An Afternoon of Opera, Cathedrals & Bratwurst

More adventures in Munich…

I had an audition in Munich today, so I hopped across the border to Germany with another Bayern-Ticket.

My audition was right in the heart of Munich’s Old Town, not far from the famous Frauenkirche (Dom zu unserer lieben Frau, “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady”). So when I finished singing, I decided to stop by the church for a visit.  The Gothic brick facade and the Byzantine domed towers are just so inviting!

I’m a big fan of European cathedrals, so I spent an hour wandering up and down the expansive nave, peaking into candlelit chapels, and admiring medieval artwork.  A beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

As I was leaving, I was amused to learn that the Frauenkirche now has its own iPhone app! For €3.99, it gives you all kinds of details about the art inside the cathedral; in fact, iTunes offers this “artguide” for several important German churches.  I was tempted to download it, but I had a train to catch.

When I finally arrived back at the Hauptbahnhof, I realized that I had forgotten to eat lunch. Sometimes, after singing German opera, I crave protein. (As opposed to after singing Italian opera, when I find myself ordering gnocchi.) Instead of sitting down at a restaurant, I stopped at a German sausage stand. After all, Munich is known for its excellent bratwurst.

In general, the sausage is served along with a Kaiser roll and a blob of spicy mustard on a tiny paper plate.  But this time, it came without the plate.  My bratwurst was perched on a thin paper napkin.

Balancing a sausage on a napkin can be a little awkward, especially if you are wearing something nice … like an audition outfit. I know that we live in a world where billionaires wear jeans to work. But in opera, even starving artists try to dress beautifully. We represent an elegant art form where taste and style are part of the job description. So spilling mustard on your dress is really frowned upon!

Fortunately,  I avoided catastrophe with nothing more serious than a few crumbs of Kaiser roll on the sleeve of my coat;  I tried to brush them off with dignity. And I still managed to catch my train.  So it was a good day, after all. Tschüß!

the Frozen Glockenspiel

an Austro-Bavarian tale of food, friends and figurines

Today, I caught up with my friend Mirva Lempiäinen, a very talented globe-trotting journalist. We met up for lunch in Munich, Germany.

As we pushed open the heavy door to the Augustinerbräu, we inhaled the unmistakable aroma of malted wheat. There were lanterns beneath the vaulted ceilings and deer antlers on the white-washed walls.  It’s a very traditional Bavarian beer hall, and the food is delicious, even if you don’t plan to imbibe.  Mirva and I sat down on a long wooden bench and munched on doughy pretzels; we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, so we traded our latest travel stories from Bucharest and Zürich, Havana and Kathmandu.

After lunch, I attempted to show Mirva the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel.   We jogged towards Marienplatz to catch a glimpse of the clockwork statues doing the “Dance of the Coopers.” Unfortunately, I completely forgot that the Glockenspiel only comes to life at 11 AM and 12 PM.  So when we finally emerged from within a throng of German tourists at 1:04 PM, we saw… nothing much.  There were no chimes and the life-size figurines were frozen in time. But this is what it should have looked and sounded like:

 

The Glockenspiel is neither an amazing feat of technology nor the very height of culture, but – come on – it’s cute!

My whole trip to Munich was made possible by a wonderful little invention called the “Bayern-Ticket,” which enables me to travel anywhere in Bavaria (and certain parts of Austria) for just € 21.  It is valid on the train and it even allows me to use the public transportation in Munich while I’m there.  This is smart marketing because it encourages day trips!

In the evening, when I got back to my flat in Salzburg, I found a house-full of people there! I got to spend time with some good friends I hadn’t seen in years, and we chatted about opera while eating Gugelhupf by candlelight. I have to admit: it’s a wonderful life.