May 15, 2005
After a lot of traveling, the Notre Dame women’s volleyball team finally arrived Saturday in Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. Senior-to-be Lauren Brewster – who was a third-team All-America middle blocker in 2004 – took the time to chronicle the happenings of the initial days of the four-country European tour, telling of looking around the largest castle in the world and playing a match against the Czech National Team.
Check back for the next diary, which will be penned by rising sophomore Adrianna Stasiuk, as the team completes its time in Prague and heads south to Vienna, Austria. Also, look for photo galleries from Prague to be appearing soon on und.com.
“Yesterday (Saturday) after a brief lay over in London, we arrived safely in Prague. Although (Lauren) Kelbley threw up the entire flight, and my bag was lost, everything turned out alright in the end: Kelbley stopped vomiting, and my bag arrived the next morning. Corey, our guide for the entire trip, and Jurka (pronounced Yurka), our guide for Prague, met us at the airport. After we checked into our hotel, we went to a small gym belonging to a local league team that was only a few minutes drive from our hotel. When practice finished, we went down to the middle of Prague, where we walked around and ate at an Italian restaurant. Completely exhausted (from the combination of jet lag and practicing), we returned to our hotel and were in bed by 9.
“Today (Sunday) we met around 9 and took the tram into the city. From there we took the subway to “old town” Prague. On this side of the city we spent most of the morning touring the Prague castle. It sits on top of a hill overlooking the city with winding roads and steps enclosed in giant walls leading up to the entrance. At the entrance, we witnessed the changing of the guards. Meg (Henican) and Dani (Herndon) busted out their cheerleading moves (which have been dormant since Halloween, when they dressed as cheerleaders) in an attempt to get the guards to smile. They were not succesfull (but Meg swears she got a wink). We walked all around the inner walls of the castle, which – FYI – is the largest castle in the world. It’s not the type of castle most people picture though. It consists of a church in the center and numerous buildings and cobblestone roads within the walls. We also toured the building which royalty inhabited including the king’s throne room and his private chapel.
“After we left the castle we strolled across the St. Charles bridge (I believe it was in Mission Impossible II, but I could be wrong). The bridge is lined with giant statues along both sides. From there we entered into “new town” Prague where we were given a couple hours of free time to get lunch and look around a little bit more. The types of buildings range from fairly new to old churches with intricate architecture. We then made our way back to the hotel via the tram and had about an hour until we left for our matches.
“We drove about 20 minutes outside of the city to where the Czech National Team trains. We played in a small gym with wooden floors in the same building where the team practices, eats, and sleeps. Playing the national team, we started off rocky but got progressively better in each game. We lost 3-0 but we also played a fourth game. The ball was a little bit heavier that what we usually play with but it didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on our game. They served and hit harder than what we are used to, but we slowly adjusted. After the game we ate with the team in a cafeteria-type area, which was also located within their training facility. Tonight the Czech hockey team is playing Canada in the World Championship, and on our drive to the hotel, there was hardly any traffic or pedestrians, because they were all inside watching the game. We returned to our hotel for the evening and are looking forward to tomorrow which is our last day in Prague!”