May 30, 2007
ATHENS, GREECE – – The Hawkeyes woke up bright and early again today as the team headed to the port to set sail for a day cruise of three Greek Islands. Again, the weather was gorgeous, sunny skies and warm weather during the cruise.
Iowa visited the islands of Poros, Hydra and Aegina. The Hawkeyes spent a total of five hours on the boat cruising from island-to-island. Hydra was by far the players’ favorite island as Wendy Ausdemore explains in today’s blog.
Iowa will leave the city of Athens tomorrow morning and head a couple hours south to the city of Vouliagmeni, where the Hawkeyes will play the Greek National Team one final time (Thursday) and spend their last two days before leaving this beautiful country to come back home on Saturday. Stacy Schlapkohl is slated to blog about tomorrow’s events.
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OPA!!!! I am not exactly sure of the meaning of this word, but I think it is said when you are having a good time and that is exactly what we did today. We had a very exciting day, and I know for me and many others this has been the most memorable day!
Our day started at 7:30 a.m. when we got on the bus and headed to the port to set sail on the “Anna Maru” to the three beautiful islands of Poros, Hydra, and Aegina. As soon as we boarded the ship we all headed to the top level of the boat so we could see the beautiful scenery and at first I think most of us regretted it because it was very windy and chilly, but as we approached our first island about an hour later we were already shedding our jackets. Our first stop was Poros, the smallest of the three islands, and we only had about forty minutes to look around before our ship departed. We had no trouble finding our way as the streets were covered with shop after shop. I wasted no time myself and made a purchase along with Abby, Stacy and Krista of a handmade side bag from Crete, which many others will be returning home with so it must be a good buy!
It was already time to board the ship again, and on our voyage to the next island we were served lunch. The array of food included some version of a salad, meat and potatoes and a rather tasty dessert. Many, including myself, didn’t care for the food except for dessert, but lunch also included music entertainment and dancing which found us all clapping our hands and yelling “OPA!!!!” Our stomachs may not have been full, but we had enjoyed the entertainment and we had already reached our next destination, Hydra, the island we had all been waiting for.
As we got off the boat we immediately saw donkeys all lined up ready to haul people around the island, but we passed the donkeys and headed to the hill where we had been told that rock jumping could be found. When we found the rocks there were a few local boys jumping off and doing all sorts of crazy dives. The rocks were probably about 12 or 15 feet high, and you jumped off into the Mediterranean Sea. We were all a little nervous about that first jump and how cold the water was going to be, but the adrenaline was flowing and the whole team, including Coach Bluder, Jensen, and Fitz all jumped off. Even Jenee, who can’t swim, jumped off while holding hands with Jo and Kristi. It was an amazing experience, and the fact that everyone on our team did it was even better. The pretty blue water was a little chilly, and I was so worried about the temperature I forgot that the water was going to be really salty, so that first plunge and that overwhelming taste of salt shocked me a little. We spent our entire time on the island jumping off the rock, and most of us weren’t ready to leave, but we had to board again to cruise to our last destination, the island of Aegina.
The island of Aegina is known for its pistachio nuts, which was the first purchase I made on the island to bring back to friends and family. I also bought a fresh peach, and shared some delicious strawberries and cherries with Stacy, Abby, Krista, Jo, and Grant. We explored the island some more, enjoyed some fried cheese and a Sprite sitting along the shore of the sea, and then boarded the boat again to head back to Athens after an amazing and beautiful day cruising the waters of the Mediterranean Sea!
We only have a few more days left here in the beautiful country of Greece, and I have to say I am really sad that we have to leave, but it has been an amazing and most memorable experience.
Tomorrow we travel to our last destination, Vouliagmeni, and we play our last game tomorrow night. I hope everyone is doing well back home in the States, and you have to check out our pictures and video from today’s adventures!!