Aug 20, 2013
By Sarah VanMetre, Assistant Director of Public and Media Relations
The first day is complete! I have had some long days before, but this one might take the cake. Not that I am complaining, but as soon as I am done writing this, I am headed for a long night's sleep!
The trip started yesterday (Monday, Aug. 19) with a practice at the William Davidson Player Development Center, followed by a dinner before leaving for the airport at 6:30 p.m. EDT. We started boarding our flight at about 8:20 p.m. and finally took off at 9:50 p.m. We were in the air for a little over seven hours, some of us sleeping the whole time and some of us struggling to get a little rest on the plane. We hit ground at 10:58 a.m. Central European Time, which is six hours ahead of Ann Arbor.
After getting our passports stamped, claiming our luggage and walking through customs, we met our tour guide Richard and headed off on the hour drive to the hotel. We took the loop around Paris, much similar to what we have around our large cities in the U.S. It was not the most direct way to the hotel, but it would be the fastest. While we were driving, we were told that about half the city of Paris is gone for the month of August, almost like an unofficial city holiday. Because of this, traffic was not nearly as bad.
We arrived at our hotel and our first matter of business was to find some food. We split up into groups, with my group ending up at a crepe restaurant. I had a ham, cheese and egg crepe...it was to die for! Strength and conditioning coach Bo Sandoval was nice enough to share his dessert crepe, which was filled with chocolate and bananas. That was quite a way to start the trip.
After teaming up with some of the rest of the support staff to buy cases of water at a local mini-mart, it was time for the whole travel party to reconvene and take a bus tour of Paris. It was awesome to drive around the city to see the different sites that Paris is known for. We caught a glimpse of the only skyscraper in Paris and then got a chance to hop out at take photos at the Les Invalides, a military hospital with a gold dome.
Following our picture binge, we continued all throughout the city, passing by everything from the Louvre to Notre Dame to the opera house. Our only other foray outside of the bus was when we were allowed a few minutes to take photos by the Arc de Triomphe. That is so much bigger than you think it is when you see it in person.
We finished our drive on the way to the Latin Quarter, where we ate at Chez Clement. We dined on salad, beef bourguignon, bread and creme brulee. So far, French cuisine has lived up to its billing of being amazing.
With a little time to spare before our river cruise, we were allowed to explore for about 30 minutes on our own. Most of us just wandered around, taking in the different stores and buildings around. After we all gathered again, we were off for the day's final adventure: taking a cruise down the Seine River.
Our cruise started at 9 p.m., which was pretty much the perfect time. The sun was setting for the first half of the trip and it was dark for the other part. It was so cool to see Paris, the same city we just explored for several hours, in a completely different way. I was sitting next to some of the players and there was a couple near us who had a dog with them. It was fun to see the dog take in the scenery while eating cookies that its owner kept giving it!
That was it from today...like I said, it was a long one but it was awesome. It has already been so much fun to see everyone in a different environment than we get to see every day. I can't wait for the rest of this trip. Tomorrow, we hit the Louvre, play our first game and go up the Eiffel Tower. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates throughout the trip!