Friday, July 10, 2015


Recently, we took a quick trip to Crete, one of our favorite European destinations. With a direct cheap flight and a known beach side hotel, we are all set. We’ve stayed there before and know what to do. Throw our bags down and walk twenty meters to the beach. Our first day there we arrived around 5pm, when most others were leaving the beach. We swam in the luke warm water, sat on the beach and read for hours. During the summer, it stays light in Crete until 8:30 or so. When we were finally squinting at our pages, we rousted ourselves and walked to find our dinner; Greek  salads of course.
With the ongoing Greek economic crisis, I started to worry a bit about our trip. Greece’s GDP has dropped 25% since 2008, on par with GDP drops seen in Europe during World War II. Unemployment is high, taxes are high and often uncollected. After years of budget battles and bailouts, Greece missed a 1.5 billion debt payment to the IMF and banks were closed to stop a run on money, the euro. Greeks voted on whether to accept more austerity measures but voted no. This means a possible exit from the eurozone, the EU countries using the euro.
All kids perked up on this one. Tori reminded us that she wrote an essay on why Romania should adopt the euro as they currently do not. We tried to talk about debt repayment, particularly poignant for the adults who are racking up big debts right now as we plot our move stateside, but not sure much was learned. We took out extra cash, as the banks closed on Monday, the day we arrived. As we drove in from the airport, we passed a few gas stations with huge lines of people worried about gas reserves. Adam likes to go to the little beach side market and buy us bread, feta cheese and olives for our lunch. He noticed the local products were all there but the imported products were not being replaced.
As went about our days there, we of course paid cash. On a scuba diving excursion, a fellow tourist tried to pay with a credit card but that did not work. He was directed to a bank that was closed. We left before seeing how that played out. Our scuba team, all professional and friendly, seemed not too worried about the economy. Granted they work with tourists only and are far from Athens. One scuba instructor introduced us to his two year old son, who was having a birthday party that day. Like everyone, we want a secure, even better, future for our children.  It’s the people we worry about when we think back on our many good times in Greece.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Color Run Munich

We’ve done a bunch of fun things lately as we are starting to say goodbye to Munich. We’ve done a ropes course in the forest, a zip line across Olympic Stadium, sommerrodelbahn in the Alps, and paddle boarding on a lake. And then there was the Color Run, featured here not because it was the best of the bunch but because the pictures were the best. Very colorful and very fun. Billed as the happiest 5k on the planet. We agree!
A bunch of Tori’s friends were doing it, so she was in. Royce, who had a great year running cross country and track, was in. Adam and I decided to go along as well, mostly for safety. We were not needed. Munich is such an easy city to navigate via sbahn and so safe. Most of Tori’s friends came without parents and left without parents. Me, with visions of crowds in Hong Kong, was mostly worried about finding the kids at the end of the race. This proved simple. The race, with thousands of participants, started and ended in the same place. There was a stage with an MC and dancing and numerous beer and brot stands. Collecting tweens and teens, we decided to meet at the ice cream stand and that was that.
Royce ran with a friend from track. They actually ran. They both placed in the top ten and were slightly disappointed that the race was not more competitive. But they threw a little paint at each other just to say they did it.
Adam was supposed to run with me. We worked our way to the start line together, with lots of music and cheers and dancing. Hobbling on a swollen knee and crying, just because crowd events always make me cry, I was not the running partner Adam had in mind. He ran with me for about 5 meters and then was gone, after checking on me a few times. I walked the course, and was possibly the oldest person there.
The event was for teenagers, for sure. Tori was in her element, though a little torn between hanging out with friends and racing. She said she initially raced to a color spot, waited for her friends, and then sprinted to the next color spot. But she gave that up and got covered in paint and talked to her friends the entire way. I think that is the tug of the event itself. Great to get people out and moving but maybe just maybe losing something as the competition fades? Definitely the same with school. How much rigor? How much down time? Same with everything I suppose.Well, we came down firmly in the more fun camp today and have the pictures to prove it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Annual End of School Plunge

For many years now, we have celebrated the end of the school year with a jump into a body of water. Here in Germany that means a plunge into Lake Starnberg, located just blocks away from the kids’ school. Some years have been cold and gray. Some years  mild. Luckily for this year’s jumpers, this year was hot. After a cold spring, Germany is in the throes of a heat wave with temps in the mid to upper 30’s!
School ends late in Germany. It was a busy June, up until the very end. Tori had grade eight exams, sort of preparation for senior school final exams, and then the middle school graduation boat party. All kids had school trips to the water slides and sports day and sleep overs with best friends. The last week of school we had various friends sleeping over every night of the week or at least one of our own kids at someone else’s house. And then there were the good bye parties too!
We are indeed getting ready to leave Germany at the end of the summer when we return to the states. In some ways we are ready for a change. Many of the kids’ friends are also leaving this year, particularly in grade eight as kids move into boarding schools for senior school. But we love the friends that are staying here. We love our school, located on a field near a forest, an old castle on the ground, the Alps visible in the distance. We love the cleanliness, the safety, the green space but yes, it is time to go.
Even I had a friend over in the final week of school. A good friend from the Romania days who now lives in Zurich stopped by en route to a business meeting in Munich. He definitely lightened the mood at our place, laughing about the old days.  Seeing him, and another good friend from London, who came to visit twice in June, is another thing that is hard about leaving…the proximity of Europe, of places, of friends, of history. . But these friends have been in our lives for decades now and we have to trust our paths will continue to cross.
We thank our newer friends in Munich for many things, including joining us at this year's lake jump and making it the biggest one yet!