Germany is almost landlocked. There is a small section of northern Germany that has a decent coastline, but that is a longways from Munich. Munich is certainly without a coastline and yet there is a bustling surf scene. I only came to learn this recently when we started planning our 24 hours in Munich. This, my friends, is river surfing.
The place is called Eisbachwelle. It's located at the southern end of the English Gardens in Munich. The Eisbach River travels underneath the city to help create Hydropower. Because this section of the river is manmade, there is a concrete shelf in this location that creates this standing wave.
Maybe I've been under a rock for a long time. Or maybe I haven't spent enough time on the internet figuring out how to surf without an ocean. But this activity is new to me. I stumbled upon river surfing by chance on Instagram. Naturally, I started researching everywhere I could to learn more. I'll post more soon about that actual activity itself but today I just want to talk about Munich's little surf culture.
I am usually a big believer in not discussing surf spots online. If you have a fun little spot that you and a few buddies regularly have to yourself, it should stay that way. Part of the fun is the discovery of waves that you have to yourself. The thing is, not all spots are "secret spots" and this happens to be one of those. You can look up the location online and find the Eisbach surfers as easy as you can find Pipeline or Waimea Bay. I'll leave that research to you but trust me, I'm not spoiling a spot for anyone by talking about it.
All of that being said, I HAD to see this for myself. You know how it is; photos and videos never do justice for cool shit. When we got to the location I was initially shocked to see how many people were there. 95% were just watching. People had beers and picnic lunches and were just camped out as spectators. There was a line on both sides of the river with surfers waiting their turns. There was never any jockeying for position like there is in a traditional surfing lineup. The guys (and one or two gals) patiently waited and seemed to enjoy watching each other surf as much as the crowd that surrounded them. When there was a really nice slash, guys would pound on their boards in support. The surfers did their best to splash onlookers too. Who could blame them?
One of the first things I noticed was the size of the wave and the speed of the river flow. The wave was shoulder to head-high on some of the surfers and over belly-high on most. When a surfer went down, they were quickly swept away by the speed of the river. That only meant it was the next person's turn.
The next thing I saw was the entry. This wasn't some laborious paddle into a wave (a few did go that route), instead it was a stylish leap from the sidelines onto their board and at it they'd go, side-to-side perfecting turns and some even going for big airs, or jumps. IT WAS AMAZING!
I should be sure to say, this is not a beginner's spot by any means. There are concrete barriers on either side of the river so one misstep could lead to an awful lot of dental work. Overall, this was one of the coolest surf scenes I've ever witnessed. Anywhere. The attitudes of every surfer there was laid-back, welcoming and supportive of all fellow wave riders. I would encourage anyone to go see this if in Munich. Just don't plan to surf for the first time there. You'd be better off with a lesson in a nice tropical climate.
To the Eisbach Surfers: PROST!
Where is the craziest place you've seen people surfing?