I have had some eventful past couple months. I traveled back to America on Nov. 19 to spend Thanksgiving with my family. After enjoying my time at home, I flew back to Austria on Dec. 12, arriving the next day. I was very excited to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Austria for the first time. Since Austria doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but it does celebrate Christmas, it made more sense to go home for Thanksgiving. I was still able to have both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year! I was most excited to return to the Vienna Christmas market, or what Austrians call "Wiener Christkindlmarkt." I was able to shop around for some Christmas gifts that I sent home to my family. The package mostly consisted of Milka chocolate bars because my family absolutely adores them! In addition to shopping, I was finally able to taste Glühwein! This special drink only comes during the winter time in Austria and I have been waiting all year to taste it! Glühwein is a traditional beverage that is offered during Christmas holidays in German-speaking countries. It is prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, citrus, sugar, and some other ingredients. It tastes like a hot apple cider but with alcohol, and it definitely warms you up on a cold winter day in Austria.
The Glühwein sure warmed me up when I visited a sheep farm on a mountain. One of my teammate’s parents own a sheep farm and invited me to see their two baby sheep. The sheep were so adorable! After seeing the sheep, my teammate’s parents were sweet enough to make us some homemade Glühwein as well. We walked a little farther up the mountain to their "garden hut," which are very popular in Austria, and we enjoyed each other’s company as we sipped on the fresh Glühwein. The hut reminded me of a little girl’s playhouse. It had a table surrounded by benches, a little stove/oven, and a cabinet full of Austrian liquors. Well, everything reminded of a little girl’s playhouse until I found the cabinet of alcohol. I have noticed these huts all around Austria and I found that many Austrians use these huts to socialize with friends and family, and simply just to relax.
I had another relaxing time when Christmas came around. I was so happy to spend the holiday with my fiancé for the first time. We celebrated the holiday on Dec. 24 because that’s what people do here in Austria, which was different for me. I also discovered that people go out to the bars on Christmas Day, so on the 24th, I went to the bar around 11 a.m. and surprisingly found the bar full of people! This definitely was a change I had not been used to! I sipped on champagne in the morning, then came home to have more champagne with our Christmas feast, which did not include a giant turkey. We had an arrangement of food on the table with a huge cooking device in the middle of the table, called "raclette" or a "raclette grill." It was almost like fondue, where everyone puts whatever they want to eat on the cooking device with a skewer or miniature frying pan. It was an interesting experience but actually really fun!
I have had a great time so far this winter, but I am most surprised by the weather. It is not as cold as it was this time last year…thank God! There is barely any snow, but I think it will get much colder later this month. Although it’s not that cold, my hockey team has been able to practice on our outdoor rink occasionally. And let me tell you, it still gets pretty cold on the outdoor rink at night! We had two friendly matches, one on the outdoor rink in Bruck and one on the outdoor rink in Langenwang. Both games were just for fun, but it was good preparation for my team’s next league game.
We had a home game on Dec. 23 against Gipsy Girls Villach. We won 9-0. The nine goals came from five different Highlanders. I led the team with three goals while Julia Willenshofer and Sabrina Schlauer scored two goals each. Evelyn Hochegger and Theresa Johann each had a goal as well.
We have our next game against HK Triglav Kranj on Saturday, Jan. 12 at Kapfenberg Eishalle at 4:30 p.m. My roommates come back from Canada today after spending Christmas at home, and I can’t wait to play some hockey with them again!