Jayhawks in Europe: Anna Church

From May 18-30, Kansas volleyball is embarking on a European training trip aimed at combining cultural education with intense practices and competition. The team will play six matches, sandwiched between training sessions and travel destinations in Italy, France and Spain. The Jayhawks have graciously accepted the task of keeping their fans, family and KU volleyball supporters in the loop on what the team is up to on a daily basis. Check back each day of the trip to hear a different player’s perspective. Anna Church gives the scoop on Thursday.
 Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea
was worth the chilly water.
(Photo courtesy of Anna Church)Day 11 – Toulouse, France to Mataró, Spain to Barcelona, Spain
Long bus rides can sometimes result in a slightly tired and slightly grumpy team. Today, however, this was not at all the case. Overwhelming excitement for Barcelona and our beachside hotel was the only thing that followed the five-hour bus ride this early morning. Kiki’s (tour guide) announcement of “five minutes until arrival” was met with invigorated chatter involving futbol jerseys, the latest swimsuits and reviews of high school Spanish lessons. Personally, I hope I can remember that AP Spanish from junior year of high school!
This hotel is by far the nicest, with a sleek and modern feeling and large (well, larger!) rooms than almost all of the previous hotels. We dropped our bags in the rooms and went downstairs for a delicious three-course meal. Madison Rigdon even tried prawns for the very first time! Following lunch, we got some free time to spend at the beach. It was BEAUTIFUL! The water was so clear and blue, but a little chilly. Those of us that ventured out a little farther out into the water discovered that it was extremely salty, as well. The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most salty in the world, and you can even supposedly float without trying at all. I still can’t do it haha. After lots of picture taking and messing around, we changed into our cutest outfits yet and hopped on the train for the 45-minute ride to Barcelona.
Barcelona was absolutely buzzing with energy. In the centre, we saw thousands of completely diverse people walking the streets. Advertisements were colorful, bright and all over the streets and walls. After the group met, we split up into smaller groups, several of us bee-lining for the nearest store to buy Barcelona futbol (soccer) jerseys. The top names are the top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. FC Barcelona is one of the most supported sports teams in the world with followers spanning over 30 countries. Their record of winning World, Super, and every other Cup in between has led them to be regarded as one of the best teams in the world. Addie Barry was the most excited about the jerseys, literally shaking as she showed us the three that she bought today. Hundreds of shops lined the packed streets and as a whole we made some great purchases, mostly gifts to bring back to families and friends.
Finally we had tapas tonight! Tiana Dockery and I have been waiting, impatiently, for Spanish tapas. We ordered large paellas for everyone and then groups ordered tapas. My group ordered calamari, sausage, wings and aioli potatoes. My favorite was the paellas: large pots of rice cooked in spices and topped with mussels, clams, and the most massive shrimp you have ever seen. I LOVE seafood and shellfish, so it was definitely a treat. The tapas were a hit with everyone, and it was overall an awesome meal. Walking back to the train around 10 p.m., the street was teeming with just as many people as there had been in the afternoon. Barcelona doesn’t sleep.
 Addie Barry showing off her
futbol gear. 
(Photo courtesy of Anna Church)Overall, this was one of my favorite days! As much as we love sightseeing and shopping, the break to the beach was much needed and enjoyed. How many times do you get to say you swam in the Mediterranean Sea?  The energy in the city itself wrapped us up, from the street performers to the skateboarders to the crazy outfits. Everyone and everything here is colorful and alive.

Every day I get to spend with the team and especially on this trip, I am reminded how lucky I am to be here. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to join and am so grateful to everyone for welcoming me! This time with the team has been the best of my life and I couldn’t have hoped for better friends to experience it with.
See you soon Kansas, Rock Chalk all the way from Barcelona!
Anna Church
Coming up on day 12: Tori Miller

Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, the volleyball senior administrator on the trip, added another historical trip to the recount of the day’s events.
Historical Spotlight – Cathedral La Seu
At about 4:30 p.m., we took a short walk to the train station and boarded the train for the 45-minute trip to downtown Barcelona, where we had about three-and-a-half hours of sightseeing time. Downtown is bustling with people, cars, buses and pigeons (in the downtown square).
 Spanish cathedral 
(Photo courtesy of Jim Marchiony)Several of us headed straight for the Cathedral La Seu, so named because the church is the seat of the diocese. Its first stone was laid in the 13th Century, but it wasn’t completed until 1913. Another magnificent cathedral with beautiful architecture and, of course, a massive pipe organ. We took an elevator ride to the roof of the Cathedral to take pictures of the city below.  Very cool.