Day 8 – Barclona – Paris – Home Sweet Home

Breakfast at the hotel, then on the bus at 9:30 to head to Barcelona. We did a quick drive-by of the Olympic Stadium and site of the 1992 Summer Olympics. We then went to Montjuic, a hill that overlooks the harbor and the center of the city . Chance for one last group photo.

We took some panoramic shots and took the bus downtown to and were dropped off at Placa de Catalunya. This is a large plaza surrounded by monumental buildings, it is Barcelona’s busiest square. It is also the start of the Ramblas a 1.2 kilometer pedestrian mall.

We walked the length of this checking out the various shops, street performers, and a large local market. The market had many interesting items for sale including fresh meat that you would not see at a backyard barbecue in Moville. The Ramblas ends at a statue of Christopher Columbus at the Port of Barcelona. The port has many boats varying from small sailboats to large cruise ships.

We were picked up by the bus and whisked away to the airport. All that we had to do was check-in, proceed through customs, hop on our plane and start our journey home. Well it didn’t go quite that smoothly as Air France in their infinite wisdom had decided to give away four of our seats. I will spare you the gory details but to summarize there were tears, calls to U.S., a near choking of an Air France worker, sprints through the airport and finally all of us on the plane with a round of applause as our last beleaguered comrade made it on to the plane. We were off to Paris. A change of planes in Paris and a little more sprinting by some and once again most of us we were all on the same plane headed to Montreal. We left four of our colleagues behind in Paris to tour around for a few days. Long flight to Montreal, through customs and on to our bus arriving at Vermont border at midnight, an hour behind schedule. The customs agents had us all come inside and show passports. The group of zombies that walked in there looked nothing like the group of girls we had on the dance floor a few nights before. After several long flights and being awake for nearly 24 hours we were not the best looking bunch of travelers. One more bus ride to Moville and we were Home Sweet Home.

 It was a great trip, we saw a lot of sights, had many laughs and the girls played great in their games. We had left Morrisville eight days before with 38 and returned home with 33. That’s better than 85% !!

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Day 7 – Tossa Del Mar

We have tried planes, trains and automobiles on this trip, so it was time to stay off the bus today and journey by sea. We boarded a boat on our beach and headed up the coast of Spain. We travelled to Tossa Del Mar. Tossa is a an old town, there is evidence of settlements here from the Neolithic (look it up) period. We had a great one hour ride up the coast stopping at a few other towns along the way. The boat pulled into a few coves as this boat had several glass bottom viewing areas.  Arrived at Tossa at 12:00 and climbed the hillside to the fort that overlooks the beach area. We walked past the remnants of a church that was constructed almost a 1000 years ago.

We then descended to a small beach, set up home base then swam out to an area that we could hop into the water from.  The majority of the girls had the courage to make the hop into the water. No one chickened out once we reached the hopping point.

All was going great and then …………….. Kaitlyn stepped on a sea urchin.

Time for a quick recap of sea urchins.  See below photo —v 

Let’s go to the web  and see what they say about sea urchins.

  • Sea urchins are found in all oceans, living on the seabed in both shallow and deep waters. Underneath their spines, the sea urchin has a hard, globe-shaped body made of plates called tests. The spines and legs protrude from this body. Not all sea urchins are venomous, but all have spines that can be dangerous. Divers and swimmers may step on sea urchins.This can cause the many spines to break off under the skin, leading to irritation and infection. Some sea urchins have venom in their spines.

Kaitlyn was in quite a bit of pain as she had about 10 of the spines stuck in her, Monica phoned the rescue folks to come to the beach . We still needed to get her to shore. After we commandeered a sea kayak from the beach, Darlene paddled Kaitlyn to shore and the EMT’s checked her out and took her (and Monica) away in an ambulance to the hospital to be attended to.

The rest of us had a better time in Tossa exploring the shops, patisseries, and soaking up more sun at the beach.

Then back on the boat to our trip back and to meet up with our fallen comrade. We were all relieved to see Kaitlyn on the beach when we arrived back at our beach. Dinner, some last minute shopping, packing and folks started slipping off to beddy-bye. No wild disco tonight as the full day in the sun had taken it’s toll on all.  We are touring the Ramblas in Barcelona tomorrow morning before flight home.

Stay tuned.

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Day 6 – Tourney games, Beach and Dancing

Alarm went off at 5:00 am, time for a small contingent (Garret, Monica, & Tom) to rise and shine, catch the 6:00 train to Barcelona. The plan was to get to the U.S. Consulate and replace a passport … apparently they frown on folks travelling internationally without one of those passport thingees. I had my license and Morrisville public library ID card but was told that was insufficient. We hoped to be back in time for 12:00 game. We were shocked to find a cloudy sky and then rain ?? We were all under the false impression that the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains…apparently not !! We arrived in Barcelona and it was pouring cats and dogs and I think I stepped in a poodle. We travelled in the rain on the train ride home thinking of our team that was out in the rain. We made it back after the game had started, arriving in the 2nd half of a scoreless Moville vs. Norway game. Norway got on the scoreboard with ten minutes left in game. The girls dug deep and came back to score a goal to tie it with four minutes to play. Regretfully Norway scored the go-ahead goal with about a minute to play.

The skies cleared for our next game at 2:00 against St. Viator from outside of Chicago, they were undefeated and the #1 team in our division. We played a tough first half but could not find the net, our defense was super tough as Michelle was not about to let anyone past her. We ended the half scoreless once again. At the start of the second half Katie F. converted a beautiful cross and knocked it in the net. The Vermont fans went wild. A few minutes later Courtney hammered a shot to the far side to extend our lead.  Once again the Green Mountain folks were whooping it up. Now with a two goal lead the parents were content to sit back and watch lots more soccer, they were on the top of world. St. Viator answered with a goal to narrow our lead. In a surprising twist, the Vermont crew had now seen enough soccer and were quite inquisitive about how much time was left. Our offense was not fished yet as Katie S. volleyed a shot past the St. V keeper. 3 – 1, all was well once again, we could watch soccer all day, keep playing. The girls from Illinois were not calling it quits as they took the ensuing kickoff down the middle and once again narrowed the lead to one goal.  Every Vermont fan had now seen enough soccer, how much time left? Anna had a great save on the near post and Micaela played super tough on an opposing forward to thwart a last minute threat. At last the final whistle was blown and the girls had beat the top team in our division. This was the conclusion to our tournament. The girls played super, regretfully they did not advance to the next round of the tournament. Our girls had a great showing in the tournament finishing 2-2-1. We beat the top team in our six team bracket and scored more goals than any other team in our division. We bid a fond adieu to the tournament site and headed for the beach.

Girls all had a great time soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves, and getting washed ashore. 7:00 dinner followed by the reopening of the Stella Maris disco. Great night of dancing, highlighted by Monica giving a demonstration of flamenco dancing.

Finally time to hit the hay and call it a night. We will see what adventure our awaits for us tomorrow.

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Day 5 – Two Games

Late start to the day for most as we did not have to leave for the field until 12:45. Most of the girls took full advantage of this as I only recall seeing about four at breakfast. It should be noted that breakfast was only served until 10:00. A few souls ventured to the beach for a refreshing dip before we headed to the games. We stocked up on water, lunches, towels and ice from the hotel and off to the fields.

First game was against Sweden. We started off slowly and gave up an early goal.  The girls then settled in and had some quality scoring chances. Then after a scramble inside the 18 yard box the ball scooted out to Micaela who knocked a shot into the far corner which had the Vermont fans hopping.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bigtcas#p/a/u/0/wdplzErFIEU

The Swedes countered with a goal to take a 2-1 lead. Continued pressure by the good ol’ USA but we could not get one past the keeper. I am going to be a good sport and not a whiny American so I am not going to mention the goal that we scored late in the game that the ref (who was halfway up the field) ruled had crossed the endline before it was crossed into the center. The game ended with a 2-1 loss for our girls. The girls had a one hour break before their next game so they rehydrated and chilled out as much as you can in the Spanish summer before the next game against a team from the Chicago area. Once again a slow start and an early goal was given up to our fellow Americans. We went into the half trailing 1-0. The girls applied pressure and had some great passing, their hard work and determination paid off with four minutes left in the game when the ball was advanced forward to Katie S. at the top of the 18 and she rocketed a shot that found the upper right corner of the net. The game ended USA 1 – USA 1 . We slowly made our way back to bus for trip to hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel we all watched the women’s World Cup game and saw Team USA defeat France. We dined when the game ended (8:30) and did a little shopping, hanging out, and swimming at the pool before calling it a day. Time to rest up for two more games tomorrow.

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Day 4 – Montserrat, Camp Nou, & Disco Fever !

Once again it was an early breakfast (7:30), which amazingly we had full attendance, quite a feat at that time of the morning. We were a well oiled machine and headed out to catch our team bus for the 8:30 departure. Everything was going great until we went to get on the bus and it wasn’t there…Doh !!! A call to the bus company from our trusty guide Monica and an hour later we had another bus there to take us on our way.  We were off to Monserrat, a mountaintop monastery about an hour away. An uneventful ride to the base of Monserrat, girls had a chance to study the inside of their eyelids. We started our ascent up the mountain road  and there was much gasping as the we made our way up the road that switchbacked up the mountain quite precariously. Only one person was truly frightened but fortunately their daughter was there to console her. We climbed and climbed and arrived at the monastery. Then took the funicular higher up the mountain. For those that are unfamiliar with the word funicular, here is Webster’s definition…

Funicular – a railway up the side of a mountain, consisting of two counterbalanced cars at either end of a cable passing round a driving wheel at the summit, this cable is usually made of lightweight wire and transports passengers that are scared out of their wits up ridiculously steep slopes while they cling to each other.

From the top of the funicular we descended down a path around the mountain top and back to the Monastery taking in scenic vistas along the way.

Quick bite of our bag lunches supplemented by an ice cream or two and we were on to Barcelona. We stopped at Camp Nou, the home field of the Barcelona team. We toured the stadium from the field level to the sky high press boxes, watched highlights of games and checked out many exhibits. There is a saying on the stadium “Mes Que Un Club”  which means “More than a club” (I believe). The football club is over a hundred years old and it’s hard for us silly Americans to understand how strong of a tradition and how much the team means to the people of this area. Restful ride home to our hotel with an arrival just in time for our 8:00 dinner. After dinner I left our mellow hotel I ventured to the local polizia station, figured it might be time to investigate a way to get home without a passport. I returned at 10:30 to find that what had been our mellow little hotel had been transformed into the hottest night club in Blanes. The dance floor was hopping as our girls danced the night away. It was a spectacle that this town had never seen before. The girls certainly didn’t look like our tough as nails soccer team. The girls and adults danced the night away and closed the place down.

 Thankfully no games until 2:00 and 4:00 tomorrow and   very relaxed morning, breakfast optional …

Stay tuned .

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Day Three – “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

First day of the tournament.  Early breakfast (7:30) due to our 9:00 game time, 7:30 was perhaps a little earlier then some of the girls (and adults) would have liked. It appears that some adults don’t function that well before their first cup of coffee. It is amazing how a cup of coffee can perk someone up and alleviate their mood. Coffee here is a little stronger which is a good thing as we are getting up at what would be 1:00 in the morning back in our homeland. Arrived at the fields at 8:15 and prepared for the game. Weather here is very consistent, sunny and warm, even to begin the day. Girls played a team from Denmark and started out strong, applying pressure early with several near misses. Five minutes into the game Katie S. broke past the last defender and rocketed a shot off the crossbar, Kaitlin J. swooped in and pounced on the rebound and buried it in the back of the net. U.S.A. 1 – Denmark 0. Chants of “U.S.A.,U.S.A.” echoed across the Spanish countryside. The girls continued to dominate and ended the half at 1-0. Our girls came out strong again in the second half. Hannah M. found the ball at her foot inside the 18 yard box and hit a great shot to the lower right corner.  U.S.A. 2 – Denmark 0. Once again the Vermont crowd went wild and the  “U.S.A.,U.S.A.” chants were once again ringing through the Spanish hillsides. The girls continued with their great play and had several more quality scoring opportunities but could not convert and the game ended with a 2 – 0 final. A great start to the tournament. We then hung out at the tournament site for the opening ceremonies at 12:00, hmmmm, must be a Spanish thing to have the opening ceremonies AFTER the first games have been played. The teams were all introduced on the main field and waved their national flags. After the ceremonies we all jumped on our bus to return to our hotel, only to realize after we were fully loaded that it was not our bus. It was a great game of musical buses as we loaded and unloaded on to another bus.

We returned to the hotel to chow down a quick lunch before heading off to the water park. We had a great time at the water park on all of the rides. We had more casualties at the water park then we did at the game, one scraped elbow and one banged up ankle. The good news is that it was the coaches that were in need of first aid and not the players, so you can all rest well and not worry your pretty little heads about your youngsters. Girls had dinner at hotel and then a little shopping in the neighborhood before hitting the hay.

No games scheduled for tomorrow so we are off to explore something new. Stay tuned for the next report on our European adventure. Sorry no pictures today, will post more photos tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

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Day Two – Girona & Coast

After a good night’s sleep we were all recharged and ready to face the day. We all had breakfast at the hotel, we enjoyed the typical Spanish breakfast fare of cereals, fruit, coffee,  bread and some mystery meat. We then hopped on our bus and headed to the town of Girona. Upon arrival in Girona, we were told by our tour guide, Monica, of a local superstition. There is a small statue of a monkey climbing a pole and apparently it is good luck for a person to climb up a few steps and kiss the monkey’s butt. Now, I am not sure if this is true or if the tour guides all get together after they leave us and share stories about what they have told us silly Americans. We all figured that since we had experienced some bad luck, we could use some good luck so why risk it, we climbed the steps and puckered up. I am sure that you are all glad that the girls are enjoying such rich culture here in Spain. We broke into several manageable sized groups and walked the narrow streets, checked out shops, enjoyed ice cream and fresh bread. We then toured two of the cathedrals (very quietly) as Sunday Service was happening. We hiked to the top of the wall that surrounds the city and took in the scenic vista. 

Back on the bus and time to travel to the coastal town of Estartit. We hit the beach and soaked up some sun. We commandeered a paddleboat with a 10 foot slide on it. The girls had a great time piling on to it and sliding off. Glad that the US Coast Guard was not in sight as I am pretty sure that the boat was not designed for ten girls at a time, we were riding quite low in the water. We returned the boat and headed down the street to hop on our next vessel. We took a an hour and a half ride up the coast on a glass bottom boat. Great scenery and we got to see some fishies swimming under the boat.

Back to shore for ride back to Blanes and our hotel. The plan was to arrive there for a late dinner (7:30) and the watch the US Women’s team play their World Cup match. We arrived back at the hotel to discover that the World Cup game was underway and the U.S. were losing in overtime, boo hiss !! We watched the thrilling end of the game as the women scored in extra time and then won in a penalty kick shootout. We then had our dinner at the hotel……well most of us did. Let me interrupt this blog for a quick movie review. For those of you that may not know the movie “The March of the Penguins”, let me give you a quick recap of the movie. In a nutshell here’s what happens in a penguin’s world. The mother penguin hatches the egg, the male penguins then huddle together in freezing cold temperatures on a frozen sheet of ice standing on the egg. The male penguins carefully protect the egg. Meanwhile the female penguins return to the coast and frolic in the water and eat as much as they can, seemingly having no care or concern for their male companion’s hardships and the duties that have been bestowed upon them.  I don’t know why I just had the flashback to that movie, sorry for the interruption, back to the blog. Where was I, oh yes, dinner time, all of the women in the group decided to bypass dinner at the hotel and go out to dinner at a seaside restaurant. The fathers in the group were to stay behind and watch after the girls. The fathers made sure that all of the girls wishes were taken care of and then they were safely put in their rooms to get plenty of rest for tomorrow’s game. The women returned much later in the evening and had enjoyed a wonderful dinner by the sea. 

 

Tomorrow is the first day of soccer. We play Denmark at 9:00 a.m. and then have the rest of the day off. Stay tuned.

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