Munchen

I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I love Munchen.
Everyone cycles here. Not only greenies and fitness freeks. First thing in the morning we walked around the city and marvelled at the hundreds of people going to work on their bikes. Men in suits and women in skirts and office pumps. No one breaking a sweat. A highlight was spotting a women with a tiny dog in her bike basket. All the bikes are of a very sensible sort and every one has some sort of carrier at front or back for bags etc
We spent a wonderful two hours walking around the centre in awe at the fabulous opulant architecture (Odensplatz and Ludwigstrasse). Also each bought a spare pair of shoes at a reasonable price (as only brought one each).
Highlights – the smell and taste of a punnet of perfect strawberries bought from a market stall. Also huge asparagus at the stall. A reminder that we really are back in spring.
Seeing the most beautiful bath ever – the holzbadewanne – in a posh shop window. Stand alone, made entirely of different woods, beautifully shaped – at only E33,800 all that was stopping us was it not fitting on the bikes.

We couldn’t wait to get onto our bikes after seeing the scene, so went for a ride in the afternoon. What an experience. I have never felt so safe on a bike in a city, even riding on the wrong side of the road (with arrows on my cycling gloves to remind me where I should be). The bike paths are totally separated from the traffic, mostly alongside pedestrians. When you do cross traffic it is at traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. There are so many cyclists that you know the cars will see you and give way (in contrast to NZ). Most cyclists here have no helmets or high viz clothes (and very few wear lycra). We saw young and old. Mothers taking their toddlers to kindergarden in little wagons behind their bikes (not just one a few), mother and daughter on bikes coming home from school after 3.

We cycled out to the Nymphenburg Palace that has an amazing garden with water features and statues, just like in the movies. Then we followed cycle paths across the city, past the Olympic stadium to the Englischer Garden which is this 1000 acre huge park in the middle of the city. On the way we stopped at a beer garden next to some Schrebergarten – small garden plots in the city that people can rent and cultivate (see http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,410799,00.html). I cant imagine New Zealander’s cultivating a garden that is not at their home. They were mostly growing vegetables, but also some flowers.

When we reached the Englscher Garden we stopped at anther beer garden which encouraged people walking their dogs. This was at about 5.30pm, it was still very hot and almost everyone in the beer garden had  a dog! There was a huge dog drinking bowl at the entrance. Some skirmishes broke out but overall the dogs were well behaved. We were served by a man in Lederhosen!

We rode around for another few hours. There were lots of people coming down to the garden after work, many on bikes. Lots of families and groups of friends picnicing next to the river. Really great atmosphere.