Natalie, 25, and Guillaume, 27, have been together for a good two years. They decided to test what romance the Englischer Garten has to offer for lovers visiting its sweetest date spots together: the Japanische Teehaus (Japanese Tea House), rowing on the Kleinhesseloher See, a picnic at Monopteros temple, and swimming in the Eisbach.
Natalie: What even is romance? A candlelit dinner or a bunch of red roses? For me, it means escaping the daily grind with Guillaume, and enjoying our time as a couple. But is the Englischer Garten the best place to do it?
Guillaume: Natalie sometimes accuses me of not being romantic enough. And I must admit, bringing home the occasional bouquet, or organising a romantic date is not really in my DNA. I thought I would explore my sensitive-cheesy side at the Englischer Garten.
Natalie: Our quest first takes us to the Japanische Teehaus. Every month during summer, it hosts a traditional tea ceremony. Guillaume and I sit and watch, intrigued, as the tea is prepared before our eyes. The atmosphere in the tea house is really calming, and it’s interesting to experience a piece of Japanese culture first-hand. However, we’re not alone, so we don’t get to enjoy any feeling of intimacy. For me, that feeling doesn’t arrive until we start looking around the Japanfest event in the area around the tea house. I come across a stall where you can write your own haiku: a special type of Japanese poem. I wave Guillaume over, and as we write our first ever haiku, I actually feel us growing closer. I would never have expected Guillaume to be up for this experiment – writing poetry is definitely not one of his favourite pastimes.
A bright butterfly
alights on my window ledge;
my heart beats faster
Guillaume: We join a group of fifteen other people in the tea house to learn about the ceremony. Interesting? Yes. Romantic? No. We’re all given a cup of matcha tea (rather bitter, not really to my taste) and a small biscuit (rather sweet, much more to my taste). After about an hour, I have learned a bit about Japanese culture but I wouldn’t say we’ve enjoyed an intimate experience as a couple. Afterwards, as we wander round Japanfest, an elderly man invites us to write a haiku (a Japanese poem) and Natalie jumps at the offer – much to my dismay. After racking our brains for a while, we actually succeed in producing three lines each. Though her attempt sounds more like a poem than mine. Oh well – it was still fun.
Natalie: The best bit of my day is when we go rowing together on Kleinhesseloher See – it’s the first time that either of us has tried it. Despite Guillaume assuring me that he will get the hang of it, I’m uneasy to begin with: the boat is a bit unsteady. When Guillaume starts to rock the boat back and forth, I can see myself taking a bath with the ducks. However, the further we get from the shore, the more smoothly Guillaume glides the oars through the water. I start to relax and enjoy the moment. A family of ducks swims alongside us. Out on the water, it feels as though you have the Englischer Garten all to yourselves. Later, I settle down to take the oars for the first time. Guillaume takes my hands softly in his, and guides them so I get the movement right. But then a glance at the clock brings our couple time to an end – sadly we have to return the boat after half an hour.
The ball rolls again
Women wear summer dresses
The best time of year.
Guillaume: At Kleinhesseloher See, we rent a rowing boat. I help Natalie get in, and I sit between the oars. It takes a few minutes to get the hang of it but soon we start gliding elegantly across the lake. Nevertheless, Natalie is stressed (“We’re so close to the water!”) and, of course, I can’t resist rocking the boat a bit. She is so cute when she’s scared! Out on the water together, we enjoy a few special moments as we watch the ducklings and I teach her how to row. It’s a shame when we have to return the boat after half an hour.
Natalie: Of course, it wouldn’t be a romantic date at the Englischer Garten without a picnic, and one at the foot of the Monopteros temple, at that. Guillaume and I snuggle up together on a blanket, and feed each other strawberries and little bits of cheese. Then all of a sudden, a loud blast of hip-hop hits us. A group of teenagers congregates nearby, and the romance evaporates. It started so well, but ends with us making a hasty retreat. We finish our day in the Eisbach [a small man-made river connected to the Isar]. I get comfortable on the bank, slowly sliding my feet into the water. The cold is a bit of a shock – shivering, I look over to Guillaume who gets in without a moment of hesitation. I have a lot of fun splashing ice-cold water in his face – to which Guillaume responds by trying to pull me into the water. However, I put up a strong defence! Soaking wet, he eventually sits down next to me and I snuggle into his arms. For me, it is the perfect way to end a great day, which has surprised me with more than a few romantic moments.
Guillaume: The Eisbach [Eisbach literally translates as “ice brook”] really lives up to its name. No wonder my thermo-sensitive girlfriend doesn’t want to come swimming with me. Though it takes a little willpower on my part as well. Ah, what the heck – I need to impress Natalie (my rowing skills earlier didn’t blow her away) so I plunge into the water while she sits on the bank and stretches her legs into the stream. When I start playfully pulling on her feet, she is a little less amused. Nonetheless, she still lets me hug her afterwards, even though I am totally drenched. Ultimately I was unable to uncover my sensitive-cheesy side (if it even exists), but I still had a very lovely and thoroughly romantic day in the Englischer Garten.