Nina London

Surfing in the heart of the city

  • Nina London came across a group of river surfers while on holiday in Munich, Germany (Photograph supplied)
  • River thrills: Nina London came across a group of river surfers while on holiday in Munich, Germany
  • Nina London came across a group of river surfers while on holiday in Munich, Germany (Photograph supplied)

How do you maintain your connection with nature and passion for adventure when you live in a big and busy city? How do you keep your spirit alive? You find unusual and interesting things to do.

I was walking with my husband, Bill, yesterday in Munich, Germany, the stately heart of Bavaria, with its high, domed churches and elegant, arched plazas.

We were lost in the largest park of any city in Europe. This lovely green sanctuary is far bigger than Central Park in New York, replete with elegant fountains, swan-filled lakes and even a clear, fast-flowing river.

It was a refreshingly cool day after the hottest week on record in central Europe and we were lightheaded with relief. We were hundreds of miles from the sea yet, to our astonishment, two barefoot, blond surfers in black wetsuits crossed our path carrying their boards. They were talking and laughing and headed somewhere fast. Without a word between us we fell in behind them, practically running to keep up.

We passed through the cool shade of the forest and heard the sound of rushing water that soon became a roar. A turbulent and frothy river, about 100ft wide, poured out from beneath two ancient stone arches below a mossy bridge. Along its edges on the vertical concrete banks stood a line of surfers.

Every few minutes, one would jump into the rapids on to their board and artfully zoom across the crest of a perpetual wave created by the powerful current dropping over hidden rocks.

They shot across like arrows, doing quick 180-degree turns as they reached the other side. On their return they spun and faced upstream, riding the wave as the whitewater raged beneath them.

The effect was mesmerising as they often spun in place and slid down the crest of the wave scarcely 50 feet from us. Even the best surfers could ride for only a minute or two and then they would tumble into the maelstrom of white water and be swept downstream where they bobbed furiously towards the riverbanks and pulled themselves out.

And so it went, all day long, with crowds cheering at the most daring moves and waiting surfers banging on their boards in approval at the most spectacular wipeouts. It was a non-stop cycle of high-adrenalin performance and sheer fun right in the heart of one of Europe’s oldest and most fabled cities.

Nature is so powerfully beautiful it calls to us amid all we do to tame it. The river is always there for us; when one surfer falls, leap in to take their place.

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at