May 23, 2013, 11:35 PM EDT
Well I’ve reached that point that happens on all great trips … I don’t have a clue what day of the week it is. Thought it was Tuesday for most of the day yesterday only to be told later that it was Wednesday. Huh? I have never quite understood how this can happen. Has to be one of the great mysteries of the universe.
The only real answer is that Europe is some magical place where the days fall away to one awesome period of time that I never want to end. Only took me 3-4 days depending on what day of the week it is to realize that my travel bug is in full affect right now. I’m eating this trip up – the travel, the small beds, the strange but delicious meals, the banks that look like small palaces here but are just banks in the U.S., and before I get yelled at by the team … the company.
As I type this we are officially in Slovenia having just passed into the country only a minute ago. I’m not sure what to expect out of Slovenia after a spectacular couple of days in the Czech Republic, but if the beautiful rolling green hills that are on both sides of the road are any indication, it will be one heck of a journey as we weave our way through Eastern Europe. I mean seriously. We stopped at two gas stations and I took pictures of the countryside at both. In America my main concern at gas stations is which part of my body can I use to open the bathroom door to prevent my newly washed hands from having to touch my only exit out of what Europeans would call the WC (not sure if its wash closet or water closet).
How we got to Slovenia requires me to back up a day though. Our second (I think) full day in Prague offered a ton of free time for us to become fully enveloped into the city and its cultures.
Half the group was able to take a Segway tour around the city, which provided many hilarious stories, but the main one that had me rolling were the stories of people falling off the Segway. Despite the Segway maker’s best intentions, it’s still very possible to fall off the odd motorized device … although it does sound very much like it was user error as opposed to vehicle error … but I digress.
The other half of the group was able to walk around the city and gather any last-minute gifts.
As a group we started the day at the John Lennon Wall, which was first graffitied in the 1980’s as people began to protest the Communist regime. The wall is filled with messages of peace and love (and probably lyrics of my favorite Lennon song – Imagine) along with your random college initials or logos.
That night the Irish played the Czech Republic Senior National Team just a day after beating the junior national team in four, 3-1. The older squad offered quite a test to Notre Dame, but the Irish played much better than the previous night to claim a thrilling 3-2 win over the talented squad. The Irish trailed several times throughout the match, including a 2-1 hole, but fought back in the fifth set to take the win. Leading the way for Notre Dame was rising junior Toni Alugbue, who powered home 19 kills and hit .310, and also added 14 digs. Sammie Brown had an impressive day with 14 kills (.367 hit percentage) and 17 digs, while Jeni Houser had 10 kills in limited action. Rising senior Andie Olsen had nine kills and only one error to hit .571. Libero Andrea McHugh led the squad with 20 digs.
Notre Dame is now 2-0 on the foreign trip with two matches with the Slovenian National team scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The opponent will offer another tough challenge as the squad is ranked in the top 50 in the world and boast the AVCA National Freshman of the Year in Ziva Recek, who is from Kocevje, Slovenia and plays college volleyball at Florida.
Following the match the Irish ate another huge and delicious dinner, this time with the senior national team joining them to break bread.
The meal wrapped up our incredible time in Prague. Thursday saw us step foot in three countries in a 12-hour period of time. We started the day by busing 4:30 hours to Vienna, Austria. Despite only getting to spend a little bit of time there, the city offered a beautiful Cathedral a Habsburg Dynasty summer home that was very clearly a castle to me … and plenty of shopping. I’ll let rising senior Nicole Smith share more about Vienna tomorrow.
The final leg of our journey to Maribor took about 3:30. I chose to sleep almost the entire way only to be awakened to the obviously important question of “How big is a hedgehog” by Meg Vonderhaar. I pictured my buddy Sonic from the Sega days, so I guessed he would be a formidable foe … I guess I was wrong as I was met with a lot of laughter. Not buying it I looked up the hedgehog. I was wrong …
Anyways, the trip to Maribor was remarkable with the view and it only got better as we are staying at a ski lodge at the base of a mountain. Balconies and views after balconies and views. I think we’ll be able to rough it for a couple of days before we get back into big city mode.
Time for bed though … busy day tomorrow, as we have to master a ropes course before the first match against the Slovenian National Team. Until then …
Adijo! (Which means so long in Slovenian – pronounced ah-DYOH)
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