Europe: Day 6

Today was probably the coolest day we’ve had here so far. We woke up early and ate breakfast at the hotel. I tried some dutch peanut butter (even the little to-go cups of it are natural peanut butter) and some apricot honey type thing with my granola and yogurt. Once again we had some bus issues (I think that there was a road block or something) and the bus was about 45 minutes late picking us up. It was totally worth it though. We made it to Velkenburg (in the Netherlands) and went to the Valkenburg Caves. Basically, the caves are 40 meters down and it is made up of marlstone and people go through the caves and cut out 2000 lb blocks of the stone at a time, take it back up, and cut them up into small bricks to use for reconstruction of buildings and stuff. Going through the caves was really cool though, mainly because we were on bikes! I got to be in the back of the line, so our guide (Joey–pronounced YO-ee) would be riding in front and he would yell back to me and everyone would go down the line and yell out my name and when it finally got back to me, I would yell “Complete” and everyone would yell “complete” back up to Joey. (PCSAdventures was the name of the company.) The caves were cold and dark, so all of our bikes had lights on the front of them. I kinda fell behind a couple of times where I couldn’t see the peoples lights in front of me, but it was kind of exciting to feel like I had to figure out the cave by myself and take it one turn at a time. It was especially freaky when I looked back behind me because literally, all I saw was pitch black. There were also times that we had to get off our bikes because it was a really tight squeeze or the ceiling was too low. They took us to an underground chapel area and Dutch man told us the story while the tour guide translated. Apparently, they created the space back in the 1800’s because that was the time when Napoleon ruled and he didn’t let people worship freely. They also created these beautiful drawings on the walls out of charcoal (since there is so much humidity, they couldn’t use paint). It was so remarkable. It was also used for shelter during WWII because it was so cold in Germany. Something I thought was interesting was that they kept sheep tied up down there and used them to produce heat and for milk (because if they brought milk down there, all of the moisture would make it get moldy over night). One story I thought was cool was that there was an air raid or air battle or something at some point, and one of the US planes went down and a young boy took a piece of the plane and brought it down. 50 years later, they made a memorial in the chapel and the US men involved in the attack came kind of as a way of saying thank you for the protection, and the boy gave them part of the plane he found and it was a really emotional even for the US men. Being in the caves was so surreal. Like really, how many people get the chance to ride bikes through the longest caves in Europe?!? It was so awesome. We ended up biking about 7 kilometers.

Later, we went into town at this cute little farm-house type restaurant and they served us spaghetti (which was probably some of the best spaghetti I’ve had in a really long time) and salad. The plan was for us to eat with the girls from the Transylvania College women’s soccer team in Kentucky (whom we are playing against in the fall), but by the time we got there, they were all there and sitting together, so we all ended up just sitting together and the whole mix and mingle idea didn’t really happen. After lunch, there was a park kind of attached to the courtyard of the restaurant, so we all went on the playground and played! They had these really cool tire swing type things, a circle of swings, a zip-line type thing, and about 4 different spinning things. It was so much fun 🙂 We also walked around a mini mansion place by the restaurant. It was so pretty. People lived there (I’m pretty sure), but the garden area was open to the public and there were all these different plants, flowers, and shrubbery.

Right after lunch, we hopped on the bus with the Husson University in Maine to go to our second pro game. Anna and I sat by three guys (Charles, Providence, and Alain) from Conga and Rwanda in Africa. They were cool to talk to. We mostly just talked about our schools and soccer and what we’ve been doing on the trip so far. They leave at like 3 in the morning tonight!

The game was Leverkusen vs. Freiburg S.C. These teams are in the highest league in Germany, so it’s basically Germany’s equivalent to the English Premier League. IT. WAS. AWESOME! The crowd had so much energy! The closest thing I can related it to is like a big college football game, but it’s definitely its own experience. When we got there, they had flags sitting in every seat in the stadium for the fans to wave. The fan section stretched all across the goal line and they had all of their cheers and chants and flags waving everywhere. The coolest was when the whole section would jump up and down. Even the other teams section only took up a little corner of the stadium, but they made so much noise! Everyone at the game was so into it. It was sweet. My favorite part was after every goal the announcer would say all of these things in German and then he would yell the first name of the player who scored and then the whole crowd would yell the last name and then (based on what the guy at the game yesterday told me), the announcer would say Danke (Thank You) and the crowd would yell back something like “Please!” (except I still never found out the real German word for what they would say–betta maybe–, but basically it’s like they are saying “please, give us more!”). Leverkusen won 3-1!

We made it back to the hotel, and the rest of the night was spent playing spoons with my team, getting packed up again (since we are checking out in the morning) and then hanging out.

Kristina: rested and content

 

A map of the cave we rode through

A map of the cave we rode through

The playground we all played on after lunch :)

The playground we all played on after lunch 🙂

The Leverkusen stadium. SO MUCH FUN!

The Leverkusen stadium. SO MUCH FUN!

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