The Power of being Alone or: Are Efficiency and Competition your Enemies on the Way to Happiness?

The creek "Partnach", on its way down from Germany's highest peak, the "Zugspitze"

The creek “Partnach”, on its way down from Germany’s highest peak, the “Zugspitze”

Oh boy, time flies past these days.

It’s more than three weeks since the last post!

The weather this year is just way too good to spend it in front of a computer. However, today it is that hot in good old Munich, that staying inside is fun again.

Last weeks have been loaded with nice grill events, family time spent at the nearby lake (Hooray, even three-year old small Junior Woodpecker is able to make it with his bike now!), a multiple family trip to the nearby medieval festival and all sorts of other social events.

 

The gourge "Partnachklamm". Belief it or not, this is Bavaria, not Middle-Earth!

The gorge “Partnachklamm”.
Belief it or not, this is Bavaria, not Middle-Earth!

In short:

Social dividend rolled in big these days, seeded in the past by spending as much time as possible with PEOPLE and FRIENDS, and not in office maxing out your cash-flow, or with wasteful “modern life maintenance” activities.
Actually it rolles in so big that I get used to having so many friends and am more and more surprised by the fact that most people seem to have much less social contacts! If you are still in the latter group, no need to despair, but start doing something about it! All can be changed by investing time, time, time and also care and niceness. Not once or twice, but over years and years you have to prioritize friends over career…and you will build a powerfull community around you.

Woodpecker also got a new job (will report in another post). Of course I choose carefully not to get hit by the crazy modern times workaholics-hammer 🙂 , but still I am currently a bit more busy than usual with office, too.

Anyway, Woodpecker is now at a point where the great plenitude of social contacts makes something else a quite rare thing in his life:

Solitude.

Of course I do not mean the negative but the positive side of solitude:

Being able to be only with yourself. To concentrate on your own mind, thoughts, body.
To think things through clearly and without distraction.
To empty your mind from the constant swirl and chaos of thoughts, external demands and constant attractions around.

Thus, Woodpecker decided to go on a solo two-day mountain hike.
With the explicit goal to see as few people as possible.
To NOT make acquaintance with anyone (not easy for me, haha).
To speak as little as possible.
To be in nature.
To have a demanding physical challenge, and of course:
To be without cellphone.

So off I went to a tour in the close-by Wettersteingebirge (the mountain massive that also holds Germans highest mountain, the “Zugspitze”).

And what should I say?
I think for me it was the first time since 10 years (!) that I spent a full two days out of house without any company or meeting someone I know.
Plus, as a bonus: I did not bring any clock with me! 🙂
Two days I had no idea what time it was, and did only what my body (and nature) were telling me.
A rare experience these days.

And all of this in a majestic, or even magical, nature surrounding, as you can see from the pics (taken by my good old 3kg heavy Nikon camera, not by cell-phone…).

View from one of my "perfect" resting places. Location: Secret ;-)

View from one of my “perfect” resting places.
Location: Secret 😉

I made an interesting observation:

If you do hiking, you might know that your body picks its own speed, if you do not have to care about others, or about time. It picks the speed it needs to operate optimally, and to make you endure a long stretch of way.
In Woodpeckers case (and that seems to be a synonym for my whole lifestyle, now that I think about it), the marching pace turned out to be very high and energetic, but then I also needed frequent and long breaks in beautiful surroundings to replenish.
So it was maybe two hours tight marsh, then spending a long time to find the perfect spot e.g. at a creek (or any spot with some energy, if you know what I mean), pulling out loads of food, water and a book, and resting, reading or snoozing for one hour with nothing around than the sound of rippling water.

The thing is, normally, if you go with others, you are not able to follow that body rhythm. You have to do some compromise or you would not see each other the whole tour.
Which is fine.
But it was also great to experience the fantastic feeling of your body operating exactly at its own pace. And the energy it can muster if allowed to follow that pace.
A feeling that is long-lost in todays super-planned and scheduled world.

In the end I was surprised how easily I managed the challenging tour overall, so that I even had to add some 500 extra hight meters as I did not feel yet exhausted.

What I also did several times:

Marching tightly, and then just do a totally useless detour to explore a waterfall spotted in the distance and completely off the track. Or take a more difficult and clearly longer way, because on the map it showed to pass a spring and I felt like a drink from a spring.

Exploring the interesting creek down there took me one hour de-tour...and was worth every minute!

Exploring the interesting creek down there took me one hour de-tour…and was worth every minute!

Long life inefficiency!

Despite what I thought in the past, I more and more get the feeling that inefficiency – and not efficiency – brings the highest pleasure to life…if you are able to let go of maximization, of optimizing, of comparing and of competition. An insight I admittedly do not yet manage to life up to often in day-to-day life.

I am surprised myself, but the more I work on stage four of Maslows pyramid, I am slowly getting an enemy of optimization, efficiency and competition. Maybe these things are not needed anymore on the upper stages of the pyramid?
Maybe optimization, efficiency and competition are fine to safeguard provision of basic needs but are in your way once you start looking for the higher goals, like true happiness?

I tend to think so.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say today.

Excuse the little bit confused post, but that hike was a great experience and started a load of new trains of thought as you see.

Recommended for copy! And will repeat myself, next time for three days minimum.

Cheers,

Woodpecker

ps. Forgot to say. Total cost: Transport by car 25 EUR. Night in hut 18 EUR. Luxury food 20 EUR. Good value I’d say. 🙂

Arrived at the mountain hut. A bit crowded for my taste, but what can you do? Sleep according to your body clock. Around 8am in my case. And everybody of this competitive achievment hunters had left to climb "Zugspitze" already! So I had the whole place ALONE in the morning! Crazy world.

Arrived at the mountain hut. A bit crowded for my taste, but what can you do? Sleep according to your body clock! Around 8am in my case… and everybody of this competitive achievement hunters had left to climb “Zugspitze” already! I don’t care for ticking peaks, and thus had the whole place ALONE in the morning! Crazy world.

A Short Trip to Nördlingen or Belonging to Something Greater

What a nice medieval town!

What a nice medieval town!

This weekend was a long one, thanks to our ancestors who fought hard to make May, 1st into a holiday, the “day of work”, downshifters day to think of how to work less. 🙂

So dear grandma looked for the kids, and Mr+Mrs Woodpecker have been on a short trip to a little town about 100km away from Munich, called Nördlingen.

Weather was quite miserable, but in good old Woodpecker tradition this did not discourage us from having a good time, but on the contrary helped to keep other tourists out of our sight while enjoying history.

Like Rothenburg that we visited last year (gosh, forgot to write a post on that one!), Nördlingen is surrounded by a complete medieval wall in the form of a perfect circle (yes, you can surround it on the wall day and night, takes around 45 minutes).

On the minus side, Nördlingen has a bit less of medieval flair to offer than the infamous Rothenburg, but on the plus this comes with cheaper prices and much less tourists hanging out there.

The town is located in the impact crater of a 1km meteorite that hit south Germany 15 million years ago.
This makes it a geological unique location and there is a quite interesting museum on meteorite impacts located in town. That bloody thing had so much speed that the whole 1km-block vaporized during the impact, leaving basically a sea of molten rock – what a mess. Next impact a bit further away from Munich, if you please…

Castle Harburg

Castle Harburg

As always when travelling Germany, there is a lot of history to be found. In the case of Nördlingen it shows how a then very important town went into decline after a huge fight that took place in the 30 years’ war in 1634.

Castle Harburg

On our way back we discovered a great castle along the way: Castle Harburg.
As Woodpecker is a bit Castle-Fan, we stopped by for a guided tour, that was very interesting.
Only 15 km away from Nördlingen, that Castle was the seat of their enemies, the Öttingers and shows how amazingly small-sized the power-structures of those time were.

The castle is well worth a visit if you are around.

Harburg4

History – Belonging to Something Greater

More than only being entertaining, I love history because it can give you the feeling of belonging to something Greater. That you are part of something that spreads out beyond your own more or less unimportant and short live.
That in fact whoever and wherever you are, you are the today-living part of an endless chain that leads back into the fog of history and until the beginning of man-kind.And a chain that hopefully will as well lead forward into the fog of the far future of man-kind. A future that all of us cannot imagine, as little as the Harburg rulers could imagine the tourists running around in their castle with smartphones.

I think the feeling of belonging to something greater is an integral part of happiness, and next to family, friends, worthwhile projects, your history is a strong source of belonging.

Think about it!

Cheers,

Woodpecker

 

Prometheus – on the Art of Empowering Yourself

Prometheus brings fire to mankind.

Prometheus brings fire to mankind.

From time to time, even the true downshifter, who is much less interested in power, money, glamour that the average chap, will feel a stitch of envy.

Especially if you are a self-made man or woman, who started without rich daddy, without great family connections, helping little ties etc.

A downshifter will typically not envy the powerful or rich career makers who made it to the top on their own account and paid their price to climb up the ladder, because he theoretically could have done the same but decided not to.

But he might envy the 1% (or 5%, whatever), who did just nothing, who did not work hard or invest clever. Those who simply and by stupid luck were born rich and powerful, in the right family, at the right time, in the right place. Those that (although they – as the only ones – will never see that) got their status, their wealth and their (apparently!) care-free life not by effort, but by pure luck.

As most human emotions envy is nothing wrong at all, but holds a function:

It’s a signal from your subconsciousness, that something is wrong here, that you seeing something unjust.
Of course the signal can be wrong, but often it is also right, because – please don’t tell your kids – life is indeed unjust.
There was never full justice in the world, there is not today (not even in your country, company, family) and there probably never will be full justice in the future. I don’t like it, but that is the way it is.

On the other hand, too much envy is certainly not helpful, so today I have something for your comfort:

 

One of my favorite “heroes” from Greek mythology and a “role model for the modern middle-class employee” (woodpecker interpretation 🙂 ):

Prometheus!

As you might know, Prometheus was the guy who stole the fire from the gods and brought it to humankind.

In the Woodpecker modern interpretation:
Prometheus was the anti-authoritarian self-made man, who empowered himself, built his life from scratch without the help of a devine birth and then took what needed to be taken from the powerful without caring too much about their permission (in fact no harm done, of course the gods still have their own fire too, but they just wanted to keep it all for themselves). And he had his pride about his self-empowerment and about all he had accomplished HIMSELF despite his low born start.

To better understand, read my favorite poem from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Simply replace “Zeus”/“the gods” by the “rich and the powerful born class” and “Prometheus” by yourself or “the self-made-man”.

You will see how Prometheus/you can be proud about the house he built on his own and in fact is envied by the gods for the warmth of his hearth. A warmth that they will be able to enjoy.
You will see that the gods/the rich born are poor in a sense that they all depend on the mercy of the people plus owe their whole status to our all masters: time and fate.
You will see that Prometheus/you overcomes disappointment, empowers himself and decides on his own to be as happy as the gods/the rich&powerful, and you can be as well.

You will understand that you, the self-made man/woman, have sources of happiness at your hand that the rich born will never know.

That is independence.
That is real comfort.
That will shield you and make you an upright and self-confident person, no matter where you stand on the “social ladder” of your country.

What a fantastic piece of art by Goethe!

(English translation of the poem here)

Prometheus

Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus,

Mit Wolkendunst!

Und übe, Knaben gleich,

Der Disteln köpft,

An Eichen dich und Bergeshöh’n!

Mußt mir meine Erde

Doch lassen steh’n,

Und meine Hütte,

Die du nicht gebaut,

Und meinen Herd,

Um dessen Glut

Du mich beneidest.

 

Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres

Unter der Sonn’ als euch Götter!

Ihr nähret kümmerlich

Von Opfersteuern

Und Gebetshauch

Eure Majestät

Und darbtet, wären

Nicht Kinder und Bettler

Hoffnungsvolle Toren.

 

Da ich ein Kind war,

Nicht wußte, wo aus, wo ein,

Kehrt’ ich mein verirrtes Auge

Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär

Ein Ohr zu hören meine Klage,

Ein Herz wie meins,

Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.

 

Wer half mir

Wider der Titanen Übermut?

Wer rettete vom Tode mich,

Von Sklaverei?

Hast du’s nicht alles selbst vollendet,

Heilig glühend Herz?

Und glühtest, jung und gut,

Betrogen, Rettungsdank

Dem Schlafenden dadroben?

 

Ich dich ehren? Wofür?

Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert

Je des Beladenen?

Hast du die Tränen gestillet

Je des Geängsteten?

Hat nicht mich zum Manne geschmiedet

Die allmächtige Zeit

Und das ewige Schicksal,

Meine Herren und deine?

 

Wähntest du etwa,

Ich sollte das Leben hassen,

In Wüsten fliehn,

Weil nicht alle Knabenmorgen-

Blütenträume reiften?

 

Hier sitz’ ich, forme Menschen

Nach meinem Bilde,

Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,

Zu leiden, weinen,

Genießen und zu freuen sich,

Und dein nicht zu achten,

Wie ich!

 

(side note: Prometheus was harshly punished by the gods for his theft, thus be a bit careful with the “stealing” part 😉 )

Cheers,

Woodpecker

 

 

The Importance of the Here and Now

 

View from Benediktenwand, close to Munich. A day nothing short of "perfect" - if you are able to enjoy it...

View from Benediktenwand, close to Munich. A day nothing short of “perfect” – if you are able to enjoy it…

An important (and a very difficult) ingredient to leading a good live is living in the here and now.

To not spend unnecessary thoughts on facts and circumstances that you cannot change anyhow.
The idea is very simple on the one side and VERY difficult to put into practice on the other side.Basically – if done right and taken to the extreme – living in the here and now means that you never spend any thoughts on anything that you are not doing right now.In other words: In the optimal case, your thoughts and your doing is always fully aligned.

  • When you take a shower, you take a shower. You do not think about the argument you had with your boss.
  • When you are driving, you are driving. You do not think about that vacation trip you still have to organize.
  • When you are doing a hike, you do a hike. You do not think about your stocks which could have performed better.

In theory that sounds like a simple thing, and you will find the idea repeated throughout all schools of philosophy and religion.

However, there are probably only a handful people on the world which are able to fully put this into practice. And in ZEN-Buddhism, a philosophy that has much to say on this idea, they would be called enlighted, so rare are they.

Anyway, as Woodpecker and probably you too are unfortunately quite a bit away from getting enlighted, let’s focus on a first step:

Realize how often your thoughts are distracted from the here and now to something negative, and how these thoughts ruin an otherwise pretty perfect moment.

Walk through a valley, Bavarian alps. Focus on the very moment and happiness will follow.

Walk through a valley, Bavarian alps. Focus on the very moment and happiness will follow.

I tried to practise this a bit during a two-days winter hike on another alpine hut with an old friend of mine.

In fact, this two days were – objectively – nothing short of perfect:

The weather was fantastic, cold and crisp, but sunshine and fresh, dry air.
A winter wonderland landscape only for ourselves, not spoilt by any other hikers, who all have been partying carnival or whatever.
A cosy hut all for ourselves alone, enough firewood to have it warm (after two hours of non-stop power-firing the stove 🙂 ), totally calm and peacefully surrounded by a mountain cirque. Great fresh food and wine that we carried up in large quantity to the hut.
We both being healthy, alive, not tired, no ache, all fine.

And still, it is so easy to damage that perfect atmosphere.
In that case it was not so much me (although I play that part often enough myself) who was unbalanced, but Woodpeckers friend.
I do not at all blame him, as he currently is going through a difficult time, I only want to highlight the mechanism at work in all of us in some examples.

  • We parked at the wrong parking place. Meaning +30 minutes additional walk. A walk through a very nice, winter-snow valley plus we had a lot of time, so actually something great and we were there to walk anyway! But made my friend uneasy for not having found the “right” parking.
  • He forgot to bring “vanillin sugar” that was needed to prepare a Kaiserschmarrn (traditional Bavarian sweet dish) after a recipe from his grandmother. It had to be replaced by normal sugar, not a big deal and the result still tasted fantastic, but made him rant for not less than half an hour.
  • Instead of enjoying the evening, he was repeatedly bothered by the fact we only had one night at the hut because he did decide not to take two days off but only one. A second night would have been much more relaxing.
  • A lot of discussion on Munich city government’s stupidity regarding traffic planning and what could all be better if they were not so stupid.
  • Woodpecker did ok “here and now”-wise these two days, but of course I also had my “moments”, e.g. a mood-lowering discussion with him on a car shortcut he proposed and I was so damn sure my way was better (I initially asked for him to do the navigation, and of course it turned out he was right). etc.

So you get the picture.
It was all minor normal things that happen all the day in human interaction.
And don’t mistake me, it was still two great days out in nature – fortunately not great harm done.

Self catering hut of the German Alpine Association. (Cost per night: 12 EUR.)

Self catering hut of the German Alpine Association. (Cost per night: 12 EUR.)

But still my point is:

All of the above happens all the time.
This kind of negative thoughts are of absolutely no use, as you cannot change the given situation anyway. And (for the given moment) this kind of thinking takes significantly away from your happiness.
If you observe closely, you will find that all of us have this types of thought very often.

But now the good news:

If you continue to observe, you will get better and better in stopping this kind of thinking.
You will not dwell on an error you cannot change anymore (the forgotten vanillin sugar) for 30 minutes but only for 10 minutes, and later for 1 minute. And even later you will just accept it and laugh about it, turn the fact from a mishap into something increasing your happiness, e.g. by seeing the absurdity of the situation and enjoying it!

This is and important step towards happiness. Start today and try it out!

Take the next situation were you feel you get upset. Observe it closely and try to put some distance between you and the situation.

It will be difficult in the beginning, but the more often you practise, the easier it will get to stay calm and let the negativity spiral pass by.

Cheers,

Woodpecker

 

 

Frugal Winter Weekend in the Alps – Father & Son Style

View to Aschau from Kampenwand cable car.

View to Aschau from Kampenwand cable car.

This weekend, Woodpecker and his older, 5yrs old son decided it is time for a weekend in Nature again.

Actually my idea was to take young Mr.Woodpecker to his first alpine hut-weekend experience.

Checking short-term availability off DAV huts (=Deutscher Alpenverein, German Alpinist Association), the mountain Kampenwand close to lake Chiemsee was the target.

It’s an easy one to go with small kids, as most of the ascend can be done by a lovely, 60-year-old, retro-style cable car, the “Kampenwandbahn”.

The DAV hut up there is a self-catering hut, i.e. you get a key, they have fire wood, cold water and kitchen equipment up there, but the rest you bring yourself.

As always when going to the mountain, this little timeout was great:

  • Two meters of fresh snow for a great shoveling andigloo-building experience, in other words a kid’s paradise.

    Sunset at 4.30 p.m. A LOT of time for cooking now...

    Sunset at 4.30 p.m. A LOT of time for cooking now…

  • A fantastic dinner prepared by Mr.Woodpecker. I made it a habit to cook luxurious when being at huts in winter, as it gets dark at 5 p.m. anyway, so there is plenty of time to kill.
  • These huts are always good to get into contact. About 15 other interesting and diverse people stayed up next to us. Among them 5 kids, who, along with little Mr.Woodpecker quickly retreated to the upstairs dormitory for an extended pillow fight, while I and the other adults had some nice beers together downstairs in the “Stube” (=living room). From the noise pouring downstairs, I sometimes feared the wooden ceiling would break, but it obviously is used to a lot of jumping kids.
  • A chilly (3 degree Celsius) thus healthy night in the unheated dorm, enjoying my beloved down sleeping bag (recommended!). And the good feeling that our bodies are not yet fully softened by civilization.
  • A great downhill ride with the sledge we brought with us. In fact, the slope was close to what it doable with a small boy on the lap and a 20kg rucksack on the bag…but we made it! 🙂

Total cost for 2 days, 2 persons:

Brave Mr. Woodpecker junior climbing up to a snowy peak. (In fact he was quicker than me, as not sinking in so deep :-)

Brave Mr. Woodpecker junior climbing up to a snowy peak. (In fact he was quicker than me, because not sinking in so deep 🙂 )

  • 11,50 EUR for cable car (kids are free).
  • 12,00 EUR for night at hut (members tariff, kids are free).
  • 30,00 EUR cost for car-ride.

Total: 53,50 EUR. Without the bloody car ride, just 23,50 EUR. (I do not count the food, we would have needed that anyway)

This is what I call value! And better fun than most 5 star hotels I have ever seen. 🙂

Highly recommended! (Also without kids)

Cheers,

Woodpecker

A Good Fight with Mother Nature is Something no Money can Buy

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Tegernseer Hütte).

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Close to Tegernsee).

One week ago, the annual old boys gathering with people from Woodpeckers home town was due again.

As we were going to meet at lake Tegernsee close to Munich, Woodpecker and one guy who lives here too decided to prolong the gathering by an extra night on a hut close to the lake, a ca. 3 hrs / 1.000 height meter hike up on to mountain top.

The hut was assumed to be pretty booked but the week before our trip a huge autumn storm hit Germany. So one day prior to our departure the landlord called me up and strongly recommended not to go, as +1 meter of fresh snow had fallen in the mountains, with a lot of wind to produce snowdrifts, the ways not cleared and the storm still raging outside.

Well, if you ever fought your way uphill through the mountains in 1 meter of fresh snow you know that this is not quite an easy task.

However, the next day was calm, the mountains glazing in the sun (so the webcam told me) and after a second call to the landlord and a check for the avalanche situation we decided to start anyway. We rented out a couple of snow-shoes for the flatter first half of the hike, and packed avalanche shovels, snow trousers and all the other winter gear plus enough schnapps for the steep upper half.

Sunset.

Sunset.

The first part was easy-going through a fairy tale snow-white and untouched winter forest, crisp air and nobody else walking around. The snow-shoes served us well and soon we reached a hut half-way up.
That was where the real fun started. The inclination got too steep now to use the snow shoes efficiently and the snow was so soft that they were sinking in anyway.
So the only way was to bulldoze our way up, sinking in up to the hips with every step, with snow everywhere, taking turns every 50 meters. Fortunately we were good on time, and a jigger of booze every half an hour gave additional energy. 🙂

Woodpecker did some similar (although shorter) tours before, but again and again it is amazing to feel special atmosphere and the quietness of the snow-covered mountains. It is also fascination to observe the different textures snow on a mountain face can have. From soft powder to sticky, from unstable to compressed by the wind, or with a hard icy surface that makes you hope it can hold your step until you break in and have to fight your boots out from below the ice cap.

And it is always amazing to feel your senses and your body absolutely awake and at maximum alertness once they feel a challenge is more real than the ones they encounter in their daily office routine or in front of a computer game.

The night creeping in...

The night creeping in…

Your mind feels the thrill once it notices you will not make it during sunlight, your body chemistry reacts once the shadow of the night creeps in, when the temperature starts to drop quickly, and the wind catches up icy closer to the top with your muscular energy level going to reserve. You perception gets sharper than you think possible when you look out for a weather change, for signs of avalanche danger or for the optimal route through the hillside. No small noise or crackling sound goes un-noticed, every small change in the tone of distant howling wind is recognised. In other words: You can barely feel more alive.

Obviously all of this was not actually dangerous and I would not have done it if it was, but still, the hike was a challenge and far out of the typical comfort zone of us modern humans.

But that is the point:

The true reward, the kick of mountain happiness comes only if you have a prolonged moment of suffering on your way up.

A moment where you curse it all and wish you would have stayed at home on the sofa. This moment then is followed by complete emptiness of the brain, where you just fight on step by step. And only then you will be rewarded later by an overwhelming flow of happiness once you reach the top. Something all the flip-flop cable car riders will never experience.

Every mountaineer, every climber and generally every sportsman will confirm.

And what a reward we got! Reaching the hut when the last bit of the twilight faded with a last look on the mountain range of the Alps under the stars. Finding ourselves the only guests in a normally very crowded hut. Drying in front of the cracking fire, a good Bavarian beer and some hearty food at hand.

And at the break of dawn this view:

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

 

Boy, this was a good tour.

Something no money ever can buy.

Any similar experience to share? Let us know!

 

Cheers,

Woodpecker

Beer gardens – the Best Invention ever Made in Bavaria!

The Isar close to Pullach. Quite a nature feeling and only a jump away from the city center.

The Isar close to Pullach with Großhesseloher Bridge. Quite a nature feeling and only a jump away from the city center of Munich.

After a bit of moody time the last weeks, probably caused by thinking too much about such boring things as a career, this day was a great one.

Today, the Woodpecker family decided to have an excursion to one of the loveliest sides of Munich (if you are a nature lover):

The river Isar.

We took public transport up to the Zoo, but instead of joining the queue there to cram in with thousands that visit the Zoo on a weekend (instead of doing this on a weekday when it is relaxed and easy), we saved 20 EUR entrance and strolled slowly south on the banks of the river.

It was the first trip with the kids riding on their own bikes (while we old chaps were walking), thus speed was fortunately significantly above the typical 1 km/h.

We had a couple of picnics on our way and build a deluxe channel and a great dam in one of the pebble banks of the river. Boy, the water still is cold. But ah! Father and Son fun at its best! Nothing that money can ever buy you.

You can bring all your food (or even a grill), put your beer in the crystal clear water for cooling and enjoy a surprisingly nature feeling, only a few kilometers away from the city center. You can also go mountain biking in the slopes next to the river and some people even do kayaking or drive on large rafts made from wood and with a beer barrel and a band on board (no joke!).

The final of the tour was very obvious, if you are living in Bavaria:

A Bavarian Beergarden.

For those less familiar with Bavaria:

The best invention here is the Bavarian Beergarden.

Because a law from centuries ago states that in any beer garden in Bavaria you are allowed to bring your own food and only have to pay for the beer (and other drinks). Plus, they are often in marvelous settings under century old trees, as was our goal: the “Waldwirtschaft” in Pullach, in a fantastic location high on the bank of the Isar valley.

View to the left: Kids are happy.

View to the left: Kids are happy…

As most beer gardens, this one offers a kids playground, parents sit with their food and beer right next to that and can enjoy the sun.

And in this particular beer garden, a special feature is added: They have renowned jazz bands playing for free and live almost all over the years!
A very special atmosphere, and highly recommended, should you be in town (Link to Beergarden Waldwirtschaft).
Way back we took the suburban train that stops close by.

View to the right: Jazz music for free!

…View to the right: Jazz music for free!

We felt like eating out today and enjoyed the fantastic spare ribs they offer next to our beers, but if you bring your own food, this whole day trip would have costed you only 20 EUR for a family of four (2 x 5 EUR return trip sub & train, kids are free + 2 x 4 EUR beers + 2 x 1 EUR ice cream for the kids – no chance to be more frugal on the latter one 😉 ).

Cheers,

Woodpecker