September 21, 2021

I’m in Oberstdorf! I can hardly believe it. I’ve wanted to come to an event here for half my life, I planned a family trip here in 2017 that we had to cancel when we moved for my husband’s work, and I kicked around the idea of coming to Nebelhorn this year in my head for the past six months. As it happened, things came together very quickly, and I didn’t really have time to let it soak in until I walked off the train platform and saw the mountains.

It took about 24 hours of travel for me to get here from Cleveland and despite all that time, I went the last 12 hours without eating anything besides a really terrible chocolate croissant at the Munich train station. So I felt a little rough on my first evening here, and barely managed to walk to a restaurant for dinner. You know when you get so hungry and tired that you can’t make a decision about what to eat? Yeah, that’s where I was last night. I eventually settled on a “spicy duck bun” and some fries. They were delicious, and shout out to Ondersch, a super fun restaurant in town.

Traveling alone definitely has its challenges. I’m used to being able to hand my travel documents to my husband, since he has big pockets, and I am cursed with girl pockets (if I have them at all). No husband this time, so I was constantly taking documents out of my overstuffed backpack and trying to fit them back inside. There wasn’t anyone to watch my bags, so I had to haul them into the bathroom with me every time I needed to use one. And I forgot that I didn’t have an extra hand when I ordered an espresso at the train station, so I tried to down it like an Italian, but it was brewed extra hot, so I burned the roof of my mouth. But traveling alone also has its benefits. After a couple of months of traveling with my 2-year-old, I got to watch a movie on the plane, (mostly) uninterrupted, for the first time in years. And I didn’t have to change anyone’s soiled clothes even once! So overall, I’m doing pretty well.

I usually try to learn some of the local language whenever I travel, but due to the last-minute nature of this trip, I’m winging it with only about 20 Duolingo lessons under my belt. If anyone needs me to say, “The child is drinking water,” I totally know that, but I’m woefully underprepared to ask for directions, order food, and grocery shop, which I did this morning. I managed to get by with mumbling the words for “good morning (guten Morgen),” “thank you (danke), and “good bye” (auf Wiedersehen), and peeking at the screen when the cashier told me the total.

It’s colder here than I expected; the highs are in the 60s and 70s, but as I was packing, it didn’t register that I’ll be spending the warmest hours in the ice rink, and walking to and from the ice rink when the temps are in the 40s. I left one of my cozy cardigans at home and had to buy a touristy Chicago hoodie at O’Hare for the overnight plane ride. But I have plenty of warm clothes for the rink, so I’ll be fine, and if not, I’ve already seen at least eight sport clothing stores in town, with tons of jackets and coats on sale.

I’m glad that I booked a little apartment so I can buy some basics and pack lunches for the rink. While I was dismayed that I couldn’t find an open coffee shop at 7am, the little grocery store nearby opened at 8, and I picked up some ground Lavazza coffee, so I’m starting my day well (just slightly delayed). I have a bit of work to do this morning, and soon I’ll head to the rink to take my first COVID test (everyone is tested upon arrival, and every other day thereafter), pick up my accreditation, and photograph some practice.

Auf Wiedersehen for now!

~ Melanie