After a long 18-hour day/night of traveling, which included movement screening in the middle of the airport and many airport snack purchases, we finally made it to Rome around 9 AM local time. Before we left, Coach Gluck had reminded us over and over to pack an extra pair of clothes in our carry-on bags because surely someone’s bag was going to be lost between Philly, Detroit, and Rome. So of course, after everyone had collected their luggage from baggage claim, Robin Chernow ’15 was left bag-less in the middle of the terminal. Things were looking bleak, as about a minute or so (which is very long in waiting-for-your-bag-while-everyone-else-has-theirs time) had passed and her bag was nowhere in sight. But then, with all eyes on the end of the baggage carousel, Robin’s bag appeared and things were GREAT. Everyone cheered and let go a sigh of relief. It was reminiscent of when Dennis Quaid appears at the end of the Parent Trap and surprises the mom and Annie. Heartwarming and full of relief. This was probably not as dramatic as I am remembering it since our trip was uneventful and went completely smoothly.
After landing in Rome, it was straight to the Piazza Del Popolo for a quick lunch before arriving at the hotel. The group I was with stopped at a little café off of one of the side streets and enjoyed our first of many amazing pizzas of the trip. Still in the matching Haverford gear we traveled in, we attracted a few locals who wanted to know more about why we were there and where we were from – one even asked if we had a ball to play with him and his friends with (unfortunately they were still sitting deflated on our bus). It was really cool to see how excited people were that we were visiting their country to play soccer.
Running on less than 4 hours of sleep for most people, most of the team napped in the hotel room after lunch until it was time to leave for our walking tour of Rome led by our wonderful local tour guide. We started the tour at the Trevi Fountain and of course all made wishes and took tons of pictures.
After that, we made our way toward the Il Vittoriano, a monument completed in 1925 in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. Obviously one of the newer additions to the city of Rome, Il Vittoriano was absolutely stunning.
From there, we walked over and got to see the amazing remains of the Roman Forum. We learned all about history of the Roman Empire, which was very cool to do while on site. For anyone who has been to Rome before, you know how when walking by the Roman Forum, you can see the Coliseum up ahead. I’ve been able to travel to many places in Europe over the past year, and the Coliseum is undoubtedly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and many of my teammates definitely agreed. Hearing about the history of the gladiators and the role the Coliseum played in maintaining peace and happiness throughout the reign of the Roman Empire was very cool. We all got time to enjoy the area around the Coliseum and again, of course, took many pictures.
After our mini-tour of Rome, we returned to the hotel for some conditioning, dinner, and finally bed. It has been a long past 32 hours, but being able to hang out all together and experience Rome as a team was absolutely unparalleled. This past weekend was actually the first time in 8 months I had seen anyone on the team, as I spent the spring semester abroad in Scotland. I was lucky enough to make it to Rome in April, and as much fun as I had then, I am so excited to be able to come back and have new experiences with my teammates.
In terms of our upcoming plans, we are heading over to the Vatican tomorrow morning after a quick morning fitness session with our strength and conditioning coach, Cory Walts. We have our first practice tomorrow evening, and I know everyone is eager to get out there and play with one another again.
I plan on blogging again on Friday after first friendly game of the trip. I know everyone is excited about what’s coming up next!