Leading up to the trip, I could feel every emotion under the sun. The flight was in the evening so I was torn between wanting time to slow down so I could stay home as long as possible and wanting to get going so I could get past the goodbyes. Just thinking about them cued the tears already. Still, to this moment, it is hard to think about without crying. Typing this out is also pretty tough. I saw that my mom put a card in my backpack when I was zipping up the last couple things. I almost lost it. There was no way I could read it yet. I didn’t even want to open it until I got to my room where I would be staying for good. Leaving Andrew and my kitty cats were the first, mom and dad were second. Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for that. Walking through the airport with puffy eyes and a red face was not so fun. There were times on the flight where I felt some waterworks too. It’s hard to talk about missing my family when people ask. It’s even hard to think about and I imagine it’ll be that way for a long time.
For some reason my name got called before the flight. I had to get my passport verified and they gave me new boarding passes. Odd, but nothing major. It was a 9 hour flight to the minute. 5:59pm to 2:59am PST. I had an exit row by the window so I was up close and personal with the exit door. Bright side: a lot of leg room, my 6’10” brother could have stretched his legs out with room to spare. Down side: just a tad drafty and condensation dripping down the door on the decent. It was a pretty smooth flight besides a few spots with a little turbulence. So what’d I do for 9 hours? First, I watched 6 episodes of Grace & Frankie on Netflix (Thanks Sammy and Tay!). We got 2 meals and I ended up getting a little bit of sleep here and there after that. It felt like a quick flight. As quick as a 9 hour flight can be. My phone wasn’t even fully charged when I got on the plane, I watched Netflix, and listened to music. Didn’t have to charge it once! Haha it’s amazing how long a new phone battery can last!
I got off the plane stepping foot in the Netherlands for the first time hoping it would be easy to find my way. I asked a flight attendant, who was actually from North Bend and said her kids went to Mount Si, small world, and she said that it was an easy airport to navigate. When I saw signs in English I was pretty relieved because you just never know. My layover was about 4 hours so I knew there would be a few flights ahead of mine at whatever gate I’d have to go to. I looked at the monitors and found what I thought was my gate. First of all, it was literally impossible to even get inside the gate, which turned out to be a good thing I guess. After wandering around like a lost puppy and asking 3 different people before I got a valid answer, I got sent through passport control and found the right gate. The other side of the airport I had to go to looked more like a mall than an airport. While walking I saw these pedal charging stations. They were basically stationary bikes where you had to pedal for your device to charge. What a great idea.
The second flight was a breeze. I think it was a little over two hours maybe, but it felt like about one. All my bags made it and I went off to meet the coach and another player, Eidy, (from Venezuela) that arrived around the same time. The airlines lost her bags so we had to get that all figured out and then drove to Ducksfield in Wiener Neustadt. We went straight to the clubhouse and the entire team was there. It was good to meet all of them before going to Italy and starting to play, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I’ve faced language barriers before but it will always be pretty weird when you’re the only one with English as your first language, that’s a new thing.
I stayed at the coaches place for the first couple nights before Italy because there wasn’t any hot water in the clubhouse when I got there. They have the BIGGEST dog I have ever seen. He is a small bear and his head comes past my waist when he sits. Half St. Bernard, half Newfoundland. Yeah, right? I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow on the first night. Jet lag is no joke. The middle of the night rolled around and I woke up really sad but was able to go back to sleep and didn’t wake up until 11. It was a pretty laid back day just hanging out at the clubhouse and having dinner at the coaches house. I went to bed and had to repack all my stuff for the Italy trip tomorrow. My dad helped, well I shouldn’t say helped, he did pack all my stuff into my bags for me because he is the BEST. Missing him a little extra tonight.
Stay tuned for more…