Munich stands for a lot of things we feel Heimat represents - the outdoors, an active way of living, and being in tune with nature. Due to its central position in Europe, Munich is a great location for nature and sports enthusiasts.
In just over an hour you have the German alps at your disposal. Hiking in the Summertime, Winter sports from Autumn and there are vast lakes for swimming and sailing within 30 minutes. If none of those options speak to you, the city has countless beer gardens to enjoy Bavarian fayre and some of the best art galleries and museums in the world. The one thing Munich has not got going for itself is the lack of coastlines and to get to the (real) sea or ocean you will have to take a long drive or hop on a plane. You might think that is fair enough, you can't have everything? But it was not good enough for some devoted watermen who made Munich a surf destination. In 1972, a handful of tough guys started surfing river waves in Munich.
The river Eisbach is about 2km long and man-made. It's on one of the entrances to the English Garden which is one of the largest urban public parks in the world. When the creative surfers discovered a wave they narrowed the river down with wooden logs to speed up the stream and increase the waves height and power.
The wave is right next to one of the oldest clubs in Munich called P1, founded as a Jazz Club for GIs after WW2 and made famous by celebrities like Freddy Mercury in the 1970s (apparently, Mick Jagger got kicked out). Above P1 is one of the best Art Galleries in Germany called Haus der Kunst.
Whilst the Munich jet set rubs shoulders, you can find people surfing outside at pretty much all hours of the day and into the night.
Until 2010 it was illegal to surf the wave, now it has become a major tourist attraction and a sight for tourist guides to make their excursions more colourful. Surfing the wave does not come without dangers you should be an experienced surfer if you want to have a go, due to the shallow water and big concrete boulders in the stream (which are essential for the creation of the wave) accidents happen fairly regularly.
Some claim it to be the oldest standing wave being surfed in the world, that's hard to prove and there are others but for sure it is the most famous. Several Surfing World champions have attempted to have a go and even they have struggled to get to grips with it. Legend is that Kelly Slater got booted off the wave and was told to leave by locals. Bavarians have their ways.
No matter if you surf or not make sure to visit the wave and the beautiful English garden if you get a chance to visit Munich.
One day soon we will be allowed to travel again. Let's not give up on that...