It feels good to be in Europe starting up a new season! This year I am playing in Lugano, Switzerland. I arrived October 6th and time has already been flying by. I didn’t waste any time jumping into things with my first stop from the airport being the ice arena. I was able to practice that night and meet the team. Everyone was so nice and I felt very welcomed right away. It is so interesting being around this team because most girls know two to four languages. They are constantly switching between Italian, French, German and English. I must say I am very impressed. At home I hear mainly English. I live with three teammates. Kristine is from Michigan, Isabel from Ottawa, and Celine is from the Swiss/German part of Switzerland. We live in a town called Lamone which is about 5km from downtown Lugano.
The arena is very nice and has two sheets of ice. One being the game arena where the boys also play and the other being mainly used for practice. I love the atmosphere of the arena. All of the HC Lugano youth programs up to the professional level share the rink. This combined with the the restaurant in the middle keeps the building constantly full of people giving it a good sense of life and community. We are at the rink everyday. Our schedule consists of practicing with the team Mon/Wed/Fri nights and with the junior boys team on Tues/Thurs mornings. Games are Sat/Sun. We also help coach little kids on Mon/Wed which is fun. The kids may think I’m a bit crazy because I continue to speak English to them even though they only understand Italian.
I arrived on a Wednesday and was able to play in my first game right away Saturday. We had a road trip to Thun where I literally didn’t stop staring out the window at the beautiful views of the Swiss Alps. I don’t think the views will ever get old. The rink we played at was interesting because it was half outdoor. There is basically a ceiling, stands and small parts of walls on the ends. Otherwise, it’s open and you can see right outside. We won that game and after a long bust trip had to play at 3:00 at home the next day.
My first visitors arrived on Tuesday. Sherry and Anna Podein came to stay with me for a week and it was AMAZING! Kristine and I picked them up in Milan after morning practice on Tuesday where we went straight to Bellagio. This was a very cute small Italian village right on the peninsula on Lake Como. Our hotel had a gorgeous view of the lake. We explored all day long with getting some great Italian food and wine. Anna took full advantage of the access of jelato having three in that first day! The next day we took the fairy over to Como where we enjoyed the day in the city followed up by a scenic train ride back to Lugano. Thursday we took another day trip to Ascano which is a small lake town in Switzerland. We once again enjoyed some great food,views, and had fun wandering through the small streets filled with brightly painted buildings. Friday we hiked Mt. Bre which overlooks Lugano. It was a gorgeous day and Anna was such a trooper as we took an "extended" route trying to find our way back down. Anna was then able to meet my team and even skate with us at practice! It was so fun having her out on the ice with me an able to show her what it’s like to practice overseas with a coach speaking a different language. Sherry and Anna were then able to catch some of the men’s game where we followed our night up with the Swiss tradition of fondue!! This place was amazing and I don’t think any of us had eaten so much cheese in one sitting! We had two different cheese fondue And the waiter was nice enough to give us a few samples of different raclettes.
After the Podeins took off our team had a fun away trip to Zurich where we won both games and had a night out on the town. We also stayed at our teammates house nearby and got to get to know her family. A special thanks to The Stiefel family for having us!
After more games this past weekend was our first weekend off. I had a friend visit where we did lots of hiking, more exploring of Lugano and the small towns around it. We also made a day trip to
Maggia Valley. Here we saw Verzasca Dam (James Bond filmed there bungee jumping) and walked the scenic valley. It was an amazing weekend even with the weather being a little off.
I can honestly say I am feeling vet blessed right now. I am enjoying my time in Switzerland and am just trying to soak it up each day. Next week is Thanksgiving where my roommates and I will be meeting some of the other imports in St. Gallon to celebrate together. Thanks to everyone who has come to visit and who made this experience possible! Happy early Thanksgiving to those at home! Love and miss you all 🙂