June 8, 2005

Monday brought an early wakeup call and a three-hour bus ride to Vienna. We wandered the downtown area, parked near the State Opera and the art gallery and went through Saint Stephen´s Cathedral — built in the 14th century and with a steeple 137 meters high. Vienna was beautiful, and the countryside was well-manicured as we came over the border into the rollíng hills of Austria.

We then bussed an hour north back over the Czech border to the small town of Valtice in the Moravia area. We stayed at the Hotel Hubertus, connected to the Valtice Chateau, a magnificent structure once owned by the Lichtenstein family since the 1400s. We had dinner in an authentic wine cellar and heard a lecture about wine-growing in the area, with the only wine-growing school in the country located right above the cellar.

On Tuesday morning we took a tour of the chateau. We all wore slippers over our shoes because the hardwood floors throughout the castle need to be preserved. It was a fascinating hour, with room after room of artwork and ornate decore. We then bussed seven miles north to Lednice and stopped for a half-hour to see the Lednice chateau and park, with beatiful grounds.

After the two-hour trip back to Prague, we headed to the region of Radotin where we were invited to play a box lacrosse exhibition against the Lacrosse Club Custodes, including many of the same players from Sunday´s game. The game was played essentially on a hockey rink with an artificial surface and high fences behind the goals. The game is much quicker, with a shorter field, a smaller goal, five players plus a goalie — and all substitutions on the fly. The Irish played only with their underclassmen, plus assistant coach Dave Cornell and volunteer assistant Hannon Wright who played in goal. The Irish fell behind early 5-0 as they became accustomed to the strategy, then eventually cut the lead twice to a single goal, as Cornell, Pat Walsh and Matt Karweck each scored twice before Notre Dame fell 7-6 in a game that featured three periods of running time. After the contest, the Radotin club team hosted a dinner for the Irish players and coaches.

The agenda Wednesday features an afternon trip to Terezin, a former concentration camp about an hour away from Prague.