July 04, 2003

Muenichen Biken City!

Yesterday we arrived in Munich at the haufbahnhofen (hauf=main bahn=train hofen=station) at met Jane´s uncle Sep. He came on his bicycle from work to pick us up, and he printed a map of the internet of the bike route home - what a great uncle. He led us out onto the streets of munich which we could immediately see were quite full of bikes. Munich is very flat, the biggest hill is about 10m and that is really just the immediate slope to the river which runs in the centre. So there are mucho farads. Everywhere there are bike routes...

(Well I´m gonna skip a little of what I have yet to catch up on, maybe later I will fill in details from earlier)

Yesterday we arrived in Munich at the haufbahnhofen (hauf=main bahn=train hofen=station) at met Jane´s uncle Sep. He came on his bicycle from work to pick us up, and he printed a map of the internet of the bike route home - what a great uncle. He led us out onto the streets of munich which we could immediately see were quite full of bikes. Munich is very flat, the biggest hill is about 10m and that is really just the immediate slope to the river which runs in the centre. So there are mucho farads. Everywhere there are bike routes, often integrated as a second sidewalk which is different from the level of the pedestrian way and slightly raised from the car street. Sometimes it is just a painted line on a wider sidewalk and less often it is a painted red bike lane to the left of parked cars which is a little wider than your average north american bike lane. There are cute bicycle signal crossing lights with the bike icon red green and yellow.

Sep wove us through traffic which was often more pedestrian and bicycle than cars, there were crowds of cyclists - over a dozen - building up at the signal light to wait, critical mass critical mass! Munich is a big city of 1.3 million people. From what we have seen it is very well put together with not much suburban sprawl. Besides the regular long distance trains which we used to get to the city and the all important bicycle there is a large (actually a few smaller ones also) pedestrian only city centre (walk your bikes) and the S bahn which is an at grade street car in the city and out to the outskirts and the U bahn which is a underground subway for the core. There are indeed cars and to many but they dominate much less than other cities and things are really accessible without them. We saw many older and younger people riding formal clothes. Well there were a much wider variety of cyclists than Vancouver. Apparently at one point on our ride, Sep told us afterwards, we were riding alongside some famous german TV actor older woman with a smart dress and big TV hair. One danger is the many streetcar tracks in the road at funny angles but I did not witness any accidents or slips.

At one point in our journey we had to cross the rail yard. Sep didn´´t want to take us on the busy street (which we later found is much easier as it has a bike path sidewalk, but he chose a more pleasant smaller road route) so we went underground down the stairs to the U-bahn area and then rode through an underground shopping mall (you can ride your bike everywhere here, the security in the Frankfurt airport rode their bikes in the airport and so did we) Then we went up the stairs on the other side to get out. The problem was that our bikes were so heavily loaded that the stairs are a real problem. There may have been elevator access somewhere else in the mall but we didn´t use that. Sep offered to carry Jane´s bike up the stairs but when he tried to lift it he thought it was stuck, our bikes is heavy. Anyway he apologised for taking us downstairs because he thought our bikes had lighter cargo. Anyway the rest of the journey was good, a pleasant quick 25 minute journey. There were more cars and no more crowds of bikes as we left the city core however there still was these very good bike lanes almost everywhere. Fun fun!

We got to Sep´s house and met his family. There are 8 people living in the house besides (!) us two now so excuse me if I mix it up. Sep´s wife is Rita who works at home cleaning up after the rest of the large family. They have 4 boys. The two oldest (20) are twins Klaus and Thomas who are both just finished their high school exams. Toby is younger and in grade 12 next year. Flo is the youngest only 11 or 12. Both Klaus and Thomas live with their girlfriends here at home, who are named Suvi (family from finland) and Whatsername, and I can´t remember who goes with which. They have a nice big narrow house which has 3 floors plus basement and is half the house and their neighbour has the other half. There is a garden with cherries, plums and tiny strawberries plus a shed for bikes. here in munich the tap water is very good to drink! it is mineral water with no chlorine! Sep has a machine that adds fizzy CO2 to any water and uses it to turn tap water into Shprudel which is the other national drink of Germany (after beer).

We arrived home unpacked our bikes then rode back out to a restaurant very nearby where all 10 of us had a big meal. I had the ´typical bavarian´thing which was pork meat and gravy and hude dumpling balls and sourkrouts (cloeslaw) with bacon bits. So much meat, I countn´t finish. It was good. beer is so cheap here. This is Bavaria! On our way home we rode through a ´typical, real´ beer garden (beiregarten) where you sit outside under trees and drink huge glasses of not real strong beer. The beergarten was in a beautiful park. Not dirty like you´d think a drunkenfest would be. The beer gardens here are big, 3000 people. There are many. The biggest in munich holds 8000 seats. Thus the tourist T shirt slogan `they tell me I was in muenchen but I can´t remember!´ Tommorrow we may go there.

We slept downstairs in the basement room which is the ´party room´built by klaus and thomas. They have a bar and 2 fridges and microwaves and many glasses and decorations and couches, no running water but other than that a real bar. Unfortunately the have a cat and a mouse (in a cage) but so far ma allergies have been not bad.

Today we got up late and rode into town around 1pm. We stopped at the first bike shop we found. I needed a new front tire and Jane a nut and bolt for the stripped rack mount for her front panniers. At first the mechanic was kind of rude with Jane´s shaky Deutch. Also perhaps it is international that bike mechanics are kranky. However he did warm up a little after some talking. At first we wer confused because I need a 700 tyre and all they had was 622mm. Eventually we realised that 622 is the inner diameter of standard 700 tyres. I was confused because Janes front tyre we had just measured to put the speedometer on her bike and she rides standard 26" wheels and the outer diameter is 630mm. Anyway we got a good one with a reflective sidewall for about 20 euros and fixed Janes bolt. Also I bought one of those bicycle parking brakes which lock the rear wheel to the frame so you can´t ride - common in th practical city bikes here - very rare in sports-only-bikes North America.

We met a man named Charlie at this shop and he took us to a place where we should have gone (he said) to buy bike parts cheaper. It was a supermarket box store thing and here at such places they sell bike parts: eveything, cranks, chain, reflectors, locks tires, many types of those great german patch kits, tools... Practical cheap and heavy parts mostly. There was a interesting chainbreaker tool which had adjustible screw tubes on both sides so you could hold the chain in place with the tool. Anyway we didn´t really want to shop at a big box store so we left.

We rode around downtown. We went to the pedestrian only tourist trap at the centre and took a long time trying to find the tourist information centre which was not where Sep supposed it was. It was annoying because we had to walk and there were crowds and lots of overpriced tourist stuff for sale. Eventually we cound the place and there was no specific bike map. However we did find an odd book which lists repair shops by catagory for munich (all types of repair - appliances) and there was a section of bike shops. We may visit some of these tommorrow. It lists the facilities of each shop and it seems to us in our basic deutch that almost half of all the shops offer workspace to fix your own bike (a la OCB/bike Kitchen/bike works) which is surprising and will make it harder to find one central hub of bike culture using our find-something-like-OCB-method. (on the other hand perhaps there are many her in this bikin town and that is even better)

We had a picnic of food we bought and ate on the river. They have an awesome river which is split in two though it divides and joins often. There are many beautiful old ornate bridges and many are bike/ped only. We ate lunch in the centre of the river on an island which is conncected by bridge. There was a very curious and unafraid duck that was black that we fed our leftovers too.

then it rained, very hard. We had our rain gear including goretex pants and booties. We got wet. It subsided after about 40 minutes to almost nothing. Anyway it was still wet all evening. We decided to check out the Munich film Fest which we saw posters around town for all day. Eventually we figured out where to go and looked at the schedule. We picked a movie that started at 10pm. It was hard to pick because we only had a few of many that were on tonight at the right time and only some were in english or with english subtitles. It was then about 7:30 so we rode around the town more now that it was drier and ventured outside of the central core. We discovered some good bike shops that were closed. We had a beer in a little tiny bar. Then we went to see the movie. The filmfest has a lot of fancy advertising and decorations, more high end than we expected. They had a woman standing very still then moving like a robot manequin all dressed up outside the theatre. We went to see Nayanqaytsi which is the third in the Koyanasqaytsi (like Baraka) movie series. There is no words only pictures and music. This was not nearly as good as Koyanasqaytsi. It was a lot more computer generated and technological. Also it was too long. it was supposed to be 69minutes but it was longer. Also there was almost no colour, mostly solorised monochromatic or two colours. There were some very very interesting parts and the themes of technology and violence and decay and the tower of babel was all very interesting but it just wasn´t so good. If you love the other movies you might want to see it to know, there are good parts. But the ending is long and pointless.

Anyway we are having a lot of fun. Read vancouver.indymedia.org Sucks about the stupid olympics. Good for the squatters taking over Victory park, we´ll see how that turns out. People congratulate us here if they here we are from vancouver, hard to explain our dissappointment in deutch. Salzberg is very close, we may visit on saturday. Hold COPE´s feet to the fire you Vancouverites! If wé have to have the dumb olympics lets make them do it as least damaging as possible - NOT 7 years of bad luck. Build a train not a highway. Enforcable social housing construction (not 2500 units promised, 150 actually built Salt Lake City style [jack poole style]) Apparently munich had the Franchise in 1972 and it didn´t wreck this place. That was before the super corpratisation of the thing but still. Make Vancouver copy Munich and do better, or maybe how about amsterdam... ...How about a big big Critical Mass ...Anyway we´ll also try and hook up with some local IMCs on our journey.

Posted by rusl at July 4, 2003 03:31 AM

Hi Jane and Russel,
Whew. Its good to be back. after a weekend in Gibsons settling down at home is great. We swam twice in the Pacific, which I love. But our feet got a bit barnacled-up walking from one part of Davis bay to a sandier one - no shoes in the water. We visited cousin Gail and Darryl, who have a property with a path (100 feet vertical) down to the ocean. We tented overnight at Peter and Louise's, who now have a Llama - so got to know this species a bit.
Hope your trip is still running smoothly. Remember not to allow yourselves to get robbed in Prague !
Bye for now
Love Dad

Posted by: Don and Maria on July 9, 2003 12:33 AM

Hi Jane and Russel,
Its me again. Maria reminded me that your next major stop is Vienna, then Budapest, so Prague is off in the distance. I can't help commenting on Vienna, since it is one of my favourite cities. You'll travel the large circular road with all the great statues of horses and else. But you should enjoy some of the Large coffee houses, with an expanse where you can while away a good part of a morning or afternoon just browsing some of the newspapers and paying maybe double for your actual coffee.
Anyway its Tuesday evening here now and cloudy. Hope you are doing well.
Love Dad

Posted by: Don and Maria on July 9, 2003 05:45 AM

Hi you both!

I hope you still have your personal stamp you bought at the tower!
Or the small turtle from Madeleine.

My father told me just a few days ago that we can joy your trip due to the internet.

I hadn`t knowen that Munich is such a bikefriendly city. Maybe because I never had the idea to cycle to Stachus :-/
(Yes, I know It don`t sound very environmentaly. But I have to say that don`t use the car too! *YES*

Now I will go to bed and in the next time I will have a cycicle trip through europe in a special way -> following you by the internet!

Madeleine and me, we both wish you great trip!

see ya

Posted by: Klaus on July 31, 2003 01:03 AM
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