Monday, July 18, 2011

My last day in Russia!

Well folks, today was my last full day in Russia. It is bittersweet; there are things I will really miss, but I can't wait to be home! I will miss the ice cream, chocolate, and pancake thing I had today. I'm looking forward to my bed, bathroom, family, friends, and food!

Today we had an early practice and breakfast. After lunch, we went to a pedestrian street. It was great! I bought a few more souvenirs, and I tried Kvas, a nasty bread drink! I also had a pancake with a banana and chocolate in it; it was really good!

Later, we were able to watch the Russian National Team practice. Then, Coach Blatt ran us through some great drills!

I will give more details tomorrow when I get home! I'll be stateside soon! I can't wait!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shopping in Moscow!

This morning we had an early shoot-around. I could definitely tell how tired my body is! Afterwards, we watched the guys play with the Russian U16 Team. That team is off to play in the European Championship soon.

After lunch, we went to a market to buy souvenirs. I bought quite a few things. Something for each of my close family members and coaches. Akela and I had a scary experience. We were looking to buy a Russian Olympic Team t-shirt. A one stall Akela tried to barter with a man that didn't speak English. He had to type the price into his cell phone! Anyway, Akela tried the shirt on. When the man wouldn't accept her price, she tried to take it off. The man wouldn't let her! He even held a match to the shirt to show that it was flame resistant! We were thankfully able to escape later. We found another vendor that was very nice. I got Russian Olympic Team dri-fit t-shirt for 550 rubles. That's about $22. Akela got a shirt as well for 20 US Dollars and 50 rubles! Did I mention that we were asked if we had husbands, and upon saying no, we were told we could marry him (the guy that asked the question)! Oh dear! Despite some crazy situations, I think my shopping trip was very successful!

I also bought six chocolate bars to take home!

I just finished another great shoot-around. Now, we are going to watch the World Cup Soccer game!

Tomorrow looks like this:

  • 7:45 am practice
  • 9:00 am breakfast
  • shower 
  • pedestrian street
  • lunch at McDonald's
  • press conference
  • watch Russian National team practice
  • practice with Russian National Team coaches
We have a busy day ahead of us! Then, we finally get to go home! I can't wait!

Pictures!

Here are some pictures for the past few blogs...
My dance partner!

The Hermitage



Hotel



Peterhof



Gulf of Finland/Baltic Sea


Ice Cream, a Russian treat I shall miss!




Church of the Spilled Blood

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Return to Moscow...

This morning we had a great practice with the number one U15 St. Petersburg Team. We also got to do core workouts with them! I really enjoyed it!
During lunch, I grabbed as much chocolate as seemed fair so that I would be okay on the train ride. As I was settling in on the bus to head to the train station, I realized that I had left my bottle of Advil on the table in the café! I needed that Advil! I ran back in to get it, but as I neared the building, I met Mark. He had picked up my Advil for me! Thank goodness he had!
The four hour train ride consisted of me learning how to play thirteen. This is a new card game for me, but I quite like it! I also ate a ton of M&M’s. Connor ended up just giving me the bag! I went through a few playlists my i-pod, but we arrived in Moscow soon enough.
Upon our return, we had supper. It was actually good; chicken, pasta, and a Caesar salad!
After dinner I went to the gym to shoot. I got some great post work in, but most importantly, Coach Patrick helped me with my free throw. It’s amazing how consistent I am when I don’t think, but just shoot!
Tomorrow the guys are going to practice with the U16 Team. We are going to have a quick shoot-around; then, we are going shopping. That sounds like souvenir time to me!
*Pictures will come tomorrow!

Peterhof!

Today began with a slight delay. Who caused this? We, the girls team, did. We were just a wee bit late to breakfast at the boys’ place. Oh well, we were still on time for the Peterhof.
I had previously decided that there was no way I could live in Russia, but St. Petersburg may have changed my mind. St. Petersburg is very European. It is much cleaner than Moscow as well. I could see myself playing in St. Petersburg (if they have a team). Living in the area around the Peterhof would be great, but there is no telling how expensive that would be!
The Peterhof was outstanding! I walked where Peter, Elizabeth, Catherine, Nicholas, Alexander, and many more royal people once walked! We couldn’t take pictures inside, but that was fine with me; I was better able to enjoy the palace. To be quite frank, I’m also tired of taking pictures! We were right on the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland! How awesome is that?!
We had a snack on the way back and lunch with the boys. I love the chocolate here. Yes Fulp family, I’m bringing some home!
Practice came next. It was probably my best practice so far. My team won in three on three where you get one point for defensive stops and made baskets and two points for offensive boards. I was tearing it up on the offensive boards! To top it all off, I made a crazy hook shot at the buzzer! We also lifted weights and did a serious core workout. See Dad, I’m not going to be out of shape! I took a dip into the state of the art lap pool. It reminded me of how much I used to love swimming year round for PAC, but basketball is by far the better sport for me!
Dinner was interesting. I’ve used that word a lot to describe the food here, haven’t I? We started off with sandwiches. The sandwiches had ketchup, ham, and cheese on them. That’s strange, right? We’ve had a ton of fresh fruit here! I had a great Granny Smith Apple tonight! Our main course was meat dumplings. Normally, they are only boiled, but the chef thought that as Americans we would like them fried. I think I would have liked them just boiled, but fried normally does suit Americans. They did give us more fries and chocolate though!
Our bus tour was next on the agenda. First, I will give a quick background on the climate here. St. Petersburg only has around 40 days where it is completely sunny. Otherwise, it is cloudy and overcast. The temperature is great in the summer! It is like late fall or early spring at home! It rained today; so, my photography skills were slightly hindered. Our tour guide left a little to be desired, but I still enjoyed it. Ski and I had our own personal photographer in Mark, our diplomat! Did I mention that is was a night tour in the broad daylight? Even here, they have only four hours of darkness. I bought a shirt with St. Petersburg at night (lit up) on it being that I did not get to see it in that fashion.
Now, I am off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow. We are practicing with the Russian U15 National Team tomorrow. We get to do more lifting and take another dip in the pool. Then, we go back to Moscow on the train for just three more nights. I’ll be back on American soil in four days!
Date composed: 7/15/11

SPB and the Hermitage!

I didn’t have internet in St. Petersburg; so, these blogs are a bit late.
Well, today was a long day! We left from Trinta at 4 am, although we really didn’t want to leave, in order to catch our high speed Sabsan train to St. Petersburg. I tried to sleep on the bus, but that didn’t work out. I was able to sleep a little bit during the four hour train ride.
Before I get started on today, I want to recap our farewells at Trinta. I slow danced at the disco! Then, as curfew neared, our Russian friends came to say goodbye. Some of the girls were crying. I was very sad; I didn’t want to leave! We promised each other to talk on Skype and Facebook. Golly, I’m going to miss those girls! The guys were exchanging US items for Russian items. That was their form of goodbye. I wish we hadn’t left!
Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, we couldn’t see much difference from Moscow. We dropped the boys off at their hotel, or so we thought it was a hotel in a sketchy neighborhood, and then went to our hotel. We were hoping for the nice hotel with a pool. As we pulled up we realized that we were in a sketchy neighborhood too! The front of the building seemed nice enough though. After dragging our luggage up three flights of stairs, we were still hopeful. Upon opening our rooms, our hearts sank! A toilet where your knees touch the door, sagging beds with who knows what on them, and a ceiling that looked like it could cave in at any moment were what we found! It was terrible! There was no such thing as hot water, and there was a community shower! A community shower in a hotel! I know we are supposed to be experiencing Russian culture, but that is taking it too far! I was ready to just stay on the bus for the night!
Later, we drove back to the boys’ place for lunch. As it turned out, the boys were in a nice Olympic training center! They were the ones with the pool! No fair! We guessed that there was no such thing as Title 9 in Russia.
Lunch was great! We had chicken and fries. I even ate the cabbage concoction and mushroom soup we were served!
The Hermitage Museum was our next stop. Outside we saw many different animals. People were taking pictures with and holding bears, snakes, monkeys, and parrots! The museum itself was absolutely amazing. I truly enjoyed seeing the different styles of the Russian rulers!
I was also asked to be interviewed for The Voice of America. I accepted and was asked basic questions on Russia and basketball. The interview went very well; I was interviewed with Ski and Trey; so, it wasn’t very difficult. (Ski and Trey are two of my teammates.)
Dinner was then served back at the boys’ place. The pasta left a bit to be desired, but the sandwiches were good.
We were then told that the girls would be moving to a different hotel! Yay! We arrived at our “new” hotel just thinking, “Anything could be better than the last one.” This hotel actually is okay. No, it is not what Americans are used to, but we are only here for two nights. It does have an elevator though! Its biggest downfall is no wifi. Even the dump we were at had wifi!
I forgot to mention that Russian chocolate is fantastic!
I can’t wait until the Peterhof tomorrow! I am truly looking forward to being at home this coming Tuesday. I love it here, but I have learned to appreciate my American way of life. Oh well, it is now time for bed. Goodnight!
Date composed: 7/15/11

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Last Day at Trinta!

Our last day at camp has certainly been one to remember. I have made so many new friends here. The Russian girls plan on adding me on Facebook and Skype! How diplomatic we are being! That was the point of the trip right?! I really don’t want to leave the camp. Everyone is so friendly here; I really have enjoyed myself here!
Today, we had asphalt drawing with our teams. All of the pictures, which were based on the theme of friendship and sport, were great, but I obviously think my team’s drawing was the best!




We then had some crazy dribbling competitions. We dribbled two balls with one hand. We even dribbled two balls while holding a third between our legs! All of this was done as down and backs! We had a fantastic time!

Lunch and quiet time came next. Quiet time of course consisted of Skype, Facebook, and this blog.

Awards, the talent show, and the disco followed. My team won the shooting competition and the asphalt drawing competition! Our team did the cha-cha slide, and the coaches came in to a rap song, but ended with the Temptations! It was great! The Russians also gave us great gifts! I might disco tonight. I haven’t fully decided yet. 



We had potatoes at supper!
Curfew is 10 since we leave at 4 am for St. Petersburg tomorrow! I’m going to miss the camp and all of the great friends I’ve made, but I am looking forward to the rest of our journey!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Basketball With the Russians!

Today we were able to sleep in. After a 9:30 breakfast, we practiced for an hour and a half with the Russian girls. We threw in some new drills. It was great! Everyone here is so friendly!

We had a lot of down time today; thank goodness! I'm exhausted! I attempted to hand-wash some of my clothes. I think it went pretty well!

Next, we had shooting competitions. I really don't now how my team did being that I don't understand Russian, but I enjoyed it. The guys also had a dunk competition. It was very exciting!




We have to practice for our talent show now. That should be interesting!

Explanations and Pictures!

Sorry it has taken so long to get these blogs up. I haven’t been able to connect  to the internet, but I have written a blog as a Word document every day. Also, here are some pictures for yesterday’s blog.

Don't you like my monastery look?! Haha We had to be very serious, and it was HOT!



This is a part of the healing water! I got the water from the spring itself though.



This was my five on five team. One of my teammates wasn't there today; so, the girl in the purple filled in for her. Of course, the woman is the camp director I was talking about!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Healing Water!

Today, we had an 8 am practice with the Russian girls. None of the girls speak fluent English, and we of course do not speak much Russian. Even with the language barrier, practice was a success! Things ran rather smoothly, and we enjoyed practicing with the Russians.
Breakfast was then served, and afterwards we headed to a monastery. It was a long bus ride, and we had to wear long pants and hats. Well, we thought we could wear hats, but when we got there we had to put on skirts and scarves. Luckily they ran out of scarves and I was able to wear a hat. A monk showed us around the different churches. It was very interesting as we were traveling with some Russian Orthodox girls. They displayed some of the Orthodox traditions.
Next, we went to a natural spring where the water has healing properties. The healing properties were named by Saint Nicholas. We were able to put water on our faces. I also have a bottle that I filled with it to bring home. I am planning on giving it as a gift to someone very special to me.
When we finally returned to camp we had a quick lunch. Then, we played five on five with the Russians. Julia, one of my USA buddies, was on my team. We were also with three Russians: Nastia, Lena, and Alena. I think I have the names right (probably not spelled correctly though). We went 1 and 2. I had a great time! My coach, the camp director, absolutely adored me! She even sent a woman to fetch me some water while I “rested”!
At dinner we had French fries! It was fantastic!
Later, we played taps with the guys.
I am looking forward to tomorrow when we will play more with the Russians! We have two days left at camp; then, we are off to St. Petersburg. We leave from camp on Thursday at 4 am in order to make our train to that beautiful city.

Catherine, oh Catherine!

Today we visited Catherine the Great’s summer home. She never got to spend a whole summer there due to the fact that all of the demolition and reconstruction she ordered took a long time. She died before construction was completed. As to how she died, the Russians conservatively said “old age”. I learned many other legends in AP World though; I wonder if any of them are true! Thanks to AP World I have a great amount of insight to Russian history. I also have the desire to learn even more. While we are in St. Petersburg I plan on asking about Pugachev. The summer home, which I cannot spell to save my life, was recently renovated. I walked where Catherine the Great walked! She was a smart lady; although, she was slightly crazy too. I won’t be “walking in her shoes” so to speak. AP World people know what I mean.

When we got back to camp we had lunch and a practice. Practice went well. I think we have three basketball sessions tomorrow. We are also going to a monastery where we have to wear pants. I’m not sure about the specific schedule, but it already seems like another busy day.
Later, we had a concert with all of the Russian kids. It was very neat being able to experience the Russian culture hands on. The entertainers wore costumes that displayed Russian traditions.

Dinner and the disco came next. Dinner was really good! We had salmon that was nice and flaky. We also had great cubed potatoes and desserts. At the disco I was the designated photographer. I was holding five cameras and taking pictures with three. I have a real talent for that! One of our guys won the dance contest, and they all enjoyed dancing with the Russian dancers from the concert.
*This blog is late also due to the fact that I couldn’t connect today.

Trinta!

As it turns out we do have a little bit of wifi here at the Trinta camp! We just have to go the square in order to get a signal.
So, today was our boat tour and arrival at Trinta. The boat tour was very interesting. I was able to see more sights than you can from a bus. As it got later, we all said we were really hungry. Our coaches talked it over with the people from the Russian Federation, and they decided to take us to McDonald’s! Why the exclamation mark? Even though I don’t eat at this particular fast food joint at home, I have never been happier to eat there! Moscow has the world’s second busiest McDonald’s. We didn’t eat at that one; there are many of them in Moscow.


Then, we had a long bus ride, which I slept through, out to the suburbs of Moscow. Everyone was like, “We are in the middle of nowhere! We’re in the freaking woods!” Well, I am from the middle of nowhere; so, I feel right at home. It is actually very nice here! The rooms are great, and the people are so hospitable. The house that we are in is very modern as compared to what we were in. I want to stay here instead of going back to the school in Moscow! I feel very ignorant being that many Russians speak English, but most of us don’t speak Russian. We are trying to bridge that gap.


Supper will be served soon. There is supposed to be a disco afterwards, but we are going to try to shoot instead of dance.
We will be touring this smaller Russian city until Thursday when we leave for St. Petersburg.
I am looking forward to learning more about the Russian culture while we are at Trinta! We also get to play
more basketball here!

*Sorry this blog was written a day ago. After practice I didn’t have time to get it posted before curfew! The
Russians certainly are strict about curfew!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Kremlin and Red Square!

Yesterday we visited the Kremlin and Red Square. (Red in old Russian not only meant the color, but also beautiful.) It was fantastic and very educational! My favorite part was when our tour guide talked about the Tatar Mongols because the Mongols were beast! I also learned that Coach Freeman has a perfect Russian accent.
Anyways, here are a few pictures.






We are now going on a boat tour of Moscow. Then, we leave for Trinta camp where I will not have internet.
:(

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Arrival to Europe's Largest City!

Yes folks that is correct: Moscow is the largest city in Europe based on population, and I'm here in this amazing place!

 A quick recap of the part of our trip in the US: After arrival in DC, we were immediately bused to practice at George Mason University. We stayed there at the Mason Inn. You know a hotel is really nice when your name is on the TV screen!


We arrived at the airport very early on the sixth in order to check in for our international flight. After making it all the way to the gate, we still did not have our seats assigned. You'd think that would have been done at an earlier time. When the boarding process began we still did not have a seat number. They were overbooked! Three of the girls and one of our coaches got bumped. They had to fly to London first and then meet the rest of the team in Moscow much later. Still, they got to do it in first class! Some of the kids on our plane got either first or business class. I was in economy; not economy plus where you have more legroom, but economy where my knees were in the back of the seat in front of me for 10 hours. Needless to say, I didn't sleep through much of the flight. Yet, we arrived! That was the most important thing.

Being that our flight had been delayed we drove across town in traffic to the basketball school where we are staying for the week. Lunch was waiting on us there. It was interesting, but I have an open mind. Hey, food is food right?



After lunch I went to exchange my money and do a little grocery shopping. I only bought a big bottle of water. The money has baffled me!



Here is what our rooms look like. There are two of us to a room.




Then, here was dinner.


Did I mention that even though it is close to ten o'clock, it is still light outside? There is only about five hours of darkness here each day during this time of year. Also, we don't have AC. It is so muggy inside and out!

Tomorrow we go on a tour of the Kremlin and Red Square. Later, we have dinner at the Embassy! I truly am looking forward to what lies ahead on this amazing journey!