Those second two years overseas, life in Villach, Austria, was an intimate slice of Frommer's travel-guide, fairy-tale heaven.
"We lived in a little red cottage," Derek Ryan is recalling, not a trifle wistfully, of the seasons spent wearing the eagle of EC VSV in the Erste Bank Hockey League with his wife Bonnie. "Not kidding. An actual little red cottage. Brand new but so European.
"We have all those fake kinda German cities in Washington (state). But this was the real deal.
"No kids yet, just a dog. Twenty minutes from Italy. 'Hey, honey, want to go Italy today for a pizza lunch?'
"Half an hour from Slovenia, an absolute hidden gem. Beautiful.
"We're learning German. Diving into the culture. Travelling. You just don't have those kinds of experiences with your wife early in many marriages.
"We cherish those memories."