Sept. 2, 2012
So this morning, we had breakfast on the roof of our hotel and it was absolutely beautiful. It practically overlooks the whole city of Florence. I can only imagine what it looks like at night. Hopefully tomorrow (Sunday), I'll get a chance to see it!
We didn't have anything this morning so we all took advantage of it by going shopping.. how else would a group of girls spend their free time in Florence?! We all got so many gifts for people too so it was definitely productive. I personally can say I'm only one gift short of being completely done, which is fortunate considering I'm still going need some leftover money to eat! First, we hit the open market, which is a whole bunch of kiosks just lined up and parked in the street. I was able to bargain some pretty good prices out of people (I was quite impressed with myself). After that, we made our way back to Stefano's leather shop, stopping to get gelato on the way (of course). I wasn't a huge fan of the mint flavor that I got but the coconut hit the spot. Many, if not all, of us bought something from Stefano. The quality and the prices, at least some of them, were too good to pass up.
On our way back to the hotel it started to rain. At first just a little, but then it started to pour. We stopped on a corner for a couple minutes to try to decide which direction to go and a street vendor came up to us offering umbrellas for only 3 euros so all of us in our group of four players bought one. (Fabio, our guide, told us a couple days ago that buying from street vendors is illegal because they shouldn't even be out there selling ... but at the time it was a risk we were willing to take. We were getting soaked and all of our leather goods too. Not good.
When we finally got back to the hotel, we had just enough time to take a small breath and get our stuff together for our game. We didn't play until later but the gym was two hours away and we were stopping off to eat on the way. While we were driving, Fabio was giving us all a little background on the place we were going to eat at. It was a small farm (no, not one with a bunch of animals come to find out) where they made wine and olive oil. It was a really cute place that I would LOVE to go back and visit. The food was absolutely delicious too. After we ate, we went up to the vineyards and saw where they grow some of their grapes. Before we left, many of us went to their store to buy some more things, from olive oil to hand cream with olive oil in it.
It's been uncanny how many people/families we have met from Chicago or that actually went to Northwestern. Just walking around in our NU gear makes so many opportunities to meet new people. They come up to us and start talking and they have all been so nice so far! While not necessarily from the Chicago area, there was even a family at the farm that was visiting from Alaska that stopped us and wanted a picture. I think it's really neat how just being from the same country can make you feel familiar, maybe even connected to people you just meet.
After eating, we hopped back on the bus to go to the game. We still had another hour or so of driving to go. We could have stayed a little longer at the farm considering it was almost 7:10 by the time our referee got there. Our game was supposed to technically start at seven but if were all ready to go before that we can start early, which is what we did our first game. It probably wasn't that long, but if felt like we were warming up for a solid hour! Well, only one ref had showed up, so Mr. Jonas (our basketball travelers representative and absolutely great guy) ended up being our other one, running up and down the court in sandals and street clothes. We were lucky to have him though because the first referee definitely needed a partner. In 1 and a half min of play in the third quarter, six fouls had been called between the two teams. That third quarter seemed to go on forever. The other team played very physical as well, so that probably contributed to the long half, but we won and that was all that mattered.
After the game we went out to dinner with a couple of the girls from the other team and their coaches/the president of their organization. It was place right by a lake and there were a ton of boats docked nearby too. The food was really good (as always). We weren't exactly looking forward to having dinner with them considering the physicality of the game, but it ended up being a really awesome time. We learned new Italian words, and we taught them English words. For some reason some of our team were trying to teach them what "swag: meant. It was funny seeing them try to understand, but they were really good company to have while we ate. They listen to all different "American" songs and watch our TV shows. It was cool. Oh! and their point guard is 36 years old, and good too! As we were saying goodbye, two of the girls lit cigarettes ... how European.
After dinner we drove the two or so hours back to the hotel. And as it is now 3:30 in the morning, and we have to be up before 9, so I'm going to bed!
GOOD NIGHT! MISS YOU ALL.