Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Season / New Country / New Adventure

Hello from Portugal!

Jen and I are starting a new adventure in Portugal and decided to write a blog to keep our friends and family in the loop about what we are up to over here. We will post pictures and give little updates about our experiences and adventures. We kind of dropped the ball towards the end of our blog in Slovakia so this time we are going to try harder to post more consistently. We hope you enjoy it, and we would love to hear from all of you!!!

(Tina): Jen and I left the United States last Saturday. I flew from Phoenix to London and then London to Lisbon. It was a long day but nothing to complain about. I have a hard time getting good sleep on airplanes, but I was able to take about a 4 hour nap on a bench in London so that was nice :-) I arrived in Lisbon around 10:30 at night and was met at the airport by my coach (José) and the director of the team (Sara). It’s always a little interesting when you’re flying to a foreign country and you don’t know the people who will be picking you up, but I immediately felt comfortable with José and Sara. Both of them speak English which is extremely helpful! They drove me to our apartment and helped me get my baggage inside. Then we went out for my first meal in Portugal – McDonald’s. :-) It was after 11:00 at that point, so not much else was open. Normally, I NEVER eat McDonald’s in the United States, but there’s something about being overseas that makes McDonald’s taste so much better! After dinner they took me back to my apartment. I was tired, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t go to sleep until I unpacked all of my stuff. I finally got to bed around 3:30 in the morning. Sara and José picked me up around 8:00 the next morning to go get Jen from the airport.

(Jen): I left from Los Angeles late on Saturday night and flew to Philadelphia. I had a long layover in Philly so I got a hotel room to stay in for the day. When I arrived in Philly, I took a shuttle to the hotel, went to Denny’s to get some food, and then went to Mass. After Mass, I hung out in the hotel until my flight later that night. I arrived in Lisbon around 9:00 am Monday morning. I was excited to see Tina and meet my coach. I was pretty hungry so eating was near the top of my priorities. We dropped my bags off at the apartment and then went to a small café near the gym. Sara told us that this café had really big ‘toast’ which turned out to be similar to a Panini with chicken and cheese. When we ordered drinks, Tina got her usual agua, but I decided to get an ice cold chocolate milk – or so I thought. They asked me if I wanted the chocolate milk “fresh,” but since I didn’t really understand what “fresh” meant, I just told them that I wanted it cold. The next thing I knew, the man who worked there took a cold bottle of chocolate milk and heated it up with the espresso machine. I didn’t know what he was doing at first, but when I touched the bottle, it was really hot. Note to self: Now I know that fresh means cold and cold means hot! :-) When we were done eating, we went over to see the gym since our team was in the middle of morning practice. We didn’t stay long since Tina and I were both pretty tired. We went back to our apartment and took naps before practice that night. All of our teammates are nice and easy to talk to. Practice was a little tough for Tina and I after long days of traveling, but it felt good to get a good workout. After practice, we went out to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with Tina, José, and Sara to wrap up a great first day in Portugal :-)

(Tina): We didn’t want to make this first post too long so I will just wrap it up with some random information/stories:

The club that we play for is called Algés. Apparently, it is a well-known club in Portugal, but it is not only a basketball club. They have gymnastics, swimming, judo, and all levels of basketball (boys, girls, men, women). It’s fun walking into practice and seeing a whole bunch of little kids running around. There is always something going on at the club.

The people that we have met so far have been amazing! Our coaches, teammates, GM, sponsors, the doctors and nurses who did our medical exam, the people we met at the grocery store, etc. have all been so helpful and friendly! There is also this one old woman at the restaurant where we eat who gives us tons of kisses and talks to us in Portuguese when we see sweet! We are looking forward to continuing to meet more people and getting to know them better.

We made our first trip to the grocery store which is always fun in a different country. Sara dropped us off at Lidl. We were excited to see Lidl because it was a common store in Slovakia so it was something familiar. We got basic groceries there but then decided to walk to the other grocery store that was nearby called Continente to see what they had. Continente had a lot more to choose from in terms of fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. We bought a few more things and then started walking back to our apartment. The walk from the store to the apartment is all uphill. We had our bags from practice and a lot of groceries so we probably stopped about 5 times for short breaks. It was not the most pleasant walk, but we needed food!

We are trying to learn our way around the city, and I think we’re doing pretty well. We have figured out the bus schedule to get to and from practice so that’s exciting! We were successful in getting to practice the first day we took the bus, but we learned an important lesson after missing the bus on the way home from practice. It’s not enough to just be sitting at the bus stop – you have to get up and sort of flag down the bus if you want it to stop! :-) After missing the bus, we decided to walk back to our apartment which turned out to be a great walk. We were with one of our teammates who is super sweet! I was pleasantly surprised to see that I sort of knew where I was going, too!

The weather is incredible!!! It is warm during the day and cool at nights. For those of you who know me, you know that I do not like extreme heat!!! You’d think I would be used to it after living in Arizona almost my whole life, but I’m not. Anyways, I’m loving it here. Jen and I were talking after practice the other night about how the weather is so perfect that we could be wearing shorts and a tank top or light pants and a light jacket and either combination of clothes would be comfortable. That’s good weather! :-)

Jen and I are still trying to get on a normal sleeping schedule. Her first night here we had every intention of going to bed “early”, but we ended up talking until about 5 in the morning. Each day we get into a little more of a routine so by the end of this week, I think we will be fully recovered and adjusted. With that said, I’m going to get ready for bed since it’s almost 1:30 and we have practice in the morning!

Thanks for reading our first blog!!! We’ll write more later this week! God bless all of you!

~Jen and Tina

Right outside of our gym

At dinner with a teammate

Our view from the bus stop

Our street

Taking a break!!!

Walking home from the grocery store

Outside of LiDL

At Continente


View from the front door

Tina's room

Jen's room

Living room

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