MUNICH: Scene on the street 2

Time to read:

5 minutes

This is the second half of a post for snaps that didn’t fit anywhere or that I didn’t think to include when they would have fit nicely.

The captain’s on the bridge

The pleasure boat Alte Utting was built in 1949 and sailed for six decades around the Ammersee, a lake about an hour’s drive from Munich. Since 2018, the 120-foot ship has been permanently anchored atop a bridge over a road in southwest Munich.

It has become a bar-event space-food-market. The Alte Utting can accommodate about 400, who can get a drink at several stations, part of an effort to keeps queues short (for Munich).

To get the ship in place, the owners cut the ship in half and transported it by night over closed autobahn. When the 144-ton ship arrived 48 hours later, they reattached the two pieces, added a couple of bars, and invited restaurants serving vegan snacks, fusion baos, crepes and vegetable curry to open stands.

It took 18 months to open. An owner says buying the ship was the cheapest part of getting it to the site.


A meal at the vine and leaf-covered Pfistermühle (Baker’s Mill) restaurant is served in one of four original storage vaults. Long before becoming a restaurant, the 16th Century baking and storage house was part of a duke’s steam-powered mill. The stream that powered it, part of Munich’s original moat, still runs below Sparkassenstraße and has been covered for 30 years.

“Kalte Nacht”

The Asamhof Passage is a restaurant-lined alley filled with umbrella tables and flowers. In the 1980s, a number of sculptures were added. One statue from 1982, “Kalte Nacht” (Cold Night), portrays a homeless man slumped over on the curb.


From the side, the kiosk in the university area at subway stop Müncher Freiheit looks like a green glass cube. It bills itself online as “the only 24-hour kiosk in Munich.” That claim might be true, as the kiosk with the next longest open hours, the kiosk at the Reichenbach Bridge, is open only from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The Reichenbach Bridge kiosk, the oldest in town, offers nearly 2,200 items. That includes fresh pastries, soft drinks, newspapers, beers from all over, bratwurst and schnitzel rolls, and ice cream that can sell out on a sweltering summer day. 

Being able to get almost anything after hours is the essence of a traditional big-city kiosk and particularly important in this part of Germany. Catholic Munich — unlike Berlin or Hamburg — has strict shop-closing laws. Groceries, liquor and most other stores are closed after 8 pm and all day Sunday. 

The downside of a kiosk is that prices are high, but a beer still costs less than at most popular watering holes. Many customers spring for a “Wegbier” (take-away beer), costing maybe a quarter of what they’d pay at a beer garden or bar.

But atmosphere seems to be key. People who go to the kiosk for a beer often run into friends and sit outdoors drinking while they talk. The German radio station Deutsche Welle says that’s not considered in poor taste but rather being “down to earth.” 


In some respects, Munich’s reputation for high tech is laughable. Bavaria is famous for wi-fi’s slow speed and black holes, where mobile phone reception is practically nonexistent. The problem gets blamed on too few mobile phone reception towers.

Even when you consider the empty space on public lands, there’s not enough room to build what’s needed. Munich’s looking for 150-210 new masts.

Succeeding national administrations promised an Internet to help usher the country into the 21st Century, and the constitution now states that every German is entitled to fast Internet. 

“Fast” is 10 Mbps. At home, I live with 200 Mbps for the base cable price. In next-door Switzerland, people get 136 Mbps on their phones via wi-fi and 229 Mbps on a wired connection. 

The national train service is partnering with Deutsche Telekom, the nation’s biggest phone provider, to improve wi-fi in rail cars. Patchy cell phone service on the rails has long been considered one of the weakest areas of the mobile infrastructure.


The commanding building with the window boxes next to the cathedral looks like a city or state building. But it’s Hirmer, which bills itself as the world’s largest men’s shop. It stands on Kaufingerstrasse, the shopping street with with the most foot traffic in the city.

Kaufingerstrasse, where 3.2 million passersby were counted in December, is where I hear people dismissing the shopping as “schickimicki” (fancy-schmancy) — even while they peer into the windows of shop after shop. The street boasts a two-story Lego store now, and electric-car stores have opened in the neighborhood, too.

But a recent survey found that shopping in town was down 10% from pre-pandemic levels, while shopping in the suburbs was up 20%. Experts said shopping changed when people started to work from home three days a week.

You pass new shops now in place of the empty food or clothes storefronts of the pandemic period. But about two-thirds of the time it’s deep-pocketed chains that can afford the rents.


I never saw it in a travel guide, but just off the tourist targets in the downtown pedestrian areas is the Hackenviertel.

There, you can still find the stores that gave Munich character when small houses stood near small shops and shopkeepers lived upstairs.


For me, time kind of stops in this small courtyard squeezed between a church and the downtown palace. Only one way in.

Few come here to chat or flirt. People come alone, maybe with a book, sit on a stone bench and leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind for a moment.

On this stop, those people at the back were singing. Once in a while, somebody’s dog howled a bar or two, and everybody laughed.



3 responses to “MUNICH: Scene on the street 2”

  1. Ken Avatar

    I’m wondering why Munich lacks cell towers. Are the mobile providers in Germany not competing to build them? Is there a lack of competition? Is the land, public or private, too expensive?

    1. Clint Swift Avatar

      The problem appears to be Germany-wide. People laugh – or cry — when you begin to talk about wi-fi. I think it’s one of those public infrastructure elements, like trains, that got left behind the last couple of decades as the country took advantage of cheap energy and money and put its economic attention elsewhere. Now inflation is rising, economic outputs are slowing, and ancient infrastructure is one reason why Germany is finding it difficult to respond effectively.

      1. Ken Avatar

        That’s a revelation to me. I just assumed that German infrastructure was top notch in all categories. During our brief trip to Munich last year everything appeared clean, modern and efficient. Thanks for showing me that’s not necessarily always the case.

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