March 19, 2013
Halo from Germany! We started off our day visiting the World War II Memorial where the Dutch had dedicated a plot of land in recognition of America's role in liberating the Netherlands. There were 8,301 headstones total, 179 of which were stars of David while the rest were Latin crosses. There was also was a beautiful reflecting pool sitting before a 101 ft memorial. The statue of a mourning woman stood before it as well, with three doves, and a war destroyed tree all made of bronze.
On the sides of this memorial were large marble memorials that had names of the 1,722 men that were missing in action. An interesting thing we learned was that the people of the Netherlands actually "adopted" the tombstones of our soldiers and occasionally go decorate the tombstone with flowers. It was truly a moving experience that we will all take with us for the rest of our lives.
After visiting the memorial, we transferred to the city of Maastricht. Hub, our dashing tour guide, gave us a brief guided tour of the city and its many defensive walls from historic battles and invasions; then we were free to amble about the city of Maastricht, shopping and taking in the culture. To our surprise, they had many of the same shops we have: Steve Madden, Vans, Claires, etc. And of course they have the wonderful smelling candy and waffle shops. They had waffles with chocolate melted inside them, topped with soft serve vanilla ice cream! We met back at the bus around 1:30, and traveled to our game versus the German club team, FCR Duisburg.
Although we lost to Duisburg 2-0, we had a lovely dinner with a great chance to intermingle with the foreign players. We learned the phrase "I love milk" In German, or Ach Lieberdache milk (spelled as it's pronounced), while we were able to contribute the phrase "I would like to buy a hamburger" to the Germans' English vocabulary.
It's amazing to be in a country where the love for our sport is in the forefront of a culture rather than an afterthought. The best part about playing in a different country is learning different styles of play. Soccer is such a versatile sport that can be played in so many ways. We definitely admired the passion these girls have for the game. They've been raised in environments where soccer is all they know and the sport of the country. It was very exciting learning, adapting, and playing with some amazing girls.