Saturday, April 28, 2012

On to Madrid

Hello All,
After arriving in Madrid, we started the day off by visiting the Bernebau Stadium, Real Madrid's home turf.  The stadium was yet again amazing even though it was a little messy after a big European Cup game versus Bayern Munich.  The tour gave us the chance to sit on their "VIP Fan" benches, get an up close view of their locker room, three floor sport shop and actually touch the grass.

After visiting the stadium, we headed to the famous Prada Museum of Art.  They were showcasing the most incredible paintings we have ever seen by many famous artists of all eras.  We enjoyed a small tour of Madrid as we headed to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

On our way back, our bus got stuck in the driveway of the hotel as it bottomed out going up a steep incline.  After hours of trying to push it out with no luck, our great idea was to call two new buses, problem solved!  When we got to dinner, they were very patient as it was already 12 o'clock here.  They had the food ready to be served.  We were shocked after finishing one plate, when they brought out an entire second course following with dessert.  After finishing dinner, we were all stuffed and exhuasted and ready for bed.
 Day six began with a good breakfast to energize us for a long day in downtown Madrid with lots of fun places to see and things to do.  We started with a walking tour through crazy, people filled streets.  We walked through Plaza de Mayor which is the main square of Madrid, similar to Times Square in New York.  Madrid had many historical buildings as well as many fountains and statues.  We hopped on the bus for a quick tour of the main streets of Madrid where we got to see a lot of beautiful parks and gardens.  The buildings resembled those of Rome with many narrow streets and crazy drivers.  The traffic was the worst the tour guide had seen in years. 

Both Teams at the Plaza de Mayor

We headed back to the downtown streets for some free time to roam around on our own and visit the little shops along the way.  A highlight of downtown Madrid were the delicious Churros, which are a freid dessert with sugar.  A nice pre-game treat! 

Women's Team in Madrid
Men's Team in Madrid

We then headed to our final games verse two semi-pro teams.  The boys lost 1-0 after a hard fought game.  We also lost 1-0, though we played very well.  Since soccer is of such importance here in Spain, it was fun to be a part of these games and socials.  At the social that we had tonight, we exchanged one Wartburg shirt for one of their team shirts to commemorate our game.  Some of the girls knew English as well as our little Spanish which made it fun to converse.  As day six comes to an end, we are still having a great time.  Everyone is loving Madrid, but can't wait for the high-speed train ride to Toledo in the morning.

We look forward to updating you about our adventure tomorrow.

Katie Reinhardt and Ashly Frush
Class of 2015
Women's Soccer Team

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 5: Last Day in Barcelona

Men's Team at Camp Nou
Hola everyone! (hola and gracias are about the only two Spanish words I know and have been using them quite often over here as to make it sound like I know more than I do:)) 

I´m here to give you all a quick update :). Spain has been amazinggggggg!!!! We are all having so much fun and looking forward to what each day will bring us! Yesterday we got to experience one of the coolest things yet--a trip into the FC Barcelona Soccer Stadium. It was so huge and unbelievable. We were hoping that was where our game last night was going to be held.... but I guess it just didn´t work out that way for us :). The stadium was almost twice as big as the Olympic Stadium that we had toured the day before, and I had thought that was pretty big!

Women's Team at Camp Nou

After the stadium, our day was mostly filled with a bus ride to Zaragoza. We are about halfway to Madrid now and going to finish the last three hours today!  We stopped yesterday in a little town with a few different choices to eat.  I think some of us would still be at those restaurants trying to order a meal if we didn't have our teammate Marcela.  She did a great job translating for us.  I was happy to get a little bit of an American meal including steak and french fries.  It really was quite tasty, the only problem is, I keep finding good french fries and ketchup is no where to be seen over here.  I guess we will have to learn to make do :)!

Women's Team at Second Game
We learned quite a bit about the culture of European Soccer last night. We had a rough start considering we hadn´t even touched the ball when they put in their first goal!!!!! They were seriously amazing. We were a little bit frustrated at half time considering we were down 0-5. On the plus side, we made some adjustments at half time and only let in one goal in the second half! After the game, the coaches informed us that the team is actually a professional team here in Spain and ranked like eighth! They even have a few girls playing on the national team, including their goalie... no wonder we couldn´t score any goals!!!! Anyways, we realized what an awesome oppurtunity it was to play such a good team and to be able to see what European soccer was all about and to just see what such a good team looks like! I think we all realized we have a lot to strive for and work towards for next season! 
After the game, we had a social with the other team where they fed us some weird but tasty looking food! They do a little ceremony and honor the teams (with a GIANT trophy we will be bringing back) and an award to the MVP of the teams, Chelsea Frye was ours! The socializing is fun but kept to a minimum as we only have about three people that can actually communicate in Spanish, and they only had about two that could speak English!
Women's Team at Social
We are off to Madrid today!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I believe we are stopping at a chocolate factory along the way, you can only bet how excited we all are for that!

Anyways, Spain has been an amazing experience. It´s awesome to see how important soccer is over here, as there are fields everywhere and people huddled around TVs every night watching the games!
 Hope all is well in America :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cathy Reiter
Class of 2013
Women's Soccer Team

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day Four: Exploring Barcelona

Day 4 in Spain:
Women's Team at Olympic Stadium

After breakfast, the team ventured into downtown barcelona to see Olympic Stadium. The stadium was used for the 92' Olympic games in Barcelona. Miguel, our tour guide, explained how this stadium was most widely known for the lighting of the tourch cermenoy that included an archer shooting a flaming arrow over the torch inorder to light it.

After exploring the stadium, it was time to head to the church of the Sacred Family. This cathedral was designed by Gaudi, a famous Spanish artist, however, its design was so complex that only half of the construction was able to be completed before his death. The second half was designed by a completely different artist, and the differences are quite obvious. Also, during this time, a few players noticed that Rafa Nadal was present and were able to take pictures of him playing a pick up tennis match against a local.
Tennis Star Rafa Nadal

Women's Team at Gaudi Park
The next great adventure took place in downtown Barcelona where we were given almost 3 hours to walk around and do some shopping. Because Barcelona played Chelsea today in a Champions league game, we were warned about the Chelsea fans as Miguel described them being "drunk and dangerous". As we roamed the streets, it was obvious that he wasn't wrong. A large group of supporters began a Chelsea rant through the streets and were successful in angering many of the Barca faithful. Beyond the fans, it was fun to walk through all of the back allys and discover all of the odd stores the city has to offer.

Finally, the team was gathered and were sent off to play a game against a local club team. Their style of play was much different than anything that we were used to and it took us a long time to figure how to play them best. In the end we won the game 4-1 and after completion of the game we watched the last 20 minuets of the Barca-Chelsea game and were mostly dissapointed when Chelsea won on aggregate. While we watched the game snacks and drinks were served for both teams as we socialized with our Spanish opponents. At the end of the day we returned to the hotel and prepared for the next day.
Men's Team After Game
Jared Nelson
Class of 2014
Wartburg Men's Soccer

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day Three: Part Two

Today was a great 3rd day in Spain. We were coached by the LA Liga players.  It was a great experience. Going to the Monastary was on of the coolest things I have done in my life. It was amazing driving up that mountain. Then seeing all of the great things that are at the Monistary. It is amazing seeing many different cultures all around me. People all over the world coming and seeing this great place. I can not wait until tonight to get out and play the beautiful game against a Spanish team.

Amik Kantarevic
Class 2013
Men's Soccer Team

Day Three: Part 1

Hey All!
Day three is officially complete in Barcelona!! Today was our first full day in Spain, and it was completely filled with new and exciting adventures. A good portion of the team struggled pulling themselves out of bed for our 7:30 a.m. departure for our training session with the La Liga professional clinicians, surprise, surprise, I know! Upon arrival to the facilities we promptly warmed up and got started, due to our session only being an hour. The training session ran smoothly, and the players recovering from injuries received a solid fitness session due to the clinicians misunderstanding of what they could and couldn't do (funny to all except those recovering)! After the completion of our training sessions we departed for the hotel to eat breakfast, which had extremely fresh fruit and fruit juice like everywhere else here, and get prepared for the day. We then departed for the Monserrat Mountain Monastery, which is a Monk Monastery over 3,000 ft. above sea level. Many overcame their fears of heights on the journey up in a double decker bus making tight turns on curvy roads climbing the mountain. The group split up, some taking a trolley to the very top of the mountain, while others stayed behind to watch the boys choir (ages 8-14) sing in the famous cathedral. Both were amazing experiences for all, with groups exchanging pictures and videos so no one missed out! After our tours of the Monastery, we ventured into the streets of downtown Barcelona. Different groups chose different restaurants to eat at, most choosing those with foods they knew they would enjoy (let's just say a few were not any too enthused with all of the seafood and sushi for dinner last night). Groups explored downtown, taking in all of the events occurring due to today's holiday, dia del llibre i de la rosa, very similar to our Valentines Day, only a much bigger celebration. Coach Pins received a rose from our tour guide, how cute! After our ventures we were taken to the largest futbol store in Europe, exciting but also dangerous for all of us huge soccer fans! After a few of us purchased new jerseys and gear, we took off to the famous Antonio Gaudi Park. The park was absolutely beautiful, but due to limited time (we had to get to the Flamenco) we didn't get to explore all aspects. However, we all sat and enjoyed a jaw dropping Flamenco performance, with incredible fast feet and graceful movements. We decided that the dancers would have amazing foot skills on the soccer field, and we want to recruit then to come play with us! To top of a very entertaining day, we had dinner at a restaurant which had foods all would enjoy (salad, fruit, pizza, pasta, and meat) then returned to our hotel to get some rest for another busy day tomorrow.

It's bed time here in Barcelona, hope all is well in the States!
Good night! (or good afternoon to you all!)

Lauren Bauer
Wartburg Women's Soccer
Class of 2014

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Day in Spain

Hola! My name is Emma Nelson and I am from Gilbert, Iowa. I am a rising sophomore for the women's soccer team. Sunday was our first day in Spain. After a long day of traveling we arrived in Barcelona! Our tour guides met us at the airport and we got to settle in to the hotel we will be staying at. We were all exhausted from the flights but the idea of playing soccer gave us the energy to have a great first practice. See picture! For dinner we ate at a seafood buffet that had some new and exciting food for us to try. The baby squid was even eaten by the brave ones! After dinner we headed back to the hotel to catch up on sleep for our busy day tomorrow. We will start again at 7:30 to go to our second practice with a professional clinician from La Liga. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wartburg Women's Soccer Team
Wartburg Men's Soccer Team

Buenas Dias! 

My name is Lindsey Boyke, I'm from Verona, Wisconsin and I'm a rising senior captain for the women's soccer team. Today is the first official day of our Spain blog, which means we are super close to finally being out of Iowa and off to Europe! While we'll all be scurrying around packing our bags and trying not to forget our soccer gear the next couple days, we'll also be trying to contain our excitement. Both the men's and women's teams will be flying out of Chicago O'Hara airport Saturday evening, landing in Paris, France Sunday morning and catching a connecting flight to Barcelona, Spain a few hours later. I think to say we're all dying of anticipation is quite an understatement for both programs. It's definitely been a long and antsy finals week for sure! 

The rest of the days we have the opportunity to visit popular beaches and tour cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Toledo to see historic sites. And of course, both teams will be attending a professional La Liga match Getafe CF vs. RCD Mallorca, which hopefully tops off the trip! Just as a small preview of our trip, we'll not only be playing games and having practices in Spain, but we'll also be doing a great deal of site seeing as well. Each team will play 3 games against local clubs.  The women's team will be playing against Barcelona Seagulls, Prainsa Zaragoza, and AD Torrejon CF.  The men's team will be facing Unificacion Barcelona, CD Delicias Zaragoza, and CD San Fernando.  

It's going to be a busy, packed week filled with early mornings and late nights.  However, I know the experience will be completely worth it. How often do teams get the opportunity to do what we'll be doing - traveling abroad, playing soccer and creating lasting experiences with our teammates? Hardly ever. So you can just imagine how ridiculously excited we all are for this trip to finally be here!!  We plan to update the blog throughout our trip and we hope you are able to follow us on this exciting journey!