Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thessaloniki Greece part 2

Week 2:

We got to our first week of "real" training last week.  This means we started getting after it a bit in the weight room, beach and on the court.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning we started at 9am (which means 8:30 departure from home) with stretching, jogging and a core workout before heading into the weight room.  I haven't been real serious over the last few months with my workouts because I had just finished in Dubai and was playing beach as a hobby all summer.  It was more fun than anything.  I don't think that the morning workouts were very grueling but they sure made it hard to walk the days after.  Anytime I do squats, leg press and leg extensions the next day I feel like someone punched me in the ass.  It hurt to sit down and get up out of bed.  Monday through Friday we have a 2 1/2 hour practice that is really hard to get ready for due to soreness.  This quickly passes after the first few laps around the court as your mind is stronger than the body...cliché I know.   

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings we meet at 7am near the gym to drive about 40 minutes away to Epanomi Beach.  At first I still had jet lag and waking up that early didn't bother me.  As my body adjusted to the time change it has been more of a challenge to get out of bed.  I'm sure everyone has had this feeling but I really hate waking early more than anything.  I usually cuss to myself and at the decision of working out so early.  But after a nice cup of coffee I'm usually in a chipper mood...is that bad?  Addicted to coffee maybe?  Anyhow, these beach workouts consist of our usually stretching routine followed by a 30 minute continues jog with the occasional pause to check our pulse.  The beach is not all that big nor is the sand very smooth so we go back and forth along the area that we can run in trying to dodge rocks, plastic forks, sticks and whatever other objects might puncture our feet.  After our workout session everyone strips down to their speedo's, except for me and Serju (the Romanian player), and get in the ocean...which is about 68 degrees and pretty clear.  Then we proceed to make two single file lines and do some jumping exercises that is supposed to decrease the amount of pressure on your knees.  Its a pretty good workout and its something new to me so I've been enjoying it...minus the speedo part.  

Brett and I have been invited by the coach over to his house for dinner with his family a couple times.  He lives right down the street from our new apartment which by the way is much nicer.  The toilet works, we can stand in the shower properly, and everything is much more modern.  Its a little smaller but it has a view of the Agean Sea off of our living room balcony.  We went to Ikea the day after we moved in and spiffed it up the best we could as well.  So dinner at coaches house....Alekos, his wife and daughter have been extremely kind to Brett and I.  The first night they had us over they ordered Greek food from a restaurant down the street which was so freaking good!  I've never seen Brett eat so much...ever!  Even coaches wife said "you are so small but you eat more than all of us" in a good way of course.  Coaches daughter is studying to be a English teacher so she did a lot of the translating even though coach and his wife can speak English but are a little afraid to.  They both understand everything though.  Dinner consisted of a Greek Salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and olives), Gyros (sliced pieces of lamb off of one of those big rotisserie things), Sujukiki (spicy meatballs but long ways...not round like in spaghetti) and lots of dips for bread.  We ate out on their balcony in perfect weather with candles everywhere and a large view of the Sea and lights of the city.  It was a really nice experience and very welcoming.  

On my day off Brett and I got in the car and explored.  Our car is manuel which makes it difficult for Brett.  She has never driven one but more than a few times.  This is going to be our goal for the next month...to teach her how to drive so she won't be stuck at home while I am gone at training.  We have been driving around the parking lot so she can get the feel of getting out of first gear.  She can get it most of the time now but we are just a little afraid about getting into traffic with the anxiety factor.  But who really cares?  We are in Greece right :)?  So our exploring took us to a random beach about 40 minutes down the other side of the coast.  We found a small beach where there were a lot of kids jumping off a cement pier and old people hanging in their speedos.  Along the beach we found a nice cafe to eat lunch and have some Frappe (iced coffee which everyone drinks here).  I guess this was actually the weekend after my first few days here.  This past weekend we tried to find Halkidiki beach where everyone says is like Hawaii and really nice.  We wanted to go alone so we winged it and followed the signs along the freeway.  I'm sure we ended up in the right area as we came up to Sani Beach Resort and parked there.  The beach was crystal clear with nice sand and a ton of people playing paddle tennis.  It made for a really nice and relaxing day.  On Saturday after our morning training a friend of ours invited us to his house for a BBQ.  They grilled up a bunch of meat, made some salad and kept our stomachs full with beer and sangria.  We ate out on their porch while watching the sunset.  Panos, our friend, lives with his father who produces his own wine and has 8 dogs, does all the computer work for our team.  He is the kind of guy that is always smiling and will go out of his way to help you.  Really good guy.

Ok, off to another training and more to come...Hope you enjoyed this weeks adventures!


Thessaloniki Greece part 1

Hey all,

     After a few weeks of putting off our travels to Thessaloniki Greece, Brett and I spent the entire morning and afternoon packing and running around Hermosa Beach getting stuff for the next 9 months.  Throughout the day we had visitors to the house to say good bye and wish us good luck on our new adventure.  Around 5 o'clock Brett and I also ordered some salads and pizza from Paisanos thinking that it would be the easiest way to have friends come over to relax and hangout.  Have I mentioned that our flight leaving from LAX was at 8 am which meant leaving the house at 6?  Anyhow, friend brought over beer and wine which turned into a guzzle fest and a full out party.  We probably had 20 people over and figured it was best to head up the street to a dive bar called The Saloon thinking we could get in on their specials of free hotdogs and cheap pitches...only problem was the free hotdogs ended at 5pm.  After a few rounds of golden tee some terrible games of darts and 25 pitches later we needed to call it a night and finish up our packing.  Not so much fun but wouldn't trade the night for anything.  Nice to go out with a bang and hang with all the homey's.

     Our flight route was from LAX to NY to Rome to Thessaloniki.  We didn't make our flight reservations.  On the flight to NY I was sat next to a man who did not understand the rule of invasion of space.  He was an Arabic man that was not fat but wide with dark hair and dandruff on his shoulders.  Before we took off he pulled out his Quran and started reading out load.  I'm not racist in anyway but to be honest it was kind of the last thing I wanted to see or hear before taking off into the skies.  We didn't say anything and just figured he was praying or what not.  He did this for the majority of the flight and as he was reading he started moving back in forth jabbing me with his elbows and leaning over the book with his right elbow pushing my food trey into my legs.  It was pretty interesting to say the least...Brett and I put on our headphones and I leaned into her as much as possible.  This guy turned out to be really nice as he spoke to us as we landed about the weather in NY and what not but he came off as just a little bit odd.  The rest of the flights went as well as can be expected with small delays but nothing that would make us miss our connections.  

     Landing in Thessaloniki we weren't sure if we had someone to pick us up or not.  At first thought we were just happy that all of our bags had arrived and it was easy as 1, 2, 3 to get through security and what not.  As we walked out the gates my assistant coach and computer technician were there to greet us and it was really refreshing that their English was fairly good.  We threw our bags in their car and headed to the area of Kalamaria where our new home would be.  Didn't have a chance to see much from the car as Brett and I were both a little loopy from the travel but as we pulled up to the curbside our new apartment building was very pleasant.  Its probably a 5 story building with red awnings on each of the balcony's.  There were lots of trees in the street and plenty of plants.  I forgot to mention that the weather is about 95 degree's outside.  We got our luggage up stairs and as soon as we opened the door I could feel that it was probably 10 degrees hotter inside.  

    The apartment is old and has little character.  The walls are made of cement with wood framing around the doors.  One bathroom with a shower as wide as my shoulders and a roof about 6 feet 2 inches tall.  Brett is 6 feet 1 inch and barely fits standing straight up but I have to put my head down and spin in circles to get wet.  There are two bedrooms...the "guest" room is made up of baby furniture and a tiny bed for a small child.  The "master" room had a queen size bed with terrible sheets and two pillows.  The kitchen is pretty small but is more than enough for the two of us.  Then the living room has a love seat and a bigger couch with the one air conditioner in the house and a tv that was probably made in the 80's with a 12" screen and one channel in English...MTv.  A longer story shorter is that we had to move our mattress onto our living room floor under the air conditioner just so that we could feel the cooler air.  

    Today was our first day here and Brett and I woke up early to cruise around the surrounding area to see if we could get some food.  We came across a super market where we could stock up on the basics.  It is really nice how almost everyone speaks English and went out of their way to help us find what we needed.  Its hard read the alphabet here as everything is written in Greek...like at a fraternity.  I'm sure we'll get the hang of it sooner or later.  

   Had a meeting with the team, coaching staff and officials of the club today just to go over some of the schedule.  Seems like we will have beach workouts 3 times a week in the mornings along with weight training and each evening we will have actually volleyball training in the evening.  Tonight when I got home from our meeting we checked out a new apartment that seems to be a little more updated and has a view of the sea but won't know if we can move into it until tomorrow.  Also, when I got home Brett made us dinner and we don't have a wine opener for the wine we bought today so we googled "how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew" and tried the method.  For those of you who don't want to watch the youtube clips the strategy is to put the bottom of the bottle in a padded shoe and hammer it agains the wall.  On the first few hits I heard stuff falling off the other side of the wall so I tried a different spot to no success.  We tried another method of a hard souled shoe...one of Brett's boots.  All we did was knock a small hole in the wall!  Maybe its a good thing we are working on moving out of here.  

Hope you enjoyed first couple days!