Art, Aussies & Culture in Munich

Sunday meant a visit to an art gallery for the tantalising price of just €1. We chose the Neue Pinakothek because it’s home to the third version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

It’s also home to rooms and rooms of German realism and expressionism which variously featured trolls terrorising virgins, masochistic autopsies of young women, the worst imaginable scenes from the Old Testament, butchered Christ’s and the odd bleak and brooding landscape. Good old Ludwig I had commissioned several life-sized paintings of himself and together with other pompous-looking portraits of Bavarian aristocracy they did at least lighten the mood!

View of Arles, 1889

In a room toward the end of the collection on a side wall without ceremony hangs Sunflowers. For a few precious minutes we had the painting entirely to ourselves and were both quiet in front of it. It’s a surprisingly large painting and was hung with two others painted by Van Gogh in the last two years of his life. Their beautiful colours, vibrancy and life-affirming spirit were a tonic after the earlier gruesome galleries.

We watched the three paintings’ magic effect on sulky (and presumably by now traumatised children) who stood mesmerised by the colours, and their parents who were excitedly telling them about the artist. If only the rest of the collection could have been so joyous!

Sunflowers, 1888

The afternoon brought the first hint of ‘frühling’ and clearing skies invited the steep climb up to the top of St Peter’s tower.  The views across the city were spectacular and showed off the grand and regal avenues and squares. The domes of the many churches and the ornate weathervanes and gilded figures topping the turrets of the civic buildings shone in the weak sunshine.

The newspapers declared ‘Endlich! Endlich! Endlich!’ for the cold spell on Wednesday and it looked like they may be right!

306 steep steps to a perfect view

Another Sunday must-do was a turn around the Englischer Garten, the largest park in a city in Europe. Initially bustling with joggers, skaters and promenading couples and families it rapidly turned cold so it was no surprise to see that even the famed Chinese Tower, the oldest beer garden in Munich, was empty of drinkers.

The Chinesischer Turm

Monday morning found us in the historic Café Trombosi admiring the antique décor and lavish breakfasts being served as they have done to the Munich glitterati for more than 200 years. It also offers free Wi-fi which has been surprisingly rare to find so far. Despite superfast broadband speeds accessing Wi-fi is nigh on impossible without contracting to a supplier! Time at last to update the blog!

That night the Allianz arena glowed blue for the second of its home teams, 1860 Munich. They had played and drawn their game that afternoon. Meanwhile four more vans had joined us. Our new neighbours, Aussie Peter and Kiwi Deb, invited us to spend an evening in their ‘van swapping trip tales and putting the world to rights – well, Peter did anyway.

We said goodnight long after the Arena had turned off its lights. It was after 3am when we stumbled the three yards back to Bertha, hollering fond farewells to each other, the words echoing around the deserted car park…

At the Allianz Arena after 1860 München match