February 17, 2012

Welcome to Valley street

Today I have decided to go for a photo tour along one of my favourite streets in Altstadt: Tal Strasse or Valley Street. Tal is a very short street that connects Isartor to the East entrance gate of Marienplatz, it will take you no more than 10 minutes to walk along it but only if you do stop to enjoy some of its odd and funny spots.

I start at Isartor one of the four Gates to the old medieval city of Munich that was built in the 14th century. Inside the Gate itself there is the first curious spot of my walk along Tal: the Valentin Karlstadt Museum, in honor of Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstad, two Bavarian comedians of the beginning of the 20th century that became popular thanks to their sense of humor, films and performances.

Just after crossing the Gate I see the Hotel Torbräu, the oldest hotel in Munich. His main restaurant the Schapeau is also well known and offers live music concerts on Friday and Saturday from 5pm. This week: piano and saxophone.

Moving forward along Valley Street, I spot the first of many (I count 5) stores selling traditional Bavarian Costumes: Dirndl (for women) and Lederhosen (for men). Both are usually associated as the national German costume, but the truth is that they are only a symbol of Bavaria. 

The full Dirndl consists of a blouse, a skirt, an apron and a bodice. The Lederhosen are knee-length breeches for men. They were originally designed for hard physical work at the countryside. However, nowadays Bavarians wear them at leisure occasions: during the Oktoberfest; at special family times (i.e. weddings) and sometimes even to the office on Fridays.

A Dirndl is not cheap, a good quality one can cost you a fortune but at the stores in Tal, I have found some from 70€.

A bit forward I pop in the second of the unexpected stores in Tal: a Cooking school (the Maggi Kochstudio). I mainly associated this Nestlé brand with mashed potatoes, but here in Germany their range goes from ready-cooked soups and other meals and spices to bouillon cubes. The studio offers a full program for special occasions (recently: cooking for Valentine´s Day), groups and parents with children.

I keep walking and I pass by the Electronic Giant Conrad; the German “Boots”, as I like to call it: Müller; the Spanish Bank Santander and a Rewe Supermarket. And just opposite to this last one, another odd store: Conture Make up. This store is a beauty centre for (semi) permanent make up and to my surprise, it is full of customers when I pass by. I am not a fan of tattoos, but I understand and can see the beauty of some in some people. However, when it comes to permanent make up, I have a strong feeling against it. But hey, it has to be something for everybody.

Tal is also known for its eating out options. The street offers a great range of yummy and economical bites, and so it is always bursting with students and tourists at lunch times and during the weekends. If you ignore the usual suspects, such as Sausalitos and the American fast food restaurants, which I do not personally like, then you have a whole new world to discover: delicious pizza triangles @ La Pizzetta; for the traditional German food lovers: Paulaner im Tal; Chinese @ Der Kleine Chinese; Dean and David for fresh salads and sandwiches ready to take; and for those who have a sweet teeth like me, just in front of Conrad there is a cake shop specializing in Krapfen. 

Krapfen are claimed to be typical from Berlin, they are a sort of doughnuts without the middle hole, made of fried yeast dough, filled with marmalade (the original recipe) and with sugar on top.

And to end my photo tour along Valley Street, I am closing with my final funny spot and suggestion for the day: the Toy Museum. It is not exactly located in Tal, but while strolling along the street you see this museum sign on the Entrance Gate to Marienplazt at the beginning of Tal. The Toy Museum offers a comprehensive sample of the most popular toys in Europe and America of all times. I have not yet visited it, but for 4€, I think I will try it one day.