Euro Blog Day 3: Kiley Hall
May 23, 2009
Today (Friday, May 22), we got up and met for breakfast in our cute little green Vienna hotel at 8:30 a.m. Everyone got two croissants with butter and jelly as well as the option of orange juice or coffee. The Amazing Race began shortly thereafter with Heather (Kisner), Rachael (Adams) and Michelle (Kocher's) team leaving first. Next to depart was Lauren (Paolini) and myself, followed by Juliann (Faucette), Sydney (Yogi) and Bailey (Webster) and the final group was Ashley (Engle), Amber Roberson) and Jennifer (Doris).
The start order was determined by previous games we had played before departing for Europe or while en route to Europe (like Sydney´s falling asleep on our Austin to Dallas flight cost her team a seven-minute penalty). Each team received a list of seven places: 1) Schloss Schonbrunn, 2) Mozart Café, 3) Neue Donau, 4) Stephans Dome, 5) Rathaus, 6) Belvedere and 7) Parliament. At the bottom of the paper was the task to count to ten in Croatian, which one of our tour guides (an outside hitter from Serbia) taught us the night before. Then there were two questions we had to find the answers to: 1) Name one city in Tirol and 2) Name the birth city of the California governor. Then there was a 15-minute bonus opportunity if you could find a Danish passport.
We all ran around the city using the metro underground, which we had been introduced to the night before. My team only made it to five of the seven places, (we missed out on Parliament and Rathaus) but we did get the fifteen minute Danish passport bonus from the second person we asked. It was a nice older lady who was next to us on the underground and happened to be from Denmark (I must thank my Danish relatives for my noticing the language a little). At first she was nervous when I asked her if she had her passport, but when we explained it was for a race she gladly offered. Funny side note: at this point in our race we thought that it was our stop on the underground and Lauren tried to run out of the car, but almost got eaten by the doors, luckily we did not make it out because the next stop was our desired destination.
The locals were very helpful in pointing out directions and offering assistance. My favorite place was a large church named Stephans Dome. It was intimidating from the outside with its dark look, but the inside was beautiful with stained glass windows and decorated alters. I can´t wait to see more churches here in Europe. We arrived last to our final checkpoint, tied with Ashley, Amber and Jen. Heather, Rachel, and Michelle had arrived first almost a full hour before us, while Juliann, Sydney and Bailey were second. We were all exhausted and hungry after the race. We had our first pizza in Europe from a cute little place owned by an older couple and although they did not speak much English they were extremely interested in why we were there.
Next we all hopped into cars for the 2.5-hour drive to Maribor, Slovenia. The scenery was beautiful, much like the rolling green hills in The Sound of Music, with cute little houses that had red roofs. Halfway through our drive chaos struck and large balls of ice fell from the heavens. Yes, hail like I have never seen before. You can imagine a car full of six girls yelling and laughing at the sound, fearing that maybe the front windshield might break (this is when Juliann jumped into the back seat from the front passenger seat). It was so bad that we pulled off the road for a few minutes to let the storm pass. It was the talk of the van for the rest of the drive. Our driver, a Slovenian basketball player, laughed at us and then informed us that those were small pieces of hail.
We arrived at a gorgeous hotel (Hotel Arena) at the base of the mountain here in Maribor. We checked in, and got ready for practice, which was a short walk down a hill. We arrived at a hotel down the hill which had a gym facility in the bottom floor. We practice with the Croatian Junior National Team on a tera flex court which was placed on top of an indoor soccer field. We used our newly acquired Croatian counting skills during drills and learned the words: rotate, switch and stay for certain other purposes. It was fun to interact with the girls while on the court.
After practice we ran up to our hotel and showered and then came back down the hill to have dinner with the Croatian girls. We had an assortment of meats, which were ridiculously good, along with vegetables and bread. It was exciting to learn more about their lifestyle and the next country on our trip. After dinner we all had our first scoops of European gelato, which is delicious and I am sure the entire team will be eating a lot more of tomorrow. I know I will because I am addicted to ice cream.
Love, Peace and wish you all could join us for this Happiness!