To Albi or Not To Be

After our eventful ride to the airport, it was back to business as we were on our way to Albi, France for our 4th match of the season still looking for our first win. We ended up needing 5 games to do it, but we no longer have a goose-egg in our record! Our team has moments of brilliance, and stretches of really nice play, but we’re still working on finding our confidence and being able to finish things when the game gets tight.

We had a long wait on Sunday before our 5 pm flight, so our coach and President took the girls who wanted to (which ended up being just the Americans) into the city center of Albi to see the Cathedral there. Albi is a smaller city in France and it’s old, but that means it’s go some real character to it. And I was surprised to see how large and beautiful the Cathedral is. There hasn’t been a Cathedral in Europe that hasn’t impressed me thought. Whether it’s the size, structure, architecture, art or designs, there is something unique and gorgeous about each and every one.





We also poked our heads in the art gallery of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a famous French painter who is known heavily for his works based off the Moulin Rouge and other French theatrical life in the late 1800s.

It was a quick trip around Albi before we headed back for team stretching, but it was nice to see another city in France, especially knowing that I will likely never see this place again. Makes me remember that every moment counts so you better make the most of it.



We were on our way to the airport last Friday for our match the next day. Our President Monique was driving some of us in a van they call ‘Frank the Tank.’ Frank is old. Not just kinda old, like SUPER old. The sliding door in the back falls off the hinge every time you open it. There is duct tape ALL over. The engine is behind the front seats. And he sounds like a construction yard while driving.

Anyways, we’re on our way to the airport, and I start telling Mira the story about how last year in Vienna, the bus broke down on one of our trips and we never made it to the match. It ended up being a pretty funny story that involved a lot of waving at trucks and riding in Austrian police cars, but I was hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with another breakdown.

Well, I spoke too soon! Literally, as soon as I was finishing that story, we hear a ‘POP!’ and white smoke starts billowing all in front and even in the car. PANIC MODE. We had just pulled off the airport exit off the highway. There was lots of shocked faces and grabbing of bags. Tiff, sitting closest to the door was urged pretty aggressively by Coop to “OPEN THE DOOR AND GET OUT.” We were still rolling up the off ramp and into the roundabout. Tiff definitely considered jumping out of the moving vehicle for a second and then decided against it (we weren’t going very fast at that point and stopped maybe 40 feet ahead of us on the curb). But as soon as Frank got stopped on the curb, it was EVACUATE mode. The panic had subsided at first, and then we realized we really don’t know what’s going on or happened, what if it blows up?? So I grabbed my bag and jetted out of that van and away into the grass.

Thankfully our President’s husband was following maybe 10 minutes behind us in case of such an emergency. I guess Frank had made some questionable sounds in the first 5 minutes of our drive so they were on semi-alert. But we waited in the cold for the pick up to finish off the last 3 minutes to the airport. After that initial scare, it was all laughs and smiles about how ridiculous the past 20 minutes had been.

The Prez trying to sort things out


Reaction from Coop

Tiph and Alex’s Reaction

RIP Frank the Tank. I only knew you for a short while, but boy did you make an impression.

Paris Perspective

Good news: The season has begun!

Bad news: We’re 0-1

Good news: I finally had Starbucks!

Bad news: My iced chai latte was ice-less

Good news: I went to Paris!

Bad news: This was my view of the Eiffel Tower

I promise you, that little nub in the middle of the picture is the Eiffel tower. No, not the light post, the tiny vertical line to the right of it.

Although I may be contradicting all my good news, it was an exciting weekend and I can definitely say it showed a lot of potential.

We hit the road on Friday in a couple of vans to get to Paris, about a 4 hour drive. On the way (while stuck in traffic) we spotted the top of the Eiffel tower in the distance! It was both super exciting and so anti-climactic. It was so far away and tiny that it probably should’ve been considered a let down, BUT that’s not gonna stop my fun. We were still PUMPED to sneak a peak and try to get pictures.

That night after dinner at our hotel, being the American and former Seattlite that I am, I made a request to our coach about making a Starbucks run if one happened to be in our area. We got the green light: Starbucks was maybe 1.5 km (10-15 min walk) from our hotel. HALLELUJAH!  [fyi I LOVE Starbucks and have a serious weakness for Iced Chai Lattes with soy milk] So off we set, our 9 matching players and 2 coaches for an evening jaunt to Starbucks. I spot that glorious green sign in the distance only to find out… it’s CLOSED!

It was 8:56pm the second we got to the doors and apparently it closes at 9pm. An employee was sweeping out front and our coaches and teammates asked if they’d serve us but to no avail. Then it was my turn to try some begging, “But, I’m from America!” (bad choice). In a smart ass tone, “Oh, and there’s no Starbucks in America?!” Oops. We, as a group, go on to explain there is no Starbucks in Nantes. While that’s going on I decided to step into the open door of Starbucks and shuffle up to the register where a barista is by the register and putting away some pastries. I, ever so sweetly, asked “Pleaseeeee, would you mind if I get an iced chai latte? It’s so easy, just pour the concentrate and milk together with ice and it will be perfect. Please!” She stared at me for a few seconds and asked: Ice? YES, please 🙂 We don’t have ice. Okay! No ice works!

Starbucks 😀

So I got my ice-less iced chai latte, and it was still DELICIOUS 🙂 And the rest of my team ends up mosey-ing into the store and getting simple drinks as well. Bonus points for Starbucks and those employees! (except the first guy who discouraged us, boo to him)

Onto game day. It ended up being a pretty jam packed day for us. Started off with breakfast, then some quick film, before we headed to the venue for practice. At the gym, we had to take some pictures for the league or tournament first (side note: it is so difficult when photographers say “Okay, now do whatever you like.” Deer in the headlights is always the first reaction). After a lot more waiting than planned, we had our 45 minute pre-game practice, and sped back to the hotel. We didn’t have much time to squeeze in lunch, rest, film, packing up, and a snack before departing the hotel, but we managed.


We played our first match against a team from Mulhouse. They finished 2nd in the league the past few years and are a solid team. We came out really fired up, knowing that we have the ability to compete at their level. We took the first 2 sets, and then just ran out of gas and dropped the match in 5. It is so frustrating, and we had a match point opportunity in the 4th, but it wasn’t meant to be. Really wanted the ‘W’ but it was an exciting match, a respectable way to open our season, and its good knowing that we can and will be much better as the season progresses.

Also, I need to note how AWESOME our fans are! We had a solid following of 30+ Nantes-ians(?) who made the trek with us (not to mention family and friends from other cities) and had drums and flags and kept the neutral site rocking in our favor for the match. Can’t wait to play in front of them at home!

Afterwards, we had to go directly back to Nantes. Grabbed dinner on the road and got back to the apartment around 3:20am Like I said action packed way to start the season.

Even though things may not have gone as picture perfect (achem, literally in regards to the Eiffel Tower and photos) it’s all about perspective. It was an exciting and promising start to our season… I plan on seeing the Eiffel Tower up close next weekend, getting that Chai Latte again with Ice, and taking that win back in the rematch. I like what the future holds!

Entering the gym

One Long Week

This past week has been a whirlwind! Over the course of Monday-Saturday we have had a total of 24 hours of training, be it volleyball, lifting or conditioning. Needless to say we were so beat by the end of it. The highlight of the week, however, came Wednesday and Thursday- we took a trip 2 hours north to a city on the North shore of France called St. Malo for a scrimmage.

We drove up Wednesday afternoon and were drooling over the cute little town we came upon. It’s right on the water with lots of ships and traditional French architecture- the skinny pedestrian-only cobblestone streets. Souvenier shops, cafes and restaurants on every corner. I love this stuff!
We walked down a few streets to have a cafe for snacks and a drink before setting off to the gym for practice. Seriously couldn’t stop gawking and saying, “Oh my gosh, it’s so cute!”
We had practice that evening and afterwards had to spend 20 minutes working with kids from the area. I love doing that stuff, but it’s always funny doing it in another country. The kids are never that comfortable with English so I get to use lots and lots of hand gestures and movements. Best part of the session- setting a girl that had a ‘New Brunswick’ t-shirt on- that’s the city I was born in! I asked for a picture with her, pretty sure she thought I was nuts.
After dinner that night, we took a stroll from our apartment/dorm thingies we stayed in to check out the view of the ocean. We ‘ooh-ed’ and ‘ahh-ed’ the entire way with all the buildings, and we hit the shore just in time for sunset! It was gorgeous.
The next day we had conditioning and practice in the morning and a scrimmage that night. With more than a few hours between the time we needed to be at the gym and no apartment/hotel thingy to stay in, our guide lead us to a park that overlooks the water. Not exactly how I like to get a pre game nap in but it was neat to see the the brilliant blue cove on a gorgeous day.
Then we headed to a different cafe to kill another hour or so and grab a drink and some snacks to fuel up. Have i mentioned how much I love the little cafe’s? Adorbz.
That night we won our scrimmage in 5 sets. For having very limited personnel (7 players: 2 setters, 2 middles, 1 OH, 1 Opp, 1 Lib) and being awfully tired from all of training it was a good win for us. The gym was nice and there was a decent crowd for 2 teams not from the city. We get to play the team again next week as well. The only downside of this trip was leaving the gym at 11:30 pm after eating and not getting home until 1:30am… with an afternoon practice awaiting us.  But we survived!


Jazz Fest

On Sunday we had a much needed day off and instead of being completely lazy all day, Kristy, Coop, and I drove into the city to check out the Nantes Jazz Festival. Our President had mentioned it and invited us to join him the week prior. We’re no jazz or classical music know-it-alls but I’m always down to check out little events going on around town.

One of the stages on a barge in the water

It ended up taking place around the Erde River which runs through Nantes. There is a small island (l’île de Versailles) in the middle of the river that the fest centers around.

Blue Stage from afar


A rough translation about the festival from the website (

The festival is both a reflection and a pillar of cultural life Nantes.

For four days, on the banks of the Erdre, the festival welcomes players of the cultural and social life Nantes: showcase their projects, it supports and is a partner.

There were maybe 8 stages up and down the river, all with different types of music playing: jazz, classical jazz, blues, mixed jazz, electric jazz and others. Along with all of the stages there were many stands for food and drinks as well as the restaurants on the water. It was tough to just walk by some of the fresh crepe stands and artisan bakeries along the water.


One of the local taverns (Muscadet is the local wine made in the area)




It was a really nice day to walk around the town and check out some of the culture. I LOVE that Nantes is located on the water; seeing the boats docked up along the sides of the river is so neat. And the music was alright too 😉 We didn’t listen too  much to any one stage, but the band playing a blues set was jamming for sure.

Some older couples started to dance across the way from one of the bands. So cute.

After 2 good days of training Mon/Tues we made our way to St. Malo, France and have a friendly match tomorrow. More on that later!