There is a place in Munich called “Münchner Freiheit”. And even if it was so called in a completely different context (namely due to a freedom movement in World War II), I think it suits this place and this city better than anything else.
This applies especially to the nearby Englischer Garten, where the motto could be ‘live and let live’ as well. It is definitely one of my happy places in Munich and if you ever happen to be in town for a (summer)day, i would suggest you to skip all the sightseeing for a day at this park.
As soon as I get there, I have a smile on my face.
It’s not even that the park itself (…one of the largest city parks in the world, by the way) is something spectacular in terms of landscape, it’s more of the atmosphere that defines it. There is a form of hilarity and unconcern which is very rare by german standards, LOL. It is a place for everyone! There are the nudes, the students, the gays, the tourists, the (underhand) beer sellers and the bottle collectors, the influencers and the wannabes … they are all there and everyone belongs there.
The best thing, however, is the swimming in the Eisbach. Well, it’s more of a drift. Literally! It takes a bit of effort to plunge into the cold water, but the experience is incomparable.
You lie in the river, stretched out on the surface, your head between your arms, the view through the treetops towards the sky. You let yourself be carried away by the current that pulls the green-brown water back towards the Isar. You feel the coolness in your limbs.
You are a creature that does not move and which is carried and transported like a tree trunk. You are amazed at how long you can take it without breathing.
Then you lift your head and see a piece of the sun-drenched world: the wide river that flows through the middle of the city in which you live, the two banks with the familiar house facades, the bridge that you are swimming towards.
You lie on your back and look up to the bridge railing, where people in summer dresses are standing and waving. They always wave, you know that from experience: people on the bank wave to people in the river.
You turn around, push your arms forward and pull them back vigorously. You feel how your body slides through the water, you feel your strength, and suddenly you feel joy. You hit the water with your arms and legs and you want to yell out. It may seem childish to you for a moment, but you don’t mind, everything is childish in the water. You still don’t yell, the moment is missed, you just keep pedaling until you are out of breath.
(from “Schwimmen im Fluss” by Hansjörg Schneider)
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