Monday, May 28, 2012

A memorable tour

Sad to say that today is the last day of our trip. Our day has been filled with lots of traveling. We woke up and took a train to the airport in Paris, had a seven-hour flight to New York, following with a four-hour flight to Denver, then a bus trip to Fort Collins. It is sad that today was our last day in Europe, and how fast the trip went by, but many of us are excited to get back home to our family, friends, and foods we have missed! Some of the main foods and things the girls have said they missed include burgers, Mexican food, watermelon, grapes, ranch, ketchup, buffalo wings, pickles and free water. Trying to get a glass of water in Europe is a lot different, because it is always in a glass bottle and you have to pay for it. It was frustrating since we were trying to stay hydrated! Our coach, Brook, is good at making sure that we are drinking lots of water and staying hydrated.

The trip has been an incredible experience for our team. We had the opportunity to see many places, play foreign teams and adventure around Europe! We are going back with many memories that will last a lifetime, not to mention heavier bags (all the souvenirs and gifts we have bought!).

Throughout the trip it has been really cool to see girls bond and build relationships with different teammates. One of our goals was to bond with someone that we usually don't hang out with. We definitely strengthened and grew in our relationships. We stayed busy every day on the trip from morning to night, either touring around or playing a match. We all did a very good job of not complaining about being tired or hurting despite all of the walking we did (more walking than I have ever done). We grew and learned new things through different experiences on the trip that we plan on using in the future. I am also very happy with how we played in our matches, and I definitely feel like we became better. It’s also pretty cool to say that we were undefeated!

The highlights of the trip for me were seeing the Valley of the Temples in Agregento, going to the beach in Modica and getting to go out in the sea on a paddle boat with a slide, seeing the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Church, the Coliseum in Rome, going into the Duomo in Milan and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Another highlight of the trip was taking the night train from Milan to Paris. This was quite an experience. I probably will never take a night train again, but definitely glad that I was able to experience this.

We were very lucky to take the trip to Europe! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am also very happy that I was able to share this experience with all my team members.

Thanks for following us!! :)

Megan Plourde

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Final day in Europe

It's Deedra (Deej) here reporting on our final day in Paris. Our day started off with us splitting into groups and doing different things. Dana, Izzy, Michelle, Kelsey and Tom all went to the Louvre museum and saw the actual painting of the Mona Lisa. I saw pictures of it on their cameras and they said it was small. I definitely thought it would be a big painting, so that was a shock. There were so many neat and amazing art sculptures there.

The team in Louxembourg Park.
While they were at the museum, the rest of us went into town and did some last-minute shopping. Instead of going to the big malls here, we decided to stay around the boutiques and smaller shops where we all found some good buys.

After shopping and doing some sightseeing, we met up in a beautiful park and had a team meeting. We reflected on this trip and how it has brought us all closer together. On top of that, all of the traveling and walking we did, we still managed to win all of our matches. When we finished our meeting, we got to go back to the Notre Dame cathedral and do a little more shopping. At the place where we were shopping, they supposedly have the "best" ice cream in the world. The lines for these places were out the doors and around the block. Unfortunately none of us got any because we wanted to save our appetites for our final dinner together in Europe.

Lemon ice cream at dinner.
This was by far everyone’s favorite meal of the entire trip. To start off, the place was 20,000 square feet. We were in the basement, which was pretty neat because it looked like a stone cave. For dessert, we all had apple tart, chocolate mousse, ice cream and the coolest one of the night: the lemon ice cream. It was served in an actual lemon! When we finished eating, an English man came to our table and sang some songs while playing his guitar. He was very good!

Carlie and Deedra dancing in the streets of Paris.
After dinner we walked back to the metro—or in mine and Kaitlind's case—danced back. When we got to the metro, we tried to run to make it on time. Unfortunately only Carlie and I made it, while Sam almost got caught in the door! Thank God I had Carlie with me because I had no idea how to get back. Good news is we all made it back to the hotel safe!

Well, lots of packing to get done tonight as we will be back in America tomorrow! Whoo! Can't wait to see my twin sister (Tori Foss). See everyone soon!

Deedra Foss

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sightseeing through Paris

Hello everyone!!

Brieon speaking! Today was a fabulous day for us all!! We arrived in Paris after sleeping on the overnight train. Although it was a very small space and slightly uncomfortable, I must admit it took us all out of our comfort zone and was nonetheless a great experience. I can honestly say it made us all appreciate what we do get to sleep in every night, which leads me to getting off the train in Paris. All the girls had to use the bathroom, which cost each of us 50 cents. Kelsey tried to get the most out of her 50 cents by brushing her teeth, but to the receptionist said it was inappropriate. Haha.

After getting situated, we learned the ins and outs of getting around in Paris by catching the metro train and reading our maps. We walked a little bit, and arrived at the gorgeous Eiffel Tower. We all talked about how we've seen the Eiffel Tower in movies and pictures, but being right in front of it was all so surreal!! It's so amazing and neat that such an enormous piece of landscape can draw so much attention and attract different people from all over the world.

Sam and Kaitlind posing in
front of the Notre Dame.
Later, after freshening up in our hotel rooms and catching the metro again, we had the chance to see the beautiful Arc de Triomphe and get a little bit of sightseeing and shopping done. The Ace de Triomphe was so magnificent and yet was another piece of beautiful art to catch one’s eye. We spent a little bit of time taking pictures and just taking the breathtaking image in.
The shopping here in Paris is insane. I'm a sucker for fashion, and just seeing everyone dressed in various types of designer pieces is amazing to me. All the different stores here, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, all have special bags that are here and never made it to the U.S., so it was really neat when Deej, Kaila and I were able to go inside and just explore.

Megan, Tom and Izzy in front of the Notre Dame.
After we were done shopping, we all met at the Notre Dame cathedral. This was a beautiful sight to see with all the detail put into building it. When we finished seeing the Notre Dame, we went out for some dinner. There, people went out of their comfort zones and tried some Escargot. It was mine and a lot of the other girls’ first time trying it. It actually wasn't too bad, just had a strong fish taste to it. After eating a delicious dinner, us girls decided it was time to see what Paris is like during the night, so we’re all going to hit some clubs and celebrate one of our last nights here in Europe.

That's it for now. Until tomorrow when we wrap things up for the end of our trip!

Brieon Paige

The sites of Paris

The complete team in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Recreating the Eiffel Tower.
Sam & Carlie in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The Louvre.
Arc De Triomphe/Etoile.

The Rams in front of the Notre Dame.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Overnight train to Paris

It's Dana here, reporting Canadian Hammer style. Today has been a long one full of more Euro adventures. This morning we were up early and on the tram to the Sforzesco Castle. We have become quite the tram/bus/metro navigators over here, thanks to the sarcasm of our tour guide Tim (shout out to Bring It USA for the best tours).

Visiting the Sforzesco Castle before
the team's final match.
We got to take a few pictures at the castle, and then we had some free time. Some girls decided to get their last bit of shopping out of Milan while others went to explore the Duomo, which is a beautiful ginormous church downtown. We made sure to wear clothing that was acceptable so we could enter the church, and saw some amazing architecture, art and a beautiful place of worship. The rest of the morning included more shopping, our own improv Milan fashion show and Italian coffee experiences before we headed back to the hotel, napped, packed and got ready to head to the training center.
We headed over there to eat lunch and store all our luggage. Hats off to the chef because the food at the center has been amazing. Then it was time for the last match of the tour. We played Club Italia who is the Italian Junior National Team. They came out with a lot more fire than they had yesterday and we lost the first two sets. But your Rammies weren't going down without a fight. We wanted to finish the tour off right, so we dug deep and won the next three sets. We finished the volleyball portion of our tour 6-0, but way more important than that, we will return to America much better than when we left. The competition we've seen over here and the conditions we've been forced to play well in have challenged us and we let them make us better!
CSU and Club Italia after dinner.
After the game we headed to downtown Milan to join the Italian team for dinner. It was one of their birthdays and they were kind enough to invite us to come with. We had the best pizza known to man and went out for gelato after. We then did our 'soon-to-be-famous' dance with them outside our restaurant. We made our way back to the center, traded the last of our jerseys and headed out to the train station!

Some of the players in their bunks on the overnight
train ride to Paris.
We found our train and got our first look at our home for the night. The 7x8x7 foot box included six bunks and some luggage space. Surprisingly, I fit in the bunk fully stretched out, which is a big surprise. After a little human/luggage Tetris we got everyone situated and ready for a night on the rails.

Thank you to you all for reading this, supporting us and donating to our trip. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the trip brings.

Au revoir!

Dana Cranston

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A day to relax

CSU beat the Italian Junior National Team in all
four sets they played.
It's Kaila checking in!! Today was our second day in beautiful Milan! We started off our day by spending some time on our own by exploring the area surrounding our hotel or doing whatever we wanted. Some of us shopped some more in the little mall right across from our hotel and others took a much-needed nap!! Later in the afternoon, we all met back up at the training center where we ate lunch. Lunch was the best today! We had shish kebabs with steak, chicken, pork and some veggies! All of us really enjoyed that lunch!! After lunch we had some time to relax before the match against the Italian junior national team. 

The Rams at dinner in downtown Milan.
The match against the Italians went really well for us. We played four sets, and won all four of them!! In the last set, Bestie and Marlee were our outsides and Michelle played on the right, and they all dominated against the Italian team!! After winning the match we all went back to the hotel to dress up for dinner. Dinner was really good. It was Asian food, which was completely different from the food we had been having. For desert we all had gelato and then walked around to finish our night!

I have been having such a great and awesome time on this trip! I'm so blessed to be able to travel and play volleyball in Europe with these girls and coaches!!! I'm soo excited for the fall season! 

God bless,
Kaila Thomas