Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Regional Tourism: Munich

A Real Holi-Day:
Discovering Your Own City

Honestly: How much do you know your home city really? What are the main tourist attractions? What is really up to date?

Often enough, we are travelling around the world, stopping in exotic metropolis and enjoying the wonderful attractions that are offered. But after another exhausting long-haul transatlantic flight, the question might one day pop up: why are we travelling so far?

Actually, what would be wrong about suggesting that there is only few places in the world that can be more interesting and intriguing than one’s own city? When an inhabitant sees through the eyes of a tourist, then the saying “there is no place like home” might come on with a totally new meaning.

Some weeks ago, the author did an experiment on himself – and simply loved it: he took a sunny summer day off and hit the city of Munich as an average humble and attraction-seeking tourist. Watching the usual working crowd pushing towards office, strolling through an unusually empty top-shot exhibition or simply enjoying a coffee in the sun while having the city rotate around oneself proved to be highly gratifying experience.

Should the whole idea have evoked some kind of interest in you by now, it might come in handy to not totally ignore some guidelines, whose obedient observation has brought considerable benefits to the author in his quest for a beautiful day out:

Check the weather forecast and select a day!
A little bit of planning actually goes a long way and conveys a feeling of anticipation – the first step to a complete leisure experience. According to personal preference, the climate conditions should be taken into account: while a sunny day can stimulate a summer experience, rain might be the perfect pretext for a lot of indoor enlightening.

Factually take a day off!

Do not conform yourself with a normal weekend day, where you would be off work anyway – it is not the same! Select a working day for a real, true feeling of your city’s pulse and liveliness. And if you really invest one of your precious paid holidays, you will enjoy the time more than ever – this investment is sure to pay off.

Select leisure clothes!

They will distinguish you from all the people around you that will spend the day going to and from their habitual work place – and give you the (voluntarily chosen) air of an outsider in your own city.

Buy a daytime ticket for your local transport system!
In other crowded cities, you also would not bother to drive around in your fancy car, looking for long lost streets with indecipherable names and circling viciously for a parking space. Public transport gives you more flexibility and authentic tourism feeling. Get a plan for the whole network in order to be dynamic in your spontaneous decisions.

Make a plan of what you want to see beforehand!

This could include but is certainly not limited to museums, exhibitions, cultural events, open spaces, small city gems, specialised shops, famous day-time bistros, musical happenings, coffee shops, view towers and so on and so forth. Take your day out as an opportunity to see things that you always wanted to see in your city but never had the right time, company, weather or state of mind.

Plan for meal stops and short breaks!
Lunch is a good time to try out new cuisine in a not too pricey fashion. Some gastronomic gems might not be open in the evening, so take the chance and select them according to personal taste and aptitude towards trying out. Take a look in a gastronomy guide before setting off and make sure you have alternatives – sight seeing makes hungrier than commonly acknowledged!

Well now… So there is just one thing left to do now: set off and enjoy yourself thoroughly! And once you catch yourself with a thought like “Where did all those nice little shops come from – I never noticed their existence, let alone entered them?”, then you start to understand…

Andreas Hauser

Friday, 13 July 2007

Book Recommendations: Life Style

“The Devil’s Cup”


Stewart Lee Allen

Espresso, Einspänner, qahwa, cappuccino, marrón con hielo, large decaf mocha –throughout the world, coffee expresses itself as the everyday fuel of society.

Have you ever thought about where that stuff actually came from? When did it start? And how is does it grow? Luckily, there is no immediate need to travel around the globe in search for all that information – Stewart Lee Allen has already done that thinking and researching. And he has put down the insights into his witty and truly entertaining book “The Devil’s Cup”.

Without solid dates as back up, coffee beans started out in the Ethiopian highlands, were introduced into Yemen, spread over the Arab World and were finally brought to Europe by the Turks. Smuggled into Dutch Indonesia as well as the New World, the bean forms today the agricultural basis of a number of overseas countries.

Through times, the black liquid was loved and hated, brewed and banned with equal eagerness, and some consider it even the root for political unrest and overthrows. Still today, there are innumerable variations of coffee drinking, ranging from the green, bitter Arab qahwa to the black, oil-like ristretto in Italy. Even the dishwashing water served in U.S. fast food restaurants claims to have a faint resemblance to the original stuff!

In a journalistic travel style, Stewart Lee Allen followed the route of the coffee three-quarters around the world, blending it with numerous enlightening encounters and anecdotes. “The Devil’s Cup” is a truly enjoyable account of square minds, political twists and personal experiences all around the famous bean.

One setback of the book must be mentioned, however. If you expect the disclosure of what is the best coffee in the world today, you will have to look elsewhere. I would refer you to the Specialty Coffee Association of the Americas (SCAA), which has recently awarded Panama’s Hacienda La Esmeralda as the best coffee maker for the third year in a row.

O.k., having solved this issue, you can peacefully get your hands on the book, lean back and emerge yourself into a journey along the world of coffee.

Stewart Lee Allen
“The Devil’s Cup” in English, ISBN 0345441494
“Ein Teuflisches Zeug” in Deutsch, ISBN 3593372908

Andreas Hauser