A holiday together always involves compromises: Mum wants to see a theatre play, auntie prefers an exhibition and buddy insists on a sporting event. Our two authors therefore arrange to take each other on two activities that they would never do on their own. Will this experiment work out?
What do a visit to a museum, an evening at a variety theatre, a city tour with a VR headset and a FC Bayern basketball game have in common? These are four activities that our authors have absolutely no interest in and that are fraught with some prejudices. So, they arrange a weekend where they have to accept each of the suggested events. An experiment that had a few surprises in store.
I like going to concerts and the theatre as long as I can remain anonymous, i.e., there is no interaction. One of my biggest fears is being approached from the stage or, in the worst case, being asked to come up. I had this fear as a child when I sat in the front row at the circus and the clown would pick a child from the audience to climb into the ring to help perform a trick. Anika is well aware of this fear and that's why she drags me along to the GOP – probably hoping that we'll end up in the front row.
Bonus for me: The GOP is not only about theatre, it’s also about food. You can eat before the show in the Leander restaurant or during the show with a view of the stage. We opt for the first variant and are served a fine three-course meal. So far everything is great, going out to eat with friends is one of my biggest hobbies and with a full stomach I almost forget what I'm in for.
We arrive at the venue; it's Tuesday night and the show is pretty much sold out. That could indeed speak for the theatre, which has stood the test of time on Maximilianstrasse for over 100 years, and also for the international ensemble. But maybe the regulars here are just mad and don't mind being addressed or sung to directly from the stage? Luckily, we are not seated in the front row, but rather in the middle – the main thing is to have a safe distance from the stage.
The very first scene awakens all the unpleasant memories of my fear, because the leading actress sings "Get the party started" by Pink, while the rest of the crew dances in sync. "Is this going to turn into a musical?", I think and hope not, because I hate musicals. A performer walks into a wall – that's supposed to be a joke. I'm actually a bit worried that the whole evening is going to be like this. The singer comments on the drinks of the guests in the front row, addressing them by name. I wish the earth would open up and swallow me.
But then suddenly, there seems to be a change: We see a card-trick world champion from Venezuela, a trapeze artist from Berlin and a handstand master from Tajikistan. The performers sing, dance, balance, do gymnastics, perform magic and spin around their own axis. Some of the figures are so ingenious that I can't help but laugh heartily at them. The changing shows in the GOP are not outsourced, but all self-staged. It's indeed like a circus, as the crew pushes themselves to the limit and even a little bit beyond. You keep asking yourself: “How do they do that?” – only difference is that you're not called up on stage. Fortunately.
GOP Varieté-Theater München | Maximilianstrasse 47
“Oh no. Seriously?”, I ask Anja when she tells me which museum she has chosen for me. “Let's take a photo first!”, she replies as we stand in front of a large bronze wild boar. While photographer Frank positions us next to the animal statue's snout, I regret getting involved in this experiment. As a vegetarian with an animal welfare dog, my interest in visiting the Jagd- und Fischereimuseum is nil. So, this is exactly the perfect setting for me. We go inside. I’m grumpy, Anja is amused.
Inside, we are greeted by a stuffed bear hanging above the cash register, baring his teeth in attack. “Tasteless", I whisper, and she agrees with me: We both have a low opinion of stuffed animals. But once we see the rooms, we are amazed: It is a former Augustinian church. We admire the imposing sacred building with its high, white walls, where above us, the skeleton of a huge stag awaits us, which became extinct about 10,000 years ago. It is the largest stag that has ever lived. I didn't expect to see something like this here, now I really get the vibes for natural history!
In the permanent exhibition on hunting, we then get lost in the curious exhibits, which tell us a lot about the respective epoch: Spiked collars for hunting dogs. Extremely long rifles whose stock and grip are elaborately decorated with animal motifs. Depictions of violent hunting scenes hang on the walls: Spraying blood, barking dogs, forests – all mystical and dark.
As we stroll through the different rooms, we discuss the pros and cons of hunting and fishing. Anja tells me about a befriended couple who have obtained a hunting licence in order to limit their personal meat consumption to the animals they have shot themselves. For me, this seems like a sustainable approach, albeit more for the couple than for the animal. The popular argument that hunting regulates the game population, is always contradicted: Lynx and wolves used to regulate the population, but they have been displaced by humans, and wolves are now threatened with being shot on the spot. The shotgun pellets can also injure and startle other animals.
We exchange views throughout the visit, which I find exciting because we realise that nothing should be presented in a one-sided way. And although I am not a fan of hunting and fishing, I believe that the knowledge conveyed in the special exhibition about marine pollution through fishing nets is important. I can well imagine coming here with my dad on the next family visit – having heated discussions; we're good at that.
Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum | Neuhauser Strasse 2
At TimeRide in Munich, you can take virtual city tours back in time. I’ll be quite honest: Nothing in this world – apart from this article – would make me try this out. For one thing, I'm a Munich resident and don't need a city tour (I guess!), and for another, I have zero interest in technology. "You’re probably just trying to talk me into this, because you know exactly how embarrassing it is for me to stand on Marienplatz with glasses like that," I say to Anika. She just laughs, so the answer is clear.
For me, virtual reality is something only nerds can enjoy. And I seem to be right, because when I arrive at the agreed meeting point, TimeRide employees dressed up in medieval costumes are standing in front of the shop. "If we do the tour with these guys, I'll be gone in a flash," I promise myself. That's pushing it too far. No one can expect me to make a fool of myself for this article.
I would really rather turn around on the spot, but then I see Anika – and we meet our dear tour guide. Luckily, he doesn't wear a costume and has lived in Munich for over 50 years. He usually does ordinary city tours, but since a few months he also offers them with VR glasses. Since he doesn't make a big fuss about the virtual reality glasses and handles them as if they were nothing out of the ordinary, it's not hard for me to get used to them.
Before the actual start of the tour, we are asked to put on the glasses to get an idea - we are guided from Altes Rathaus via the Frauenkirche and the Residenz back via the Hofbräuhaus. The Fußgängerzone is busy today and at first I feel a little uncomfortable standing right in the middle of it, especially as the glasses also have sound. But already at Marienplatz, my embarrassment subsides – even though people of course react to our small group that looks like it’s from "Back to the Future". But I get the impression that they think it's cool.
And even I have to admit that the 360-degree view of the 16th-century Marienplatz or of the bombed-out valley after the Second World War does not leave me indifferent. What impresses me most is a virtual glimpse into Ludwig II's former winter garden, which was located on the roof of the Residenz. There's so much to discover in the animations: I watch cars drive by, spot birds in the sky and listen to conversations of people next to me. It's really cool. I can understand the thrill of virtual reality now, and so can Anika. As we walk to the metro, I say to her: "Maybe it's something for nerds, but in this case, I don’t mind being one!"
TimeRide | Tal 21
What's most fun about this experiment: The moment when I find exactly the activity for Anja that will challenge her most. What's least fun about this experiment: When she finds exactly such an activity for me in return. In this last case, it's attending a major sporting event. HELP.
I loved playing basketball as a teenager, but don't you dare take me to sporting events! Too many drunk people, loud bawling, queues that are too long in front of the toilets and cloakrooms – and after the game a perpetual traffic jam or completely overcrowded subways. These are my prejudices when I think of evenings in packed arenas, and that's exactly why Anja drags me to an FC Bayern basketball game.
When we arrive, the finest hip hop booms through the hall and we immediately feel taken in by the relaxed atmosphere. If you like listening to hip-hop, you should probably go to the Audi Dome (arena) rather than a club, Anja and I joke. Speaking of music: It seems to go hand in hand with basketball here, because concerts are always combined with the games, which makes the visit extremely varied. So far, so diverse, I'm starting to relax. But what about the game itself?
We sit in the front row, wow! Anja is afraid of being hit by the ball during the game, which I can understand – we sit incredibly close to the action. But a look across the many tiers shows that you can see pretty well from all the seats in the arena. I have to admit that the game has captivated me from the start, and I also love the time-outs when the cheerleaders dance on the court for entertainment. Although the basketball game lasts just under two hours, its pace and atmosphere make it extremely entertaining, exciting and captivating. Above all, the exuberant spirit is exhilarating, so I never found it unpleasant – none of my preconceptions were confirmed during our visit.
Staff member Simon gives us an additional tour of the Audi Dome and explains how much commitment goes into the games: The VIP area is used as a hospitality facility, where delicious food from Käfer delicacies shop is served at live cooking stations. In addition, it is not unusual for the basketball stars to sit together in this lounge, so that guests can experience them up close. Maybe a special gift for a basketball fan or the whole family who want to combine entertainment, dinner and sports?
In the end, I have the feeling that I desperately want to shoot some hoops myself again – and that this visit to the Audi Dome will certainly not be the last. "We didn’t even get stuck in the traffic!" I say to Anja. She just leans back and grins.
FC Bayern Basketball in Audi Dome | Grasweg 74
Our scepticism was as great as the activities were varied. All the nicer that we didn't chicken out, because our willingness to compromise proved that: There's something exciting or worth knowing in every activity – and you can experience Munich from different perspectives in the process. Even we as Munich residents had the chance to get to know the city in a whole new way – with things that we had never done before and that you don't immediately associate with Munich. We were both surprised at what is possible when you dare to look beyond your own nose.