Saturday, September 09, 2006

The English Garden

Our friend Alexander, who lives in Stuttgart, Germany, traveled down to Munich to see us and meet Astrid for the first time. Alexander was Best Man in our wedding 5 years ago (can't believe it's been that long!), and the last time we saw him was 4 years ago, when Uwe and I traveled to Germany, long before we had any baby plans.

We met at The English Garden (Englischer Garten). It's not so much a garden, but a huge sanctuary with streams, bike and walking paths, open lawns, forest, and a HUGE beer garden. To be exact I should say, beer gardens (plural), as there are several in different parts of the garden.
Here we are on a bridge above a fast flowing stream. There are over 100 bridges in the English Garden.

More on the English Garden:

The Englischer Garten or "English Garden" is a large urban public park that stretches from the city center to the northeastern city limits of Munich, Germany. It was founded in 1789 by Benjamin Thompson, who is also known as Count of Rumford (German: Reichsgraf von Rumford). With an area covering 3.7 km² the Englischer Garten is one of the world's largest urban public parks.

It is bigger than New York's famous
Central Park but smaller than Phoenix Park in Dublin and Sutton Park in England. The name refers to the style of gardening; the term English garden is used outside of the English speaking world to refer to the style of informal landscape gardening which was popular in the United Kingdom from the mid 18th century to the early 19th century.

Statistics:

Total length of paths and walkways: 78 km (48.5 miles)

Length of streams: 8.5 km (5.3 miles)

Bridges: over 100

Number of bird species found in the Garden: over 50

There's even a Japanese tea house on the grounds. To celebrate the Summer Olympics in 1972 (held in Munich), a Japanese teahouse and a Japanese garden were built on a small island at the south end of the English Garden. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes place here regularly.

The first thing I noticed when we walked into the English Garden, other than the beautiful surroundings and tranquility, was the nude sun bathing. It's a beautiful day, but by no means was it warm enough to be in a swimsuit, let alone nude. And being the uptight American that I am (hey at least I admit it!) I couldn't help but think these people must be freezing their ___fill in the blank___ off.

The English Garden is known for its nude sunbathing:

Between the Monopteros and the Japanisches Teehaus lies the Schönfeldwiese ("Beautiful meadows"). In this part of the Gardens nude sunbathing has been permitted since the 1960s, something which many Germans fancy. It caused quite a sensation at the time and also made the English Gardens well-known, even outside Munich.

According to Uwe, if you live in a part of the world that doesn't get much sun, you're more likely to go "sun crazy" when there is sun. Hence stripping down in 70 degrees with a chilly wind like today, and soaking up the sun's rays.

Here's a photo of The Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm).

The Chinese Tower with beer garden:

This 25-meter-high wooden structure, designed by the military architect Joseph Frey von Johann Baptist Lechner, was built from 1789 to 1790. It wamodeleded on the "Great Pagoda" in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. The Pagoda, twice as high as the Turm, was supposed to resemble a porcelain pagoda in the gardens of a Chinese emperor.

In July 1944, the so-called "China Tower" burned down due to heavy bombing, and in 1952 was rebuilt true to the original.

With 7,000 seats, the Chinesischer Turm's beer garden is the second largest beer garden in Munich.

Of the several beer gardens, we choose this one for our authentic Bavarian beer garden experience. There were so many people that you literally saw people as far as the eye could see. I joked that there were more people here than watching the Pope speak. Of course they had large screens where people could watch the Pope's speech, as they enjoyed their beers and food.

There was German food, desserts, and beer galore. Beer is served in beautiful, big, glass steins, (not the cheaStyrofoamam cups you get at the German Alpine Village in Torrance during Oktoberfest). With each beer they give you a token, and after you're done drinking you return the token for your deposit back. Or you can keep the stein and forfeit your deposit. A great system.

After we ate and drank, we let Astrid explore and run through the lush grass.

I've always been fond on big parks like this one and Central Park. It just makes sense when you live in the city to have a great big open space like this where your children can run free and enjoy nature.
We stumbled onto some musicians playing in the park.
Astrid drawn to the sound of the drums.
A photo of Uwe, Astrid and Alexander in front of a fountain in yet another garden on our walk back to our hotel.

Alexander mentioned that he may be getting married next year to his long time girlfriend Petra, so in that case we'll be returning to Germany again next year to attend the wedding.

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