Mihail Pandrea reviews his first Ryder team trip, where Team Malcolm visited sunny Seville, the capital of Andalusia in Spain.
We were all pleasantly surprised by the light snow that welcomed us off the aeroplane at Munich International Airport. Our hotel, The Pullman Munich, was located slightly northeast of the city centre a short metro ride away. However, the evening rush hour was upon us and we quickly got a taste of the no nonsense German attitude as people piled into the carriages – an experience to rival the London Tube. Upon arrival at the hotel, a bit dishevelled, we checked in and quickly freshened up, eager to head into the city.
We headed to the Hofbräuhaus, one of the famous Bavarian taverns in Munich, with its long tables, oom-pah bands and traditional food. Historically known as the place of Hitler’s first rally, in which he enticed the locals inside with the offer of free beer! After a few clinking of the steins, we were dancing the night away to an array of music in a nearby Irish bar.
Up and out by 10:00, we went for a pancake breakfast and then to the Kunstareal (museum quarter) to explore the Pinakothek der Moderne (Modern Art Museum), the exhibitions of which focused around art, architecture and product design. The building, designed by Stephan Braunfels, has an elegant and calm external aesthetic, using slender columns to support a large overhanging canopy. Within are four principal galleries radiating from the top lit entrance rotunda, which acts as an orientation space. The exhibitions are devoted to modern paintings, sculpture, craft and design. One of the most impressive exhibits, and a personal favourite, was the Audi classic car collection, combined with a 3D feature wall comprising 1,800 model cars.
We meandered through the museum quarter towards the Marienplatz to meet Lenny, our guide for a historical walking tour of Munich, with a twist of dark humour, a keg of beer and drinking games. The team quickly rallied, laughing as Jonny Seebacher was nicknamed Chatty Cathy (something we all found rather apt) and nominated to pull the beer cart through the streets. It should be noted that it was not all drinking – Lenny’s historical knowledge of Munich was first class, particularly his anecdotes about the Bayerische Staatsoper (The National Theatre). After only five years since opening, the building caught alight and burnt to the ground – partially because they ran out of water to douse the flames so resorted to beer, an ill advised option. Two years (and a lot of public money) later, the theatre was reopened, only to survive a further 20 years before being bombed in the war. The state was unable to justify spending more money on this building and it was only when a citizen funded group raised the funds that the theatre was finally resurrected once more.
The day began with a morning stroll to the Englischer Garten where we explored more of the residential areas, before visiting the BMW Headquarters, Museum and Welt, adjacent to the Olympic Park.
The museum and headquarters were constructed in 1973 and refurbished in 2008. The Welt, a glorified showroom, was the result of a design competition in 2001, won by Coop Himmelb(l)au. The result is an impressive building of unnecessary proportion that cost approximately $200m to build, its high specification, sleek lines and modern aesthetic encapsulating the BMW brand. The building, the most visited attraction in Bavaria, has a very low carbon demand being mostly naturally ventilated and has an enormous PV array across its entire roof which provides 824 kWp of its energy.
We then ventured to the Olympic Park which was built to house the 1972 Olympics. The park was designed by Behnisch and Partners and is a synergy of high tech organic design and undulating landscape. The new topography was created by shifting, carving and filling the ground, even using rubble from the WWII bomb damage when necessary. An incredible suspended canopy, designed by Frei Otto, completes the park. This consists of some 8,000 plexiglass panels and drapes over the athletic stadium, swimming pool, performance halls and other core event spaces.
The athletes’ village that accommodated the competitors’ coaches and families, located to the north of the park, sits in stark contrast being brutalist in expression. The complex originally housed 10,000 residents and has over time been adapted for other uses including hotels and student accommodation. The small scale family accommodation was built as terraces less than 3m apart. A new community has since formed, taking ownership of the units and using the façade as a canvas to express their individual aesthetic.
After easily accomplishing 30,000 steps, we headed back into the centre for a well earned drink and to source somewhere for a group meal. En route, we stopped at the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) on the Marienplatz to climb the 85m tower and enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the city.
As we enjoyed our final night in Munich, with good food and company, it was great to reflect on what had been a fantastic trip. As we now know, our timing turned out to be incredibly lucky. We were very fortunate to have been able to experience this city’s vibrancy, culture and architecture whilst creating such fun memories together.
On behalf of myself and the team, I would like to thank Ryder for this opportunity. I look forward to enjoying future team trips – although I’m hopeful these will be slightly warmer.