Women's Basketball Team in Spain

Barcelona, Spain - August 13, 2007. With a full night's sleep, the Vanderbilt women's basketball team went on a full day of sightseeing in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday. Whitney D continues her on-going photo log of the trip to Spain

Whitney D's Photo Journal from Spain

Barcelona, Spain - August 13, 2007. With a full night's sleep, the Vanderbilt women's basketball team went on a full day of sightseeing in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday. Whitney D continues her on-going photo log of the trip to Spain.

The day starts with a breakfast buffet in the hotel's restaurant on Floor -1, just below Floor 0, where the street level lobby is located.

The first stop of the day is Camp Nou, the home of the legendary soccer (i.e., "futbol") club, FC Barcelona. The huge complex includes the stadium which seats more than 98,000 passionate fans, a museum, a megastore, plus venues for other sports, including basketball and ice hockey. Ashlee Bridge, Amber Norton, and Liz Sherwood pause for a photo before going on the tour of the campus.

"Mes que un club" - if you remember your high school Spanish, that doesn't look quite right. . . you might be thinking, "Shouldn't it be "Mas de un club"? Well, no, it shouldn't. The language isn't Spanish, it's Catalan, which ties into the meaning of the sign.

Catalan is the traditional language of Catalonia, the nation that never became a state, in the northeast corner of Spain. During Franco's regime from the Spanish's civil war in the 1930s to the 1970s, the use of the Catalan language was prohibited. FC Barcelona became the rallying point for Catalan pride and cultural identity, and being a fan of a sport became a political statement as well. After Franco's death, the repressive laws were repealed, and now Catalan is the official language in Barcelona. As the sign says, FC Barcelona is "mes que un club."

Down in the megastore, which includes everything from posters to jerseys to Barca-Toons underwear, Tina Wirth, Jessica Mooney, Jen Risper and Coach Balcomb pose for a photo.

If you put together two guards (Jen Risper and Lauren Lueders) and a guard/forward (Tina Wirth), a guards coach, and a bunch of balls, and what do you get? A passing drill, even if the balls look a teeny tiny bit different than an NCAA women's basketball.

The biggest news of the day is that Merideth Marsh arrived in Spain at 9:15 a.m. and came straight from the airport to join the team at Camp Nou. She poses with Amy Malo and Caroline Williams for her first VandyMania photo of the trip.

Just before leaving Camp Nou, the team is about to demonstrate how the famous TV/radio call for "futbol" goals - GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! - might applied to basketball.

Next stop is the Park Guell, where once again the architect Antoni Gaudi left his mark on the city of Barcelona. The original idea was a gated community on the hillside above the city for wealthy homeowners. But after the homes didn't sell, it became a public park.

An architectural work like this raises the question - how can you take a photo that includes people and also mosaics on the ceiling? Amber Norton, Ashlee Bridge, Jen Risper, and Tina Wirth suggested this approach.

Merideth Marsh, Jen Risper, Caroline Williams, Tina Wirth, Liz Sherwood, and Ashlee Bridge pose at the entrance to the park, which was filled to over-flowing with tourists. (If anybody tells you that August isn't a popular tourism month in Spain, don't believe them!)

Merideth had just arrived at a couple of hours ago on an overnight flight from the USA, but she says that she slept all the way across the Atlantic and is rarin' to go.

Next stop . . . It's a bird! It's a plane . . . it's . . . well, what is it? What's everybody looking at?

It's Gaudi's signature work, Barcelona's most famous landmark, the answer to the Amazing Race clue "Look behind the church in Barcelona that has been under construction for more than 120 years." It's the cathedral-in-progress known as the Sagrada Familia.

Because of time constraints, the abundance of tourists in flooding the area, and the fact that the interior of the cathedral is in fact a construction zone, the tour group doesn't go on the inside tour, but, no problemo, there's plenty to be seen from the outside.)

That made it three major sites since breakfast; time for lunch down by the waterfront. The 1992 Olympics rejuvenated the Barcelona coastline, and that's the destination for lunch.

Walking down the promenade on the way to the restaurant, the Mediterranean sea is to the right, and the restaurants and shops to the left behind the palm trees.

Tina Wirth and Jessica Mooney finish their ice cream after lunch.

After lunch, the group loads the bus again and heads northwest of the village of Monserrat, the site of a Benedictine monastery founded around 1025 AD, although the original buidings have since been replaced. The scenery is spectacular, but the primary attraction is the shrine of the Black Madonna located in the church that adjoins the monastery. Ashlee Bridge, Amber Norton, and Jessica Mooney pose for a photo along the walkway leading to the site.

Although Montserrat wasn't deserted by any means, there were fewer tourists visiting the site than at the other destinations within the city.

The shrine for the Black Madonna is at the far end of the basilica, in what looks like a lighted doorway from this viewpoint.

The figure of Mary and Jesus is enclosed in a protective, transparent case, but an opening in the glass allows those who come to see her to touch the sphere in her right hand. Besides being an attraction to tourists, people from all over Catalonia come to her for blessings.

Leaving the monastery and the church behind them, Jen Risper and Jessica Mooney head back to the bus to return to the city.

But the day doesn't end there.

After returning to the hotel for long enough to shower, change clothes, send an email or two and wrestle with questions like, "Can I use my curling iron in Spain?", the group heads out for dinner and a flamenco show. Lauren Lueders, Amy Malo and Caroline stop on the way out of the hotel for a photo . . .

. . . and a few minutes later, Jessica Mooney and Ashlee Bridge do the same. After a day which packed in just about all the sight-seeing activities that will fit into a single day, Tuesday is "on your own", whether it's going to the beach, shopping, or more sight-seeing. Then on Wednesday, it's on to Valencia, for the first basketball game on the tour.

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Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney Dfor VandyMania.com

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