Final Team Pictures

Here are finally some team pictures!!

This is our team just hanging out before one of our games.

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Here is our team after we played Russia in the 3rd/4th place game!  You could tell after we beat them that they were not very happy to take a picture with us…but oh well!!

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Here is both the USA teams after we had both made playoffs!!  Made so many great friends on this trip!!

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Home Safe :)

Yesterday, we finally flew into the Milwaukee Airport!  I never thought it would feel so good to be home.  We had a great flight from London to New York.  In New York, we had 2 short delays for our flight to Milwaukee.  We finally made it home around 8pm.  I have a very messy room now that I need to clean up with my suitcase contents spilling everywhere!  I can’t wait to get more pictures up here.  I have some team pictures to put on here but I need to wait to get them from a teammate’s facebook.  So once I get them all I will add any addition photos I can.  

This was a trip of a lifetime and an experience I will never ever forget.  I have met some unbelievably wonderful friends and hopefully have made some friendships that will last a lifetime!  I already have plans to meet up with some friends from the trip in the near future!  Thank you to everyone to helped make this dream a possibility.  I am eternally thankful for all the help and support throughout this trip.  I look forward to possibly returning some day and continuing my international travels!

Wisco bound!

This morning we had a 4:15 am wakeup call.  Yikes, considering we didn’t get back to the hotel until 3!  I did pack ahead of time though don’t worry!  Now, I’m just hoping I have everything because there is no turning back now.  We are currently waiting in the airport in Prague to take our flight into London.  In London, we transfer over to our international flight to New York.  From New York, we should be getting back into Milwaukee around 6:30 pm.  Keep your fingers crossed for no delays and that all our luggage gets back in one piece!  I’ll check in once I get into the states!

Final Day :(

So yesterday was our last day in Prague.  I was pretty sad that my trip is coming to an end.  We got one final tour in of the Karlstejne Castle.  We walked up through the village to the castle.  It was neat with all the little shops and stands on the way up.  We had a guided tour through the castle, unfortunately no cameras were allowed in the castle, but I still managed to get a few good pictures.  We learned that the King Charles that lived there had 4 wives in his lifetime.  His 3rd wife finally gave him his son to be the heir.  Charles and his son were the only royalty to live in the castle.  Two priests moved into the castle after.

We got to see the king’s chambers.  There was a secret passage from the King’s chambers to the queen’s chambers (located on the floor above the king).  However, the door could only be opened from the King’s side.  We also got to see the crowns of the King and the Emperor.  The castle was perched on top of a hill looking down upon the village.  The view was unbelievable!  We did a little shopping and ate lunch on our way down the hill.  I tried potato soup, chicken schnitzel, and fried cheese.  The fried cheese resembled a chicken patty but filled with cheese.  I still can’t get used to paying for water!  Beer really is cheaper than water over here!

At night, we went on a dinner boat cruise along the Danube River in Prague.  Dinner was served and then we got the chance to go upstairs and enjoy the ride.  I did get a lot of pictures of the scenery along the way, but unfortunately I probably can’t tell what half of the stuff is.  Either way everything looked amazing!  After the boat cruise, a group of us went out for our last night in town.  We made some friends with some native Prague girls and they told us about a cool local pub.  We followed them there for a bit then went out to wander to find another.  The next bar we found was crazy!  It was like a 6 room bar that had different rooms as we followed the tunnel down underground.    Definitely the best local bar we found!

Playoffs!

Today we began playoffs at 10:30 am.  We played the Czech National team and lost 7-3.  They were great hitters and fielders and came through stronger in the end.  So this loss put us in the 3rd/4th place game.  We played Russia again and beat them 6-3.  Our other AIST team won their first round game and played the Czech team in the championship game.  They ended up losing 8-2.  The Czech team won the whole tournament but USA ended up among the top 4 for both our teams so we were proud!  Here is a picture of all the Wisconsin boys and girls on the AIST teams.  We had the highest turnout from our state!  I didn’t get some of the pictures of both USA teams or our opponents but some of the parents did so I will have some of them tagged on facebook.

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Last Day of Pool Play

Today was a long day! Mariah, Emilie, and I woke up early to go out shopping again!  We got back in time to take a quick nap before we had to head to the field for our double header.  Our first game we played was against Austria.  We won 4-2.  We finally figured out the way other teams shake hands in Europe.  The line does not start at home plate, but instead lines up by 1st and 3rd and goes through the pitcher’s mound.  Also, at most tournaments they provide big gatorade coolers for water.  Here, they give each team a 6-pack of jumbo sized water bottles (the flat kind, not the still water).  Here is a picture of one of the 3 softball diamonds we played on.

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Our next game was against the Jourdes, from Germany.  We beat them 8-6.  The game started off hectic with some issues of the mound length.  I threw to the first batter and she got on base from a fielder’s error.  Then she calls time and calls the umpire to look at the mound because it is wrong.  Turns out I threw from 46 feet, not 43 feet.  The real conflict came about when we were measuring the length.  The workers that were doing the fields barely knew what sport was being played on them!  So when we keep trying to tell them 43 feet, we realized it was useless because they use the metric system!  All in all, we won and made it to the playoffs tomorrow!  Two teams from each side of pool play make it to the playoffs.  Turns out all 3 USA made it to the playoffs tomorrow!  Tonight I think we are staying in and maybe just hanging out with everyone.  Already looking forward to our dinner boat cruise on Sunday!

Also, just wanted to add a note from a comment my Mom left about the language barrier.  Most of the teams speak English but when they talk to each other or cheer and yell, it is in their native language.  Every team says “good game” at the end of the game to each other in English, no matter what countries they are from.

USA showdown

Just got back from a great night out again in the city!  We went to a night club with 5 floors, each being something different.  The bottom floor was an ice bar!  It was freezing.  They only let you in for 20 min at a time and you get served with ice glasses.  Definitely something I recommend someone try if they are over here!  

Here are some of the pictures of the Ice Bar, also called Karlovy Lazne.  It is a pretty small area but here is the bar.  The next picture is of Mariah and I on one of the ice chairs.  They put fur coverings down on the chairs so people could actually sit down!  The last picture is of the ice cube glasses they served drinks in.

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Today we played the USA National Team.  We beat them 5-3!  I pitched 2 innings, played 1st base for 2 innings, and played right field for the rest.  I even went in to pinch run!  I am loving the new experience of playing in other positions and learning from my teammates.  Here is a picture of some of the girls on my team.  Hopefully I can get a team picture on my phone soon to upload.  A lot of girls are getting pretty ripped up on their legs from playing with shorts on the rough diamonds.  We keep the med tent busy!  We asked why we couldn’t have worn pants and we were told that it is an international rule that teams have to wear shorts.  I guess none of them have ever played a game in Wisconsin!

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I should get to bed since we have a double header tomorrow before playoffs start on Saturday!

Game Time!

Today we had our first game against Russia.  We won 5-0!  I didn’t pitch but I played 3 innings in the outfield in left field and batted twice.  The girls were not as big as I pictured them that’s for sure!  Their pitcher was pretty good but we have some girls who can hit!  It was interesting hearing a different language on the field – from chants to coaching.  It was very interesting to not be able to understand what the other team is saying to each other.  The umpires did speak English for the most part though.  I really like our team and the passion our coach has for the game.  I like seeing how she coaches her team.  We walk in lines of 2 everywhere we go at the diamond when we travel as a team.  We also have to kneel on one knee in 2 lines when she talks to us before and after the game.  She had a whole rule sheet to go through even!  Even though it is very different from what I am used to, I like seeing a new coaching style and learning from the other players from multiple states.  We play the US National team tomorrow so at least we will be able to understand what they say!

First time into the city!

So I had some computer troubles but here is my post from yesterday finally!  Yesterday our scrimmage and the boy’s baseball game got cancelled since it hasn’t stopped raining since we got here.  So instead we slept in a little then got some breakfast.  In the US, we have the typical bacon and sausage links for breakfast, but it is common to serve slices of salami, ham, salmon, and sausages for breakfast in Germany and Czech.  We took a trip into downtown Prague into the city centre, Centrum Chodov, by bus and the underground subway system.  We ended up in the Old Town Square in Prague.  The square was beautiful and the streets were all cobble stone.  How some of those ladies walk about with heels on it is beyond me!  Here is a picture of some of us in the square.

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The first thing we did was watch up the tower on which the Astronomical Clock was.  The clock tells 3 different times, shows jobs done in each month of the year, and has a little show at the top of the clock every hour.

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This is the view of the square from the top of the tower.  We could see everything for miles!  Around the top there were markers telling about the landmark out in the distance. Some distances where too far in the distance so I won’t put them on here but they included: the Main Railway Station, Lesser Town Bridge Towers (Malostranske mostecke veze), Petrin View Tower (Petrinska rozhledna), National Theatre (Narodni divadlo), New Town Hall (Novomestska radnice), and St. Vitus, Vacav and Vojtech (katedrala svateho Vita, Vaclava a Vojtecha).   Here are a few pictures of the view and some landmarks I saw.

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Powder Tower (Prasna brana)

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Church of Our Lady before Tyn (Kostel Matky Bozi pred Tynem)

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Parizska Street, Metronome — This street was like the Rodeo Drive of Prague.  All high end designer shops were located here.

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St. Nicholas Church (Chram sv. Mikulase).  There were actually 2 St. Nicholas Churches in Prague.  One was in the Old Town Square just behind the astronomical clock and the other was on the grounds near the Prague Castle.  The first picture is the one in the square.  This church is one of the oldest in Old Town.  It is mentioned in sources as early as 1273.  The second is the one by the castle.

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Prague Castle (Praxsky hrad)

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While walking through the square we saw a pedicure going on with the fish eating off the dead skin of the man.  Lets just say the man probably felt a little awkward as we all took pictures of him.

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For lunch I had a little bit of the homemade trdelnik, palacinky, and ham.  All of them were delicious and cooked right out in the open of the square.

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With the ham, they cut off a big slice and serve it with a few pieces of bread.  I don’t usually like ham but I was actually surprised how much I liked this kind!

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Here is a picture of the “Wisconsin crew” in the square!

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This is the trolley we took up to the Prague Castle.  Europeans definitely have a smaller personal space than us.  I learned that all too quick on the trolley.  Not sure I stand as close to my family and friends as the strangers that stood next to me did!

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This is one of the 2 guards that stood watch outside of the castle.  We did get one to smirk as he walked off duty!

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The Prague Cathedral where all the kings of Prague were ordained and buried.  We also learned that Prague was very Catholic in the past but after communism became a majority atheist so 90-95% of the country is unreligious.

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This is my Czech snack of beer and a donut!  I am a sucker for the bakery items so of course I have to try a Czech donut!  It was much better than the ones in America.  The ones back home taste so airy, but these are filling and just have so much more substance to them.  Freedom Foods donuts be in for some competition!

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We did learn if the flag is up on the castle it means the President is home.  The flag was up when we toured but no President in sight of course.  Even though the castle is used as a tourist attraction, many government officials work there as well.

This is the front gate of the Prague Castle along with the view just outside of the front gate.

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Just outside the gate of the castle was this beautiful view!

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This back tower behind St. Nicholas Church was used for the Czech officials to spy on the other embassies in the country.

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The blue head marks in front of the Lichtenstesnky Palace represent the 27 Lords that were beheaded to avoid an uprising against the country. Each headstone is designed differently for each Lord.  There are also 27 white crosses on the stone in the Old Town Square to represent the 27 Lords.

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This is a closer picture of one of the 2 towers of the Charles Bridge.  Across the bridge we saw beggars extended out on their hands and knees, almost like they were praying, with their hats out.

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When we were told that Prague was beautiful, that is an understatement!  The city is breathtaking!  My photos do not even come close to how magnificent the buildings and scenery is here.  We had a little more free time to wander around the city and do some shopping.  It was very surprising actually how rude some people were.  I had a lady walk directly at me, just like we were playing chicken!  Once we came back, we had dinner and got ready to go back out downtown.  We went out on a pub crawl and even met some girls from the US National team.  We started off at a popular Czech bar, the Drunken Monkey.  We went to a bar called Vodka Bar after then ended at a few bars closer to the square.  It was different because most of the bars were stone building and in the basement.  No pool tables or darts that was for sure!  Our group attracted a group of guys from England.  They tried teaching us some of their drinking songs.  I will be happy to get back home so there is no smoking in buildings.  I still love trying as many different kinds of beer and food as I can!  We just found out that the games should still be on for today so the plan is that we play at 1530 (everything is in army time here, 3:30).  First, we’ll have our team meeting at the hotel then head to the fields.

Welcome to Prague

Last night, a group of us girls got on the Tram and headed downtown for some food and drinks.  It was fun trying to figure out the stops of the tram and the layout of downtown.  Unfortunately, it rained all night but we were still troopers and enjoyed our last night in Germany.

Just left the hotel this morning, Mariah and I are rooming together and we had a little mishap with the wake-up call.  Long story short, I am still getting used to my iphone and set the snooze to PM…oops.  Thankfully our nice teammates pounded on the door to wake us up.  So we scrambled and put all our bags together and rushed out to meet our group.  We’ve had some rough starts but we were finally on our way to the Czech Republic!  We stopped for lunch at the border and did a little shopping until we got back on our bus.  We actually had to pay to go to the bathroom where we stopped.  Here is a picture of the plant that gives the “hops” plant, Humulus Lupulus.  This was as common in the fields we passed as corn fields in Wisconsin!

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Once we got to the hotel, we checked in and got ready for practice.  All the teams headed to the fields for practice.  Our coaches are from Eastern Connecticut (a team we played against in Florida this year).  Our team consists of a few Wisconsin girls and girls from Virginia, California, Texas, Connecticut, and Long Island.  Practice went well even though it still continued to rain.

Once we got back to the hotel, we had some dinner.  My family would be proud to know that I tried every single thing on the buffet line….and actually liked a lot of it!  In Prague there are less meat options, but it is very similar to Wisconsin so lots of cheese!  We hung out at the hotel tonight because it was still raining out.  The hotel we are staying at is called TopHotels.  It has over 2,000 rooms, a bowling alley, casino, a dining hall, 2 breakfast lounges, a bar, souvenir shop, and indoor pool.  So we relaxed and got some drinks.  I got to try the original recipe of Budweiser (before it was stolen and sold in American).  We hung out at the casino…still haven’t gambled yet though.  We did make some friends with some Sweden baseball players who live across the hall from us.  It was fun to talk to them and learn about Stockholm where they live.  I was surprised to learn that they start learning English in 3rd grade!  Then they need to take a 3rd language from 6th grade until freshman year of high school.  He also taught us a little more about the money.  Most of Europe uses euros; however, Czech and Sweden both have their own Kurona (crown) that is used.

The boys have their first game tomorrow and we have a scrimmage against the other USA team.  So I need to get a little sleep before we leave tomorrow morning!  Granted check out the picture of me in bed.  I think I might be a bit tall for my bed sheets.

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