Aug. 6, 2011
PRAGUE, Czech Republic -
The Purdue women's basketball team arrived safely in Prague, Czech Republic, on Saturday morning, right on time but a bit sleep deprived. The Boilermakers and their entourage departed West Lafayette, Ind., on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. and due to the trans-Atlantic flight and a six hour time difference, arrived at the Prague airport approximately 9:15 a.m. CEST.
Friday was Antionette Howard's birthday and her teammates greeted her at the bus with party hats, since it was a bit early in the morning for cake.
Friday's bus ride to Chicago's O'Hare airport was an uneventful one and included watching the movie Soul Surfer, the inspirational story of surfer Bethany Hamilton's comeback after losing an arm in a shark attack. Things got a little more interesting from there. Head coach Sharon Versyp, assistant coach Nadine Morgan and supervisor of operations Terry Kix were having lunch at the O'Hare airport when they noticed smoke coming out of an airplane on the tarmac and passengers and crew using the evacuation slides and running from the plane. Several fire trucks and emergency vehicles were still on the tarmac when the flight carrying the Boilermakers departed.
The flight from O'Hare to Frankfurt, Germany, lasted a little over eight hours, but there were plenty of in-flight entertainment options and meals to keep the group occupied. There was not much sleep to be had, but a quick turnaround in Frankfurt and a 45-minute flight to Prague kept everyone alert and eager to begin experiencing Europe.
In Prague, the group gathered its luggage and breezed through customs, where it was greeted by Basketball Travelers' hosts, Johnny and Jane Lokaj, who are from Slovakia. A charter bus was waiting and the Boilermakers were treated to a bus tour of Prague between the airport and the hotel, which is located in the heart of the city. Jane has been studying in Prague and she provided an informative narrative filled with historical information about the city and country. Johnny was able to impart practical information on local customs and tips.
The group then checked into the hotel and had time to shower and get settled before setting out for Old Town Square for some sightseeing and lunch. The weather was overcast and threatened rain upon arrival in Prague, but by the time the group re-emerged from the hotel, the weather had turned warm and sunny.
With Jane leading the way, the student-athletes checked out the square and then headed to a mall for some shopping. The rest of the group split up to explore the area and get some much-needed exercise after long hours of sitting.
The evening was capped off by dinner at Taverna Toscana, the oldest Italian restaurant in Prague. The Boilermakers were led to a private dining room in the lower level which featured a grotto style with large rough-cut stone walls and decorations resembling the look of homes in Tuscany.
The team ate well and had more energy than most of the adults in the group, but by the end of a delicious, but leisurely meal, everyone was ready to head back to the hotel to catch up on some much-needed rest.
On the agenda for tomorrow is a boat tour of the Vltava River, some free time for sightseeing before departing for a contest against Slovanka at 5:30 p.m. Check back to purduesports.com for a game recap on Sunday, followed by a blog by junior Sam Ostarello on Monday.