Of all the things I have seen and experienced in the first few days in Munich, the thing that has surprised me most is the availability of Internet access for visitors.
Or lack of it.
Moving from an island in Croatia, where good Internet access if freely available almost everywhere, trying to get online in Germany, which is much more developed in terms of IT, has so far proved extremely difficult.
In Croatia these days, it is quite rare to find a cafe which does NOT offer free online access, and indeed most of them provide the password automatically on the bill. But in Germany?
The first signs that the approach to WiFi might be a little different came in Austria in December, where we stayed a couple of nights in St. Johann im Pongau. Both nights we ate in different restaurants which were attached to hotels. In both, I asked for the password, only to be told that access was only available to hotel guests and not restaurant guests. On the second occasion, I was a little more insistent, as my wife had something to finish for work, and I was directed to the hotel to plead my case, which resulted in being granted one hour only. And access was duly cut off when the 60 minutes were up.
And so too, it seems, in Munich. I have lost count of the number of cafes and restaurants which simply do not offer Internet, and it is not possible for visitors to get online. For locals, with their monthly packages, this of course is no problem, but it is interesting to see posts on Munich forums asking for tips on cafes in the city which do offer WiFi, so it would seem to be not just me.
There do appear to be a few places where you can go online for free in more public places to check email, with one provider offering 30 minutes a day for free, and it seems that the local authorities are doing more to make Internet access more available, with the launch of ten more hotspots in the city last week. Current official hotspots can be found at Marienplatz, Sendlinger Tor, Odeonsplatz, Karlsplatz Stachus, Marienhof, Orleansplatz, Lehel, Harras, Münchner Freiheit, Wettersteinplatz, Giesing, Rotkreuzplatz, Neuperlach Zentrum and Deutsches Museum.