Monday, November 28, 2011

Last October entry

Week of October 23rd-30th

First I must say it's Halloween week!!!!!! 

Second I have to add that this week we play against Soria which is the spanish youth selection team.  They live together and train together throughout the year, playing in Superliga 2 while also attending school at CAEP.  Some of the girls on our team are going to take this game much more personally because they haven't been selected or want to be selected for the winter camp during the league break.  Whatever their reasons there are going to be a lot of emotions flying high for the younger girls and the four older girls are going to have to be the stable players for us to have success.  

Monday was same old same old at coaching and no practice afterwards so we had an English lesson with Carlo and called it a night.  Mondays are quickly becoming my favorite day because yes we have a busy morning but the nights are filled with relaxation time and its just nice to come home early and chill out.  With all of our practices being later and then having to eat something afterwards, shower, etc bedtime is usually pretty late.  

Tuesday...lift was fine but practice...we got kicked out again.  Its just becoming normal that the first practice of the week is bad and we get kicked out.  When Paolo starts to get quiet we know he is verging on the edge of saying the forbidden word..."CASA" repeatedly until we finally start stretching and then head home early.  Most of the time I need to walk around the gym and cool off for a bit before I can  physically sit down and stretch without swearing up and down.  In a matter of two months I have been kicked out of more practices than ever before in my career.  Maybe its helping the younger girls learn though which is what I am here for basically so if thats the case I can suck it up and deal with it.  

Side note Halloween isn't a huge deal here but we went to the American store to get some treats for ourselves to have since we don't get to dress up for the first time in 22 years and go out on the town.  Mini reeses and then some free gifts with our purchase from the store (they must have over ordered something).  The larger holiday here is Day of the Dead which is the day following Halloween where you honor family members and friends that have passed. 

Wednesday again normal day of coaching and then straight to practice and it wasn't the greatest practice again. Paolo just keeps getting more and more Italian the longer he is living here in Spain and away from his girlfriend who is playing in Korea.  Nothing too exciting this week at all.

Thursday we played great and probably the best practice of the year but untimely indeed.  We don't have a game until Saturday and need to be on point then not mid week.  Apparently its "planned" though by Paolo with our lifting schedule and training regime that he has planned.  

Friday we just serve pass which is becoming more of a hassle just to get to practice and stay focused when all day we do nothing until practice at 8.  Plans for Saturday are to leave from the gym at 9 am, car pool to Soria and then head back to Madrid right after the match.  

GAME DAY we get to the gym and meet up with everyone, as usual the Spanish girls are late and we wait a little after the time we are supposed to leave top get going.  Our car has Pato, myself, Lily, Paolo, Ani and Angela.  We played Life and Monopoly on my iPad on the way there, which might I add that Pato and Ani got a kick out of.  Otherwise I read my book and listened to music on my iPad and tried to just focus on the match.  We are semi lucky because the best player for the youth team got called up to the full national team for a friendly tournament and will be missing our match this weekend.  We stop twice on the way there and grab some small snacks and drinks as well as coffee to get ready for the match.  When we get there we get ready and head out for warm-ups.  I LOVE getting to hit in hitting lines during warm-ups.  50-50 balls are just bounce balls at that point and its like showing off your skill that was hidden for the past 4 years.  The best part is that its the only time really that I hit the ball that hard because during the game I can only score when I play smart not strong.  

The match was a struggle for us and we could not pass to save our lives.  We got aced off the court and just didn't talk well or play together at times of struggle. This team by far serves the best of all the teams that we have played and Paolo says for the league they are the most aggressive servers.  I had a good match from the service line and attacking but was disappointed with my passing but mostly because that used to be my specialty for the last four years.  I think that for the match I had 27 points and we won 3-1.  Lily told me again that I might be MVP which I didn't believe mostly because I was so disappointed in my play from serve reception but I forget that points look great on the stat sheet and passing isn't looked at as much for awards unless you are a libero.  I guess I haven't forgotten the libero inside me.  The drive back took foreverrrrrrr.  We stopped for food which was needed since I was so drained.  Then we got back and Angela and I went to our corner store grabbed a few beers and wandered through alcobendas enjoying our win.  The next day we went to the American store and bought pancake mix because we wanted something from home and we had some delicious fiber one pancakes then made some goat cheese salad and pizza for our dinner.  We have so much more time to spend on meals on sunday that we get to spoil ourselves a little bit.  We also had an english lesson with Carlos cousin which is becoming and every sunday deal.  I love it though because seeing her exams that we help her with make my mind work in opposite ways thinking about the spanish translation for all the words.   Alright I guess thats a week.  On to the next one. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Second journey of Superliga

Week of October 16th-22nd

Monday morning SUCKED since I woke up feeling like crap and I had a fever the night before. Stomach was killing me headache the whole deal. I laid on the couch all day and Angela graciously took the little kids that we have to coach monday and wednesday at the International College of Spain for me and I stayed in bed.  I drank loads and loads of water but still felt like crap all day. I tried to limit myself to bland foods again and see what I could stomach and it turned out to be I couldn't stomach much.  This week will be tough since we play Sofi Muller, who happens to be the sister of Ani my teammate but more interesting is the fact that she is also the daughter of our manager Fabian and his wife Lily.  Her team from Barcelona is one of the top teams in the league and we finished 9th out of 11 last year in Superliga so it is a big underdog match (which I love for us)

Tuesday rolls around after Monday not being so hot and we have weights and then practice with the little kids that we have to help with now at the club.  I started to feel a little better but at practice was just so drained from not being able to keep much food inside my stomach.  Even Esther pointed out that I looked exhausted.  Never a good thing when people notice that you are tired cuz it means you look like crap.  Practices are going to be a drag this week if my body feels like this.  Good thing is that Lily and Fabian invited us over for dinner two times this week for lovely family meals.  Its nice when we get an invite even once a week which is not expected but appreciated.  When it happens more than once its just proving we are lucky to be where we are.  

As the week goes on I feel much better and Friday rolls around and Fabian, Lily and Ani ask us to join them at the Wok which is a chinese stir-fry buffet. We of course joined them and enjoyed Sushi (for the first time since being here) along with other fun appetizers from the buffet. Then we selected our items that we wanted for our stir fry and brought it up to them picked our sauces and pooof magic we had a plate.  It was delicious with chicken, meat, shrimp, or whatever else we wanted protein wise and fresh vegetables.  Dessert was fruit which was yummy and then some chocolate tart thing. Fabian said remember we have a match tomorrow you have to be able to jump, lol.  

GAME DAYYY rolls around and Angela and I are so so so excited to play a good team and see where we fair. . . . this is how we faired GANAMOS (we win 3-0).  They were a good team but we won 3-0 and played very very well in front of a fun home crowd since it was the day the club players had a family presentation.  I felt bad for Sofi who the girls cheered for after the match.  It was a nice gesture and she is a great player and person.  No surprise when she comes from Fabian and Lily.  Anyways that about ends the week for us with the match and we go to the Wok again after the match with Audra because we are starving.  Its a good post game meal with the American girls that are quickly becoming family to me.  After that we head home and I am exhausted.  Angela decides to go out with Ana that night and have a good time while I stay in because I am simply too tired from the week of struggling with sickness.  

We went Sunday to watch the juvenil game at the gym designated for volleyball in our club. Then afterwards we went with Lily to take Sofi back to the airport and joined Fabian, Lily and Ani for dinner at their house.  It's been a week full of invitations to go to dinner with them and they are never unappreciated. We stayed after for a while with them talking about anything and everything under the sun then went back to our house and made dinner together before heading to sleepy time. 

2 more October weeks...more to come

Week of October 9th-15th

Sorry for those that like the daily updates but I am going to start to do weekly because of the travel and game schedule. Since my weekdays are quite repetitive. I will still include all the juicy details that people love to read about that happen during my weeks or just the little funny blurbs that make people remember its just me, Alyssa (or nummy for the not so smart moments). 

So this will finish up the week of the 17th and our first match then I will continue to write this way for simplicity purposes and just consistency with mushing all the weeks together. :) 

This week has been a bit of madness leading up to the first game.  I think that Paolo is just nervous for the season to start but lately he has been sticking to his Italian ways and the mood swings of that are always included.  The plans for the weekend are that we go to the juvenil game on Saturday morning in Leganes and then we all leave from there together to travel to Lugo which is about a 5 and a half hour drive.  

That morning I wake up a terrible stomach ache and have some issues that don't need to be discussed in detail on this site.  So luckily I go to meet with Mario, who has therapy times with Angela and Audra scheduled for that morning.  He tells us the best medicine for my issue and we go get some together before heading to Lugo to meet with the rest of the team.  I literally am only allowed to eat bland foods by Lily for the entire weekend which is smart but stinks as well.  I eat apples, rice, tea, bread and other bland, plain, easily digestible carbs. We travel in cars and of course our car is Lily, Fabian, Paolo, Ani, Angela and myself.  Its perfect because Lily and Fabian have become like Angela and my parents while in Spain.  We stopped for a bocadillo about 2 hours in and some tea and I was allowed the bread and the ham which that I could hardly even manage to eat really.  Once we finally arrived at Lugo we went as a team on a tour of the town.  There is a very old cathedral in Lugo that has been standing for hundreds of years.  We went inside while mass was going on which felt rude but it was well worth it. The place was gorgeous and had shrines for each of the important pastors and people that have been a part of the church along with their burial arrangements.  We also got to see this one part of Lugo that is famous, a wall that runs through the town which was built by the Romans forever ago. We walked along it with its strength as if it were built in the modern era.  It was gorgeous.  My favorite thing about all the towns I have been to so far is they are full of small streets and Ma & Pa shops.  The cobblestone streets and little walkways are always lively and just you can't help but take your time walking through them and taking it all in as an outsider.  

Anyways that night we went to the Pabellon which we would play in the next afternoon to watch a mens Superliga 2 match before heading back to our hotel for our team meal.  We had a "family" style team dinner where they bring out platters of rice, pasta, veggies, salad, bread, etc for everyone to pick what they want off of.  It was delicious and then we also had a yummy apple dessert after our chicken/meat dishes were devoured.  By the way they use french fries as a side for everything here. Bed time for us though since we play at noon and have to be up at 9 for breakfast.

As soon as my head hits the pillow I am out because of not feeling so great.  I dont wake up until the next morning when my alarm goes off. We head downstairs for breakfast and its similar to the night before where there are platters of thing that we get to pick off of for breakfast.  There is coffee and  milk (which seems incredible at the time due to the massive headache that I woke up with) along with toast, jelly, nuts, honey and other assortments of European breakfast foods.  All Audra, Angela and I really want is eggs buttttt they don't believe in having things besides sweet things for breakfast here.  So we indulge in the nuts, toast and jam along with some coffee. The funniest part of breakfast by far was the fact that the nuts had to be cracked so we had nut crackers and there were shards of nuts flying everywhere. After breakfast we headed to the Pabellon where I finally started to feel better which either was the distraction of a game about to be played or a permanent fixture.  

The game went by fast and we played alright against an ok opponent and won 3-0. I had 11 aces which is about the only stat that I remember of mine because I served so so so much that match.  Lily informed me that each week the league awarded a player MVP honors and selected the top 7 players in the league (6 and a libero) and that she thought I would be MVP which was news to me.  After the match we went to have a typical meal from the north of Spain called Pulpa (octopus) which as gross as it sounds is delicious. They typically serve it with boiled potatoes.  We had salad, ribs and dessert at the dinner table also which was incredible.  Then we headed to the cars to start the long trek back to Madrid in our crammed car.  I think I slept almost the entire way back to Madrid except for a few moments one or two times when we stopped for food.  Oh and the minor fact of importance from the match that sticks out in my head is this....Angela telling me prior to a play to hit someone in the face on a two ball X-play.  I go up and hit the two ball at left back and whammm square in the face of the poor girl.  I usually am not one to laugh at this situation as I know what a concussion and head trauma can feel like.  I quickly scurried back to the service line and tried not to have the other side see my face because I was ONLY laughing at the fact Angela just jokingly told me to hit someone in the face and I actually did.  Paolo in the car on the way back played the hit over and over on his computer for a good giggle but I still felt bad about the post hit reaction I had. Here it is polite to say sorry to the player and I just ran away. Oops :) learning lesson.  

Once we got back to Madrid I was thrilled to just lay down and relax and feel somewhat better but who knew that it was all going to come tumbling down the next morning when I  woke up. YUCK! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Oct 10th through (in part) Thursday 13th

10/10/2011 - 10/17/2011 3:41pm Alcobendas

Monday 10th-

Today is the start of sprinting and Paleo for Angela and I.  I went to do sprints at the gym while she did her own lifting workout. We had some delicious lean clean healthy foods all day to start our season journey.  The rules are no processed foods, so pasta, breads, dairy products etc.  We are allowing ourselves starchy vegetables after big games such as sweet potatoes, yams and other potato forms.  The diet itself is not supposed to allow really any of those but there is differences in the athlete version and the regular version.  The other rules that we are allowing to break is oatmeal because its a low glycemic carb that we need in our body after workouts to replenish our carb stores. One alcohol beverage a week and one serving size of a sweet a week.  Everytime we break a rule we run a mile. Its going to be great. Looking forward to a season full of healthy habits. We coached the little kids today and found out that Wednesday is the Spanish celebration of Columbus day so we don't have to teach then. All in all a low adventure day but still accomplishing things over here. Ciao!

Tuesday 11th-

Lift...means weigh ins....means Angela and I are proud that we are starting our Paleo Diet this week :) enough said there. After lift Paolo told us that we have to help with the mini volley at Alcobendas (12 and unders) on Tuesday and Thursday because there is only one coach for 30-40 kids.  We agreed semi-unwillingly but only because Tuesday and Thursday were usually our days for english lessons before practice. Oh well, we'll figure out other ways to make all of that work out for us. Just don't want to lose a source of income. Trying to save money to travel on our off weekends. We still dont know where we want to go our weekend off in November and its closing in on us quickly. We will figure it out sometime soon I think. Practice today was semi more active than usual Tuesdays because we play this weekend for the first official league match.  So that was a plus and I liked having it be more active. These entries are getting shorter but simply because the weekdays are the same.  The best news of the day is I taught little kids how to play volleyball today for an hour and a half speaking only spanish....broken spanish at best but spanish none the less.  They help me when I stumble through a word and they fix me when I am wrong.  So that will be helpful in getting closer to being somewhat fluent in Spanish.  Although Lily told us that she wants us using English so that they are learning from us rather than the other way around.  Well that about sums up my day.  Hasta Luego!

Oh my goodness I almost forgot to fill everyone in on our spectacular dinner. We made lettuce wraps.  We took some veggies and sautéed them with olive oil since thats allowed in the paleo diet.  Then we chopped and cooked some chicken and turkey.  We cut some tomatoes and avocados in slices then we made our delicious lettuce wraps and wow were they amazing.  Exactly like a sandwich without the bad cheese and unnecessary carbs from the wrap.  So delicious and filling without the guilty feeling after the meal. YUMMY gonna love this paleo diet thing.  

Wednesday 12th-

Gameday is getting closer every morning that we wake up.  That means every morning that we wake up I am that much more excited for the day ahead of us.  And with this Paleo thing Ang and I plan our dinner meals out so much better and much more in advance.  We decided tonight we would have a tropical chicken salad. So we bought chicken and marinated in pineapple all day. Then we chopped apples, pineapple, mangos, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers before practice.  We came home after practice and just had to wash and cut the lettuce bake the chicken and then add all our toppings to our salads which didnt even need dressing because of all the delicious toppings we added.  Just wow impressive that we made that and it was guiltless and delicious. Before that we had practice and it was better more active yet again because we have a game sunday and Paolo is trying to get us ready each day for the start of the league.  He still has his temper tantrums that Angela and I have decided are largely due to the fact that he is Italian.  That isnt meant to be offensive as people know that I am Italian and Angela is as well on her dad's side.  Its just a simple thing that we have grown to notice. Today was also another day of sprints for Angela and I which felt great. We did shorter sets because its mid week and we have the match on Sunday, dont want to be too sore from an extra workout.  Next week is really when we are going to try and kick start the workouts. This was a good start though. Alright that was about our day. Nighty Night

Thursday 13th-

Lift in the am was fine and dandy even though my legs were a little sore from the sprints the day before. All in all today was just blah blah blah.  We had to coach the little kids again today so another hour and a half of spanish speaking for me of which I think I stumbled through more sentences than I actually correctly spoke.  

Monday Oct 3rd through Sunday Oct 9th

10/3/2011 - 10/9/2011           1:40am Alcobendas

Monday 3rd-

Today was our first official day with the little Spanish kids at the International College of Spain.  We knew that the place was within walking distance (which by the way here means something completely different than in most US cities) and that it would take us about 40 minutes to get there.  I went shopping for some necessities that we were running low on, fabric softener (much needed since there aren't dryers here in Spain and without it the hang to dry technique turns clothes into cardboard), dish soap, dish sponges, toilet paper, and paper towels...oh wait there was coffee too (always a requirement).  I got back early just to make sure that I was ready for whenever Ang got back from her workout at the gym so we could head on our adventure to coach little 10 and 11 year olds Spanish kids in Volleyball of course.  Well surprise surprise, we got lost :) haha so entertaining trying to run with our back packs in directions that we did not know at all.  Well in typical fashion we made it 10 minutes early somehow with my handy dandy gps on my phone that I previously have refused to use since I like to wander.  This was an emergency and needed to use my data for gps tracker help.  The coaching went really well since we only had about 30 minutes of our hour to actually teach them volleyball. Of course the first thing that Angela and I taught them guessed it passing. So spotlight was on me and I threw them three basic keys of which they had a few laughs at step two lunch tray and the icing on the cake, pretending we were pregnant with little niño.  The girls picked it up quite fast and it was awesome to be able to coach in english and have them understand us.  The school in case I didn't say it before is an all English speaking school.  After we got done we went home and I did some minor workout things with our new exercise ball at the apt.  It was fun and just relaxing on our day off.  Not much happens usually on Monday's but now that we coach its going to be an eventful day. Oh and did I mention that its a 2.2 mile walk to the gym and back to coach.  Oh wait and add that on to the 1.25 miles it is to our practice facility from our apartment and we are talking about 5/6 miles on Wednesday of walking.  Yesss calves might finally appear on the one part of my leg that seems to have nonexistent muscle definition haha. :) Alright well Hasta Mañana I guess since not much else happened today!

Tuesday 4th-

Today started out as just a weird strange not so great day.  Lift was not the best ever then we just hung out in between that and practice.  Well then we went to practice and Paolo got a little bit more upset than usual and went on a rant in spanish and italian that I only caught one word of really and that was casa.  That translates to house.  So I was a bit thrown off and confused but it was the exact translation that I thought it meant and that was go home practice is over.  Because of this we now have two practices for Saturday one in the morning and one at night with a lift also.  Sweet right.  Angela and I were a bit too pleased because we knew that the team deserved it and were happy that some consequences were finally being laid down.  That was about the sum of the day though. 

Wednesday 5th- 

Today we have our second day of coaching the little rug rats at the International College of Spain as well as a scrimmage with the permanent selection of Spain (youth volleyball team that stays together and trains all year round/plays in the same league as us to compete together).  A few of our teammates were there during the summer and a couple of them were offered to train there permanently but said no because of Feel Volley and other commitments.  So we walked the 2.2 miles to the practice with the little kiddies and then busted our tail to get to the gym for our scrimmage.  We got there right on time basically to find out that we had more time than we thought. Well lets just say the speed walking that Angela and I had to do made us a little bit hungry so we went upstairs and grabbed a pasta salad before our scrimmage. It was delicious and needed indeed since we played 5 games in the friendly match. I played in the first 3 then sat the fourth and then went in the end of the 5th.  We lost but it was basically for the purposes of having the older girls play less and let the younger girls play against people their age.  Since Audra has been hurt with her wrist she couldnt play and Estel sat along with Angela and I on and off for all 5 games.  Needless to say none of the 3 of us were pleased with this decision especially since we lost.  Oh well.  Think its just a maturity and age thing after a practice that we get kicked out of etc.  Angela and I walked home again after the scrimmage which we have done an awful lot of lately but its been enjoyable walks back to the apt.  We made this rule where we are only allowed to talk negatively and vent until we get to the apt and nothing bad is allowed to come upstairs into the apt with us. Its a great rule to go by. Well anyways bed time for me it was a pretty crazy busy day with lots of walking and exercising for me so I am exhausted.  More to come tomorrow!

Thursday 6th-

TODAY WAS BORING.  I want that to be all that I write but I will at least list the details of the day.  Lift in the morning.  Burger King for some television show watching and practice at night where we got screamed at a little bit more since we just havent had very good practices in the past few.  Audra still cant play because of her wrist injury and they think it will be a while before she does...sometime close to our first match would be my guess. Oh and we did have an English lesson today before practice also which was nice as usual to just talk in English and help someone learn our language. Thats about it for today though.  Sorry its so short. Nighty night. Hasta Mañana

Friday 7th- 

Hmm what to say about this day....well we got invited to go out in Alcobendas with Carlo who we teach English to in our lessons but we had to say no because tomorrow we have lift at 9:45 am then practice afterwards and then another practice at night from 5-7.  That was a bummer since we have not gone out in Alcobendas once yet nor do we know where we should actually go if we were to go out here, but oh well.  We did not have practice until about oh 8 tonight which is always our practice time fridays just today stunk.  Waiting that long all day for practice to come around just isnt fun. So we went to Starbucks and passed some time before practice came.  Just wanted to ya know mess around on the internet and do something to pass the time.  Especially since tonight I have a skype date with Jim, Wendy, Mom and Dad...jealous that they are all in state college without me but thats life.  Practice went smoothly.  We did what we typically do on Fridays, serve receive by rotation with serving and then also some tactical attacking off of free balls and sets from Ang/Maria.  I was supposed to work on my deep line shot and then my 4 to 4 smash as Paolo likes to say.  Let me say that 4 to 4 is the hardest shot to hit when the sets are not consistent and when you have one setter one time then the setter that knows you the next. It screws with your timing then with the setters heads and just tough to judge on both sides. Oh well it was much needed to work on the kinks of Maria setting fast balls to me and then to have Ang experiment with a few different things for my sets.  All in all it was a pretty good practice but we still had the dreaded two practices the next day.  Oh wait I almost forgot two of the girls on the team arent going to be at the morning practice on Saturday even though Paolo said that everyone had to be at the practices regardless of what was going on that day.  We got a big lecture, luckily in spanish, about how its the teams problem to deal with and how Paolo can set the best example he can by being there everyday and working for us everyday.  It was a great speech even though I only understood bits and pieces of it from the Spanish and Italian blurbs.  He wasnt happy thats for sure though.  The best part was while we were stretching and running Estel tried to talk to one of the girls that was missing and asked if she could change her appt since thats what she should do. Having an older knowledgable person on the team that is Spanish helps so much in situations like this where you want to be the example and lead but dont know the language well enough to do so. Alright thats about it. So goodnight for now since we have early practice/lift.  :) yippie

Saturday 8th- 

Lift in the morning was nothing. Lifts here in general are nothing. So light and so easy compared to the killer workouts I used to have to endure at Penn State.  Practice after was also a bit of a joke and literally Ang and I struggled to not laugh for most of it. We did a lot of technical stuff which was not taxing at all on our bodies (as in I didnt break a sweat at all).  The best was when with our partners we had to pass back and forth with one arm and Ang and  I literally were laughing so hard we could not focus at all.  It seemed so dumb to have punishment practices when they werent even hard. To me an extra practice when we are being punished means sprints, hard drills and something that makes you not want to have it happen again.  But no, we did self toss hit to our partners who were supposed to move.  Partner control drills with passing and setting.  Outlet setting drills for time.  Just typical easy warm-up things. Then we ended with a game of 5 on 5 where you can use all skills except jumping.  The goal was to see the court and score from a standing position based on what you saw as being open on the other side of the court.  My team won and the other team ran our "rounds" in a certain time.  That was the end of our practice for the morning, 3 hours of the day spent doing what seemed like rec league workouts but it was at least an early start to the day.  Ang and I went back to the apt and napped then woke up and adventured out to the new facility that we were having our second practice of the day at.  It was on the other side of town that we had never walked to so we wandered and followed my phone map to get there.  Probably took the long way to get there but we still managed to find our way there. It is a brand new facility all for the juvenil teams of Feel Volley. The facility was just opened last February so it still smelled of new materials.  Quite a nice little gym to play in although the floor was so so slippery. Yet again we did technical work with partners for time and then after that we warmed up with pepper and played doubles half court for the rest of the time.  The goal was to score points as an individual/group and see what pair won.  I came in second place behind Estel and Maria.  Of course I didnt love that but hey it happens. If we didnt score as many points as we did in the last game we would have come out dead last so second place was better. After the practice Audra drove us back to the apt and we went shopping for dinner supplies as we decided we wanted to make dinner for ourselves.  We went and found some steaks and asparagus with our guacamole chip appetizer. Then we made mashed potatoes also. All so delicious and Kirk joined us for dinner also even though his first game was the next afternoon.  After Audra and Kirk left Angela and I went to grab a beer at one of the little restaurant places near us to relax and just hang out together.  The next day was our adventure in Toledo so we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of rest that night also because we had an english lesson in the morning before Toledo. SOOOO goodnight for now. 

Sunday 9th-

Bright and early english lesson.  Still in our pajamas we walked the block and a half to Carlo's cousins family apartment to give our lesson at 10.  She was the only one awake since its a weekend and still early for many spanish families to be awake on a saturday.  It was a nice hour of going over some grammar and looking at her books etc that she needs for her university English exam.  We also decided that next week we could go over some old exams that she has taken so that we know what we are supposed to be preparing her for.  All I know is that english lessons are a gift since its 15 euros an hour (angela and I split it) just for sitting there and talking to the person in our native tongue.  I love it. Today is our big adventure to Toledo so we have it all planned out that we will take the Metro and switch from line 10 to line 6 which will take us to Plaza de Elipitica where the bus station is connected with the metro stop.  We get off and found a ticket booth to buy the bus ticket for Toledo which was only 8 euros ida y vuelta (going and return) so it was a great deal.  In the bus station there was a Dunkin Donuts and I had a coffee (although very different from US Dunkin Coffee) that was delicious and way cheaper than starbucks coffee.  We went to our gate to wait for the bus then got on and took the hour bus trip to Toledo, half of which I read and the other half I slept.  When we arrived to Toledo it was beautiful, the city rests on a risen mountainous area and the cathedrals, walls etc can be seen from the bus station down below.  Thankfully we only had to walk up a few hilly roads before reaching escalators that take you the rest of the way up into the mid-century town.  The streets were so small and alley like with little shops and vendors selling Toledo souvenirs.  We took tons of pictures of which I need to upload on to Facebook (sorry for the delay in everything its been a little bit of a wild few weeks).  The place that we stopped for lunch/dinner was delicious as we got an appetizer a meal and a dessert with a beverage for only 10 euros. Quite a deal if you ask me with the regular prices that we see over here.  So I had a salad with some salmon then a chocolate (flan like) cake for dessert with a beer.  If I had to choose wine of beer my choice will always be beer.  The day went by seemingly fast and Angela and I headed for the bus station.  When we arrived there to my surprise (I guarantee no one else will be surpised) I lost my return ticket for the bus. SOOOO that great deal turned out to be a waste and I had to buy a return ticket for another 4.98 euros.  Yep thats typical Nummy for anyone that knows me haha.  When we got off the bus at the terminal and went to the Metro I couldn't resist grabbing another small Dunkin Coffee since we have no Dunkin near us.  Then we headed for the metro and on our ride we decided to start the Paleo Diet Monday.  Since the upcoming week was our first week of regular season we wanted to start eating and physically preparing for the season.  Monday and Wednesday were going to be sprint days from old PSU workouts with a somewhat strict eating diet but something we quickly fell in LOVE with.  Alright that is about the end of our Sunday and it was a glorious Sunday indeed. Nighty Night

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Updates

9/27/2011-10/4/2011 3:10 pm Alcobendas

Tuesday 27th-

Today was a great day we just hung out all day and did laundry waiting for the first practice of the week to start at 630.  We lifted in the morning which was ehh just alright since the lifts here are simple compared to penn state's for the past couple years.  Although they have told me that I have great form which means that I had great teachers at PCX and Penn State when it comes to lifting technique. So thank you to all of those people :) it even works at the international level.  Anyways just a typical day of shopping for groceries at the beginning of the week and hanging out waiting for practice to start.  Tuesday's I think are going to be my least favorite day of the week for sure though because practice is so slow and technical that the spanish girls struggle a bit to focus even though its all important stuff we need to cover.  Well short journal entry since today wasn't much of a day at all haha. More to come tomorrow! Goodnight :) Oh my goodness I almost forgot to share the best news of the day. Angela and I after lift went to the International College of Madrid (I think this is correct) and landed coaching jobs. We are in charge of the Infantiles and the Alevines (10/11 yrs olds) for their volleyball season.  I am so excited as is Angela because we both LOVE coaching and we get to do it here...oh and for those that are wondering its all in ENGLISH so there is no language barrier here for us. We are supposed to start tomorrow but we have to talk to our club managers before it is approved financially. Yep so it was a good tuesday even though its my least favorite day of the entire week lol. Goodnight again!

Wednesday 28th-

I felt great today.  First time in a while that I went for a fast paced 2 mile run and then did some great abs and body weight workout at the apt.  Actually I doubt I would be able to do these workouts without remembering some of the killer body weight exercises that I got killed with at PCX back home in NY.  I did some slideboard mountain climbers with some washcloths on our tile floor (improvising).  A bunch of other fun ones that I learned when I was 15 years old but still love to do now and still kick my butt now.  Anyways it was a great work out and I loved it.  We were supposed to start working at the International college today but got an email from Paolo saying to wait until Monday to start because we don't have everything we need financially squared away in order for things to be clear.  So we did not go coach today and instead we had an english lesson with Carlo at Starbucks before practice.  Its so nice that we get to just go sit somewhere and talk to someone in English and help correct them and get paid for it.  Plus Carlo is fun and very generous as everytime we meet him he buys us drinks so Ang and I both got a free Americano from Starbucks.  Then Carlo drove us to practice and it was a little bit better than the day before but mostly because we got a new player.  She is a former Spanish National Team libero that played in Superliga 1 in Spain for about 4 years before stopping to get a teaching job.  She lives in Madrid for with her husband and wanted to play a little bit again so she came for a tryout to see if we could use her as an attacker rather than a libero.  She decided she liked it and we signed another libero so our serve receive is 3 liberos (outside, libero and right side).  As our manager Fabian put it if we don't have good serve receive he will die. Haha.  But I love having her here because she can communicate with the younger spanish girls and keep them on track when we don't necessarily know what to say due to the minor language barrier. Hopefully she will find a way to motivate the younger girls to work hard since we struggle with that.  Well anyways that was the day today and Ang and I were planning on going to Burger King tonight to watch some tv shows and just lounge around when all of a sudden our door bell rang :) and we had a visitor.  Heather was here for the night because her flight back home is tomorrow and she is flying out of Madrid so she is crashing here for the night and Lily is picking her up and taking her to the airport in the morning for her flight home.  So we all went to Burger King together one last time and just chilled out skyped with family and watched tv shows on our computers.  It was a nice night as the three amigos together one last time before Heather got to go home. Welp goodnight for now more to come tomorrow :)

Thursday 29th -

For the first time since being here I got homesick.  I think it was Heather going home and just being so excited to see her family and be at home reminded me of how much I miss people at home.  Not that I want to leave because I truly love Madrid and being here is a blessing, I guess it just made me realize that unlike being at college in the US when I get homesick I cant just expect a visit from my parents or drive home to NY for a few days to see people that I miss.  This is kind of a permanent thing until the end of march so I am just gonna have to learn to deal with days like this.  The hardest part for me is knowing that Christmas is going to be potentially alone which inspired me to look into flights to come home.  Too expensive for too little time since my sister, Kaitlin and Erica are all flying over here the 29th.  It would be a nice break since we do have off for at least a week and a half at some point between dec 17th and january 7th.  Just don't know when that is yet but all the flights are at least a grand. So I guess I will start looking into flights to go to see people I know that are going to be in Europe for christmas.  Poland and Italy seem to be my options or if Angela stays here and her friends come to Madrid maybe thats an option. Either way I miss home today.  Practice was alright just really blah and Paolo had a screaming session at one point in Italian which honestly I find entertaining because it reminds me of how my grandma used to just explode without warning in her italian rampages in the kitchen mostly.  Made me smile but then it also made me miss home and miss her since she has passed.  I guess one day in about a month of being here isnt a bad ratio for missing home :). I also think that Carlo taking us to the Taste of America store triggered it since there are things in that store that I deeply miss like oatmeal and peanut butter (not that I even ate those everyday in the US just the option of having them is what I miss).  Well Heather is home by now and practice got done a bit earlier than usual so Ang and I went home ate some dinner and went to the BK lounge as we are now referring to it. I caught up on some grey's anatomy season opener that I missed and then shopped online with my eyes rather than my bank account lol.  It was a great end to a not so great day here in Spain.  Well goodnight and hopefully I sleep on it wake up refreshed for a new day. 

Friday 30th- 

Today is Erica's and Justin's birthday and I wish that I could be there to help them celebrate the special day but I am in a different country so I sent some nice messages to both of them to wish them well. The days here are starting to blur together as to what happened when and what day we did what. I know that every tues thursday we lift and every sunday monday we have off but otherwise its all a big blur to me haha. I guess thats a good thing because the weeks are flying by and before you know it people will be here visiting me and we will start playing real matches/traveling Spain for our league play.  Today's practice is going to be really really slow I can picture it now simply because we have a match tomorrow at Leganes the same team that we scrimmaged first and that we played last weekend on Saturday in the Madrid cup.  We only practiced for an hour and a half and did serve receive rotations with some technical hitting practice (aiming for chairs placed in spots on the court) which was my favorite part since I love working on my control with hitting.  After practice Angela and I went to BK lounge until it closed because we had skype dates with people. Me with my parents (state college and real parents) and angela with her boy/mom and dad.  I also watched another episode of grey's anatomy on my computer which was awesome to just be able to still catch up on those episodes.  It was GREAT to get to talk to all of my parents at the same time in the same place and hear about the Penn State booster luncheon.  Although coach did not give me any credit for talking to him which I have it was still good to hear about it and live vicariously through them.  This weekend (tonight) the banners for Penn State are being raised for Big Ten Champs and National Champs which makes me miss PSU a whole lot. I remember those games the banners get raised and coach would say this night is NOT for this team because this team has done nothing, its simply a night honoring last years teams accomplishments of which you have yet to accomplish anything.  Such a great guy he is keeping us grounded and focused on the match ahead rather than basking in the glory of the previous year.  As much as I disliked it then I appreciate it from a whole new viewpoint now.  You have to admit that man knows what he is doing and I just have the greatest respect for him as well as love for him. He is seemingly like a second father to me in some ways and just is the most accepting welcoming big teddy bear through all the harshness.  Anyways another random sidetracked thought sorry.  The night ended well and got to bed early since we have a match at noon tomorrow in Leganes and Lily is picking us up at 1030 near the Fat Lady statue as we call it.  Goodnight

Saturday 1st -

Amistosa (spelling might be wrong) but it means friendly game which is what we have this afternoon.  Made some oatmeal with some banana and then had some yogurt for my pregame meal. Made a cup of coffee to wake me up for the game and then walked with Ang to meet Lily in the round-a-bout by the Fat Lady for our short trip to Leganes. When we got there we were super early so there was a little cafe right outside the gym that Lily said we could go get some coffee at which sounded brilliant.  So we went and got a little coffee and just chatted about randomness before heading over to the gym for the match.  We walked in and you know that feeling that everyone knows you are the foreign players, yep that happened which I guess we should get used to.  The warm-up for the match was kind of flat and strange but we started out alright and won the first two sets pretty handily with Ang setting and Audra hitting outside with me and Estel on the rightside.  Worked out some kinks that we had since our starting libero had to sit with a leg injury and we had the youngest girl on the team playing libero.  After the second set Paolo decided to rest Ang and Audra and put in our back up setter and outside.  We lost the next two games then went to a fifth and he started Ang and Audra again. We won the fifth game pretty easily then followed the match with a little social afterwards.  They had empanada a typical spanish treat with tuna and veggies all baked inside a kind of pie crusty thing.  It was delicious. Then they also had the typical plates of cheese and meat slices on the table and little chex mix type bowls.  We had some aquarius which is the equivalent of gatorade here and then Lily took us back the apt for the night. We napped for a while then woke up and made some food then decided we would spend our night skyping people in burger king and just laying low. We were just exhausted and did not want to do much since tomorrow we were planning on going to see Audra's husbands basketball game.  So after more skype time with family and friends as well as more tv episodes on my computer we went back to the apt and stayed up later than usual because the only thing we had in the morning was an english lesson with Carlo's cousin at 1230.  Well goodnight for now then. One more win in the books and another week coming to a close in Spain. It is all flying by. 

Sunday 2nd -

Penn state won last night against Minnesota in 3 which is great.  Ohio state swept Minnie in 3 and then Wisconsin beat Ohio State in 4.  The Big Ten is in for another season of everyone beating everyone.  Illinois was ranked number 1 at one point which is insane because that means that there is us, minnesota, illinois, nebraska, purdue, ohio state all within like the top 15.  Seriously a stacked conference and just loving following even though from afar.  Plus having Audra on the team we have something in common that we get to follow both our teams and talk about how messed up the conference standings are.  Well english lesson went superbly and we found out that the metro stop is literally right behind our house haha.  If we walk down our back street and through this absolutely gorgeous park with fountains and benches, trees, plants and just wow so pretty...anyways the metro is right there. Ang and I decided that we want to explore some more that way since everything that we have to do is the other way in town.  It was gorgeous park and I wanna go sit there and read since I do a lot of that now. I have read three full books since being here. Something borrowed by Emily Griffin and also Something Blue by the same author, both great books. Then I also read A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard.  Now that I have no actual school books to read and no crazy hectic busy schedule I get to enjoy reading about other people's lives, real or fake, it doesn't matter it brings me to someone elses world which I love.  Passes the time and is highly enjoyable.  Anyways sorry another tangent, for those that read this regularly you are noticing a pattern I would imagine.  :) and for those that know me I am sure that you are not surprised at all. 

The second part of our sunday was great. Angela went to workout and I cleaned a little bit doing some dishes and running some errands that we needed to Al Campo for dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, fabric softener, and other shared necessities.  Then she returned and we got ready for Audra to come pick us up for her hubby's game that was back in Leganes at the same place that we played the day before.  She picked us up at 6 at te BK lounge and we then had a quite entertaining drive to Leganes since Audra has never driven manual and is still learning. We got off at the wrong exit so she pulled a U-turn right back onto the on ramp but stalled out in the process. We tried to get going at least 5 times before she finally got the car up the on ramp and running without stalling back out. Angela was in the front seat navigating and she was DYING laughing as was I in the back seat. Then once we got off the exit Audra's iPhone gps was telling us all sorts of wrong directions through a mall parking lot, on one way streets which we drove the wrong way down...just highly entertaining.  Then we stalled out maybe 10 times in the parking lot trying to find our way out onto the street that we needed to be on to get to the stadium.  Once we got on the right path we were set and didn't stall out anymore. We got to the stadium and proceeded to park in a no parking zone so Audra had us wait outside the ticket office while she went to go park and walked to meet us for our tickets. We made it inside after the first few minutes of the first quarter had passed.  Kirk was playing really well and ended the night with 28 points even though they lost in the final seconds of the game.  We drank a few beers during the game and enjoyed ourselves for sure.   After the game all of us met Kirks teammates at Hard Rock Cafe in Madrid for some dinner and drinks. Audra treated Ang and I to some Sangria which was delicious and then we had an American dinner so yummy. Some appetizers nachos and then some Salmon dinner with veggies and dessert was a bite of an apple cobbler that the table shared. Kirk was very nice and simply told us to pay for our meals rather than the appetizers and desserts/drinks.  So quite a delicious dinner for about 15 euors rather than 30 that we were supposed to pay.  It was a great night and we got back to the apt and crashed hard. I loved the night in general though.  So thats all for now goodnight :) we have our first day of work tomorrow at the schools.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

End of September :)

9/22/2011-9/26/2011  3:40 pm Alcobendas


Today was a normal day, lift in the morning which is getting harder and heavier everyday.  Running some mornings feels like a drag and other mornings feels like I am flying.  So strange.  I think this morning felt like a drag because we didn't have practice the night before and I was still semi-full from the food at Lily and Fabians house.  Anyways after lift came back and had the usual protein shake and then made some egg whites which have become somewhat of an addiction for me.  I love making them with some peppers, tomatoes and these little prepackaged chopped turkey and ham.  So yummy and filling yet low in calories.  My goal is when I leave here to be ready for beach season and in shape for the summer to play.  We shall see how that goes.  Anyways practice at night was not very hard we did some rotations preparation for passing and scoring points off serve receive which as I learned in college is very important. I like hitting but get annoyed when Paolo says that I am not jumping very high and smashing hard. I dont need to max jump or hit hard to score so why waste my legs. If it scoring still and the ball is hitting the court on the other side of the net then I don't think there is much of a difference. I dont hit every ball in the games so why hit every ball in practice. I like being well rounded. Anyways the best news of the day was the fact that Paolo forgot we had to do conditioning after practice. We were all semi-dead from lift and practice that conditioning would have been a joke afterwards.  Audra is staying with us from now until monday when her hubby returns from his basketball games out of town this weekend. Should be an interesting time to get to know her better and have a third roommate for a few days.  Well we are going back to make some food then I am going to crash, a little bit exhausted right now after a long day. Buenos noches! 


Paolo told us last night that today at practice we would not be doing very much at all because he did not want us tired for the games this weekend.  So we legitimately did our rotations of serve receive after a long long long warm up.  We had to get 4 perfect 6 positive (perfect counts as positive, but positive does not count as perfect) before getting 2 negative or 1 ace.  Basically its kind of like 3 out of 5 at penn state except doubled.  And Paolo I have come to realize is the worst counter of game scores ever. We dont use a scorecard Paolo just says that he will keep points whenever we do games of any sort where the points matter.  So I have started keeping score in any game that matters because I dont want to get cheated out of winning when I know that the score he has is wrong. I casually announce the score every point so that he knows I have it in my head also. Haha.  Anyways we went through rotations and did some serving after we made it through all of our passing rotations. Then Paolo told Audra Angela and I that we were done while the spanish girls did some attacking, serving and passing. We stretched off to the side and cheered them on.  It was a semi casual practice, similar to a game-day practice at Penn State.  After practice all of us returned home and we just hung out and chatted about college volleyball and our programs, the differences.  It was cool to hear about Audra's experience at Wisconsin since that is a team I had the chance to play 8 times in my career.  We went to bed pretty early although none of us fell asleep that early at all.  For some reason none of us could really sleep at all. Audra fell asleep at 5, Ang around 330 and me around 4 (all a.m. times). Luckily for me I have NO trouble sleeping in at all. I slept until 1:30pm so still got plenty of sleep before our game. 


GAMEDAYYYYY!!! I was so excited because it was our first match in our gym and there was a "cup" on the line for the best team in Madrid.  Today we play the team that we played last weekend Leganes who is in the league below ours.  I made some egg whites with the usual and some toast for some carbs and then two cups of coffee (which was a terrible idea). I had the worst stomach ache for the rest of the day and felt so weak for our match because coffee is a natural laxative if you get the picture (sorry).  Warm-ups felt like it was 6am and no one was awake but when the match started it was great. I think that I hit .675 with 30 kills in a 3-1 win over the team we played the past weekend.  It was fun hitting again and just feeling like the old school Nummy that got me recruited to play at Penn State in the first place. After the match there was some discontent with players not getting enough sets etc which was something I havent had to deal with since high school.  Reminded me of the days when my mother coached me and had to explain the team wanted to win regardless of who played what roles the goal is winning as a team.  Not having individual stats.  Similar concept that is misunderstood here due to age I think but also the coaches philosophy for the match was to not show our whole hand. Since our match sunday was against a team in our league and of a little higher caliber he did not want us running a lo of plays or hitting back row attacks etc which is NOT a new concept to me.  However, since this was our gameplan and our passing was not so great with the switch in the rotation we had to set a lot of outside balls. Its simple mattter of fact and well known that when you dont pass well you cant run much of an offense even if it was the gameplan in the first place. Anyways we win, who cares night over. We went home made some food and tried to crash early since we had a match the next morning at noon against the other team from Madrid.  So goodnight


GAMMMMEEEDAYYY numero dos! This gameday felt a little bit more amped up since it was against the other team in Superliga dos from Madrid.  There is obviously the in-city rivalry as to which team represents Madrid in the league the best. Last season we placed two places below them so there was a bit of an anxious spirit about the team when we met in the morning. Paolo gave the pregame speech and mentioned, well-knowing of last nights events, that we are a team and we win as a team lose as a team.  He also stated that the team is highest priority and that individual is lowest. He knows his stuff :) but it went over well and we were all on the same page. He ended his speech with today we prove who is the team of Madrid and that we "Alcobendas" are that team. It was inspiring in dorky, weird translation sort of way.  Well anyways game started and we absolutely crushed them.  We won something like 15, 18, and 10 as game scores.  I did not have as many kills because we used our middles, passed much better and dispersed the offense much more. Felt great to not have to swing 3-4 times every rally.  After the game we got presented with the "cup" trophy for the tournament of Madrid.  It was a big deal for everyone on our team, parents, sponsors, etc because it was a start to a season that we all think could be something special.  I was exhausted after the match and went home, had a protein shake then hit mi cama for a siesta before the nights activities.  Our plan for the night was to grab some drinks with Audra and her husband then go to his "athlete" bar in Madrid where apparently all the basketball players go and is a fun night club on sunday nights.  Well Audra ditched us because her hubby got tired and did not want to come back out. So we were there with Leti (a teammate that is 18 which is legal to drink and go to the clubs here in Spain).  We did not last very long because we were exhausted so at about 230 we decided to leave and come home by taxi (sooo expensive). We need to get on the Spanish boat of starting our nights at 2am rather than ending them at 2 am.  We are definitely off on that account of spanish culture still. It was still a semi-fun night even though we spent a lot of money or not such a long time in the club. My wonder is if the night life is so late here why does the metro close at 130am? Wouldnt they leave it open so that less people drink and drive after being out so late? Even the bus system ends at 130 am. So strange to me. So if you go out taxi is the only way back before 6am.  I dont think that I can make it until 6am. I am not that type at ALL.  Well anyways we made it back safe and sound after spending 12 euros on cover for Serrano (the bar) and then 22 euros on the cab ride back Ang and I had a vent session. Love having a roommate that I can vent to and she understands/throws it right back at me. We are in the same boat on the same page here and I love it. 


OFF DAY! Yippie. Slept in super late as usual. Woke up and Ang went to the market and then made the best foreign french toast I have ever had. It was same bread and eggs etc but maple syrup here is so expensive so instead we had this carmel topping that was eerily similar to syrup.  Anyways still delicious and we feasted to the point where I did not eat for another 6 hours. It was just too delicious to turn down on our off day.  I went for a run then did an in home leg workout with our tile floor as a slide board, did some push-up circuit and then a few different abs before going shopping for groceries for the week.  I am getting more brave and daring with groceries as I got some small salt potatoes that I am going to make baked in the oven with olive oil and basil/oregano (yep I found all that in the spanish markets).  Then I got some more eggs since I use the egg whites for breakfast and I hard boil the eggs also for my salads. I got some small tomatoes and salad with some cucumbers fun stuff. I love shopping for bargains here its great. Anyways the day was cut short by my going to bed early after reading some of my book. I have read two books since being here and am starting to enjoy reading and writing more again now that I have time to do so.  Before I simply did not have the time to do it and now that I do I really enjoy the relaxation it gives me. It takes me to someone else's world and makes me forget about missing home sometimes.  I just love it. Well anyways besides movies, books and music...I play volleyball eat and sleep which is the life I always dreamed of! Spoiled really is the way that I look at it to have this opportunity.  Well goodnight for now lift early tomorrow morning. Loving it so much here but obviously missing my family and everyone else back at home. Btw my Penn State girls beat Iowa to even their Big Ten record at 1-1.  Skyping with them all soon I hope and then I have a skype date with Katy Poole and some other special people coming up this week. My sister too I think if I am  correct! Miss and Love you all!

Nummy Lynne

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The First 3 Weeks in Madrid/Alcobendas

09/01/2011           10:17 pm

Technically if this were Spain time it would be 4:17 am but I am on the plane still and wide awake. I also want to know if my phone will work when I land in Madrid. I am so excited and nervous for this new adventure to start. The best part is that I get right into the swing of things from the start.  I get to meet my teammates almost as soon as I land and then sleep a little bit and go back to the gym for some volleyball.  I am currently listening to Justin Bieber on the plane after watching Just Go With It and Win Win which were both great movies.  Checking in today sucked though that I must add.  I had to pay an extra $150 for overage charges on my weight when on the website it clearly says that its 70lbs for european travel. Mama was not too pleased with that information since we have already spent a lot of money to make this dream of mine come true. Oh well....I must admit the hardest thing for me was saying goodbye to my sister. We cried and hugged 3/4 times before she left the house and I went to finish packing and get showered before my flight. It was definitely a struggle. Mama was a mess but thats typical and she made me cry more.  Oh and the funniest thing of the day was Sarah Swartzmeyer (spelling??) was at the airport and she is studying abroad in Spain for the semester of strange that we are on the same flight but great news because she is going to come watch a game or two and we get to hang out while we are both in the same country. I may be able to go visit her and have someone I know over here to talk to and travel a little bit with. We shall see how that works out but it was a great coincidence and just welcoming knowing that there are normal people over there too.  Well I suppose that I should try to get some sleep on this flight since it is middle of the night in Spain right now and I am meeting the managers wife at the airport have to look a little lively.  Buenos noche for now and I will be writing hopefully everyday without forgetting any details. 

Alyssa Lynne

9/02/2011 11:03 pm Alcobendas, Espana

So I landed this morning in Madrid Barajas airport at around 6:45am.  Everything on the flight was smooth and calm.  Landing was a little rough but eh stuff happens right?  The food on the plane was not by any means food I should be eating but what else can you do when thats all they are going to serve you.  I was so excited to just meet the girls and get into the gym with them so that I can see where I am at.  Lucky for me these girls are young and weak so we are starting slow and building up into it so I don't burn my shoulder out too fast.  I unpacked for a while and got my room situated (then took some nerdy american pictures) before getting picked up by Lily and heading to the gym to meet the team. After that I walked back to the apt with Heather and Angela (the two american girls) which is about a mile and a quarter walk.  Its going to be a lot of walking in this place but I dont mind because it is so beautiful and everytime that I walk I find something new to stare at.  After we got back I ate some of the fruit I may or may not have stolen from the mercado on the corner because the guy did not have change for a fifty euro.  Oops language barrier.  Then we went to starbucks for some internet time which was another fifteen minute walk which is my guess a mile.  We had some coffee to wake me up and keep me going then got to talk to Bri on skype and erica through my newest app addition textplus or something like that. I sent some emails updated facebook and just enjoyed getting back in touch with people. After that we went back to the apt (Ang and I) while we waited for Heather to finish talking to her bf.  Anyways went to practice from there and it felt good to just get some touches in and be in the gym.  I am definitely one of the top players here which is a nice reverse feeling and Paolo the coach uses me for a lot of examples.  Practice ended we got a ride back to the apt then went to the mercado for some late night dinner. I got some stir fry veggies, cashews and yogurt then some coke zero.  It was a very strange trip but I didn't know what I wanted and it all seemed good and dandy.  Well all is well that end well and I am exhausted so I am going to crash hard right now.  Missing everyone tonight.  Hasta luega


09/03/2011-09/04/2011 Madrid/Alcobendas, Espana

SO the day started out as a pretty typical morning...woke up and went to practice that started at 10am.  We had some conditioning if you can call it that since it was not nearly as hard as Penn State conditioning in preseason. Practice was a lot of defense stuff with partners and the coach Paolo used me as an example the whole time. It was awkward but great at the same time. After practice got done I talked with Fabian and Paolo (manager and coach) about everything.  They talked to me about the league, the opportunities to travel that we will have in the future during the season.  The level of the team and what their goals are for the season.  It was very refreshing because they told me that they were so excited to have me here.  The coach said that he thinks I am a great role model for the girls and they watch me all the time.  He said this is what he needed from american players and that he is pleased with what he sees from me so far. He also said that he sees I like helping and teaching the girls which is true and that is going to be very useful down the road.  After practice we went to Fabian's house with one of our teammates Anita (she is the daughter of Fabian and Lily).  Their other daughter Sofi plays on a team in our league and was the MVP of many different things at only 18 yrs old last year.  They gave us some delicious food, chicken, pasta, gazpacho, water and just good. They also let us hang out and use the internet for a little while before taking us back to our apt.  After we got back I napped for almost 3 hours and then woke up grabbed some food and got ready for the nights festivities.  We pre gamed with two bottles of red wine in the apartment and got all done up to hit the town.  We decided to walk to the bus stop and adventure into Madrid through the bus system but that took wayyyy too long and we didn't even make it far enough into the city so we had to take the metro farther in anyways. Then we got off at the wrong exit and I had to talk our way back into the metro without buying a new ticket (dumb americans).  But anyways we made it into the central part of the city where we went to a few bars and had some drinks.  Some guy fell in love with me and wouldn't leave me alone...Angela had to protect me which was strangely familiar to Blair protecting me from guys who don't get the picture. While angela left to go grab some food from the one bar I talked to Heather and told her my life story.  That was entertaining.  Anyways after hiding from the crazy guy calling me his amor and trying to kiss me on the lips at least 20 times (giving him the cheek every time) we decided to try to venture back to Alcobendas.  We took a taxi back for 22 euros so expensive and thus decided if we ever go into madrid its going to be during the time that we can take a bus or metro back.  If we want a late night out on the town we will stay in alcobendas because none of us can afford to spend that much money on a taxi for one night.  Well we made it back at like 4 am and I crashed hard and woke up at like 230pm the next nothing like back in the college days of waking up that late.  

The 4th was a great day...we had to start touring with Lily and Fabian at 3 and drove pretty far away to see these two pueblos that are famous in Spain.  The first was called ________ and is the most famous middle aged city according to the web and Fabian. It was beautiful and filled with a bull ring and little restaurants all over the ring.  We took loads of pictures and ate some jamon, queso and bread.  Then we walked some more and saw the castle that was there which was beautiful as was the rest of the pueblo.  The next stop was one of four castles that the king and queen have for the four seasons.  There is one for winter, summer, spring and autumn because they like to maintain certain temperatures.  The madrid castle gets too hot in the summer so the one we went to was the summer castle because it was further south and cooler in the summer.  It had so many fountains and gardens perfectly kept with a gorgeous old roman style castle.  The entire grounds was huge but so attractive and just loved every second of it. There were swans in the water just everything you see in movies or on tv was in our vision.  It was incredible.  We drove back to the apt with Fabian and Lily and all of us were so tired so we all fell asleep in the car and got back to Alcobendas in no time at all. Then we grabbed some food in the apt and are currently watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman.  It is great just having the option to see the sites that we saw today. I loved every second of it. AHHH so excited. Well going to go watch the movie with my roommate and check back in later before or after practice....not sure which.  

09/05/2011 12:27 am Alcobendas

"People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.  If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway.  If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.  What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.  If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway."

So today was a rough day in the American apartment. We did nothing really all morning and just lounged around. I went for a walk and went to Burger King to use the internet and just wandered a little bit.  We did not have practice until 7pm so it was a long day of waiting but we enjoyed it.  Then practice came and Paolo told us (always means the americans) that he had to talk to us after practice and that he was not happy. We all thought we were in trouble but he said that he had a problem that he had to fix that the club made.   So we practiced and then at the end Fabian and Paolo took Heather to the back room and sure enough she came back crying.  I knew when they took her what was happening. The club made a mistake and found they are only allowed to have 3 non spanish players on the roster.  Fabian was really nice about it and said that he will pay her contract and let her stay as long as she liked to.  He will also help her find a new team and a new contract if he can and thats what she wants.  He also said that he would pay the rest of her contract if that is what she wished. They are at least nice about it unlike the French team that just dropped me like it was hot and left me hanging.  We are waiting to hear what she decides but we all went to get Gelato after this happened to make her a little happier then we watched Zoolander to make her smile a little bit.  I want her to stay since she is the one that knows about me and is the sweetest girl but I understand wanting to go also. This is a tough spot to put her in since she loves it here. Oh well we shall see what she decides.  Goodnight for now. We have lift in the morning then practice in the afternoon and nothing at night. We all decided tomorrow we will go to get mexican dinner at a restaurant nearby to also cheer up Heather a little bit after the bad news.  Professional sports suck sometimes although I want to play them for a very long time :) Goodnight. 


9/06/2011  11:30 Alcobendas

So today was an interesting day because we started lifting this morning. The young girls on our team are sooooo weak its incredible how much they struggle with just lifting the bar.  The americans (who are very strong girls according to all the coaches) had a different weights plan which made me sore in a matter of minutes because of the miscalculation of kg/lbs.  Just a terrible mistake on my part to make but hey I know I will be feeling it in the morning and I decided one of my goals is to leave spain very vey in shape.  SO its all good.  The roommates and I decided we would eat then go to starbucks after lift and spend the time in between using some internet since its like a luxury here (not really but for us yes).  The next practice was at 4 for setters and 430 for us and from starbucks it is like a mile and a half walk if not farther (no exaggeration for those who know me). We probably walk at least 3 miles everyday because to the gym and back is 2 and a half miles and then going to the market for food and starbucks for internet which is pretty far away it all adds up.  I weighed in at 151 lbs or 68.8 kg which is not unusual for me during a preseason I am just hoping that during season it goes down to 142 where it was last year at penn state.  The night practice was great because we finally got to hit and the players were all just surprised by how hard I can hit the ball.  It was funny to watch the young spanish girls duck out ofthe way of some of the balls. They are learning to not be scared on defense.  The assistant coach that we have even said to me you are very strong girl. Haha I get a kick out of it because if they saw people like carp hit it would be even more entertaining for them.  Well anyways practice went well and we got our schedule for the next couple weeks. We have 4 friendly games before the season starts on october 16th and we also will no longer have sunday or monday practices starting in 2 weeks...what am I going to do with myself...oh thats right travel :) so excited.  During the entire season we will always have sunday and monday off so where ever ang and I can get in two days we are going to go.  So excited.  Anyways going to sign off for now oh and we went back to starbucks after practice before it closed.  OHHH and after having a mexican dinner at the same little restaurant area that starbucks is in. Let me tell you the portion sizes here are insanely small compared to the US no wonder why people are skinny here and obese in the US. I paid 4 euros for a quesadilla and got a soft taco shell folded in half with chicken and cheese inside, a spoonful of refried beans with 4 chips in them and a half dixie cup of salsa. I was like what?!? So ridiculous. But anyways for real signing off this time.  Goodnight to those that are still experiencing dinner time back in the states. 

9/7/2011-9/08/2011.             3:30am                      Alcobendas

So the last two days have been a blur and I forgot to write in here about whats been going on.  For those of you that are interested I am planning on sending out life updates every 2 weeks or so with a semi journal format.  Hopefully each will contain something you find intriguing or interesting about the life of a professional athlete playing in a different country.  So starting with the 7th which was wednesday of this week.  We had one practice on wednesday at night which is how the weeks are going to go for the rest of the season.  The other two americans woke up early to get a workout in but I slept since I am still adjusting to the time change and haven't been able to fall asleep much earlier than 3am or wake up successfully much earlier than 9am (only on the days that I have to be up that early can I get up that early, followed by a 2 hour nap at least).  Well the before the practice I went to burger king twice for wireless usage since we still don't have wireless in our apt.  Talked to some people and downloaded more new music since that is now becoming a great hobby of mine to pick up over here. I even downloaded the free latino song of the week which is also going to be a new hobby of mine.  I played words with friend and hanging with friends with people that are back in the states and of course checked facebook (its a must to keep in the loop with everyone even my mom has one now...weird).  I walked to practice on my own since I now know where I am going I enjoy just wandering by myself to adventure and see things on my own time.  The independence thing is amazing and my confidence grows a little more each day to adventure farther or speak more spanish.  Practice was really shitty and the coach made sure that the little spanish girls knew it too.  At the end before we did our conditioning (so easy) he told them all that their problem is not in the physical part or technical part of the game it is mental. They are not focused for very long and don't think of the game as we elderly players do...its an art.  It is a gift that you play this game that is so pretty and precise and they are too immature to see it yet but will soon get it.  After practice we all got a ride back to the apt and hung out read some of my newly downloaded book something borrowed and then went to sleep.  It was mostly a blah day for me and I didn't accomplish much at all. 

As for the 8th, we had lifting to start the day. I ran out of breakfast food and woke up too late to go the market to buy anything so I had some nuts and some coke zero for breakfast...needless to say I was a little weak at lift and didn't feel too hot afterwards.  Mind you we also have to walk a mile and a quarter to practice and back so I was just a little tired...oh and wait I ran to lift to get a little warm-up and extra work in.  After lift we all came back home and I housed a little personal pan Hawaiian pizza that was so delicious. Thanks to the portion sizes being so much smaller here I ate the whole thing without feeling the least bit of guilt. I proceeded to go take that siesta that I must  take when waking up at anytime before 1pm haha and woke up at 330 to walk another mile and a half to starbucks for some internet usage.  I love sitting in starbucks and watching the little spanish teenagers gather or the businessmen and women meet casually.  Spain is just so different and I love witnessing it all unravel before my very own eyes.  After sitting in starbucks for what seemed like 5 minutes (it was really 2 hours) we had to walk to practice another at least mile and a half maybe more since we seemed to take a minor detour out of the way.  Practice was much much much better as we did some serve receive which is obviously my favorite thing to do. Then we went through 2 of our team serve receive rotations with a defense on the other side. We had to win 6 balls before the other side won 4 and of course we only lost once (still enough to make me mad).  I chanted ganemos on accident and proceeded to correct myself and say ganamos immediately afterwards (it means we win for those that don't know any spanish).  Paolo (our coach) smiled at me and laughed since he knows I just love the game and winning as well and then we moved on.  I seem to impress the little spanish girls because of how hard I can hit but also with control. Its quite funny to me because there are plenty of girls back in the US that can do what I am doing here. Oh well they got me and I will work with what I have been given the opportunity to work with lol.  Well that was pretty much the extent of our practice.  We got dropped off at Al Campo after practice by Lily and did some grocery shopping, much needed on my end, then walked to the gelato place for a snack.  We sat and ate together then walked and talked back to the apartment where we all just hung around ate some newly purchased food and just relaxed.  We listen to a lot of music over here in our down time. I then watched some tv episodes showered and now I am ready for bed. But still cant fall asleep. Its entertaining to me now but eventually will get old this whole not being able to fall asleep thing.  Oh well. Goodnight for now I am going to try to go sleep. Miss all my people back in the states. Thanks for all the support from afar. 

9/9/2011 3:03 am Alcobendas

Today was a very long stretched out day of nothing legitimately.  I woke up at 1:30 pm and made myself some huevos con jamon y pavo (eggs with ham an turkey) then also had some yogurt and an apple with some orange juice.  One of the girls on the team said that the Spanish way to eat is breakfast like you are a king, lunch like a princess and dinner like a slave.  So my breakfast food supply is ginormous and my lunch supply are salad things and then dinner is usually a protein shake (soon to run out because you cannot ship food or supplements....poor thought process on my part).  We all went to starbucks as an apt grouping at like 4ish and we were there until we had to leave for practice at like 725.  All of the americans were there at 8 ready to warm up because thats what Paolo said, but the Spanish girls were late and caught in traffic because today was a holiday of some sorts.  Apparently spain takes a lot of days off for random holidays that could be the smallest of things.   Ani says that there are so many off days here it is incredible.  Anyways after the spanish girls got there and warmed up we did some blocking stuff and then got into partner work before we moved into attacking combinations to work on timing of different sets. I got to work on hitting pipes which was fun for me. The girls just look at me like a god sometimes when I hit which I am definitely not used to nor do I love it.  But its semi entertaining when they say things like "ohhh my god" in their spanish accents after I hit a ball.  Well when practice ended we got paid half of our paychecks which we will be using tomorrow part of them. I am soooo excited we are going on a bus tour of Madrid that you can hop on and off where ever you want to go site see. We bought the tickets for 12 euros which is 8 euros cheaper than if we were to purchase them at the city center.  But it is going to be legit because we are going to just tour on the bus take pictures and stop where ever we want for more opportunities to take photos and walk around.   Then sunday we are going to Toledo for another site seeing day and its going to be a blast. this is kind of Heathers last hooray with us as her roommates since after this weekend she will probably be leaving for a new team or back to the states.  So we are fully taking advantage of her being here still and using it take lots of pictures and see the entire city that surrounds us before she leaves. Well, we do have weight lifting in the morning first so I guess I should technically be asleep right now but still having trouble adjusting to that time difference and I am getting used to sleeping in since there are no classes, no homework, no errands to run just volley and more volley. LOVE IT!! This is the life I imagined for myself and its unreal that it is here.  Well goodnight! Hoping that the psu girls are doing well against stanford right now. :( missing them but I know they will be fine! Goodnight again!

9/10/2011-09/11/2011 3:45 am Alcobendas

The day was supposed to be a great planned out day of touring and drinking amidst the madrid city tour bus system.  We had weight lifting in the morning and then returned to the apt to shower an get ready before heading to the metro and into Madrid.  We were very uninformed on where the bus could or would pick us up so we just went to the Saint Bernabeu metro stop because the soccer stadium is right there.  It is a big enough attraction that we figured it would be close enough to a stop for the bus but our noses took us in the wrong direction and we found ourselves at an Irish pub for a few beers before heading to find the bus stop. We saw the big red bus and found the stop outside the stadium and hopped on (since it was a hop on hop off one day tour).  The best part of the day was realizing that there was a Real Madrid game that night and the vendors were out in the street like crazy. It was awesome to see and just incredible to realize how big the stadium was as well as the fan support that this town has for that team. Reminded me of Penn State football and what its like on a game day in State College. SO incredible. Anyways we hopped on the bus and toured the city of Madrid from atop a double decker bus.  Saw so many gorgeous fountains, statues, monuments and people everywhere. The coolest thing about Spain is they have round-a-bouts everywhere and each one has something important in the middle. The buildings are all so historical and classy looking its like living in a fairytale when you look around.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting and just staring around and taking so many pictures, some good some bad due to the fact that we were moving. Well anyways we then got off and decided that we wanted to wander and see the gorgeous Retiro Park which was really close to one of the hop off bus stops.  SO we wandered there and it was well worth it. There was a mini pond with people boating on it an then a building an stairs in the background.  Then we also found the crystal house that was all windows and had a pond in front of it also. The pond had the largest ducks I have EVER seen around it and then there was also a waterfall with some crazy Irish people who snuck underneath it and were in their underwear just enjoying the waterfall until some security guard came and made them get out. So funny. Anyways we then decided we just wanted to head back and on our way out of the park we met some guys from Atlanta and florida (you quickly learn when you hear english without an accent you want to know where they are from lol).  We walked and Heather and I decided to get back on the hop on off bus while angela just went straight to the metro and we would meet at home. We stopped for some grocery shopping and gelato (best I have ever had) then headed home. I ate some delicious hawaiin pizza then crashed hard because it was a VERY long day. 


We were supposed to head to Toledo today which is an ancient city and so beautiful but I woke up at 12 and by the time Heather and I got ready it was a little too late but we still went to the train station anyways. We got there and found out it was a little too late for us to plan that and then we wandered outside the train station to see what we were by.  Then I found a GNC and bought some soy protein because my mom cant ship over my protein so that was a huge score for me.  We found some cool parks and areas outside the train station then decided to head on the metro to go see Plaza Mayor. It was beautiful and reminded me of a park setting with many performers and people just wandering about having a great time. The area was gorgeous and just ahhh so european.  We also discovered this great little place called Museo Jamon which is like a meat shop with a bar in it. Their specials are a glass of wine or beer for 1 euro so of course we have to stop at three separate ones that we see throughout the day. They also are very kind to customers here and they give them a plate of appetizers everytime they make a purchase even though its one euro worth of a purchase.  Well anyways we then went out into the streets where it was night time and we found some street vendors and I also found my dolce cabanna light blue for 15 euros (I am a good bargainer because I don't understand the spanish and they think I am just holding out for lower prices lol).  Then I got a pair of ray ban sunglasses for 10 euros which is so funny because both of those purchases combined would have cost me at least 250 dollars in the US. But here it was 35 euros total. Which is like 45 dollars total. So great! Well then we took the metro home and went to BK for some internet usage before getting to the apt.  I crashed hard again so tired from just walking around all over the place. But two great days on the weekend. SUCKED having to listen and watch penn state volleyball and football go down this weekend. Then missing the US for the sept 11th memorial stuff. But all in all two good days on our off weekend. First friendly game comes on the upcoming saturday so excited to play! Goodnight for now though :) miss you all! 

9/12/2011 1:18am Alcobendas

Hola was a shorter day than expected to be simply because I did not wake up until 2 pm :) the glorious life of a pro athlete with one practice a day late at night. Haha not exactly what I was expecting but one thing is for sure I don't dislike it. I actually LOVE IT. I woke up and ate some eggs jamon y pavo along with some yogurt.  It was delicious and there was no rush to do anything.  Then I got on the internet to check my email and try to finalize the list of people that this journal is going to get sent out to before sending it sometime mid week.  I am keeping a list so I can just make a list serve type deal so that I dont miss anyone who requested or deserves to be filled in on my life updates.  Well anyways I went to burger king to grab some free wifi and download some more movies music and tv shows off iTunes (soon to be my livelihood when Grey's Anatomy starts).  Then I came home and made myself some lunch before heading back to Burger King for some more internet time before practice.  Practice started at 7 tonight and the chicitas were late which annoyed Paolo and set practice off to a somewhat anger filled start.  It has all been pretty simple stuff and the girls are learning but they are also not very tough. And for those who know me I am sure you can picture how badly I have to bite my tongue first for the language barrier and second for their age. It has only been a week and a half but I want to light them up and show them that they are not working hard enough if they want their careers to go far. By no means are these girls athletically any better than other girls their age so nothing sets them apart but they dont see that right now and I dont know how to say that quite yet.  Practices sometimes lack focus because of their age and the americans get angry about it but we are learning different ways to deal with it. My spanish is the best of the group so I try to help the girls.  The most frustrating part is Paolo is the first coach that I have had that some of his systems he wants to run for team defense and blocking dont make much sense to me. But he has the experience coaching in the Superliga of Italy and now I will go with it and see where it takes me. If it doesnt take me far you can bet your money on me going back to what I know works for me.  Well anyways practice ended and I enjoyed some strawberry soy protein and some delicious veggies along with some nuts before showering and hitting the hay. The day was used for more learning and more adventuring :) tomorrow another day in Espana! I cannot wait. Goodnight all! 


9/13/2011-9/16/2011 5:10pm Alcobendas

Tuesday -   

Tuesdays and Thursdays potentially are turning into my favorite days because I wake up eat some food and then head to the gym for lift. The run is getting faster and stronger each day which makes me feel good.  I lifted with only the americans which is much nicer because they are focused and we get things done a lot faster.  Then we headed home and took a nap after eating some delicious eggs with broccoli.  The nap is incredible because usually I go lift to class then class again then practice then homework and sleepy time comes so fast. But without school I get to break up my days however I want to. I love it. Practice was not until kind of late at night which sucked but I am getting used to the large gap and broke it up with some internet time as usual at burger king.  We also wandered a new way home from the gym this morning and I found a fruit market and a new supermarket to try and shop for deals at.  I love wandering and finding new things around the apt.  Like we have a metro station 300 meters from our apt rather than a 20 minute walk like we have been taking. Although this weekend I think I am going to stay in and try to get some sleep and catch up on things.  Especially one thing is uploading pictures and getting this journal online to a blog. Its been a bit of a crazy few days. Alright bed time for me here. Goodnight. 

Wednesday - 

Practice isn't until late tonight so I slept in until like 2 pm as usual which I am getting to love since I dont get to do that very often when I am in the states.  Made myself a delicious eggs, peppers and onions breakfast with an apple and a yogurt.  I find it much easier to eat better here since its cheap to go to the fruteria and get things cheap.  The only thing that sucks is that I crave coffee and we have an expresso maker but its not quite the same as a cafe americano from starbucks which costs me a whopping 2.60 euros.   Anyways I couldn't resist the starbucks urge today so I went there after hanging around the house for a while and got myself an americano along with some wifi that was acting up.  Then all three of us walked to practice the dreaded mile and a half walk.  My roommates are 6'0" and 6'2" so their strides are so much longer than mine and when they bust out their speed walk I get left in the dust unless I somewhat jog.  As I say to them all the time "I'm just a little guy" then they laugh and keep the same pace. Its entertaining for them as it is for me. Well practice went well but we had this new girl come try out who thought she was hot stuff.  She is shorter than me, doesnt get remotely close to a forearm over the net and is just lazy.  Yet she had this attitude about her which of course made me mad and turned on the show off in me to try and just put her in her place a bit (not in a mean way).  I am learning all too quickly as Fabian (manager) says there is a different culture here in Spain where they dont work very hard but want a lot in return for their work.  After practice we went home and I ate some of my soy protein shaker which I am growing addicted to and I LOVE the shakes.  I feel like my recovery time is so much better but that may be all in my head.  Anyways bed time since we have lift in the morning. We had conditioning today and all of us were a bit just dead. Not sore just muscles felt so dead and exhausted.  Gotta work that endurance up a little bit to get me jumping and jumping well for long periods of time.  Alright good night for real this time.


Today was kind of a weird day since we knew it was going to be Heather's last practice with the team. I had asked Lily (Fabian's wife and the mother of Ani one of my teammates) if we could do a dinner with Heather after practice as a going away gift for her.  She unfortunately had to leave since they signed too many americans because the second league in Spain only allows for 3 foreign players while the first league allows for 4 foreigners. There was a bit of a mix up on Fabian's part similar to my situation with the France team so I felt terrible for her. She loved it here and wanted to stay so badly but would not have been able to play at all just train and get paid and hang out in Spain rather than compete. So she figured out after a week that Budapest Hungary is where she would be headed tomorrow. Anyways we knew all day that this was the plans for the night. So at practice after doing a few drills Heather decided to sit since her already injured ankle was acting up and she wanted it healthy for Hungary. After practice two of the spanish girls that speak english pretty well, Ani and Sofi presented Heather with a book of Madrid that Lily signed for her.  Heather teared up a little bit which was sad but all the girls gave her the typical european double cheek kiss and hugged her goodbye. Then Paula (old player for the club, now a coach), Paolo (our coach), Fabian (manager), Lily (Fabian's wife), Ani (Fabian and Lily's daughter), Heather, Angela and myself all went out to a typical Spanish restaurant.  We had so many different types of seafood since that is HUGE here. We had this large shrimp looking thing that we had to crack in half and then break off legs (which freaked me out) but it tasted so delicious.  Then we had some octopus which also freaked me out but tasted delicious.  We had mussels which were gross to me but I ate a few to be courteous to Fabian who was paying for all of the food.  We also had some delicious desserts as they brought out all the selections they had in little sampler sizes.  We had chocolate flan, some crumb cake thing, some fried milk I believe, and then helado (ice cream) which was very very sweet. All were delicious since we were starving and exhausted from practice. We housed everything that was on our half of the table loving every second of it. Then they dropped us off at the apt and Lily said a solemn heartfelt goodbye to Heather as she teared up and said she is always welcome in the family.  It was very cute but also sad to realize that tomorrow we would lose one of our roommates and new friends. All in all it was a great night send off for Heather and very sweet to have so many people of the new family we have formed there to say sorry and goodbye on her last night.  Sleepy time for me though. Goodnight


Today is our first scrimmage and I slept in until like 1 pm again since we have nothing until we have to be ready for Lily to pick us up at 7.  Heather is packing all day and Angela went on a little run/workout while I just played on the internet.  We waited for Angela to get back and when she did we decided the last thing that we wanted to do as a group was go to the delicious italian gelato place one last time.  So when Angela returned off we went to get some gelato and just sit outside and take in all of Spain that Heather had come to enjoy in the past month.  We walked back and stopped at a new market for Heather to get some nuts and fruit for her plane trip to Hungary that night.  Then sure enough fifteen minutes after we get back to the apt Fabian calls and says he will be there in 20 minutes to pick her up and take her to the airport.  So we said our goodbyes and gave our hugs then promised that we would see each other soon enough and promised to go visit since Budapest is supposed to be beautiful.  She left after a few sniffles and packed her bags into Fabian's car then was off. Angela and I got ready for our scrimmage and packed our bags waiting for Lily's call that she was here. She asked us to bring a knife down and we went down to find treats of yogurt (on the go) bottles and then this corn bread stuff that we were waiting to eat until after the match. So delicious. The match was strange in this little gym that was scalding hot with a good number of fans even though it was a friendly match.  Audra showed up and to my surprise she was the same Audra Jeffers that I played against at Penn State since she was a Wisconsin Badger.  She was like I know you lol. It caught me off guard that is until I saw her hit a ball in warm-ups and immediately recognized the vertical leap and hello straight down hit.  She is going to be fun to play with thats for sure. Well anyways we killed them in the first set like 25-8 and I had three aces and a ton of kills on only 2 errors (one serve and one attack).  Not too bad for not hitting for a while. The second game we were a little shaky in the beginning but we still won 25-12 and I again had another ace and maybe 7-8 more kills. I hit one really really good pipe (backrow attack for those who are not in with volleyball lingo) and it felt like the good ol days.  I missed hitting so much but I also miss the high levelI got to play libero at. Audra understands completely as she could play at a much higher level but its her first year playing indoor and sacrificed level to live near where her husband is playing pro basketball (in Madrid).  Anyways after the scrimmage we went to Lily and Fabians house for a delicious dinner. They are so gracious and giving with us that it is unbelievable to me.  Such a kind hearted family that I am getting close with and calling my own. Just love them.  Some pesto and marinara pasta and tortilla (spanish potato pie kind of) and then this seafood calzone thing is the best way to describe it. A glass of wine, some water and some electrolyte drink later we were leaving their house to head back to our apt for bed time. This was around 1am that we left there so the spanish culture has sunk in...late late late dinners and nights with lots of napping and sleeping in. I love it though as most of you would know I love my sleep.  Well anyways goodnight after a long exhausting day for me.  So happy to be playing the sport that I love in such a great organization with kindhearted people around me. When did I get so lucky? 

9/17/2011-9/20/2011 1:22am Alcobendas


So saturday was supposed to be our day to go out on the town with our assistant coach Ana but we decided against it due to the fact that it was a four level discoteca club that required dressy attire.  Angela and I were not feeling that scene so we laid around basically all day and finally decided to go into Plaza Mayor where Heather and I found Museo de Jamon (aka beers and wine for 1 euro along with free appetizers).  We walked into the Plaza and  I showed Angela all the beautiful places that we saw before then we proceeded to have a few cervezas before heading out to another part of the area we were in.  Basically to find the other Museo de Jamon that was within the 2 block radius and search out some more appetizers.  After this Angela was antsy and wanted to wander to another bar so we went to this third place to get one larger beer with a plate of bocadillos (mini sandwiches) and chips for 2 euros.  We are getting much better at finding the deals that are in place in the areas that we venture to.  This is where the night starts to take a twist haha.  We then wandered from here to another Irish Pub that we had been in before which was featuring an english singing cover band so we ordered another cerveza and hung out for a while.  A little bit later in that same pub a guy came up to us and said "so you guys aren't from around here are you?"  We have become well aware to a traditional "American" english speaking accent and love to find out where those people are from whenever we encounter it.  There are  obviously others that speak english but usually with a British accent or an Irish twang to it.  So the "American-ized" sound is becoming a tune that our ears immediately pick up on.  Needless to say this guy was from America and from California so we made a new friend. David is his name and his law firm sent him over here for 2 years to work in Spain.  He has already been here a year so he knows Madrid very well and after we finished our drinks he decided to show us a few other places.  The next bar that we went to was a little bar that had many different rooms and you could write on the walls (which of course we did) and I got on Ang's back and left our mark.  David bought us a round there and then we wandered to the next place, a dance club.  One tid bit of information you might all be glad to know is that in Madrid (I am not sure if it applies to all of Europe yet) people dont start going out until at least 1 or 2 am.  Returning home at 6 am is the usual and its completely different scene here.  So anyways at this time we had missed our chance to take the Metro back to Alcobendas which was a bummer. But we were living in the moment.  So we went to this club and I am so unaware of how long we were there because it was a blast. We danced to this great DJ that was playing American music (its normal here) and just drank some more and had a great time.  Then we realized that it was as late as it was and we had missed our metro closing time and David said that he had an extra loft in his apartment that nobody uses since he lives alone and we were more than welcome to crash there for the night and metro it back in the am.  Of course to us exhausted americans not used to the early am return home style we agreed and David walked us around the block to his apt. He made is a delicious chick and spinach salad and then I crashed up on the loft twin bed and Angela on the couch in the living room.  Angela came and woke me up in the morning and David said he was happy he met us and we were welcome to visit and hang out anytime.  I think he was just in love with Angela since she is from Cali and then the fact that we told him we were professional volleyball players didnt hurt our luck either. :) so we now have connections in Madrid near a very safe nice part of town with great night life...perfect.  Onto Sunday though


Today simply put was a day of nothing.  We did nothing, I watched movies and read my book ate some food and lounged around all day. It was GREAT! 


No practice in the am so of course yet again sleeping in til 1:30pm...why not? Nothing stopping me from it so why not enjoy the rest.  Anyways woke up and decided to try and go for a run even though I didnt want to run very far or fast since my knee was hurting.  I did not make it far or very fast lol.  I returned home and grabbed my wallet deciding today was my day to wander and get great grocery deals...and that I did. I wandered to the four grocery stores and fruterias that we have located around our area.  I found and made a list of where to buy what for the best prices so we know for future references when we are running low on something which place has the best deals typically.  I love that here in Alcobendas unlike the US there are still small family owned businesses ALL over the place. Clothing stores that are not name brand, panaderia, fruteria, pasteleria, posteria (all specialized shops for such things as bread, pastry, dessert, fruit, veggies).  The small business plan is not falling apart here as it is in the US with large Wal-Marts. The prices at the smaller places are typically the same if not lower than the larger place we go to called Al Campo.  Its very interesting to me but I love it because the family places are so friendly and helpful with our Spanish limitations. They love that we try though and thats encouraging.  Anyways I loaded up on everything from the three different stores. Eggs, meats, pasta, sauces, juice, veggies, fruits, frozen foods, and much more.  I still have enough euro left for next week too which makes me happy because I have yet to even get paid the rest of this months money. Its great budgeting it out and feeling successful doing so. Big girl status for sure.  Well then off to practice and it was very very very slow.  We did literally nothing until the end when we did our conditioning in which Paolo lied to us about the times that we were training (I think more for the Spanish girls but still it was not nice thinking we were running for only 15 seconds and instead running for 30 seconds. LAME. Well anyways after practice Ang and I went home and I made some pasta and had my protein shake with some veggies. YUMMY! Goodnight again

So Tuesday is lift day, I ran to lift and yet again feeling much better and stronger with the days that pass. Although this morning I woke up with a HUGE charlie horse in my calf and trying to explain that to an Italian coach was interesting/entertaining and just ultimately very funny. He didn't want tme to do any hang cleans because of it or calf raises which I was thankful for the calf raises part. It was not my any means a tough workout due to me not having to do the other two exercises. Its weird because I feel like he thinks I am fragile. He always asks if I can jump more or if I am ok to do this or that. I am used to working my butt off and never getting asked if I can go more, its never really been an option I have had. I semi dislike having the option it makes me feel weak even though I never say that I cant go on. Just having the option makes me feel less qualified haha. If that makes any sense. I like being the tough girl that gets challenged and asked to do more rather than asked if I am ok to do more. I AM NOT FRAGILE :) Well anyways went home and did some more grocery shopping for the rest of the week which made me also feel accomplished. I like going to the little places so much and trying to get good sales and prices from the town people. They are so kind and helpful when we try to use spanish. Well anyways beyond that practice at night was terrible. Paolo was in such a bad mood and he just would go from being ok to angry at the drop of a hat. I am used to getting yelled at which is fine but I am not used to not being able to bring the team in and speak to them about whats going wrong. Half of them would understand and care the other half would not understand and even if they did would not care. Spanish culture is very different than in the US when it comes to training. Paolo says that Italian is more similar to the US when it comes to training and he has to cater it to the Spanish culture and age level of the girls. So we did some punishment running (NOTHING like penn states punishment running, it was like cake) for Paolo being angry with us. After practice Fabian and Lily invited us back to the house for dinner and it was this Shephards pie type Argentine dish that Lily had made. It had meat with hard boiled eggs, peppers, onions, garlic and other veggies in it. Then She put mashed potatoes on top and o my goodness it was so delicious. They are the kindest people I have met in a long time (apart from all the penn state people that have also become like family to me). We got dropped off back at home and went quickly to sleep since we were just so full and content. I love getting to eat at their house and enjoy their company. Lily is becoming like a second mother to me since as I left she offered me some nail polish remover and cotton as she saw my nails were chipping...true motherhood lol.

Wednesday was a weird day because Paolo cancelled practice so Angela and I worked out in the morning (I simply ran 2 and a half miles) then rested the rest of the day before we had to meet at the gym for video. We watched video from the Italian teams that Paolo coached on how our defense and blocking should look. Then we watched age footage from our scrimmage on what we looked like. It was great for me to see since I miss watching film and breaking down whats good/bad about my game. I truly love seeing it so I can fix it. Then Paolo said that if we win the "cup" that we are playing in this weekend he will make us Tiramisu. He also treated us to some lovely just snack foods after we finished watching video and then once we had scarfed some of that down Fabian invited us to his house for Salmon. We have learned to never turn down a free meal as they are great at cooking and we just love their company. So after already being full we went to their house and had this veggie quiche type dish for appetizer and then salmon and a side salad for the main course all SOOOO YUMMY. I loved the Salmon and it made me miss eating fish. Delicious. Well once again we left very content and stuffed from their house and Fabian dropped us off at our apt and came upstairs to fix our new washer. They hadnt turned the water on so when we tried to run it there was noise but no water and no spnning. So he fixed it and we now have a washer and clean clothes again! It was a great end to a great day! LOVING it over here.

Goodnight for now