Friday, September 25, 2015

Biking Through Munich with Kids

Getting from point A to point B when sightseeing through a city with kids can be exhausting, exhilarating and exciting (how's that for alliteration!) My kids have delighted in various subways, trains, buses, etc. as we've traveled around European cities. And we've withstood a few epic tantrums on public transit also. But in Munich, we found our new favorite way to get around: bikes!

Truth be told, we love to ride bikes as a family, but we almost always head to places with dedicated bike paths. I'm not very comfortable riding my bike through city streets, in and out of traffic, especially with the boys, so we've never rented bikes during city visits. Until Munich, when after our first day there, we realized it was relatively flat and had bike lanes on almost every major street (often protected by a curb away from vehicle traffic). It was the type of biking that seemed both safe and fun, and we knew the boys would love it.

The weather forecast was glorious on the morning of our second day in Munich. After a quick game of footie in a nearby park (and coffee for mom and dad, naturally), we headed straight to Mike's Bikes rental office. (They offer organized tours that leave from the Marienplatz, but we wanted the flexibility to go wherever we wanted that day.)

We had a route in mind, but the staff there provided us with a helpful map that showed good streets for biking. They got us fitted with bikes and helmets (and a tandem tag-a-long for Big Arrow and a seat for Little Arrow), and off we went. (I'll break down our exact route at the end of the post for those wishing to re-create our day.)

First stop: the big square outside the opera house. I wanted a few pictures and we also needed to make a few adjustments to bike seat heights, helmet straps, etc. that we hadn't noticed at the bike shop. But the boys made themselves at home, as they always do, treating the statue in the middle of the square as a personal playground.

Next stop: Olympic Park. This was one of the reasons we wanted to rent bikes, as its too far out of the city centre to easily walk to, at least from where we were staying. Yet it was gorgeous and lots of fun for the kids. If you wanted to spend more time here, you can tour some of the Olympic venues, but we really just wanted to enjoy the big open spaces for playing and having a snack.

Next stop: Munich's famous English Gardens, and more specifically, the beer gardens found within. Out first beer garden was Hirschau.

At Hirschau, we quickly realized these large beer gardens were awesome for families (buffet-style food service, live music, and most importantly: playgrounds!) We decided to spend the rest of that sunny afternoon visiting several beer gardens throughout the English Gardens.

Next stop: Seehaus. This was probably my least favorite beer garden of the day (though that's like saying whipped cream is my least favorite ice cream topping). The location is gorgeous (directly next to the large lake). But the food and beers were more expensive here, and the playground was very small.

Next stop: Chinesischer Turm. It was only fitting to spend one of our best family travel days at what turned out to be our favorite beer garden of the day. Big trees surround this spacious spot, so there was plenty of shade. The playground was large and fun, and the live band playing from one of the tiers in the pagoda gave it such a lively atmosphere. I could have spent the entire evening here, but alas, those bikes needed to be returned before the close of business.

Final stop: Surfing! We finished our ride through the English Gardens with a stop at the surfing spot. Yes, there's surfing in Munich! Rapids in an artificial stream that runs through the gardens have created a popular place for surfers to take turns riding the waves created.

You know those days where you wish you could freeze time? I'd happily hit the pause button on that day, whizzing through Munich on bikes, the giggles of my kids floating in the air.

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