We hear about this in the U.S. – or at least we see it in movies – all those European kids running barefoot around vineyards, businessmen shedding their suits for swim trunks (or, ahemmm, speedos), carefree mothers stopping at the village market and bicycling home with a basket full of fresh bread, fruit, and just-plucked flowers, and weatheredgrandfathers spending half the day sitting on the craggy rocks of a picturesque coastline, casting their line out to sea.This is August in Europe. Of course, if you’re in one of the German-frequented vacation spots (e.g. Mallorca, Lake Garda, Croatia, southern Turkey), you’ll also encounter the families out on super active vacations – sailing, cycling, hiking, kite surfing, wind surfing – it’s not necessarily a time to just sit quietly in a villa somewhere and read and drink chilled cocktails. But whatever your preference, August is simply a time to get away.
Now, I love this concept. Really, I do. I sincerely hope that America can reverse its trend toward over-working, and embrace a slower, less pressured lifestyle that values time away, and that employers will support by granting more vacation (and not just in “concept”) or more flexible schedules that allow for working from a vacation cabin somewhere along a beautiful coastline… Wouldn’t it be wonderful if American kids got to build memories around whole months of summertime at the lake, or at the beach, or in the mountains, with both of their parents? Together, as a family? It seems like something that may have existed in the past, but that today has gone by the wayside as both parents increasingly need to work long hours in order to meet the basic costs of living, and of course with rising childcare costs – it’s a vicious cycle.
Now, as a single girl without all these worries, I actually like to buck the European system and take this month to STAY in the city if possible. Luckily, Munich isn’t unbearably hot in August, so it actually ends up being one of the best times of year here. I love that there is a quiet slow-down and the city just takes on its own summer rhythm. The office is practically empty, which is a wonderful thing because it gives me time to catch up on all the administrative tasks that tend to pile up throughout the year, and the streets are emptier too, which is equally wonderful for a commuter like myself because I don’t need to even wonder if I will find a parking spot. And then there are the summer evenings –I can cycle all around town, enjoy the parks and beer gardens, grill on the river … and it all just feels so peaceful. All I want to do is take my hammock out, string it up between a couple of trees in the park, and soak in some sunshine. Munich, itself, can feel like a vacation during this time of year.
And you know what? That means I have the luxury of using my vacation to visit the U.S. in the Fall – the best time of year in North America! It’s a good life when you get to take advantage of the best of both worlds.