Volleyball Checks In From Europe

June 15, 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas - The TCU volleyball team is in the midst of a 10-day trip to Europe.  The team is wrapping up its time in Budapest and will be off to Slovenia.

Day 1 Blog:
It feels as though five days has already passed since we got on the bus at TCU and headed to the airport. While you can "prepare" as much as you like for a 14-hour journey, nothing really does. We arrived at the airport to get on our first flight, which was non stop to Amsterdam. Our flight left at 3:05 pm and was nine hours long. Going through a seven hour time change was weird to get used to especially when we realized as we were landing at 7:30 am that it never got dark as we were flying! Once we landed and went through customs, we had about a two hour wait for our next flight to Budapest.

We were pleasantly surprised as all of our luggage arrived, EXCEPT the training bag with all of our tape and medical supplies. After the bus was loaded we headed into town, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and got on the tram to get our first lunch. We stopped at a quaint area with lots of outside shops and dining and the team went on their own to get lunch as the staff went to another restaurant. We met back up at the designated place, we discovered some of our players weren't there yet. It turns out that they didn't have enough Hungarian Fornit to pay for the bill. Once that small snafu was solved we headed back to the hotel to get ready for practice. Cory, our host for the trip explained that the European way would be to wear street clothes to the gym and change when you get there. Our players didn't quite get the idea of this as we trounced around Budapest with full practice gear on, ankle braces and all, we stuck out just a little. After the 30-minute excursion to the gym we practiced for about an hour and a half. Practice was rough in that by the time we got to the gym we were all exhausted and we really had to push through and we ended on a good note.

After dropping our bags at the hotel, we caught the tram and walked to dinner in this very neat neighborhood. Once at dinner the girls were exhausted and starving, but the European way is to take your time at dinner as it is just as much a social gathering as it is about eating food. SOOOO, we waited a long time for our food to come out, so much that people were literally falling asleep at the table. Once the food came out everyone was much happier and they really enjoyed the food. I am thinking the lesson was learned and the players will come to dinner armed with a granola bar or two to hold them over so Katelyn won't "eat her arm" as she so eloquently described her hunger last night. Cory was true to his word when he told us he would keep us up until 11 pm on the first night to help us get adjusted to the time. So we left dinner at 10:30, got back to the hotel at 10:50 pm and everyone was I am sure fast asleep by 11:00 PM.

Day 2 Blog:
This morning we were able to sleep in a little since the night before Cory, our host, made us stay out until 10 pm so that we could get on schedule here. Breakfast was in the hotel and consisted mostly of breads, fruit, cheeses, thinly sliced meat and cereal that was KIND OF the same as at home.

After breakfast we took the tram to a nearby castle. Now let me clarify... while yes this was a castle, it wasn't necessarily what you would think of in terms of a knight in shining armor kind of castle, but it was beautiful and majestic nonetheless. It was very expansive and you could see where in history it stood as a gateway between invaders and the city. The history is so rich here you can feel it, but at the same time, there are McDonalds on almost every corner! After exploring the castle area, which was also rich with churches of beautiful architecture, we headed back down towards the city and went to the mall. The team had lunch there. While the team shopped and ate, the staff was able to spend some quality time with former TCU Assistant Coach, Barbara Kovac-Lovas. Babs, as she was affectionately known, was a gracious tour guide and shared her neighborhood and house with us.

After lunch it was time to get ready to play. THIS TIME the players carried all of their gear with them and went to the gym in street clothes a la European style. There were quite a bit of differences in match preparation than the Frogs were used to. The atmosphere was very laid back. We shared the court with the team as we hit in warm ups and there was no strict timeline. As we began to play it still seemed as though we had some cobwebs from the long journey. We played up and down, ultimately dropping the match 1-3. The opposing team was very experienced and we learned that we needed to make adjustments quickly in order to keep up with the game.

A record time of 15 minutes for showering, the team was ready to leave and go to dinner. As we walked toward the place, we realized that dinner would be on a boat! Pretty cool, but it gets better! Tonight the food was pretty much ready when we sat down and we were eating within minutes - American Style!! We would find out later why the prompt service was needed, because we were scheduled to take a private boat tour on the Danube River!! What an amazing site! We were able to see the castle, churches and bridges that we saw earlier in the day but this time from the river! Everyone really enjoyed the peaceful and relaxing boat ride. So feeling full of food and thanks, the Frogs headed back to the hotel and went to bed in anticipation of our last full day here in Budapest and wondering how many more adventures lie ahead of us as we experience them together.

Day 3 Blog:
We just completed our 2nd match of the tour and we are on the bus heading to dinner. Tonight the Frogs looked much more alive and we won all four sets that we played. With all the players contributing, the cobwebs from yesterday were gone and the Frogs played together as a team. We are now heading to dinner, feeling good about our win and reflecting on the day...we all agree that it feels as though we have been here for a week.

This morning we headed out at 9:30 am and did a lot of sightseeing of historic places in Budapest. We started off at the St. Stevens Basilica, which is the largest Catholic Church in Hungary. The architecture was amazing and the history is palpable. We really wanted to see a Hungarian bathhouse so we went to see the largest and most popular bathhouse. While we didn't get to go in, we were able to see inside enough to get an idea of this Hungarian tradition. The waters are from a hot spring and have therapeutic qualities that many people use as a means of recovery or to maintain good health. The way it looked reminded us of a beautiful resort with amazing architecture (the temptation was there to run and do a giant cannonball into one of the pools, but we resisted).

Following the bathhouse we went to another small castle on very beautiful grounds. After a few pictures, we moved onto the very historic Hero Square, a focal point of the city where the country of Hungary celebrated their Independence from Russia. A quick stop through the Opera House was up next and by then we were starving. So back on the "subway" we traveled to another area of the city that was very reminiscent of an open-air market place with shopping and food. A great lunch was topped off by some gelatto by many of us and back to the hotel to get ready for the match!



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