Greetings from Munich!
I am here in a cafe called the “Hungry Heart” near the ancient part of the city, hanging out and wandering through the streets until my speaker rehearsal for TEDxMunich this afternoon.
I haven’t been back to Southern Germany since I was an exchange student in Ulm in highschool. This time, my German is much better, I feel comfortable wandering through the streets on my own, and the weather is much more Grey. It made my decision to bring my bright yellow coat better!
German design, at least on the larger scale, is much more sparse than the little nooks I know and love in France, Spain and the Netherlands. But then, sometimes, people leave the doors to their inner courtyards open and you see the whispers of bright, goldenrod yellow interiors… and I find that delightful. They are also very careful about details and functionality. For example, our bathroom in our hotel is very very compact, but as soon as you open the door, a little blue light goes on so you can see where you are moving in the dark, even while the rest of the lights in the room are off. The room is also carefully organized so you never feel cramped, though it is quiet small and compact. Clearly the work of some thoughtful engineers and designers. I expect nothing less from Germans!
Last night I wandered through the Christmas markets, which I am surprised to say I had never seen before in this scale and glory! They make the set ups in Columbus Circle and Union Square in New York seem like child’s play.
The streets all around the old part of the city were set up with little stands offering beautifully sculpted chocolate tools, shaped like little gears and wrenches that could move and be used together, curry wurst stands, christmas ornaments made from straw and glitter, felted tiger slippers, little wooden toy ducks and other critters, cheese, advent calendars, wreathes, beer, bread and everything else you can image. It smelled wonderful. Like mulled wine, fresh bread and evergreen.
It was a Thursday night but it was packed. Tourists and Germans alike came to see the live music and celebration. And even while it was packed, I didn’t mind — it felt less like the insanity of Time Square and more like gentle crowds of people enjoying the busy market place.
I love marketplaces, as many of you know. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more after my tech rehearsal this afternoon.
And tomorrow, see you at TEDxMunich! My talk is in the first session and it’s called “Lessons from the Informal Economy.” It’s a variation on the talk I gave at TEDGlobal in Rio in October. I decided to take some risks and play with new concepts that I am going to try to present tomorrow. Wish we luck!