Saturday, March 10, 2012

Salvador Dali Museum & Tour of the city of Girona

Our last day in Barcelona and we toured the Dali Museum. The artwork was a mix of genius and insanity. It took about two hours to walk through the entire museum. From the museum we headed to Girona where we spent the afternoon doing some last minute shopping, having lunch outside and touring the city. It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to end our trip.

It is time to pack and get to bed early...bus is leaving for the airport at 6:15am!

See you back in the states! Thanks for all of your support while we have been traveling!

Tour of Camp Nou & Day in Barcelona

This morning we started our day with a tour of Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona. We were able to walk through the museum, read about the history of the club and get a closer look inside the team’s operations. We had access to the dressing room (or locker room as we call it at home) and the media room. We saw all of the trophies won by the club including the World Cup trophy from South Africa in 2010. A fun fact we learned was that all of Spain’s 8 goals in the World Cup tournament were scored by players from FC Barcelona. Of course we ended up in the gift shop and then boarded the bus to head into the city.

Once in the city, the bus left us in front of the Hard Rock Cafe and we all split up into smaller groups to walk around and sightsee. A few of us took the metro system back to the Sagrada Familia for a chance to tour the inside. The cathedral was even more stunning than when we saw it from the outside. The team strolled up and down Las Ramblas and stopped at the fresh market for a look into where the locals might buy their produce, meats and fish. There were some interesting options to say the least. The street vendors and local shops were very happy to see all the tourists ready to spend money!

At 7:00pm we met back in front of the Hard Rock Cafe and headed to the Olympic Port for a team dinner. At 10:00pm we were all stuffed from the food and sleepy from a long day of touring the city, we boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel.

Simmons vs. Espanyol

Tonight’s match was a well fought battle between our team and the prestigious, Espanyol. We played in Mataro and had a big crowd of the local club teams watching us. The children were cheering “Go Simmons” and the manager of Espanyol was very gracious towards our team. We had three officials from the Spanish Federation controlling the match. The opponent had 2 players that were very fast and play for the Catalan semi-professional team. Kerianne Acheson served a nice ball across the field from left to right that found Carolyn Berndt waiting inside the penalty area. Berndt stayed composed and scored a great goal to get us on the board. While we dropped the match to Espanyol, it was surely an experience that our team will never forget.

After the match, the locals cooked us an “authentic barbecue” and served us a buffet style dinner right at the field.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vineyard and Montserrat

This morning we headed to the vineyard of Codorniu, where cava was first produced. Cava is the Spanish word for champagne that came about when France started suing everyone that was producing the beverage and calling it by the French name. Cava is produced by the same methods as in France. We toured the cellars and saw how they first made cava in 1782. It was all a manual process back then and they produced it bottle by bottle. Nowadays the machinery and technology allows them to work with 840 bottles per pallet. they produce 50 million bottles a season! We rode an electric car through the cellar and tasted two types of cava. one was made with chardonnay and the other with pinot noir.

After visiting the vineyard, our group headed to Montserrat (translated as serrated mountain). this mountain is made of limestone and sandstone and is known for housing the Benedictine monks. After the civil war, it was the only place that the Catalan language was allowed to be spoken. The monks have taken a vow of poverty and work printing books and religious papers. they have no worldly possessions.

The patron saint of Montserrat is the "Black Virgin" and she is sitting with baby Jesus on her lap in the top of the church. The church is magnificent with stained glass, statues and brilliant architecture.

Tonight, we are headed to Mataro to play Espanyol, one of the most prestigious women's teams in the area. Wish us luck!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simmons Soccer witnessed MESSI break records!

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: FC Barcelona vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Tonight we headed to Barcelona to watch the FC Barcelona take on Bayer Leverkusen. This was a quarterfinal match in the UEFA Champions League and possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity as our seats were 5 rows from the pitch!

Messi (#10), currently known as the best player in the world, scored 5 goals including 3 in the goals right in front of us!! Tello added 2 goals on our end which put Barca up 7-0. Our tour guide, Clive, told us this was the most goals he has ever seen in a Champions League match in his 30 years of watching Barcelona play.

For all the astonishing feats in his young career, Lionel Messi had never scored five goals in a professional game. And no one had ever scored five times in a Champions League match.

Our team witnessed history at Camp Nou.

Final score: Barcelona 7 - Bayer Leverkusen 1

Tossa de Mar

We headed north of Lloret to a coastal town known as Tossa de Mar. The bus winded its way up another hill where we then walked through the shops and eventually landed at the beach below a castle and a lighthouse. The views were breathtaking and the team used the scenery for MANY photo opportunities. I think we may have a few aspiring models/photographers in the group.

At the top of the hill there is a statue of Ava Gardner, who was a famous actress and girlfriend of Frank Sinatra. She also had a reputation for her infidelity and eventually her and Sinatra called it quicks.

We winded our way back through the town before enjoying a cold drink beachside. Some of the girls stopped by the local pastry shop for something sweet.

On our way back to Lloret, we stopped at the botanical gardens and took in more incredible views from the top of the hill. There were statues, greenery and water fountains which made for some more photo opportunities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Simmons vs. Lloret Women

After spending a half day touring Barcelona, we had a few hours off to rest before our second match. We played at Lloret Stadium this evening against El Lloret Women. Our team dominated the first half with multiple shots hitting the crossbar. At halftime it was 0-0. Wellie Antonellis put the Lloret women under tough pressure and forced them to give us a throw in deep in our attacking third. Wellie threw the ball in to Justine Beauchamp. Justine pulled a move on the opponent's defender and served a driven ball across the face of the goal where Ally Ayotte came streaking in to shove the ball in the back of the net! The Sharks maintained a 1-0 lead until about 10 minutes left when the Lloret women served a ball diagonally over our backline to a speedy front runner who took on Ashley Wheeler one on one. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Following the match, we walked to a local pizzeria for dinner and we watched some Champions League soccer on tv with the locals.