Friday, 26 September 2014

Saving The Best For Last

Anyone reading my posts on our summer holiday in Munich could be forgiven for assuming it was a complete washout. This wasn’t the case, as despite two days of heavy rain, plus another spent dodging the showers, on balance there were more dry days, and a reasonable amount of sunshine. The main complaint was that temperatures were a lot cooler than they normally are at this time of year; so it wasn't quite the shorts, sandals and T-shirt weather we had been hoping for.

The best day in fact happened to be the last full one of our holiday, (typical!) and we were determined to make the most of it. So on a warm and sunny Sunday, with hardly a cloud in the sky, what better way to spend it than by doing what many Müncheners do, and head for one of  my favourite parts of the city; the Englischer Garten. I have written in the past about this vast area of open parkland, which acts as a green lung for the city, so after a leisurely breakfast my son and I took the U-Bahn to Münchener Freiheit, and then walked the short distance through a very select-looking area to the edge of the Englischer Garten and the Osterwald Beer House.

Kleinhesselohe See
This was our first visit to this establishment, and compared to many of the people sitting out in the small beer garden in front of the pub we were late in getting there. We still managed to find a table but, given its rather upmarket nature, decided just to have the one drink there; a pleasant and refreshing glass of Späten. Leaving Osterwald, we headed into the Englischer Garten in a roughly north-easterly direction. Skirting the large boating lake that is the Kleinhesselohe See we reached the busy Isarring dual-carriageway which we crossed via a pedestrian footbridge, and from there it was just a short hop to Hirschau.

Sunday lunchtime crowd at Hirschau
We hadn't been in this northern section of the Englischer Garten before, but it's not dissimilar to the more popular southern section, closer to the city centre. Hirschau too was a new beer garden for us, but we were both really pleased that we found it. Large, but not as overwhelming as Chinesischer Turm or Hirschgarten, we heard the sounds of a traditional jazz band playing as we walked through the entrance. After finding our way to the self-service area we grabbed a free table, followed by a couple of beers; a glass of delicious Löwenbräu – Dunkles for me and Helles for the boy. After listening to the band for a while and just watching the comings and goings, we decided that something more solid would be in order, so I went and grabbed us a plate each of Schweinebraten (roast pork, complete with some nice crisp crackling), with potato salad and gravy. To wash it down I went for an Urtyp-Hell, whilst Matt stuck with the ordinary Helles.
Lunch - Schweinebraten

We could quite happily have stayed there all afternoon, as I have to say it was a really efficiently run establishment, with friendly and helpful staff at the various serving hatches, plus good food and drink. Being a Sunday there was a family atmosphere about the place, with a separate play area for the kids, and people from all walks of life and backgrounds sitting there socialising over a Maβ or two of the excellent beer or, like us, getting stuck into the equally good food. Many of them had arrived by bike, as evidenced by the masses of bikes parked at the bike-racks close to the entrance.

The Englischer Garten is especially popular with cyclists, and given the size of this idyllic landscaped park, two wheels are definitely the best way of getting around. We were passed by loads of cyclists as we left Hirschau, retracing our footsteps over the footbridge. This time though we skirted the opposite shore of the boating lake, passing See Hof – another well-known beer garden. Our plan was to catch either a tram or a bus back to the city centre, and I knew there was a stop close to the Chinesischer Turm beer garden.

We had a brief look in at the latter, which was absolutely heaving with Müncheners, all out enjoying the sunshine which had sadly been so lacking for most of the previous week. I was tempted to stop for another glass of beer myself as, after all, Chinesischer Turm was the very first German beer garden I visited, but we needed to get some packing done, along with sorting out how we were going to spend our last evening in the city.

We caught a bus part of the way, before switching to a tram which dropped us close to our hotel. The packing took less time than we thought, and after freshening up, we were soon heading back out again.; destination Perlach, the home of Forschungsbrauerei.

I have written at some length about this well-respected brewery, so I won’t repeat any of that here. What I will say is we spent a very pleasant evening at Forschungs, sitting outside in the small, but perfectly adequate beer garden in front of the pub-cum-brewery complex. The garden was quite crowded when we arrived, but as the evening wore on and the sun began to sink, the crowds gradually melted away, and by the time we left, there was just a handful of people left. The temperature dropped quite dramatically and the two waitresses were no doubt glad of the cardigans they had slipped on over their Dirndl!

Given our liquid intake at lunchtime, and the fact we had a flight to catch the next day, we restricted our beer intake to just the two. I went for the excellent Pilsissimus Export, followed by a Dunkles; which is a new beer in the Forschungs' portfolio. Matt stuck with a couple of Helles; another recently launched beer, which is available from May to October.

Looking back it wasn't so much our desire to remain relatively sober which restricted our beer intake, but more a case of our rather filling evening meal. Obatz'n is a traditional Bavarian dish, and is a mix of Camembert-type cheese, paprika, herbs and finely chopped onion. Served with traditional knotted Brezn, we has intended it as an evening snack, rather than a full-blown meal, but it came in such large portions that we struggled to finish it. It was a good accompaniment to the beer, but one portion between the two of us would have been better!

Never mind, it still made for a fitting end to our last full day in Munich, and a good finale to our holiday in the Bavarian capital.

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