Friday, September 30, 2016
Up, Up and AWAY!
Wednesday & Thursday, 28-29 September, 2016:
EuroBall adventure VIII officially started on Wednesday, with some GREAT news.
When I checked my e-mails that morning I was excited to find out that my new club, Madrid's Osos Rivas, had finally signed a Head Coach for the 2017 season.
Not just any Head Coach mind you but highly regarded Jesús Sanchez who had done a magnificent job coaching the Gijón Mariners the past few years.
Laurie and I had met with Jesús over dinner when we visited Gijón back in May, 2015 and found him to definitely be one of the good guys.
With Jesús in Gijón in 2015
I am very excited to be coaching with Jesús the next two months
Camarillo Cronies for lunch
As tradition has it, I always have my last meal on USA soil before embarking to another EuroBall experience with a stop at this fine dining spot.
The Walberry Salad and the unlimited Diet Cokes were perfect!
Paparazzi at LAX
As I said goodbye to Laurie and headed towards the Security Checkpoint, I was swarmed under by glaring lights and a horde of cameramen yelling out questions. You can see a camera held high just to the left of my head.
At first I wondered how they knew about my imminent departure.
Then I realized that they were not there for me.
See that young, long striding woman with the high heeled boots to my right? Turns out that her last name is Kardashian.
Apparently she is world famous too.
The first leg of my trip was an 11 hour and 25 minute flight on Lufthansa from Los Angeles to Munich, Germany.
A baby about four rows in front of me cried and screamed off and on for about seven hours of our journey.
I scored an aisle seat in a two seat row next to a 20 something year old woman who packed about 100 lbs. on her 5'2" frame.
YAHOO! I had the space that I needed.
There seemed to be a lot of German speakers on board for some untold reason.
Because this airplane had a wider aisle than normal, I did not suffer any of my usual bumps and bruises from out of control fellow passengers sashaying to and from the restroom.
Lufthansa's selection of movies, TV shows and music actually made for a trip that seemed to go by much faster than usual.
Oktoberfest 2016 about to kickoff
Once in Munich/München, things went with typical German efficiency. I was the only person in line at customs and sailed through in about 30 seconds.
Unlike LAX, the Munich Airport is so traveler friendly with a smooth metro system to get you quickly from one terminal to the next.
Of course Camel sponsors the
Munich Airport Smoking Lounge
I had an hour and 15 minute layover, then I was off to my final destination . . .
. . . MADRID!
Lufthansa Flight 1804 was scheduled as a two hour and 45 minute affair.
I scored another aisle seat this time next to relatively round fellow like myself. The aisle on this flight was narrower than the one on the trans-Atlantic flight leading to several bumps and one really hard ramming of the beverage cart by an out of control flight attendant right into my kneecap. Later she would spill part of a coffee cup onto my eating tray.
Fortunately for me, she did not spill any of the java on me.
Lots of Spanish speakers on this flight.
No crying babies made for a good flight.
Temptation in the Madrid Airport
100 Montaditos is a fast food tapas chain in España. I wanted to but Enrique Martín Alonso, the Osos President, was waiting to whisk me away to the magical sights of the Spanish capital.
Go Osos GO!
First up was a rush hour drive to the southeast Madrid suburb of Rivas to check out . . .
The Osos A Team's
I had been there once before in February of 2010 to watch the Osos beat the Sueca Ricers in a Serie A game. I was spending a few days in Madrid then on my way to coaching the Thun Tigers in Switzerland.
Osos B team Home Field
in the northern Madrid suburb
This is also the home field of the Royal Oaks Knights, one of the Osos' feeder programs run by Marco Chomón who we would meet up with for a typically European late, two hour dinner.
Lots of track and rugby activity
at the Alcobendas facility tonight
I sense a possible Brian FitzGerald track clinic in Spain soon.
Time to eat with some key
Osos club members
Nothing like regional food from my Spanish grandparents' home province of Asturias to start the adventure.
THE adult beverage of Asturias
We went through more than a few bottles on this warm night.
Our table inside a HUGE
L. to R., Enrique Martín Alonso,
Ricardo Martín and Marco Chomón
On my the left Daniel Vilches
The croquetas stuffed with queso cabrales were AMAZING!
So was the Fabada Asturiana
A good meal with good new friends is a great way to end a long two days of traveling.
with Vanessa and Daniel Vilches
They are hosting me in their home, the Villa Mapache, for a few days until my apartment becomes available.
They are good people.
12:20 a.m. Friday morning was a good time to finally go to bed.