I was recently asked to write a blog post for Spouses In Sports (a private community for professional sport families).
I wanted to share it with all of you who are not a part of the community.
Leaving Pieces of my Heart in Europe
by Amanda Kuhn, wife of Jerry Kuhn, Goalie for Olimpija Ljubljana of the EBEL League, Austria
The past two hockey seasons we have lived in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Krefeld, Germany. I’m often asked, “Where is your favorite place you have traveled to in Europe”? This question is always difficult for me, considering I’ve been to many beautiful places in Europe the past two years. There are still so many places and things I want to see overseas. I’ve made a memory in every place I’ve been – they are all special to me for different reasons. It could have been the food, the people, the atmosphere, or something fun I did while I was in that place. Whenever I visit a new city, I like to stop for a few minutes and take it all in. I don’t want to bring home a pamphlet or a post card – I want that memory to stick in my head forever.
When you play overseas, you usually get a “November Break” and an “Olympic Break” (and maybe some other odd breaks thrown in there). This gives you time to head out with your boyfriend/hubby and venture out to somewhere new! During the season I always like to catch a few away games – at least if they are in a city worth exploring but sometimes even the atmosphere of a new rink is worth the drive. I don’t do this often because my husband is a goalie, and let’s just say my traveling on game days isn’t in his, “routine” (he’ll tell you he’s not superstitious.) Anyway, I’ve been quite a few places the past two years. Probably a lot of small towns most people haven’t heard of. I’ve never been to Paris or Rome but to be honest, I don’t think those places compare to the “hidden gems” of Europe.
When I was asked to write this post, I started thinking of my two favorite places I’ve “traveled” to in Europe. There was no way I could write this post and not choose Ljubljana, Slovenia as one of my favorite places, I just couldn’t. It holds such a big piece of my heart because it was our first “home” in Europe and a place that changed me in ways I never thought possible. Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and a beautiful one at that. My first week in Europe was one of the hardest weeks of my entire life. I cried, I cried and I cried some more. I hated it, I wanted to go home, I wanted someone to speak English to me at the grocery store, I just wanted to fall apart. Time went on and I started to adapt, I started to love my new home. I realized I lived in one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world and I embraced it. I became close with a lot of Slovenians, on our hockey team and outside of hockey. Jerry and I started volunteering at a children’s center, where underprivileged children go after school, twice a week, sometimes more. I fell in love with the fact that a good bottle of wine only costs me $3 and that I could live off both that and cheese. I fell in love with the people that took me in as family (I didn’t love the cranky grandmas, but that’s all over Europe!). Ljubljana itself is a beautiful city and good for any expat/tourist. It’s a huge city – there is shopping, there is good food, there are a lot of sites to see (the castle, the river that runs through downtown, the “pink church”, the dragon bridge) just to name a few! If you ever get a chance to go to Slovenia you will want to see Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Postjona Caves (seriously look them up!), and the sea side of course. I feel sLOVENia!
My second favorite place would be Venice, Italy. It could be because I got the surprise of a life time there – my husband proposing to me on a gondola! However, I’ve been back three times after that surprise and fell in love all over, each time. Venice has such character, and is so different than what you picture it to be. I always feel like I’m in a movie when I’m walking the streets of Venice. I used to dream about going to Italy when I was younger, and then somehow my life put me just a short two hour drive away from one of the most well-known cities in Italy. While in Venice you have to have a cup of coffee or glass of wine in St. Marks Square! If you are able to travel there during The Venice Carnival, you must (usually held in late January-February)! It is a tradition held every year in and it is definitely something to see/take part in! You can’t leave Venice without taking a ride on a gondola in the Adriatic Sea. The people, the food, the sights are truly something special. My advice is to drop the maps, and get lost! You definitely won’t have a hard time finding a hotel, and almost everyone can speak enough English to get you where you are trying to go. Venice should be at the top of your list for a place to see.
I can only hope that everyone gets to see the beauty of Europe at least once in their lifetime. Living in Europe and traveling has definitely shaped me into the person I am and the person I’m supposed to be. For that, I am thankful. “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry”
To anyone who is part of a professional sport family or collegiate sport family you can register and join Spouses In Sports by clicking this link > SiS
It is a great community, and I was delighted to share a little of my story with them. Thank you again!