Summer just arrived in Munich

The weather in Munich has been pretty crappy up until a few days ago. It's been wet and cold - not the combination you'd like to have in summer (actually, not the combination you'd like - period). We've had some really good summer days in May but then it started getting cold again. Now, summer is here and hopefully, here to stay. The weather has been great so far this week and the forecast for the remainder is excellent. I usually check the weather forecast here.

We're having some visitors this weekend and will probably take them to the Tegernsee for some sightseeing, sunbathing and swimming.

"" is mine !

I just bought the domain through Blogger. While Blogger does not directly sell domains, they do resell them on behalf of It costs a mere USD 10 per year for the domain and some extras, which I think is money well-spent.

This blog is hosted by Blogger, which offers free blog hosting. Blogger is owned by Google. So, if you already have a Google account, you can log into Blogger with your Google username and password, and create your own blog almost immediately. This is the route I took. It was simple, fast and risk-free.

However, the blog does not come with a custom domain. By default, it uses the domain. I believe that owning a custom domain is essential. It adds credibility to a blog and is absolutely essential for branding. Previously, the only way I thought that this could be done was to buy a domain, subscribe to a web hosting package and install the blogging engine and related software on my own. I wasn’t comfortable with this. Sure, many people claim that this isn’t as difficult as it sounds and I do believe that things will get easier once the ball starts rolling. Nonetheless, I still found the task to be too daunting and kept procrastinating.

I stumbled upon a solution as I was surfing through my dashboard on Blogger and came to the Settings Publishing section. There was the option of switching to a custom domain. When I selected that, I was led through the purchase of my own domain – The domain costs USD 10 per year and was immediately linked to various Google Apps (e.g. email, calendar, docs and sites) for free.

That was simple.

Landshuter Hochzeit – Part 3 & Finale

In the last post, I ended by mentioning that we went up a hill towards a fort. Actually, it turns that it isn’t a fort but a castle. So, we walked up a hill towards the Trausnitz Castle, which overlooks the city of Landshut. The hill isn’t too steep and there is a well-constructed plight of stairs towards the castle. Nonetheless, the walk Visitors, young and old, made their way up the hill. It was pretty crowded but well organized. We were still able to stop in between to take a few shots without holding the others back too much. For more information on the castle, click here.

My colleague did mention about the castle before but not about the events that were going on up there. We were pleasantly surprised with what we saw. Everyone was making their way into the castle and so we followed them. In the courtyard, there was a large crowd surrounding a group of performing musicians. Some of the audiences were on the 1st and 2nd floors of the castle and had excellent views of the musicians. Unfortunately, tickets were needed to get onto those floors and we didn’t have them. So, we stayed in the courtyard, on the ground floor. I wasn’t really able to get a good view or to take a nice, clean shot but I think that I improvised pretty well.

We observed the show for about 15 minutes and then decided to leave and see the other events around the castle. As we were making our way out, there was a pretty large crowd making their way in. We were fortunate to be there earlier. At the entrance to the castle, there were four young ladies who were all dressed up in their medieval costumes and gladly posed for us as Joe Walsh of the Eagles sang, “Pretty Maids all in a Row”.

There was a bunch of jugglers right outside the castle. For the most part, they were juggling simple, harmless pins. However, at one point, one of them started juggling blades! They were careful enough but it was still a daring act.We then decided to make our way down the hill towards the Old City again. On our way down, we saw a makeshift stage and several actors performing on it. Their performance was very good and they really kept the audience, especially the children, captivated.

Once we got down from the hill, we made our way towards the other end of the city. At this point in time, we were starting to get a little tired and decided to stop by one of the nice cafés along the way. We found one to be especially interesting and made our way in. Only when we were inside did we learn that this café was once the royal caterer for Landshut. We didn’t have anything lavish (only a cup of Cappuccino and a cup of tea, which we can recommend though) so we can’t comment much. Nonetheless, we liked what we saw and experienced.

Once we were out of the café, it started to drizzle a bit. We were pretty prepared for that anyway since the weather forecast had predicted the same thing the day before. We continued on our way and I used the time to take some photos of Landshut and the Landshuter Hochzeit.When we reached the other end of the street, there was a little medieval stall. The owners were offering some roasted pork and beer for free (I presume) to the visitors - I can’t confirm that the dishes and cutlery were washed before each serving though. We didn’t have any and decided to move on. By this time, we were both pretty exhausted and soon decided to make our way back to Munich. We stopped by a Turkish restaurant to get ourselves some Kebab and caught the next bus towards the Landshut main train station. At the station, we only had to wait for about 15 minutes before the next train toward Munich arrived.

Overall, our visit to the Landshuter Hochzeit was an extremely pleasant one. We saw and took in a lot and the fact that the next one is in four years makes the whole experience even more precious.

Landshuter Hochzeit - Part Two

In my last post, I ended at the point where we were "caught" by three big, medieval, German men, my wife, Jessi, was forced to put on a helm and carry a spear to entertain them and I was made to capture the scene with my camera for their future entertainment. Ok... ok... that's not exatly how it turned out. The correct version is: the guys were really friendly and they were actually helping us capture the Landshuter Hochzeit in one shot - with Jessi wearing a helmet and carrying a spear. The 2nd version just doesn't sound that dramatic.

Shortly after that, a crew of colorfully-dressed peasants from the Middle Ages along with their weapons and musical instruments showed up. There must have been about 20 of them. They also had a wagon that was being pulled by a horse. The musicians were walking in front of the band whereas the "soldiers" were behind. At least one of them looked like he was part of the cast for Lord of the Rings. If you look closely at the picture on the left, you'll probably figure out which one I'm talking about.

Next, we made our way towards the "old city". The most prominent building you are bound to notice when you get to the main street is the Church of St. Martin (Martinskirche). This church is the highest church in Bavaria and the highest brick building in the world, with a height of 130.6 meters. For more details on the Church of St. Martin, click here.

Since we were there pretty early, there was not much of a crowd yet and we could easily stroll along the main street without imposing ourselves or being imposed by others. There were many cafes and bakeries along the way and at that time of the day, they were still allowed to have their tables and chairs outside, along the walkways. As the crowd built up and the festivities really started, the store owners were required to remove their furniture from the sidewalk.

There were platforms with benches set up all along the main street for visitors to better observe the festivities. Of course, you needed a ticket to get a seat there. Many families saw the Landshuter Hochzeit as an opportunity for a family outing and picnic. They brought along their picnic baskets filled with rolls, coffee and tea for breakfast, blankets to snuggle under when it gets cold, collapsible chairs to seat on and even champagne to celebrate. They looked like they were having a good time.

There is a society specifically for the Landshuter Hochzeit and I was told that only people whose origins can be traced to Landshut in the Middle Ages are allowed to join it. A person would basically have to prove that his or her family tree is connected to the original inhabitants of Landshut in the medieval times. Only members of this society are allowed to dress up in their medieval costumes and take part in the activities during this festival. Not only that, their costumes also reflect the status of their ancestral families. Most are dressed up as peasants but there are some who dress up as nobles, indicating that they were a family of nobles during the Middle Ages. This requirements keeps a sense of authenticity in the Landshuter Hochzeit that is unlike other medieval festivals.

Next, we made our way up the hill towards a former fort. But that's for the next post.

Landshuter Hochzeit

A colleague of mine told me about the Landshut Wedding or better known as Landshuter Hochzeit a few weeks ago. The Landshuter Hochzeit is a medieval festival that is celebrated once every four years in Landshut, which is a city in the state of Bavaria. It is one of the most famous and as far as I know, the largest medieval festival in Germany. As you can guess, there are other medieval festivals in Germany as well. During the Landshuter Hochzeit, the city and its folks turn back time to the middle ages. People dress up in medieval costumes, set up huts and stalls typical of those times, parade through the city playing music, perform juggling acts and so forth. They become a medieval community. You can read up more about this festival here.

This year, the Landshut Wedding was celebrated from the 27th of June till the 19th of July. I was very keen to visit the festival when I heard about it from my colleague just as my wife was when I relayed those very same details to her. It sounded like a rare opportunity that we ought not to miss. So, we decided that we would visit it the coming weekend. Initially, we had planned to visit the festival on Saturday. However, the weather forecast didn't look good and we eventually decided to shift our visit to Sunday - which was a smart thing to do since it was raining all day on Satuday.

We got up at 6 am on Sunday. We told ourselves the night before that we would only make the trip if the weather was good. So, when I got up, I immediately looked out of the window to check the weather. It was pretty sunny - that was the green light. We quickly took our shower, packed our things and were out of our apartment by 7. The train we planned to take to Landshut was leaving at 7:44 am. We got to the main train station in time, bought some breakfast and hopped onto the train. The train ride was only about 45 mins and we reached Landshut's main train station at about 8:30 am.

We looked around for a bus that would take us to the location of the festival. The first bus only came at about 9:10 and so, we had to wait for a while, which wasn't too bad since the weather was pretty nice. As soon as the bus arrived, we jumped on board and reached our destination in less than 10 minutes. We were warmly greeted by three medieval men in one of the stalls. You can see their "we found them" look in the picture here. One of them insisted on having my wife put on a helmet and carry a spear for me to photograph. After some hesitation she agreed to it. The shots turned out well. We then continued on our way towards the "old city", which is where the parades and the crowd are.

I'll stop now and continue in the next post. Stay tuned.

More from Nymphenburg Palace

I've finally finished working on the remaining pictures from my visit to Nymphenburg Palace a few weeks ago. You can check them out on my Picasaweb album by clicking here. Feel free to drop me your comments.

The objective of my visit to Nymphenburg Palace this time was primarily to take some nice photos of this beautiful place. I'm pretty content with the results I got. In my opinion, most of the shots turned out pretty well. I have published a post on my Shutteria blog about some of the High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots I took that day. You can check out that post via this link. In the near future, I hope to publish more posts about the technicalities of the other shots I took that day at Nymphenburg Palace as well.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Brand new look

You should have noticed by now that “Living in Munich” has gotten a brand new look. I found the old template to be a little dull, boring and small. I mean the “small” part literally – the dimensions were too small, making it unsuitable for posts with several pictures. I googled around a little bit and found that there are many free blog templates available on the Intranet that can be simply downloaded, edited and installed into a blog. This was quite a surprise to me since one of the key arguments people have against free blog hosting services such as Blogger and Wordpress is the limited choice of templates. Anyway, I looked for one that best described life here in Munich and decided on this one.

What do you think?

Marienplatz, Kaufingerstrasse and Stachus

Like last Saturday, I got up very early yesterday morning and went out to do some photo shooting. This time my stop was Marienplatz, which is situated in the heart of Munich. Marienplatz is usually bustling with people. Kaufingerstrasse, which is one of the streets leading towards Marienplatz is filled with shops for just about anything, departmental stores, restaurants, cafes - you name it. People often go there to shop, window shop, hang out, eat out, watch a movie or simply just chill. It's a very popular spot. Besides these, Marienplatz is the location where some festivals and events such as the Christmas Market, St. Christopher's Street Day and political rallies are held.

I left my apartment at about 7 in morning hoping to beat the crowd to Marienplatz. However, when I got into the train I realized "I ain't gonna beat no crowd". The train was practically already full. So much so that I couldn't even get a place to sit. I was hoping that most of them would not be getting off at Marienplatz and that was true for the most part. It seemed that most of them were headed somewhere else. Anyway, the train ride took me about 12 minutes.

As soon as I got out of the station, my heart sank. There was a huge stage and some tents being set up for the St. Christopher Street Festival and they had sort of blocked that "great view of Marienplatz" I had been planning for before. (FYI: the St. Christopher Street Festival is a gay festival but that will be the subject of another post.) Anyway, I did the best that I could considering the restrictions at hand. I took out my camera , set up my tripod and started taking some pictures.

The most prominent monument you would see as soon as you get out of the train station has to be the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). I don't know any details about this building other than the fact that it really looks captivating. It's white and has a certain Gothic look and feel about it. It looks even more majestic at night when it's lit up.

Right next to the New Town Hall is the less impressive Old Town Hall. Unless you've been pre-informed, I'm pretty sure that you will mistake one for the other. The reason: the Old Town Hall looks newer than the new one. Don't ask my why.

It is also on this building that you have the world famous Carillon (Glockenspiel). At 11 am, 12 pm and 5 am, the clock chimes and figures on this Carillon dance around for a minute or so. There is usually a pretty big crowd trying to witness this. Try to get there a little earlier to secure the best spot.

For more information about the New Town Hall and the Carillon, click here.

As soon as I was done taking some shots in front of the New Town Hall, I made my way towards the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche). The Church of Our Lady is an extraordinary building. It is 100m high. In Munich, there is a rule that prohibits buildings from exceeding the height of this church. I actually see the benefits of having this rule. First, you can see this church from just about anywhere in Munich, making it a very prominent landmark. Secondly, population density is kept low. By restricting the height (and hence, density) of buildings, development is forced to expand geographically. This results in less traffic jams and better air quality. I doubt that the people thought about the latter when this church was erected and this rule established some 600 years ago but we're sure seeing that benefit now.

I continued along Kaufingerstrasse, moving away from Marienplatz and towards Karlsplatz. It was indeed a pleasant walk. It was still early and wasn't crowded yet. There are places to sit and relax along the way, beautiful plants and flowers, a nice fountain, fruit stalls, cafes, etc. During the day, when the stores and restaurants are open, this street can get really packed. Then, it is more stressful than fun as you struggle maneuvering yourself through the crowd.

It was already starting to get a little uncomfortable with people starring at me as I was lugging around my tripod and camera gear. One guy, who I think was visiting the St. Christopher Street Day came up to me and offered me blueberries. But I said, "no no..." and thought to myself, "He ain't gonna drug me that easily!" Anyway, the signs hinted that I should move on.

At the other end of Kaufinger-strasse is a gate known as Karlstor, which is shown in the picture on the right. Beyond this gate is a square called Stachus - shown in the picture below. The train station here is called Karlsplatz (Stachus). Big surprise, huh?

I often come here to visit Saturn, a big electronics store. In fact, we got our washing machine and refrigerator here. Their prices are really good on discounted items.

Anyway, Stachus was the end of the road for the day. It was about 9 am when I got there. I took some photos, got wet by the fountain, sat down and relaxed a bit and soon, it was time to move on. I made my way back to Marienplatz on foot and took some more photos along the way. I took the train home from Marienplatz.

I bought some rolls from the bakery on the way back for breakfast. We are starting to get fed up with the bread and to-be-baked rolls we buy from the supermarket. It was a good start for the day.

Nymphenburg Palace

I have been wanting to visit the Nymphenburg Palace to do some photography for some time now. Sure, I've visited the place several times before but not since I started picking up photography. As such, I don't have any great pictures of this beautiful palace and its surrounding. I decided to change that.

I got up at about 7 am yesterday, which is the usual time I get up on weekdays. I decided the night before that if I didn't get up too late, I'd go to the palace first thing in the morning to take some shots. There are many benefits to doing this. One, there aren't many tourists at this time of the day. You'll be able to take shots pretty comfortably and not worry too much about people getting in the way of that ideal shot. Two, you get soft lighting, which is great for photography. Three, the temperature is still cooling and comfortable. This makes a difference when you're lugging around your camera gear! Finally, you get to see how locals use the place and not just the visiting tourists. Many people jog and walk around the palace grounds, sit on one of the benches to do some reading, walk their dogs, take their kids to watch the swans or like me, take some photos.

The Nymphenburg Palace is a 30-minute bus ride away from my place. You can get there by either taking the bus 51 of tram 17. The stop is "Schloss Nymphenburg". This palace is a must-see when you're in Munich. It is in the city itself, easily accessible by public transport and simply beautiful. I've never been inside the palace but have heard that it's really beautiful in there. Having been inside quite a number of castles and palaces before, I think I can skip this one. Besides, I'm more interested in its architecture, palace grounds and surrounding area. There are some good online resources that give information about the background, history and layout of the palace. Here are a couple of such links to the Palace's official website and Wikipedia.

I spent about two hours there yesterday and took about 80 shots in total. Many of them turned out pretty well and I'm glad I made a trip. Here's a picture of the Palace's facade and the beautiful lake in front of it. The lake itself is actually full of swans, ducks and some other birds I don't know about (as you can guess, I'm not really into the whole flora and fauna thingy). The lawn is full of their droppings. Be careful where you thread. There is a small bridge along the walkway, right in the middle of the lake. This is where I took this shot.

The picture below was taken inside the palace grounds, facing the rear of the palace. There are many statues and sculptures along the walkways here. The statues are mainly of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

It can be a little windy and chilly around the palace because there's a lot of open space. So, come prepared. If you enjoy walking or jogging, this is definitely the place for you. There are proper paths all around the palace grounds and you can easily spend several hours just strolling through the area. It's also a great place for a family outing if you have young kids. There's lots of space for them to run about and play. There's even a Biergarten in there if you'd like to get something to eat or drink. Don't worry too much about it getting too hot out there. There are also lots of trees for shelter and the water is absolutely refreshing (though you're allowed to dip in).

I hope this has gotten you all excited about the Nymphenburg Palace.