Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Visitors in Europe: Mom & Dad Visit!

Mom & I on one of our many walks during the week.

  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's a special time. Whether it'd be friends or family, anytime someone comes to Europe for a visit, it's always marked on my calendar with bright colors and multiple exclamation points.

  Coming from the States to Europe is a difficult trip to make. It's not cheap, it's a LONG day of travel (especially when coming from the Northwest), and it requires a decent amount of vacation time to make the trip worthwhile. So I understand; it's a major commitment.

  Last week, I had my parents visiting me in Dunkerque. Both of them, at the same time, for the first time since my second season in Italy (2005, for those of you keeping track).

Dad & I in Bruges.
  While having visitors is always a great time, it also presents a few challenges as well. I'm in the midst of my basketball season, and that doesn't take a pause just because I have visitors in town. I have to find a balance between entertaining, and continuing to be prepared to do my job. I have to try to keep my legs rested, but you don't want your visitors to be bored. So many times, I end up on my feet a whole lot more than I'm accustomed to.

  Though, I can tough through having tired legs during practice, if it means a few familiar faces come for a visit.

What to do?
  If you have the opportunity, you take your visitors to the best sights around your area. If you happen to have a little extra time off, you might be able to travel a bit further outside your day-to-day radius.

Dunkerque harbor.
  But your week continues status quo. You are at the mercy of your coach, and your schedule. When my parents were here last week, we had practice two times a day most of the week. So I went to work, came home, and then tried to get out and show them something around town. And then went back to work a bit tired.

  With not much free time during the day, it made entertaining somewhat difficult.

  On my off day, we enjoyed the sunshine on the beach, and drove to the Belgian town of Bruges when I had a free morning during the practice week.

  For me, here in Dunkerque, I have it easy. When in doubt, go to the beach. There is always something to interesting to watch. You can always go for a little walk, assuming the weather is just a little bit cooperative. 

  But also within driving distance are Bruges, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, and London (though, that's a bit more tricky to travel to).

Game Day
  When game day rolls around, it's even more exciting when you have family/friends in the stands. It adds a little bit of pressure because you want to play well. Having people from home in the crowd makes it feel more real, or count more for you on a personal level. 
Early morning walk!

  Many times, no one from home sees any video, or pictures, of your games. With people in the stands cheering for you, it feels a tad more important because they are there in the flesh. You can't just dismiss the game with, 'oh, it went okay...' and then change the subject when Skyping. Your family and friends are there, and can judge for themselves how the game went, and how you played.

  It's kind of like: "If a tree falls in forest and no one is around..." Here it's: "If you play a game, and no one from home sees it..."

  So you want to perform well, and give your friends or family a good show.

  You always look forward to visitors coming. It gives you something to put on your calendar to look forward to (besides the weekly Saturday games). But the time always goes entirely too fast. 

Bruges, Belgium.
  It's fun to show friends and family a bit of your lifestyle and your day-to-day life abroad. I don't find my days too exciting, but it's fun to show them the things you have to adapt to while living in a foreign country. And it's always nice to have them meet your teammates, see the streets you drive everyday: it gives them a reference for when you say, "I'm going to the store" or what the gym looks like when you have practice.

  I am always very thankful when family and friends are able to visit, and never want to take it for granted. I love being able to share my experiences in Europe with them, and spend some special time with them.

  If you're ever in the neighborhood, my door is always open!

Bruges. "The Venice of the North."
At the dunes.
At the dunes.
WWII bunkers. Just a mile down the beach from my apartment.
 A pretty rainbow one afternoon.
Always something on the beach.
The North Sea.

Atop the dunes.


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