Today we went on a bus trip to Klagenfurt – pronounced clog’n fooooot : ) – and along the way we stopped in Graz.  Now if anyone is not familiar with the European celebrities, there was a very famous actor/governor that hails from Graz.  Can anyone think of who it may be....?

I shall give you a hint: “I’LL BE BACK... ”

Yes it’s none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hometown/village. Unfortunately, we did not make a quick stop and visit the house he grew up in, we were in a bit of hurry to get to our games on time.
 
The women’s volleyball team in Graz was fairly good. This was no recreational team.  They had uniforms, a paid coach and were all within two or three years of one another.  We went 2-2 with them. Though it was still fairly early in the trip and I had only seen a few European teams play, both volleyball and basketball, I will say this for Europe, they start them early and teach them well.

After the match we were informed that our opponents were 15-18 yrs old!! Yes, they were in high school and contending with our USA team that had all collegiate athletes.  Of course this irritated and impressed me all at the same time! I had to remind myself that in Europe, they start earlier and are more demanding than in the states. Also they were a set team that plays and trains at least twice a week together, as opposed to my hodgepodge team that met three days prior.


 
We were given time to shower and then we went out to eat with the opposing team. I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the trip because the whole point was not only to go over play ball, but also to learn about other people and their cultures.  

Most of them spoke English quite well. They had been taught since they were in 6th grade! I believe we as Americans are just beginning to do the same. Anyways, it was interesting to find out about their home life, academic curriculum and expectations and the opportunities that they have when it comes to going off to college and earning a degree.  

Long story short, life is simple there, they take  a lot of pride in what they do. There are a lot of family owned businesses and farms and as far as "going to University" as they say, it is highly encouraged. They typically attend the local university, which are substantially cheaper than most in the states.
 
After dinner we said our thank yous and goodbyes, gathered back onto the bus and continued on our way to Klagenfurt. We arrived late to our family friendly getaway resort, unloaded the bus and tried to the best of our ability to locate our lodges in the pitch-black darkness. That was quite an adventure in and of itself.  

Eventually we found our lodge and the first thing I did was check the place for bugs and step out onto the porch to say goodnight to the moon. The night sky reminded me a lot of South Dakota, due to the seclusion of the area the stars shown bright and seemed so close I could touch them – if only I had my rocket boots –  :)   

I couldn’t wait till the morning so I could see what was really out there in the mist of the darkness. I tried to use my other sense to figure it out, you know, based on the smells and animals sounds... Yeah, even though it was a good thought, as you can imagine, no luck there :)  
In the morning we headed to the Alps and the plan was to blaze the twisty windy dirt trails in our huge tour bus. Now THAT was interesting!

Mackenzie Angner