Next stop Amsterdam!
Thank goodness we all slept in and didn’t meet until 9am! That was great! Breakfast was a wonderful buffet complete with delicious, healthy and tasty options.
Our bus wasn’t leaving until 1:30pm so we had some free time to read, sleep, watch tv, hang out and make new friends. At 12:45pm, we ate a boxed lunch and then loaded the buses for IAD (Dulles Airport) nearly an hour away. It was an exciting ride because you could feel the buzz and excitement in the air! Upon arrival at IAD, we came up with a line-up system so that each athlete would always have 1 person beside them to make counting easier and to also look polished when we walked.
We were greeted by special volunteer staff who were going to escort us to check-in and get us to our gate. We were soooo grateful! We got all of our luggage and again followed the system set up by Coach Liz to expedite the check in process. It went really smoothly. One thing the athletes didn’t really understand was why Coach Liz was collecting their passports after every TSA check-in or customs counter. We explained that replacing a US passport is a huge deal anywhere and better to have all of the passports held by one person to minimize the potential to lose any. We explained that and moved on.
We were escorted to the gate and the athletes promptly dropped their carry-on luggage and in pairs, went to find something to eat in the terminal. We eventually boarded the flight and prepared ourselves for the 8 hour overnight experience. For the most part, the athletes fell asleep after watching 1 or 2 movies and having dinner. It was a quiet and uneventful overnight for all of us!
We landed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Holland) in the morning and prepared ourselves for the 7 hour layover. Slowly, we moved to the new gate after clearing customs. Gate G73 was REALLY far away. Wow! It was almost as far as gate 47 in JFK! We decided to find a spot called the Amsterdam Rainforest Park about 5 minutes from our gate. It had nearby restrooms, internet-enabled computers, wifi, comfortable chairs to grab a nap, an enclosed play area, a few restaurants and plenty of space for us to spread out. It was PERFECT! It even had ambient sounds from the rainforest.
The athletes dropped their stuff off and went to explore in groups. They returned pretty quickly because they were tired. A few cards games later, almost all of the athletes feel asleep. A few resisted sleep by doing homework, reading or just being restless. Eventually, 16 out of 16 were out for a few hours. Coaches Joe and Liz stayed up talking & catching up on emails. We wooke everyone up with lunch around 12:30pm and then grabbed our carry on luggage and walked over to G73 about an hour before our flight departed. We met other athletes from SO-USA and even got a special shout out from KLM airlines. Other passengers applauded. It was great! We settled into our seats and prepared for the last of our flights for this leg of the trip. It was only 2 hours to Vienna. Some napped, others listened to music, while others read. It was quiet and restful.