I think it’s about time for the next instalment; you’ve all had time to gather your thoughts and comprehend the idea of six basketball players, a golden rabbit, and a stalker with a Nikon all heading to the Marijuana capital of Europe- and whilst representing their university… what could go wrong?
Safely on solid ground, we’d managed to fly pretty much under the radar and the one reason you’d expect our centre player to be noticed (his height) was evidently nothing in comparison to his snoring. As the whole plane turned in their seats questioning whether the engineering was faulty, #35 bashfully nudged Perez to bring him out of his slumber, whilst the rest of us were doubled-over trying to contain our laughter.
At this point, the only barrier that remained between us and sweet sweet freedom was passport control and immigration. Four English, one French and two Nigerian players… guess who we had to wait for. Yep, that’s right, #11 appeared to have great difficulty operating the automated passport machine being too tall for the camera… and you thought it would be the non-EU team members.
Finally on the train to central Amsterdam, and being designated ‘tour leader’, I was tasked with getting us from the station to our hostel. Maybe now would have been the perfect time to tell them the 4G on my phone wasn’t working. With no address or sense of direction, I put on a confident walk and big smile, then picked the route that looked busiest. After 10 minutes with no luck and some hungry guys, we picked a quaint little eatery and stole some much needed free WiFi. Being a little quirky, this café served its food ‘deconstructed’, so your cheese sandwich came as two slices of bread with the cheese on the side. The confused looks as the waitress served our lunch were priceless and the time it took for us to figure out that the strange roasted vegetable on our salad was a carrot was unforgiveable.
Safely in our accommodation, it was time to pick our roommates, pray we had towels and see if I could fit into the locker; Adam drew the short straw (sorry Ed), Perez was left with a hand towel and, surprisingly, I could. The first night pretty much went like this, we ended up at a pub eating ‘bitterballen’- a delicacy perfectly summed up by the waitress when asked what they contained, ‘I don’t really know for certain’- I had made reservations for a restaurant that closed down and we finished the night off playing go-fish, word association and, finally, beer pong. Dat fast-paced student life, right?
Our first full day started with breakfast of course, which Justin was way more excited about than any average human, I’ve never seen someone grin so much over cold toast, unidentified sliced meat and ‘vitaminless’ orange juice, as the hostel labelled it. Next stop? You take them to Amsterdam hoping they’d have a cultural experience and they all want to go to Dunkin Donuts. At least they had fun tugging at a red leather shell suit displayed outside a very ‘questionable’ shop if you get my drift, but there were a few concerned faces when Ed announced to the group that he’d wear it as a normal tracksuit…
After a few minor (significant) unplanned detours- okay okay we got lost again- we arrived at our first team activity, a Lover’s Canal Cruise 😊 2 hours of culture and history delivered through the world’s most uncomfortable little red plastic earphones. Soaking up the educational trip, Perez, surprisingly, drifted off into peaceful sleep as soon as we sat down until we stood back up again, now that is value for money! The rest of the group jumped on that selfie moment.
Now what? We’d eaten the donuts, sailed the high seas and poked a sleeping centre. Time to get smashed at the Heineken Experience! Erm, I mean time to learn the detailed process of beer making. So, here’s one thing I learnt about these guys, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, they will NEVER pass up an opportunity to stand in front of a TV screen to play FIFA, even if it takes up a good hour of your time in a museum. Elsewhere, the bunny got into some trippy territory during the interactive section of the tour and Justin enjoyed the fact that three of our group didn’t cash in their two free pint tokens.
Staggering through the city, we all safely reunited in the same bar as the previous evening, with the same beer and the same strange Dutch delicacies. All that was left, was to find dinner, it’s understandable that I didn’t get a say in the matter this time around. Chips in a cone and ‘Wok to Walk’ it was, all crammed into one room playing word association until we couldn’t any longer. You try and play a talking game with two Nigerian, one French/American and four British accents- for the record, when someone shouts ‘Wok’, you can’t retaliate with ‘Run’.
834 words and counting, looks like you guys will have to hang around a little longer to find out how we lost our fixture, if Perez can stay awake on the flight home and for some separate updates on our past few games.