Danny Müller is a philosopher and a globetrotter, a barkeeper and a sailor, but above all he is a pretty down-to-earth sort of guy. Jena born and bred, he has run the Weintanne in Jena with Marco Kühl since 2014 and he mixes the best cocktails in the city.
When asked why he traded philosophy for a life at sea when he was younger, Danny Müller is quick to answer: “Because life happens out there.” A philosophy graduate, he travelled around the world for seven years, including a year in Oman, and got to know all kinds of people, cultures and countries. He embraced the different sights and sounds, listened to different stories, and made new friends. But in the end, he made the decision to return home: “I didn’t want to wake up one morning and find I didn’t know where I belonged.”
There’s no doubt that Danny Müller belongs in Jena. The locals have known him since his student days, when he used to walk through the streets with his black coat and pony tail. By acquiring the Weintanne, Danny Müller, together with Marco Kühl, took on an iconic establishment that is just as much part of Jena as he is himself. The building has always been a place of encounters between people from all walks of life with different beliefs and ideas. In short: a place for revolutionary thinkers – and it still is to this day. Danny Müller knows the history of his bar as well as he knows the history of his home city. Just the man to ask for some tips about special places in and around Jena.
I’m visiting Jena for the first time. What shop, store or boutique will tell me the most about the way of life here?
Brandmarken is a boutique and café rolled into one – cosy, quirky and relaxed. For fine spirits and cigars from around the world, as well as plenty of surprises, I recommend Erik’s Tabakladen. And in the Vinothek on Bachstrasse you can enjoy wines and the stories behind them.
We need somewhere to rest our weary feet after a long day of sightseeing. Where can we recharge our batteries?
At Strand 22. This chilled-out bar on the beach by the river Saale is a real hotspot in summer. You’ll see lots of people there relaxing in deckchairs. Another great choice is the Salü riverside restaurant, which offers fantastic vegetarian cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere. And I’d recommend the Schillerhof cinema for winding down and simply taking in the Jena vibe.
We need something sweet! Ideally something typical of the local area and we’d rather not wait! Where do we need to go?
Head to the famous old Kaffeehaus Gräfe, where you can enjoy a wide choice of homemade cakes from the patisserie together with coffee or tea. Or visit 401-Waffeln & Co., a Jena institution that brings smiles to the faces of children and grown-ups alike. It does waffles if you hadn’t already guessed! And not forgetting the UniCafé, of course – an all-organic student hangout close to the university library where you can enjoy homemade cakes and soup.
We want to get out there in the fresh air. Where should we go?
Paradise park – our municipal park on the banks of the river Saale. It has a skate park, jogging trails and a stadium, and is where many of the university sports activities are held. I would also recommend the botanical gardens with their greenhouses and extensive collection of beautiful, sweet-smelling plants. This is a great place to simply relax and unwind, even when it’s raining. If you would like to explore the area around Jena, try the Saale Cycle Route, which offers dedicated, well-maintained paths that are not too steep. Another option is to hire a canoe and let yourself be carried downriver into the bosom of nature – great fun for all the family!
I’d say you just have to keep your eyes open when you’re exploring the city, and don’t be afraid to stray from the beaten track. Stand still every now and then and take in all the sights, sounds and smells. Just go where the mood takes you. Jena has something to offer for each and every moment.
I keep hearing that Jena is steeped in history, and is known as the city of light. Is there one particular establishment that captures this spirit?
Try Café Central, the café-bar overlooking the market square. It is long-established, chic and cosmopolitan. And when it comes to eating and drinking in Jena, there’s our very own Gastraum Weintanne, where we are passionate about crafting fine food and drink.
Hand on heart – what’s your favourite spot in Jena?
Now that’s a tough question. I’d say you just have to keep your eyes open when you’re exploring the city, and don’t be afraid to stray from the beaten track. Stand still every now and then and take in all the sights, sounds and smells. Just go where the mood takes you. Jena has something to offer for each and every moment. But it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re looking for. All you have to do is ask. To get the Jena experience – go with the flow.