Women's Basketball in Europe: Days 1-2

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A party of more than 50 Muhlenberg women’s basketball players, coaches, parents and friends is touring four European countries. Here is a report on the first couple of days of the trip in France.

women's basketball summer trip Day 1 – by Morgan Duggan
We arrived at JFK Airport and were very excited to see each other.While we waited to check in our luggage and go through security, we filled each other in on our summer adventures and spoke of the feelings of excitement to start our trip. The plane ride went by quicker than I expected and we landed successfully in Paris.While we waited on the bus for a couple members of our group that took another flight, we all played charades and laughed a ton, as we were all in a state of delirium.

Our journey to the city of Paris seemed like the longest ride ever. When we got in the city we started a bus tour to see some of the architecture of Paris. We saw the Magdalene Chapel, the Opera House, the Bastille, the Seine River and many other famous spots.

After about two hours on the bus, the best part of my trip here began. My sister, Haleigh, is in the Peace Corps in Mozambique, Africa, and she left the states back in September for 27 months. This trip for me was much more than an opportunity to go to Europe; it was an opportunity for my parents and I to see my sister for the first time in 11 months, and the only time throughout her service. We went to the hotel where we met up with Haleigh, and it was one of the best moments of my life.

Les Invalides The bus tour continued and my sister and I sat together and caught up on our lives and met my friends. We stopped later for lunch in the Montmartre area and split up in small groups to explore the area during our free time. We then checked in to the hotel and headed to our rooms for a little R&R.

For dinner we went to the Latin Quarter and stopped at the Notre Dame Cathedral along the way. We took pictures outside and then went inside to see the beautiful architecture of the Gothic cathedral. When we were inside, mass was going on, so we were able to listen to the music and lessons being taught.

We then broke off into small groups for lunch, and my family and I decided to use this time to have a family dinner and enjoy being in the presence of my sister. A couple of us regrouped after dinner and decided to stay out together and explore the city. We walked along the riverside and through the town and also enjoyed some crepes and ice cream as we journeyed back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.

Day 2 – by Leeann Lanza
Meeting everyone down at breakfast in the hotel the morning after we arrived brought a much nicer sight than the day before. With everyone showered and rested, we were all ready for our trip to the palace of Versailles, which was the place I was most excited to see.

The Palace of Versailles is where the royal families of France had lived. It was built by the Sun King, King Louis XIV, and the last family to live there was that of King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette until the French Revolution. After getting to tour the entire palace, I now understand why the French revolted against their king and queen; the ceilings were covered in gold and beautiful paintings, the tapestries and paintings lined the walls, and of course the infamous Hall of Mirrors was completely gorgeous overlooking the Royal Gardens.

Versailles It was quite an adventure and I enjoyed every minute of my self-guided tour of the grounds. It was amazing to be able to view the entire palace since I had always wanted to visit the lavish home of Marie Antoinette.

After leaving Versailles, we were given the opportunity to go view the Eiffel Tower. When we stood on the lawn before the Eiffel Tower, we all had the same thought, “Is this even real?” It felt like we were in a movie.

One of the most comical moments of our trip occurred at this location. Upon arrival at the Tower, our tour guide Corrie mentioned to us that we would be approached by those who the French refer to as “gypsies” attempting to steal money from unwary travelers. Their tactic is to distract the victim by asking them to sign a petition while another gypsy approaches from behind and pickpockets the unsuspecting person. After hearing this warning, we all exited the bus with purses clutched on our hips and, lo and behold, we were surrounded by gypsies.

One of the alumni on our trip (Kim Mui ’12) was approached by said gypsy and proceeded to sign the petition that was put in front of her. Thankfully, Alita Zabrecky ’13, who was on watchdog patrol, quickly zippered the Kim’s purse before anything could be snatched. When we returned to the bus, we recited the incident over and over until we were sick to our stomachs from laughing. One girl’s mistake quickly becomes the next best joke on this team.

Afterwards, we headed out to the Champs Elysees for some lunch, shopping and a visit to the Arc de Triomphe.

Eiffel Tower At this point we split up, so I went with one group to find a place to eat. We went to a place called Charlie Birdy’s, an “American” restaurant with burgers, salads, “NYC Hot Dogs” and macaroni and cheese. I got the mac and cheese with “steak,” or ground beef, which was pretty good!

After lunch Erin Laney, Katy Mitton and I took a walk down the Champs to check out the Arc de Triomphe, which was a magnificent sight to see. It stands directly at the middle of quite a few avenues and from the top, it is possible to see down all of these streets.

On our way back to the bus, we saw the huge line of people to go into the Abercrombie & Fitch store, which is apparently a big deal there. It is gated off and has huge hedges surrounding a path to the entrance. We walked right past this store of course, but lingered a little bit longer by the Louis Vuitton windows.

After being on the Champs Elysees, we went back to the hotel to shower and nap before our night excursion to the Eiffel Tower. We met back up around 5:00 to go to dinner around the red light district ... yes there is one of those is Paris, so we’re preparing ourselves to see the one in Amsterdam in a few days.

We split up for dinner again, got a few crepes and loaded the bus back up to drive to the Eiffel Tower. As we approached, the sun was going down slowly, so we took some pictures before the sun went down again, and finally waited in line to get on the elevators to get to the second level of the tower.

As we were looking over the city, at 10:00, the light show of the Eiffel Tower began. The tower twinkles for five minutes and is lit up. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, and I’m not the only one who had a few tears at that point (recent graduate Kate Clawson was the first to admit it). We all got plenty of pictures of the amazing views, as well as the beautiful twinkling tower. I know it is something none of us will ever forget.

After the Eiffel Tower, we went back to the hotel and a bunch of us went around the corner to get our final taste of French crepes. This was such a busy day, but at the end of the day, the French pastries are the most important to taste. As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat crepes.”