SHOPPING IN GERMANY (MUNICH & HAMBURG)
Visitors to Munich usually come for the fun, the beer gardens, the cultural scene, or the nightlife -- not for the shopping. However, Munich is full of beautiful and elegant (and expensive) shops and has a number of really intriguing retailers.
The Shopping Scene
In the historic city center, you'll find an extensive pedestrian-only shopping area. Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauserstrasse, the principal shopping streets, extend from the Hauptbahnhof to Marienplatz, then north to Odeonsplatz. For even more upscale shopping, head to Maximilianstrasse, where you'll discover numerous chic boutiques and fashion houses that rival any on Fifth Avenue. For funkier wares, head to Schwabing, the former bohemian quarter. Schellingstrasse and Hohenzollernstrasse are home to many unusual galleries and hip boutiques.
Shops in the downtown area are generally open from 10am to 6pm during the week. Stores may stay open until 8:30pm on Thursday. On Saturday the shops generally close around 4pm. The smaller neighborhood stores usually open their doors from 8:30am to 12:30pm and then reopen from 3 to 6pm. On the first Saturday of the month, Langer Samstag, the downtown stores are open until 4pm from April to September and until 6pm from October to March.
Munich is not a center for antiques buyers, since relatively little remained after the World War II bombings, and anything really valuable is snapped up instantaneously by the prosperous bourgeoisie. There is some estate-sale stuff "from Grandmother's cupboard" but little of major consequence. In fact, many older pieces come from England, France, or elsewhere.
If you enjoy random wanderings and window-shopping for collectibles, the streets that are particularly rich in antique shops radiate outward from the Viktualienmarkt. One of the most important of these is the Westenriederstrasse.
Antike Uhren Eder
Here you'll find antique clocks from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Antike Uhren Eder can supply you with timepieces that have told many, many other people exactly what time it is for a very long time. Adjacent to the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, the shop attracts a glamorous clientele from virtually everywhere. It's open Monday to Friday from 10:30am to 6:30pm and Saturday from 11am to 2pm.
This unusual shop was established in the early '80s by its charming owner, Urban Geissel and his wife, Gisela. A delightful alternative for dedicated collectibles buyers, it carries a collection of luggage made by English and French purveyors to the aristocrats and millionaires of the Jazz Age. There are suitcases and steamer trunks from Louis Vuitton, whose LV logo was inaugurated about 20 years after the company's establishment in 1878; some antique pieces by HermÃƒÂ¨s; and examples from English makers such as Finnegan's and Harrods. Although they tend to be heavy, they're still serviceable and richly imbued with the nostalgia of the great days of oceangoing travel. The place is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 6pm and Saturday from 11am to 2pm.
This is Munich's equivalent of Paris's Rungis (formerly Les Halles). Buyers from virtually every restaurant in Munich make an early morning pilgrimage to this industrial-looking complex in the city's southern suburbs. Purveyors arrive with lorries from as far away as Italy; buyers congregate from throughout Bavaria and beyond. Be warned, though, that there's an entrance fee of 3Ã¢â€šÂ¬ that allows you only to browse and admire the way business is conducted; buying is wholesale only -- homemakers who do show up usually bring bushel baskets or wheeled carts to haul away impressive quantities of peaches, apples, or whatever. It's open Monday to Saturday from 5am to 10:30am.
One of the most visible and traditional in Munich, this December Christmas market attracts visitors from all over Germany and Europe -- only the Christmas market in NÃƒÂ¼rnberg is more famous. Hundreds of stalls offer Christmas ornaments, handmade children's toys, carved figures, and nativity scenes. The square is full of local color; the stallkeepers are picturesque in their woolen coats, hats, and gloves; and the scene is enhanced by frequent snowfalls. Opening hours vary with the enthusiasm of the merchants. In most cases, stalls are open 10am to 8pm on Monday to Saturday, although as Christmas approaches, many open on Sunday as well, until 7pm.
Unless you happen to be staying in a place where you have access to a kitchen, it's doubtful that you'll want to be hauling groceries back to your hotel room during your stay in Munich. That doesn't detract, however, from the allure of wandering through the open-air stalls of the city's most prominent food market, a few minutes' walk south of the Marienplatz (there is no specific address, but the market sprawls over a wide area and can't be missed). It's composed of hundreds of independently operated merchants who maintain whatever hours they want, often closing up their cramped premises whenever the day's inventory is sold out. Most economy-minded shoppers, however, show up, shopping basket in hand, around 8am, to stock their larders before noon. By 5pm, only the hardiest of merchants remain in place, and by early evening, the kiosks are locked up tight. On the premises are a worthy collection of wine, meats, cheeses, and all the other bounty of the Bavarian agrarian world.
In addition to those above, a traditional market, Auer Dult, is held three times a year in the Mariahilfplatz. Dates vary but the months are April, July, and October. Antiques dealers, food, and Bavarian bands are present; it's a great place to find bargains. Take tram 7, 15, 25, or 27.
Hamburg is a city of merchants. In general, stores are open Monday to Friday 9am to 6:30pm (some until 8pm Thurs) and on Saturday 9am to 2pm (until 4 or 6pm on langer Samstag, the first Sat of the month). Unfortunately, the best shops are not concentrated in one location. Two of the oldest and most prestigious shopping streets, Grosse Bleichen and Neuer Wall, run parallel to the canals, connected transversely by Jungfernstieg and Ufer Strasse on the Binnenalster. Less expensive shopping streets are Spitalstrasse and MÃƒÂ¶nckebergstrasse.
Hamburg has nine major shopping malls. The glass-roofed Hanse Viertel Galerie Passage is some 200m (656 ft.) long. There's a scattering of upscale cafes here and even a stand-up seafood bar where glasses of beer or Sekt (sparkling wine) are served at tiny tables.
MÃƒÂ¶nckebergstrasse (U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), a street connecting the main station with the Rathaus, is the city's traditional shopping district. Here you'll find big department stores such as Karstadt, MÃƒÂ¶nckebergstrasse 16 (tel. 040/30940), part of a chain that carries many of the same brands and items as the other leading department stores, all competitively priced. The store is open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 4pm. A thrifty alternative, Kaufhof, MÃƒÂ¶nckebergstrasse 3 (tel. 040/333070), carries less-expensive items than the surrounding department stores and also offers better deals on merchandise markdowns. Bargain hunters combing the store are apt to be successful. Hours are Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 8pm. More fashionable and upscale than any of the three mentioned above is Alsterhaus, Jungfernstieg 16-20 (tel. 040/359010), which some New Yorkers have compared favorably to Bloomingdale's (same hours as Karstadt).
If you walk down Bergstrasse to the second part of the city center, you pass along Jungfernstieg, with tourist boats of the Alster Fleet on the right and a teeming shopping street on the other side. About a block farther along you come to the Hamburger Hof, the elegant entrance to one of the most attractive chains of shopping galleries in Europe. At the end of Jungfernstieg, you can cross GÃƒÂ¤nsemarkt to GÃƒÂ¤nsemarkt Passage, another shopping gallery, with stores on three levels.
An upmarket and youthfully fashionable shopping area is in Eppendorf (U-Bahn: Eppendorfer Baum), Hamburg's oldest village, first mentioned in written history in 1140. Many prosperous and avant-garde Hamburgers live in the stately area's 19th-century homes and apartments. The shopping district, from Klosterstern to Eppendorfer Markt, has exclusive boutiques selling fashions from Paris, Milan, and New York; colorful shops with odds and ends for your home; antiques shops; and places where you can not only make purchases but watch goldsmiths, hatmakers, potters, and weavers at work.
The Hamburg Fischmarkt (fish market), between Hexenberg and Grosse Elbstrasse (U-Bahn: LandungsbrÃƒÂ¼cken), is held every Sunday from 5am in summer or 7am otherwise. Flowers, fruit, vegetables, plants, and pets are also for sale at this traditional market, in existence since 1703. It sometimes seems that the fish are just an afterthought nowadays. The nearby taverns are open to serve Fischmarkt visitors and vendors. One of the densest concentrations of antiques in Hamburg lies within the Antik-Center, Klosterwall 9-21 (tel. 040/326285; U-Bahn: Steinstrasse or Hauptbahnhof), a covered passageway loaded with more than 60 stalls and the accumulated loot of estate sales throughout England, Germany and, to a lesser degree, France. It's been compared to Portobello Road in London by aficionados of the trade who value the sheer volume of objects that glint, sparkle, and evoke the values and aesthetics of other places and other times.
Jil Sander, Neuer Wall 43 (tel. 040/3741290; U-Bahn: Damtor), is the best place to go for chic women's styling. Jil Sander burst upon Europe's fashion scene from her native city of Hamburg and has taken special efforts to make this three-floor store the flagship of her increasingly successful operation. Part of the success of her designs derives from their wearability -- they are appropriate for the office, the boardroom, or cocktail hour. Another popular choice for women's fashions is Escada Boutique, Neuer Wall 32 (tel. 040/363296; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), owned by the German design company of the same name. This store carries the firm's complete collection of women's sports, evening, business, and knit wear, plus accessories that include hats, bags, gloves, and shoes. A less-expensive division of Escada, Laurel Boutique, Neuer Wall 41 (tel. 040/3743270; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), appeals to an active, younger clientele with alternative takes on casual day and elegant evening wear. If you think that hats have gone out of style, think again. Monika Flac, Bleichenhof Passage 35, off Grosse Bleichen (tel. 040/345437; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), sells all kinds of toppers, from serious garden-party varieties festooned with cabbage roses to perky numbers that might have been favored by the late Jacqueline Onassis, as well as Homburgs and Stetson-style hats for men.
For high-fashion men's clothing, go to Thomas-i-Punkt, GÃƒÂ¤nsemarkt 24 (tel. 040/342009; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), where you'll find suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, and belts carrying the exclusive Omen label. Ties, handkerchiefs, and other accessories are also available. Shoes, well-made and fashionably styled, are sold to both men and women at Schuhhaus Prange, Jungfernstieg 38 (tel. 040/343151; U-Bahn: Jungfernstieg).
One of the city's leading hairdressers, for both men and women, is Marlies MÃƒÂ¼ller at Neuer Wall 61 (tel. 040/4440040; U-Bahn: Damtor). Besides hair styling and beauty treatments, a large perfume and cosmetic selection is also offered here.
Brahmfeld & Gutruf, Jungfernstieg 12 (tel. 040/346103; U-Bahn: Jungfernstieg), is one of Germany's oldest jewelers, founded in 1743.
One of Hamburg's biggest selections of books, mostly in German but with lots of English-language texts as well, can be found at Thalia Buchhandlung, Spitalerstrasse 8 (tel. 040/485010; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof).
A store with a nautical nature, Binikowski, Lokstedter Weg 68 (tel. 040/462852; U-Bahn: Eppendorfer Baum), established in 1955, is the place to find a Buddelschiffe (ship in a bottle), as well as ship models and clocks. Captain's Cabin, Bei Dim St. Pauli LandungsbrÃƒÂ¼cken 3 (tel. 040/316373; S-Bahn: LandungsbrÃƒÂ¼cken), stocks ship models, telescopes, barometers, figureheads, lamps, nautical clothing for the whole family, prints, posters, and more.