While Munich doesn't have a Pacific Ocean or a Malibu Beach, that's not stopping intrepid locals surfing. Albeit on the local river The Eisbach. Deutsche Welle’s Guy Degen reports.
The first evidence of surfing I spot is a discarded wrapper from a stick of Australian surfing wax. Ahead of me, a couple of black wet-suited surfers clutching their boards jog across the road. They dart past onlookers leaning over a bridge and duck through bushes to the banks of the Eisbach.
Following them confirmed all the stories I'd heard about the possibility of surfing in Munich. The power and sheer volume of water from the Eisbach as it emerges from an underground tunnel produces a small wave about 12 metres wide with a clean face - just like the real thing in the ocean. Wading up in the frigid knee high water to talk to some of the surfers, I meet Rolf whose been surfing the Eisbach for the past four years:
"When you compare it to the ocean, everything happens much faster because you have always to do radical turns, turns like a 180 degrees within a few seconds...ahh, the water comes out of the tunnel at 5 metres per second which is like 36 kilometres per hour so it's OK. It's not too slow."
“I just try to stay as long as I'm able to OK…”
Rolf wipes out after only three or four seconds on the wave. But it’s not serious and within a minute he's back waiting for his turn. But surfing here is not without its hazards as the river bed in front of the wave is only just below the surface:
“I had some fine cuts here... and here on the back I hit the rocks behind the wave. It happens from time to time.”
”It looks pretty fun this guy's giving it a belt... it's honestly better than I thought. I'm surprised honestly. There's a hole in front of the wave that actually gives a real feeling of a much faster one…It's got a lot of potential for a small wave it really sucks quickly so that would give it the speed of a wave that is an extra half a foot higher. I haven't had a crack at it yet but honestly it doesn't look hard at all. You can come from either side. You can start with your feet on the board before you even push off the wall...Anyone could have a go at it. "
Leaving Adam to work out how he might rustle up a board, I notice small signs pinned on trees advertising surfboards for sale - much the same as you'd see near any surfing beach break. However, beside these are large signs clearly stating that it's forbidden to surf this wave.
“So far we’ve refrained from fines, but if there is a serious accident then it’s going to become a problem, it’s not allowed. The City of Munich has laws for its parks but in the Englischer Garten these do not apply because it’s property of the State of Bavaria. If it’s only an administrative offence like surfing on the Eisbach then there are no laws regulating that and the police don’t do anything.”
On any given day at least a dozen surfers are testing their skills on the Eisbach wave in the Englischer Garten. And, if you ask the right local they may let you in on some other good surf spots nearby.
Such is the popularity of river surfing in Bavaria that special river surfboards are being produced by a shaper in Munich and sold in local surf shops. Munich's city river wave on the Eisbach may not be up there with Pipeline in Hawaii or Bells Beach in Australia, but for many a land-locked surfer in Germany it's the next best thing.Listen to the report:
Turkey has experienced a week of violence. Last Sunday 4 bombs hit a major tourist resort and Istanbul the country's largest city, injuring 27 people including 10 British tourists. While an explosion in Antayla killed 3 and wounded 2 dozen more. A group fighting for Kurdish rights called the Kurdish Freedoms Falcons claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing and warned foreign tourists to stay away from Turkey. The attacks have again put the national and international spotlight on the 20-year struggle between Kurdish separatists fighting the Turkish for an independent homeland. Security forces across Turkey are now on high alert following this week's attacks in Istanbul and the coastal resorts of Marmaris and Antalya.
Over two dozen Czech neo-Nazis were arrested in Prague this week, after a protest outside the city’s Israeli Embassy. Most of them belonged to a group called National Resistance, who recently asked the Czech President to be allowed to join foreign armed forces to wage war on Israel. How strong is the neo-Nazi movement in the Czech Republic?
For years, the world seemed to ignore Somalia’s military and political battles. When the United States tried military intervention, it ended with a hasty retreat as clan warlords ordered dead American troops be dragged through the streets. Now there is renewed interest in trying to find a settlement and see the creation of a viable government. It’s fuelled by fears of a country without a real government becoming the perfect hiding place for terrorists and fanatics. Then there are worries over the conflict spreading beyond Somalia's borders - and the river of illegal arms flowing into the country, despite a UN weapons embargo.
In France, the traditional church is struggling to attract new blood but evangelical and charismatic ones are rapidly gaining ground. The country is warming to services that focus on miracles, gospel singing, adult immersions and speaking in tongues. One American preacher recently attracted an unprecedented 4,000 people a day to a meeting, swelling the ranks of France’s half a million evangelical followers.
This webpage receives support from the European Union