You don't have to be in Munich very long to understand the importance and the magic of the Englischer Garten in the lives of the locals. Here in a city of 1.4 million people is a fabulous green space with a large river, various lakes and lots of natural beauty to enjoy, just a couple of minutes on foot from the busy centre. With cycling lanes aplenty, it is a wonderful place to escape city life on foot or by bike.
And as soon as the sun comes out, locals need little excuse...
And while the Englischer Garten is full of wide open spaces, it does have the odd surprise in store for people looking to explore.
Its very own Japanese Garden, with regular Japanese tea ceremonies, for example.
I became a convert to Japanese gardens in my time in Hiroshima, and the Golden Pavillion in Kyoto remains the most tranquil place I have experienced on this planet to date. The Munich garden and tea house was closed this early March, but I am looking forward to returning later in the summer to enjoy it in its full majesty.
The Japanese tea house in Munich dates back to 1972, when it was gifted to Munich by the city of Sapporo an the Japanese Urasenke Foundation, as a sign of peace and friendship on the occasion of the Munich Olympic Games. Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics in the same year, and this was the connection between the two cities.
The Japanese tea ceremony is performed every second weekend from April to October, on Saturdays and Sundays at 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00. A fascinating introduction into the culture of Japanese tea drinking, which is such an important part of their culture.
The interior of the tea house itself comprises a small waiting room, as well as the tearoom, and there are mats, sliding doors and scrolls of Japanese writing.
An altogether very tranquil part of Munich, surrounded by lots of tranquil Munich, just a few metres behind Haus der Kunst.
Königinstraße 4, 80539 Munich. Tel - 089-224319
If you happen to be in Munich on the third Sunday in July, there is the annual Japanfest, open to all, an event organised by the German-Japanese Society Bavaria and the Japanese Consul in Munich.
A delightful place, even out of season.