Tag Archives: Germany

A bathroom sponge, a Rubik’s Cube and Dolly

Restaurant review: An unnamed restaurant, Berlin, Germany.

We should have listened to Public Enemy and not believed it.

Dolly offered more flavour in the taxi on our way back to the hotel

This place was not only talked up bigtime by all the usual travel-advice-dispensing suspects,
but also the normally fairly trustworthy New York Times 36 Hours.

The decor is a Trump-esque orange. It was packed.
A short wait, then seated next to a Scandinavian family featuring an emo teenager…
picture a pissed-off, possibly self-harming version of the lead singer of A-ha, annoyingly clicking a Rubik’s Cube.

The menu consisted of about three offerings, the daily specials board about two.
Alarm bells should have sounded when the menu didn’t appear on the website.

Only fried spring rolls? Fried? In a much-trumpeted about Asian restaurant?
What. The. Serious. Fuck.

My wife ordered a chicken Phở featuring dejected, arid pieces of chicken and a distinct lack of herbs, and taste, but an over compensation of a collective noun of shallots.

As a non-meat-but-seafood-eating type, I had roughly one choice, a tofu vegetable rice thing,
that when doused in chili to give it some semblance of flavour, morphed into the consistency of Perkin’s Paste that I used to glue things together in primary school. The Rubik’s Cube sized pieces of tofu were being eyed rather amorously by neighbouring Take On Me emo boy. Though with the consistency of an overworked bathroom sponge, even he would have had trouble clicking them.

The only saving grace was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” in the taxi on the way back to the hotel.
The lyrics “Your smile is like a breath of spring / Your voice is soft like summer rain” infinitely more flavoursome than the meal.

Don’t.

©Steve Williams 2017

*This review also appears in the highly entertaining Brothtaking.

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Bavarian Break – Surfing in the city

As it’s a rather toasty 35 degrees in Munich today, this is a perfect time (and temperature) to relive my surfing in Munich story….

It’s not every day you see someone walking around the heart of the city with a surfboard under their arm – then actually getting on it. Especially when that city is hundreds of k’s from the nearest beach.

Welcome to surfing Munich style – wetsuits mixing it up with business suits.

The historic German city is probably better known for its annual Oktoberfest when lovers of the amber fluid invade in there millions. This year they downed 6.6 million litres of beer in 15 thirsty days and devoured 112 oxen. Nice work. Also, 900 passports were recovered by lost and found.

Running through Munich’s Englisher Garten – not hard to work out what that translates to – is a tributary of the Isar River called the Eisbach. It’s basically a man-made stream and the famous 1 metre high, 12 metre wide break is formed when the water hammers through tunnels, spews out under a very cool looking 19th century stone bridge and belts into submerged concrete blocks at over 30 k’s an hour.

We’re talking the middle of the city here. The break is next to an art museum called the Haus Der Kunst – be careful how you pronounce that last word. It’s pretty surreal seeing guys and girls in wetsuits wandering down a city footpath. A few gutsy Aussies were just in their boardies, maybe they’d knocked off a few litres of beer, the water temperature is brass monkey threateningly cold – the name “Eisbach” means “ice stream”.

It’s a permanent standing wave, the surfers climb down the river bank, face the bridge, and get straight onto the wave – easier said than done, the water is only about forty centimetres deep and really pumping out of that tunnel. Don’t forget those nice concrete blocks are lurking below, just waiting for you. The sound is quite intense too – like roaring rapids.

While I was perched on the river bank there was a real mix of talent that afternoon – some experienced old stagers were carving up 360’s, radical re-entries, slides and cut backs, to a few rookies some just barely getting up, then losing it bigtime.

Due to its small size, there’s only room on the curl for one surfer at a time, it could be ridden forever, but there’s an unwritten code that you stay up for a few minutes, then let the force of the water sweep you down the canal and you climb out and walk back. Which isn’t a bad thing, in summer the English Garden is packed with people sunbaking, so the eye-candy can be quite good.

Nudism is a bit of a national sport in Munich… you do get nudists in the Garden, people letting it all hang out during their lunch break, but that’s in another part of this massive park – it covers nearly four square kilometres. Sadly the only nudists I saw were some fat old German blokes who’d eaten all the bratwurst. Not a pretty sight.

The surfers patiently wait their turn on the bank, it does get pretty crowded. I didn’t see any drama, and it’s a pretty tight community. Apparently though there’s the occasional bit of agro with kayakers.

The Eisbach has been surfed since the 1970’s; those early pioneers used ropes tied to the bridge or trees to keep their balance. Back then river surfing was illegal, I think it still is, there are signs prohibiting it – look for the word “verboten”, but these rules aren’t enforced. It’s become quite a tourist attraction, hordes of tourists gazing down from the bridge and lining the riverbanks with camera phones clicking away, there was even a guy selling food.

There’s a bit of talk that the authorities are looking to shut the wave down due to insurance liability. So far, no one’s been killed surfing the Eisbach wave – though there have been quite a few fractures and dislocations over the years. A couple of swimmers have drowned in the river, but that was further down, a long way from the break, and they weren’t surfers.

There are a couple of other river surfing sites in the city, the Munich Surf Open has been regularly held at one of these other spots, but the Eisbach break is far more challenging. Which could be the problem, the old hands of the break really wish the rookies would stay away, because if there is a death, the wave could be closed down. So if you’re a rookie, join the crowds and just watch. It’s not something you see every day.

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2015

My story and images originally published in Surfing Life magazine Australia.

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2015

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St. Patrick’s Day… Munich style

The 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Munich was a great day for the Irish…
and Germans… and Aussies… and Slovenians… and dogs… and…

A few of my random images…

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich


St. Patrick's Day Munich

Images: ©Steve Williams 2015

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Random Swill Munich images

Munich is one of my favourite cities. Something fascinating presents itself at every turn…

Images ©Steve Williams 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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