June 2006


For some reason (peer-pressure!) I signed up for the 10km München Stadtlauf (City Run) when I ran this morning. My company, Infineon/Qimonda, is a major sponsor, so they give free entry to all employees and have a courtyard reserved just for us for pre and post race, so I joined several workmates in the run. The plan was to run at least 10km total in the weeks coming up to the event, but I completely botched that, running only about 6km last Tuesday, but nothing else of significance in the past 3 months or so. So as of 8:00 this morning, I was just hoping to start out slow, stay consistent and be able to finish. Well, I did exactly that, running almost perfect 1k splits and ended up with a 50:42…. That’s about 19 minutes slower than my personal best from college, so I’m figuring that’s just under 30 seconds extra for each pound I’ve gained since then, and that way it almost sounds reasonable!

I actually did have a good time though, and unsuriprsingly, the event was excellently run (no pun intended). There were >10,000 people signed up for the 10k, but everything went very smoothly, no waiting in huge lines or getting caught in crowds. It was chip-timed as all the big races are now, and as soon as you finish you give your chip to a dude with a computer, he scans it, and immediately prints out a result and time card for you. And it was also cool because we received our race packets in the mail last week, and they included the race t-shirt that everyone wore, which were bright orange and a nice, light silky material. That way, everyone who paid was wearing the same shirt, so it cuts down on “race bandits”, or those crazy people who like to run for the fun of it, and will enter a race without paying or getting a real result. Plus, it just looks cool to have thousands of people running through the trails in the English Garden wearing the same thing.

Arguably, the highlight of the race morning was walking out of the chute after the race, and being greeted with an ice cold Weissbier! Only in Germany!

Bier, small
And you gotta’ give it up for this guy, running the 1/2 marathon race, in full lederhosen, while pushing a stroller (but bucking the dress code!).

IMG_0132-small.jpg

Hope everyone had fun – it was a good way to spend my last weekend in Germany. Time to cheer on Deutschland in the upcoming quarter-finals game with Argentina on Friday!

Update: Here I am hanging out with some of my Spanish friends after the race.

P1030025.JPG     P1030021.JPG     P1030024.JPG

I went over to Hofbräuhaus last month with a couple guys for a going-away party for a colleague who was making a 2 month trip to our office in Portugal. While there, we ran into our work group’s Team Assistant, who happens to be French, with her friends and parents, who were visiting Germany for the first time since she moved here 10 or so years ago. Anyway, we went over to their table for a drink, but most of them were already three sheets to the wind.

Inevitably, the topic of politics, and more specifically, American politics, came up. Hey, this should be fun, I thought – I’m up for a little Bush-bashing with a table full of drunk Frenchies! I was completely taken off guard, then, when the father challenged my positions on American policies and politics more severely than anyone else in Europe has. It’s not that he was an ardent Bush supporter or anything, but he was very hesitant to pass judgement on what was going on in America. He said that since he’s not in America and doesn’t know its people or is involved in its government, he is unwilling to criticize what he doesn’t know enough about. He was confident that Americans are able to take care of our own government by ourselves and democracy in action (or democracy inaction, as Jon Stewart is fond of noting) will prevail for the best solution.

I mentioned this to another French coworker, and he said that’s quite typical for French people. They are very opinionated and vocal about what goes on in France, but are generally very reserved about speaking out about politics in other countries where they are not fully informed of local situations. So mark this up as another typical European stereotype many American have that turns out to be flat wrong (in addition to my assumption that I would always be able to tell a Brit apart from and American, and certainly a German apart from a Brit, given their accents – both of which have been proven false). Remember that next time your Congressman tells you to pour your French wine down the toilet (that you already paid for, mind you) or that we should be eating patriotic Freedom Fries.

Hofbraeuhaus small

À votre santé, mon ami!

Allianz StadiumSo, unless you’ve been living in a cave…. or, uh…. in the USA, you know that the World Cup started today, or the WM, Weltmeister, here in Germany. The month long, 32 country tournament kicked off tonight with the opening ceremony and the first match in Munich’s brand new Allianz Stadium. So since tickets for the games in Munich sold out about 3 years ago, what better way to watch the game than at one of Munich’s largest biergartens!

I took off work a little early and headed to Augustinerbrau Keller with my friend Andrew. It was a bit crowded, but we manged to find a place to stand for the 2 hours and peer over other’s shoulders while Deutschland beat up on Costa Rica, 4 to 2.

IMG_0003.JPG

After a nice game of football, it’s time to fill up on some good Chinese food, where, of course, you must take the requisite picture with the enthusiastic group of Asian tourists decked out in native German soccer gear.

IMG_0019.JPG

Afterwards, I headed to Marienplatz, Munich Center City, about 3 blocks from my apartment, where the victory celebration was in full swing. What was fun about the celebration though, was that it was more of a welcoming party for all countries and cultures, rather than a victory celebration for Germany on opening night.

Of course we had our German partiers:
IMG_0029.JPG IMG_0047.JPG

But there were also contingents from Mexico:
IMG_0034.JPG IMG_0043.JPG

Brazil:
IMG_0041.JPG

various European countries:
IMG_0033.JPG

and Iran:
IMG_0032.JPG

And while wandering through the crowd I heard lots of people speaking English, many of them American English, I didn’t see a single US, England, or Australian flag….

Oh well – check out the rest of the pictures in the gallery, and check back later for more World Cup adventures, including a view from the Dutch perspective, as I visit Amsterdam next weekend!