High Point in Germany

One Sunday, a friend Carsen Chun came down to Vilsbiburg for a little visit and we decided to get the heck out of my tiny town. We drove a couple hours south to the Zugspietz- the highest point of Germany! Now, remember Germany is just above Austria and Switzerland which has the big kahunas- The Alps. So this mountain wasn’t record breaking or anything, but boy, it doesn’t make it any less incredible.

Zugspitze!

Zugspitze!

Seeing the views from the tippy top of Germany was absolutely worth the drive.

Heading up the gondola

Heading up the gondola

average.

average.

We tried to wait around and catch the sun starting to set, but the last gondola rides back to normal elevation weren’t gonna wait for us. Last shot we could get:

Touching the Sky

Touching the Sky

Check it!

Check it!

Also, 3 flights of stairs at 8,000+ feet will REALLY remind you of what kind of shape you’re in. Woof.

Carsen and I at Zugspitz

Carsen and I at Zugspitz

This was an awesome little excursion! There’s also a lot of skiing and sledding to be done if you’re into that sort of thing, but not for me thanks. I’ll take care of the picture taking and warm drinks :)

Beach Party in January?

Beach Party!

What is this? A beach party in Germany in the heart of winter? Yup!

In our tiny town of Vilsbiburg, every January they turn the town hall into a sand filled, heat cranked party! I asked my teammate what I should be wearing to this and she said, “Summer clothes!” I was skeptical but threw on my Lulu tank top, some shorts and flip flops- under my big winter jacket and sweat pants of course. Low and behold, the beach party was Hot! The floor was covered in sand, there was a band rocking out, and bars in all the corners of the venue. It was a fun evening but now I just can’t wait to get that REAL sand in between my toes this summer :)

Meeting in Munich

I LOVE when I get a chance to see friends in Europe. So when Kawika Shoji’s team was playing just outside of Munich it was a great opportunity to see him and make a little day out of it with the American’s in Innsbruck. I drove down, they drove up and we met in the middle of Munich for lunch and to see the match.

We checked out the Hofbrauhaus and cruised around the city a bit. Then met up with the Hein’s and some of their Innsbruck teammates for lunch at a Mexican restaurant :)

Dining Room at Hofbrauhaus

Dining Room at Hofbrauhaus

Beautiful day in Munich

Beautiful day in Munich

IMG_5351

It was an exciting match to watch in a packed house and Kawika came away as the MVP! All due to our cheering of course.

Paul Carroll, Andy Hein, Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji, Kate Hein, me, Sydney Yogi, and Erik Shoji

Paul Carroll, Andy Hein, Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji, Kate Hein, me, Sydney Yogi, and Erik Shoji

They had to catch a flight back up to Berlin shortly after the match, but Erik, Syd and I went back to the Hofbrauhaus for some food and drinks before heading out separate ways.

For you?

For you?

New Years Eve in Innsbruck!

New Years Eve is always an interesting holiday for me. Every once in a while it’s really fun. Some times it’s been horrendous (ask my comrade Brittnee Cooper about our New Years FIASCO 2 years ago), and many times it’s been rather boring or underwhelming.

As is also standard, I was scrambling to figure out some plans a couple days before. Luckily my dear friends in Innsbruck- Kate & Andy Hein and Erik Shoji (along with his girlfriend Sydney Yogi)- let me come crash their festivities!

Talking to Kate the night of the 30th about our plans, she noted that her and Syd are running a 5k through the city around 5pm on New Year Eve. Now, I’m no long distance runner, but getting some exercise in before throwing all caution to the wind that evening sounded like a decent idea so I said, “Count me in!” 3 minutes later I thought to myself, “What did I just get myself into.”

Downtown Innsbruck

Downtown Innsbruck

Anyways, I drove down to Innsbruck the morning of the 31st and met up with the Hein’s in the afternoon to do some errand running and grocery shopping for the evening. The race came around awfully quickly! We went into Old Town and met up with another couple we know- recently married Emilie (Stewart) and Stefan Menghin. The 5(.6k I later found out) was one of the COOLEST things I’ve ever done. First of all, I didn’t do half bad and didn’t die. Step 1, complete. But the race really was through the heart of Innsbruck, so we’re running past all the gorgeous buildings and then we run along the lightly lit water, and not to mention there’s mountains with some small, sporadic fireworks all around us. So neat, and something I’m going to remember for a long time.

Pre-race with the crew

Pre-race with the crew

We finished just over 35 minutes not too shabby for people that have not at all prepared for it! And then we proceeded to pop the first bottle of bubbly right away :)

We made it!

We made it!

Cheers to 2014!

Cheers to 2014!

We regrouped and began a wonderful feast/celebration at the Hein’s. I made some Skyline dip :D we had salad, apples and dip, and awesome homemade pizzas courtesy of Chef Andy. Around 11, we made our way through the crowds towards Old Town and the water for the countdown (we counted quite loudly in English) and watched a nice fireworks show. We then proceeded to have our own dance party away from the big stage and we sure did start 2014 rocking out.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck

Crazy  but fun out on the streets

Crazy but fun out on the streets

I stayed with Erik and Syd and we had a great lazy start to the new year. In fact the highlight of the day was starting a 1000 piece puzzle. Well, the puzzle was second to meeting up with Emilie and Stefan for some delicious coffees and cronuts! (That’s a cross between a croissant and doughnut, and they are unreal scrumptious).

We don't need someone to take the picture for us. Stefan can do it all (check the reflection)

We don’t need someone to take the picture for us. Stefan can do it all (check the reflection)

All in all, NYE 2013 turned out to be a ton of fun and totally exceeded my expectations :) Here’s to a great 2014 filled with exceeding expectations!

Home for the Holidays

As the saying goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays, and whoever said that is so stinking right. Especially when you live relatively isolated from ‘home’ for much of the year. I got really lucky and had an entire week to spend with my wonderful family back in lil’ old West Chester, Ohio.

I usually have a nice little list of things to do, people to see, and mostly food to eat :D but I was so happy and content to mostly hang out at home with my fam and see some of my friends. I had a very relaxed schedule (filled with a bunch of Christmas shopping ;) ) but I definitely was in need of time away from the game that I love. I haven’t had more than 3 days off since I think April. It’s been a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all complaining about it- like I said I (generally) LOVE what I do- but I know how important it is to unplug from volley, step away, and recharge the batteries.

One of the highlights for me every Christmas is our Family’s Christmas Party. We have a nice shindig with lots of drinks, snacks, and merry making with all of our neighbors. Friday and Saturday was full of party prep including making the famous Hagglund Swedish Meatballs. Somehow they did not make it to the party (due to some refrigeration issues, oops!), but making and tasting them was enough fun and excitement Dad, Nick and myself. The party (as always) was a huge success! Mom even worked some magic with homemade Gluhwein that tasted just like the ones in Germany.

Goofballs

Goofballs

Meatball Man!

Meatball Man!

It was bound to be a successful night ;)

It was bound to be a successful night ;)

Christmas morning was as great as well- filled with smiles, laughter, surprise, and thanks. Unfortunately, I had to leave that evening to get back for practice on the 26th, so the festivities halted a bit early. I had to strategically pack my little life up again and say goodbye to the people I love most. It was one of the tougher goodbyes I’ve had to make recently. But like another saying goes, all good things must come to an end. It was a bittersweet end to my Christmas holiday, an absolutely blessing to have a chance to be home and of course there will be more great holidays and wonderful times with family in the future :)

Before Christmas Eve Mass

Before Christmas Eve Mass

Here’s hoping your Christmas was filled with as much happiness and love as mine was :)