Ten reasons why you must never leave Munich without visiting the English Garden

Not many places can boast an urban space twice the size of Central Park, New York. Yet, Munich’s famous Englischer Garten or English Garden dwarfs both Central Park and Hyde Park, London in size. It occupies an area of 1.4 square miles from mid-town to city limits.

English Garden gets its name from the informal garden landscape style that was popular in Britain around the mid 18th – 19th century. It’s easy to see why on a summer’s day over 100 000 people flock to the park; woodland and meadows, a network of wide paths, plenty of places to picnic and an ice cold stream running through it makes it an easy choice for city-dwellers to relax and unwind. I spent a day here taking in the scenery, getting lost and generally being an absolute tourist. I highly recommend it. Here are ten reasons why you must never leave Munich without visiting the English Garden.

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1. You can ride an artificial wave

There’s an artificial wave where surfers can line up along the bank and wait their turn. You need to be an expert or skilled surfer as the current can be strong and there are metal poles under the stream.

2. Go with the tide on the Eisbach

The Eisbach or ice brook is a man-made river which flows through the park. Although swimming in the brook is not allowed it’s not a rule that’s enforced strictly. On any day swimmers brave the chilly water and let the natural tide carry them along the brook. It’s a pretty cool thing to do on a summer’s day in particular and you will see hordes of teenagers gliding along the brook.

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3. Almost everyone rides a bike and there are plenty of spaces to park one

One of the most noticeable things in Munich is that almost everyone rides a bike. So there are bike stops everywhere. If you’re peckish and want to stop for lunch you can park your bike next to your table and relax.

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4. There’s a rose garden

English Garden has a rose garden and it’s as beautiful as it sounds. As well as perfectly manicured flower beds there is an arched pavilion with seats, right in the middle, for eating your lunch surrounded by roses.

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5. Goldene Bar serves up a mean grapefruit lemonade

The Goldene Bar is a super cool cafe and restaurant which sits behind Haus der Kunst. It has a terrace overlooking the park. They serve a mean cold grapefruit lemonade and a fabulous cup of coffee with cake.

6. You can drink tea in a Japanese tea house

The Japanese tea house inside the park was built in 1972 to celebrate the Olympics in Munich that year. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes place here regularly. However, you will need to check opening hours outside summer months as it was closed when I was there.

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7. Eat local at Seehaus Restaurant

Seehaus restaurant inside the park is set in the most idyllic setting with views across the lake. It’s cosy and gorgeous and has outdoor seating as well as more formal dining inside. The menu is pretty incredible and suited for celebrating a special occasion. I had the charred Bavarian salmon in elderflower oil. Delicious!

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8. There’s a five-storey Chinese Tower

The Chinesischer Turm, or Chinese Tower, inspired by the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens, London was first constructed in 1789 to 1790 . It has five storeys and a beer garden with 7000 seats. It’s still only the second largest beer garden in Munich. Come here during summer and it’s Oktoberfest in the sun.

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9. There’s an old toilet converted into an ice cream shop

Fraulein Grüneis is, wait for it…a public toilet converted into a quaint ice cream shop. It’s become one of the most popular meeting places in the park and all of Munich. You can buy anything from pretzels to penny sweets here.

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10. There’s a Greek style temple on a mount

Monopteros or Apollo Temple is a 16 meter high Greek style temple built in 1832 on a small hill within the park. It was designed by Leo von Klenze and is complete with polychrome stone paintings. As much as its historic value the elevated position offers a stunning view of the sunset over Munich. Rumour has it that it’s a favourite with lovers.

 

 

 

 

English Garden: 

 

 

 

How PGA Catalunya resort offers you more than a round of golf

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Catalunya, Spain is acclaimed for many things. Arguably, it’s home to one of the most famous cities in the world; Barcelona. Bordered by France, Andorra and the Mediterranean Sea it would be fair to say that the region is abundantly blessed. A naturally rugged coastline, hot Mediterranean climate and the Pyrenees valleys have given rise to a region conducive to good living and superior cuisine.

These innate characteristics and strategic location were not lost on the creators of the luxury golf escape PGA Catalunya Resort. Armed with the region’s natural blessings the resort has set about graciously adding value to its offering. Their recent developments pledge more than an exceptional round of golf.

Golf with a bite

At the heart of the resort of course, are its two world-renowned golf courses. The Stadium Course has been named the best in Spain, third in Continental Europe and is in the top 100 courses in the world. Not a bad round of golf at all. Furthermore, the club house sets new standards for exclusive members’ clubs. Celebrated interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán, a master of light and space, has created a fresh and modern departure from traditional golf clubhouses. The building is in perfect harmony with its natural setting and offers undisturbed views across the Stadium Course. A lavish bistro menu at The Club Café includes fried oysters, kale and beetroot or an Angus beef burger. Local Cava and Champagne compliments the wine and beer list making it the perfect place for a light lunch after a round.

LAVIDA Hotel

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Swimming Pool at Sunset – Hotel LAVIDA – PGA Catalunya Resort – Girona – Spain

The most alluring recent expansion however, is LAVIDA Hotel. If golf isn’t your thing this gateway hotel on the resort offers everything else you could possibly want from an unforgettable holiday.  Located just ten minutes from Gerona and an hour from Barcelona it’s the perfect compromise for friends and family who enjoy different things. With cycling, hiking, trekking, horse-riding and boat trips in and around Gerona it’s enough to tempt you away from the golf courses. All this and I’ve barely mentioned the backdrop of the Pyrenees mountains which dominates the view. LAVIDA Hotel’s 50 rooms, with sweeping views of the golf courses, provides a luxurious shelter for outdoor enthusiasts on the resort.

A second hotel, Hotel Camiral, also located on the resort is the home of 1477 Restaurant headed by Executive Chef Francisco Hernandez. A menu sourced from local artisan produce cooked with a distinctly Catalan twist, with wines from its cellar, provides an exquisite gastronomical experience.

Own a piece of heavenly Catalunya

Once you visit the resort and enjoy its rugged tranquility, five star cuisine, exquisite wines and unparalleled hospitality you’d be forgiven for not wanting to leave. So how fortunate for us that one no longer has to. PGA Catalunya offers a  development of 50 new three-bedroom luxury villas for sale. Designed by Barcelona-based Lagula Architects each villa is distributed across two floors and placed to benefit from its celestial surroundings. The first release becomes available in 2019. With such generous value added luxury there is little doubt that we shall all be flocking to Catalunya very soon.

 

 

For more information visit: www.pgacatalunya.com

Love Madrid I Private Tapas Walking Tour

The second day of my Chef’s Table Tour with Luxury Travel Advisors starts on a bright fresh Sunday morning in November in the busy centre of Puerta del Sol, Madrid. It was a privately guided historic walk with tapas stops in some of the most iconic venues of Madrid.

See my full post here: tikichris.com

 

 

 

 

 

How I Discovered Tranquility in Verona at a 19th Century Villa

Italy’s major cities are cracking down on tourist-led misbehaviour. Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona have seen a wave of bans including and not limited to bottles, selfie sticks, picnics and food trucks. The bans stem from the general decay of urban centres as much as their visitor led debris.

Anyone who travels to Italy in the summer months will agree that its cities are overrun by tourists. I spent last summer in Florence and was astounded by the number of people in its main square – Piazza della Signoria. The waiting time for entrance to the Uffizi Gallery was SIX HOURS and yet I, like everyone else, queued up to enter. What drove me to stand in line for six hours ask the sane amongst you? It’s worth it. Totally and utterly worth it. Herein lies Italy’s double-edged sword.

So, late this summer when I visited Verona I was desperate to avoid tourist traps. Even in October the city was packed with hordes of visitors. It’s easy to see why. The simple formula of great weather, good food and rich history literally sit side by side. The 1st Century Roman amphitheatre dominates the city and all the al fresco dining and coffee drinking happens around it.

However, this time round I  approached Verona the Italian way. At the recommendation of a good friend (who happens to be Italian) I made the wise choice of staying at a villa away from the city centre. This meant that each evening when I was at the end of my tether being a tourist I could steal myself away to an authentic and far more satisfying Italian experience.

Al Giardinetto

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I stayed at the magnificent 19th century Italian villa, Al Giardinetto, in the quiet neighbourhood of Borgo Venezia. It was just 15 minutes from the city centre but far enough away from the crowds that I could still enjoy tranquility. The villa is owned by Rosanna Rossi who purchased it in 1985. Everything about its rustic charm appealed to the romantic in me. High ceilings, tiled floors and lace curtains that fluttered in the breeze as you flung open the deep green shutters was a far cry from what I encountered in the city.

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Entrance to the villa was through its pretty giardinetto (little garden) complete with olive trees and a swing. It was perfect for a quiet coffee with my host before I set off for the day.

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Inside, every detail was a nod to this home’s history. Watercolour pictures of flowers in the garden, the home and Verona adorned the stairway and the muted colours faded into the wall.

The Rooms

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My double room up stairs was as rustic as I expected it would be. Twee pillowcases, quilted sheets and more hand painted pictures complimented the terracotta tiles on the floor and the windows rose from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. It was warm and comforting and  I certainly had a  feeling of home.

The Food

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In keeping with the homely feeling of Al Giardinetto you can expect lots of home cooking from Rosanna. Starting with a home-baked chocolate cake dusted with icing sugar on arrival to a hearty Italian breakfast with coffee. It begs the question – why would you want to breakfast in the city.

Three Things You must Do in Verona

Visit the Amphitheatre

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A short taxi or bus ride from the villa brought me straight to the busy heart of the city. The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is enormous and on the outside appears to be crumbling. However, this 1st Century AD Roman amphitheatre is the world’s third-largest to have survived and is still used today. I have it on good authority that during the Opera season it hosts magnificent performances. 

Piazza delle Erbe

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By all means stroll around the city and through the market. It’s a pretty town with lots of places to eat, fountains and medieval buildings covered in ancient murals. However, I covered it all within half an hour. So I recommend not spending more than 30 minutes here. After I’d seen the market and amphitheatre there was little to keep my interest. Save the day and head out of Verona to Lake Garda.

Lake Garda

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From Verona Porta Nuova the train to Dezenzano del Garda arrived here in under 30 minutes. After my decision to stay at Al Giardinetto this was the second best decision I’d made. It would be a waste to visit Verona and not visit the largest lake in Italy. Its name evolves from Germanic word warda, translating to place of observation. It is certainly that. I arrived here in time for the sunset and dinner. As it was October I did not have any difficulty finding a place to eat. However, if you’re visiting in summer I imagine you would need a little more time to get a table.

It is undoubtedly popular with tourists and there is no way around this. However, the lake itself is magnificent. Clear, blue and surrounded by villages and mountains. Its vastness reduces the human impact in that I failed to notice anything or anyone else other than the lake. This is one not to be missed.

 

 

 

Al Giardinetto is located at Via Tiberghien 11, 37132 Verona.

For bookings visit www.bnbalgiardinettoverona.com