Katie Simon - Europe Blog #7
This morning Becca and I woke up to my phone alarm sounding off at 8:45, and even though we had both just had a solid 12 hours of sleep we felt as if we could've slept for days after being so out of wack from barely getting any sleep the day before.
Good thing we did get up though, because the breakfast that was set up downstairs was well worth it. With a wide variety of breads and an array of Swedish yogurt, pastries, fresh fruits, Swedish pancakes, and most of the breakfast options we're used to like cereal, eggs and bacon, we were more than well satisfied. A couple interesting things to note about breakfast were that the yogurt, although really good, had more of a liquidly texture to it that I didn't expect and the fact that there was both a dispenser for water with and without gas (carbonation) just like there could have been a dispenser for orange juice with or without pulp.
After breakfast we all made our way onto the tour bus to head over to the Vasa Museum for a self-guided tour. One thing to note while here is that it was raining and at first we assumed we had to stand in a long line to get in, but luckily (Director of Operations) Jan (Bethea) noticed that there was a separate entrance for groups who had pre-paid to visit.
Once we actually got inside we started wandering off in groups of three or four people to explore the huge ship and all that surrounded it within the six floors of the building. I think it was on the first floor, where we were able to get closest to the ship's underside, that Hailie (Sample), Emily (Cady) and I found what we considered to be the grossest/most interesting information. It explained how the ship had been underwater for nearly 333 years and that in that time local people would dump their sewage into the water where the ship resided, thus helping to preserve the ship as a whole by extracting a lot of the oxygen in the water.
From that point on, to us it was then considered the "poop boat" and for some reason or another (maybe because they were surprised we had actually read some of the captions that we could find in English) everyone we told on the team seemed really impressed with the fact that we had found out so much about the ship. From there, we decided to drive over to the palace to see the guard exchange, which turned out to be a pretty serious event.
First off, it was still raining so all who were there to watch the event were attempting to stay dry by any means. Thus, I initially followed the crowd into a hallway that led to the courtyard where the exchange was being performed. Once a couple of the guards started motioning for everyone to line up against one of the walls (making it more difficult to see from the back) I rushed to catch up to the front of the entrance where Layne (Reeves), Lindsey (Moore) and a couple other of my teammates were gathered. They had found a small space to stand that was next to a wide, decorative column right outside the entrance to the courtyard that was pretty close to the action.
Before the ceremony started there were a few announcements, both in Swedish and in English, which stated that anyone near the front of the crowd was supposed to take down their umbrellas because it bothered the horses that the guards would be riding. Thus we found it pretty amusing when one of the guards was shouting in Swedish and directly pointing at one audience member who had disregarded the message and continued to hold up his umbrella. We could only imagine how scary it must've been to have upset a foreign soldier like that, but soon enough we were focusing our attention on the starting of the ceremony.
When the small marching band of the guards who performed atop of horses entered the opposite side of the courtyard from where we were standing, some of us began recording with our cell phones and trying to capture what was going on, and I was really glad we did because the drummer in the band was extremely entertaining for us to watch perform. I thought it was funny when Layne and Jordan (Hooper) tried re-enacting some of his unique arm and hand gestures by holding up their arms and pretending as if they were pointing drum sticks in a downward direction just like the drummer did every time he finished playing. This was only one of many times in which I anticipate enjoying spending time with my teammates, and that itself has already made this trip a success in my book.
If only you could experience this adventure like I have so far, because unfortunately I am not able to do justice to how unique and entertaining these events have been, and how lucky I feel to have been able to travel to a foreign country like this. Additionally, I'm looking forward to our game tomorrow and I really would like to thank the Fastbreakers for providing us with such an experience.