Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 11: The final chapter of this incredible journey consisted of a long day of travel. We awoke early at our comfortable Ibis hotel in Milan and made the quick drive to the airport. We said our good-byes to Elsa, her mother and family friend El-el as they continued their adventures in Europe with some relatives in France. The flight from Milan to Atlanta was a little more grueling on the way home. 10 hours crammed in a small seat isn’t the most fun, but it gave me time to reflect on such a fabulous trip. Firstly, having the opportunity to gain such a rich cultural experience – roaming through ruins that are older than our country, eating new foods, listening to other languages – was priceless. Secondly, playing volleyball in a different country, being ambassadors of the United States, and competing against a different system was exhilarating and really great for the future lobos. I am so glad I got to share this experience with my lobo family before my time at UNM comes to a close. I am so thankful for all the hard work, dedication and passion every one – coaches, administrators, players, family and fans – put into making this trip a reality. I am going to miss Albuquerque and Johnson Center, but will always know I can call it home. Kelly Williamson #13

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 10 After having a fun day of the ropes course, a match, and wine tasting, it was time to spend our last day in Slovenia.  We all got up early and had breakfast to start us off on our long day.  After breakfast, we went back up to our rooms and got ready for our last match against the Austrian team at 10:30 in the morning.  We started warm up around 10:00.  It was the last match of the trip and we wanted to make sure we finished on a good note. Kelly and Taylor played with the Austrian team to "try out" and hopefully be a part of the team. The match then started.  The first set did not go as planned, we lost.  But then we finished the game off strong.  We won in four, but we decided to get one last set before we left to go back home.  Jeff wanted us to work hard and finish on a win.  Even though we won the match, we all felt the same. We wanted to end our trip on a good note.  So we started the 5th set and before we knew it, we were done.  We won the last set and now it was time to get our stuff ready for a 7 hour bus ride back to Milan.  We had about 45 minutes to get everything packed and showered.  Hannah, Chantale, Megan, Allison, and I ran to go get our last bit of gelato.  We ran to the nearest shop and got a huge gelato for one euro.  Then we went back to finish getting ready. The whole group got on the bus around 2:30 PM to start our long bus ride back.  We stopped at a store to get snacks and drinks for the road.  It was similar to a grocery store back home.  We all walk out with tons of snacks and we are ready to start the trip.  Most of us slept, others talked, while others were listening to music and enjoying the gorgeous views of Europe. About 4 hours later we stopped to get dinner.  The team ate at this restaurant at this truck stop.  We had dinner, threw the frisbee for a little bit, then got back on the road.  For the last 3 hours everyone was doing the same things.   We got into the hotel around 11:00 PM.  We were all tired and ready for bed. But for most of us we had to repack our bags.  Some of us bought wine and we could not carry that on so we had to fit all the clothes we brought as well as all the things we bought throughout the trip.  Let's just say most of us had to sit on our suitcases to zip them up. We knew we had to get a good night's rest because we had a long day ahead of us coming up.  The trip was a lot of fun but it was time to go home!!   Ashley Rhoades #4
Day #9 Hello Lobo Fans! The Lobo Volleyball team had a very eventful and fun day in Maribor, Slovenia. The team had an opportunity to go up the mountain right outside our hotel to enjoy a day with a high-ropes course and alpine slides. To get up the mountain, the team had to use the ski lift. Once everyone got up to the mountain, the group moved towards the high-ropes course to get suited up. Our group was so big that we had to split up into three groups. The eight girls on the volleyball team split into a group while all of the men split into another group. Ash, Kel, and I split into a third group with Janice, Louise, and Elsa's mom. The first two groups started the course first. The eight girls on the volleyball team started with a station where you climb up a 30 foot pole. Once you climb up the pole, you are supposed to stand on top of it and turn towards the group and just have to walk off. Yes, the girls had to just walk off the pole. I am one who isn't a fan of heights, but all of the girls made it look easy so I just told myself I had to do it. All of the girls did great and they were so supportive of one another. While the girls were climbing up the 30 foot pole, the men of the group started with a swinging activity. Side note, before we went up to the high-ropes course, no one in the group had any idea of what we were going to do. So, the men were in front of this contraption that one person at a time was to be hooked up and be lifted up into the air. I am not sure how high exactly everyone was getting pulled up to, but when I went I thought I was at least 500 feet high. Maybe that is a little dramatic, but you were pretty high up in the air. Carlos Gual, our athletic trainer, was the first guy to go. He got hooked up and the other guys had to pull him by a rope to get him lifted off the ground. Once Carlos was lifted off the ground, he pulled on his rope and he shot through the air. Oh, he shot backwards through the air. It was amazing to see. Everyone was so excited to try the swing. Other girls, like myself, were very nervous. Swinging through the air by a rope just didn't excite me too much. But again, everyone said it was an amazing experience so I had to do it. One by one, everyone went through the two stations on the high ropes course.  There were a couple of screams, but all in all, everyone had a blast. While you are swinging, the most amazing part of the swing is the view of the whole city of Maribor. The view was incredible. Once everyone was done with all of the activities, we had a quick lunch because the team had to get ready for the game. All of the girls ate first and once everyone was done, we went over the side of the mountain to race down on the alpine slides. The alpine slide was basically a roller coaster that is controlled by you. You had the control of going as fast or as slow as you want down the mountain. The alpine slides were so much fun! I wish I could have done it again. After a very eventful day on the mountain, the team got together and played a match against the Slovenian Junior National team. The team played well, but had some inconsistent moments. The team lost in five. All in all, the day was great but we wish it ended with a win on the volleyball court. Stay tuned to our last couple of days in Maribor, Slovenia. It has already been an experience I will never forget. Adijo! Allison Buck (Alumni) #8

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pictures, pictures and more pictures!!!  Here are just some of the many pictures taken from the last two weeks! 

Girls on the plane getting ready for the nine hour flight!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 8 Hey Lobo fans! Today we started off the day by waking up in our hotel in Venice. They had a fresh breakfast for us down stairs and it was really good. We handed off our bags to have them be sent to Slovenia, that was a great feeling because we finally didn't have to lug our bags around every where. We then boarded the train to go Trieste where we got to see the ocean. Chantale didn't like the water very much because she doesn't know how to swim, but we still took pictures next to it. The water also had cute jelly fish in it. Overall it was a beautiful town and we got to eat at this really cute restaurant that had the best sandwiches. Later we had a 3 hour bus ride to Slovenia, even though I slept most of the way when I woke up it was beautiful outside. It was so green and there was so much land compared to all the other places we have been that have had so many buildings. When we got to the hotel we had practice In the gym that is built into our hotel. Oh ya we love this hotel because it's a lot more American. It has normal toilets, that's my favorite part!!! After practice we got on a bus and went to the gym where we are going to play. We had to wait a while till warm ups because a club basketball team was practice. As we watched we noticed there was a guy taller than Megan Short that was really good. Some of the girls decided to tease her and say that he was showing off for her. She was very flattered. It was hilarious!!!! We then played and we won in four games, but we played a fifth game because the other coach wanted to ay again. We won that game also, which was good. Overall it was a good day and all of us are beat. Thank you for reading Lobo fans!! Miquella lovato #21
Day #7 Venice for the Day! Today the team traveled from Rome to Venice on another 4 hour train ride. We left our hotel and loaded the train, which was not as luxurious as the first one we took. And when I say luxurious I mean there was not as much leg room. Anyway, when we arrived at the station in the outer city of Venice, we took a short two block walk to our hotel. We settled into our rooms, got freshened up, and headed back to the station to catch a regional, which means public transportation, train to the main part of Venice. We crossed a long bridge across the water and passed a huge port where we saw some cruise ships and other big boats.      After about ten minutes we got to the main station and went our separate ways through the city. It didn't take me very long to find the nearest gondola station, because that was what I was looking forward to the entire trip! Megan, my mom Jenny, her friend LL, and I jumped on the gondola and had a beautiful tour around the canals. The canal system is pretty unique. The Grand Canal is the main street in the city. There is a lot of boat traffic and to be honest it was a little scary trying to get across it! Once we crossed the main channel we drifted into what you could call a side street, which was a much smaller canal. The water was a lot calmer and it was peaceful and quiet. The gondola boatman educated us on some history of the city. We found out that the water level is fairly inconsistent, and depending on the season differentiates where the water level is. He also mentioned that the actual city of Venice is sinking about 1 millimeter every year. We also passed a portion of the canal where a scene from the "Italian Job" was filmed, along with a building that a scene from one of the James Bond movies was filmed. I thought the best part of the gondola tour was when our boatman sang to us! The gondola ride was by far my favorite part of the entire trip!    After we got off the gondola we wandered the streets of Venice to do some shopping. We discovered that Venice was the prime place to buy jewelry. Almost every other store was a glass store. Artists everywhere were selling all the hand blown glass products they had made. These made great gifts for friends and family back home, and wasn't super expensive either. The part I enjoyed most was how beautiful the city was. When you think Italy you think Venice. The streets were long and narrow, surrounded by tall apartments that had unique features to them. The age of the city was reflected through its architecture, and the general consensus from everyone on the trip was that this was by far the best place we have been.     The group ended up meeting in the Piazza San Marco. It is a huge square surrounded by a beautiful building made of tall columns, a giant clock tower, and a jaw dropping church with wonderful detail to capture the beauty of the whole square. The team wandered off from the coaches and other adults to have a team dinner. We adventured through the streets poking our heads into different places until we settled for a small restaurant of the beaten path. You could say it wasn't our best Italian meal, but it filled our stomachs. After dinner Hannah, Megan and Lexi met up with Allison, Ashley Rhoades, Kelly  and Carlos for a Gondola ride, while Jordan, Miquella, Ashley Newman, and myself roamed the streets to do some shopping. I found a few more gifts for friends back home, while Miquella and Ashley found some great clothing deals in a little Italian boutique. After shopping we made our way back to the station and eventually to the hotel.   Next time you read the blog we will be headed to Slovenia for our last matches and some great team bonding activities! Thanks for reading. Ciao!!! Elsa Krieg #16
Day #6 Rome, The Colosseum, The Vatican, OH MY! Salve, We had a busy day full  of tourism/sight- seeing. Our group woke up bright and early to start our day by seeing one of the seven wonders of the world and then ending it by seeing one of the most well known Micheal  Angelo creations. We started off our day of tourism by taking a subway to the Colosseum.  As we walked up the steps from the subway,  I was blown away at what I saw. Ancient Rome.  The colosseum to my left and the ancient city of Rome to my right.  Our guide Tim stopped our group and told us all of these ruins are over 2000 years old.  We were all taking a panerama of pictures and then broke off into groups to explore the ancient ruins. Ashley Rhoades, Allison, Kelly, Megan, Carlos, and I headed to the Colosseum.  We bought our tickets and then entered the main level of the arena.  Megan was our personal audio book tour guide and kept us updated on how the stadium was set up and why the ground was in a maze.  We walked around the main level and then walked up the massive inclined stairs to the second level where we had the next best thing to a birds eye view.  Megan and I were alll trying to figure out where Julius Caesar might have sat but we didn't find out.  Our group walked around the Colosseum for an hour and then headed over to the forum.   The forum was neat, we walked along a cobblestone path observing  what was left of the Ancient city of Rome.  We saw the House of Livia and August, a duomo (church), and other ancient buildings.  All of us could have stayed in the forum all day but we were on a time crunch to make it to our next destination.  The Vatican. We strolled out of the forum, walked to the subway and headed to the Vatican.   Once we reached our stop we got off and walked the side streets of Rome and found a niceristaurante and grabbed a bite to eat.   Our waiters were friendly and  and made a note to acknowledge Megan.  When they delivered her pizza in his exact words (note: in an italian accent) " Here' s the pizza for the big giant blonde," we all started cracking up laughing.   When we were done we headed towards the Vatican.  We new we were close when we saw the giant 15ft brick wall running along the street.  Kelly lead us to the museum entrance where we met up with the rest of our group.  Everyone covered up, put their knee length skirts on and their sweaters and we headed into the museum.  We all walked through airport type security and had to check-in our bags.  Once we were done with security it was time to be blown away by the artwork and sculptures.   There were hundreds of people in the vatican that our very large group was quickly separated.  Ashley Rhoades and I stuck together and walked around the museum.  Every  hallway had magnificent paintings I only wished I was talented enough to be able to create.  Every sculpture was intricately designed and all I wondered was how were they able to do this 2000 years ago.   Ashley and I walked through the museum with our heads looking up at the ceiling the entire time.  Then we entered the pathway leading to what Ashley and I were looking forward to.  The Sistine chapel. We entered into the chapel with hundreds of other tourists all trying to grasp how Michael Angelo created this masterpiece.  Ashley was mesmerized by the Creation of David painting. The paintings were jaw dropping.   The ceiling consisted of designs surrounding rectangular paintings of many stories from the bible.  My favorite art clips in the chapel was the Creation  of David and the painting of David slaying Goliath. Ashley and I followed the line of people exiting which led us to St. Peter's Church.   This church/cathedral is massive there is nothing I can think of comparing it to except maybe the National Cathedral  in Washington D.C. or West Minister Abbey in England, it's that big and grand. Each dome in the church had beautiful painings and the sculptures of the apostles were amazing.  There were small masses being held in the side coves of the church and as Ashley and I were walking around they started to singing and instantly goose bumps shot up mys arms as the song echoed through the church.  It was so pretty. The main dome was much bigger than the rest and we found out later that you could walk around the top of it and see all the people inside of the church.  We finished observing and then headed out to find our meeting spot. We all met in front of St Peter's square to take a team picture and then were free to do what we wanted the rest of the night.  Ashley Newman, Jackie her mom and I decided to walked to the top of the St. Peter's Dome while everyone else headed back to our hotel or went to grab a bite to eat.  We bought our ticket and started our trek up what they said was a 320 step spiral stair case.  The Vatican employes were right about the spiral staircase but I think they might have miss counted on the steps. Ashley Newman stopped counting at 530 and we weren't even half way done.   The walk up to the dome was split into sections, spiral stair case to the roof, spiral staircase to the base of the dome, spiral up the dome and viola, the top!  When we made it to the bottom of the dome we were inside and could see the inside of the church. There was a mass being held In the center of the church and there was an all boys choir who was preparing to sing.   Then we headed up the skinny curved stairwell up to the top.  The hike to the top was worth it the view was spectacular.  I could see all of Rome.  We walked around the top saw the Vatican City, along with Chantale and Elsa.   It actually is fairly big, completely surrounded by a brick wall.  I thought the museum and the church was the Vatican but what we toured was probably only about 1/10th of the entire Vatican City.    One thing that caught my attention was the changing of the guards. When I see soldiers standing at attention I think of changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Strict and all business.  Here when the guards where swapping shifts they were talking, joking around, and non chalant about the whole thing, I found it interesting.    Once we were done with the Vatican hopped on the subway and headed back to our hotel to sleep. Everyone enjoyed their stay in Rome and can't wait to head to Venice tomorrow.  A Presto.  Ciao! :) #2 - Hannah Johnson
Day 5 Hi everyone from Rome! Today has been full of excitement walking the cobble stone streets of one of the most beautiful cities.  We have stopped at the Treves Fountain and the Spanish Steps today.  We all sat with our backs facing the fountain to participate in one of the most famous traditions from Italy.  You are to throw a coin into the fountain with your back towards in and when your coin hits the water you will “return to the heart of Rome.”  With vendors on every corner and artists in between there is everything you could possibly wish to see here.  There was also a bit of excitement with one of the bracelet makers here who definitely had their sites set on Hannah.  He put a bracelet on her wrist told her it was free but asked for a kiss in return.  She decided a kiss on the cheek was worth the bracelet, but when she went in to give him this kiss he thought better and turned at the last second to plant one on her lips.   So far this trip has been awesome.  We are getting the opportunity of a lifetime and experiencing a completely different culture.  Looking at our sheet of translated English words to help us with the Italian we find ourselves sitting at many coffee shops with a shot of espresso or cappuccino just taking in the air.  Enjoying this and, of course… the gelato.  Mmm mmm! Ashley Newman #18

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 4: This morning we woke up and had an amazing breakfast. We had fresh squeezed juice, fresh fruit, and great bread. Miquella, Jordan, Megan and I went down the street to an outdoor mall to go shopping. It was very difficult figuring out sizes and good pricing when shopping. Talking with workers can be hard but fun. Most of the time they just laugh and continue to talk in Italian. Megan and I found some very good deals and cute Italian clothes. We pretty much bought an entire store.  After shopping, we ate at the Italian National teams facility and had some good pasta and meat. The food here really can fill you up. When lunch as over we went and had a great pass and serve to lead to into a great match. We played hard and really got the job done. Miquella and Jordan had a collision in game 3 that really helped bring up the teams level of intensity. We played hard and fought to win a tough match in four games.  When the game was over we had a little time to get ready and go downtown to eat dinner. The pizza here in Italy is a lot better than in the USA. It does not have a lot of sauce or a lot of cheese. After pizza we had french fries (Ashley was very excited) and meat. Next was desert. Of course our team all wanted to try everything so they gave us a taste of each desert and. It was AMAZING!!! When dinner was done we were allowed to stay out on the town for a couple hours so the team all went out and viewed the town.  We will keep you posted with more updates!! Chantale #3

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 3 June 2, 2012 Milan Hello Lobo friends and family, Today was our first full day in beautiful Milan, where we started out with a unique and yummy hotel breakfast. My favorite part of breakfast was the different kinds of juice ranging from pineapple, to watermelon, to grape fruit, all of which were delicious. After breakfast we met in the lobby and caught a bus to a little town outside of Milan called Como. This was a gorgeous town on the lake where we had a few hours to site see. There were a few different options of things we were able to do. One was to ride a boat around the lake which would stop at a bunch of little mini barges where people could get off and see each unique place, then re-board and continue on to the next place. This Entire tour took about an hour and those who went (including Jeff and his family, Elsa and her mother and friend and a few others) said it was an incredible trip. The second option was to go up the vehicular, which is a tram that went up the side of a huge hill. It reminded me of the tram we have in New Mexico except it was not as long as ours, and there was foliage And houses mixed in through out the ride up. A few people within our group went up the vehicular which included Doug, Lisa (and her parents) Jordie, Taylor, Ben and a few others. He said the view at the top was breath taking. The third option was to walk around the square which included Como's duomo (church) and plenty of little shops. This was a blast that I shared with Miquella,  Jordan, Hannah, Chantal, Megan, and Ashley Rhoades. We walked all around the little cobble stone streets taking pictures and laughing together. It was amazing to see all the little alleyways and all of the people what were inside them. I could have people watched there for hours. After a few hours we could not avoid our growling stomachs any longer. So we stopped at this little pizzarea right next to the lake, where we had delicious pizza bigger than our faces. It was the perfect lunch. After Como our group returned to the hotel where we changed for our first game against the Italian Junior National team. We all walked over to the facility together creating a big mob of silver and red in the streets of Milan. It was a sight to see, and made me smile to know I was a part of the experience, I wonder what all the Italians thought of our tomato suit attire. (Hannah calls us tomatoes when we wear all red). Maybe we will be the inspiration for a new fashion line within Milan's finest designers, who knows. We got to the gym and after watching the end of the men's national teams practice we had about 20 minutes to warm up and then show the Italian's our stuff. We ended up losing this match 3-1, which to all of us was very disappointing. We did not play a bad game, but it was definitely not our best. We would make runs of really good plays and get a few points ahead but then for some reason we could not conect any more, so a few dumb errors and they would be right back into the game. I felt we missed a lot of serves at times that turned into momentum killers. I'm glad we get to play this team again tomorrow because they only got to see a glimmer of what the Lobos are capable of. So tomorrow we will fix our mistakes and really leave it all out on the court. We shall  leave them with a beating they will not soon forget.  Tune in next time to hear from another one of my sisters and her experiances in Italy, but for now, as they say in Italy, Chao! Love, Lexi Ross #6
Day two May 31, 2012 Italy  On Wednesday we woke up rea lly early to get to the airport. We checked in and then got onto our plane for Atlanta. We got to Atlanta and then had a 3 hour wait. When we finally got to Milan after a really long plane flight we got our suitcases but unfortunately Ben's got left in Atlanta.  Our first day in Milan we immediately went to practice which was good because it woke us up for the rest of the site seeing. Seeing all the sites in Milan was great! We got to see a castle first which was awesome and some peddlers tried to sell us really cheap bracelets but Tim our tour guide stopped us from getting ripped off. We also took a tram to the Duomo which was really cool we got to see some amazing architecture. Unfortunately only Hannah and Ashley Rhoades got to go in to the church because of the strict dress codes.  the rest of us explored the city of Milan and found souvenirs. Kelly, Lexi and I went to go eat at a little cafe and enjoyed the food a lot especially since it was our first real Italian meal! Later in the evening Ashley Rhoades, Hannah, and I went to get gelato which was excellent!  So overall the first day was a great way to start off our Italy trip and I can't wait to play against the teams and to see more of Italy and enjoy the trip! Megan Short #12