The dawning of today marked the beginning of the last full faun in Europe before the group invades England as part of the final leg of the tour. The efforts of yesterday at a local hockey shop were no more evident than the packing of the stick bags on the bus this morning as many of the bags which had previously fitted into a particular space no longer did this morning.
Our first planned stop was that of Amsterdam with its bustling cobblestone streets, multi story bicycle parks, all manner of souvenir shopping and the trams and bicycles that must be avoided at all costs.
The group toured the Anne Frank house and tiny secret attic where the Frank and another Jewish family hid from the Nazis during World War 2 in an attempt to avoid the Concentration Camps. The message left by Anne's father was poignant in that he begged people to not only remember what has happened in the past but try to work towards ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again.
From here the group toured Amsterdam's famous / infamous Red Light district which most of the group were agog at due to the openness of the Dutch to this industry.
The day was rounded off with any last minute souvenier shopping required and an opportunity to compare the chip shops of Belgium and Holland. To date our panel of experts has voted Holland the winner.
After three countries and 1,300 kilometres in ten days our time in Europe has come to an end with the group now comfortably ensconced in our cabins aboard the ferry. The top five comments heard during the European leg of the odyssey are listed below.
1 - When talking to a member of the group from /Tasmania a young lady from the group was heard to ask 'do you ever come across to real australia'?
2 - A young lady from the group was heard to ask a staff member 'why didn't we visit the Leaning Tower Of Piza whilst we were in Paris?'
3 - A young gentleman from the group was heard to ask a staff member 'after we finish in the Netherlands, is the next country that we go to Amsterdam?'
4 - A young gentleman from the group was heard to ask a peer which they enjoyed more, being searched by French Customs agents in France or Korean Customs agents in Hong Kong.
5 - A young gentleman from the group was heard to muse 'if we are in Holland and they speak Dutch, then why is the country called the Netherlands?' - Editors note: Good point there.
Land ahoy. With this simple phrase being boomed through all cabins on the ferry at 6.15am this morning the United Kingdom leg of our journey officially began (albeit a little earlier for some peoples liking). The trip from Rotterdam to Hull had been relatively calm despite some initial pitching and rolling most of tge group survived relatively unscathed.
Upon disembarking and clearing immigration and customs formalities we were met with an overcast gloomy day, however unlike Europe at least the temperature was in double figures and there was no sign of the forecasted five to eight cm of rain.
With a number of hours travelling on the bus today many took the opportunity to catch up on sleep. The first stop was in the city of Nottingham Forest for lunch before the group joined the locals in their pilgrimage to the City Ground to watch Nottingham Forest do battle with Portsmouth in the English second division. Upon arrival at the ground the group very quickly acted to soak up the atmosphere and after invading a souvenir tent were all soon decked out in the red and white colors of the locals. Even to the point that the local television station filmed the group believing that we were local supporters.
After being announced to the crowd by the Match Day Announcer as visiting hockey 'dignatories' we settled back ready to absorb the battle that was about to unfold. The game had it all; balls thundering into the woodwork, near misses, great tackles and exciting counter-attacks. Against the run of play and despite having the majority of the scoring opportunities the locals were soon behind (Editors Note: Haven't we all had one of those days). Just when it looked like all was lost for the locals desperate pressure allowed them to equalise which re-energised the crowd. Then with ninety seconds left in injury time they scored again to take maximum points much to the joy of their delirious fans. Many of the group despite confessing that they never watch soccer admitted that the atmosphere and game thoroughly enthralled them.
After a lengthy drive we arrived at our next hosts ready to resume on field hockey action tomorrow.