After our loss to Brazil in the qualifier, we chilled in Poland for a few more days and waited for the Polish National team’s commitments to end before heading out with them to their national training centre.
We drove about 2 and a half hours to “Woodge” (that is how they say it, but I can guarantee it is not how it is spelled!) where we had planned to spend a week of intense training with their teams. We had a wonderful drive with “Guba” one of the athletes on the second team and stopped off at his favorite restaurant for some serious eats! We had INCREDIBLE steaks with a wheel barrow load of potatoes and then went on our way again!
We stayed at Michal Kadziola’s place which was actually a bachelor suite. Space was limited, especially with multiple suitcases each and our sleeping arrangements were cozy to say the least. Chaim and I shared a tiny pull out couch and Michal slept beside us on his double bed; we were sardined.
Our training wasn’t great but we were able to hit their team’s sauna and physio to recover from broken backs due to our sleeping arrangement. Food was delicious as we went out for dinner each night and explored some traditional and new cuisine downtown.
We also had a great night playing poker in a local “sheesha” place were we sucked back lightly on light flavored tobacco while lounging on eastern style couches and pillows! I am not a great poker player but I wound up playing well and going all in on what I thought was a sure thing, but got out played by the team’s rookie! ARG! I hate it when I can’t determine the outcome of something through physical competition. I settled for 4th place and had a wonderful dollar pint of beer to soothe my aching ego.
We continued training in Poland until Thursday when we decided it would be better life and career choices to head to the Czech Republic and compete in a local tournament about 30 minutes outside of Prague. I have some great friends there by the last name “Benes” who are actually the people who brought outdoor volleyball to Czech! The family is a beauty and the two brothers (one of whom is still competing at the top level today) have played for years and over time have created beautiful four court beach facility on a lake with a club house and stadium seating. With the invite to stay near their courts and live for $20 dollars a day, we couldn’t refuse!
So at 7 Thursday morning we left Micha’s house and took a train to Warsaw and then connected on a train to Prague. The journey was lovely and we had a six seated cabin to ourselves for napping, watching Band of Brothers and reading to pass the time. Twelve hours of train riding later we arrived in Prague and blindly followed directions to Pnov where the Czech national tournament was being held.
We arrived safely and our gracious friends provided us with a ride to our hotel. We proceeded to down some amazing Czech fruit juice and then hit the sac to make up for five nights of terrible sleep on a foamy the size of my wallet.