As German toes begin to creep out of their socks and situate themselves in sandals, without so much as a thread of cotton to shield them from the wind, they act as a kind of herald: summer is here! Sun, heat and naked nether regions are about to hit the city of Munich. To celebrate, we’ve prepared a special summer issue, with everything you need to know. To help you get started, here are ten must-knows about summer in the Bavarian capital:
1. It gets pretty hot, actually…
No, really. I’m Australian, I should know. Germany gets a bad rep for being dreary and cold, but summer in Munich is not like that at all. It gets hot. Temperatures frequently soar over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and scorch the Bejesus out of anyone who isn’t prepared. So if you have kids, pack up all of your belongings and permanently move to a Wasserspielplatz. Here are our top four picks!
2. …but there’s no air conditioning
Trams become ovens, stores become ovens, busses become ovens, restaurants become ovens, office spaces become ovens. There are very few – if any – places that don’t transform into hellish torture devices. Are Germans really so into unbearable heat and pit stains? Nope. It comes down to their love for the environment… and they love it enough to risk death by perspiration. The best you can hope for is a fan or a water cooling system that nobody will even pretend actually helps. Enjoy.
3. When the socks come off, it all comes off
Once, when I was quite young, I accidentally stumbled onto some soft porn my parents had mislabelled. In it a man told his friend that if you just take a woman’s socks off, she’ll enter a kind of trance and keep undressing until she’s butt naked. Aside from the fact that my parents had some weird taste in adult movies, this is actually a thing in Munich. As soon as the locals take their socks off, it’s like an invisible threshold gets broken and all of a sudden they find themselves nude in the English Garden. Or Therme Erding.
The official piece of legislation responsible is called the Bayerische Nacktbadeverordnung 361 (Bavarian nude bathing order 361). It lists six areas of the city where public nudity is allowed. These include an area of the English Garden, designated spots along the Isar (check out where & how to grill at the Isar here!) and an area on the banks of Feldmoching Lake. Warning: there’s a dude in the English Garden who shows off his cock ring. I just felt like you needed to know that. Also, wear sunscreen (all about that here).
4. Beer gardens are THE way to spend a summer afternoon
Right, so you have a garden where you can drink beer. Case closed. In case you’re not convinced: beer gardens are family friendly, often have playgrounds, serve food but — and this is an important one – you can bring your own and they often have some form of entertainment (typically an umpah band). Want to know more? Here’s a detailed lowdown.
5. Gartnerplatzing is an acceptable alternative
Although it is yet to be admitted into any official English dictionary, “Gärtnerplatzing” (meaning spending a summer evening drinking wine at the Gärtnerplatz roundabout) is a quintessential Munich movement you should get behind. Why? Because there’s something oddly liberating about sharing a scrap of grass with hundreds of strangers, that’s why.
6. Surfing, river currents & a general lack of safety
“The wave,” is a pretty famous Munich landmark. For anyone not in the know, it’s an artificial wave in a narrow, ice-cold, man-made death canal that flows through the English Garden. Surfers line up on either side and alternate riding the wave for a few seconds each, showing off impressive skills and control. The tourists love it. The people who have watched too many “Final Destination” movies also love it, albeit in a paralysed-from-anxiety kind of way. There’s a lot of that going on in Munich, especially in summer. The occupational health and safety standards are more lax than in other places and there seems to be a general lack of understanding of water safety. People frequently dive into shallow water, frolic in rapid river currents and wash third-storey windows without so much as a hint of safety equipment. Proceed with caution.
7. Everything will be getting built or renovated
Everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. You will not walk more than thirty steps in any direction without being confronted with a haphazardly slapped-together building zone. It is the time of the year when construction projects are least likely to be disrupted by inclement weather. The idea that they have at least two months to work uninterrupted sends construction companies into such a state of joyous delirium that they rip up just about every sidewalk, road and building they come across. If you’re a parent of a young child, it might be time to start writing down creative ways to curse under your breath.
8. The lakes are a lovely way to touch other people
Feel the need for human touch? Get yourself to a city lake on a hot weekend. Munich has the fortune of being surrounded by breathtaking pools of water. Each offers incredible views, crystal clear waters and shorelines studded with beer gardens. Most are easily reachable by public transport and far too irresistible when the weather heats up. However, because they are so damn amazing, the better-known, nearer lakes get slammed, which is a hidden bonus if you want to accidentally play footsies with a stranger (but maybe something to consider if you don’t). Don’t know where to head next? Check out our beginner’s guide to the Munich lakes.
9. There are millions of ways to catch deadly ticks
It is a fact readily acknowledged (a little too nonchalantly for my taste) that all of Munich, and surrounds, is crawling with disease-carrying ticks and it’s just a matter of time before you and your loved ones succumb to them. A picnic at a local park? You had better watch out for ticks. A walk by a lake? Ticks. Your little toe casually brushing a blade of grass on the way to the supermarket? You had better check your genitals… for ticks. Seriously though, some of the Munich specimens carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, which can cause Lyme disease – a terrifying condition that attacks the entire body. Here are a few things to remember:
- Use bug spray (there are non-DEET options available for younger children)
- Carry a tick kit that includes a tick removal card and/or tweezers, rubbing alcohol, a plastic bag, paper, a pen and some sticky tape
- Always check yourself and your kids after spending time outdoors
- Keep a tick after removing it and go to your doctor to seek treatment
10. Tollwood, summer street festivals and CSD await you
Just in case you needed more excuses to drink beer in the sun, here are three to add to your social calendar.
- Tollwood is an annual summer festival that features food, drinks, entertainment and outdoor markets. It takes place at the Olympiapark for just shy of four weeks.
- Throughout summer, the streets of Munich take turns to host outdoor parties. There’s usually at least one beer stall, a couple of food stalls (usually serving some form of grilled sausage or meat), live music and plenty of space to chat and dance.
- Christopher Street Day (CSD for short) is Munich’s LGBTQ pride event. It blasts off with a colourful parade through the city, takes over several inner city squares and ends with a party in the new town hall (the only time the landmark is opened up to be used as a club for the public).
Agnes Stockburger is a writer, editor and published author. In her glory days she wrote for the likes of Australian Broker, SheKnows and Yahoo!7. These days you’re more likely to find her sticking Duplo blocks in the fridge and the milk in the mailbox because OMG her kids will NOT sleep. She has lived in Munich for six years, has two dirndls and gave birth in German. Twice. This obviously qualifies her to write about the local culture with impunity.
Photo credits: Feature image by Blondinrikard Fröberg, via Flickr
Tram image by High Contrast (own work) [CC BY 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons
Schwabinger Bach image by David Kostner [GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 or CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons
Gärtnerplatz image by Patrick Gruban, via Flickr
Surfer image by Daderot (own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Lake image by jase™, via Flickr
Tollwood image by Sebastian Grasegger, via Flickr