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Wednesday March 10, 2010 through Tuesday March 16, 2010

On Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. 5 of us met at J.F.K terminal #1 to check in for our Lufthansa Flight to Munich. Check in went great in that they did not charge those people who had two bags for the extra baggage At 5:35 we were wheels up and on our way.

When we were approaching Munich airport the pilot came on the speaker to tell us that due to heavy snow conditions we were not able to land and that we would be circling for a while. It all turned out all right and we landed about 1 hour later in the middle of a very heavy snowstorm. When we had left N.Y.C. earlier today it was 55 degrees and sunny, so the winter conditions were not what we were expecting.

Munich is a very large beautiful airport and we ran through it very quickly in an effort to make our connecting flight to Berlin. When we finally got to the gate for the Berlin flight we realized we did not have to hurry. The flight had been pushed back 1 hour.

Finally after a very long trip we landed in Berlin picked up our bags and out the gate and were greeted by Claus, Andy, Temo and Goetz. It was great to see our friends who we had not seen since 2003. The ride to the hotel was about 25 minutes. We checked in, dropped our bags and headed out to lunch at a local pub. Lunch was great and lasted about 2 hours, but it was time for a nap. Our hosts dropped us off at the hotel and promised to return for us at 7:00 p.m.

Claus had arranged a game with the Berlin Ice Huskies in a local out door rink at 8:30 p.m.  We got dressed and were outside skating in no time. We had a great game, but lost 10-3.  Claus brought beer into our locker room and all our pain went away.

After showering we went across the street to a Greek Restaurant and ate diner with our friends. About 12:00 p.m. Andy showed up with two police cars and drove us all home.

It had been quite a fun and full day, a great way to start a vacation.

Friday March 12, 2010

The plan was for everyone to meet downstairs at 9:00 a.m. for Breakfast. Claus was meeting us at 9:30 a.m. and taking us on a tour of the Olympic Stadium. We were waiting for Mike Tillman to arrive from Duisburg, but he had been delayed in traffic, so we decided we would meet him at the stadium.

The subway, U-bahn, was pretty reasonable, only 18 Euros for a full day pass for 5 people. It took about 45 minutes to get out to the stadium, which is pretty far outside the city.

The Stadium is really very impressive. It was first built in 1916, than rebuilt by Hitler for the 1936 Olympics and rebuilt again in 1996. We got an incredible tour and saw all the security systems, dining rooms, luxury boxes, team locker rooms, and so much more. We even got to walk out onto the roof, which was suspended 500 feet above the field. It was a lot of fun for everyone except Rob and me who got a little height sickness. It all finally ended with lunch in the Stadium precinct. This was a great tour and one I don’t think anyone will forget.

After the tour it was off to the Brandenburg gate and a walking tour of East Berlin. At about 3:00 p.m. everyone had enough walking and we went for some lunch and German beer.

After our late lunch Claus said goodbye to us and we headed off to go shopping. The highlight of the shopping tour was when Richi walked over to the window of a lingerie shop and the 2 young models in the window turned out to be real women. However, it was than time to go to the professional ice hockey game, the Berlin Polar Bears vs. Frankfurt’s Lions. Tickets were cheap only 18 euros and it was an incredible game. The place was sold out and the fans were crazy with excitement. You will never see such participation like this in America; these fans are fanatical about their team.

The game started off with a firework display inside the building. The announcer than came out on the ice and got everyone screaming as he made the introductions. It was a great night and the hockey was O.K. too.

We headed home at 9:00 p.m. and all were in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Saturday March 13

We were all up early and downstairs at 7:00 a.m.  Temo was picking us up at 7:15 a.m. to take us to the rinks. We were scheduled for the second game of the day at 8:30 a.m. We met our draft choices that Klaus had arranged for us at the locker room and they were very good choices. François, Justin, Michael, and Patrick. With the help of these four guys we won our first 2 games 5-3 and 3-0. The second game was the first time Henry had ever recorded a shutout and Rob Musial scored his first goal. However, after the second game François left us and we had a total breakdown.

At the end of 5 minutes of play we were down 5-1 and the coach lost his mind. He changed all the defensive players and put them on line #2 and took all of line #2 and put them on defense. Poor Patrick, a German player who was with us, did not know what was going on and why the coach was screaming. He reluctantly skated off the blueline and up to the face off circle to start the 2nd period.

No decision seemed to be the right one and we lost the game 7-4.

After the game we took the subway out to a flea market that Muller wanted to see and than went to Marion Platz to have a few beers.

There was a party planed in the Greek Restaurant across the street form the rinks at 7:00 p.m. and we all headed there.

The party turned out to be a duzzie of one and we all had a great time. We met some people from Slovakia and others from the south of Germany who seemed to be Italian, but swore they were German. The party wrapped up at midnight. On the way home Claus tried to stop the car several times to show Richi what the girls with the white shoes were all about. However, thankfully Temo was a bit wiser and we continued on our way home.

Sunday March 14

We were downstairs for Breakfast by 8:30 a.m. Muller had already headed out on one of his adventures and Goetz was just leaving to catch the subway to the rink. Tilly assured us he would drive us there and we would arrive on time for our 11:30 a.m. game

Today was the playoffs. Each game was only one twenty minute running time period. We were the second seed in Group A and were playing the first seed in Group B. The Group B bracket was much better than ours so I did not know what to expect. We had lost 3 of the players from yesterday and only had 6 skaters for today’s games.  Luckily for us on the Dutchman, Hahn’s, from the locker-room next door offered to play with us and he turned out to be a great find.

When we went out on the ice it began to rain pretty hard. The guys who were wearing half shields said they felt like they needed windshield wipers to see. In the middle of the first game Goetz finally got a chance to unleash his hip check and managed to get the player and the referee together in one try. The Referee did not seem to hold it against us, Island Monkeys heh? We lost our first game 5-3 to the team that would eventually win the tournament, but we won our second game against the same team that destroyed us the day before and became the bronze medal winners. The last game was tied with 1 minute to go and they were pressing us hard in our zone when Joe Bilboa flipped the puck out of our zone and Mike Schroeder picked it up and went in on a breakaway to score the winning goal with just 37 seconds left in the game.

Claus held a very nice ceremony after the last game and gave out trophies. Henry Muller won the award for best Goalie and everyone stood to give him an ovation. I think Muller was truly touched.

Temo and Tilly drove us back to the hotel and we headed out for diner. Diner was a 4 hour event and we headed back for bed by 11:00 p.m.

Monday March 15

Today Tilly was leaving us to head home to the twins and Mickela. We said good-bye to him at 8:00 a.m. and he was gone. Muller and Goetz were off to Potsdam and Claus was meeting the rest of us at 10:00 a.m.  We were going to the Reichstag and check point Charlie to finish out our last day here.

The traffic delayed Claus a little, but he eventually showed up with that great big smile, he always wore, on his face we headed for the U bahn and a great day of sightseeing. By 5:00 p.m. we were all pretty tired and it was freezing out, so we told Claus please take us home and he did. We decided a nice little nap was appropriate and agreed to meet down stairs at 7:00 pm for diner.

We went to a Steak house to eat and than the Local pub we had come to know to meet Henry and Goetz. The last night ended by 11:00 p.m. and we headed for our last night of sleep in Berlin.

Tuesday March 16

8:30 a.m. we met for Breakfast and headed out to a local hockey shop and Police store. To our surprise Temo met us at the Police store and offered to drive us to the Hockey shop. We were lucky to meet him because when the Van showed up to transfer us to the airport it was not big enough for our luggage and us. Temo graciously offered to drive 2 of our luggage and us to the airport. He actually had to make two trips as we got half way there and realized we left the hockey sticks sitting in the hotel lobby. Temo once again with his great smile agreed to return and help us out.

Check in went great again in that there were no additional baggage charges and we got bulkhead seating for the last leg home from Frankfurt to JFK.

            We landed at JFK at almost 9:00 p.m. and it was over. A great trip, so many new friends and hockey memories.