Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Today Kathleen and I were determined to see as much of Stockholm as possible.  We woke up early, had breakfast and went for a walk.  Kathleen had bought a Scandinavia book by Rick Steves and it had a walking tour of Gamla Stan (the old city) so we decided to follow it.  We started at the Royal Palace, which we later found out is not where the current King and Queen live.  After the palace we saw the Obelisk and Iron Boy statues.  We then saw Sortorget, which is Stockholm's oldest square and home to the Stockholm Bloodbath that occurred in the 1500's.  Next was the Sorkyrhan Cathedral.  We walked inside and there as a sign with a box under it that said the entrance fee was 40 krona unless you were going to pray.  Kathleen and I looked at each other and paid - we felt like it would be bad karma to lie at the church!  The inside was really cool, the floor was made up of tombstones of all those buried under the church.  We both left saying that if churches were this cool looking in America we would probably go more often!  We continued down some of the small narrow streets and just looked around before heading back to the hotel.  One interesting thing that we found in the book - some of the homes had a phoenix design above the doors.  This was a sign to the fire department that the owners had paid their insurance and it should be saved in the event of a fire.  How crazy is that?

After we got back to the hotel we grabbed our stuff to store at the front desk and caught up with Malin.  Malin is a referee who I met in China and worked with again in Czech who live in Stockholm.  She came down to Malmo to see some of the games and when I told her I would be visiting Stockholm she offered to show me around.  The first thing she suggested we do is visit the Vasa Museum.  All of the tour books and websites we looked at had this as a must see item so we were excited to see it!  Malin successfully navigated us via the subway and bus.  That is one major perk of site-seeing with a local, it makes getting around so much more efficient and less stressful.  The Vasa Museum is the home to a giant war ship that sunk in the 1600s in the Stockholm Harbor.  It took two years to build but sank 40 minutes into its maiden voyage after a "light breeze" caused the ship to tip and take on water.  In the 1950's a diver found that it as still in one piece and the Swedish government decided to try to raise it from the harbor floor.  It is absolutely unbelievable how well it is preserved, the entire ship is displayed and they said it was 98% original.  The level of detail on the carvings around the entire ship was phenomenal.  I could have spent hours just looking at the ship. The museum is really well done in that it tells the history of how it was built, exactly why it sank, what they found when they pulled it up and how they are preserving it today.  They had many artifacts on display from when they pulled it up, including human remains, in tact items such as shoes, silverware and canons.  Honestly this was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, I just couldn't believe how a ship this massive stayed in one piece on the floor of the harbor for so long and how they were able to preserve it.

After the Vasa Museum we walked along what is known as the Royal Island and stopped at a little cafe where we had a fantastic lunch.  The funniest part was it was pretty windy and we all kept joking how the Vasa wouldn't have been able to stand these conditions.  After lunch we decided to go to the Globe and do the Skyview.  The Globe is one of the big arenas in Stockholm where their hockey team plays and many concerts are housed - basically the Wells Fargo Center of Stockholm.  The arena itself is basically a giant white globe that they light up at night dependent on the event.  Along the outside of the globe is a giant clear ball that travels up the side to the top.  It offers incredible views of the entire city.   It was funny because Malin had never actually done this (and she hadn't been to Vasa in 10+ years) so she was just as excited as us!

After the Globe she just walked us around different parts of the city and was able to give some history lessons.   During the tour we took a little break and stopped at this really cool underground cafe that was a dungeon in the 1300s.  We finally ended up back at the hotel to pick up our stuff and head to the train station.  We got on a 6:15 train to Copenhagen where we are spending the night before flying home tomorrow.

Again, I can't thank Malin enough for spending the day with us and acting as our tour guide.  Stockholm is a wonderful city and I'd love to come back and spend more time.  Kathleen made a comment about how lucky I am to know all of these wonderful people around the world willing to take time out of their busy lives to show us around.  She is absolutely right, the people really are the best part about working IIHF hockey and the bond we have over hockey is second to none.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

From Oslo to Stockholm

After an awesome day yesterday we were absolutely exhausted and crashed early.  We had booked a 7:30am train to take us from Oslo to Stockholm.  It is about a 5 hour train ride so we figured that would give us half the day to explore Stockholm.  Everything was perfect until we got to a station about an hour outside of Stockholm.  The train stopped randomly and they came on and announced that there as a delay.  About 20 minutes later they came on and made another announcement, however this time they did not bother to translate to English.  We watched a few people get off the train to smoke so I figured the delay might be longer than we were anticipating.  I eventually decided to go ask a conductor who told me that the power lines were knocked down and they were calling for buses.  However, the problem was that there were 15 trains ahead of us! Eventually, after sitting on the tracks for about 2.5 hours they had us switch to a commuter train.  Since everything was in Swedish Kathleen and I just followed the crowd and hoped we'd end up in the right spot!  After a transfer we made it to Stockholm Central about 3.5 hours after we were supposed to.  We were bummed because that pretty much killed our day but we decided to try to make the best of it.

After checking in to the hotel, we decided to walk around and explore.  Our initial observation is Stockholm is the busiest, most metropolitan city of the 3 we have visited.  Stockholm is made up of 14 different islands and we definitely hit 3 or 4 of them.  In between two of the islands we crossed the Slussen, which is the lock between the Baltic Sea and Lake Malaren.  Of particular interest was the island of Gamla Stan, also known as Old City.  This is a hilly section with lots of cafes along cobblestone streets.  We picked a random one to have dinner at and it was delicious.  I had been warned that Stockholm was very expensive but honestly our dinner was not much more than what we would have paid in the US.  After dinner we tried to find the Absolut Ice Bar, a pretty famous spot in Stockholm. We finally found it but were disappointed to find out it was closed for renovations until April 15th.

Tomorrow will be a full day of touring Stockholm. Another IIHF friend, Malin, has graciously offered to be our tour guides and show us the ropes.  I'm excited to see her and more of Stockholm!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Oslo in a Day!

Wow, what a day in Oslo!  Our ship pulled in this morning around 9:45 and we made our way to our hotel which is right next to the main train station.  Fortunately the guy at the reception desk was really nice and was able to get us into our room early instead of storing our luggage!  We are staying at a Radison so while I expected it to be nice this was way nicer than I was expecting!  Our room is really big (more like a normal American hotel room vs most of the rooms in Europe) and our bathroom floor is heated!

One of my fellow officials from the tournament, Anna, lives in Oslo.  Since she was off from work today she offered to show us around and hang out for the day.  That is one of the coolest things about working international hockey, I have friends all over the world willing to take time out of their busy schedules to show me their homes.  I hope to be able to return the favor for some of them if/when they come to the United States!  She met us at our hotel at 10:45 and we headed out.  After grabbing a quick pastry we hoped on the subway and headed to the Vigeland Sculpture Park.  This is a very famous park in Oslo that has tons of statues all about "the human condition."  Basically this means lots of naked people and babies.  Some of the statues were seriously creepy, there was one where a man was kicking a baby, another one that looked like two people in some crazy sex position.  The most famous statue was the angry boy, who is modeled after Grumpy from Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.  At the top of the park was the main gates and the Monolith - a huge, 14 meter high statue made up entirely of hundreds of naked figures.  According to Wikipedia it is supposed to symbolize mans desire to come closer to the spiritual and divine.  I'm not going to say the first thing that came to my mind when I saw it but if you google a picture of it you'd probably think the same thing after seeing all of the naked statues!

After the park we took the metro up to the Holmenkollen Ski Center, which is home to the ski jump used in the Olympics when they were here in Oslo.  We went through the museum there which shows a history of the different types of skis used in both cross country skiing and ski jumping, two very popular sports here in Norway.  It was crazy that people didn't die doing this stuff on some of those old ski and binding set ups!  We then took the elevator to the top of the ski jump which offered amazing views of the city of Oslo.  As we were about to head down we saw them bringing something up to the top on a cable that ran just above the jump.  We stayed to see what it was because it honestly looked like a body bag!  Low and behold it was the final safety check for the zip line that they had running where you could basically experience what ski jumping was like!  We watched someone go and immediately decided we had to try it! After we signed the waiver (which was not like an American waiver, all it said was we understood the rules) we were harnessed up and led out to the edge of the ski jump.  They hook you in to the safety line then make you walk out and sit on the edge of the jump just like the ski jumpers do while they finish getting you ready to go.  That was probably the scariest part because you are looking straight down this super steep ramp - I seriously can't imagine skiing down that thing!  We made Kathleen go first so she wouldn't chicken out, haha!  Anna went second and I went last.  I was able to hold my camera in one hand and video the ride down.  It was so cool!  We were all really glad we did it.  Anna was laughing that she didn't know they did that there and was going to have to bring some of her friends to try it.

After the ski jump adventure, we headed toward the harbor area to explore the Akershus Fortress and Castle.  On the way we passed by the Nobel Peace Center, where they awarded the Nobel Peace Prize every year.  Anna was telling us that when Obama came to accept the prize they shut down the entire area.  The Akershus Fortress overlooks the Harbor (which kind of reminded us of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore with lots of ships, boats, restaurants and shops) and was built to protect the capital and also used as a prison.  There were lots of old canons at the top which were really cool to see.  The other funny thing we found as we were walking around was a statue that looked like the Lincoln Memorial.  We were joking about it until we actually walked up to it and saw it was statue of Franklin D Roosevelt!  Anna had no idea why there was a statue of an American president in Norway but after some research we found out it was because he gave a speech highlighting Norway's strength against the Nazis.

We then walked to the Royal Palace and saw the changing of the guards.  After we saw the City Hall and Parliament buildings along with the Oslo Cathedral, all of which were beautiful.  We grabbed some dinner at a local restaurant then headed back to our hotel and Anna headed home.  It was an absolutely awesome day and we really felt like we were able to get a feel for the city.  I seriously cannot thank Anna enough for spending the day with us and showing us her city.  I hope to return the favor when she comes to the United States this summer!  That is one of the best parts about IIHF officiating, you make friends all over the world!  Tomorrow we are getting up early and taking the train to our next city, Stockholm.  Should be a blast!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Copenhagen again and the trip to Norway!

After getting up this morning and meeting the girls for a goodbye breakfast I went back to my room to finish packing.  I tried to be very strategic and put only the stuff I need for the second portion of this trip on top so I'm not tearing apart my suitcase in every city!  Lisa and I were both headed to hotels close to Copenhagen Central Station so we caught a ride to the airport with the Canadians and took the train from there.  It turns out her friend's hotel was literally across the street from Kathleen's hotel!  Not sure how much I mentioned before but one of my good friends from college, Kathleen, came over to Copenhagen on Friday and planned to meet me after the tournament to explore Scandanavia.  I'm super excited to have a travel buddy for this portion of the trip.

Kathleen was waiting for me in the lobby of her hotel.  She had arranged with the staff to store our bags there for the day which was awesome.  She saw a lot of Copenhagen yesterday but had left a few things that I hadn't done for us to do together.  First we went to Rundetaarn, also known as the Round Tower.  It was built in the 1600's as an astronomical observatory.  Today you can walk up a huge spiral ramp to the top.  The ramp reminded me of something you'd see in the airport parking garage!  The top offered really great views of the city and we saw where at night you can look at the stars.  After Rundetaarn we decided to go see the famous Little Mermaid statue.  I had seen it from the back when I took the boat cruise earlier in the week but we wanted to see it from the front.  We walked there and wound our way through this beautiful park with an awesome old church.  We took the typical tourist photos then headed to the Church of Our Savior.  This church is famous because it has this huge spiral stair case that takes you to the top of the steeple and provides awesome views of the city.  If you are claustrophobic this was definitely not the activity for you because that staircase was narrow!  The view from the top was absolutely worth the climb, it was even better than the view from Rundertaarn.  Afterwards we went into the church portion.  It was your typical European church - gorgeous with tons of ornate details.  Kathleen and I were laughing that we could now appease our Catholic family members and say we went to church on Easter Sunday!  We then rewarded ourselves with a Danish pastry for lunch then headed back to the hotel to get our luggage to head to our ship.

In an effort to see as much as possible, we decided to take an overnight ferry to Oslo, Norway.  We were both expecting a small ferry (I'm thinking something like the Cape May/Lewes Ferry and Kathleen was thinking the Martha's Vineyard ferry) but instead we literally boarded a cruise ship.  We paid extra for a room with a view and while our room is small it is very cosy and much to my delight has a normal shower!  I'm not sure I mentioned it but the showers in our hotel in Sweden were unique - you either had a room with a giant bathtub 3 feet off the ground or a shower where the shower head was chest hight with no door and lots of mirrors.  We explored the ship and all of its various activities; a casino, a nightclub, restaurants, a duty free shop and pools!  We made dinner reservations at one of the restaurants and promptly returned to our room to take a nap and relax.  We did so much walking around Copenhagen we were both beat.  My fitbit said I took over 25,000 steps and traveled 10 miles!

After dinner we watched the sunset over the ocean and now I'm sitting here typing this blog!  Kathleen and I are going to watch a movie on an ipad then try to get to sleep early.  However, at 10:30 I'm planning on trying to facetime with my family while they are at Easter dinner but we will see if it works since the internet is spotty at best.  We arrive in Oslo tomorrow morning at 9:30.  Anna from the tournament is off from work so she is going to meet us at our hotel and show us around the city.  Looking forward to having a guide and seeing another part of Scandanavia!

Hockey Season is Over

This tournament and hockey season has officially come to an end.  The final was a very exciting, face paced game between USA and Canada.  The final was 7-5 USA - a true defensive battle haha.  One of the coolest traditions of these tournaments is they always play the winning teams national anthem at the end of the game.  It was certainly nice to hear the USA anthem and it was really cool to listen to the girls sing their hearts out after the win.  Japan won the relegation series in 2 games so they will be staying in the top division and Germany moves down to Division 1 next year.  All in all it was a good competitive tournament with only a few blow outs along the way.  After the final we all came back to the hotel and had a closing meeting.  We received medals for participating as well as a few gifts from the IIHF.  One of which was a tie pin - oops I guess they forgot we were women, haha!  However I must say they treated us very well this year and we are truly appreciative that all our clothing was in womens sizes.  

After the meeting we all headed out to a pizza restaurant for dinner to eat and celebrate a great tournament.  The celebrations continued in the hotel bar until well after midnight at which point everyone started to crash.   We all have various departure time today and I'm leaving at 9:30.  I'm getting a ride to the Copenhagen main train station where I will be meeting up with Kathleen.  More to come tonight when I have some time to write! 

Friday, April 3, 2015


Today was another day off.  We all slept in a little bit and ate a late breakfast where we had a very interesting conversation with Kim's wife.  They have an adorable 16 month old so we somehow got on the topic of maternity benefits.  Now I've heard that the US is the one of only two countries in the world not to offer some sort of paid maternity leave but I had no idea other countries had it so good!  In Denmark they get 6 months at full pay and 6 months at partial pay - and by partial pay they mean 70-80%.  In Estonia they get 1.5 years!  When I told her them if I were to have a baby I'd be paid for 6 weeks and have to go back to work in 12 weeks their jaws hit the floor.  The conversation then spurned to the cost of living, health care and other "benefits" of living in different countries.  That is one of the really cool things about these tournaments, you learn so much about other peoples cultures.

For our activity for the day, a number of the girls wanted to go shopping at a large mall that is close by.  It is always funny at these tournaments, the European girls just love to shop!  None of the North Americans really were interested in going shopping for two reasons.  1) Things are definitely more expensive here than at home and 2) I don't have much (if any) extra space in my suitcase!  Katie and I decided we wanted to venture into Copenhagen again and Kaire decided to come along.  We asked Kim and his wife to give us some ideas on what to do and they suggested we see the Rosenborg Palace if it was open.  Apparently in Denmark they get 3 days off for Easter so many things are closed.  We couldn't really tell online if it was open or not so we just decided to go for it and walked over to the train station to catch a train to Copenhagen.  It was about a 40 minute train ride then we walked to the palace from there.  Thank goodness for google maps!  While I have my phone in airplane mode if you put in your destination when on wifi, the blue dot indicating where you are at that exact moment will still move once you are off wifi.  It is really kind of creepy but very helpful.

We found the palace and fortunately it was open.  It was really cool, it had pieces of history from all the various kings and queens dating back to the early 1300's.  That is what is so crazy to me, they had pieces of art and gold that were 400+ years older than the United States!  In the basement of the palace they have many of the crown jewels on display, including 3 of the actual crowns that the kings have worn.  Apparently they weighed 3 kilos, or about 6.5 lbs.  Can you imagine wearing something that was 6.5 lbs on your head?

After spending a few hours at Rosenborg we decided to check out the Carlesberg Brewery. Our initial plan was to take the bus, then we realized we had no Danish Krones so we took a cab instead so we could use a credit card.  That is one thing that is a bit of a pain in Scandinavia, every country uses its own currency.  The brewery tour was very different than the Heineken brewery tour I took in Amsterdam.  This one focused a lot on the history of the brewery and the employees and less on the actual process of making the beer.  It was intersting - the workers lived on the property and were given a 4 liter allowence of beer each day.  Yes, that's right 4 liters!  However I'd say the coolest part was seeing a collection of different beer bottles from around the world.  They had over 200,000, organized by country.  It was really neat.

After the brewery tour we made our way back to the train station.  We didn't buy tickets on the way over because we were told our accredation was good on public transportation in Malmo but when we were on the train we saw all of these signs talking about fines of $100 euros/$1000 Krona if you didn't have a ticket so we decided to play it safe and buy one.  Good thing we did because a conductor checked our tickets 5 minutes after we boarded!  We had to switch trains at Central Station to get back to Malmo which was also a bit of an adventure.  We must have ran up and down the stairs 5 times trying to catch the right train going the right direction!

We finally made it back to Malmo with about 30 minutes to spare before the entire group was going out to dinner.  We went to this great little restaurant in an old wine cellar.  The food was amazing, I had a filet with an awesome sauce that was cooked perfectly.  It was a great night out with the group.  We were all stuffed when we got back to the hotel and headed right to bed.  Games start up again tomorrow and we are in the home stretch!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Today was gameday #4.  This morning we had our typical meeting.  Here we were told that the organizing committee as taking us to a special dinner tomorrow night and we had to select our meal.  While the menu did have some English it was a bit of a challenge to write out what I wanted.  I swear just about every thing on menu contained at least 15 letters!  Speaking of languages, I say this every year and this year will be no different.  I am so impressed with how everyone here except the 3 Americans speaks multiple languages fluently.  I asked many of them how they learned English and the answers have all varied but the common theme was they started at a young age.  However, one thing that definitely helped the Swede's is many of their television shows are in English.  I rarely turn on the tv on these trips but here I have to watch the Sweden games that are being televised.  As I flipped through the channels I was shocked to see how many were in English with Swedish subtitles.  They even had some typical American channels like Discovery Channel!

Following lunch a bunch of us decided to go take a walk and run to the market to pick up a few things.  While it was cool and windy when we left the hotel the sun was shining.  When we exited the grocery store it was hailing and made for a very unpleasant walk back to the hotel!  We walked in as the first crew was getting ready to leave and they were all laughing at us because we were drenched!  I then got ready for my all important standby duties today.  Every game at IIHF championships has a referee and linesman standby just in case somebody gets hurt.  We all rotate being standbys for games when you aren't working and today was my turn.  If you remember a few years ago in Czech I had to go in as a standby so ever since then I make sure I'm really ready to go.  After the game we came back to the hotel to eat and watched the end of the Sweden game on tv.  Tomorrow is another day off and we are planning to explore Copenhagen a little more!