Day 5: Bled & Planica, Slovenia
March 19, 2008
PLANICA, SLOVENIA - Today we got to sleep in a little which was much appreciated after a long night of getting to know both the men's and women's Slovenian Junior National Teams. Most of them speak English very well and those who were a little more shy about it opened up after we reminded them that we speak no Slovenian so any English they know was impressive to us.
We found that most of the female players are very similar to us, love America, and want to play in the States some day but most importantly a few even knew the Superman dance!!
This morning we were served a typical Slovenian breakfast consisting of bread, lunch meat, cheese, a chocolate topping similar to Nutella, and Corn Flakes for the less adventurous. After breakfast we bundled up as much as possible and took a 40-minute drive through the mountains to the city of Bled. According to Corey, Bled is the most scenic place in the world and now most of the team would agree with this statement.
After winding through the mountains spotted with small towns and vineyards, we arrived in Bled and the weather was perfect (despite the cold). Bled is a slightly larger town than Kranjska Gora and the first non-ski town we've visited in Slovenia. The town is located in a valley between towering cliffs and is centered around a beautiful lake. Once we parked the vans, we all piled onto a little row boat paddled by a native Slovenian who was undoubtedly the strongest 70-year-old man I have ever seen. He rowed us with ease to the small island in the center of the lake covered completely with a large church, while telling us some history of the town.
We fulfilled our tourist role by taking a multitude of pictures from every angle on the island although we collectively decided pictures cannot do justice to this place. We all climbed the 98 steps from the dock to the church...our conditioning for the morning... at the top some of the group members paid a few euros and went into the church to ring the wishing bell. Others circled the base where we made friends with a swan who decided to attack Leah's shoe as she walked by, don't worry we have pictures and swans are definitely more vicious than we thought.
We spent about 30 minutes on the island before we took the row boat back to the shore and drove into the center of town. The group split and a few members decided to hike to the top of one of the cliffs and tour a castle overlooking the lake while others of us stayed in town and walked around the shops taking in the view from the lake side.
We found great enjoyment in the grocery store, comparing the odd foods and picking out a variety of Slovenian candies and milk chocolate bars to try. After about 2 hours in town we headed back to the training center where we were met with yet another hearty meal of meat, sausage, bread, potatoes, and gravy...there is no such thing as a light lunch in this place. We had about an hour of down time, just long enough to get in a much-needed nap before we were on the court to play.
Our team usually handles food well but we are still trying to figure out how they play after meals of sausage and sauerkraut. We played well today, constantly changing the line up and making necessary adjustments from yesterday. We lost but the games were close with a lot of long rallies which is an improvement from the past few days. After the game we took a few group pictures with the girls where we taught them our signature pose... flexing.
We just finished dinner, meat and potatoes again, and will have some time to relax, shower and hang out in the rooms tonight before we head to our next destination in the morning!