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

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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 😀 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 😀 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 🙂

A Nice Sunday with Norisha

One Sunday morning I took a drive down towards Munich to see Norisha Campbell perform and give her testimony at her church. Norisha has a long, amazing story but I’m going to keep it short and sweet: She is an American and played volleyball for our National team but has been living in Germany for the past 11 years. She plays for the 2nd Rote Raben team and most recently was a contestant on The Voice of Germany! Besides all that, she’s a fantastic person 🙂

Norisha on my TV screen while on The Voice of Germany

Norisha on my TV screen while on The Voice of Germany

I was so excited to hear Norisha sing and let me tell you, she’s incredible. You can really feel her when she sings. But I did not expect to get so much more from my visit. Her story and her testimony is incredible. Her faith in the Lord is exquisite and he surely is using her to do special things. I was so inspired and am so happy I woke up early on a Sunday to see and experience her story and song.

Afterwards, Norisha and I headed over to the English Garden in Munich (think Central Park in NY but way bigger) and grabbed a hot chocolate at the Christmas Market at the Chinese Turendum. Again, it turned out to be such a beautiful day, nice and sunny, beautiful blue sky. We had an awesome view at one part of the garden. And as we were leaving, there were people SURFING in the water there. There is a smallish rapid at one part of the river and crazy people decided to put wet suits on and surf on that rapid. I think it’s a pretty normal occurrence but it is WAY too cold for that… crazy people.

The Chinese Tower- in the English Garden- in Munich, Germany… heh.

The Chinese Tower- in the English Garden- in Munich, Germany…
heh.

English Gardens

English Gardens

Beautiful

Beautiful

Surfing in Munich!? Was??

Surfing in Munich!? Was??

Norisha and I

Norisha and I

Anyways, it was a fantastic spontaneous day and just what I needed to relax, reboot, and be inspired for the next week.

Hagglund Siblings Take On Germany

[*ACHTUNG* (*WARNING*) This is a long post but jam packed with activities that I couldn’t cut out!]

First pic of the trip!

First pic of the trip!

As the holidays come around over seas, we generally have to find our own little ways to celebrate. Especially when days are usually centered around family time or being with your close friends, celebrating in a foreign country is usually pretty different and sometimes difficult.

Thanksgiving is a huge family holiday for everyone in the States and there generally isn’t a holiday that parallels that in other countries. I’ve made my own turkey the past few years and celebrated with my American teammates by eating our hearts out of course 😉

This year, my brother Nick came to spend a few days with me! Not to brag or anything, but we are quite the dynamic duo when it comes to adventuring around! I was so so so excited to see him and have him with me. We surely do not get to spend enough time together throughout the year. Maybe that’s why we have such a blast when we are in the same city!

Nick flew in on Wednesday afternoon and we headed directly into the heart of Munich to start his trip off right. The first thing I did was get a Starbucks from downtown 😛 as we headed to Marienplatz, the city center. Nick picked a great time to get here, because that day was the very beginning of the Christmas Markets, and let me tell you, Germany does their markets- Christkindlmarkts- right! We strolled around, checked out some churches and great views of the city. We got our first gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and for dinner we ate at the original Hofbrahaus. Nick had a pig’s knuckle- WHAT. Yes, he was left with what looked like a hoof at the end of his meal. No thanks! Afterwards we watched some people ice skating in the center hoping for some entertainment or big falls. We did a little color commentary and were most interested by the young guy trying to do a little too much in front of his girlfriend… typical 🙂

Starbucks makes expats happy :)

Starbucks makes expats happy 🙂

Munich at sunset

Munich at sunset

:)

🙂

You've got a line on your face...

You’ve got a line on your face…

Munich Christmas Market

Munich Christmas Market

I had 2 practices on our actual Thanksgiving Day so we planned to really celebrate the next day with some of my teammates. Instead of the classics on the 4th Thursday of the month, we headed into my neighboring city and had some mexican food and margaritas. Maybe not traditional for Thanksgiving or for Mexican food, but I’m not complaining whatsoever!

Friday was a busy day built around a crap ton of food. Nick and I celebrated with my 2 other American teammates- Dominique Marshall (Lamb) and MIchelle Hackley (Bartsch). Mich’s husband Corbin is here too and she also had an American friend (who plays basketball in Austria) drive up to join us. A lot of food is a massive understatement. We had a huge turkey and a duck (Corbin’s thing), I made way too much stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, bread, and a giant salad bowl that wasn’t touched. Not to mention we had spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer and some hard to find cheddar cheese and crackers. And then dessert. We had so much leftovers it was crazy. I’m super proud how well everything came out (timing was a bit rough, but the oven and microwave were pretty helpful!) and we had such a nice dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The boys

The boys

The girls

The girls

After dinner, and some major clean up action, we watched The Grinch! I borrowed the club’s projector- got a call halfway through the movie for a coach asking for it… whoops!- but we played the movie on the their wall and I think we had at least 3 sleeping bodies within the first 15 minutes 🙂

On Saturday Nick and I continued our whirlwind ways. First thing in the morning we headed down towards Munich and toured Dachau, a concentration camp from WWII. This is the first time Nick or I had any real first hand experience with any of those atrocities and it was powerful. It’s truly unbelievable to comprehend what happened, but being in those rooms, seeing those showers, walking in the barracks- it is sickening. I try to imagine what these people experienced during the War- what life (if that’s what you could call it) was like- and my heart crumbles. It’s something I’m grateful to see though, to learn and remember how terrible people can be and yet also how strong and resilient. I hope I have an opportunity to learn and see more as my time in Germany continues.

A gorgeous view from inside one of the memorials

A gorgeous view from inside one of the memorials

One of the gas chambers at Dachau. Fortunately, none of the chambers there were actually used for extermination.

One of the gas chambers at Dachau. Fortunately, none of the chambers there were actually used for extermination.

Dachau

Dachau

After a very somber morning, we had to seriously switch gears, because we now were heading to a Bayern Munich Football Game (achem, that’s soccer to us Americans). FC Bayern is THE best team in the world right now. Last year they won The European Championships.We got tickets from one of the lower division coaches in my volleyball club. This was my very first European professional soccer game , same for Nick, and we were PUMPED! First of all, they play in an AMAZING venue. The Allianz Arena is super cool- this huge round building that is lit brightly in either white, red, blue or a mix. The stadium was PACKED. Every seat filled. The fan section in the level right below was going NUTS the entire 90+ minutes. The ring leader gets major props. He was hooting and hollering and had a megaphone I couldn’t even hear but he was shouting his lungs out… all in a normal t-shirt while it was freezing outside! You go fan club ring leader.

First European Football game for both of us!

First European Football game for both of us!

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Go Bayern Munich!

Go Bayern Munich!

With a nice 2-0 win for FC Bayern, it was time for us to get another fill of the Christmas Markets. We hit 3 other markets around the city. At one they were serving not just Gluhwein but some drink called Feuerzangenbowle. We saw someone holding this drink and the top of it was frickin’ on fire! DONE, 2 PLEASE. It was really yummy and had a burning sugar cube on the side. So cool. And probably pretty dangerous given the flammability and how delicious it was. We checked another market called Tollwood which is coated on the fairground where Oktoberfest is held a couple months prior. This was another really cool set up, very cultural and very funky. They served tons of different foods and had lots of gifts and trinkets available from all over the world.

Feuerzangenbowle! FIRE!

Feuerzangenbowle! FIRE!

Quarkbällchen. Fried doughs of goodness that needed to be shared!

Quarkbällchen. Fried doughs of goodness that needed to be shared!

Sunday came around way too quick. For Nick’s last day we were making a bit of a road trip. We drove down to Neuschwastein Castle, in the middle of nowhere. The castle was built by Crazy King Ludwig and is quite extravagant and quirky inside and out. The colors and details and different styles seem to have absolutely no rhyme or reason but there’s a lot of everything! This castle is also the one that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle at the parks. LIke I said, the Castle is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but boy is nowhere beautiful! The highlight of the day was walking around and taking a bajillion pictures of the gorgeous freshly fallen snow all over the Castle, the trees, the mountains, and along the river. Germany definitely qualifies as a winter wonderland and we had the Christmas tunes in full swing!

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

He can't stop kicking!

He can’t stop kicking!

Lastly, we hit one more market in Munich to break up the drive back to Vilsbiburg– and I think we may have saved the best for last: a Renaissance themed Christmas Market! This Market was so cute and quirky. So many old school outfits and stalls and types of food, gifts, and drinks. We had a ‘Thor’s Hammer’ drink so of course we toasted to the Gods. There was a fun group of performers that played some music and did some goofy comedy skits for entertainment as well. It was a great way to cap off the trip.

Thor's Hammer, drink of the God's, clearly.

Thor’s Hammer, drink of the God’s, clearly.

Unfortunately that brings us to the end of Nick’s mini-vacation to Germany. It is so true that time flies when you’re having fun (and maybe when you do a ton of stuff in less than 5 days) because we had a BLAST! I was so grateful Nick got to come visit, selfishly, because he changed up my monotony and brought so much fun and excitement to everything. I also know that it’s not often we get to spend time together and I think it will continue to be tough given my schedule and Nick’s future schedule, so I’m so glad we got this time as it’s something I’m sure we’ll be remember for the rest of our lives.