This is a travel day for us. We arrive in Erzurum in the mid-morning, and are greeted by Ozgur, who apparently has an apartment for us. It is in a run-down building, but it is relatively central. The apartment itself is clean and well kept. It belongs to an old man - and it has the smell of an old person's apartment. The odour is vaguely familiar - and then it comes to me. It smells like our house - yikes!!
Mrs. Ironside notices there is no toilet or shower. Shades of China from 2 years ago, but we don't really have many options as there is simply no accomodation in Erzurum. We settle on a price, and start unpacking.
Canada plays Finland to-day, and we get instructions on what bus to take to the arena. We then promptly get on the wrong bus (Mrs. Ironside's fault).
What occurs next defies belief, but is completely true. To put this in context, we have yet to meet anyone who speaks English any better than I speak Turkish.
It is clear from our dress, and our features, that we are not locals. I hand the bus driver a note as to our destination as we drive off. He spends an inordinate amount of time reading the note, and not watching the road. We are lucky it is a 4 lane road - because he is using all of it. He vigourously shakes his head no - and it is clear his bus is not going anywhere near the Buz Hokeyi Salonundan (Ice Hockey Arena - for those of you with limited Turkish).
The driver can see we are puzzled and uncertain. He then hollers something in Turkish to the passengers, does a U-Turn in the middle of the 4 lane road, drives like Villi from Istanbul (maybe they are brothers!) for 15 minutes, and takes us right to the end of the long lane to the hockey arena!! Everyone claps as we exit. It might be because the Turks are happy to be rid of us, but I am going to bed thinkng this is both a warm Turkish welcome to a couple of lost Canucks, and an acknowledgment to the driver for taking an unusual step of abandoning his assigned route to assist us!
We are, of course, at the Men's Hockey Rink! Ths Women's Rink is more than a kilometer away on the other side of the Men's rink, and the policemen won't let us past because we don't have Men's tickets. None of the officers speak English, and after much gesturing, they realize our dilemma. Two police officers and their car is assigned to drive us the rest of the way!! What an introduction to this City!!
We arrive just in time.
If you can imagine, those Finnish girls came to win. This fast skating and skilled team held the game scoreless in the first, and came out in the 2nd snapping one home to go up 1 - 0. The Finns held onto their lead until the 3rd period, when Alicia Martin roared up the right side and saucered a back hand pass to Marieve Provost. Provost made no mistake and the game was knotted at 1 each with only 1:29 left in the 3rd.
A five minute 4 on 4 OT solved nothing. The solution, however, was found in Canada's 6th shooter in the Shoot-Out as Ellie Seedhouse made sure Canada started the Tourney undefeated. The parents and supporters who attend see their daughters for the first time since we all left Canada. It is a great reunion - but short, as the players and most parents are off to the Opening Ceremonies.
We thought our day was full until we arrived at the Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies. It seemed to just be starting!
Over 3,200 athletes from 57 countries enter to thunderous applause. The Turks then put on an amazing light and sound show complete wth unbelievable dancing (including the Turkish Whirlng Dervishes) horses and a fireworks display that went on for at least 45 minutes. It was, in a word, Incredible!!
We start walking home with families Seedhouse and Styles, and part company along the route as we are staying in a different area of the City. On our own in a strange city after midnight, I break down and do the unmanly thing of asking directions. We see 2 fellows sitting at the side of the road. I realize I don't know our address (Mrs. Ironside was supposed to get it!), but I recall we are near the Carefourre, a big store in the nearby mall. They each give conflicting directions to us. Ultimately, one opens his jacket to show his badge and gun. I presume they are undercover police, and they offer to drive us home - and we accept. Two rides in police cruisers in one day is not a common occurence for us, but we are grateful.
We collapse in bed, looking forward to a meeting with Slovakia tomorrow.
* Buz Hokeyi is Ice Hockey in Turkish. It is pronounced 'Booze Hawk ay', but is quite different from the Booze Hockey that Stu Seedhouse^^ used to play!
^^ Stu Seedhouse is the father of the incredibly talented UWO player, Ellie Seedhouse. We used to be friends.