My first season in Switzerland is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it. Only 6-8 more games and the season will be completely over. Last weekend we finished off our best of 5 series against Rienach to advance to the final round of the Swiss Championship. We were fortunate enough to win the series in three games and enjoyed a nice break before the European Cup this weekend.
Ever since advancing to the final round of the European Cup in Prague, it has seemed like the final four was so far away, and now it’s in two days. How did that happen?! I always get extremely nervous to play in tournaments against teams I’ve never played before. Especially, in the final round, because you know the other teams are going to be extremely strong. This weekend we play three games in a row, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The first game we play against Kazakhstan. The second game, against Finland, and the last game against Russia. We have already played the Russian team, in the second round in Prague and managed to pull off a win in overtime, so we know the Russians are going to be hard to beat. If we medal in this final round, “knock on wood”, it will be the first time a Swiss team has medaled in the European cup, wouldn’t it be great to make history in my first year here!
As for my non hockey activities for this month, I finished my one month intensive Italian course. I have a fairly well developed base in understanding the language, but when I speak it’s with the language abilities of a three to four year old. However, I still manage to get my point across with the help of animated hand gestures and facial expressions. This month we had our first off weekend from hockey since Christmas and I decided I needed a break from hockey to relax before our playoffs and the European cup. For the weekend, three of my teammates and myself decided we wanted to drive to Cinque Terre (Italy), a series of five small towns situated on the cliffs along the Mediterranean coast. The best way to get from town to town is to hike. From the first town to the last town it takes five hours to hike, the entire way you are hiking through vineyards, along sea cliffs, and through cactus fields. It’s funny to think I used to drive 3 ½ hours home from Duluth for a weekend off, and now I drive 45 minutes and I’m in Italy! Cinque Terre was beautiful unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best, it was cloudy and rainy all weekend. Also, the week before we got there, Cinque Terre was hit with some bad storms and all the hiking trails were all closed down for maintenance except for one, the Via delle Amore (Street of Love). On one of the rainier days we decided to drive 45 minutes to Pisa, to see what else the leaning tower. The weather in Pisa was surprisingly a lot nicer than in Cinque Terre. When we got to Pisa we spent close to 2 hours doing our cliché pictures pushing and holding upthe tower. Then we got to go inside the tower, what a weird feeling! There are only two windows on the way up the tower, so there is no way to predict which way the tower is leaning. It was weird going up the stairs and having it feel like you are going down the stairs, or walking up the stairs and with your body leaning against the wall. I got to the point where I started looking at the stairs and looking at where they were most worn to predict which way my body would be leaning.
The food over the weekend was amazing. I love sea food and what better place to get fresh seafood than in little Italian fishing villages. Also, the area in which Cinque Terre is located is the home of Pesto and Trofie. Trofie is a type of pasta that is thin and short, it kind of reminds me of rice on steroids. All of the pasta was made fresh in house at the restaurants. After the season is over I’m planning to travel around for a month or so before heading back to north America, I can’t wait to go to Target!! If the food is as good as it was in Cinque Terre, I might have to book to airplane seats on the way home.