Senior Basketball Players Blog on their Italy Trip

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Back in the States!

The guys had a great last night in Rome but it was time to head home. We departed Rome early in the morning. The plane ride from Rome to Detroit was 10 hours. It would be a long one.

On the plane the guys were lucky because the plane offered many new movies that had just come out not too long ago. We all watched 4-5 movies on the plane.

Once we landed it was really starting to hit everyone that we were actually done living the life in a foreign country. It was time to get back on the normal grind at school. Some of the guys got rides home from the airport, but some had to ride back to Albion on the Brit Bus.

We were to Ann Arbor when everyone on the bus heard a loud popping noise. Everyone had talked about stopping at a gas station and getting some normal food but we were joking. At this point we just wanted to get home. Well, we got what we had jokingly wished for. We pulled over and called for help. It would be 45 minutes before another Brit Bus could come rescue us from the gas station parking lot. We decided to go search for some American food!

Fortunately, there was an Applebee’s right across the street. We all went there and had a great first American meal back. No glass bottles of water for 4 or more people, no gas water, free refills, one large plate full of food and best of all it was paid for by Coach Turner!

We ate and by the time we were done Coach Thomas was there for our rescue with another Brit Bus. We finally got on the road back to Albion.

It was an amazing trip and we want to thank everyone who made it possible!!!! It is cliche to say but it really was a life changing experience and we will never forget it. Thank you for reading and for the last time, ciao for now!

Last Full Day

It was a scolding hot day at the Vatican.

It was a scolding hot day at the Vatican.

It had been an amazing trip up to this point. Everyone says it and it sounds cliche but it truly had been a life changing experience. We still had a tour of the Vatican. We were all looking forward to seeing the great history that was there.

The tour started early again and in order to get into the Vatican we were told that we had to wear a polo t-shirt, khaki pants, dress shoes and no water bottles. We weren’t looking forward to that part of it just because of how hot Rome was. The temperature was in the 100′s!

Once inside we realized that not everyone followed these rules and the security letting people in didn’t enforce the rules so strictly. As soon as we walked in and started our tour we saw someone who was wearing a shirt with an advertising on it with no collar, short shorts, flip flops and was carrying a water bottle that he brought in. It was not cool! But after thinking about it we were representing Albion College the best way possible. Everyone turned their heads at us because we were dressed up and there are very few tall people in Italy so we stuck out.

Exploring the Vatican and Sistine Chapel was something that we will all remember forever.  The paintings were so good they were closer to life like than some things you see today in print and television. We learned that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the chapel. It took him four years and he worked on it some everyday. As Lawrence put it, “he had a ton of free time.”

After a long hot day seeing the Vatican the guys were ready to get some lunch and ice cold water. But of course we ate at the one restaurant that only served carbonated water or as the Italians call it “gas water.” None of the guys like gas water except Brennon who lived in Germany for a year when he was younger and got used to it there. So the guys really sipped on their one can of Coke to make it last. Once lunch came the guys chowed down on their food and we were on our own until dinner.

Dinner was very delicious, we had more of a selection this time. Most of the guys ordered a steak which was such a nice treat from pasta and pizza for most of the trip. After eating, each of the guys told something they learned on the trip and their favorite experience. Coach Turner and Coach May each had some nice words for the group as well. Then the seniors thanked Marta and Rebecca, who lead us around Italy for the ten days, for all they had done. They did everything from choosing restaurants, planning our tours and translating for us. They had their hands full and did a great job! It was a great way to send us off back to the states in the morning. Be on the look out for the last blog coming soon. Ciao for now!

Rome at Last

The guys checking out the Colosseum.

Everyone really enjoyed the Colosseum.

Once business was taken care of on the court it was time to enjoy the rest of our time in Rome. We were scheduled for a tour of the Colosseum and the surrounding area. Everyone was looking forward to seeing it.

Coach May planned our tour for 8am. Yes 8am! We had just arrived in Rome at 2am earlier that morning. It was not fun getting up that early but it was the best bet seeing as how Rome was the hottest city we had been to. We could have taken the tour at 8am with temperatures as high as mid 90′s or as high as mid 100′s in the early afternoon. So everyone agreed the earlier, the better.

Our hotel was only about a block or so from the Colosseum so it was a short walk. It was unreal walking down the street and seeing one of the 7 wonders of the world. When we got inside we were able to see where all the slaves, animals and gladiators were kept before the fights would have taken place. In fact, if you’ve ever seen the movie, “Gladiator” our tour guide said it was very accurate according to the history of how the fights actually went.

Our tour guide was also explaining to us that the gladiators actually were fat because then if their skin was pierced while in battle it would help protect their internal organs. So if you see a movie with a gladiator in it and he has a six pack, that part isn’t so accurate. Going to the Colosseum was a life changing experience and the knowledge we gained there will always be with us.

As well as the inside of the Colosseum we explored the surrounding area which was amazing. There were ruins from many different time periods. We learned that the ruins from different time periods were actually from one generation literally burying the previous in an attempt to erase them.

After the tour we had lunch and then were on our own for the rest of the day. Some of the guys checked out the shops in order to do some last minute shopping for loved ones back home. It was a great first day in Rome. Look out for our next blog coming soon! Ciao for now!

Game Day

The guys with the Italian team we played.

The guys with the Italian team we played.

Exploring Siena was a great time and now it was time for us to move on to the next city in Italy, Rome. However, we had a few things to take care of before we could go enjoy Rome. It was game day.

We woke up and took a bus to a lake that we learned was the second largest volcanic lake in the world and some of our student assistant’s family owned a restaurant right on the lake. We stopped at Jayson’s uncle’s restaurant for a team lunch before heading off to our game. It was as usual delicious. His uncle even surprised us with a little taste of home; some french fries and fried seafood!

Everyone was almost done eating when Jayson’s uncle finally came out to see him. It was exactly what everyone expected to see when he came to say hello. “This is my nephew, Jayson!” In the deepest Italian accent, said uncle Mocini. Everyone was excited for Jayson and his family. It was only the second time Jayson had been able to see his family overseas in his lifetime.

After dinner we knew it was time to take care of business. We had come to Italy to enjoy it, but we also came to play a game and win that game. Everyone knew it was time to focus on our mission.

It was a long bus ride to a small village in the mountains. When we rolled up everyone thought we were stopping to take a bathroom break. It did not look like a place where a basketball game would be played. But we unloaded the bus and went to the gym confused.

Everyone was psyched to play a game for the first time since a tough loss to Adrian that ended our season. It was a close game until the 3rd quarter when we started to take control. Kolin’s dunk on a fast break really got us going and pumped us up on the other end of the floor. We ended up winning handily by 20 but there was a loss. Mike (Mooney) went down when driving to the basket for a layup and injured his ankle. He was in a wheel chair for the remainder of the trip. After the game, we took a picture which was pretty awkward to say the least with the other team.

It was a very cool experience to be able to compete with kids about our age but that we couldn’t really speak with due to the language barrier. It was also very special to send Luke and Bob out on a good note with a win. It would be their official final game as Albion College Britons.

After cleaning up we headed to dinner just down the street. Everyone just wanted to get to Rome. We wanted this the be a quick dinner and get on the road again. We looked forward to enjoying our time in Rome. The next blog is coming soon. Ciao for now!

Exploring Siena

Some of the guys at the top of the Torre Del Mangia.

Some of the guys at the top of the Torre Del Mangia.

It was late when we arrived in Siena and the guys noticed that there were people all over. We were excited to see the city. We got a good nights sleep and woke up early for a tour. We saw where there was a horse race the day before we got there. You could tell it was a big deal because there were pictures of it posted all over the city and the highlights of it were on every TV you saw. It is a biannual tradition in Siena. It happens every July and August and there is a horse for every part of the city. Every part of the city is represented by a different flag so the flags were waiving everywhere throughout the tour. It was cool to see the different designs.

On the tour we learned not only about the horse race but why all the buildings were pretty much the same from when they were built hundreds of years ago. Italians believe in keeping their buildings as close to original form as possible. They don’t want to knock down and rebuild. They spend more money to repair their houses and even put any electrical wires on the outside of the buildings instead of having to drill through the “beautiful brick” as the tourist guide called it. After the tour we were on our own until we had to meet back at the hotel to leave for practice. We were excited to get to practice in a foreign country.

The court was basically the same as a wood floor you would get put in your kitchen. The guys were slipping and sliding all over. In typical Kazen fashion he was the first to hit the deck. When going up for a dunk Mike (Smith) was worried about sliding and hurting himself. It was a good practice and no one hurt themselves. When we got back to the hotel we were alone for dinner and some of the guys went to a sandwich shop we had seen earlier. It was nice to get something to eat more like what we are used to. Then we went and had a relaxing night in the plaza. It was a perfect last night in Siena.

A Half Day in Florence

The adventure at the Duomo.

The adventure at the Duomo.

After a long day in Pisa and the beach we got a goodnight of sleep and had one last morning and early afternoon to explore Florence. Some of the guys took the time to go check out the Duomo on the inside. It was large and detailed on the outside and that was the same on the inside. The dome part of the cathedral on the inside had beautiful paintings telling stories of the Bible. The paintings were very cool to see in person.

Then the guys paid to go up in the Duomo (dome), which is what made the day. It would be 400 some stairs to get to the very top through tight spaces where a 6’8″ basketball players shouldn’t be. Luckily none of the guys were claustrophobic. Once we got to the top the guys were just happy to be able to stand up straight and catch their breath. The view from the top was beyond beautiful! You could see all of Florence. That was just the beginning. The adventure back down was just that, an adventure. It took the guys 20 minutes to get down to ground level.

Once we got down we headed to lunch. When we got there the rest of the team started laughing because they were so sweaty from climbing the stairs. One of the guys in particular was Leonard who had more sweat on his shirt than there were water in cups in the entire restaurant.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to depart for Lukka. None of the guys had ever heard of this city until coach said we were going there. No one knew what to expect to expect since we would only be there for a few hours.

When we got to Lukka there was a free wifi spot right where we arrived. Phones came out instantly. The part of Lukka was pretty small so we really only saw one Cathedral and walked down the shopping street to an amphitheater where we were meeting Coach May for dinner.

While we were waiting for our food the guys got into a pretty serious game of “would you rather.” Carter was as usual coming up with some hard to choose scenarios for the rest of the team. others were chipping in too. Carter forgot about his food at the table he was in such deep thought about the game. It was a great time with the guys over dinner. After dinner we were off to Siena for two days. Check out our next blog coming soon! Ciao for now!

Beach Day and Leaning Tower of Pisa

The team next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The team next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

We woke up early for an hour bus ride to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the surrounding area. We got there, saw the tower and just about the entire team bought fake Ray-Bans to take back home. It became a game to see who could barter the vendors lower. The lowest we got was 4 euros and the highest was 16 euros.

We arrived to the beach which was in a very nice part of Italy (Coach never told us what beach it was so blame him) and couldn’t wait to get out in the water and just relax. However, we did know it was the Mediterranean Sea and that we couldn’t go out too deep seeing as how it was Shark Week back home. Everyone had sharks on their mind. For all of us it was our first time being in the Sea.

It was quite the view from the beach. There were mountains in the backdrop. We’ve never seen such a beautiful view. But then again we have never seen so many dudes in Speedos either. It was much different than the beaches back home.

Once we had a few hours in the water and on the fire hot sand we had lunch. We were all starving. But lunch was not what we were expecting at all. It started out with the normal Bruschetta and then tuna noodles, which were good. But the weirdest thing was when they brought out melon and ham-Yes! melon and ham. It was the weirdest combination we’ve ever seen. Once we saw that some of the guys ordered spaghetti which was something we were more used to.

After a very interesting dinner we went back out to the beach for an hour or so and then got on the bus. We were sunburnt and exhausted. Everyone passed out on the bus ride back to Florence.

We were on our own for dinner. Most of the team wanted to sit outside and have dinner at one of the diners on the streets of Florence. So we did. After that dinner we were glad that we only had to pay for a few dinners in Italy ourselves because they were expensive!

Just to keep you informed, the luggage from the last blog arrived late on Wednesday night. So Chris, Zach and Mrs. Turner were all in luck. They finally had clean cl0thes and the rest of their belongings. Be on the look out for our next blog coming in a few minutes. Ciao for now!

Touring Florence

 

Some of the guys on the Pointe Vecchio.

Some of the guys on the Pointe Vecchio.

After a great first night in Florence we were set for a 3 hour tour the next morning. Waking up at 10:30, even though our bodies really thought it was 4:30am with the time change, wasn’t too bad. We met up with the tour guide and she began to take us around Florence.

First we explored one of many Piazzas in Florence. A piazza is a house that was owned by one of the major families in Italy and the bottom floor was basically welcome for people to come and visit. It was beautiful to see how people back in the Reinassaince lived.

Next we checked out Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge with all kinds of vendors on it, mostly jewelry. When we walked over what was the bridge none of us had any idea it was a bridge until the tour guide told us it was because it looked just like the street with small shops on either side.

Plaza Della Signorio was our next stop. This is where a copy of Michael Angelo’s “David” statue stands as well as many other notable original statues. However, “David” was moved from Plaza Della Signorio to a building near by in order to keep it from getting weathered and ruined. It was amazing to see it in person.

We also visited the Duomo. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get inside due to a national holiday. The outside of it was enough for us to want to go inside, so we will most likely explore the inside on Friday before we depart for Siena. It was so large and detailed from the outside even for us in the 21st century that we couldn’t even imagine what people walking by it hundreds of years ago would have thought.

After the tour we were all starving so we split up and headed out to look for some pizza. Even though we split up we all ended up at the same pizzeria not too far from the Duomo. 8 Euros for a pizza and drink…deal! However, we forgot to ask for toppings so we only had cheese pizza. After stuffing our faces with pizza most of us headed back to the hotel to take a nap. It had been a long day! After naps some of us checked out the market place. There was just about any type of leather product you could imagine: purses, belts, wallets and many others.

Once again we were to meet up for dinner and it was fantastic. Another 6 course meal! It was nice to have some delicious Pork as the main course this time and the desert, apple cake was to die for! Keep an eye out for our next blog coming tomorrow! It should be another great day in Italy, we are visiting Pisa. Ciao for now!

Arrival…Finally!

 

15 minutes of wifi never went so fast

15 minutes of wifi never went so fast.

After a 7 hour flight from Detroit Metro Airport to Paris and about 2 or 3 hours of sleep (if that) we were able to sit down for 2 hours, check our phones for 15 minutes of free wifi and finally stretch our legs. Some even chose to sleep on the ground they were so exhausted. After the naps and free internet we boarded the plane once again for an hour flight to Milan where we had a 4 hour bus ride awaiting our arrival. Once we arrived we ran into a few issues. Zac, Chris and Mrs. Turner’s luggage was lost and customer service said it wouldn’t be arriving to our hotel for another two days. That was interesting because we leave Florence for Sienna in three days, which would be cutting it close if anything else went wrong.

Even with the unfortunate loss we finally arrived at our hotel after a 20 hour trip from Albion to Florence. Coach May told us we had 30 minutes to get showered, dressed and back down in the lobby in time to leave for dinner. Naturally the whole team was back down on time and we were off. We ate at what seemed like a tiny restaraunt called Bucco Niccolini. However, the tiny entrance turned into long, almost never-ending rooms of tables. We had a total of six different courses. The way they eat here is so much different compared to back home in the states. They eat a little, stop, eat a little more, stop and then eat some more! Many of the guys were trying true Italian cuisine for the first time which was a great experiece for them. Everything was delicious. It was a great first day in Florence and be on the look out for day 2 of the Albion College Basketball team in Italy coming in a little bit.

3 Days until Take-off!!!

Water hoops...anything goes!

It’s Friday, we’ve been practicing hard for seven days preparing for our games in Italy. It’s been great welcoming back Coach Thomas as our new assistant coach. In addition to practice we’ve been able to partake in some other fun activities. On Tuesday we had a scrimmage in which the Purple team won and White had to cook dinner for the entire team. On Wednesday we went to Dr. Neidlinger’s house on Duck Lake and spent the day on the boat and playing basketball in the water. It was a first for Mike, Lawrence and Anthony on a boat. They loved it! On Thursday we took the team trip to Applebee’s and then saw the midnight showing of “The Campaign,” which was hilarious. In between practices and individual workouts we have definitely spent more than enough time playing video games, which include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, NBA 2K12, Tiger Woods Golf and NHL12. There have been some heated competitions. However, this weekend we will be beginning to prepare for our classes that resume on the 27th.

Be on the lookout for our next post on Tuesday when we will be arriving in Florence, Italy. We will see you then!!