Just when you thought you were out (of Europe) the Huskies pull you back in! Senior Gabbi Parker penned the following blog entry that recaps the trip as a whole.
Senior Outside Hitter Gabbi Parker
Where do I begin to wrap up the trip of a lifetime? Right off the bat, we started in a country that was nothing like many of us had ever seen. Vienna was absolutely beautiful and full of history. From St. Stephens cathedral to Mozart's apartment, we were shown the many wonders Vienna had to offer. I think I can speak for the team when I say one of the best parts of that first day...the schnitzel!! After our first bus trip of many, we arrived in Maribor, Slovenia. I have to be honest, I was not expecting this part of our trip to become so memorable. The countryside to start was absolutely breathtaking. If you add on the amazing experiences we had there; the ropes course, sledding down the hill, riding up the mountain for dinner, the winery, and meeting people from different cultures (Men's Beijing team and Slovenian youth team) Maribor was so unexpectedly fantastic. Even after the whole trip, many of us cannot get this delightful country out of our minds and I plan to visit again someday.
With some good matches under our belt from Slovenia, we head out once again to finally reach the country that has been the focal point of our attention up until the plane ride...ITALIA!!! Our first stop is Venice. I cannot express in full detail how surreal it was to walk the streets of this iconic city. As I roamed the canal ways with my grandma (or also affectionally known on the trip as "nona") I couldn't get over how I was really here. My first time in Europe and I'm sitting in a gondola with my nona while the gondolier serenades her with an italian rendition of "Happy Birthday". So many pictures and I know it still doesn't replace the sounds, sights, and even smells that came along with this trip. A few hours later, I'm sitting on steps with my team watching the boats pass us by and I have to take another deep breath. I am just so grateful for this experience and even more so to be here with so many people I love.
Milan is our next stop and my favorite part had to be the matches we played at the training center for the Italian national team. The facility is not what I imagined, nestled in such a quiet area, but the competition is just as I expected. This team is good, and it tests us in every way. Even though we do not come up with a win, I am grateful for the experience. We trained incredibly hard during the spring, and I know a lot of it paid off in this match. We still have a ways to go before a national championship, but I am so excited for this fall. The next day is full of more sightseeing, shopping (both window and buying), and one last match to wrap this stop on our tour. Milan was fun, but I can tell the girls are itching to move on to our next few stops.
Perugia is next, and once again it is another hidden gem we were not expecting to fall in love with. The view is spectacular. Miles upon miles of gorgeous hill tops, cute houses with their red tile roofs, and many pictures to capture as much as possible. We play our final match here after a seven hour bus ride. Even with tired bodies, we manage to wrap up our volleyball aspect of the trip with a win and some great memories meeting some of the girls. Post-match dessert with the team and two of their players as well as the town of Assisi wraps up this small but intriguing area. Next up, last but definitely not least, Roma! With only two days to explore, we managed to see and do so much. To be brief; seeing the pope, St. Peter's basilica, the excavation site where Caesar was killed (otherwise known as the cat box), the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, and so much in between. I know everyone including myself are exhausted, but the fatigue is worth the memories we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
Putting all the memorable sights and experiences aside, this trip would be nothing without the right people to share it with. Thanks to our many tour guides, Barbara, Cory, Frederica (and couple others that I regret to say I cannot remember their names) we were able to experience many of these places in much more detail due to their wealth of information. I have to give an enormous thank you to Professor Jim Clauss. His vast amount of information was very useful, but beyond that he is also an incredibly fun person to be around. Throwing the dubs up at our matches, the jokes upon jokes, and infectious energy he brought to the trip is more than we could have asked for. I am so thankful for Husky volleyball. Without this program and all the people involved, I would have never had the same opportunity to go through this experience. Before I go, I have one last piece of advice for all you Dawgs out there. First and foremost, I urge you to travel and go outside of your comfort zone within a different culture. Some of my favorite experiences were the people I met along the way that took some innovative ways of communication. Most importantly though, you will get the most out of the experience if you go with the people you love. I know for me, this has brought me so much closer to my team and I am so happy to have shared this experience with each and every one of them.