four sides. This, I learned later, emerged soon after the pop star’s death in 2009, when local authorities refused to build an official memorial. Three and a half years on the shrine looked fresh and alive, while the host, Orlando di Lasso, stood high above all this, ignored and forgotten.


The Oskar Maria brasserie is named after the 20th century Munich writer Oscar Maria Graf. I had not heard of him. At the cafe I took a seat beside the window and looked around. Split in two levels, the arched interiors looked large and elegant and hollow. I waited for someone to come and take my order.

Let me offer you some advice, dear reader: avoid famous cafes like plague. The waiters there are, to put it mildly, indifferent, robot-like, and sad-faced. The food may be good, the ambience charming, and the crowd enthusiastic, but if you are sensitive, like I am, to the manners of waiters, such places will on most occasions disappoint. Instead, choose that bakery in the corner or a Konditorei on a side-street, where a plump rose-cheeked mädchen will treat you like the prince of Denmark.


The redeeming feature at Oskar Maria was a quote on the silverware, which revealed itself as I sliced through my apfelküchen:

Es muss doch jetzt bald wahr sein, dass ich berühmt bin.

It surely will soon be true that I am famous.

Autographs, anyone?

12 thoughts on “Munich with a map

  1. I was a bit taken aback by the description of the U-Bahn on the first page (to some extent) but the description on the last page resembled the picture I hold in my mind of München 🙂 Your post echoed my observations of Munich !! You are quite right that it is tough to find changes there but one change I found was along the Isar near the Reichenbachbrücke. They were making some real changes there. But that was when I went there last time to see a match between Köln-Mün 🙂

  2. What a brilliant piece of writing. I love your style: familiar, verging on the informal, and ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek. I haven’t been to München, and that is perhaps why I was surprised by your description of the U-Bahnhof there. I have often availed the U-Bahn at Berlin, and though the ambiance really depends on the time of the day and the station, I have often found it slightly disconcerting. The Deutsche Oper Bahnhof, for example, on a Sunday afternoon is desolate, and fittingly points out that the U-Bahn after all is the underground, lying beneath the city, and reminiscent of the ‘underbelly’. At times and at certain places, I found the U-Bahn experience ziemlich unheimlich!

  3. An absolutely wonderful essay. I was in Munich in 1976, and probably wouldn’t recognize it now, so I loved seeing your photographs (each one better than the last!) and reading this description. Yesterday I sang di Lasso’s “Miserere mei,” which would have fit quite well with that Michael Jackson memorial…what a strange interconnected world we live in! (p.s. I will send you a piece about a Chardin exhibit in New York, written some years ago, but I think you’ll like it.)

  4. “I carry an obsession for trains that borders on the homoerotic.” If you are (or Colours is) afraid that you are alone in this category, fret not. Surely you have seen us before!

  5. What a lovely ending. I earnestly believe that many an essay can salvage itself with a perfect ending. Not that your essay needed that. But still it makes it all the more delicious.

  6. Parmanu: Beautiful pictures. I particularly like the b/w ones. The absolute stillness of the people in the cafe intrigues me (just like the pic with the lock, you posted a few years back)…

  7. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  8. Parmanu:

    We will be in Frankfurt Hbf for an hour in late November enroute to Berlin from Paris (finally getting our feet wet in Europe after dreaming about it for over two decades). If you could, it would be fun to meet up 🙂

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