Guten tag from Austria! Lenny, Jason and I successfully navigated two flights and a three-hour bus ride from Munich to Linz to our hotel in the center of the city. With expert advice from the many seasoned travelers at Craftsbury, we managed to stay up the whole first day after the flight and are now well on our way to adjusting to the six-hour time change. After arriving at the hotel on Saturday afternoon, we decided to walk around the city a bit to stretch our legs and get our bearings. Linz is a beautiful city on the Danube River, with streets winding around old residential buildings, shops, and churches. A bit of wandering brought us to a main pedestrian street filled with people, stores, and food carts. We stopped to watch a brass band perform “Tequila Song” (the Austrians didn’t seem to know about the part when you shout “tequila!”) and continued on past crowds of Austrians getting ready to party on a summer Saturday night—there are definitely no open container laws here! The European holiday season appears to be in full swing here—everyone walks around with a swimsuit under regular clothes.
But of course we had work to do! After sleeping in on Sunday, the three of us set off for the course on the 20-minute shuttle bus ride with several other members of the US team. The bus route takes us down the Danube into a smaller town with tiny streets (we have to take the corners pretty slowly to squeeze through) into a large park where the course is located. The course is beautiful—it’s very protected by the shore and trees, and is pretty much exactly 2000 meters long with no room on either end of the start or finish. We found our boat racks labeled “US America 1x,” conveniently located right by the dock. Our first task was to get Lenny’s boat from the Filippi tent. While Jason sorted out the details of the rental, Lenny and I sat with a large Italian man who spoke no English, but gave us cookies and coffee—we were making friends already! Next we met up with the Concept2 guys and picked up our oars. After spending a good amount of time rigging Lenny’s boat, Lenny went off for a row while I waited for my turn—my boat wouldn’t arrive until Monday, so I was going to get to share Lenny’s boat for a day. When my turn came, it took me a while to get used to his boat (it was way too big for me), but eventually I got it up and running and realized that I was completely alone on the course! I remembered how insanely busy practices were last year, and realized what a lucky moment I was experiencing to be on the course by myself. I was able to take in the beautiful view heading up to the start line of the green rolling hills with trees and churches and houses off in the distance. I was able to breathe and take it all in, and realize that I had finally made it! We were at the U23 World Championships! I hope I can carry that calm excitement through the rest of what will be an incredible week. Stay tuned for more of our adventures!