Sales in Munich

January 2013 is almost gone and here we are: we survived the holidays, the Christmas fat and the new resolutions... what is it that we all do in January aside from starting a new diet/joining a gym/giving up some addiction (coffee, smoke, sugar)/learning a new language or looking for a new job?

What we all do is... going shopping... why?...

******* because there are sales!!!!*******

Sales in Galeria Kaufhof in Munich
If you work in marketing you understand that the expressions "reduced price", "discount" or "sales" attract consumers no matter what. And this is what this blog entry is about today: Sales in Munich.

In October 2012 I read a couple of articles about the positive shopping mood of the Germans and that despite the Euro crisis, they were expected to spend 285 in average in Christmas presents (this is 24 more than in 2011).

These articles about the German ”Kauflaune” (shopping mood) came after Gfk (a well-known market research company based in Nurnberg) made public that the monthly German consumption environment index (in 2011) was the highest since 2007.

However and contrary to what I have seen in 2012 during Christmas (shops bursting with customers and long queues in every cash point), the retailers in Germany have not closed the year with the expected increase in sales... typical...they wanted to sell more... of course...

Sales in Ludwig-Weg Munich

Maybe the “Winterschlussverkauf” (winter sale) will help to raise the index and the  retailer's expectations.

Do you know when the sales start in Munich?

Since the 50’s the seasonal sales had been regulated in Germany by law and so they had always been in winter (end of January) and in summer (end of July). However in 2004 the “Gesetz gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb” = the German law regulating unfair trade practices, changed and so it eliminated the limitation of only two seasonal sales periods. (good news!!!)

Since then each individual shop can organize a sales period at its own discretion. However most of the stores follow the old rules.

And so these days the German shops still have something similar like the “Winterschlussverkauf” in January and the “Sommerschlussverkauf” in July/August.
And also have other sales periods during the year: in November, in March… but you need to check that on site.

Last week I read a very interesting article in Die Welt about the “Schäppchenkalender” (a calendar with monthly bargains), which is a calendar that informs on what goods to buy and when to buy them cheaper:

  •       Sparkling wine and Christmas sweets in January;
  •       Garden or bike accessories in February (before the spring time);
  •       Summer holidays in March;
  •       Christmas decorations in September and
  •       School material and rucksacks in October.
Sales can also be just an excuse to go out to discover the city of Munich (with friends or family). You do not need to spend money, if you do not want to, but it is always nice to go out and check the shoes, coats, winter hats and pullovers that are on sale... 

You always are going to need something: from socks, bed sheets to sport equipment... so keep in mind that: Sales are going to happen... with or without you... so try to plan what is it that you really need and make the most of them. 

I have never been to Ingolstadt in Munich, have you? should I go? is it worth it?

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Furniture shops

Roof avalanches, archaeological findings and Rocky Horror Picture Show

Today I bring you three unusual pieces of information about Munich:
  • Vorsicht Dachlawine: you need to know this if you are in Munich in winter. It could save your life... (or at least it could save you from getting your hair wet;)
  • Archaeological findings: it answers a longstanding question about some excavation works in Munich and
  • Munich in the Guinness Book of Records: it will blow up your mind...
Snowplow @ Viktualianmarkt
Let's start:

VORSICHT DACHLAWINEWhen it start snowing (and it does snow here in Munich), it is gorgeous. The whole city changes (for good): my balcony has 10cm of snow and it looks beautiful; the city center looks like a photoshopped Christmas card; the air is fresh, it smells like winter and that first gust of cold snow air in the morning, it has to be the best health therapy ever!

The River Isar, snow banks and bridge
But as everything in life, it has a dark side: snow can also be dangerous and I am not only referring to the fact that you need anti-slip shoes (bye-bye nice shoes!) to go everywhere: I am referring to the danger of roof snow avalanches. 

Bye bye nice and beautiful shoes, hello awful anti-slip snow boots
Snow and travel disruptions last week in Munich
During snow time, the airports and the city traffic are often affected and it is always very useful to get updates on the situation before driving the car that day to the office,  or taking a taxi/ the metro to the airport or even to learn if your flight has been canceled/delayed out of/to Munich. 

But for you, aside from the above, as a new resident of the city of Munich, you need to be aware of the common notices that alert of "Vorsicht Dachlawine/Achtung Dachlawine" which means: be careful/be aware of snow roof avalanches. In addition, they usually set wooden poles leaning against buildings to keep you from walking too close to them, where there is a risk of snow roof avalanches. 

Vorsicht Dachlawine
If you search online, you are going to find drama... there are people who have actually day from accidents with Dachlawine, but please do not panic... I guess there were exceptions. Just wear a snow hat so you do not get your head wet and follow the notices, if they say "Dachlawine", just do not walk to close to the buildings... common sense people...

ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS: I moved to Munich mid 2011, when there were already excavation works on Marianhof (square behind Marienplatz).
Marienhof in January 2013
Since the MVV (the Munich public transport city service) found some traces (while doing works to extend one of its lines) that could be of archaeological interest, the city of Munich has being digging in Marienhof, until they finally found some still-to-be-dated clay vessels, broken ceramic fragments from the 11th century and other findings.

I have read that the findings are awaiting inside 200 boxes for the MVV and the Munich city to agree on the issue about the legal property of the fragments: is it the MVV who found them? or is it the city who digged in and actually extracted them? Until this question is cleared, no further analysis will be conducted, so we will not know (anytime soon) about the archaeological relevance of the excavation.

By January 2013 they had already closed the hole and sealed the excavation. And therefore today Marienhof (that means "Maria's patio" and until 1945 was the center of the life in Munich) looks again like a very cute and quiet square at the heart of the city center. Apparently, once the snow is gone for good, the city has green plans for the place, so we will see...

ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: After a year and a half living in Munich and I did not know, that there is a cinema in the city that appears in the Guinness Book of Records!!! And why is that? and which one is it?

It is none other than the Museum Lichtspiele in Haidhausen, one very popular theatre amongst the international community in Munich because the program is usually in OV.  

The reason why this cinema is listed in the Guinness Book of Records is because it has been running The Rocky Horror Show longer than any other cinema on the planet.

Museum Lichtspiele and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Every Friday and Saturday @ 23.15pm you can see the OV of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Museum Lichtspiele Munich and it has been over 30 years since the first session!!! You can read some articles that claim that people actually dressed up for the movie, so I hope they do when I go there next week!:)

And this is all, enjoy the weekend and as always if you know of odd/funny facts about Munich, please let me know.

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Munich: going to the movies in English
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On a Sunday: why is it so cold?
Christmas market in Munich

Furniture shops in Munich

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 is to finally get started with my list of TODO’s at home and that includes: small renovations; search for new home decor accessories; buy new pieces of furniture and dispose the very old and broke ones.

TODO's: buy more green for the house
To get started with my list I have done a research and so below you will find a list of key furniture shops and home décor stores in Munich. But before that...

...Let’s start for the beginning: before you buy new pieces of furniture, you need to know where and how to dispose your old stuff. Please do not throw anything in your building containers that is not supposed to be disposed there (read “Recycling is a Sport” in Germany to get more information on how to recycle in Germany).

My experience: At the end of my first Christmas in Munich I wanted to dispose my half-meter Christmas tree and since it was already mid January, the time to take my tree out on the street for the city cleaning services to collect it was far gone.

Garbage containers

Then I decided that my tree was a living thing and therefore organic materia and so (applying German logic) I disposed it in the organic garbage container of my building. 

What happened? It took less than three seconds before I got the “Hausmeister” to come out of this office scolding me in a very loud, angry and fast German! At that time my German was intermediate, so I did not get much of it (plus he was barking in Bavarian) but for me it was like he was yelling: “burn her!”, “to the bonfire with her!”.

The key message is: please follow the rules when it comes to garbage in Germany!  In order to dispose your old pieces of junk ( or home appliances) you have two options in Munich:
  • You can take the old stuff yourself in your car to the designated facilities in Munich,
  • Or you can ask the AWM service to pick them at your place (at a price of course... check the AWM site to learn about the fees)
For more details go to the Munich waste city service (AWM), where you can find all the information regarding where and how you are allowed to dispose what and when and @ what price. The site is multilingual for the most important information.

In any case what you are looking for in German is called “Sperrmüll” (bulky waste) and this cannot be disposed at your home containers. An ironing table, a frying pan, a toaster or an old TV station are considered “Sperrmüll” and so must be disposed at the AWM facilities, never in your home containers!.

Now, once you have disposed your old and broken stuff, it is time to buy new ones and then: where can you go? Here you will find a list of furniture shops in Munich:


Ikea has two locations in Munich (Eching and in Brunnthal) but you need a car for both places or as I do: shop online;
Screen shot of Ikea German site
• BoConcept has two stores in the city center in Munich (one is two minutes away from Stachus in Sonnenstraße  and the second one is two minutes by foot from Gärtner Platz in Buttermelcherstraße);

BoConcept store near Gärtner Platz
• Butlers  is a very popular home decor shop in Munich that has been around for a while and has franchises outside Germany (Spain, Dubai, Eastern Europe). Their secret: very  (very) affordable home decor accessories and textiles (and sometimes small pieces of furniture, cook books) with style. They have many shops in the city, one that has very traffic is in Talstraße 30;

Butlers in Munich Fünf Höfe shopping passage
• In this line, Zara Home opened its doors in Munich at the end of 2012. It is an experience of taste and style to enter into this shop. Prices are middle-range and what they offer cannot be found anywhere else in the city. I love their textiles, dinner services, decoration pieces and the kid's room section on the first floor. Where? two minutes away from Marienplatz in Fürstenfelder Straße 13. 

Depot should also be mentioned here. They specialise in home decor, textiles and decorations. They are a bit more expensive than Butlers but their range is worth it. Classy and surprising. In summer (as in Butlers) you can find some outdoor chairs and tables. 

• Bauhaus is mainly a DIY/gardening store but they also sell pieces of furniture, home textiles and accessories  It is originally from Switzerland but has a good footprint in Germany. The shop in Munich is close the Hirschgarten.

• Hornbach is similar to Bauhaus, but this time " born in Germany" and more specialised in DIY/gardening, which means: less finished pieces and more DIY, but they also have a nice range of home textiles and accessories that is worth a visit. In Munich they are in Fröttmaning (Muthmannstraße 4)

•          GaleriaKaufhof (Marienplatz or Stachus) and Karstadt (Stachus) also have a section for home décor, accessories and furniture. In my opinion: the range is limited and expensive.
•          Kaufring in Ostbahnhof is also worth a visit. Affordable and simpler than the other shopping stores, they usually have great deals in bed clothing and other home appliances and accessories. 

•          Kare was funded in the 80’s in Munich. Its range and style have worked so well that today they have 55 stores in 37 countries. I love this shop: their pieces have personality and although it might seem kitsch at a first sight, their quality and originality are the main reason why they are so popular. Check the website for locations, but if you are in the city center, pop in and check their shop in Sendlingerstr. 37 (one minute from Sendlinger Tor);
•          Kokon started in 1987 selling home textiles from India and then they expanded and included colonial furniture. I love the store in Lenbach-Palais in Munich but they also have other locations and an outlet in an industrial area in Brunhamstraße, 21.
•          Who’sPerfect? has been a reference in selling Italian design furniture since the late 90’s when they opened doors in Munich. Today they also have shops in other German cities (Stuttgart, Koln, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin). In Munich, the store is located near Laimer Platz in Landsberger Straße 350.
•          Segmüller (in Friedberg or in Parsdorf). The name must ring a bell since the Munich trams are branded with their advertising everywhere in the city. The shop is very popular thanks to its wide range and low prices. They have been in business since 1925 and they have expanded since across Germany.
•          XXX Lutz is not a Bavarian chain but has quite a success here and so I include them in this category. The first XXL shop was opened in 1945 in Austria and has expanded since across Germany. I love this store because of their practicality and simplicity. I go there for a solution and I always find one: no matter what it is (a main entrance rug, bath accessories, a lamp, a chair, a photo frame or bed sheets). They have several locations in Bayern but in Munich the closest one is in Theresienhöhe 5, facing where the Oktoberfest take place every year.
•          BÖEHMLER is a classic in Munich. After four generations, Böehmler is still a family business but with a taste of the best design houses in the city. Located in the Tal Straße passage, they do not only sell furniture but a lifestyle. Prices are high but their stuff is inspiring, the quality is incomparable and despite the service (not very friendly) they are worth a visit.

Böehmler in Tal Straße

•          Höffner started in Berlin as a family business, they have now stores in the main cities in Germany including Munich in Freiham in Ludwig-Koch Straße 3. Their motto: “Wo Wohnen wenig kostet!” which is brief means: very affordable prices. 
•          Röller in Eching or Ingoldstadt has more the 100 subsidiaries in Germany. Again: price is key for them.

Also I have found the following shops in expats’ forums. I have no idea how good/bad they are, but I believe it is important to include them in this list for exploration purposes:
•          YellowMöbel
•          Möbelum
•          Sit andsleep

The publishing house 089Verlag publishes a very useful mini guide called  “Design Guide, München & Umland” where you can find a comprehensive list of  shops in Munich for furniture, design, home décor, home accessories, home textiles and antiquities. The guide is free and you usually find it inside one of the listed stores. So when you go out for a walk and pass by a shop that sells anything related to the house, pop in and ask. 

The design guide by 089Verlag
Do you know of other furniture shops in Munich? 

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Silvester or New Year’s Eve made in Germany

* New Year’s Eve in German * Traditional food in New Year’s Eve in Germany * Fireworks and firecrackers in Berlin * British comedy: Dinner for one *

Chocolate Reichstag by Chocolaterie Fassbender & Rausch
As every year we spent the last and first days of the New Year with my in-laws in Berlin. Therefore I missed Silvester in Munich and so this blog entry is going to be about New Year’s Eve in Germany in general and not so specific about Munich.

For a start let me clarify that in German: New Year’s Eve is called Silvester in honor of the IV century catholic saint and pope Silvester I. However they do not say happy Silvester to wish a happy New Year, instead they use expressions such as:

  • Frohes Neues Jahr” or shorter and more casual “Frohes Neues
  • Alles Gute für 2013”:  (literally) all the best for 2013
  • Einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr”: (literally) good slide into the New Year;
  • Prosit Neujahr”: cheers while toasting for the New Year is also very common

Besides the wishes, Silvester also means: food, fireworks, firecrackers and an old British short comedy.

FOOD: Fondue, raclette, carp and goose are typical dishes for the last dinner of the year. My mother in-law always prepares meat fondue one year and raclette the following one.  As I understand, they are both Swiss traditions but have been happily adopted by the Germans at New Year’s Eve.

Fish section in a German supermarket
Also around Christmas time and before Silvester there are plenty of carps in the fish sections of all German supermarkets. The reason? This freshwater fish is very popular as main dish in the last dinner. In German it is called “Silvesterkarpf”. Also the “Neuejahrgans”: New Year’s Goose has a place in some Silvester’s fests.  

And finally: soup (in all its forms and varieties: every man to his taste), sometimes seafood and of course sweets, cakes and chocolates are always present in the last dinner of the year, washed down with “Sekt”: champagne or sparkling wine.

FIREWORKS & FIRECRACKERS: According to an article in the German economic newspaper Handelsblatt: Germany has spent 115 million euros in fireworks (“Feuerwerk”) and firecrackers (“Böller“) to welcome the 2013.

Right after the “Prosit Neujahr” the noise party starts in most of the German cities. In Berlin this is not due to the official fireworks at the "Branderburger Tor" (Gate) but mostly because of the private celebrations with firecrackers  (“Silvesterböllern) on the streets, parks, from the outside areas of bars and restaurants, some even fire them from their own balconies and terraces.

It is beautiful to see and very noisy to hear. I support this tradition and I hope they do not forbid it in the future despite its big disadvantage: the huge amount of garbage that is generated. And I repeat HUGE AMOUNT OF GARBAGE.

And what happens with all the mess left after these private celebrations on the streets?

The city cleaning services rushed to leave the key shopping avenues spotless on the morning of January 1st. Other streets need to wait a day or even two to be wiped. For example: the Ku’damm (Kurfürstendamm), which is one of the most important avenues and shopping streets in Berlin (I would say equivalent to what the Kaufingerstraße or Maximilianstraße is in Munich) was immaculate on the first day of the year, but other areas further from the hot spots for tourists and shops had to wait a day for the cleaning services.

DINNER FOR ONE: this 1963 British skit in black and white is a German tradition on New Year’s Eve. The sketch is about the celebration of Miss Sophie’s 90th birthday (in German the comedy is also called “Geburtstag” = Birthday). The dinner table is set for some guests and she is sitting at the head of the table, while the butler James pours wine in all the glasses… to learn more: watch it in YouTube. I do not have an explanation why it is repeated every New Year’s Eve in the German television. Every local I asked, knows it and confirms that it is a tradition for them. When I ask why? They are unable to give a reason, they simply say: it is very funny. If you know why, please drop me a line and let me know, I am curious…

And this all from me today. Let me know if you know of other German traditions for New Year's Eve and in the meantime: I wish you all "Frohes Neues Jahr" and see you very soon in Munich.

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Christmas market in Munich
The sweetest German tradition: the Advent Calendar and more

On my way back to home in Munich