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?

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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!

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.

Prague Round 2

One great thing about playing in Germany this season is that I know quite a few Americans that also play for the teams scattered around Germany, and one of them happens to be one of my very good friends Miss Becky Perry. Becky and I played together for 4 years at Washington. We played her and her team Dresden and unfortunately lost, but I got to stay with her for the next day instead of busing back directly after the match.

On Sunday we took a day trip to Prague, less than a 2 hour drive from Dresden. This was my second trip to Prague, but it was great! We toured through the Prague Castle, which happens to be one of the biggest castles in the world- over 7 football fields long. the Catherdereal in the center is so gorgeous. The big ‘dom’ Churches are one of my favorite things about Europe. They are so large and ornate but intricate. And when I imagine what it would be like to build a church or any type of building nearly 1000 years ago, without the technology or tools we have. Not just building it and the sheer man power required to build, but designing it, all by hand, figuring out all the math, dimensions, and plans without a computer program let alone a calculator. Man. We’ve got it easy these days!

After the castle we took a quick tcp into Old Town and saw the city center, the astronomical clock and went over to the Charles Bridge which is so gorgeous at night.

It’s so nice to see Europe and take some time away from the daily grind. Not only that, but spending time with Beck was so much fun 🙂

Kinda big!

Kinda big!

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Overlooking the city from the Castle

Overlooking the city from the Castle

Snapped a selfie with a Prague palace guard :)

Snapped a selfie with a Prague palace guard 🙂

The City Center was busy busy!

The City Center was busy busy!

The Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge

Back to Reality, So Long Japan

Grand Champion’s Cup was a brutal tournament and it was brutally awesome. We wouldn’t want it any other way. 5 Tough matches in 6 days. We battled, worked out butts off, and learned a lot from our trip to Japan. We finished second to Brazil and pulled off a couple exciting matches in crunch time.

Team @ the Awards Ceremony

Team @ the Awards Ceremony

View of the court

View of the court

For the back half of the tournament, we stayed in a pretty busy part of Tokyo and had our few chances to see the crazy hustle and bustle that Tokyo is known for. I would love to come back one day and see what this city really has to offer.

Tokyo

Tokyo

Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City

All in all, it was an awesome 2 weeks- a great treat to play with Team USA all the way into November 🙂 It felt like a little holiday/vacation… with a lot of sweat and hard work added in! But now we part ways and head back to our respective Pro teams to push through December and the rest of our seasons until we see each other again come this summer in America.