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Road To Sweden: Koln

The bittersweet train ride from our hotel out to the Munich was a quick one. Sad to have to leave but excited to be heading to Oilers hockey in Cologne. Lots to update you on so let’s get to it!

Arriving

The EDC (European Death Cold) I had contracted on the Sunday I arrived, has not left my body and continued to take me down but like any good Nation soldier, I prevailed. Once we got to the Air BnB that we had booked we made every intention to lay low and take it easy for the night. All we had hoped to do was find a place to eat and then venture back to the room. Well, we did find food in the form of “Canadian Street Food” otherwise known as poutine. Then as we made our way home, we took a couple of wrong turns down Cologne’s wacky roadways and ended up at the Cologne Cathedral.

I was told the players were in the area at that moment and I had this whole “Nation Dan reporting live” schtick planned but when you see this place in person (and I truly hope you do) the sheer scale of it all will take away your breath as well as humble you. What little bit of humour I have left me and I was just in awe as we toured the church and area.

I was only able to snap out of it when I found myself behind the pun daddy himself, Gene Principe.

When I saw Gene my Oil senses (read like I am Spiderman, because well I’m not but play along) went all whack and suddenly I was seeing players and staff streaming all over the place. I spotted Yamamoto and Bouchard, which was something I didn’t think I’d pick out because two different young kids you could not find. Then I spotted Talbot and Brodziak along with Gulutzan and Vivierios coming and going from the hotel.

I was in Oilers overload. So I took a stroll away from the front entrance of the hotel (which had the autograph buzzards flying around it as well as some hopeful kids) down to the plaza across from the biggest train station I had ever seen in my life.

Coffee with Craig

I was having so much fun just playing spot your heroes and idols 7121kms away from home (Patent pending) I needed to hydrate. I stepped into a cafe and as I did I had to do a double take. It was MacT sitting there having a coffee as I lived and breathed. I grabbed a beer and he went in to grab another coffee and when he came out, like a voice from inside myself that I had never met before I blurted out “would you like to join us”.

I’m sure he was just being polite but I still couldn’t believe he agreed to. What followed was twenty minutes of me just trying to contain the inner child of me that would have just geeked out incessantly. I did my best to keep it non-current Oilers related but I couldn’t help but ask the teams thoughts about Bouchard and Yamamoto. He said the team has been over the moon with Evan since he got there and then Kailer has just exceeded everyone’s expectations this year to the point where he is there.

Trapped

Just when you thought the night couldn’t get any better, we headed back to the Airbnb. I had to take the Browns to the Superbowl and so I shut the door and turned the lock. That’s when I heard the snap. I was trapped in a bathroom in a foreign country.

That would be my coffin. I spent the next hour thinking about all the terrible things I had done to deserve this fate and was getting my affairs in order when the landlord of the Airbnb came and had the spare skeleton key to free me from my near doom. As I mentioned on social. Someday I will release the string of videos I recorded whilst in there. Until then there was a restless sleep ahead.

Unification day

The location we were staying at was above some of the hottest nightclubs in town, or so we would find out. The powers that be with the Koln Sharks and Oilers surely had planned it so their game would be on the National Holiday of German Unification. That’s great news for Germans but also seeing as they didn’t have to all work the next day the party on our street started shortly after I escaped my bathroom prison and went well into the AM.

The next day, one of the coolest in my life was setting up to be a rough one.

Gameday

The sun was shining for the first time since day one when I walked into Oktoberfest. Dan was happy and everything was great. We took our second “Hop on, Hop off” tour of the trip in as many cities but knew that we were going to be getting off the bus near the Lanxess arena. We did in fact hop off and checked out the Sharks practice facility.

I haven’t felt like I was back home until I was in there. It’s every rink in Edmonton (other than Rogers). Just a great little spot to watch the team practice. Then we headed over to the arena and the area they had set up for fan fest. Fan fest is something they do a lot for European events (I was told) where they have different carnival style things set up for kids and adults to see. When we got there I was almost immediately tracked down by fans of the Nation who were excited to get stickers. Then I was introduced to the Czech facebook fans of the Oilers.

They had just met up with Chiarelli somewhat randomly and had stories to tell.

Then I was introduced to the German Oilers facebook group.

They would end up being my “tour guides” for the rest of the afternoon and through to late into the night.

This whole trip has been filled with some of the best experiences I have had in my life. I met fans from the Netherlands stationed the as a part of NATO missions. I met fans from the UK and Finland and I honestly hope I was able to give you as much of my attention as was possible. It was an overwhelming experience.

Previous #RoadToSweden content:

Announcement

Ticket Nightmares

Flight: Part One

Flight: Part Two

Beer

After five hours in the Cologne airport I am finally boarding my flight to London (where I have to proceed through customs in what will surely be the shortest recorded time in a country to get a “stamping”) and then I will regail you with the tails of what it was like in Germany watching our Oilers.

Thank you once again to everyone who took time out of their exciting days to say hi to me. I’m sorry if I missed you.