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Report 2015: Alpine Adventures and Other Travels in the Rhone, Rhin and Rhön

By wendy lynn from California USA, Summer 2012

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Page 2 of 21: Munich by Bike

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Surfing on the river in Munich

Wendy discovers that the internal body clock wins over sleep deprivation. Everyone is awake by 4:30am. We all snuggle in the big bed for awhile and then shower and organize.

We head for breakfast the minute it opens -- 6:30am. Breakfast is a great selection of meats, cheeses and breads. Alex alone eats six croissants and Margaret loves the yogurt. Mom and dad appreciate the selection of unexpected and tasty side dishes such as potato salad as well as a variety of fish dishes. We have a nice collection of meats, cheese and breads to choose from. The hotel provides a few varieties of juice and even a homemade lemonade that everyone loves. And of course Wendy and Joe appreciate the good coffee. Refills. Perfect.

Because we are up so early, we go out for a walk in the neighborhood, near the Isador Tur (gate). We find a cool European playground with a spiderweb climbing structure, a teeter-totter and an interesting obstacle course. Julia is impressed with the groups of young kids she sees wandering freely, unsupervised and well-behaved.

Joe has pre-purchased a 10am bike tour through Mikes Bikes, but we still have a little time before we need to meet up, so we wander through the Viktualmart on our way to the Marienplatz meeting place. The Viktualmart is an outdoor market, charming and vibrant. We spy lots of mushrooms for sale as well as many varieties of berries. Despite our full bellies, we purchase some local blueberries, heidelberries and a variety of giant-sized cherries. Everyone's mouth, teeth and hands instantly turn bright blue.

It's just about 10am, so we head to the Marienplatz for our bike tour. Mikes Bikes offers a four and a seven hour tour, and Joe had already prepaid for the seven hour version. Our guide Levi, who hails from Portland, Oregon, looks skeptically at Julia's flimsy sandals and our four year old. Only one other family (with teenagers) is also doing the seven hour tour, while everyone else has opted for the shorter tour for which you don't need reservations. On top of this, today is supposedly going to be the hottest day in Munich all year. We are undeterred (although Mom is a little worried).

We head to Mikes Bikes headquarters a block or two away and get fitted for bikes. Margaret gets a seat on the back of Joe's bike and we're on our way. Of note is that no one except for Margaret and Alex are offered bike helmets. And Alex's helmet was optional.

The tour turns out to be a great way to see Munich in a day. Levi is fun and informative, although he could have given a few more speeches in the shade. Munich is spread out and would not have been easy to walk in a day. Plus, the city is extremely bike friendly whereas driving to the various areas on the tour would have been difficult. So this is a great option.

The tour takes us through the Altstadt, to the Residenz, the summer residenz, and then to the Hirsch (deer) Biergarten where we stop to eat. We're told it's the largest biergarten in Munich -- or maybe Germany. We have the local (and giant) Augustiner beers. The preferred snack seems to be giant pretzels and a cold cheese and onion spread called Obsatz which looks questionable but tastes delicious. We chat a little with Levi and the other family.

After the break, we pedal past the 1972 Olympic Park and get a lesson on the tragedy of the Munich Olympics where 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a police officer. Levi says that one of the legacies of this tragedy is that Munich vowed never to have something like that happen again. Consequently, Munich has a tremendous police force, which explains in part why the city is so safe.

We continue past the still impressive pool complex and see the large burmed hills created for the Olympics, apparently all created from piling up WWII debris. Wow! Those hills are big; there must have been a lot of debris. From there, we ride past the BMW complex and into the Englischer Garten.

Levi tells us that today is the hottest day so far this summer, and we believe him because we're all sweltering. It's pleasant to cycle in the shade, but the direct sun is a bit too hot to be comfortable. We head to the Englishcher Garten and some shade. The very large Englischer Garten has quite a river winding through the middle. Tons of people are sunbathing, swimming and drinking. Again, Julia notices all the teenagers having unsupervised fun.

Levi takes us to a pretty fast paced part of the river, which was not so great as the current is a little too fast for Margaret and no one had been warned to bring swimsuits. Levi suddenly strips down to his underwear and the boys follow his lead and jump in. Joe stubs his toe so badly on the river's concrete bottom that he thinks he may have broken it.

We later discover that there were other, calmer parts of the river that Levi would have been better off taking us to. And it wasn't really fair to the girls to expect them to strip down to bra and panties. Oh well. Julia is bummed out, and Joe promises the family we can come back later that evening on our own.

Our final stop is the Biergarten in the Englischer Garten. More beer and snacks. Levi buys Margaret and Alex fancy ice cream treats. On the way back to the Mikes Bikes office, Margaret falls dead asleep in her bike seat. Joe tips Levi and we're on our way back to the Acanthus.

We return to the Acanthus, clean up and head back to the park before dark so that Julia can enjoy the river -- she has brought her bathing suit. Luckily it's summer and the days are long. Parking is a bit challenging, but Joe pulls it off. We all enjoy the river a bit. The scene is still busy and crowded with people enjoying the park. It's a little stressful with Margaret, as the river is quite fast and cold, so Margaret and mom only take occasional dips while the other enjoy more fully.

Everyone's done swimming so we walk back to the biergarten for a real dinner. We order one schnitzel and a large ham shank. It's Friday night and the biergarten is very busy, much more so than it was earlier in the day. We eventually make our way back to the car, past the part of the river where surfers gather to "surf" the river. Strange and interesting.

By this time, we're tried and ready for bed. It's been our first full day and we're definitely not over jet lag. Munich has been more fun and interesting than expected. We'd merely thought of Munich as a convenient starting point for our trip, a place to get over jet lag, but we all discovered that we'd really enjoyed our stay. We congratulate Joe on the good call with the bike tour.

Still, one day in Munich seems plenty, given all that we still hope to see on our trip. It's time to move on. Weather calls for rain tomorrow and we're supposed to head off for Switzerland. Fingers crossed for sun.

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