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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Softball: Europe 2009 blog

Day 8

Today we drove for about two hours to the town of Fussen to explore the Neuschwanstein Castle. As we drove up to the castle, we were all stuck by its beauty. The castle is positioned on the side of a mountain overlooking a valley.

Then we learned that we would all have to walk up this same mountain in order to see the castle. So we walked for 40 minutes in the pouring rain, freezing cold, uphill both ways, barefoot, without coats or umbrellas... (OK, some of those are not completely true...). However, the trek was totally worth it.

The inside of the castle was incredibly beautiful. Too bad King Ludwig II only got to live there for about 100 days before being declared insane and taken away from his residence (The King and his psychiatrist were found dead, facedown in shallow water 2 days later). All of the castle rooms were never fully completed, however, the 16 that were finished were very exquisite.

After touring the castle, we walked over to a rickety wooden bridge, almost 200 years old, to take a picture of the team with the castle in the background. Unfortunately, some of the team didn't trust the bridge and didn't make it into the picture. After some souvenir shopping, we headed back to Munich.

We had dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus with traditional German food and beverages (for instance, beer is often served by the liter). Some of us called it in early and some of us stayed out a little later, but we all had a great day eight.

- Jenn Simile

Day 7

For this day we think it is appropriate to start with the end. We attempted a dance party on the bus, yet when "Poker Face" played Coach asserted, "That's not my beer". As crazy as it sounds during our guided tour through Munich our guide promised in Germany everyone says "That's not my beer" similar to the colloquialism of "That's not my cup of tea". Apparently, beer is so important and pervasive that the Bavarians lacking water, attempted to put out a fire in an opera house with it.

Munich, or "München" to the locals is quite an impressive city, 80% of it had been destroyed from the war; and since then, the Germans have erected replicas of important historical buildings. Despite Munich's metropolitan bustle, including a Starbucks, history is ever present. In Dachau, a prison camp we visited, all were urged to never forget the men who fought for human rights and freedom, as a remembrance of the tragedy man can create.

The lighter side of the day was a trip to the Olympic Village, where history again impressed upon us that man is capable of great feats and great horrors. The place where Mark Spitz's Olympic swimming records were set (recently broken by Michael Phelps), as well as the place where hostages were taken and athletes were murdered.

Munich has proven to be a city of history and remembrance honoring the past while progressing to the future. We're sure it will be a city we won't soon forget.

- Hannah & Julia

Day 6

Once upon a time there was a magical rainbow bus in need of a loving group of people to occupy it for an extended period of time. Luckily, the UChicago softball team was up for the challenge as we embarked on an exhilarating 14-hour journey from Antwerp to Munich.

While most of the team drifted away to a peaceful slumber, a few select members of the team stayed awake to find out just how far Forrest could run. After viewing this quality flick, we moved on to the classic cinematic adventure, Mummy 3. Although the movie was so atrocious, that we could not make it to the end, we suspect it had a happy ending with Brendan Frasier killing the mummy for yet a third time. We give it two sarcophagi down.

Before we arrived in Frankfurt we stopped at a local restaurant for authentic German pork knuckles (or the vegetarian option, depending). Once we figured out exactly how to approach the consumption of said knuckles of park, we discovered their deliciousness.

After taking copious amounts of pictures by the scenic landscape (like the tourists we are), we re-embarked on our fanciful journey on our rainbow bus. Soon after we arrived in Frankfort, and were dropped off directly in the midst of a "festival". We later discovered this was an Iranian protest. In response to the strong foreign words of the protest, we opted to do what any UChicago softball player would do, and indulged in delicious gelato.

Having narrowly escaped the grip of the protestors, we yet again boarded the rainbow bus. Once again some members of the team decided to catch up on sleep. However, they were awakened when some other members decided to have a dance/karaoke party in the back of the bus. The Backstreet Boys have never sounded better.

Thankfully, the musical stylings were cut short due to the presentation of our third film, Eagle Eye, starring Shia Labeauh. Enough said. Unfortunately, this movie was interrupted by dinner at a small café where a majority of the team had no idea what they were ordering. In other words, it was authentic. Among our purchases was nutella-to-go so the team would stop licking nutella out of the tiny containers we "borrowed" from the breakfast spread at the hotel.

After we finished watching the stunning Shia, the team became enamored with riddles. Here's a little taste of what we spent a good two hours of our lives doing: A bell rings. A man dies. A bell rings. That's not even a legit question. It's a statement. We still solved it. Where do we go to school? (Another riddle) Finally Chad announced that we had arrived at our hotel. Exhausted from the riddle solving, we each headed to our respective rooms where we stayed in Munich happily ever after. THE END.

(If this seems to be written in a state of delirium, please note that the authors composed this directly after disembarking from their journey)

- Lori & Liz

Day 5

We drove an hour to Brugge, a beautiful medieval town. It was a day trip from Antwerp. Our tour guides took us all over the city. We had the funny guide (giving his very first tour in English) who told us amazing stories in the most picturesque spots.

In St. Paul's Cathedral, we saw Michelangelo's Madonna and Child, a statue which was originally refused by an archbishop for being too radical. We all met in the main square where the bell tower stands. Coach tricked us into a cardio workout - we climbed all 336 steps to the top, where we were able to see the architectural timeline in the different styles of the buildings of Brugge.

For lunch, Caroline, Alison, lauren and I tried mussels, which were amazing. Everyone also got Belgium's famous waffles with different delicious toppings. After meeting up with everyone else, we wandered through chocolate shops buying souvenirs. Some were able to sample Brugge's famous beer, as well as some cherry beer - amazing. Later, we drove back to Antwerp, ending the trip with another great bus dance party thanks to Eric - our unbelievable bus driver.

For dinner, we took public transportation to the main shopping district by Antwerp's Cathedral. From there we broke off into small groups to eat. My group chose our restaurant based on the cute waiter and the meat meal special. Our desserts were strawberries covered in whipped cream and chocolate. Chad, our guide, took us to his old hang out where we broke out the dance party, drawing in crowds of people.

We met a Belgian soccer club, bragging to them that played and beat their national softball team.
Tired from our dancing fiesta, Chicago went home to rest up for the drive to Munich.

- Duffs

Day 4

The day started early (for college students) in Volendam. After a 2-hour drive to Antwerp, Belgium, the team was set loose to explore and find food for a few hours before a walking tour. My tour group, which consisted of Hannah, Duff, and Jill found a place called Frittus and had mysterious fried meats and French Fries (chips). I swear they put something in the fires here because they were A-MA-ZING!

Jen, Alison Julia and Caroline found us and as soon as I saw a chocolate café, I made a bee-line for it. What followed was pure heaven. Jen and I split an "ice cream brownie", which consisted of delicious vanilla ice cream, and a brownie, doused in dark chocolate.

We met up with the group at 2 for a walking tour with Jean-Pierre, which was great. Antwerp is a beautiful city fill of history, and I loved learning from someone who knew so much and who clearly loved his city so much. Apparently the dark and light bricks on the butchers' house were made to look like bacon... who knew?

After our tour, we left to play the Belgian National Team. There was a miscommunication that we might have been tasting Belgian beers between games (this was not the case), the games got underway. Sarah started the first game, and shut them down. The scoring began with a triple from super senior Jen, and before we knew it we had 3 runs. Christy came in for the save, and the final score was 4-2. I started the second game (sweet), but runs did not come as easily for us this game. We had the based loaded in the first, and runners on in almost every inning, but it was not to be. The final score was 4-0.

I believe that we won two out of three however, after the dance battle that ensued when we met up with the Belgian team afterwards. Christy began the battle by being the best worst dancer ever, but Sarah took it to a new level when she broke out not only handstands and flips, but flamenco and the worm. A local Belgian baseball player may have beaten her in the handstand-walking contest, but her worm dominated!

The dance party continued in the party bus on the way back to the hotel. The highlight was getting Coach to dance a little bit, but it was short lived. As I write, we are sitting in a Shwarma restaurant next to the Grand Central Station. Tomorrow we are off to Brugge and then have the day to wander the city. One more thing... we like you.

- Lauren and Caroline

Day 3

Today we went to Amsterdam again and explored the different neighborhoods. Early in the afternoon, many of us went to the Van Gogh Museum. It was very surreal to actually see his paintings live.

Then we all met up to do the real live Heineken Brewery Experience Tour together. We learned about the process of making beer and we were all able to have a tasting sample at the end!

Following the tour, we all split up to have dinner and experience part of Amsterdam's night life!

- Sarah and Sara

Day 2

Oi. Hello again from Amsterdam!

Today we did and saw so many things, quite the experience while still trying to overcome jet lag. Continental breakfast here was nothing like it is in the States! It was delicious! We took advantage of the all-you-can-eat.

We took a short bus ride from our hotel into the city of Amsterdam and our first stop was the Ann Frank Huis. It was very moving. We would highly recommend it.

Following the tour we explored the city on our own for a bit. We saw museums, restaurants, shops and by accident stumbled on the famous red-light district! We met back up as a team later in the afternoon for a canal tour. The city has so much history, interesting architecture, thousands of canals, and of course, a house owned by Brad Pitt.

After the cruise, we hopped back on the bus and headed to our first game in Europe against one of the top club teams in Holland. We had a great time playing against an Olympian (who was congratulated by Dot Richardson after she got a hit against Team USA) and other great girls. Unfortunately, we didn't pull out the victory, but it was a good game in front of a very large crowd.

Dinner after the game consisted of Chinese food and stories with the other team. They got to practice their English and we got to ask a million questions. We are looking forward to another eventful day in Amsterdam tomorrow.

- Jill and Alison

Day 1

We've been awake for 28 hours straight and our travels have finally brought us to Volendam, Netherlands, a fishing village outside of Amsterdam.

After arriving in O'Hare Airport this afternoon we boarded Aer Lingus for our 7-hour flight to Dublin, Ireland. On our flight we were pleasantly surprised to have video games and movies available on each seat. Many of us watched Twilight, ah Edward Cullen, while others played "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and Battleship, one of Coach Kmak's favorites!

After our short flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, we met our tour guide Chad and our driver Erik. They led us to the Ratterman Wooden Shoe Factory where we were able to watch real Dutch wooden shoes being handcrafted. Some of us used our first Euro's and purchased miniature shoes for our friends and families back home.

At Zaanse Schans, we watched a thrilling demonstration about making cheese. (A tip we learned there: put honey mustard on your slices!) After our tour, we were able to explore the authentic windmills in the village and Julia took the opportunity to pet an animal that could have been a sheep, goat or cow. The animal farm was very entertaining but we were exhausted so we boarded the bus for Volendam.

After we got situated in our hotel Jen realized she had already lost her wallet and passport. Luckily, Erik helped her find it on the bus. After that we ate a delicious Italian dinner and "worked the menu" like true UChicago softballers. Jill's table was even told by our waiter, "You ordered way too much food!" Not bad for eating on a budget!

Tonight we had a chance to explore Volendam and catch up on our sleep for an early day tomorrow. We play our first game tomorrow night against a local team.

- Jen and Christy