Sat. March 21, 2009
Sunshine and blue skies greeted us as we awoke to our first full day in country.
After a typical Dutch breakfast (eggs, bread, butter, jelly, cereal, milk and juice), we were off to Amsterdam. We arrived on time for our scheduled tour of the Ajax Arena. The tour took us through all the various areas of the Arena and culminated with a group photo taken down on the field.
Following the tour, we headed to the Youth training center at Ajax ( The Futuro ) and we watched a training session of the reserve team. The pace of the session was very lively, with high intensity and plenty of competition on the field. Our group was very impressed by the session and loud the players were during the session. Intensity and communication were the 2 most significant aspects of the session.
After the training session, it was back to the Arena for the Ajax Museum tour and a visit to the Ajax gift shop. After making our purchases, we were off to downtown A,sterdam and a Canal cruise. Amsterdam is truly a unique city in the world and our short visit did not disappoint. The volume of pepoplem and bikes, were awesome. The Canal cruise gave us an overall impression of Amsterdam and then our short shopping spree put us dead center amongst the volume of people. We all wished for more time in Amsterdam, but our schedule did not permit it. We were off to Doetichem, about a 2 hour drive back to near where we started from, for our professional game (De Graafschaap vs Heerenveen. We ate at a restaurant along the way and the ribs and schnitzel filled everyone.
The game was awesome -- small stadium, filled to capacity with passionate home fans, cheering their team on to an upset-victory. Kick-off was 8:45 local time. The walk up to Stadium was through a wooden area, which would not resemble anything we have back home. Bikes lined the trees at the edge of the walkway and the crowd was building as we approached the stadium. Great game - 2 - 0 win fot the home team, who desperately needed the 3 points. It was a clash of the bootom of the table home team vs the 4th place team in the league. The players and fans both celebrated the victory.
Back on the bus for the short return trip to our 'digs' -- it was after midnight when we arrived back and the adrenaline from the day's activities, kept sleep away for a little bit longer/
Today, Saturday, we start with a late breakfast at 9 am, a vidit to the War Cemetary, and then off to 3 hours of training and playing at a facilty near Eindhoven, the site of our professional game tonight -- PSV (Eindhoven) vs Vitesse (Arnhem) -- should be another great game lloaded with atmosphere and passionate fans.
more later, after the day's activities. Everyone is doing fine and settling in well.