The Geneseo Women's Soccer team travels to Iceland and Belgium this summer to not only compete against some elite-level club teams in exhibition matches, but to also learn about the local culture and enjoy the experience of a lifetime. Rising sophomore midfielder Hannah Sullivan '22 takes us along on the team's journey as a travel correspondent, describing all the sights and experiences of the Knights.
DAY ONE - May 21, 2019
The Geneseo Women's Soccer team has found its way to Iceland! After a late-night flight, we arrived at our destination at 9:00 a.m. Iceland time, four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Our overall excitement ultimately trumped any tiredness that we may have brought with us off the plane. We all knew we had a fun day, and trip, ahead of us!
Right from the airport, we headed to Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. It was safe to say we were all very excited. The spa, although a popular attraction among visitors, was not really near the city. In fact, it sat by itself in the middle of the rolling plains of lava rocks and moss. Perhaps this added to the effect though, for the pristine blue water that flowed in and out of the property was simply spectacular. The two hours spent there were probably the two most relaxing hours ever. We took in the steam, did some mud masks, and were sure to get a few pics of the surrounding landscapes.
After Blue Lagoon, we went to check into our hotel in Reykjavik. It was located right in the city, so we weren't far from the many eateries and unique shops. After getting settled, we went on a walking tour and had some hotdogs (a supposed Iceland specialty.) We then were given some free time, in which we explored the harbor and the city itself. Once again, the landscapes we saw were remarkable. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day, so we headed back a bit early to get some rest; however, I don't think anyone realized that the nights here don't get dark. They have 20 hours of sunlight a day. Still, the blackout curtains did their job. Although day one is over, we can't wait to see what is in store for the next week.
DAY TWO - May 22, 2019
Today was filled with lots of activities. After a nice breakfast in our hotel, we all headed on the Golden Circle Tour. This tour, done via bus, would allow us to see some of Iceland's most prominent features, including a national park, a massive waterfall, and geysers! Our bus driver/ tour guide was very nice and had a lot of information to give us, whether that be regarding the country's size, history, climate- you name it! It didn't take long for us to get to our first stop: the national park. Thingvellir, the park we visited, was filled with rich history and amazing views. Our tour guide explained how it actually used to be the site for Iceland's Parliament for quite a few centuries early on. She also told us that this park contained a rift caused by tectonic plates, one of which was actually the North American one. So, in a way, we weren't too far from home after all. As we walked along the paths, we were not only able to see the rift, but we saw vast lands and bodies of water. We crossed some bridges and climbed some decks to get views from all angles. The journey through the valley was definitely a hike, but it was so worth it.
Next, we visited the Gullfoss waterfall. We all have seen Letchworth State Park and Niagara Falls, but this was truly something else. Pictures don't even do it justice. Just from hearing it, you could tell it was one powerful piece of nature. The waterfall had two major drops, which only made it two times more awesome. We were able to see the water from both above the drops and on level with them. We got wet, but a little water never hurt anybody. We walked around for a bit, exploring and taking plenty of pictures. Eventually, we headed to the bus so we could go to our last stop of the day.
Finally, we headed to the Geysir site, where we had lunch and explored the hot springs. We were advised not to touch the water, due to its extreme temperatures. There were really one one active geyser, but it was constantly going off so everyone got to see it at least once. We then hiked up a big mountain, looking down at all the other tourists. From where we were, you could see everything. Even on our own hill, the nearby mountains looked huge. After climbing around a bit more, we headed back to the bus.
The last event of our day was our game. We would be playing a very prestigious team from one of Iceland's best clubs. We travelled to the facility and got ready to play. The team we were playing, as we would soon find out on the field, was extremely skilled- both technically and tactically. Although we were competing against them, it was so interesting to witness their different playing style and form of play. It was a tough match, but I think we got a lot out of the experience. We even got to talk to some of the women afterwards.
Tomorrow is a traveling day, as we will be flying to Belgium. Can't believe we're already two days into our trip!
DAY THREE - May 23, 2019
It was our last morning in Iceland, so people were up early to get some last minute sight-seeing in. After breakfast, a bunch of us headed towards the huge chapel that sat on a high hill in the city. The bells were chiming as we made our way across the yard. Architecturally, it was beautiful. We all had to stop numerous times in order to take in everything- both outside and inside. In the main hall, there was a giant set or organ pipes that were high on the wall. It was insane!
After this, we left and decided to stop at a few shops on our way back. We even stopped at a bakery that had a myriad of baked goods in the windows, with decorative street art covering its exterior. Obviously, we had to go in. For me, this was one of my favorite things about the city. Many of the buildings were all different colors and had murals and paintings all over the place. It was so interesting to look at.
Eventually, we headed for the airport to depart for Belgium. The flight wasn't took long, and within a few short hours, we were in a new country! Currently, we are staying in Brugge. Tomorrow we are going to explore the city and play a match, so it should be a good time
DAY FOUR - May 24, 2019
When we arrived in Brugge last night, the city was like a ghost town. We rolled our suitcases down the cobblestone streets, looking for people or any night life; it was all quiet. This morning, however, the city was bustling. With the streets being a bit on the narrower side, it seemed you were always looking out for people, cars, and even horses. As we took a tour in the morning, we watched as many of shops and cafes began to open. There was so much to see. Our tour guide was great when it came to telling us origin stories and historical facts about many of the city's features. She took us to many of the notable spots, including a huge gothic church, the main market square, and around the river.
We were only going to be in Brugge for one day, so we tried to make the most out of it. After having lunch at a small cafe, we went back to the hotel to grab a map and explore the city on our own. We went to explore many different sections of the city, taking lots of pictures and trying to make the most of our time. Overall, I would say we did a good job at navigating our way through this busy city. Some might think traveling in a group of 15 girls is difficult, but I think we managed just fine. We all got to see the things we wanted to see, and we were sure to stop and buy some chocolate and waffles! In case anyone was wondering, authentic Belgian waffles are amazing. Much different from the ones in America, that's for sure.
Later, we went back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and explore the city on our own. As we walked around, it was interesting to see a lot of the "shopping" stores close and for some of the restaurants to open up. This was a bit curious. Eventually, we found a spot for dinner. The meal was great, but the interaction was a bit of a challenge to say the least. I have to give a lot of credit to our server for dealing with fifteen English-speaking women so well. There were some miscommunications here and there, especially when it came to paying the bill (split checks are not a thing.) It was quite the experience, but an overall positive one. After dinner, we continued to walk around the city. We found a small park where you could see the Eiffel Tower even more clearly. The sun was setting and it made for a beautiful scene. We then moved on to get some gelato (delicious) before heading back for the night. It's safe to say Paris is off to a great start.
DAY SIX - May 26, 2019