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 school...so 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.
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 yummy..so 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 day....lol 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 amigos...today 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 Spain...so 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
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.
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