February Jr age Volleyball Tour London
One of the goals of the Volleyball tours is to bring players from different, states, countries, cultures and backgrounds together. The vehicle to achieve this goal is through the sport of VOLLEYBALL. When we meet other volleyball players from throughout the world we will be able to see how much we have in common, rather than how we differ.
Moments to Remember
Over the years there have been a few “moments to remember”. One of these “moments to remember” happened to me during one of our German visits — I awoke one morning to the smell of eggs and sizzling bacon wafting into my room (to give you a quick snapshot of my “home stay house” it was 400 years old, America is only a little over 200 years old!). I quickly dressed and ran downstairs to breakfast. Upon my arrival to the table, I noticed to my horror; my home stay “guy” wasn’t there! However across the table from me sat his Mother and Father — both “classic” older German folk, and as you may have guessed neither one of them could speak a word of English, (which matched exactly the amount of German I could speak).
The MOM proceeded to pile my plate full of eggs, bacon and hash browns (German style hash-browns with onions and lots of butter) while the DAD gestured with his hands, how a BOY like me needed to eat so I will be “BIG and STRONG” (at least that’s my interpretation of his gestures meant). Throughout our breakfast we played an international version of charades, better described as point, gesture, grunt, and smile. The gesturing was also accompanied by the appropriate word or phrase in each of our NATIVE TONGUES usually in a loud voice, as if the volume at which we spoke had something to do with understanding what was said.
I learned a couple of good communication lessons that morning as we “smiled” “grinned” “grunted” and pointed to the food. 1. MOMS & DADS are the same all over the world. They are loving, caring, giving individuals and now matter how old one is we are all still “someone's” little boy/girl. 2. In almost every situation a good SENSE of HUMOR will get one through.
What should I bring? This is one of the most often asked questions from our tour members. Before I answer this and some of the other frequently asked questions I feel you may understand better if I pass along to you a few little "stories" about other travelers on previous tours.
Every year there is at least one traveler who feels the need to pack as much STUFF as they can carry (and even have the nerve to ask others to help them carry THEIR STUFF). I guess some people feel more secure if they bring their favorite items, i.e. coat, sweater, dress shoes, volleyball shoes, shopping shoes, old knock around shoes, pillow, blanket, stuffed animals, bicycle, phone and stuffed chair, (just kidding about the phone, bicycle and the chair), but who knows what crazy things this years players will try to bring. I can only speculate as to why people take so much stuff with them, it must be because, just incase their home is burglarized while their on the tour the burglar won't be able to take everything…
About 5 years ago in the middle of the summer in Rome (the temperature was hot - very hot “105”) . One of our players didn't heed the guidelines as to what to bring on the tour. Instead, she must have cleaned out her entire wardrobe closet and probably borrowed clothes from several friends (this girl apparently had lots of friends). She brought 4 bags, not bags, suitcases not just suitcases -- very very large suitcases. I commented to her as to the size and the number of suitcases she was bringing with her, but she told me "no problem I can handle it". —- Ten minutes after arrival in Rome the wheels broke off of two of the suitcases on the way from the train station to the hotel and after several trips back to the train station to pick up the next bag she decided to send the "#@&*%$ junk" home.
Sending her stuff home was no easy task. We spent 6 hours finding where to go to send the suitcases back home. Taking buses, taxis, and walking, we finally made it to the airport, after asking question, after question. We finally found the "aero cargo" department. After 45 minutes of filling out the paperwork to send her “extra” stuff home the group was one hundred and ten pounds lighter and her parents were $150.00 poorer (she had to sent it COD). Finally we were ready to enjoy our tour.
More True Stories
Yet another little story. — On a previous tour (3 years ago) as we arrived in the airport I noticed a player who was surrounded by luggage. I assumed (mistakenly) that there was so many suit cases piled up that surely it belonged to several players (at least 3-4 people). The group began to check in their luggage and I noticed she was shoving all of these bags towards the counter all by herself. Thinking her "friends" had abandoned her I began to help. As I started to help move some of the luggage one of my first clues as to what was happening was that all the luggage was.... the same ..... matching luggage. My brilliant mind and Inspector Clouseau-like detective skills went to work: my conclusion was that all of these bags belonged to..... her! Not knowing for sure if they were in fact all hers, I suggested to her she may want to leave some of the bags in Seattle and pick them up when we return. "No," she said with a note of panic and defiance, “I NEED everything in them".
I reminded her of the fact that she would have to carry her own luggage throughout the tour. (Trains, boats, bus, subways etc..) She thought about it for a little while and finally said, “OK” and that she would "trim down" her luggage. Satisfied that my charm and swat team negotiation skills had solved the problem, I moved on to take care of some other minor disaster at the check in counter. After our intercontinental flight to Paris, and just about to collect our luggage at the air terminal to my surprise down the luggage shoot comes this girl’s 4 Mini van size suitcases. There was nothing I could do about it at that time besides all of her "mini van suitcases" were on wheels and they all seemed to be nicely in tow. What happened next may be beyond your imagination. It was 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon during rush hour, in downtown Paris (not one of the smaller cities of the world) 48 players attempting to board a subway train along with 5 million Parisians who just got off work and want to get home.... NOW!! After a certain amount of pushing and shoving and luck we managed to get everyone on the same subway car. Players smashed against each other, luggage stacked to the ceiling and at least half the population of Paris staring at us as the doors to the train started to close. We were just about to breathe a sigh of relief and relax when one of the "mini-vans" fell off of the pile of luggage, and out the door onto the crowded platform. As the doors began to close, the "mini-van’s" OWNER screamed, setting off a chain reactions of teenage screams though the subway car. At that moment I thought: "Well, that solves that problem, one less Mini-van suitcase to worry about". And then, for no known reason, the subway doors suddenly popped opened. The OWNER reached out with one hand and, with an adrenaline-assisted grunt, pulled the huge suitcase into the subway the doors closed and down the black tunnel we went. A few moments had passed the look of terror, fright and panic had left this girls face, and she looked over to me with a tearful apologetic look on her face. No words needed to be spoken; we looked at each other and nodded. As you may guess, we made another unscheduled stop at the airport for a one-way ticket to America for two mini-van suitcases.
“A wise person learns from the mistakes of others A foolish person must make the mistakes on their own.”
What should I do?
The tour is still about 6 months away, yet I am sure you feel the excitement building. Do your ears perk up when the international news come on TV? Do you find yourself going to the school library to look up exactly where the different cities are located in England? If your answers are YES then I think you are starting to get excited about the tour.
Some suggestions for you to help make this trip a truly memorable one is —
(This is written with a wry little smile on my face, wondering what new “stories” will come from this year. It is also written with that “fatherly look” on my face…. I am sure you know the one… (Arms folded across the chest, one eyebrow raised, questioning tone of voice “what time was your curfew?”).
1. Is the Buckingham Palace in the city of London? (this is tricky ...)
2. You should know how to ask important questions ....
Where am I?
How do I get to... ?
and the most important question.....
Where is the bathroom? (In London this may be easy ... but Paris .....)
3. You should realize that the world does not revolve around the United States. (Go to the library look at the GLOBE see how the U.S. fits in) (although a very important country in the world ... America is not the center of the world)
4. London has 8-10 MILLION people in the city. (Some of these people may not be of the “take them home to meet mom and dad type of people” USE GOOD COMMON SENSE / KEEP SAFE)
5. The more you know / learn about the cities before we get there, the more enjoyable your trip will be. (go to the library pick up a few books on each of the cities we are going to be visiting)
6. Heed ALL the suggestions made by the tour director. There are only two rules — Rule 1. The Director is always right. Rule 2. If you disagree with the Director refer to RULE 1! (In future issues, suggestions will be made in the areas of what to bring, how much to bring
7. You should have your passport or applied for your passport... if not... get going on this.. your should have filled out all of your Emergency contact information and sent it in... You should have sent in your front facing photo (head shot) .... You should have taken our the travel insurance... These are things that should be completed the first part of February. Also a reminder that all travelers need to have a total of $2000 in their travel account by January 15th and $2500 in their account by Feb. 15th. The final balance is due 60 days prior to departure.
Next Month's Newsletter ... Topics .... Flight Itinerary; What to pack; More about Luggage; Safety; Money ..... and more