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!

IMG_4999

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing EVERYONE a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving 🙂

Being in another country away from your family and friends for holidays is tough. It makes you think about what and who you’re missing. And on this Thanksgiving (as with most of them) I want nothing more than to be waking up in my bed in West Chester, having my dad whip up some French toast while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and start digging out the Christmas decorations with Hanson’s Snowed In CD playing while mom mans the kitchen. (Us Hagglund’s are not one bit ashamed to say that we LOVE the Hanson Christmas CD. Our Xmas music go-to) But alas, I haven’t actually had that Thanksgiving in 6 years now.

Even though I want nothing more than to have that Thanksgiving morning at home, I am so thankful that it is a memory these days.

For the first 4 Thanksgiving’s I missed, I was out playing volleyball at UW. Every year we had a match the day before and the day after Thanksgiving; we’d practice the morning of, with Jim always calling, “Pilgrims! Come here!” to start it off. UW was such a blessing for me and I am thankful that I played volleyball at that program, got my education there, and lived in Seattle. The friends, relationships, and experiences from those 4 years are untouchable.

Last year’s Thanksgiving I was in Vienna, Austria in my first season as a Professional Volleyball Player. How blessed am I to be able to say that I lived in Vienna for 7 months, being payed to play a game I love? It still doesn’t register to me that I’m a ‘Professional Athlete’ most days. Even with it’s ups and downs (there were plenty), there were so many life lessons I figured out, places I got to see, and new experiences I would NEVER otherwise be exposed to and I am thankful for the good and the not so good that came my way.

And now I’m in Nantes, France. Currently in my second professional season. Still waking up in the morning, and if someone asks me what I do for a living, the first two words I say are “I play…” I’m thankful for my Kristy and Coop, my fellow Americans keeping me sane, as well as the rest of my teammates and staff who only want us to succeed and be happy.

I’m glad that Thanksgiving memory at home is just that: a memory. It means I have been LIVING. So many adventures- new places, new people- I have been blessed to have opportunities to travel and try new things and see the world.

Like I said earlier, being away from friends and family on holidays is tough, but it’s because those people are so loving, so supportive, so precious to me that makes it tough. I am THANKFUL that you all make the holidays hard on me, because missing you would be easy if you all weren’t so amazing.

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

We (Coop, Kristy, Kristy’s boyfriend Shawn, and I) celebrated a day early. I made the meat, stuffing, gravy, and some pumpkin pie; Coop whipped up the most unbelievable yams as well as mashed potatoes, and Kristy brought the green bean casserole, some red velvet cake, and of course wine 😉 We had a small but amazing feast and celebration together.

Couple funny stories

First, I couldn’t find an actual turkey here in France. I tried the 2 main super markets without luck. So I had a contingency plan. I picked up a turkey leg and some other turkey ‘ball’ (I think it really was the turkey’s butt). I also wanted to grab a small chicken since Coop and Kristy didn’t usually have turkey for Thanksgiving anyways. So I grabbed one from the ‘special offer’ sale section and headed on my way. Little did I realize that I didn’t grab the ‘poulet’ (chicken), but some ‘pintade’… Guinea Fowl! What the heck?! Yeah, well there was no turning back! I told Kristy about my blunder and she says, “Well, are we still gonna eat it?” “Heck yes we’re gonna eat it!!!” It turned out to be a big hit too. Maybe we’ll even buy it again sometime 🙂

So, like I said we ate our large Thanksgiving meal (no one in their right mind wants to and is able to practice self restraint on Thanksgiving) Wednesday evening. Pretty late too, since our practice let out at 8pm. We walk into practice the next morning, still pretty swollen from dinner and what prey tell is our coach setting up? The SCALE. Yes. We were weighed in less than 12 hours after our Thanksgiving meal. That is just cruel and unusual. And ridiculously bad timing!