Friday, August 31, 2012

Back in Austria...Finally!

After one of the most enduring traveling experiences of my life, I am finally in Austria.  I left Norfolk, Va. on Monday, August 27 after my plane was delayed more than three hours.  I was traveling on American Airlines, which allows only one free checked bag on international flights.  Therefore, I was allowed to check my first suitcase, which consisted of mostly clothing items, at no charge.  I had to pay $60 for my second bag, which was my hockey bag.  I was hoping my hockey sticks would be included with my hockey bag, but unfortunately I had to pay an extra $150 to check them as a third bag.  After spending a total of $210 for my hockey items, I could finally start my journey.

After my first delayed flight, I arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport around 7:00 p.m. on August 27 only to discover I missed my next flight to Zurich, Switzerland.  Unfortunately, there weren't any more flights to Zurich that night so I was forced to stay the night in New York.  Since the airline (American Airlines) did not provide a hotel for any person who had missed their connecting flight, many people had to pay for a hotel room for that night.  After another $212 came out of my pocket for the hotel room, I arrived back at JFK the next day to continue my trip to Austria.

My luck did not get any better as I found out my flight from New York to Zurich was delayed 45 minutes.  This delay would cause me to miss my next flight from Zurich to Vienna, which was at 9:00 a.m.  I eventually departed New York around 7 p.m. and arrived in Zurich about eight hours later, around 9 a.m. (Central European Time), or 3 a.m. (North American Eastern Time).  Since I missed my connecting flight, which was at 9:00 a.m. to Vienna, I had to change to a different airline and catch a flight at 10:25 a.m.  After my long journey, I finally arrived in Vienna at 11:50 a.m. on August 29.  My bad luck still lingered as everything but my hockey sticks arrived at baggage claim.  My sticks were still in New York!  My sticks will get delivered to my apartment in Austria as soon as they arrive at the airport in Vienna.  The attendant at baggage services said they will arrive in three to five days hopefully.  In the meantime, one of my roommates, Chelsea Illchuk, has been so kind to let me use one of her sticks for practice.

We will have our first team practice tomorrow at 4:15 p.m. in Kapfenberg, Austria.  I am excited to get back on the ice with the Neuberg Highlanders for a second consecutive season, and I'm looking forward to playing with my new international teammates!

During my first two days in Austria, I spent most of my time with my boyfriend, Michi Schmieder, since I had not seen him for six weeks.  We went to a lake, Freizeitsee St. Lorenzen, during my first and second days in Austria.  It was a nice relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful scenery Austria has to offer, especially after traveling for three days straight.  With the sun reflecting off the water, I gazed at the tall, green mountains and enjoyed my first cup of Austrian beer.  As I took a sip of my cold beer, I felt so glad to finally be back in Austria.

My roommates arrived in Austria last night.  It definitely feels good to have other people in my apartment, since I lived in the apartment alone during the second half of the season last year.  I am excited to share my new experiences with my roommates, Chelsea Illchuk, Kate Wheeler, and Dayna Janzen.  We are embarking on our first experience tonight as we are attending Leob'ner Weinfest, a wine festival in the town of Leoben.  For the English detailed description of the event, click here.  The event gathers 25 Styrian winemakers who will promote their specialty wines for tasting and sale.  The wine festival will also feature forms of entertainment, such as music, and Austrian snacks, such as freshly-made donuts.


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