Sunday, December 23, 2012

Munich In The Winter

We arrived to find Munich covered in about 3 inches of snow.  The first thing I noticed was that they don't seem to clear snow or use salt on their sidewalks or train platforms.  Instead they used cut gravel the size of pea gravel.  People were sloshing around going about their business.  The only time we saw a sidewalk plow was on a day when it was pouring rain and everything was melting.

Upon further inspection, the gravel made for good traction and when stepped on by many, served to break up the snow.  Made walking noisier than normal though.  Coming from Canada, we are used to public snow removal once accumulation reaches 2 inches and salt/sand mixture applied pretty much everywhere. 

Along the same theme, long boots were worn by most women, understandably to shield from the splashes from walking through slush.  Coats were also longer than what we tend to see in my neck of the woods -- Just above knee length.  Again made sense since most people walked everywhere. 

Wearing a coat that covers one's behind and part legs makes such a difference in heat retention.  Before this trip, I bought myself a longer coat and even though it doesn't have as much down fill (550 vs 700) as my regular jacket, I felt warmer and more comfortable after being outside for hours. 

We stumbled upon the nicest sporting wear and goods store ever -- "Globetrotter".  Ranks right up there with how a luxury goods store is designed and layed out.  Unfortunately their website is pretty utilitarian.  D fell for a line of ski wear sold there-- Bergans of Norway

As a fan of most things Norwegian (new coat is by Helly Hansen) I wasn't surprised.  In fact all the sports stores we visited in Munich carried Norwegian gear as its higher end offerings.  When D found a few Dale of Norway sweaters at one shop, he realized what a deal I got on the ones I lugged home this summer.  They were priced at 450 Euro and up.

Despite the snow and slush, people were still riding their bicycles all around.  And they didn't have any special tires or anything.  Most are sporting a granny or a not too technical bike.  When you think about what a prosperous city Munich is, it made no sense. 

But then again, maybe it does.  Perhaps we are too gear conscious here.  We wouldn't consider riding our bikes in the winter without proper tires, proper gear etc.  Whereas seeing well dressed people on commuter bikes that were bought for the express purpose of being exposed to the elements without worry is actually really practical.  Made us feel like we were too fussy or coddled. 

Being that Munich is the headquarters for BMW, it is no surprise that you see a lot of them -- Mostly 5 series sedans and wagons.  D, being a huge fan of the "old man wagon", feels very much at home in Munich.  A few months ago, he test drove a 5 series and I wouldn't be at all shocked if that will be his next vehicle.  Again we didn't end up making it to BMW Welt.  I have a feeling one visit will cement D's decision.

Something I didn't notice when we were here in May were the number of smokers.   A lot of people were smoking, standing outside bars and restaurants, while walking.  How could I have missed that?  No answer for you.  D remembered seeing and smelling a lot of smokers the last time around but I didn't and I have the sensitive nose in the family.   Losing my touch.

Smokers were very aware of the people around them especially when moving as they made a point of making sure their cigarettes did not contact anyone nor blew smoke at anyone as there were crowds pretty much everywhere we went.   That was much appreciated. 

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