August 17-25, 2004
The trip started with most of us meeting on campus to get on the bus to New York. We filled the time chatting about our summers and catching up. Upon reaching the airport, we waited in line to check in for our flight to London. We were all very excited to go, as we had been fundraising for many months. To our amazement, immediately behind us in line was Papa Roach, the band, waiting to check in their instruments and sound equipment for their European tour.
After check-in, we all had dinner in the airport, waiting eagerly for our flight. Shortly after dinner, we boarded the plane to London. The plane had rows 10 seats across, each seat equipped with a personal television for in-flight movies and entertainment. Although we were all very excited for the trip, after being served the in-flight meal, almost all of us fell quickly to sleep.
We landed in London the next morning, where we proceeded through many "queues" to get to our next gate. We exchanged some of our money from dollars into Euros in preparation for our arrival in Italy. While waiting for our flight, we all fell asleep in the lounge area, taking up most of the floor space as well as most of the chairs. We awoke briefly in order to board the plane, then quickly fell back asleep for the remainder of the flight.
We stepped out of the airport terminal into a pleasantly sunny Italian summer afternoon. There we became acquainted with our tour bus, tour guide, and bus driver, with whom we would be spending a lot of quality time over the next few days. Once all of our luggage and stick bags had been loaded beneath the bus, our tour guide, Lorraine, dispensed folders to each of us containing our trip itinerary and then began to tell us about Italy, Lake Como in particular, where we would be spending our first three nights.
Our first stop on the bus was a sand turf near the hotel, where we promptly disembarked from the bus and began our first practice of the 2004 Yale Field Hockey season! It felt great to reunite as a team after the summer break and especially great to get moving around on the turf after such a lengthy plane ride. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the air, compounded by the excitement that we were playing in Italy! We had quite a few spectators watching our practice from behind the fence separating the turf from the surrounding neighborhood, and gesturing at our "Yale Field Hockey" pinneys. Practice began with a team jog around the field and stretching, and ended with a full-field scrimmage.
After practice the bus took us to our hotel, where we were assigned three to a room. We were served a delicious dinner of homemade pasta with tomato meat sauce, as well as salad with olive oil, chicken, and tiramisu for dessert. After eating we headed back to our rooms and fell asleep right away, so that we would be well rested for the next day, eager for a great morning of sightseeing and our first match in the evening!
DAY 2 - August 19th
Rachel Lentz '07 and Emily Palilonis `07
Today was our first full official day in Europe, and what a day it was! We woke up bright and early and after a quick breakfast we were off for the day. The day began with a scenic boat cruise on Lake Como. Some of the villas were absolutely breathtaking. We saw the villas of Versace and George Clooney. We also passed by the site where Mussolini was killed. After the boat cruise, we stopped in Bellagio for some sightseeing, brief exploring, and of course shopping. The city is gorgeous. It's home to some of the finest silk scarves in the world. We then returned to Como for some more touring, as well as lunch. A group of us took a trolley ride up to the top of a small mountain and ate there. The views of the lake from the top were phenomenal. New Haven pizza may be great, but it has nothing on genuine pizza from Italy. Following lunch, we had one of our many three-hour bus rides to get to the field for our first game.
The game was against the Lugano field hockey club team in Switzerland. Despite some jet lag, we all stepped it up, played well, and won the game. Just as we stepped off the field and got into our locker room, it started to rain pretty bad. We had some time to meet and socialize with the other team before we left. At this point we were all crowded into a little building on the side of the field and it began to downpour on the men who were practicing on the turf. After a long day, we reboarded the bus and headed back to our hotel where we had a late night dinner and went to bed.
Day 3--August 20th
Lindsay Collins '07 and Jenn Slough `07
After breakfast at the hotel, he rode our bus to Milan. We began with a bus tour around the city, comparing ancient and modern Milan. We drove through the famous shopping district right after we had seen the ancient city walls.
We continued our tour on foot to the Duomo, a large gothic cathedral, which has always marked the city's center. Our tour guide showed us the inside of the Duomo, which had 52 columns, gorgeous handmade stained glass, and solid marble floors. The tour guide also enlightened us of many of the hidden treasures of the Duomo.
We then went to the top of the Duomo to get a closer look at the statues and the spires. At the top, we had a great view of the city and many great photograph opportunities.
The Galleria, which is a large shopping center right next to the Duomo, was our next stop. In the center of the Galleria, there were four paintings representing the four major continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas). We then had time to eat in the outdoor cafes and browse through the designer shops, realizing that 40 grand a year could buy many things, other than a Yale education. Before leaving Milan, we made sure to stop and eat gelato.
We hopped back on our bus and made our way to Bra, Italy for our second game of the trip. We had dinner at the clubhouse before the game.
After warm-up, we gave the Italian team Yale Field Hockey shirts and they presented our team with a ceramic plate, sketches of a church and their town hall, and an Italian flag. The mayor of the town welcomed us to their area.
We ended up losing 1-0, but it was a good game.
After showering, they gave us tee shirts, we had watermelon, and sang happy birthday to Marly Gillece (it was her 21st). We mingled some, then headed back to our hotel in Lake Como.
Day 4--August 21st
We left our hotel early on Day 4, bound for Venice. When our bus arrived, we were led to our taxi-boat to the city. As we approached, we could hardly believe our eyes at the beauty of the architecture. We disembarked and most of the team climbed into gondolas for a half-hour tour of the canals. After a leisurely-paced 15 minutes floating through the canals, the biggest, blackest cloud covered the sky and raindrops began to fall. While two of the three gondolas with Yalies in them sped back to the dock, the one containing the seniors, Katie Rivkin, and Kate Crandall seemed to move at a snail's pace. Soon enough, the other gondolas were out of sight and the situation turned ugly--the rain was no longer a drizzle and hail began to pelt the passengers who were laughing so hard they could hardly breathe. Before setting out on the journey, they had joked about how many great stories could come from a gondola trip in Venice--maybe getting lost at sea or "The Perfect Storm: Venice"--and now it seemed to be coming true. The more Katie Rivkin yelped from getting pelted with hail or the more Sarah Driscoll lamented the decision to wear all white, the slower the gondolier seemed to move. Back at the dock, the rest of the team was in stitches watching the last group poke along through the gale.
Following a quick lunch, the group reconvened for a tour of the Basilica. Everyone was enthralled by the intricate details, such as the stained glass and the mosaic marble floor. Despite the wonder of it all, once we were back outside, Ainslee could tell that everyone was dying to tour the shops, so the tour ended shortly after and we scrambled around for 40 minutes looking for ways to spend money. When we reconvened, Trish Bissett showed off a beautiful necklace she had purchased and pointed to the store where she bought it. Five minutes later, the entire team had bombarded the store and several of us emerged with matching necklaces, which we proceeded to wear for the rest of the trip. Although we were all sad to board the bus once back on shore after six way-too-short hours in Venice, we all took naps on the way to our last practice in Europe. Although we were a little fatigued when we stepped on the field, you would never know it. While everyone was having fun, we were certainly quite competitive and worked very hard. All of that paid off when, after we showered, we were ushered into a pizzeria for some yummy Italian-style pizza and good times around the table. After dinner, we loaded up the bus and headed off to our hotel for the night. Before we arrived there, our incredible tour guide, Lorena, took us to Verona for fabulous gelato and a walk through the city. We saw the House of Capulet and the balcony where Giulietta (Juliet) gazed down upon her Romeo. It was eerie to see the thousands of scrawled notes to lovers tacked up on the walls, which were coated with layers of graffiti. We checked into our hotels and watched a little Olympics coverage before falling into deep sleep, dreaming of the days to come on this awesome trip.
Day 5--August 22nd
Day 5 began with our final bus ride under the guidance of Marco and Lorena. We pulled out of our hotel in Italy early in the morning and after a four-hour trip, during which most of us caught up on our sleep, we arrived at the dock with some feelings of ambivalence. We were preparing ourselves for the worst. Armed with a variety of anti-nausea drugs we waited for the first sighting of the rickety old boat that was planning to carry us for 21 hours through the Mediterranean Sea to Greece. The ship that arrived seemed to fit right in with the motto of the trip: `just when we thought things could not possibly get any better, they did!' Our ship was unbelievable. For most of us it was the biggest we had ever been on, certainly not what we had been expecting. While we waited to board we said our goodbyes to Lorena, our Italian tour guide who had worked so hard to make Italy such an incredible experience for us. We sent her off with some parting gifts but if we had been made aware of just what it was that we were giving up we probably would have tried to bait her onto the boat (Greek tour guides have a slightly different style!)
Once we had checked in on the boat we went to find our rooms. There were four to each room and so we seniors had a room to ourselves. Now I want you to envision your closet at home and now imagine attaching four beds to the wall and adding a bathroom and that's about the size of the room we stumbled into, but we loved it. Sure, you couldn't open the bathroom door if all your roommates happened to be in the room and the floor did seem to disappear as we lugged our bags in, but I couldn't imagine a more humorous way to spend a night on a boat.
We had been going pretty much non-stop up until this point, so we were pretty ready to throw on our bathing suits and relax by the pool on the upper deck. We all sat back and tried to take in all that was around us and all that we had experienced so far. Then we went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. We were shown to our dining room, which was more or less our own private area, and we were served a delicious three-course meal. Afterwards we went back out to the deck to sit and watch the sunset and continue the story telling that kept us amused throughout the entire trip. As it got a little chillier we went back inside and joined the other passengers that were watching the Olympics. As it turned out, one of the athletes that we watched win the bronze in the 100m we would end up meeting in the Olympic Village (more on that to come!) For the rest of the night we just hung out with each other, enjoying the chance to recount all that we had been lucky enough to do and see in Italy. We were convinced that life could not possibly get any better, but we had no idea what was in store for us in Athens...
Day 7--August 23rd
The team woke up on our mini cruise ship to enjoy a team breakfast. After breakfast, most of the girls sunbathed on the deck of the ship surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Our ship docked three hours late, and we piled onto a small bus to enjoy a 2.5-hour bus ride to Athens and the awaiting Olympic Games!!! We got to the Olympics in time for the overtime game between the men's German and Korean field hockey teams. We then grabbed a 'nutritious' meal from the vendors and settled in to watch the second games of the night, men's Netherlands vs. Australia. The team was thrilled to see such a high level of hockey. We then boarded the bus for an unknowingly 3-hour ride to our seaside hotel (with a pit stop along the way to pick up kabobs and baklava). Once we arrived at the hotel we settled in for a good four hours of sleep before trekking back to Athens to watch some more world-class Olympic hockey.
Day 7--August 24th
In what was an incredible 8-day vacation, Day 7 was the most historically and athletically inspiring of the entire trip. The morning started out with a traditional Greek breakfast of yogurt and honey as the seniors enjoyed a few good laughs as usual on the trip. We headed off to the Olympic Games to see Korea, New Zealand, Japan and Australia battle it out on the pitch. With our crazy bus driver we all wished we could have hopped on the back of our own motorcycle...ha ha! With a few hours of field hockey under our belts, we headed to the Acropolis to be amazed yet again. We couldn't help but comment "Here we are at the beginning of Western Civilization" as we stared in awe at the Parthenon. It's hard to believe that in 400 BC, without the aid of technology, Athenians were able to begin modern democracy and build structures that still stand while we continually struggle to calculate the tip on a restaurant bill!
We hiked down the Acropolis, boarded the bus and were thrilled to learn that Mr. Rivkin (father of Katie '06) had gotten us all guest passes to the highly-secured Olympic Village. He says that it is part of his international sport arbitration job, but we still question his involvement in the CIA. Whatever the connection, we couldn't be more grateful...Thank you Rivkins! We peeked in the athlete dining hall, stepped foot in the US team housing, posed for pictures with Maurice Green and the US female gymnastics team. Oh yeah, we also touched an Olympic Gold Medal...all in all, just your typical Tuesday.
We headed back to the hockey venue to catch semi final action between some of the best hockey teams in the world. Thinking that the day couldn't get any better, we were treated to two overtime periods and strokes where Holland and Germany advanced to the gold medal game. Seeing hockey at the Olympic level was an extremely inspiring and motivational experience. We tried to absorb as much as possible in the desire of adding some of their skills to our repertoire. We hope that this inspiration can carry us to an Ivy League Championship. Perhaps the most surprising display of enthusiasm came not from the players but from their ardent fans. Dressed in face paint and proudly donning their country's flags we saw how to the rest of the world field hockey is as sacred as our Monday Night Football.
This was the trip of a lifetime. Not only did we watch some of the best athletes in the world, but we also had the opportunity to see first hand how modern civilization has developed. When we are 80 years old and asked "What was the best week of your life?" we might feel compelled to say it was our honeymoon, but our husbands will never know that it was really these eight days spent in Europe with our Yale Field Hockey Team.
After a 7:30 AM wake up call, the team hit the road at 7:45. Our run carried us into the town of Epidavros and then back to our hotel for a refreshing swim in the Aegean. Not only were we able to cool off, but head coach Ainslee Lamb gave us a quick lesson from her glory days in synchronized swimming. The team is now expert in the Pike, the Flamingo, and the Sailboat.
Now ready for our day of travel, we snapped a picture and climbed out of the beautiful, still waters. Next, we quickly packed up, ate our last croissants, and loaded up the bus.
Once en route, everyone crashed, and before we knew it, we were at the airport. A skip later, and we were in Heathrow. We claimed some space in the center of the shopping area and played cards while the coaches played dice. Egyptian Rat Screw was heated, but we were all still friends once we boarded our final flight.
The eight hours to New York `flew' by as we tuned in to Shrek 2, Mean Girls, and Runaway Jury. Once on the ground a sleepy group passed through customs, picked up luggage, and boarded our school bus. We arrived on campus in a happy stupor, excited for the days to come.
The trip was a wonderful beginning. So many experiences of a lifetime were tied to the week. We were inspired by the athletes and the scene of cultures together. We were taken in by the Duomo in Milan and the Basilica in Venice. And we had come bonded as a team sharing all these first-time experiences together. We can't wait for the season to start so we can showcase the incredible unity and motivation this trip gave us. We know it will inspire Yale's best season ever.