2013 European Tour Photo Gallery
Check out the team's video of site-seeing in Vienna, Austria
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 10, 2013: Hello from Slovenia!
Today, we played the Croatian National Team in Maribor, Slovenia and tied 2-2. The first game started off a little rocky, but maybe it was just nerves that got us at first. The second set, we gained a bit of confidence and proceeded to win into the fourth set. Unfortunately, we didn't win the fourth set, which definitely lit a fire under us to play them tomorrow. I feel we have the confidence to play better tomorrow in our next match against them because we know that we're capable.
After the match, we took quick showers and headed to dinner where we had a buffet of meats, salad, fries, and other native Slovenian foods. It was delicious! In order to get to dinner, we had to ride a gondola up and down this huge mountain-although it was a great view, I was pretty horrified, but definitely enjoyed the new experience after looking back at it all. Following dinner, we went on a little adventure to explore what was on top of the mountain. We came in contact with a spa and a creepy old-school church that looked like it hadn't been touched in years.
After all of the food, games, and exploring, we all headed back down the mountain via gondola (I wasn't as scared this time because it was dark) and went to the Draś Hotel to get gelato-that was pure happiness. Now, it's time to head to bed and get ready for all the activities to come tomorrow.
Our first morning in Slovenia was a really exciting one! We started off with a team breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, then we had a practice--working on some serving and passing. After practice we all headed back to our apartments and got changed and headed up the mountain for a team challenge on a rope course. We all arrived at the bottom of the ski lift and got on the lift to go up the mountain to the course. The view from the lift and on top of the mountain overlooking Maribor was incredible! You could see all the city and the rest of the Pohorje mountain range from the top. Then the first thing we did was get in our harnesses and ready to go on the ropes! One thing we did was climb to the top of this telephone(?) pole one at a time--it was really high!!
Then we had to stand on top of the pole and turn around and jump and our teammates would catch us (by pulling ropes on our harnesses). It was really scary and cool at the same time. Another thing we did was a giant swing thing (kind of) off the side of the mountain! It was scary, because we swung out over the trees. Which, interesting fact, Slovenia is home to over 400 brown bears...luckily we didn't see any in the forest. We had a nice lunch on the mountain then we got to take the alpine slide down. The alpine slide was like a one-man roller coaster down the side of the mountain. It was so much fun, you could get up to 25MPH!. After that we had a little time to ourselves to catch up on some sleep before the match. This trip has been amazing so far. We have got to see and do so many terrific things here. I want to thank all of you boosters for making this happen. This is a trip I will always remember fondly.
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 9, 2013: Hello to All!
I hope everyone is well back in the states. We're continuing on our great Europe adventure today as we arrived in Maribor. It is beautiful here, but slightly in the middle of nowhere. There is a training center right next to what appears to be a ski resort. There are beautiful mountains all around us and the sunset was breathtaking. When we arrived today we got off the bus, and we went straight into practice. The facilities are new and in great condition. We're happy to be in a beautiful place that has free wifi so we can talk to everyone back in the states. Hi mom and dad!
Earlier today we had a chance to sightsee around Vienna. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. The city is set up in a loop-shape which makes it easy to navigate. Yesterday some of us walked around and saw the cathedrals, parliament, and castles. There were gorgeous parks with statues, fountains, flowers, and lush greens. This morning a group of us went to Schonbrunn Palace. This is where the emperor and his family would go to vacation. We felt very accomplished as we navigated the subway system and found our way there. The palace was gigantic with acres of land which included a zoo. Some of us took a grand tour of the palace which allowed us to tour the entire first floor. The chandeliers alone were works of art. Included in the tour was a hand-held audio-guide so we could get the inside scoop on what happened in each room. My personal favorite was the ballroom where Mozart performed when he was six years old for a large group of people. It was a true brush with fame. Other people took carriage rides around the grounds which had perfectly-manicured trees and bushes. It was truly so magnificent.
Tomorrow we have a full day planned! We are going to do a ropes course, and then an alpine slide down the steep mountain. I can say that's something I've never done before. Then in the afternoon we will play a match versus the Croatian National Team.
I want to make sure all the boosters know how grateful we are for being able to take this trip. It's definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to travel with so many of your good friends. We are so lucky to have all of your support. I will cherish this trip forever. I look forward to seeing everyone and sharing more stories once we get back to the states. Ciao!
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 8, 2013: On To Vienna!
After a great time in Prague, it was finally time to start making our way to Vienna. A 9 AM we packed up the bus and began our four hour bus ride. As for the people who enjoy scenery, this is was beautiful ride down the coast of the Czech border and a fantastic photo opportunity. We saw everything from beautiful fields to architecture that is nothing but a fantasy in the states. And as for everyone else...the ride was the perfect nap time. About three hours into the trip we made a 20 minute pit stop. Turned out we stopped at a gift shop with cool European candy and souvenirs. I bought a Milka Chocolate Bar, a popular brand in Europe. After two more hours we finally made it to our destination, beautiful Vienna, Austria.
After checking into our rooms at the Marriott we had the opportunity to tour the city just about all day. It was great to see the different styles of architecture and the awesomeness of a new European city. Most of us walked out to the Parliament building and the historical castles that line the outskirts of the main ring. We took pictures then continued our journey to a park in the center of town.
After that a few of the girls and I stopped at a cute little Austrian restaurant for lunch. It consisted of a typical meal with potatoes and some variation of meat. Although the language barrier was tough, it was nice to completely immerse ourselves in the culture. All in all, I consider Vienna a success. A new city always brings great opportunities to experience a new way if life.
Until next time,
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 7, 2013: Hello from Prague!
Hallo from Prague!!
What an incredible experience! First of all, I just want to thank all of our boosters for your outstanding generosity in making this trip possible. We know none of us would be experiencing such a one-of-a-lifetime trip without you, and from the entire team we can't thank you enough! While we wish we could spend the trip with all of you, we hope our blogs and pictures will at least give you a taste of our travels. We miss you all!
This morning we started with another nice breakfast at the hotel, complete with about 17 different types of bread and pastries, Nutella, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, and caprese salad (mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil)--which was a little bit of a mix-up for most of us. Our whole group then headed to the Charles Bridge, which is a very famous landmark for the Czech Republic, and connects the "Old Town" to the "New Town" of Prague. The view and the bridge itself were absolutely beautiful. Thankfully we were there early enough in the day that it wasn't too crowded, and we could meander about and check out all the statues as we pleased. Once we crossed the bridge, our tour guide took us to see the Old Town Square. There was a really neat Astronomical Clock there, which depicts the "Walk of the Apostles." We were told it is a very popular pickpocketing site, since at every hour all the tourists are focused on the moving figurines instead of their purses and wallets. Thankfully we made it without any incident!
We had a couple hours on our own after our tour of Old Town Square--some of us went shopping in the little shops, and some found other cool sites to see and take model-esque pictures in front of. :) I have to say I think my favorite part of the city was the cobblestone streets and roads everywhere. But we couldn't decide how in the world they could possibly plow for snow!
Later in the afternoon the team took the tram to the gym to warm up for our second match against the Praha Seniors. We traded games the whole match but ended up losing 15-13 in the 5th. It definitely wasn't the way we wanted to start the trip but it showed that we can't take the level of play here any less serious than the Big 10, and we all need to step it up for our next matches.
After the match we all headed to the same restaurant from the first night for a traditional Czech meal. It started with a beef and potato stew, which was delicious and quite the crowd-pleaser. The main course was a really common Czech dish--goulash with dumplings. After we were all stuffed to the max, the dessert was three mini pancake-type cakes with a blueberry sauce. Carp informed us that blueberry pancakes are her favorite so needless to say she was in Heaven, and we all left with purple tongues.
Overall, another awesome day on an amazing trip. Again, thank you to all the boosters for your incredible support in making this all possible!
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 6, 2013
Known as the "City of a Thousand Spires" Prague has seen it all. Centuries of kings, classical composers, invading Nazis and Soviet tanks and now the Penn State women's volleyball team have all passed over Prague's cobblestones.
So on our stay, we saw the many Baroque churches, the royal palace, flagstone courtyards all in which lay within Prague's castle. In fact, this castle is the largest castle area in the world composing of 18 acres. All of the architecture and artwork is incredible and covered in detail. However nothing was quite like viewing Prague's romantic skyline, and view from on top of the hill (where the Castle sits) to the city below.
Of course, important to talk about is the food. It scarcely matters which place you select expect menus with staples of tender, seasoned pork, mildly sweet cabbage and soft dumplings to soak up the rich sauce. Desert favorites include crepes or dumplings filled with fruit.
As for the fun facts:
Did you know...
That Prague is known for being having some of the biggest Beer drinkers? - Czech's drink more beer per capita than other country in the world and each head will sink about 43 gallons a year- dang!
During the Middle Ages turning minerals into gold was a hugely popular fashion among the elite. - The mark of ones status was magician- oooo ahhhh!!
Writers and academics have claimed to have felt strange and disturbing tremors coming from under the ground. - Dark alleys and desolate squares have been known to produce many eerie sounds.... Can you say ghosts??
And the first ever sugar cubes were made in 1841- yumm!
On behalf of the team, we would like to thank you boosters for sending us on the trip of a lifetime. We promise to work harder on the court to represent Penn State well and make you all proud.
Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 5, 2013
Today was our first traveling day. The day started in an uproar as we scrambled around the locker room at 10 in the morning. Just about all of us had over-packed and were struggling to get our bags under 50 pounds. Despite the hectic start we were all extremely excited. By 11, we were settled on the bus accompanied by boosters headed to Philly. The 3-hour ride was very chill. We spent the time snacking, napping, jamming to music and talking about our hopes for Europe.
In Philly we headed to the gate boarding for Atlanta. As soon as we checked in we rushed to the food court. We ate giant ice cream cones but could only think about how much better the gelato in Europe was going to taste. We were loaded with no problem and within 2 hours the girls and I were in the Peach State. After waiting about an hour, we were boarding our flight to Amsterdam, making our trip officially international.
The plane was huge with three giant compartments and six stewardesses all dressed in bright blue. Each of their accents stuck out as they said hello to us as we boarded. All different types of languages were being spoken on the plane. Even the announcements came on in four different tongues. When we took off it was rainy and the skies were rough so the ride was bumpy. But even Lacey, who is not fond of flying, still made it through.
Eight hours and two airplane meals later the group was getting their passports stamped. I was amazed by the size of the airport, AMS being one of the biggest hubs in all of Europe. There were all kinds of shops, from Gucci to cigar shops. Because of a previous delay we didn't have much time to explore before starting the final leg of our trip.
As the crew got on our final plane to Prague we were all pooped. Flying above the countryside was breathtaking. The view of rolling hills and clusters of small towns was almost like flying over Happy Valley. The small jet got us to the Czech in two hours flat.
Even though the time spent getting to Prague was just the beginning of the trip it was also a time of bonding and memory making.