From the Locker-room
Hi, it’s me again, back from an exciting and beautiful trip to Italy and Germany with my hockey team.
Before we left we had a pretty tough training camp, on the ice for 10 days as well as doing "off ice" running and cycling. I worked hard and felt ready for my reward. We left for Europe 4 days later.
After checking in a large number of smelly hockey equipment bags, we were packed on to a plane like a bunch of sardines. Eight and a half hours later we arrived in Munich, and then onto our bus (a nice double decker) for a three and a half hour drive to our hotel in Vipitino, Italy.
There were some amazing sights along the way. The mountains were breathtaking. I am used to city life and flat land, so looking out and seeing nothing but high rolling hills and mountains, close and faded in the distance was quite something.
At our hotel finally we were roomed (3 to a room) and then went down to eat in the dinning room. Sitting there eating sandwiches with cold meat I looked through the window at these hulking mountains that seemed to stare back at me, I felt a warm happiness surrounded by my new team, sandwich in hand and mountains watching my every move.
Next morning we pick up the bus and head to the local arena. Once we start skating I look at my surroundings and I smile. There is sun shining down on us through openings in the roof, I can look outside, up at the mountains...wow, only in Italy.
Now the games begin. First a game in Cortina D’Ampezzo, then Vipitino the following day. It is a little different playing these teams. The ice surface is bigger than in North America and the teams have a more passive style than we are used to. We win our first two games, and are excited to play the next game in Fassa. The arena is 6,000 feet up in the mountains. The journey there is unbelievable, I have my head stuck out of the bus’s sunroof the whole way, enjoying the fresh clean air.
While we ride through the towns to each game there is a lot of banging on the windows anytime we pass a pretty girl. Even though we are highly trained athletes we still act like immature teenagers who can’t control our hormones! Through one of the sun roofs there is the sound of someone yelling out "Ciao bella! Ciao bella!".
Walking through the town of Fassa we see a big sign saying "VS Team Canada". We realize that we are representing and playing for our country.
Finally it’s game time and this team is a little better than our first two match-ups. Because we are so high up the air is thinner, so you lose your wind faster than normal. Also the rink keeps fogging up to the point where you can’t see 15 feet in front of you. Luckily they had a big fan to clear the fog away, but they barely used it and waited until we could hardly see before they used it. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, which we were all happy about.
Back at the hotel we wake up to breakfast. Sandwiches again!. Every breakfast we have the same thing...sandwiches.
Tonight we play our last game in Italy, Brunico. Part of me is sad at the thought of leaving this beautiful country side, but I am also a little sick of eating the same thing for breakfast every morning. I always though sandwiches were for lunch, I guess this is not the case in Italy.
We win again in Brunico and finally get to go out for a night on the town, before leaving for Amberg - Germany. Here is where I have one of my best memories of our trip, going out with my teammates.
We split up because our group is so big, so there are seven of us and we meet a group of teenagers who take us around and show us the "hot spots". After a while we decide to head back and bring our new friends with us. By now there are about 20 of us walking along the narrow, cobbled streets with stores and shops on either side making it seem like an alleyway. We are all singing "Ole, Ole, Ole Ole", (a European soccer song), at the top of our lungs. We are singing and dancing as we approach the rest of the team coming the other way.
Then they all start running, dancing and sing to join us, it was a great team moment and I will never forget it.
A great way to end the Italian part of our trip and get ready for Germany. Another busy schedule ahead, but by now I’m ready for anything.
See you next month for part 2.
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