Thursday, 23 February 2017

Just back from Munich

Munich is on my list of favourite cities, not just because of its well-known beery delights, but because of its setting in southern Germany, its obvious cultural and artistic attractions, plus, of course, the friendliness of its people characterised by that most German of feelings – "Gemütlichkeit"; described as a space or state of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer, but also a sense of cosiness, peace of mind, belonging, well being, and social acceptance.

I have been to Munich on five previous occasions, but always during the summer months; and for good reason. It is first and foremost a summer city, and I have many happy memories of sitting out and enjoying a few beers, under the shade of the spreading chestnut trees in its many and varied beer gardens. The whole city seems to come alive during the summer months, and there is a vibrancy and air of expectation about the place which is hard to put into words.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I accepted my son’s suggestion to accompany him to Munich, during part of his week off during February. The thought that the city’s obvious summer attractions would be replaced by the cold and grey drabness of late February really didn’t appeal, but I knew that Matt had been pushing himself rather hard at work, and would appreciate the chance to unwind, persuaded me; that and the thought that he would be very unlikely to head off there on his own.

I went ahead and booked a few days off work, booked the flights- cheap at this time of year and working out at just £84.00 return on Easy Jet, when travelling with just a cabin bag. I also selected the same hotel that we stayed in back in 2012 and 2014. Job done and with only the airport parking to sort out, everything seemed on track, until Matt’s best friend asked if he could join us.

I had mixed thoughts on this, but Matt was keen, so I said yes, and it was arranged that whilst we would be flying out on the Sunday afternoon, Will would join us the following day. We would all stay until the Wednesday evening before flying back home together. Whilst this wouldn’t quite be the father and son trip I had first envisaged, I still though there was plenty of mileage in it, so whilst waiting for our departure date to arrive, I gave some thought as to the types of places we would want to visit.

Munich’s beer gardens, of course, would be off the list. Those which function as stand-alone establishments would be closed, and whilst there was the possibility that places which are first and foremost pubs, of guest houses, with beer gardens attached, could still be good, I wanted to give a few other places a chance; places which we might not have even entertained during the summer months.

We didn’t stick to a rigid plan; preferring to go with the flow, but what we did find was a city which was far less crowded with tourists than it would have been during the summer months, and a city where we were able to discover a hitherto hidden side. Even establishments like the world famous Hofbräuhaus were far less busy than
we have experienced during previous visits, and we found that the city’s parks and public had a wintertime charm, all of their own.

We didn’t arrive home until very late last night, and with work first thing this morning, there hasn’t been much time to sort out photos or write detailed articles, but in the next post or two, I plan to convey something of the quality and charm we found in Munich, during what is normally one of the dreariest of months.


Matt said...

My ginger-haired complexion and a genetic inheritance from people who didn't see much sunlight (West Lancashire miners and West of Ireland peasants) means that I actively avoid being out in the sun and most of my beer trips to Germany have been in the winter, but having said that the one time I went to Munich was in summer and there really isn't anything better than an afternoon in a beer garden there sitting in the - for me much needed - shade of a large tree with a mug of gravity-dispensed beer.

Paul Bailey said...

I am sure you are wise to stay out of the sun, Matt. This is something I didn’t do in my youth; in fact I was a real “sun junkie”.

These days I am little more circumspect, knowing the damage the sun’s rays can do to human skin. It is also far comfier to sit in the shade and, more importantly, the beer stays cooler for longer; an important consideration if you are drinking by the litre!