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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - page 2

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Travel Journal
women's basketball arrives in italy

The Muhlenberg women's basketball team will be Italy through Sunday, and during the week different players will send back reports. Here is how the beginning of the trip went:

Sunday, August 15Sheila Cook, senior
The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team is, in my opinion, one of the closest teams I have ever seen. Because of that it is always very difficult to be separated all summer long. The girls and I were all very anxious, not just to go to Italy, but to see each other again. While that made our last week in the states a drag, we were all very excited to get to the airport.

As I walked into our terminal, I turned to my mother to ask if she could see any Mules. As the words left my mouth, Coach Rohn came into view, dressed of course in his cardinal red Muhlenberg polo and hat. He was followed by the McKeon family, one of my many surrogate families for the week.

We had a short conservation — at least by Coach Rohn standards (less than 25 minutes) — and checked in. I said a women's basketball in italy nice long goodbye to my mom, then the McKeons, fellow Mule Kim Mui and I got ready to brave the long international security line that lay ahead. Up at the front of the line were a few other Muhlenberg families and air hugs were thrown back and forth until we could give proper hellos later.

Within the next half hour all 10 returning players were reunited and we caught up on our summers. We also supplied the details to stories that had already been told over the phone and internet. We were together again, and it felt soooo good.

After grabbing some food, we were ready to board. Now we’re waiting to arrive in Italy and our anticipation is growing like the crabgrass under Victor's Lament. We'll be in Italy in a few short hours and one of my teammates will update you then.

Ciao -

Monday, August 16Kathleen Naddaff, junior

We landed in Milan and everyone was so eager to see what Italy had to offer. As soon as we boarded our tour bus, everyone was charged with energy despite the sleepless overnight flight. But within 20 minutes the bus was silent as everyone was asleep.

Two hours later we were in Padua (in Italy they say Padova). It was great to get off the bus and start looking around. We toured the Scrovegni Chapel and learned about the paintings that paved the way for the Renaissance. We also saw the University of Padova, where Galileo and Copernicus were members of the faculty, and toured the magnificent Basilica of St. Anthony.

By then we were so tired we just wanted to get back to the hotel to shower. After freshening up, we had a wonderful meal on the roof of our hotel overlooking Padova. So our first day was a success, and everyone is talking about seeing Venice tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17Julie Kelly, sophomore

After a long two days of travel, our team was still a little jet lagged this morning. The idea of going to Venice, however, gave us plenty of energy. We learned that the city was built on a system of underwater pillars off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, so we needed to take a boat just to get there.

As our water taxis took us down the Grand Canal, seeing the buildings and bridges connecting the many islands left us speechless — which is very rare for our team. Everyone took about 100 pictures each before the boat even docked. Thank goodness for digital cameras and memory cards.

Immediately after getting off the boat we were drawn to the little shops filled with "carnival" masks, and pretty jewelry. Alex Berlin, Kelly McKeon and I bought matching bracelets in a hurry as the rest of our group began the walk to the Murano Glass Factory. Venice, and Murano in particular, is known for its fine glass, which is blown by hand, not by workers but by "glass artists" who take many years to learn their craft. We were given a personal demonstration, and man made a cat out of molten glass right before our eyes. Very cool!!!!

After that, the team and everyone else in our group (we have parents, coaches, alums and professors Penny and William Dunham with us too) went on a walking tour of parts of Venice to learn about its history and art. It started at the magnificent St. Mark's Basilica, which is an amazing work of art itself, and was built hundreds of years before America was even discovered. We walked down the maze of small streets and alleyways, passed countless shops filed with expensive items and many gelato stores as well (of course our team tried a few flavors).

When the tour was over we split into smaller groups for lunch. Ten of us went to a very cute little restaurant call "Al Carbon" which was located right alongside the Grand Canal. We sat outside and had a delicious meal, still in total disbelief that we were actually in Venice. Following lunch, we shopped (again) near the Rialto Bridge, where a few more of us found jewelry to our liking and picked up some Murano Glass as gifts.

We finished our time in Venice with the traditional gondola rides though canals of the city. I was in the same gondola with fellow sophomores Kate Clawson and Alita Zabrecky, and recent grads and former teammates Brenna Ferster and Michelle Feldman. It was very relaxing and quite an authentic Venice experience, and also a great way to see more of the city. As our tour guide told us, "Shakespeare never wrote Merchant of London.”

It was an awesome day. After dinner under the stars in the old town of Padova tonight we will head to Florence tomorrow with a stop at Bologna along the way.


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