November 20, 2017 - Day 3:
We started the day off like any other with a delicious breakfast. The new hotel (Novotel Milano) featured a variety of bread, fruit, and meats. Ready to start off our day, we head to the Metro and began our multiple train trip. We exited the Metro after 15 minutes to catch a three hour train ride into Corniglia. We ventured through the small town to get to the starting point of the hike by travelling a 365-step ascent up into its heart, one step for every day of the year. The team led the front of the pack (likely due to the A5 workouts) while the coaches steadily brought up the rear. Next came the four-mile haul from Corniglia to Vernazza. Everyone on the team agreed that it was by far the most difficult hike they’ve ever experienced. Twist and turns, uneven stones, and steep inclines and declines were the biggest challenges of the hike. Finally, all of our efforts paid off when we reached the bottom of the trail and the beginning of the city. The view was absolutely breathtaking, with the town overseeing the ocean. The team split into two groups to go explore the town while Bob was still finishing the trail with his handy-dandy walking stick (ask him about that when you see him). After winding up at the same seaside restaurant for lunch, the groups split once again to go look at the boutique stores and the natural beauties of the town. Group One was lucky enough to wander upon a hidden cliffside cave which led to a small beach on the side of the mountain. Group Two spent their time shopping in the small boutiques scattered throughout the town and once again bought some Gelato (Never can get enough of that here). Once the time to meet arrived, we realized that the train had came several minutes earlier and left without us. Unfortunately, with the train schedule we had to nix the City of Pisa from our plans but we were able to spend some more time in Vernazza. Another two hour train ride awaited us as well as another Italian-style dinner. We checked into our hotel in Florence and went to our rooms exhausted, but excited for our second game the next day.
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Day 2 we woke up at 6 and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then traveled on a bus to the city of Milan. The bus ride was about 2 hours and just about everyone slept on the way, considering we had to wake up at 6 in the morning! After we put our suitcases away we ventured to the beautiful city, and explored the fashion capital of the world. We ate lunch in small groups, picking any restaurant of our choosing. After filling our stomachs with yummy authentic Italian food we set out to shop! We had about 6 hours to roam around the city. We stopped in stores such as Adidas, Footlocker, and Sephora. After getting tired of walking we stopped for a gelato break, probably one of the best parts about Italy is the creamy, fresh gelato. Each city we’ve traveled to has had a bunch of options in flavors for this delicious, cold treat. Around 6:45 we all met back up in front of the Doumo and walked to dinner. Once we had all cleared our plates we piled into the metro and traveled back to the hotel. After a long day of shopping and enjoying each other’s company we passed out at the hotel.
On the first day we got to the airport at 10:40 am. After meeting together at terminal 2, the team was over the moon to finally get the trip going. After weeks of hard training, the day was here. We huddled together for a team photo and the journey began. After a short security line (score!) we made our way to the gate and grabbed some food. The most popular food choices were qdoba and chick-fil-a.... two food items we knew we couldn’t have while in Italy. The long day of travel started while we got on our connecting flight to new york. From there, we boarded the 7.5 hour flight from JFK to milan after a short layover. After a long flight full of movies and struggling to sleep, everyone got in line for customs then drove 45 minutes to lake como, which was a beautiful and colorful town around a lake. Although we were half-asleep, we were very excited to finally be in Italy. while there, some rode on the venicular to the top of surrounding mountains to see the view, while others ate some pizza on a cafe by the lake. We interacted with some locals by shouting out “chao” to some passerbys. While sipping hot chocolate and eating pizza, we also found some entertainment in throwing pizza at some birds. We then drove three hours to get to darfo boarario, a local italian town. There wasn’t much to do there, but we picked up some snacks at the local store. while there, we played a match against a high level italian team and finished 1-4. We were admittedly a little tired from the long day of traveling, which was evident by our play in the first couple of sets. We managed to get on rhythm by the last set, which we won.