As long as I've lived here, I've had a love-hate relationship with Munich. When things are difficult, I despise it here, blaming my limited language skills, my lack of cultural memory or cultural differences for my difficulties. And while all those things are true, and generally do make life more difficult, like everything else in life, it is all a matter of perspective. As long as I can keep those minor speed bumps, in perspective, because that is really what they are, speed bumps, not road blocks, I generally love it here. And there are so many things to love here, from the six weeks of vacation to the excellent health care coverage to the access to the mountains and lakes.
And one of the things that I really love here is that if you don't have a car or access to a car, is how easy it is to get around. Now, normally I get on here and kvetch about how frustrating it can be to navigate public transportation with two children in tow, but truthfully having access to public transportation all the way out here in the suburban countryside is generally fantastic. However, what is really wonderful about Munich, is the access you have to it with a bicycle.
Almost the entire city is covered with a crisscrossing network of bicycle paths. All the major roads have bicycle lanes, often separated from the main road by a curb, so not much danger of a car crossing over into the bicycle lane. Additionally, because the city is covered by parks, there are bike paths crossing through the parks that will cut your commute down considerably.
Generally I've only used my bike locally in the neighborhood, to go to the kindergarten, to friends' houses, the store or der Bahnhof. And occasionally I've forayed deeper into the city, but on the West side closest to my home. Well, yesterday I was brave, and I decided to take my bicycle to my friend's house all the way on the other side of the city. It was just over 11km in (approximately 6 miles), and generally I did pretty well, though once I made it to her neighborhood I got quite lost, so I probably added an extra mile to the ride.
And as luck would have it, my friend's house was in the same general vicinity of my next destination three hours later, Treemans Coffee, where I meet up with friends every Sunday evening. Of course, trying to rely on my inner compass, of which I have none, added another good mile to the trip, but luckily I was carrying my handy-dandy map, and was back on track in no time.
Considering how lost I got during the daytime, I was mildly concerned when I left Treemans at 8:30 pm in the evening for my trek home. However, somehow, miraculously, I made it all the way home, without getting lost once, ending my 22.5 km (14 mile) bike ride at approximately 9pm that evening.
For those of you who worry about me cycling home in the dark, the entire ride home was lit, and there are a zillion other cyclists and pedestrians outside as well, because this is Munich, and it might be the only city in the world, where a woman cycling alone at night is completely the norm, and no one bothers you because it is the safest place in the world.
And that is one of the reasons, I love it here.