The Eisbach – German for “ice brook” – lazily snakes its way through one of the largest city parks in the world. The English Garden, as the park is known, draws locals and visitors by the thousands each day. In Munich, one of Germany’s best cities for just about everything, the park gets used in every season. It is a source of pride, much like New York City’s Central Park, except much larger. In summer, the English Garden is where everybody in Munich goes at some time or another. Every kind of activity imaginable happens there, including nude sunbathing near the Eisbach. But at the mouth of this artificial stream, one activity has been drawing more and more tourists, forcing the local government to end its prohibition: surfing.
On any given day in summer, dozens of surfers can be found at the mouth of the Eisbach, where just under a bridge a water-pumping system produces very strong waves perfect for surfing. For more than 40 years, surfers have been flocking to the spot to put their balancing skills to the test, to the chagrin of local officials who had threatened to destroy the waves, leading residents to protest and start a “save the waves” campaign. It wasn’t until 2010 – after noticing that the surfers were a big draw for tourism, that officials removed the ban on surfing, even if the ban was never really enforced. From the bridge and from the banks of the Eisbach, tourists can be seen snapping photographs while the surfers ham it up.
I’m not a surfer and I didn’t know anything about this river surfing in Munich until I got to the city and locals told me about it. They said if there’s one thing you should do in Munich, is head for the park and see the showboating surfer dudes and dudettes. I went and I was not disappointed. I even shot some video (above). The photos are also pretty cool, if I may say so myself. 🙂
Anyway, Munich bustles with activity when summer comes. So much to the city beyond what goes on in and around Marienplatz. Just ask a local – connect with one – and you will find yourself at a free outdoor concert on “the beach”. Or eating curried German sausages where the locals eat. And seeing the city in a way you normally would not see. So go on and check out the surfers if you get to Munich during the warm weather months. Cowabunga! (sorry, I had to say it 🙂
- Munich’s English Garden (ejsjohnson.wordpress.com)