We can't believe that it will be two months this Saturday! We know it
has been awhile since we have blogged, so we thought we would update
you guys on a few of the fun things we have done since we went to Paris.
We are on break from ball they call it the "stop". Last weekend, we played our last two games against one of the teams in the top of our class, the Amsterdam Pirates. We got rained out on Saturday, so we played them on Sunday (felt like we were at school again waiting out the rain). The games were close, but we ended up losing them both. The games will pick up again on August 18th. They have this stop period because it is a busy time with everyone going on holiday (vacation). We will still have practice, and if we are not traveling we will go to those.
Two of our teammates took us to Giethoorn a few weeks ago. It is a very unique village because it is surrounded by canals and a lake. It has about 2,620 inhabitants and is unique with its bridges and waterways. To paint a picture for you it is called "The Venice" of Holland because of the canals, characteristic wooden bridges, and the little red-covered farm houses. For the people living in the houses on the canals, they get to and from town by their boats. We took a boat tour and rented what they call a "whisper boat". These are open, little boats with a silent motor which is electrical driven by a battery, hence the name whisper boats. The tour was cool, we got to drive our own boat and take our time enjoying the beautiful nature scenery, bridges, and houses.
We moved again...twice actually since we last blogged. We spent this last week at a teammate's home in Huizen (the city where our field is) while her and her family were on holiday. It was fun to have our own place again and this time we had pets! Not our dogs that we are used to and miss but two bunnies! Dannie turned into the keeper of the bunnies because she tends to wake up way before I do (Alissa), so when she woke up in the morning she gave them food and water. Meanwhile, I could sleep all day, and Dannie has energy and is awake at what I feel like is 5 a.m., when it is really around 9 or 10.
A perk of living back in Huizen was the fact that we got gym memberships from our coach so we have been going to the gym the past 3 weeks. Mind you that Coach Y has us programmed on what and how to lift, so we do not look like typical Dutch girls! But let's face it, we haven't looked like that since we got here. We enjoy doing some light lifts and cardio in the mornings.
This past weekend we enjoyed a fun "cabin" weekend. We went to an island called Terschelling with two of our teammates and two of our friends from the baseball team at our club. We decided to spend our first weekend off enjoying the sun and relaxing. It was a good time, and we finally had some nice weather for a few days in a row! The sun was out all weekend, and we took full advantage of it. The weekend started nice and early on Friday morning. Since it is holiday, the ferries were filling up fast, and we had to take one at 6:30 a.m., which meant up and driving to the harbor at 4:30 a.m. We were all dragging a little bit, but after eating breakfast and drinking much needed coffee and tea, we all started to wake up and have some energy. That afternoon we set out on a walk to find the beach, obviously the ocean is all around us, but we (accidentally) chose the longest possible walk to find the beach on the other side of the island. It was fun though, because we were on bike and walking paths through the woods. Our feet were a little sore, and we may have taken a 10 minute taxi ride back to our cabin after walking 10km, which is 6.2 miles. We didn't really prepare for that long of a walk, and we were in flip-flops so the taxi was looking really good after hanging out at the beach. Saturday, we all rented bikes and rode around the entire island and went to the beach again. That night, we made a really good dinner and had a bunch of different meats and some veggies and cooked them hibachi style. It was really good and a fun experience.
After getting back from the cabin on Sunday afternoon we moved again. We are living in Amsterdam for the next four days before we head off on our cruise! We are so excited. Friday morning, we will head to the airport and fly to Malaga, Spain. There we will be meeting my parents and board our floating home for seven days and eight nights. We will definitely have a long blog with plenty of pictures from our trip when we get back, showing and telling you all where we stopped and what we did on our boat! Dannie has never been on a cruise before, so she can't wait to leave. She got a little sea sick on the ferry, but I have assured her that the cruise boat is a lot different.
Sorry it is a short post this time, but we will definitely have plenty to say next time
Dannie and Alissa
For once, we are going to do a post about a single day of events
rather than the usual catch you all up on two weeks of our
adventures. As you all know back home we live six hours apart. This came
up in conversation with one of our guy friends when we were site seeing
the other day. He then proceeded to tell us that we could be in another
country in that amount of time, for instance Paris. We looked at each
other and said that is AWESOME, and he calmly responded, "OK let's do
it"! That was that, we were going to Paris- the city of love!! Tuesday
night after practice, we loaded the car with two of our good friends
here: Minal (one of our teammates) and Schubert (one of the guys on the
baseball team) and set out on our adventure.
Around 10 p.m., we were officially on our way. We had snacks for the trip, but if you really know us, you would not be surprised to hear that they were basically gone before we hit the boarder of the Netherlands and Belgium. The 'plan' was to drive to Paris and find the cheapest hotel we could find to spend the night and get up early to go explore. Let's just start by saying plans are never concrete. We made it to the first hotel right outside Paris around 2:30 a.m. Needless to say, we were tired of the car and all looking forward to getting some sleep. We grabbed our stuff and headed inside, only to find out the hotel was "Complet" meaning full! Ok, no problem we thought... We will just drive further into Paris and find something else. Here is where the adventure really began. Who would have thought Paris would be busy on a random Tuesday night?? Not us...we were WRONG! Dannie has never been rejected that many times in one day let alone her whole entire life. She and Schubert probably walked into every hotel/motel we drove by which was no joke probably around 30! Some had signs on the door which read "Complet", others we had to hit a pager button for someone to open the door since it was so late. Some Dannie and Schubert actually had to knock on the window even after ringing the bell to wake up the sleeping security guard at the front desk. This went on from 2:30-5 a.m.
We finally excepted failure and parked on a side road in who knows where Paris and slept in the car. Let's just paint a picture for you guys... four of us in a tiny hatchback BMW do not fit "comfortably" at all! We all were up two hours later, so it is now 7:30. Hungry, hot, tired, and all of us having to pee, we were just a happy bunch. We all know how much Alissa loves mornings so she was especially cheery!
at this point just wanted to find somewhere to park the car for the day
and maybe a bathroom. We ended up finding a hotel that had an
underground parking ramp, so we parked there for the day used their
restrooms and headed off to find some breakfast. We enjoyed some
"French" eggs and French fries.. Yes fries.. We were surprised as well,
we didn't know our omelets would be served with fries, but we guess
"when in France" right. Now that we had some food in our bellies we were
all a little more awake and ready to go explore.
Our first stop was you guessed it...the Eiffel Tower. It was around 10 a.m. at this point and the line to ride the elevator up to the summit was so long, probably about an hour or two wait. We were not having that, and the original plan was to walk the stairs anyway. We bought our tickets and started our 1,652 stair climb, which brought us up to the first and second levels of the tower which is around 377 feet up. Once we reached the second level there was an elevator that took us up to the summit. Everyone has to ride the elevator from this point up, we didn't quit.
It was a very cool view that over looked the entire city. Both of us being slightly afraid of heights (a little bit of an understatement) made it easy for Schubert and Minal to see that we were kind of nervous once we reached the top. We took a few pictures and then made our way back down. Once we got to the bottom we were on a mission to find Starbucks because our two hours of sleep and the full day ahead of us was kind of daunting. On our way to find coffee, we continued to be true tourists and enjoy our surroundings. We watched a Spanish dance performance in the square.
The next site we stopped at was the Arc de Triomphe. This is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all the French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, and beneath its vault lies the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" from World War I. Dannie and Schubert considered playing Frogger across traffic to get there, and for those of you who don't know what the roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe is like, we will help you. It's like a death trap or a black hole once you go in you don't come back out. They do not have lanes for their traffic around there it is just a free for all! To get a better picture of this, you should watch National Lampoon's European Vacation, we know it's not the right country but you get the point and the Arc de Triomphe is about 1,000 times worse with four lanes of chaos. Luckily, Dannie and Schubert were smarter than that and kept looking for ways to get across to the monument. They finally saw the stairs that tunneled underneath the road and brought you up the other side.
At this point, we were all in dire need of Starbucks. We asked some random girl, how to get to the nearest Starbucks. We don't think she really had a clue because she told us to go 20 minutes the opposite direction we thought we should go and then we might find it. Needless to say we didn't listen to her, and we went the way we thought it might be. We found one about five minutes away. That was the energy rush we needed.
After leaving Starbucks, we continued to walk in whichever direction we felt like. We took the subway to the Musee du Louvre or simply the Lourve which is one of the world's largest museums. We didn't go into the museum, but instead, we went into the square Cour Caree and the oldest part of the Louve. In the square is where the La Pyramide Inversee (The inverted Pyramid) is located. The glass pyramids were cool to see and there were big water fountains scattered throughout the square. We walked across the Pont des Arts Bridge, which has turned into a place where tourists have turned Paris into a place where couples show their never ending love to each other by putting a padlock or "love lock" on the fence of the bridge. The fad took off around two-years ago and has almost 2,000 padlocks of all shapes, colors, and sizes locked on the bridge with messages of eternal love. It was crazy just how many locks there actually were on both sides of the bridge with a railing that was normal height for a walk over bridge...these locks were really packed on there.
All the walking had made us hungry again, so we stopped at a café to have the famous French crepes. They were delicious! Alissa had a ham and cheese one and Dannie had a chocolate, nutella, and banana one. This was our last stop before we made our LONG walk back to the car. We might have walked all over the city of Paris by the end of the day for a total of about 10 hours. We got back into the car and made our six-hour trek home!
Overall, the 24-hour trip was awesome! We had a blast site seeing and enjoying each others company. Although we never found a hotel and had to sleep in the car, we wouldn't have had it any other way. We now have some great memories and stories from our 24-hour Paris adventure!
Here we go....
We have moved into a new place in a city called Hilversum. The town is bigger than Huizen, which is nice because there is more to do.
After we got settled into our new place, we attempted to go grocery shopping, but we ended up going in circles, got frustrated and went home. We tried again the next day, only this time we verified with a teammate where it was and had success buying our first set of groceries.
The weather here is not always the best, in other words it loves to rain at least once a day. However, that doesn't stop us from going out and exploring or visiting our teammates! We rode our bikes in the torrential down pour for 45 minutes to our teammate's place. Minal had made us pasta which was delicious, and she was also kind enough to give us dry clothes since ours had to be rung out!
One of the downfalls so far besides the daily rain is that most stores close at 6pm; grocery stores, food places, everything. This is a problem for those of you that know Alissa and I...we are ALWAYS hungry. We figured this out the hard way when we tried to order a pizza from Dominos at 11pm. They had closed around 10 which is a lot earlier than at home.
Speaking of always eating ;). ...We biked to Laren which is a pretty wealthy town about 15 minutes away and had what they call 'poffertjes'. They are like little pancakes with a ton of butter and powdered sugar--Coach Y would not approve, but they are delicious. Don't worry Coach Y, we are keeping up with a workout routine. We go for runs in the mornings, and then have been doing Insanity workouts in the living room!
Alissa and Dannie in Amsterdam
Our games two weeks ago didn't go exactly how we had hoped. Two of our girls ended up in the hospital...one with what everyone thought was a broken nose and the other with a concussion. Luckily, Marleen's nose was not broken and Maaike's CT scan came back normal. After the game we met the other team's American pitcher. She is from North Carolina, and this is her second summer playing in Europe. It was nice to talk to someone from back home, and hopefully, we will get a chance to hang out with her again.
We rode our bikes to a city called Naarden Vesting. This was a really cool place to walk around and explore. It was built in a 5-star shape and is surrounded by a canal. It was where the soldiers fought during the Spanish Civil War. It ceased to be used as a fort in 1926. However, the history of the fortifications in Naarden are preserved at the museum. We had a history lesson for the day. We went to the museum and got to go underground where they simulated the bunkers and showed scenes from the war. The Hollandse Waterline (or Water Defense Line) is still intact, and we were able to walk in them. Theses had many purposes for the soldiers. One way they used them, was to hear their enemies coming because they had holes in the ceiling that went up to the surface "eavesdroppers passageway". These were a little freaky because it was pitch black, and it was just the two of us down there at the time. It took us three different times to get the guts to actually walk through them. We spent the day in the city after leaving the museum. We walked around and got lunch at a small café. The city is older, but it has cute shops and sweet architecture on the old houses and churches.
Our first trip on the train came when we went to
explore Amsterdam. Dannie felt like she was in the movie Harry Potter
since it was her first time on a train. We met Maaike, one of our
teammates, at the Amsterdam Central Station and spent the day walking
around with her. It was very busy, and we finally didn't feel like the
only tourists here because everyone was taking pictures everywhere you
looked. We took a boat canal tour which was sweet because we were then
able to see the buildings and get some history behind the different
famous ones. The history behind some of the old houses was crazy. For
instance, there were some that were well over millions of dollars that
were owned by bankers in the town, and they were so old they had started
to lean. We plan on going back to visit the city a few more times
because it was kind of overwhelming since there was so much to see.
As most people know, soccer is HUGE here. We joined in on the excitement of watching the games at the club. We dressed in orange and rocked some face paint and awesome hats.
Apparently, it wasn't enough because we lost both games. There is a good chance that we are bad luck because our team was supposedly really good. Although the games didn't go well, we went out after the first one and had a great time. We found a group of really awesome people to hang out with. It feels like we have known them forever. As of now, there are only six of us in the group but that will probably expand now that classes are starting to end and the other girls from our team won't be studying as much.
We also took our turn to volunteer by picking up paper throughout Huizen on the paper garbage trucks. This is also a fundraiser for the club and everyone takes turn on Wednesdays by going out collecting. We rode on the back of the truck while it drove around the neighborhood streets. We would hop off, grab the can and wheel it up to the back of the truck where it would clip in and empty itself. The first 5 cans took us a little bit to get used to, but after that, we had the system down. Let's just say by the end of the 2 hours, we both have a lot more respect for garbage men!
We have watched our "little brother" Peter (who is 20 and the son of our first host family) play baseball twice so far, and it was fun to watch some baseball in the sun. Dannie was disappointed because they didn't have American hotdogs at this ball park, but we both had Toasties instead which is what they call our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. We met two Americans on his team as well and have hung out with them a few times since then. It is nice to carry on a conversation without any pauses for either party to explain what they are talking about or translate from Dutch to English or vice-versa.
We are going to visit a REAL castle in a couple
days, so we are both excited! We will put up pictures of it next time we
blog. We also have two home games this Saturday, so hopefully next
time, we write we will be reporting two wins!
That's all for now. We hope your all enjoying your sunshine please send some our way!
Dannie and Alissa
The first flight was 8 hours, which consisted with us sleeping on and off, watching Vipo the Flying Dog the tv show being played (if you don't know what this is you should Google it), wondering if the woman next to Alissa was going to survive the flight, and being jealous of the little kids next to Dannie who got chicken nuggets. We had a two hour layover in Warsaw, Poland where one of the two was spent standing in line and the next was trying to figure out if our flight was changes to a different gate. During this all we were trying to do was decipher the Polish announcements being played over the speakers. This is when it really hit us that we were going to spend the summer smiling and nodding when someone spoke to us, because we would not know what they are saying. (Side note: everyone was very nice and willing to help us understand when they saw our confused looks).
Upon landing in Amsterdam and walking to the baggage claim we had that "freshman in college" look, smile from ear to ear and butterflies to meet the team. Once we realized that our bags were actually there, we found the team who had a banner saying "Welcome to Holland" it was a very nice welcome. By this time it was 7pm Holland time and we headed to our host family's house. We spend the rest of the night chatting with some of our teammates and coach and got settled in our room. To say we were tired by the end of the day would be a minor understatement, we were exhausted! Once our heads hit the pillow we did not move a muscle. That was until 8am the following morning when Alissa shot out of her bed in a panic not knowing where we were, what time it was, where we were supposed to be, while throwing some bard object onto the floor which increased the panic in the room when Dannie shot out of bed. This was a perfect example of our freshman year sharing a room at Wilkins and one of us thinking we were late for practice. So Coach Allister would be proud to know we still are in practice mode. (Mornings will be stressful if we don't adapt at some point.)
Our first meal with our host family was breakfast. Monique our house mom laid out an assortment of things we wouldn't pronounce, but she helped us identify what they were and explained to us the things we hadn't seen before. They had peanut butter! (It's like our natural stuff so it is good) For those of you that don't know this is Dannie's main food group.. Her body is not mostly made up of water it is made up of peanut butter so she will be able to sustain her dirty, dirty habit. We also had options such as croissants (you have to eat your pb on something, well Alissa did, Dannie could eat it with a spoon) along with 4 types of meat (ham, roast beef, salami, and something Dutch) Alissa tried that one and she liked it but couldn't translate what it would be back home. The actual name of it translates to smoked beef.
The breakfast was a good headway into what would be a few days of traditional Dutch food and drinks. Each meal is like an experiment to see if we like it. We made Pannenkoek (pancakes) for the family for dinner, yes dinner. They don't eat them for breakfast but they are also not like our pancakes, they are thinner and we made some with bacon, some with cheese and some plain. Dannie liked the plain ones the most and Alissa liked the cheese ones. Milot helped us she is the oldest of the 3 kids in the family. She is on our team, but is injured right now. "The Dutch way" to flip them is by throwing them in the air and catching them in the pan. Of course we had to try which led to a celebratory dance when we both succeeded on the first try.
They LOVE mayonnaise here... Alissa's favorite! NOT! They eat it with a lot of their foods. Instead of dipping their foods in ketchup it's always mayo. One of the dinners was traditional Dutch which included Frikandel, Krokets, and fried cheese squares (we don't remember what they were called). A Frikandel is in the shape of a hotdog but deep fried and it is made of minced. They eat it with mayo, of course, and onions. Dannie treated it like a hotdog and put ketchup and onions on hers. She kept saying it tasted like an Italian sausage. Bitterbals and Krokets, they are the same thing just different shapes. They are made out of beef that has been mixed so much that it turns into mush and is then deep fried.
Our first games were Saturday. We won both of them, but by no means were they pretty to watch. The scores were 3-2 and 8-0. We were both so nervous for the first game like it was a life or death situation but winning helps get rid of nerves. Alissa instilled a little fear in the other team by hitting their lead off two times in a row and Dannie hit a home run that was taken away from her because it rolled under a fence making it a ground rule double. Besides winning, the best part of the games was being told every inning to just have fun.
Giving a recap of the last five days was difficult for us to remember, but we will try to do it more frequently.
Alissa and Dannie
Since their freshman season, Alissa Koch and Dannie Skrove have dreamed of following in the footsteps of their fellow former University of Minnesota softball players, Briana Hassett and Shannon Stemper, and continuing their softball careers in the Netherlands. Now that the two recent grads have completed four memorable seasons in a Golden Gopher uniform, they are off to Europe for an experience of a lifetime to play for a team called Zuidvogels (don't ask me to pronounce that for you), which is the same team Hassett and Stemper played on during the summer of 2009.
"After hearing about Bri and Shannon's experience, Alissa and I made a promise to one another that we would do the same thing after our senior seasons," said Skrove. "Our four years as a Gopher flew by so fast, and it is a little nerve racking that it is time for us to fulfill our promises to one another. Aside from the nerves, we are really excited about this opportunity to not only continue playing softball but visit Europe."
Koch and Skrove began their journey last night as they hopped on a plane in Chicago for a seven and a half hour flight to Holland. In the coming weeks, the two will be moving in with a host family, which they will live with for their entire time abroad, and getting introduced to the Zuidvogels' clubhouse.
"The biggest challenge will be communicating with everyone, especially since we will be the only Americans on our team," Koch mentioned. "I bought some books to help me learn the language and basic terminology..."
"But all we really need to know is how to ask where the bathroom is," Skrove sarcastically jumped in to add.
The adventure that Koch and Skrove are embarking on right now is sure to be filled with a number of memorable experiences, which is why I have asked them to send updates throughout the summer. So keep your eye out for new posts from the two because about every 2-3 weeks the former Gophers will send me updates and pictures from Holland, and I will be posting them here.
The University of Minnesota softball team has had Game Two of their doubleheader against Purdue delayed until 6 p.m. tonight, due to thunderstorms in the area.
The Golden Gophers took Game One of the series 5-3 before the storm clouds entered Minneapolis, Minn. Back-to-back home runs by senior Dannie Skrove and freshman Erika Smyth in the fourht inning propelled the Maroon and Gold past the Boilermakers. Sophomore pitcher Sara Moulton shutdown the potent Purdue offense by striking out eight batter (six of which came in the first three innings) and allowed the same number of hits.
Stay up-to-date on all the information regarding today's rain delay and Gopher softball by visiting GopherSports.com, Facebook and Twitter (@GopherSoftball).
Minnesota will play Idaho State instead of Utah State to make sure all four teams that have traveled here to Boise, Idaho get a game in today. Boise State will not see action today.
For all your Gopher softball needs, head to GopherSports.com, Facebook or Twitter.