Colourful, traditional, diverse – Munich’s city districts. “Out and about with...” offers very personal insights through the eyes of the people who live here and who know their districts best. This time: writer Nina Sahm shows us her Giesing.
Today I am out with Nina Sahm for a stroll through Giesing – in fact Obergiesing, to be precise. There are long-established pubs to be found in this neighbourhood, as well as some hip bars and unique retail shops. The noisy bustle of Tegernseer Landstraße is hard to ignore, but you need only turn down one of its little side streets to feel you’ve suddenly arrived in a village with small buildings and cobblestones. Giesing is both down-to-earth and modern; it’s easy to get chatting to people here, and there are hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. Nina Sahm tells us more. The author’s latest book is titled Die Tage mit Bumerang. The author and publishing house editor has been living in Giesing for many years now. Out and about with Nina Sahm!
So Nina, where are we sitting and why?
We’re taking a little walk through Obergiesing. At the moment we’re actually sitting at the border between Giesing and the Au district, in the idyllic Kronepark.
The first part of our neighbourhood walk started at the Shotgun Sister coffee bar. What connection do you have with the café?
The café is actually an important place for me; when I get writer’s block at home, I head there and get a bit more writing done. The Shotgun Sister coffee bar is like a second living room for me because the atmosphere there is really relaxed. I think the café is the place to go in Giesing.
Do you know what the unusual name is about?
Yes, Shotgun Sister is a song by the band Friska Viljor and it is also Katharina’s favourite song. I’ve got a nice anecdote for you: the café had already been open for a while when Friska Viljor played a concert in Munich. Katharina was at the gig as she’s a huge fan. While the band were on-stage they declared that they had heard about the café, and then they asked if the owner of the café was there – everyone in the audience pointed to Katharina and clapped.
Oh, how lovely! Stories like that make places extra special. You just said that you enjoy writing in the café – how did you actually become a writer?
Through my love of books. I was a regular at the city library. I used to go there every week as a child with my jute bag and pick out books to take home. The staff still know me today because they couldn’t believe that anyone could read so many books in such a short time. I would always stand in front of the shelves there with two ambitions in mind: 1. To read all the books in the city library and 2. To myself write a book, which would have a place in the library some day. So the dream was always there – it just took some time. I wrote my first novel at the age of 30.
But now it’s on a shelf in the city library.
Definitely! And the best thing is that when I organised a reading there, the people at the library showed me that they had kept my library card (laughs).
We will come back to your work later; for now, can you talk us through your Obergiesing route?
Sure. It is a lovely walk to take in the afternoon. Start with a coffee or a lemonade at the café, then walk to Tegernseer Landstraße and then Tegernseer Platz. Just opposite is Schau Ma Moi, which is an incredibly charming combination of a Boazn, a Bavarian word for a small local bar, a beer garden and a café. There’s a little courtyard with a linden tree in it where you can sit and relax over a beer in the evening...
What’s your beer of choice to drink there?
I prefer to drink one of the ones from the Giesinger Bräu brewery, for example a pale lager called Untergiesinger Erhellung. The brewery is an institution in the district and is just a few streets away. Schau Ma Moi is a great place to meet your friends at the beginning of an evening when you don’t know quite what you all want to do later. But you can also just go there on your own.
Is it typical in Giesing to get talking to strangers when you’re out on your own?
I do feel that the people here are very open. If you like Giesing, you’ll feel right at home in Schau Ma Moi.
We walked through a few really beautiful streets after that, and all the time I was thinking: “hmmm, which house would I most like to move into?”
For a long time it was a little tradition of mine to take a walk through the Feldmüllersiedlung area at the weekend. You can still see the old character of Giesing there – it was a village for a long time. This residential area is still full of pretty little houses with lovingly tended gardens – you’re not the only one who strolls around there thinking about where they would like to live. We can always dream!
We then crossed Tegernseer Landstraße again and turned onto Watzmannstraße. The Inge® Manufaktur shop is on that road; I have given the ginger syrup from there as a gift to so many people. The owner is from Giesing and he used to boil down the ginger in his kitchen. These days he sells his products from the shop with the motto: from Giesing to the world. The syrup is often used in gastronomy too. It’s a lovely product and also a souvenir from the heart of Giesing.
Shopping always works up an appetite. Where’s a good place to eat?
My personal culinary highlight is just around the corner: the Attentat Griechischer Salat restaurant. As an author, the name obviously appeals to me. It comes from the fact that Greek salad is usually served as a side dish to souvlaki, but it otherwise doesn’t get much attention. The two owners thought to themselves: we have to change that, we’ll launch an attack on salad and show how versatile it can be. The restaurant serves quirky salad variations, delicious pasta and great drinks. It’s also where I went to watch the World Cup, and every time Germany scored a goal they would give everyone a shot of ouzo. I was there once when a match went to 4:0, and the atmosphere was really great!
Next, we passed briefly through the Ostfriedhof, an expansive, beautifully kept graveyard. What are your feelings about the place?
It’s a quiet spot if you just want to go and take a breath. You can sit on a bench and relax, or read a book...
Und schon sind wir auch bei der letzten Station angelangt. Warum hast du sie ausgesucht?
The Crönlein bar on the Nockherberg terrace is a great place for meeting up with friends. They have delicious wine, waffles on a stick and mini pizzas. But the really special thing is the location itself: it is in a stone-built former outhouse on the Nockherberg. I understand that the owners spent years applying for permission to convert it into a café or bar, but they got refused because no one could really imagine how it would work. Today it’s extremely popular thanks to its great terrace and its proximity to the Kronepark. An unusual place to see out the evening. Actually it’s funny – some people say Crönlein is in Au and others refer to it as Crönlein in Giesing. In fact the Nockherberg was part of Giesing until 1800, but nowadays it’s part of the Au district.
It’s very funny that the neighbourhood sign saying “Au” is opposite the Crönlein – so you can pick up some wine and pizza in Au and then walk back across the park to Giesing.
Who would you recommend Giesing to, and in particular this little walk through Obergiesing?
To anyone who wants to see something unusual. Those who want to discover something new and who want to be surprised. Giesing has so many different facets.
Did you make a deliberate decision to move to Giesing?
Love brought me to Munich and straight to Giesing. Looking back, I can say that I have never felt at home in a city or another neighbourhood so quickly as I did here. I also think it’s great that many people who are originally from Giesing return at some point, for example to set up a food business.
Let’s come back to your work. I think many people would be interested to know how a day in a writer’s life goes.
In the best-case scenario, I start writing straight after breakfast – either at home or in the café, for two or three hours. You rarely spend eight hours straight just writing – you also need to revise and read through your work. Also, for me it’s important to go out and see something as well. For example, observing an interaction on the tram can give me some new ideas.
Can you think of a book about the city that you like?
I don’t read many crime novels, but I really like the ones by Friedrich Ani. He also often sits in the Schau Ma Moi café, so it makes the circle complete. He’s always describing beautiful areas of Munich in his crime novels.
What other Munich authors would you recommend?
I love Sandra Hofmann – she has an amazing flair for language. I also like Max Scharnigg, who also writes for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. One of his articles actually gave me the inspiration for a novel.
Thank you very much for the walk and the chat!