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Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol, Kim Yuna, and Golden Spin Figure Skating at Dom Sportova

The Dom Sportova is now an official KHL ice rink in Zagreb, Croatia

Yesterday began much like today, with Emme in bed and me enjoying my traditional Croatian coffee typing on my laptop in the restaurant at the Four Points by Sheraton Panorama Zagreb.  The coffee is very dark, strong, and they serve it with warm milk.  I’m a huge Starbucks fan but I can tell you that if you drink three cups of this java it will make your heart race just the same.

Emme and I we able to get some ice and get used to figure skating at the Dom Sportova, Zagreb

Emme and I we able to get some ice and get used to figure skating at the Dom Sportova, Zagreb

We were able to rent the ice at the Dom Sportova yesterday and get acclimated to the ice surface.  It is just as I remember it my first time skating, nice, loud, and crackly.  I should tell them to turn up the music, I told Emme with a smile.

Of course we are here by ourselves without our coach, Igor Lukanin.  He is at another competition in Budapest with one of his other skaters.  So, I have to be “Good Bruce”, which after being “Bad Bruce” for so much of my life is sometimes hard.  But I’ve been at it for a few years and it’s getting easier ;)

First thing that I noticed about the Dom Sportova Olympic Complex is that it has enjoyed an upgrade.  The Croatian hockey team has joined the Russian hockey league, and the influx of new KHL money is evident from the new hockey boxes, sponsors, and banners.  I can imagine that the Dom Sportova is an exciting place to watch a KHL game!

Figure Skating Olympics Champion Kim Yuna (or Yu-Na Kim) is competing at Golden Spin Zagreb this year

Figure Skating Olympics Champion Kim Yuna (or Yu-Na Kim) is competing at Golden Spin Zagreb this year

Emme and I spent the first twenty minutes of our practice warming up and taking photos and videos.  I have done many things, I told Emme, but practicing on my own ice, at the Dom Sportova is a first.  While we were practicing Croatian figure skater, Tamara Glad stopped by the boards to drop off some paperwork and say hi.  The Croatian Figure Skating Federation has been very nice to us and it was great to see Tamara!

We were able to run through all our elements and pay special attention to our short dance.  Near the end of our practice the influx of Korean spectators was evident.  This is because Olympics Champion, Kim Yuna has decided to compete at Golden Spin this year.  This has brought a lot of attention to the competition and over 2000 Korean figure skating fans to Zagreb.  The city is buzzing about the Golden Spin Figure Skating Competition this year.

Beautiful City Center Zagreb is booming with a temporary outdoor ice rink and jumbo sized Christmas wreath

Beautiful City Center Zagreb is booming with a temporary outdoor ice rink and jumbo sized Christmas wreath

After practice we decompressed in our hotel room and then dressed and hopped on the tram to go to the City Center.  It’s just a short walk to the main tram stop and then you get on tram number 12.  Six stops later (about 15 minutes) and you are in the heart of the Old City Center with thousands of other people celebrating Christmas and the New Year.  The temporary outdoor ice rink was a hit with many people ice skating and even a VIP lounge!

We went shopping at the many kiosk stores and were able to find some great deals on nice products for our loved ones.  Croatia has retained it’s own currency, the Kuna, and things are not as expensive as they are in most of Europe.  Emme and I tried some more of the jamon iberico and continued to explore the beautiful and historic Old City of Zagreb.

We stopped by the beautiful Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol and were able to participate in the catholic mass

We stopped by the beautiful Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol and were able to participate in the catholic mass

As we passed the historic Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol we were able to find a catholic mass in session at one of the side churches.  We decided to stay, enjoy the sacraments, pray for our loved ones, and thank God for our blessings.  It’s amazing and comforting that where every you may be and in whatever language, that you can follow along the catholic service.  The mass has the same rhythm and feel to it whether it is in English, Croatian, or another language.  Though the catholic church may struggle with some deep issues, I find it comforting that it stands as a beacon of light in the world.  It’s also nice that we have a “Rock Star” Pope ;)  Pope Francis

After touring the streets of Zagreb for a few hours we decided to have dinner at Capuciner.  This pizza and spaghetti restaurant was about on par with the US based “California Kitchen.”  The food was inexpensive, came out very fast, and was good but could have used a bit more seasoning.  After dinner we hopped the tram back to our hotel and I impressed Emme with my ability to find torrent sites with free movies :)  Netflix does not work in Europe…

 

Beautiful Zagreb, where it all began

Emme and I arrived in beautiful Zagreb yesterday after our 13 hour British Airways flight that took us through Heathrow Airport.  Once we passed customs we were greeted by Thomas from the Croatian Figure Skating Federation, “Welcome back” he said as he shook my hand.  The weather was sunny and warm as we loaded the van and headed to the Hotel Panorama by Four Points.  Conveniently situated just across the courtyard from the famed Dom Sportova the Panorama Hotel is one of the top hotels in Zagreb.

This is the first year I have seen the outdoor ice skating rink at the Old Town Square Christmas celebration

This is the first year I have seen the outdoor ice skating rink at the Old Town Square Christmas celebration

Zagreb, Croatia will always have a special place in my heart as this is where my international figure skating career began.  After trying to compete all year in 2007 and meeting setback after setback, including an airline losing my ice skates, my first competition was the 2008 European Championships here in Zagreb.  Back then I was really just in transition from hockey player to ice dancer and still quite “rough around the edges.”  Some say I still am!  I can hear the peanut gallery now ;) With TV cameras all around and my heart jumping out of my chest I had my first international competition shown on televisions across Europe.  It’s moments like these that I think about when I’m nervous to perform.  ”I can do it, it is possible, I have done it before.”

Pony or Donkey rides were a hit at Zagreb Croatia Christmas and New Year festivities

Pony or Donkey rides were a hit at Zagreb Croatia Christmas and New Year festivities

After settling into our hotel Emme and I hopped a cab and went down to the Old City.  Situated a long walk from the hotel, the Old City is in the heart of Zagreb.  This is my fourth time in Zagreb and it is amazing to me how the city has grown.  Around Christmas they decorate the Old Town Square and have added new and exciting attractions every year.  This year they have a massive outdoor stage with constant live performances, a large tent with food and drinks, pony(or donkey) rides for the kids, hundreds of vendors, and thousands of visitors.  They even have an outdoor ice rink, Zagreb is booming!

Where to eat in Zagreb, Emme loves the pumpkin gnocchi at Boban Restaurant

Where to eat in Zagreb, Emme loves the pumpkin gnocchi at Boban Restaurant

Fighting our jet lag, we decided to eat at one of our favorite restaurants in the Old City named “Boban”.  I had the lasagne bolognese and Emme had the pumpkin gnocchi.  Both the dishes were fantastic and Boban was exactly as we remembered it.  After eating we went back to the Old Town Square and enjoyed the live music and toured the many street vendors.  Maybe I can pick up a jamon iberico for Bella’s God Father…

Day 9

It was Wednesday today and we definitely were feeling the drag of the week.  Started our day as usual with our shake and vitamins.  Emme added an extra shake in the afternoon along her vitamins as it was her first day of her menstrual cycle.  We were both impressed at the fact that her energy level seemed to be higher than usual at this time of the month.

Emme’s buttocks keeps getting higher and taking on a better shape while I ran into a long time friend I hadn’t seen in a while and he just couldn’t believe how thin and lean I looked.

Day 8

We were back in NYC today training with Olympian Igor Lukanin.  I continue to be impressed with the amount of energy and balance that we feel we have added since taking the Isagenix products.  We looked at each other after our run through of the short program and said, “This Isagenix is amazing!”

 

Day 7

Emme and I trained at our home rink today.  It was fun but we didn’t get much done… I guess that’s why you pay the coach the big bucks.  Headed back to NYC tomorrow for Igor’s concentration camp.

Day three

Today we again started our morning off with the Isagenix vitamins and shake and had a great morning practice.  Again, everything seems brighter, I feel like I’m standing taller, my balance is better, and my mood is much improved.  At the end of the first practice Emme and I looked at eachother and said “This Isagenix is amazing!”

We ate our Isagenix bar for lunch and continued with the vitamins and cleanse in the evening.  Feeling great! ;)

Day two

Emme and I drove up last night and skated our full schedule today.  We started our day off with the Isagenix shake, the vitamins, the energy boost, and I can’t remember the other product now… It is an obvious difference in energy level and mood.  The skating is better, and I even notice that everything seems brighter.  We had our Isagenix bar in between practices along with a roast beef sandwich and we felt fueled up all day.

Day one

Emme and I skated at home today and are headed back up to North Jersey tomorrow.  We both started taking the Isagenix products over the weekend and both noticed an increase in stamina and mood.