Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 9!

Greetings from Venice!

Here we are on our final day in has been quite a trip!  It feels like all of the days have gone by so fast.  We awoke this morning in Rovinj, Croatia, and had a beautiful seaside breakfast before departing to Venice.  Once again, the "2.5 hour" bus trip turned into a 4 hour adventure.  The girls slept for the majority of the trip, while we (Kim and Jodi) plotted our preseason training regimen in the front of the bus.

Side note:  Jason Wudi won the over-under on the number of new dresses and footwear that the girls would wear this morning.  If previous blogs haven't indicated, the weather here has been a bit cooler than what we expected.  So, at the first hint of sunshine and warm weather yesterday, most of the girls wore dresses and sandals while Kelly and Lo sported coordinating gelato-inspired shorts.  Again this morning, the sun was shining, which resulted in more dresses being pulled from the bottoms of travel bags.

We were greeted in Venice by a steady rain, which resulted in yet another wardrobe change.  This time, the sensible side of our girls won out over fashion, as most ventured out in jeans and jackets with umbrellas drawn.  Except Tommy, who dressed to impress the Italian ladies in khaki shorts and a classy v-neck T.

The rain deterred none of the girls (and Steven and Tommy) from spending their remaining Euros on anything from gelato to Italian apparel to vino...Jodi and I can't wait to send our kids on European vacations so they will bring us the sweet gifts many of you will soon receive!  We snapped some quick pictures of Saint Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, and lots and lots of random bridges over canals or narrow streets lined with beautiful old buildings.  Some of the girls were offered beautiful red roses from Italian men, which they readily accepted...not realizing they needed to pay for them.  Imagine Heni's surprise when they blamed her for not warning them that men might be peddling flowers and not just randomly giving them away to be nice.

A dinner of lasagna and tiramisu, followed by some last-minute purchases was the perfect end to our Venetian adventure.  Our journey on a crowded public bus would not have been complete without a bus-surfing competition between Kelly S, Lo, Tommy and Jason, with Steven as judge. Kim won*. Actually, it was incredibly entertaining to watch these very athletic people attempt to keep their feet in the same position and not touch any other object or person while standing on the "hinge" of the moving bus.

As we write this at 2:15 a.m., almost all of us are attempting to stay awake all night in order to better adjust back to the Central Time Zone since we need to be on the shuttle to the airport at 4:45.  Jodi and Kim are accomplishing this through writing this blog, drinking some Coca-Cola Lights and telling ourselves we are funnier than we are.  The young ones are playing dice, surfing their 2-euro internet, eating snacks, and drinking shots of espresso.

We could not have asked for a better 10 days than those we have just experienced - with a fun tour guide and a great group of college students who not only represented themselves well on and off the court, but who made us proud to be their coaches once again.  Thanks to all of you for an amazing trip!

Work hard this summer, and we'll see you on August 16!

Kim & Jodi

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

(The Real) Day 8!

May 29, 2013

Rovinj, Croatia

Joseph Thomas Moriarty and Steven Robert Wert Jr. reporting to you live from Rovinj, Croatia. Today was another day filled with site seeing, shopping and, of course, volleyball. We started the morning in our hotel restaurant with what most agreed was the best breakfast of the trip. That combined with the best weather day of the trip made for a wonderful time in Croatia. During breakfast, Cheyanne was given a challenge of being silent for 2 and a half hours starting about halfway through breakfast. Surprisingly, she made it an ENTIRE 46 minutes! However, this was quite a bit short of her goal. In the end, we learned that breakfast is not the same without Chey talking or laughing (mostly at us). Following breakfast, we piled into the vans to head to a popular tourist destination, Pula. The road to and from our hotel is extremely bumpy, however, our drivers don’t seem to notice and continue to drive just as fast as they do elsewhere (which is very, VERY fast). The effect, which is magnified if you’re lucky enough to sit in the back seat, feels as though we are driving over moguls and is amplified even more so if you are in Loco Luca’s van. Upon arriving in Pula, we went to see a mini Coliseum, one of seven amphitheaters built by the Romans, where they used to host gladiator battles where prisoners of war used to fight to win their freedom. Following our visit to the Coliseum, we went to downtown Pula to shop for souvenirs and of course make the much needed trip to the large candy shop (even though many of the girls didn’t need anymore sugar).

After Pula, we drove back to the hotel, where we enjoyed another 5 course lunch complete with soup, rice with a tomato sauce, salad, choice of fried chicken or grilled fish (including ALL of the bones) and, of course, dessert. With our tummies full, we piled back into our speed racers to head to downtown Rovinj. At this point, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to our NASCAR drivers because we are no longer in need of their services. We were all sad to say goodbye, but ready to head into the town! Because this was our last day in Croatia, there was a mad scramble to spend all of our Kuna (Croatian currency). Most of it was spent on either souvenirs, or gelato. Some people decided to get gelato twice since they didn’t know where else to spend it, coughJennacough. After spending roughly two hours downtown, we walked to the gym where we played our last match of our European tour against the Croatian Youth National team. We started off a little rough and ended up down 0-2, however, we were able to pull it together and come out with a 25-23 victory in the deciding 5th set!! After the match, we went back to the hotel with the Croatian Youth team (sadly, we did not have Curtie driving us) and then ate a buffet style dinner with the team. Dinner conversations included guessing everyone’s middle names and trying to convert some of the Croatian girls’ heights from centimeters to feet and inches (unsuccessfully).

Tomorrow morning we will be heading to Venice for our last full day in Europe. Everyone is excited for Venice but sad the trip is coming to a close. Until next time!

Steve and Tommy

Day 8!

May 29, 2013

Rovinj, Croatia

Joseph Thomas Moriarty and Steven Robert Wert Jr. reporting to you live from Croatia:

First we woke up and went to breakfast. After that we went to Pula to shop for stuff. After that we had a lunch at the hotel. After that we went to downtown Rovinj to buy more stuff. After that we walked to the gym. After that we watched the girls play volleyball. We won. After that we went and ate buffet dinner. Now it’s time to close our little eyes for sleep and go to Venice in the morning. Then America.

Steve and Tommy

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 7!


It’s Jenna the birthday girl and Chey reporting from Eastern Europe!

After we had breakfast in Bled this morning, we packed our bags and headed through the mountains to Rovinj, Croatia. Along with Heni leading us around Eastern Europe we’ve had some colorful characters tagging along. Let us introduce you to our local tour guides: Loco Luca, Janis (Greek Johnny), and Baldy. Unfortunately for us, Loco Luca has been the self-declared leader of our travels. Today he swerved his way through the hills and unbelievably high bridges of Slovenia and into Croatia. Many girls were trying to capture the breath-taking views out the van window…and against Jason Wudi’s rules there were about 13 cameras going off to make sure we got the perfect picture.

Upon arriving in Rovinj we were treated to a 7 course lunch which didn’t leave any stomachs empty. The feast included: mushroom soup, salad, pasta, fish or chicken with potatoes, and a delicious Croatian desert. Unfortunately many of us girls were left with food babies and the beach was calling our name. We all quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed down the pools and the Adriatic Sea.

For some of the girls, it was there first time dipping their toes in a large body of salt water! Of course we made Tommy and Steven our personal photographers as we jumped and ran through the water. We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather, sunny skies and low 70’s, for our beach day. We only had a short time at the beach until we had to trade our swimsuits for our kneepads and spandex.

We played the Youth National Croatian team and went 4-1. We played really well and were able to put some different plays together and move our offense around quite a bit.

Before we knew it, it was time to eat again! We had a buffet style dinner at our hotel and finished off the night with a birthday celebration! Heni bought a yummy cake and filled it with 20 candles for the birthday girl!

That’s all for tonight! We’re off to bed so we can be ready for our early morning of sightseeing!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 6!

Hello everyone! This is Jamie and Jenn on our 6th day of the trip. The day started out by waking up in beautiful Bled, and we ate a buffet breakfast of eggs boiled in butter as well as multiple kinds of coffee that was enjoyed by many of the girls! After finishing breakfast we set out in the vans to Vintgar Park which had the clearest water that any of us have seen. We walked about half an hour to our destination on wooden bridges that weaved over the water, until we got to the breathtaking waterfall. After multiple pictures were taken of the nature (although a lot of the pictures taken were selfies) we made our way back to the vans and went to collect our volleyball gear from the hotel and went to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, for the remainder of the day. In Ljubljana we were able to do some shopping, the favorite kind of shop for the day was the multiple chocolate shops that were filled with any type of chocolate that we wanted. Even though we couldn’t understand exactly what they were, the look of them alone was enough to catch the attention of everyone! One thing that was noticed by us all were the looks from the locals that they gave us because we were some of the only people walking around wearing shorts, as well as we were all wearing our “I’m a Blugold” t-shirts today. Following shopping we were able to play our match in a bubble shaped dome! Today we got to play against one of the top clubs in Slovenia called Vital, first we played the youth club team, followed by the first club team. We came out victorious in ALL of our games today! No one wanted to stop playing when they offered to us that we could play a fifth game even if it was only for ten minutes. One difference with playing in Europe is the different rules as well as the volleyballs that we play with, we have been able to play with the Mikasa Olympic volleyball! I think we speak for everyone that it has been neat to get to play with the different ball! Heni our tour guide was so pleased with our play that she awarded each of us with a chocolate treat common here called a Kinder surprise that has a toy in the middle of a chocolate shell! After a successful night of volleyball, we drove a short way to our delicious dinner, consisting of a refreshing salad with cucumbers, corn and tomatoes topped off with pumpkin vinaigrette. The main course was Filet Mignon topped with asparagus cooked in a mushroom sauce, alongside fried potatoes. For dessert was chocolate mousse with strawberries and whipped cream served in fancy martini glasses. Of course we could not get through a dinner without someone getting locked in a bathroom, although this time it was not Megan. Jenna had been gone for a while and some of the girls were joking about how she must be locked in the bathroom, little did we know that she actually was locked in, Anna and Lo saved the day by going to check on her, but unfortunately Jenna missed dessert! The dinner was just what we needed after a long day of walking around and playing volleyball! We are all going to sleep well tonight and be ready for another full day of sightseeing and playing volleyball seaside in Croatia! What more could we ask for? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 5!

Checkin’ in from Bled, Slovenia! This is Jenna and Anna reporting for duty for the daily blog. Today was a frightful, exciting, eye-googling, and slippery day! Let us tell you about it. J

It all started with breakfast. Scrumptious bread with jelly and hot chocolate were consumed by 13 hungry girls excited to begin another day in Europe. As we all were filing into the breakfast nook, Jenna’s backpack full of fun knee braces and neck pillows violently crashed into an innocent tea cup and shattered everywhere – that was just the start of an eventful (and frightful) morning! Soon after, the whole gang cozied up into 3 vans and Jenna and I were in the caboose van. Before taking off, we started to buckle up and the driver stated, “We’re in Europe, we don’t need those.” But minutes later we realized we really did need our seatbelts. As we were pulling out into the street (not to mention a VERY tight street) all of a sudden we heard a crash, a pop, a rumble and a “Sheet” (Sh*t). We looked out the window in fright and realized that we had just hit 2 vehicles and popped a tire so we needed a plan B pronto. Jason Wudi came to the rescue with an idea for the 13 girls plus Jodi and Kim to pack into 2 vans in order to get to the match on time. We were finally on our way to play some volleyball in Maribor, Slovenia.

When we reached Maribor, we ate a “light snack” at the hotel (which was also the sports complex where we competed) and prepared for our match! We played a local club team from Maribor and finished 3-1. After losing the first set, we redeemed ourselves with the next 3 sets and played awesome! They were very close and nail-biting sets. Upon completing the match, we ate a “late lunch” also at the hotel. After lunch our tour guide Henny surprised us by taking us to a nearby mountain where we got to go down an alpine slide/”Funbob.”  Some girls held firm onto the brake while others went down in full force. As we flew down the hillside we were able to view the beautiful city and mountains surrounding it.

We headed back to the sports complex and boom – we got to watch the defending National Champions. The Texas Longhorn volleyball team is also traveling in Europe and happened to be competing against the National Slovenia volleyball team at the same complex we played at. It was super exciting to sit courtside and watch girls our age play at such a high level of volleyball. We had only watched them play on TV and now they were 5 feet away from all of us, making us feel pretty short. After watching 2 sets of the match we departed Maribor and headed for Bled.

Upon arriving in Bled, we gawked at snow covered mountain tops. We unloaded our bags at the hotel and ate a late supper and went for a stroll to see a pretty lake surrounded by mountains where we were able to see the castle lit up.

Tomorrow we will be getting our exercise on hiking through the mountains, soakin’ up nature, and going to play another match of volleyball! Until then my friends and family back home, Jenna and Anna are off to bed. PEACE AND BLESSINGS.

Day 4!

Guten tag! This is Kelly R and Steph reporting our adventures in Vienna! We had a quick stay in Vienna (less than 24 hours), which turned out to be very exciting but exhausting at the same time. So the day began as we left Hotel Roma at 8 am (still half asleep), crammed into a bus/van and hit the road for a 4 hour drive through the Czech Republic. We stopped right before crossing the boarder to spend the remainder of our Krohns on mostly traditional candy/ice cream, which was a nice treat! Once we got into Vienna, we went straight to our hotel and got a few minutes to get ready and discover the fact that we would have no Wi-Fi at this hotel (which is why there was no blog yesterday and no contact from any of us L…we bet you missed us). Next we walked to a main street to get lunch at the restaurant of our choice. Some chose the Doner Sandwich, a traditional Viennese sandwich, and others played it safe and got some very good pizza. Then, we traveled through the city to the beautiful Schonbrunn Palace. We walked through the perfectly groomed gardens, took pictures by the huge fountain, and some of us even walked to the top of a hill to get pictures overlooking the city. It turned out to be a hike, and it could definitely give the hill in EC a run for its money! After exploring outside the palace, we got to take a guided tour through the extravagant rooms of the royal family’s home. The palace was preserved with furniture and paintings that were original and it was amazing to see the lifestyle that royal families had. It was even more incredible since this was only their summer home! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but we decided a camera wouldn’t do the palace justice anyways.

Then, we took an underground tram to more downtown Vienna. Since we were here for a short visit, we got a speed tour around the city to see the museums and generally where things were. It was cool to run into a Gala Event where it seemed like famous people were arriving dressed in extravagant gowns. Next we walked through the shopping district, where parents should be glad we didn’t go in any of the stores there! They were all couture such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many other bank account draining stores. We made it to St. Steven’s Square that consisted of many small vendors, shops and giant cathedral. We were lucky enough to go inside during a real service and walk around and take pictures. The stain glass windows and detailed artwork were breathtaking!

After our time together, we got time to explore Vienna on our own. Many of us made a mad dash to a café to get some coffee, since the time change was starting to catch up with us. We got to do some shopping in the less expensive stores and stroll around the city for a few hours. Our last stop of the day was at a modern restaurant, which served pizza, pasta, and salad that was made before your eyes! To cap off the day, our tour guide bought us gelato, which we ate on the way back to the hotel. Even though our stay was short, we are all grateful that we were able to stop in Vienna and experience the Austrian culture and explore the city!