‘Alles ist eine Frage der Haltung’ – Tollwood Festival!

Alles is eine Frage der Haltung! 

It’s all a matter of attitude!

Tollwood Christmas market was my favourite part of Christmas in Munich and now summer has rolled around, I’m lucky enough to be able to say that the 25 day summer Tollwood festival is happening right in my back garden – the Olympic Park.

In my eyes, the festival is nothing short of incredible.  Tollwood is a forum for environmental conciousness and a platform for many other social campaigns. Through being so mulicultural it promotes tolerance, internationality and openness.  Although Munich is a big city – it doesn’t always feel multicultural in comparison to cities like Berlin.  Hearing any other language than German on the train is very rare so it’s great to see Tollwood promote so many other cultures in this festival.

Tollwood also campaigns for an end to intensive animal farming.  We saw this yesterday whilst wandering around the Markt für Ideen (Market of ideas):

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Giant breathing bratwurts in pig cages.

There are so many different types of food and countless food vans serving every type of cuisine from every corner of the globe.  That’s already cool in itself – what’s even cooler is that all of the food on offer at Tollwood is Bio (organic)-cerfitied. Even the beer is organic. Chinese, Bavarian, Turkish, Indian.. all the food is there! I personally enjoyed some crepes and vegan ice-cream made only from cashew nuts, strawberries and dates.

Also, more than 70% of the events are free of charge!  It’s such a cool day/night out and we saw some amazing performances completely for free.

I dare anyone to visit Tollwood and not be transported into the best mood – you just feel as though you are celebrating the very vitality of life when you are there. There’s such a buzz and every corner you turn you see something different- from giant people dressed as birds to break-dancers to indian drumming groups.

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‘You’re right.. But I like my opinion better.’
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If anyone has any idea as to what this might mean please enlighten me.

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Sometimes hippy-ish events like these can sort of feel like they are trying too hard.  It’s hard to explain but you know what I mean – like they are doing everything they can to be different and to superficially care about charities and the environment.  But it’s different at Tollwood.  It is so relaxed and you can see every type of person there having fun – from young kids to old Bavarian men and women.  It’s not an alternative crowd – it’s totally mainstream and everyone fits in. It’s anything but try-hard and you just get the feeling that the organisers of this amazing festival really actually do care. You don’t have to dress a certain way to feel accepted or cool here.

I see countless blog posts all about ‘how to fit in in Berlin’ or ‘how to act like a Berliner’ and the posts then begin to set out how you should wear mainly black, listen to techno music, become a vegan etc etc. You have to try so hard to be not mainstream that in actual fact you end up the same as everyone else. In my eyes, Munich as a whole just isn’t like that. You can do whatever you want and feel normal.  And Tollwood festival embodies this!

Tollwood’s social committment is so refreshing and just wandering around the festival for a few hours will thoroughly renew your faith in the human kind. 

If after watching the news in the recent weeks and seeing all of the horrendous things happening, you’re suffering from any sort of Weltschmerz (a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness) then a trip to Tollwood is what I would prescribe. Get down to the Olympic Park for a yoga massage, a colourful braid in your hair, an organic Thai meal, a refreshing beer, a music show, a glass of Prosecco, or some Indian dancing…. The list could go on and on and on!

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Eintritt Frei! Free entrance to most of the events.
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‘Green energy only here’

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I really believe that Munich doesn’t get enough credit for stuff like this – as it is so prosperous and expensive, it is often seen as a stuck up and conservative city but I haven’t experienced that at all.  Tollwood feels so effortless and just adds to what Munich has to offer – other than Tollwood, this weekend the Olympic park has seen the Munich Mash event as well which involved an international BMX tricks competition and bike polo matches as well as a huge inner-city waterslide! I’ve also tried slacklining (like tight-rope walking) and watched some cool stand-up paddle boarding and trampolining. I don’t think I even need to go into how hard it has been to revise….

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Denn Kultur, Lebensfreude und Engagement für eine bessere Zukunft sind eine Frage der Haltung – der eines jeden Einzelnen.

“Because culture, joie de vivre and commitment to a better future are a matter of attitude and everybody is responsible.”

Enjoying one of nature’s little surprises

Liebe Leser und liebe Leserinnen,

Dear Readers.

The last two weeks have mainly been dedicated to studying. I made a mistake with my courses and didn’t realise until six weeks in that I had accidentally chosen a Masters class and that this may be the reason I wasn’t understanding much (or…understanding anything). Almost everyone else in the class already has a law degree! Anyway, it was too late to change classes and this has lead to some frantic cramming. The exam was today and it went ok, although the lady sitting next to me introduced herself and mentioned that she was working on her Phd and I felt well and truly out of my league. And when I opened the paper to start the exam I did sort of feel more lost than Alan Partridge walking down the wrong side of the motorway singing Goldfinger.

I sat in the exam scrawling the longest German words you could ever dream of whilst simultaneously trying my hardest to undo the public law shaped knot inside my brain. I can only hope now. Not sure if I am in law school or in the Hunger Games at this point. The lack of sleep didn’t really help either – my next door neighbour locked herself out and came to my door at 2am last night so that she could climb onto my balcony to reach her open balcony door.

It is fine though, my only real goal in life is to have my own Wikipedia page and you don’t need to pass exams to achieve that.. do you?

In better news, the fluffy white stuff has made its home in Munich this week and the sunsets are still painting the loch.

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Olympiapark yesterday

The Austrailians (and others who have trekked here from faraway lands) are treating their first snow like it is their first love. But who can blame them, who doesn’t love snow? The thick, fluffy kind that falls softly and silently in the night. You wake up in a totally different world – it’s magical.

I think it’s the nostalgia of it all – the white stuff whisks you into a time machine straight back to your childhood. Straight back to all that childlike fascination and joy. Walking to uni was silent today on the snow-carpet beneath my feet, except when I walked through some that was deeper and I felt that oh-so-satisfying crunch of the snow under my wellies. It’s the simple things.

When the Olympiapark was clothed in snow there was nothing more enchanting. It was all just silence and snow and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only reason it was there was to make things look beautiful. And there was nothing better than the feeling of sitting in my room with my cup of tea and my blanket watching the snow fall by candle light. The world was like my very own snow globe.
BUT as the days get colder, we all need to start having warmer hearts. And by this I mean doing things that make us happy – for example NO STUDYING!

We piled up snow my friend's door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn't get in.  I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
We piled up snow my friend’s door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn’t get in. I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
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Sledging in Olympic Park behind my little house
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain and embarrassment

Having had more than my annual fair share of study moaning, I have got lots to look forward to after all the studying is over. I’m off to Vienna for a trip shortly and I have been ordering some work- appropriate clothes for my official start in my new law office job next week. However that has lead to problems of its own. I got a delivery from the courier of some new black boots for work at 8am yesterday and I answered in my pyjamas. The postie man said that he might however have to come back later because he needed me to sign something to confirm I had received them but that he had forgot the electronic signing device thingy. I went out and had my day at uni, met my friend for lunch and taught an english lesson. Came home around 5pm and got back into my pyjamas – y’know, for optimum comfort – and yep, this is when the postie decided to return. From his point of view, I looked like the laziest student ever who sat around in her pyjamas all day, no amount of ‘oh by the way I have been out today’ could end his smirking face of disapproval.

Anyway! Here’s to more sun and snow! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a pair more suited to one another!

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A lonely little schneeman in the Englisher Garten

Law school Germany fact of the day:
The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (purity law) was brought in by Albert IV Duke of Bavaria in 1487 and specifies that only water, hops and barley could be used to brew beer. The European Union Court in 1987 decided that this Reinheitsgebot was unlawful because it prevented free trade within the EU because other countries could not import their beer to Germany as their beers did not comply with the law. Lots of Bavarian beers however still proudly present ‘Gebraut nach dem Reinheitsgebot’ (brewed according to the purity laws) on their beers. The Germans LOVE a good quality beer and want to know exactly what they are drinking!

Home from home: Munich Olympic Park

Sorry for the lack of posts! My laptop decided to die conveniently during exam time in December but he’s all back to life now – just now with a German hard drive which is making my life slightly more difficult – who knew computer talk in a different language was this complex?! I’m back from spending Christmas at home in Shetland and I have found myself really appreciating where I live in Munich. Especially when I got on the plane and the pilot said “The weather is very similar to Edinburgh in Munich.  Except in Munich it’s not windy or rainy or cloudy.’ And not to mention my new Professor is called Rudolph so this makes me very happy. So we took a long walk today.

I consider myself unbelieveably lucky to have landed accommodation in the Olympic park for my year abroad. Although the Olympics were held here way back in the summer of 1972 when I wasn’t even dreamt of yet – the place is more alive than ever and you can do just about everything here – skating, boat hire, mini golf, tennis, outdoor cinema, swimming, ice skating, football, flying fox and so much more.

Die Heiteren Spiele – The Happy Games

As the motto of the 1972 Games shows, the Olympic park was centered around creating a new image for Germany – this was their chance to put history behind them as the 1936 Games were held in Berlin under a Nazi government and the Germans were well aware of the connection people had between Germany and the Olympics because of this. The intention of representing a new democratic Germany was clear. They wanted a ‘Demokratisches Grün’ (democratic green) Olympic venue. And so they decided to call this place I call home the Olympiapark as it fit well with the whole ‘green’ theme.

Unfortunately The Happy Games were overshadowed and are still remembered today for a most unhappy event that unfolded to be one of the most shocking tragedies of the 70s. The organisers’ intention of creating a new image for Germany was indeed clear however it is hard to get past the fact that when someone mentions the Munich Olympics, the first thing that comes to mind is the Munich massacre. Sadly this amazing place comes along with a horrific history. 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer were brutally murdered.

On September the 5th a Palestinian Terrorist organisation stormed the Olympic Village and took these athletes hostage in their own apartments. Anyone who wants to know more about the events of that day should watch a documentary called ‘One Day in September’ or Steven Spielberg’s ‘Munich.’ I cannot imagine how horrible the atmosphere was in the village on that day and it is almost impossible for me to imagine how such a brutality could have happened in this happy, welcoming place. If anyone is interested here is some footage of News Anchor Jim McKay announcing the news. ‘My father used to say that our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realised. Tonight, our worst fears have been realised… They are gone.’

In 1972 was the first time a terrorist attack had been broadcast live across the globe.  With the attack in Sydney only a few weeks ago and yesterday’s attack in Paris – it doesn’t seem like we are moving any further forward.

Upon moving in to my apartment in the village I knew that the hostages were held in one of these apartments but it did not really hit home until I was out for a run one day and stumbled upon the exact flat:

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‘The Israeli athletes lived in this building… they died a violent death.’

The Park

I hope I haven’t depressed everyone too much with that and I’ll move on to more happier things. The way that the Germans have kept this place alive is really amazing – to live in such a huge green space in the middle of a city is indescribable. It’s a beautiful area. I took a walk today through the park and was able to see the Alps in the distance.

The Alps in the distance
The Alps in the distance
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The lake in the park frozen today

The weather was a bit warmer when I arrived in September so I bought myself a pair of skates from a Flea Market (basically a car boot sale) and got skating.  The olympic park is just MADE for exercising.

Us skating
Us skating
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View from the Tower.

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Now lots of famous bands perform in the stadium every month.  Kylie Minogue was just here and so was Ed Sheeran.

The Village

The Olympic village is a happy and welcoming place.  As students, we are allowed to paint or ‘graffiti’ whatever we want on our little houses. Here’s some pictures I took of some of my favourites (sorry it was a bit of a grey afternoon).  I think its so cool that the students are allowed to express themselves and brighten this place up – and that all the paintings are happy and colourful and no one abuses it.  I still need to paint mine!

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Finding Nemo
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Care Bears
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Mario Cart
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The tardis
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Madagascar
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The Lion King
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Alice in Wonderland

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All in all it is a beautiful place to live and perfect for students.  I think its really remarkable how the Germans haven’t just let this place go but have kept it going and now the history of the games can live on forever.  I just hope that this place can be seen for more than just the location in which a brutal attack took place. No person is perfect and in the same sense no place is perfect – I have sung Munich’s praises in my blog up until now but it wouldn’t be true or fair to not address some negatives.

This place today is just proof that the Happy Games really did succeed – happiness will always be more powerful than terror. Just as Hollande said yesterday following the attacks – liberty will always be stronger than barbarity.

The Park is definitely worth a visit and you might even catch an old person zooming by on a scooter as that seems to be a popular method of transport here. Also if you want to fit in, bring outdoor gear.  The Germans love their North Face and Jack Wolfskin kit.