All this is to say that I am a picnicker. And this is a whole other reason why I fit in so well here in Germany: Germany is a nation of picnickers. I think it's in their blood- seriously, picnicking perfectly combines the frugality and practicality of every good German with the desire to be outside in the fresh air, the simplicity of the evening meal (usually perfect picnic foods - bread, cheese, maybe some sausage, vegetables, pickles, etc.), and the compulsion to gather in large groups. In Munich, the Isar is the natural draw for picnickers. In the evenings, people flock to the river, spread out a blanket, break out their picnic dinners and a few beers, and just hang out. When the sun eventually sinks, the young 'uns inevitably bust out a boombox or a guitar, and people light up candles or torches all along the river.
At these moments I sometimes really wish I could have a bonfire. That's really all that's missing. Sadly, bonfires are not permitted. Negative point for Germany. Oh, and that probably explains why my German friends have never had the pleasure of roasting marshmallows over a fire and making s'mores. They seriously don't know the ultimate picnicking/grilling/camping joy... tragedy.
But then, ratchet back up some positive points for Germany for allowing alcohol outside in public spaces. It is so nice to be able to have a picnic right in the middle of the city, and also to be allowed to drink a bottle of beer. In fact, it's getting a little difficult to fathom why exactly that is not allowed in most places in the U.S. I have not witnessed a single incident that would argue against allowing outdoor alcohol consumption. In fact, I would say quite the opposite; it creates a very friendly, festive, alive atmosphere in a city. And it draws people out of the bars and restaurants and instead toward the rivers and parks, to picnic.