Mayhem may be over-stating it – I was turning 40 not 21 – but my friends and I certainly enjoyed ourselves in the beerhalls and gardens of Bavaria.

I arrived from Prague after a ponderous train journey and walked the 5 minutes from the main station to Marienplatz where my friends were waiting outside a café to welcome me with a birthday beer. They’d flown over from England that morning.

We were staying at an IBIS hotel a few metro stops from the centre in a quiet part of town, so after a beer we went to check in there and then headed back into town. Details from this point on are sketchy but I can certainly recall being in the Hofbrauhaus – the cavernous bierkeller with a nice line in steins of beer, pretzels and an oompah band.

The next morning (ok, nearer lunchtime than morning) we headed back into the centre to have a look around – some nice squares and imposing buildings – before heading to the Englischer Garten (English garden) to enjoy the sun. I’d fortunately left the rain in Prague.

The garden is a beautiful serene place to walk around, ideal as we were still nursing sore heads from the night before. One interesting spectacle in the park is surfing – not what you’d probably be expecting. The Eisbach – a man made river in the park with surf-friendly tides – is home to this rather unusual sight, and we watched with interest before making our way through the leafy walkways to the Chinese Tower beer garden.

Imagine if you will six Englishmen in a beautiful park on a gorgeous summers day, being brought steins of beer by beautiful Bavarian barmaids in traditional dress, soaked up with oversized pretzels and hot dogs. This perfect combination was how I spent my 40th birthday, and it was fabulous. I don’t know how many hours we spent here, but the atmosphere was terrific and a band would strike up every so often to accompany the howls of laughter from rows and rows of benches of people having a whale of a time.

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At some point in the early evening our stomachs could take no more and it was back on the metro to the hotel via a couple of bars near the station. The next morning it was time to go back to the airport for my friends, and for me to the station for the next leg of my journey to Strasbourg

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