Monday, May 14, 2012

Ghent G-Spot Ultimate Tournament

G-SPOT (Gentle's Supreme Party Oh-yeah Tournament) in Ghent made for a great weekend!

As I had predicted, we began our travels as sleepyheads.  After having practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night last week, I headed to Hannah's apartment after Thursday night practice so we could all go to the airport together super-early Friday morning.  After showering and eating something we got about two hours of sleep until Max got to Hannah's apartment at three something Friday morning.  We got dressed and did our final packing.

By four o'clock we were in the taxi, speeding our way to the airport.  Seriously though, our taxi driver was going 160 kph+.

We checked our bags, went through security, and sat down to wait.

Pretending to be happy at 4:30am after 2 hours of sleep!
When we arrived in Charleroi, Belgium; here's the first thing I saw out of the window:

Rain in Belgium!
From the airport, we took a 15-minute bus to the train station.  We then took two trains: one to Brussels, then from Brussels we went straight to Ghent.

Waiting at the train station
When we arrived in Ghent, we threw all of our luggage in a locker at the train station and walked around the old part of town.

Church of Saint Nicholas

Saint Bavo Cathedral

And then we found somewhere to go for lunch.  I was seeing higher prices than in Madrid, but somehow we found a restaurant with a really great 11 euro menú del día:

First plate: Vegetable soup (soooo delicious)
Second plate: Fish and salad
I was pretty full after all of that, but then we each got a huge bowl of fries after the second plate.

More walking around after lunch:

A type of knitting-graffiti, knitted to the railing on a bridge in town

A carnivorous plant!

We bought some groceries before heading back to the train station to grab our luggage.  Then we hopped on another bus which took us to the campsites/tournament grounds.

We were the first to arrive at our campsite, so we took advantage of the green space and threw around for a bit before we set up the tents.

The rest of our team arrived later that night.  We went down to the tournament's main tent to eat the baguettes and meat we had bought earlier, then busted out some moves on the dance floor in the tent (though I'm not the one with photo evidence of said moves...)

Disco ball in the main tent
The next morning we played our first game at 9am.  Bright and eeearly.  We played a total of four games that day; I'm not sure if we won any.  We were surprised to find out that our final game on Saturday was against the other team from Spain present at the tournament, a team we have played against many times at tournaments within Spain: Fendisc.

Other than being a bit chilly during the nights, we actually had pretty good weather (for Belgium).  The people putting on the tournament told us that it's rained every day for the past month up until this weekend.

The theme for that night's party was "tight".  Not sure what that means?  Here's what some party-goers wore:

On Sunday we had our first game at 10, and our final game at 12:30.  There was gorgeous sun all day on Sunday.  This time our final game was against a team we had already played on Saturday.  We lost the first game and won the last, coming out 19th of 20 teams in the end.  

After every game in the tournament, each team fills out a spirit sheet to rate the spirit of the other team.  Our team took 8th place out of 20 teams in terms of spirit!

We all had a good time and I think everyone learned something that will help improve their play that weekend.

Little did we know, after eating lunch we were not done running for the day.

While we were packing up our tents and getting ready to leave, a teammate was calculating how much time it would take us to get from one place to the other.  It was a bit complicated: First we'd have to take a bus or taxi from the camp grounds to the Ghent train station.  From the train station we'd need to take a train to Brussels, then Charleroi; and finally from the Charleroi train station we would need to get to the airport.  It was past 3pm and our flight left at 6:25pm; the gate would close at 6pm and we had bags to check.

There was a train that left Ghent at 3:30.  The next train didn't leave from Ghent until four something, and with the train schedule from Brussels to Charleroi, there was no way we would make it to the airport on time.

Now it's 3:10.  Someone says, "We have 20 minutes to make this train, or we're missing our flight".  People are still taking down tents, and I'm doubtful that we'll ever make it.  We had wanted to call a taxi, but we didn't have the local number for a taxi.  But by this point, if we called a taxi now, there wouldn't be time to wait for it to arrive.  So we just got everything packed up as fast as we could and speed-walked out of the campgrounds, down to a main road towards a bus stop.  Now it's three twenty-something.  We're at the stop for no more than 10 seconds when a bus comes (what luck).  We hop on and are headed to the Ghent train station.

While on the bus, we look at all of the schedules again and try to decide upon a plan of action.  If we take the later train, could we just skip the part where we check our luggage, pretend it's our carry-on and pay the 50 euro fee to check it when we board?  Nope, we had knives and stuff; there was no way we'd make it past security with the luggage we wanted to check.  Then someone tells us: "Ok.  Guys, when we get to the train station, run.  Just run."  It's 3:29.  The bus approaches the train station and we're grabbing all of our luggage, ready to bolt.

Carrying all of our backpacks and suitcases, as soon as that bus opens its doors we run run run!  Someone glances at the screen at the station and says "Platform 9!  9!  9!" and we all run towards platform 9.  I'm at the bottom of the escalator going up to the platform when I see the train moving.  Our teammates that were at the top of the escalator thought the train was leaving.  To our surprise (and luck) the train had just arrived.

We hopped on; sweaty, exhausted, and momentarily relieved.  

Exhausted after running to catch this train
We still had the problem of getting from the Charleroi train station to the airport, but someone knew of a bus that went from Brussels-midi directly to the Charleroi airport.  It was 13 euro/person.  So we hopped off a couple stops earlier than planned to take this bus.

Across the street from the bus was a taxi-van that said they charged the same rate as the bus.  So the seven of us pile in this taxi and we're off!

Smiles in the taxi
We had so much luck that afternoon; we had every reason to miss our flight.  Once we arrived at the airport we made our flight with no problems.  I'm sure everyone slept soundly Sunday night.

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