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Pompeii and the Island of Capri

By Chrishawn Orange
Augustana men’s basketball

We headed down to breakfast and it was good but the best item at breakfast was this sausage wrapped in breading. I know this doesn’t seem like a breakfast food, but it was really good.

Next we took a stroll down the hill to get on our bus to go to the historic site of Pompeii. Pompeii is a remarkable city because of what happened to it. The Roman city was covered by the volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD causing 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash to bury the city. It lay undisturbed for nearly 1800 years until rediscovered by the Spanish. The city is perfectly preserved as it was when the eruption occurred. Only about 40% of the town was restored and the rest they try to keep from being destroyed.

After this amazing trip to Pompeii, we headed to another place called the Isle of Capri. We took a hydrofoil boat to get to the Island of Capri which was pretty cool, because we could see the places we have been in Italy thus far. Once we made it to the Island of Capri we had some free time.

I took a couple of the guys and headed to a restaurant where I had the best pizza I have ever had in the world. The freshness of the sauce was truly incredible. After that we headed to the higher points of Capri, where we then had some amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea and the rest of Italy. At the top of Capri we were looking for a beach where we could relax and unwind because we’ve already seen so many amazing things. Our quest for the beach was altered when we couldn’t find one in the upper Capri, so we traveled back down to the lower part of Capri and finally got our relaxation time. We spent some quality time with each other and really soaked up what we were seeing.

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The Amalfi coast

By Chrishawn Orange
Augustana men’s basketball

My day to write and it began with a wake-up call at 7:30 a.m. from assistant coach Jordan Delp. He told me in the most monotone voice I’ve ever heard “wake up”.

We headed down to breakfast, which was pretty good. They had croissants with lemon powder on them and it was the best croissant I’ve ever had. From there we lined up in a single file line and started our morning walk down to our bus, so we could visit one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world – the Amalfi Coast. On the busiest street in Sorrento, because of the people heading to work, our bus driver was making tight turns and not at a low speed.

Traveling on the bus we were able to see some breathtaking views. The kind that look like they belong on a post card. Seeing views we have never seen before and at some points it almost looked fake because of how beautiful they were. With no sun out there was a calm fog on the water and it made the scenery look very majestic.

When I looked out onto Mediterranean Sea I couldn’t tell where the water ended and where the clouds began and it was truly unbelievable. Driving to Amalfi Coast we ran into some major traffic congestion. At one point we almost crashed into another bus and the locals around the area helped us maneuver out and we made it to Amalfi Coast in one piece.

There was bumper-to-bumper traffic and we were barely moving. With all of the houses on the mountain it created a vertical city. This was remarkable because in city of Positano all of the houses are on a cliff. It’s crazy to see how people built a city on a mountain and with the limited technology they had it still is maintained today. We maintained a positive attitude, despite the slow going, because of all of the picturesque views we saw along the way.

When we arrived at the Amalfi Coast, we split up into groups. I enjoyed my day at Amalfi Coast with fellow sophomores Nolan Ebel (Regis Jesuit HS, Englewood, Colo.) and Pierson Wofford (Springfield Lutheran HS, Springfield, Ill.) and Nolan’s parents. We all went out to lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant. There I had an unusual dish that I wasn’t sure, if the combination went together until I ate it. It was ham and cantaloupe and it was incredible.

After lunch I met up with my roommate Dylan Sortillo (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) and we went down to the coast-line to take the famous picture we always see other people take. The kind when they are in the water and the beautiful building are in the back.

We headed back to Sorrento where we finished our day doing some shopping. This is where Coach Delp made his first purchase of the trip and bought his mom a bottle of olive oil.

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Leaving Spain, barely

By Dylan Sortillo
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was our last day in Spain. It was such a good time that it was certainly hard to leave but a little easier knowing that we get to spend the next five days in Italy.

Leaving Spain was kind of an eye-opening moment in realizing how surreal this whole trip is. As we prepared to board the bus to head to the airport, we reflected about how lucky we all are to be in this position. We are getting to explore some of the most amazing parts of the world with our best friends and get to play the game we love while we do it.

It’s crazy to think about the places basketball has taken us and this trip, specifically, has made us realize how blessed we really are. And of course none of this would have even been possible without the extraordinary support of our parents, other family members, coaches, and Augustana College.

Not only was Spain a blast but we also learned a ton of new information about the history and the culture by experiencing it first-hand. The one thing that became extremely evident was that absolutely none of us actually knew how to do the salsa. Although some tried like senior Michael Hoekstra, it did not go over so well. Besides our less superior dance moves, it was special to interact with the local people and see their everyday life and what it would be like to live in Spain.

Now, Spain was incredible but I think it’s important to mention we did nearly get left there.

As we sat at our gate 20 minutes before our flight was to leave, nobody seemed to realize that the plane wasn’t there and we were the only ones at the gate. Mrs. Giovanine made the biggest play of the trip thus far; bigger than any basket or shot, by doing some research and realizing our gate had been switched. We rushed to the appropriate gate and made it just in time.

When we got to Naples we got onto a bus and headed towards Sorento, Italy. After a scenic drive we approached the town that sits right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea with enormous mountains on all sides. The layout of the city with houses of all colors scattered in all directions and hotels and shops directly lining the coast overlooking the endless crystal blue water. As we stopped and took in the view my fellow junior and 100% Italian friend Joseph Ranallo and I agreed it was probably going to be one of the most beautiful sites we’ll ever see in our entire lives.

Yesterday I talked about the winding roads of the Monterresot but today we will have to multiply that times 10. I actually personally shook the bus drivers hand for being able to maneuver through the mountain and beautiful villages that looked straight out of the movies. Finally it got to the point where it was too tight for the bus to fit, so we had to get out with our luggage and walk single file the rest of the way to our hotel, Hotel Spicy.

Once we settled in we got back in our single file line and headed to the city to explore the shops and city center. One of the biggest hits was a world famous Gelato shop that nearly everyone explored before dinner. For dinner at Hotel Spicy we got our first taste of the wonderful Italian food. For starters we had bruschetta, followed by pasta with gnocchi and mozzarella. At this point many of us thought we were done and began to head to our rooms. Little did we know we still had grilled Italian sausage and potatoes to eat and even chocolate powdered cake to finish it off for dessert.

Tomorrow we look to explore more of the beautiful sites of Italy as we visit the Amalfi Coast.

This amazing journey continues.

Go Vikes!

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Last day in Spain, remarkable sights and a win!

By Dylan Sortillo
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was an unbelievably eventful day filled with breathtaking sights and good times.

First we started off the day with a phenomenal breakfast provided by the hotel, then embarked on our journey to our first stop, Montserrat. This religious site is one of the most popular of the religious pilgrimage sites in all of Spain. This in itself is cool because of the vast history behind it so we were all extremely excited. Excitement grew from most of the guys as we whirled and winded on a narrow two-lane road in an enormous bus nearly 4000 feet into the sky, providing an amazing view we’ll never forget.

Once we arrived at the Monesserat we split up into our own groups. Some guys, including myself, and even some guys terrified of heights conquered their fears and hiked even further up the side of the mountain to check out the layout. Others checked out a museum that included paintings from world famous artists such as Pablo Pacasso, Salvador Dali, and Claudia Monet. After, our free time we collectively gathered in the Chapel and took in the moment.

Next we hopped on the bus and headed to our next destination, Sitges, the beautiful beach coastal village on the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the premier athletes and famous people of Spain reside there so you can imagine the quality of the village and the beach. We enjoyed our fun in the sun on the beach and the majestic waters and waves of the Mediterranean. Some (Brandon Schattner) spent a little too much time in the sun and got a nice sunburn.

After an authentic Spanish lunch, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for our nighttime game versus a premier Spanish opponent AET Boet Mataro. The program was recently bumped up to level one professional team, the highest league in Spain, so we knew we were going to have our hands full.

We ate a steak dinner at the hotel and celebrated sophomore Nic Uhlir’s 20th birthday, then headed to the stadium. We brought the energy from the start and jumped out to an early 10-point lead thanks to a hot start from senior Jacob Johnston. He even gave the “finger pistols” after a big three so you know he was feeling it.

But, of course they battled back and even took the lead in the fourth quarter with physical play and impressive European-ball movement. Thanks to solid contributions by everyone, including the energy from the bench and our fans we hung tough and gave ourselves an opportunity to win. Down the final stretch sophomores Pierson Wofford and Chrishawn Orange stepped up big and we were able to pull off a huge 74-73 victory. This was an ultimate grind-it-out game and was really big in bringing us together as a team.

Tonight we will go to bed happy and gear up for our flight to Naples, Italy in the morning.

Overall, our time in Spain was wonderful to us and we even came out with two HUGE wins.

Go Vikes!

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Game day in Barcelona and then a visit to Sagrada Familia

By Jacob Johnston,
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was game day and the Augustana men’s basketball team is now 1-0 at the start of our European expedition.

We had an early start to our morning, with a great breakfast at our hotel, and then made our way to the gym for our first contest at 9:15 a.m..

Our opponent, the European Basketball Academy, had five Americans, so it wasn’t that much different than playing back in the United States. However, how the referees called the game was a pretty big adjustment for us. All you have to do is  ask junior Dylan Sortillo and sophomore Pierson Wofford as they got hit with a few travelling calls throughout the game.

The referees are much more strict on players footwork, which resulted in a lot of turnovers for us. Regardless, we played hard and together and came through with the win with the final score being 84-73.

After our game concluded, we headed back to our hotel to clean up, and then we had some free time to explore the area. With this time we went to local restaurants for lunch, and then went to the beach. The guys really enjoyed the beach and Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.

Following a couple of hours of viewing the city, we got back on the bus to downtown Barcelona for some site-seeing.

Our first stop was at Guell Park, located on the side of a mountain in Barcelona. Here we learned about famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi designed many of the houses of the affluent families in Spain and he lived and designed parts of Guell Park in the ladder years of his life. Gaudi’s focal points in his work were religion, nature, and function, and his work is very unique, so seeing it in the park was very interesting.

Once we finished touring the park, we went downtown to see the Sagrada Família which is an enormous church that Gaudi and other architects worked on. The structure is still being worked on today even though construction began in 1882, and by 2026 it will be completed and will be the tallest structure of Catholic worship in all of Europe. Sagrada Família was so large and unique that words and pictures don’t really do it justice, it was truly breathtaking.

This was our last stop for the day and we went back to the hotel afterward for dinner. That concluded day three of our journey and will continue tomorrow with a day of site-seeing and a game against another professional Spanish team, AE Boet Mataro.

Go Vikes!