munich by bike

22 Jun

Today is my last day in Munich, alas; and I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do. Even though I am looking forward to seeing my dearheart (a week is a very long time in the heart of the newly betrothed), I’m rather sad to be going. There are still heaps I haven’t done. Because we were here for Zanna’s birthday, the past week has focussed almost exclusively on eating, drinking and mingling, I’ve got to know the insides of a few restaurants, several bars and biergartens and a handful of cafes very well. But seeing the sights? Not so much.

Fortunately, yesterday Zanna lent me her bicycle while she was at work and I spent all day zooming about on a bike with back-pedal breaks and no helmet in streets I don’t know, governed by rules I could only guess at. I got lost severally, chanced upon tiny platzes and funny little moments between people that would otherwise have been private. Cycling is so the best way to really get a feel for a place.

I spent far more time than necessary circling the same bit of neighbourhood looking for a couple of yarn shops and St-Jakobs-Platz, until I reread the map and realised I left my internal navigator back in London. I was trying to find these things south of the Viktual-Markt. and they are all very clearly west.

Unfortunately, Die Wolle, at Müllerstr. 50, only opens Friday and Saturdays, but Wolle Rödel, at Rosenstalstr. 9, was very much open. It’s large and bright and chock full of yarn. The yarn was mostly German brands I hadn’t heard of, though naturally plenty of Regia, but heaps of gorgeously soft Pima cottons and one really lovely sharply twisted merino. I think one of the things I like best about yarn shops world over is that there can always but always be found at least one person giggling over The Most Perfect Yarn Ever, with the shop assistant nearby holding up other colours to choose from. After much umming and ahhing, I finally went for an undyed worsted schurwolle (new wool) from one of the softest sheep I’ve ever felt the fleece of, in this amazing natural charcoal. If I’d thought before I left London, I would have brought an extra bag. Then I could be bringing home an entire sweater’s worth instead of just three balls.

Because time was limited, I didn’t go into the Münchner Stadtmuseum or the Jüdisches Museum in St-Jakobs-Platz, but they’re definitely top of the list when I come back. The Munich City museum is in a large if understated, very old skool Bavarian (to my eyes) building, you could almost go past without realising anything was there at all. The Jewish museum, on the other hand, sits right next to the Main Synagogue, and its outer walls are all covered in written sketches from an interview conducted by an artist who advertised for ordinary Germans (Jewish and otherwise) to contact him and tell him about their families history, their own experience with the Nazis, both directly and indirectly, and how it has effected them. I think it’s an extension of the Family Files exhibit; nonetheless, a beautiful monument and incredibly moving.

Afterwards, I cycled down to the Iser and all the way along the south side around and up to the English Garden. It’s honestly breathtaking, you could almost forget you’re in a proper city instead of deep in untouched forest land. The Iser itself is absolutely incredible. Its current is insanely fast, there are rapids in places — when the water’s high enough people surf and kayak on it! And the trails are just marvellous. Densely packed with trees, the occasional winding path leading over a field, and it’s so quiet, despite being flanked by roads.

Actually, I think that might be what I do today. Cycling along the Iser will be a pretty fab way to end it.

Again, stay tuned for pics, which will appear just as soon as I’ve snagged them from Zanna’s camera. (Honestly, who forgets to bring a charger? I’m still annoyed with myself for that!)

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