Hello from Austria!
I've made it safely across the border to my hotel in Austria. It is very beautiful here, the town is very picturesque. It is a small town surrounded by snow covered mountains on either side. The winding streets are layered upon various hills in the city. The streets are made of cobblestone and surrounded with very old architecture; its obvious there's so much history here. I will certainly post more photos later. Tonight for dinner was my first time trying wiener schnitzel. It was very good! The hotel I'm staying at is very comfortable. I haven't had a good chance to explore the city yet, as it is Sunday and everything is closed. However I'm sure I will find some time during the week.
My first week back in Europe has been a good one. I really liked it in Germany and could end up back there still after this week. I'm just taking it one day at a time and seeing what happens. I was able to explore Munich another time yesterday and see much more of the city the second time around. Germany is what I expected it to be. The people are very friendly, direct and organized. Things must be done the way they are set out to be. Driving on the autobahn to training everyday at crazy speeds, was quite an experience. It feels like you are going fast, until a car goes flying by you at 200 km/h!
One of the stranger experiences here for me happened as soon as I arrived. I walked off the plane half asleep and while waiting for my bags at the airport, I stepped into the men's washroom to find a lady standing just inside. Thinking it was closed for cleaning or something, I was about to walk away, until another guy walked by me. I noticed the bathroom was definitely not closed and she was working in there. She was cleaning and some people were giving her money. After asking someone later on, I found out this is normal here; but it seemed very strange in the moment.
Many people here smoke and cigarettes are readily available from vending machines around town. I'm sure there is a legal age for smoking, but it wouldn't be hard for someone underage to get their hands on some cigarettes. When I was in downtown Munich, I went into a video store to try and find some DVDs to entertain me during my off-time. I went to purchase the TV show "Lost" and to my surprise as I was paying, I was asked to show my ID if I wanted to buy the movie. Seemed pretty weird to me that they were more concerned about people buying a DVD, than cigarettes. I know that it wouldn't be hard for anyone under age to walk into a pub and get a beer. I have regularly seen people walking around the streets with a beer in hand. Something you don't see at home...
The culture is certainly different here, but I have to say that everyone I have met so far has been very welcoming. Anyone from random people on the street, to the players I trained with, have been really nice and excited to hear more about Canada. Being abroad and telling people you're Canadian is a great feeling. Definitely something to be proud of. All that people usually have to say are positive things. It's pretty cool that everybody either has, or wants to come visit where you come from.
Now that I'm in Austria, I'm excited to see what everything is like. I won't be able to form my opinion in less than a day, but hopefully this week will give me a good chance to see many different things. I can't wait to start training with a new club tomorrow. This is my first time ever in Austria and so far everything looks pretty incredible. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to another country through my soccer. Playing the game I love has taken me all around the world and allowed me to experience things I never thought possible.