Yesterday instead of staying indoors all day I went to the zoo, where I haven't been in ages. I forgot how much I enjoy it; I have an annual ticket now and aim to go more regularly. They're building a new giraffe compound, and they're currently hand-feeding baby waldrapps so they can release them into the wild (they'll fly ahead with a plane to show them the way to the wintering grounds) and hopefully re-establish a breeding population in Austria. I also saw adorable squirrel monkeys and was reminded how incredibly elegant penguins are under water, and many other animals. Maybe one of the next times I'll take a few pictures.
Speaking of penguins! The Pens just won a game and nobody got hurt, so I'll take the opportunity to talk about watching hockey as long as I'm feeling better about it.
The timing of my US trip was determined by "quite soon but after the marathon", which meant end of April/beginning of May. Only later did I realize that this meant I would be in the US for the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs. More than that, I was in NYC when the Pens played the New York Rangers and in DC when they played the Washington Capitals. This was an opportunity I had to make the most of.
I thought about going to a Pens playoff game, but MSG tickets are quite expensive and I waited too long for tickets in Washington (DD's fault.) But I did want to go to a live NHL game, so I went to an Islanders-Panthers game at Barclay's Center. I had a good time :) (Except for when I lost my camera shortly after I entered the building, but a staffer got it back to me before first intermission.) The atmosphere in the building was very cool, even though I was semi-secretly rooting for the Panthers.
At least as much fun was getting to watch Pens games with other fans. In Vienna, if I stay up to watch a game in the middle of the night I'm alone, and sometimes I watch games with DD. I got lucky: via reddit I got the name of a bar in NYC full of Pens fans. That was SO MUCH FUN. They were all very nice, I even got an XL yellow Pens playoff shirt. The excitement when our team scored! It was amazing. Except for when I was sick, when I was in NYC I went to the bar for every Pens game. It's very near MSG so on my way home I saw possibly hundreds of Rangers fans, more often than not sad (which ngl I secretly enjoyed a little because sports is weird like that.)
When I was still in NYC I got an email from DD that her mom, who because of DD became a big hockey fan as well, suggested that DD fly to Washington and see a playoff game, so we were there at the same time! Fantastic that it worked out this way. We also have similar taste in museums.
This time I hadn't heard about a Pens-friendly bar, but during the first game (second in the series) someone invited me to sit with them, and didn't even rescind the invitation when she noticed what shirt I was wearing. I tried to celebrate quietly *g* It was great. The next game on a rainy weekday the bar was almost empty, unfortunately. Meanwhile DD and kinetikatrue
had purchased Caps tickets for game 5 and got an invitation to watch game 4 on the jumbotron in Verizon center, so of course we went :) There were maybe two or three other Pens fans apart from DD and me and both of us kept our jackets closed. It was fun, and the Penguins won in overtime.
Game 5 I watched at the bar in NYC again. I started talking with two other women and eventually, very carefully, after they'd said that they're semi-familiar with Tumblr, mentioned "the Archive" - they knew what I was talking about xD
For the last game of that series I was back in Vienna and I did briefly consider staying up to watch it, but ultimately didn't.
Even if I hadn't found friends to watch the game with, even only being in the right time zone to watch the games would have been a huge plus. It was cool to actually see people wearing hockey apparel on the streets – every game day I wore a Pens shirt and it did occasionally start conversations :)
Another thing I didn't expect was that my relatives (first cousins twice removed, the internet told me) found me being a hockey fan so fascinating. In fact it was one of the first things they'd tell people about me: "this is my cousin Anna, she's visiting from Vienna, Austria, and she's a hockey fan", pretty much. G. and her husband even watched a game with me while I stayed with them! G. only for twenty minutes or so, but her husband told me the next day he'd recorded a bit extra, and he'd seen some other highlights, and that Caps-Flyers game looked pretty brutal… G., when she found out that my favorite team was called the Penguins, gave me a plush penguin from the Falkland Islands that she had lying around xD And L. asked me about the games before and after every game evening. I had such a great time with them, I hope I can visit them again soon.
Ok, now trying not to think a lot about hockey again. The Conference Finals are very stressful. At least this year, because neither the Austrian team nor Pens players are there, I'm not additionally interested in the World Championship. Only so many hours in the day and there's other stuff I should be doing.