First Fall in Europe

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Location:  Europe
Author:  Pete

Writing this post is helping me to feel not quite so much like a chump.  I’ve been feeling a little under-adventured.  Who’d have guessed, right?  This semester is quickly coming to a close and it doesn’t feel like we’ve done much besides keep our heads above water in a new apartment, school, and country.  But assembling the shots from the past months is just the ticket to shut my whiny mouth!

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We started off the year running with my folks visiting!  Having visitors is always a good way to make you slow down and appreciate the place you live.  We spent time walking around cute Zug, finding our orientation around a new town together.

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Just a few weeks into the first semester our school sends the students out on Personal Development Week to spread their wings and stretch their boundaries.  I deemed it prudent to weasel my way into a group taking students onto the high seas in the Netherlands, sailing the Zuiderzee on nineteenth-century sail ships.

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Miranda and I bought a fancy car and have been making good use of it.  It’s striking to travel so fast!  We’ve been up to Frankfurt twice to see my niece!  Both trips we filled the trunk with cases of German beer.  The smuggling continues!

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We’ve also explored the Alps close by with my parents.  Our school has a chalet in Wengen, near Interlaken, so we braved the switchbacked roads and got ourselves some alpine hiking in, overlooking quaint Swiss towns tucked into the valleys.

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Over our fall break we drove five hours to the in Cinque Terre region in Italy.  We rented an apartment overlooking the Med, touristed around the seaside villages, and took a great cooking class in Lucca!  Five hours is the distance we used to drive from Charlevoix to get to Detroit a couple times a year!

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We used Miranda’s birthday as a good excuse to drive into France over a weekend for a fall color tour. Belfort, just over the border from us, held an antiques market which splattered in the main square and oozed out into the winding streets.  We rummaged around for treasures and engorged ourselves on French pastry delights.

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So there we go.  Sailing in the Netherlands, a new niece in Germany, cooking in Cinque Terre, Italy, exploring the Alps with my folks, and rummaging through French markets.  All in a semester’s work.  It’s getting colder now in Switzerland.  We’ve been getting dustings of snow that ices the bergs for a few days here and there.  I haven’t touched real snow in at least two years.

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Oh… and Miranda’s pregnant!

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Settling into Switzerland

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Author: Pete
Location:  Zug, Switzerland

So here we are.  Dry land, no salt water in sight!  We’ve replaced the Caribbean Sea with the Zugersee, white-capped waves for ice-capped peaks, and swim suits for silk suits.  Switzerland!  We’re still reeling from our good fortune of landing here.  It was a good deal of work and planning on our part, but I’m sure luck took a sizable role as well.  We’ll take any help we can get!

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Zug is cute, comfortable and easy.  There’s the quaint altstadt, rolling hills, blue lake, and beckoning Alps in the background.  It’s gorgeous.  People are friendly and patient with my (slowly) developing Swiss German.

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Four duffle bags worth of worldly belongings seems like a lot when packing, but it’s easily swallowed by an empty apartment.  I don’t know if I’m proud or unsettled by how few possessions we deem absolutely necessary.  The building is new; everything is glossy and freshly painted.  I haven’t had to fix anything in months.  Although there has been an IKEA construction project taking place somewhere in the apartment since we arrived.  I knew all those years of playing with Legos would pay off!  I’m sure we’ll miss a little grit eventually, but for now it sure is nice to have things just work.

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There are cows and a dairy farm with fresh milk right outside our window, the Zugerberg range standing guard over Zug, and the Alps on the other side of the lake.  Several festivals in town have whipped into oompah band fueled fetes.  Cows and beer?  Miranda is sold.  Biking, skiing, and paragliding out the backdoor?  Me too!

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Miranda and I have met a warm welcome here.  The other teachers have taken us under wing, inviting us to dinners and on outings, helping us find our way around, and giving us the beta on life in der Schweiz.  Most have been in Switzerland for some years.  Everyone seems happy here.  I’m sure we will be too.

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Boat Update:  Brave Tayrona is still awaiting her new crew.  There’s been some paperwork tangle that has slowed her sale (and sail), but she’s hopeful to be back on the water soon.