Europe: Day 9
Today was yet another really good day. We started off in the morning going to the American Cemetery at Margratin. The area was donated to the American people as a testament to our sacrifices in World War II in liberating Holland from the Nazis. It was so beautiful and so well up-kept. When you first walk in, there is an open room area that kind of tells the story of the war and shows maps if three different time eras throughout. As you kept walking there were two long walls on each side with a pond in the middle that lead up to a statue and a tall memorial chapel building. On the walls were all the names of the men whose bodies were missing. Inside the chapel they had a few prayers written on the wall. The cross was under constriction, but you could see the place on the wall where it usually hangs. The whole experience was emotional, but walking into the chapel alone and reading the prayers written in the wall and thinking about all of the families and friends who prayed those prayers was what really put me over. I took a seat in the middle of the chapel and started to cry. I took a minute to reflect and to say a prayer for all of those men in battle. When you walked back past the chapel, it was a field of white crosses and stars of David for those who were Jewish. These were all the men’s bodies who were found. Anna told me that she talked to the man in the information center and apparently, when they first buried the men, they were just wrapped in cloth and that was it. Once they had the money donated to make the area, they dug up all the bodies, put the remains in copper coffins, and put the coffins in shipping crates (in case the families eventually wanted the bodies back). Right before we left, they had bells playing God Bless America. It was a really moving experience and was really cool to see all of that and be able to make that personal connection to home even though we are in Europe.
Next, we were supposed to do a tour of the city Maastricht, which is the oldest city in Holland (1229), but we weren’t going to have enough time, but Aleksander still wanted to show us, so he gave us a private mini tour and then let us look around for a half hour or so. That was another really cool city because a lot of the buildings were very old (a few of them we looked at the date and they were older than America is…crazy, right?) but there was also a lot of shopping and cool little cafes and stuff everywhere. I wish we could have spent like 5 hours there. It was so cute and there was so much to see.
Then we made our way back to Germany for our third soccer game vs Duisburg. After the past two games, we just really wanted to do well because we had lost our other games pretty bad. The team was a lot more physical, not as ridiculously fit, and not flawlessly technical on the ball, so it was a really good competitive game. We came out winning 3-1, so we were all really excited!
For our last big dinner in Europe (since we have an early one before our game tomorrow), we went to the farm house for dinner. They had a little tent set up outside with a couple tables and a big grill and they dinner was buffet style and we all . I knew this was going to be a big dinner, so I made sure to save up my appetite throughout the day, and I’m really glad I did! They had bread and butter, pasta salad, potato salad, some other vegetable salad, cole slaw, spare ribs, barbecue sausage, chicken legs, and hamburger…and you can best believe I tried all of it…and you can best believe it was all delicious. All of the meat came from the local farms, so that was really cool. Some of the girls also had them play Footloose for us over the speakers and our whole team danced to it, as usual. It’s our pre-game-pre-warm-up ritual we always do in the locker room, and we hadn’t done it in Europe yet!! So it was a must 🙂 After dinner, they built a bonfire and we all sat around an hung out for a while and drank tea and hot chocolate (which was especially nice because it was a chillier evening and we had been sitting outside for an hour and a half already.) It was a lot of fun to hang out as a team and just relax and celebrate our last real night in Europe. I can’t believe the trip is almost over! It was kind of slow in the beginning, but these past few days have flown by!
Kristina: kickin’ off her Sunday shoes