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Munich Coat of Arms

Aug 2015

munichen (by the) monks + schwabing German unknown.

Population - 1,388,000.

Munich Coat of Arms

Schwabing is a district just north of Munich City Centre. It used to have a bit of a Bohemian reputation and it's where David Bowie would have lived, had he lived here and not in Berlin, probably.

Town planners were put under pressure from protestors to preserve some of the unconventional during Schwabylon's recent gentrification when they presumably had some messages from the action men.

Munich Schwabing - River Isar

One way there is by the Isar and, this being Germany, there might be some nuddyists down there. Isar, of course, is the River Isar but more on that in a minute.

Having headed a little too far north along the Isar, turn left to eventually reach the Englischer Garten, Munich's largest public park. Named not from the planner's nationality, he was American born, but from the style and it was open for business by the late 1700s.

It's bigger than Manhattan's Central Park although the writers of the German sitcom Freunde have also been unable to pun on this one's name. Oh, look! There's a bat festival on today and speaking of batty old things...

Munich Schwabing - Englischer Garten

You know the  Mitford sisters? You know, those between the wars society somebodies? Well,  Unity Valkyrie Mitford only had a thing for Hitler thinking him 'the greatest man of all time.' Hitler's head was turned a bit as well, he described her as 'a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood.'

In 1939, distraught at the outbreak of World War II and with loyalties torn, she shot herself in the head here. She survived the shooting, the bullet missing her tiny brain but she died of complications in 1948, no doubt due to years of there being plenty of room for it to rattle around in there.

Heading west out of the park brings you into Schwabing where the Bohemian reputation of Leopoldstraße isn't overly evident.

Lodgings were in a different area described as 'up and coming' but this area has long since upped and come'd to leave an identikit, glassed gentrification that's generic and not particularly Germanic.

Deutschland, Bayern, München, Schwabing, Leopoldstraße Walking man in Munich-Schwabing

There's a token nod to the artsy in the Walking Man sculpture. At nearly 60 foot tall, it's one of the few things now that you'll see around here that's 'high'. That and the rents.

Hey, we're really giving it to Der Mann's here, right kids?

 
Pinakothek der Moderne (Barer Straße)

This modern art museum is more Maxvorstadt than Schwabing but just like the contents, it's all about your perspective.

Meanwhile, back in the park, lots of FC Bayern München shirts on display. Seems there's a match on tonight[1] and their stadium is about 4 miles north of here.

Munich Schwabing - Englischer Garten

But what's with the numbers? Today's a scorcher and there's barely a table in the shade to be had? Why, one of Munich's famous beer gardens has only gone and been found.

Well, it would be rude not to?

[1] 75,000 would watch a routine 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

The  Chinesischer Turm beer garden has room for some 7,000 drunken bums on seats and an Oriental pagoda.

Munich Schwabing - Chinesischer Turm

Modelled on one in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, it dates from 1790 or rather it would if it hadn't suffered a bang on the head in 1944.

This accurate recreation of the original was built in 1951 and while the upstairs is reserved for the oompah-ering, the space beneath provides some much-needed shade for that pork and booze.

There's an initially unfathomable system of turnstiles, multiple vendors and tokens for your oversized pint pot but once that's been navigated, and you've hunted down some mustard, it's time to people watch and ponder.

Munich Schwabing - Englischer Garten

Ponder that, personally, these porkers could have done with a couple of more minutes.

Head south to exit the park and you'll pass the Schönfeldwiese, an area of meadow that even by Munich standards is notorious for nuddyists. Keep your eyes on the path but, since you ask, most of them were men.

A large number of people heading the same way who, while not entirely, were nearly in the nuddy. It soon became clear, they were here to do this. Jump off a bridge and get swept down the Eisbach, WHEE!

Munich Schwabing - Englischer Garten, Eisbach

It's not quite known how this man-made canal has so much flow but it looked blummin' great, WHEE!

The Eisbach flows from the Isar and this is where it enters the park from underground. Here, an artificial wave has been created for, get this, river surfing.

Munich Schwabing - Eisbachwelle

There was a campaign of sorts by some Germans to have this recognised as an official Olympic event and given the prowess of these fellas, it's felt that would have them at an unfair advantage.

So, in a similar vein, I'm going to start my own campaign... Jumping off swings!

It's been a while but I used to be really good at that.