This week was pretty much made up of Mario and I trying to visit and see as many people as we could before we left. This week also featured the wedding services for Mr. Paul Tucker and Miss Kristina Engelstrom. There were around 20 people from the US in attendance at Paul's wedding in a very old and pretty Church in Djuresholm Sweden. The mixed Swedish/American wedding was pretty neat, specially the reception. The reception had an MC if you will and he was called the ToastMaster. Paul's wife, Christina's brother was the toast master. He pretty much ran the whole reception and would ring a bell when it was time for someone else to make a toast. The food was good and everything was nice, as the reception was held at the Djureseholm castle. One highlight of the wedding was the band that played in rotations at the reception. They were called " The All Time Players " and they were all definitely players and all wore top hats and the average age had to be somewhere around 70. Needless to say...they rocked. While I participated in all the wedding activities Mario was still running and working out and doing other little things. Since Paul was getting married there were many people from Pageland in Stockholm and even my parents and brother came. Pat's girlfriend Fernanda even flew in from Portugal for the occasion. So I was semi downtown/airport taxi/club guide. It was neat to be able to show my friends and family places that I have been and things I have seen. Many times when I have been overseas I have wished that I could show my friends and family certain things or share certain experiences and so this time it finally came true. Now that mama and Big Frank came over and spent a few days in Stockholm they can have an understanding of how understandable it is that I come home broke. So everyone was leaving Sweden on the same day, but since I was flying KLM ( Royal Dutch Airlines ) I didn't have the same flights as anyone else. We had to leave the place at 4 am so Mario and I just stayed up all night. We went on a last minute mission with Chief Swole Ankles so that our stay would be complete. It was like the final piece to the Lord of the Rings puzzle or something. Then after that we were on the computer and packing until late. We stopped by the Hilton to get Pat and Fernanda at 4:30 and we also picked up some of the other people's luggage and headed to the airport. Mario flew out at 6:45 and I was scheduled to fly out at 10:35. Thus I was extremely early. Fernanda had to fly out at 4 in the afternoon so I just sat and talked with her for a while before I went to my gate. We both fell asleep on the chairs briefly. Then it came time for me to go so I left her with a 60 minute internet card to keep her busy and I headed to my gate. On the flight home from Amsterdam to Memphis it was funny because about 20 minutes before we landed a gay flight attendant came out with a female flight attendant and they made an announcement that someone in the area I was sitting in smelled like a controlled substance. They were giving out warnings to change clothes and saying that the drug dogs in Memphis were tough. They were saying that this is a common occurrence as people will sit in those coffee shops in Amsterdam and do drugs and then try to fly the next day. I sat beside some woman on the plane that was a vegetarian, so yes, you know I was eating double all the way home. Then when I finally got to Memphis you know the first thing I did was to go get me a good greasy cheeseburger. It made me happy to not have to pay 8 to 9 dollars to get a burger. Ahh...the US again. I caught a plane from Memphis to Charlotte and Mario picked me up from the airport then I headed to the house only to knock out.
This week was a pretty good one. On Monday we ran and lifted as usual. Since I had the camera I took some pictures of the buses & subways that we ride and just random pictures to give you a feel for what we are seeing on a daily basis.
We were riding a boat to get to the Vasa Museum and it was pretty neat because our bus passes also work on the boats as well. So I was able to get some good pics off the boat. You will see pictures from a Theme park called Gröna Lund. Now they have a drop zone which I also got pictures of, that makes the drop zone at Carowinds look like child's play.
So you see we were on our way to tour the Vasa museum. This is a museum of a sunken ship that was recently recovered off the coast of Sweden. We " almost " toured it as our ultimate guide was confused about the time that the museum was open (we are still planning on going back). However this is what the museum looks like from the outside and here's a picture of Mario and our unnamed ultimate tour guides (Oliver & Chief) pointing towards the sign. * Names have been altered for personal protection due to disgrace of being Swedish and not being able to read Swedish times
Since we were downtown and the museum was closed we figured we'd walk into town and mess around for a little bit. While we were walking I got more pics of the scenery.
So that was Monday and was the day that I went crazy with the camera, thus all the pictures. Monday night when I got back I noticed that some Spanish guy had added me to his buddy list on MSN. I began speaking Spanish, but no one responded as it was kind of late when I authorized access on the buddy list. That was kind of strange then on Tuesday morning before we went to run I received an email from the guy. It was a team in Barcelona Spain wanting me to come play with them this coming year. The guy thought I was still in the states when he was emailing me so he couldn't figure out what I was doing up at 4am checking email. Anyways we got on the messenger later that evening and I talked to him for about an hour and a half and he was filling me in on the details. Their season is earlier than Finland and Sweden's and so he said he would want me there in January. At the end of the conversation he said " from what I can see your Spanish is very good " so it was good to be able to converse with him in Spanish and hopefully that will give him extra incentive for wanting me to come. However I didn't sign or anything like that because I still don't know what exactly I will be doing, but its neat to know that I can visit another country if I would like to. Then again I think when am I going to get a real job. Who knows what will happen. Other than that nothing much happened exciting on Tuesday besides lifting and practice. On Wednesday we lifted again and then bummed around as it was raining a bit and then later that evening Mario Santos had us over to his place to eat. It was good to visit with them and eat at their place again. This is the same guy that had me and my cousin David over to eat. So we just hung out over there and he's all into cars so he and Mario were speaking some kind of language I'm not familiar with. Thursday was haircut day and just running and practice. Not too much else worthy of writing about for Thursday. Now on Friday I will to say that we were rolling in high cotton as I have told some of you. Working the connections we were able to be on the list to the annual Crayfish party at the US Embassy here in Stockholm. They said that this is a 30 year tradition. Mario, Coach K, Coach A, Larry, and I went up in there to represent Tyreso, Cali, Finland, Jersey and of course South Carolina. Let me start with the entrance. I was planning on taking my camera, but Larry had said that no cameras were allowed inside the embassy. The embassy is in downtown Stockholm and is fenced in with tall white bars and it had a guard building. The fences around it reminded me of the houses in Colombia and Venezuela and the guard shack reminded me of Liberty..lol. Anyways we had to take our passports just to get through the guard shack. They would only let 2 people in at a time and the setup was similar to airport security. Slide all metal items on the belt and walk through the door. If you didn't work there you had to have a sticker that said " function " on your shirt. Our group might has well have been malfunction, dysfunction, no function, and functionless but as you can imagine we gave the woman at the door grief over the stickers. It ended up being true that no cameras were allowed in as Coach K had a phone with a camera on it and they held it there until the party was over. So we walked in and yes it felt good to be on American soil, yet in another country. Kind of weird huh. We entered the building ( it is a pretty big building by the way ) and followed the signs and yes Mario spotted the South Carolina flag flying in there so that was cool. Obviously we stopped and had a moment of silence for it. This is when we started seeing all these people. I would say that there was about 130 people there. I think some of them worked at the Embassy, some diplomats, some marines and then just other friends of people who worked there. We all hung out in the inner square of the embassy then we went into this room and they had the table set and ready. The party was catered and they made us wear these crazy birthday style hats. The tables were filled with drinks and food and then a guy got on the mike and started making a welcome speech. That's when the crayfish started coming in and I had to get some instructions on how to eat them from a few different people, but I figured it out there shortly. We had a really good time in there and we got to meet to meet a lot of people. After the meal the Dj started playing music and wouldn't you know it I ran into some girl from Chile and we dance salsa. The whole evening was surreal because we were 4 Americans and one Finn sitting in the US Embassy eating crayfish with people we didn't even know. Nevertheless we represented and had a good time. After the party we headed downtown. Larry put on a Holyfield demonstration for us as we were exiting the Embassy and that was funny. We went into the city and all hung out for a bit then headed home. The only evidence that I have for you that we actually went ( cause I know some of you thinking I'm lying ) was to bring home the piece of paper that was on our table. So take a look at this. I guess its safe to say that they have a good time at the party.
Game Weekend Since we were playing on Sunday this week we all headed down on Saturday and stayed in a Scandic hotel. It's a pretty long ride to Carlstad and I made a cd so we listened to it on the way and saw a lot of the Swedish country side. It was a pretty day and it is still getting cooler over here and feels like it does when it turns fall. We got to the hotel and rested for a bit then ate dinner and then went into the city for a bit. It was neat to see another city in Sweden and we didn't stay out too late. We did see some of their players out in the town as well. One of the guys on our team had bought a Street & Smith's College Football magazine and so Mario and I were reading that while at the hotel. It was weird to be in Sweden and to read about GWU and Liberty and see our friends/roommates/classmates names in the magazine. I guess the world is small. Before dinner we did attempt to sit in the sauna at the hotel, but it indeed turned out to be a Swedish sauna and there was no Loylu or steam to be seen or felt. Game Now this was us returning down to a team that had killed us 2 weeks prior and they were anticipating a walk through I believe. Before the game they had a mascot...( a crusader ) come on to the field and drive his sword into the middle of the field. The crowd got hyped on this. He was wearing real chain mail and steel so it was more lifelike than a costume. It was a really windy day and we got the ball first and were going into the wind.We drove it right down the field on them and scored on the first possession on a long sustained drive. This put them on their heels and gave us some momentum. The defense was holding them and the game was going well. We were able to move the ball on them and they even had to switch their defenses on us. They were in a 3-3 stack and had to go back to their 4-2 because we were ripping them on it. I had a bomb td pass dropped on their sideline and soon after there was another one dropped in the zone. I can't talk too much though because one time I had a guy open in the end zone and made a bad throw and missed him on it, but we did score though. I had to do about 5 Qb sneaks in the game and one time guy ripped my helmet off and the chinstrap going up my face left some scratches on my face and my eye started to swell a little. One of our defensive guys got an interception and took it to the house only to have it called back for offsides or something. Seemed like some home cooking to me, but that was about where the momentum stopped as this took the air out of us a little. We went in at halftime like 21-7 I believe. The second half was similar to the first, but without us having too much momentum. We were hanging with them and I hit our TE on a touchdown pass on a corner route. One time in the 3rd quarter I really got popped as I tried to scramble up the middle and someone got my feet then one of those defensive guys had me for lunch. My helmet again went up my face. I mean don't get it twisted now I didn't come out of the game or anything like that, but I can feel the soreness now and this is most sore my collar bone and jaw bone has ever been. The game ended up 39 - 12 and we lost and the season was over. So no championship this year, but its ok. I guess you can't win them all the time. I was proud of our guys this day and glad that they came to play and put up a fight. The easiest thing to do would have been to lay over and let them walk over us, but that wasn't the case. I think we surprised a lot of people in the stadium as well. You know how it is when you know you've given it your all and you can at least walk out with your head high...well that was how this was. After the game we had the team huddle and I thanked the guys for allowing me to come and play and thanked them for going out of their way to make me & Mario too feel welcome and taking care of us. I have some pictures from the game and post game here. After the game we all headed home and ended up all eating at the same McDonald's about an hour into the trip. It was reminiscent of after our High School football game when everyone would go to Bojangles. We headed home in the night and I believe the moon looks bigger from Sweden than it does in the states...lol. We saw a lot of farmers combining what looked like their wheat late into the night. Mario said that it reminded him of a scene from Indiana.
So now I will be staying here for Mr. Paul Tucker's wedding and that leaves me with a banquet to go to and 2 weeks to explore the cultural riches of Sweden. In other news the Turku Trojans will be playing this coming weekend in the championship. Did somebody say road trip? Mario and I are debating on going to Denmark and/or Norway, but being broke does come into play so who knows what will end up happening. I will post again next week to let you know if we do anything worth writing about and will end the web page with a Conclusion entry. Regards,
Well this week was our off week for the season. This didn't bother me that bad because obviously it was like a week off. We only had practice one day so that was ok. We did the normal lift weights and sit in the sauna Mon-Wed. Wednesday night we went to a club and saw Miss Finland from last year and yes she was fine standing about eye level to me. However, I wasn't going to let her think that she was good enough for me to talk to or something. She was being harassed enough as it was, but then again..she was fine. I almost witnessed my first Finnish street fight as well. Some drunks where harassing a man at his hamburger stand and he did shove the guy and they were about to get into it, but then the cops came and arrested the drunk man before any dukes were officially thrown.
On Thursday afternoon we left for a town called Pori, which is where my head coach lives. In Finland they have a festival in the summer that is basically called "midnight summer" or something to that effect. Its the day with the longest amount of sunlight and marks the middle of the summer. They say it is tradition to go to people's summer cottages/cabins and celebrate. So on Thursday evening we went to the golf course where they were having a tournament that my coach played in. I don't think he won, but he did beat JP so its all good. After that on Friday we went to the cabin. We had to ride about 20 minutes or so and we were deep in the woods sitting right on the baltic ocean. Now this ocean is not like the ocean that we have at home. I didn't see a beach, but this may have been due to my location. I do know that our water never gets that cold though, specially in the summer. I think they must feed their mosquitos protein powder or something because they are big and they are plentiful. It was a job to keep them off of you, but we did have some OFF with us and a grill going and some candles and things so the combination of smoke and off helped keep them down. And yes, the cabine did have a suana in it. This one was a wood suana though which is a little bit different than an electric suana. They say it is tradition to sit in the suana and then go run and jump in the ocean. Now before I came here one of my friends,(PGA Champion) Paul Tucker gave me some advice. He said "no matter what they tell you, don't jump in the Baltic Ocean". Well sorry Paul, I had to go against his advice and jump into the ocean with the rest of the guys. We sat in the suana for so long that when we came out we were steaming like we were on fire, then we jumped in the ocean and it still took my breathe. I could only stand to be in there for like 25 seconds then I had to get out and go directly back into the suana. What had seemed to be so hot, now seemed nothing. They also brought some leaves in off of this certain type of tree and put them on the rocks of the suana. These leaves gave off a fragrance that opened up your sinuses and smelled like aroma therapy or something. It was pretty neat.
I did go fishing on the Baltic ocean though I didn't catch any fish. This could have been due to several factors. My fishing guide was slack and claimed to know where the fish were. Instead of finding fish, I found water all over my back from the wakes of the waves. I didn't have my own rod and reel, which we all know is crucial and I couldn't feel my fingers for the second half of the trip in the boat. Not to mention that this wasn't one of my frequent fishing holes.
We did get to eat some different things while we were there too. We ate perch, salmon, and heron or something like that and some of these were raw. I had trouble getting some of these raw fish down, but I did try them. You can see the pics for better explanation. We grilled out and ate hot dogs, sausages and everything. The people were all nice and we were always outside doing something or listening to music. There must have been about 15 people in all. Mainly everyone was chilling and relaxing. We did play spades and representing the USA, Marlon and I did win 20 euros off of some Finnish patrons. We were also taught about our government and all of the political issues at hand. After a long day on the ocean here's what JP had to say about one topic Click . I never knew that we, the USA, are wrong in everything that we do, but I was informed of it all day long. Nah, just joking we had a good time though we were outnumbered.
Trying to get to sleep was another battle in itself. Marlon and I both slept with cans of off in our hands, but still suffered bites from these cornfed mosquitos. I tried to cover my body with the blanket , but this just made me hot...so you could see the dilemma. After overcoming the magnified snoring and afer the singing of 2 strangely dressed Finns we were able to sleep for a few hours. We stayed at the cabin for 2 nights.
The first part of this week was dedicated to trying to regain feeling in my shoulder and collar bone. Then on Wednesday our tour guide actually did take us to the Vasa Museum. I liked this museum more so than the military museum of Sweden and I wish I would have taken the camera because I could have taken some good pictures. The Vasa Museum is a museum dedicated to the pride of the Swedish fleet. The ship was pretty big and they had it displayed well as the building was constructed so you could see every level of the ship. They had videos and tours frequently that you could watch in English so I was able to understand some stuff about it and obviously everything I didn't understand Mario explained it for me...lol. The museum was like in low light because they said it helps preserve the ship and there were also a lot of Chinese people in the museum speaking that stuff they speak. The tour guide said that it took 2 1/2 years to build the ship and then it sank in the first 20 minutes out at sea. He said that there were several reasons for it sinking such as; it was too tall and narrow, not enough weight in the bottom (ballast) and there was more ship out of the water than underwater. The carpentry on the boat was really good. They had all of these intricate carvings all over the boat. He also said that the king was wanting it to be the best ship and all so he kept adding things and making changes while they were building it so that threw them off a little bit. I think the ship had everything perfect except to the point about making sure it would float. I thought it was neat to see how they got the ship out of the water to get it into the museum. They had divers go down there and dig holes under the ship and run ropes under it then they positioned all these ships and barges and flotation devices around it and moved it underwater to a more shallow area and then they hoisted it out of the water very slowly. It seemed to be a very in depth process and was also a dirty job from seeing the video. Putting all the pieces back together on the ship took a while and so they said that the " Vasa " is known as the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world. This ship was suppose to take part in the war against Poland. If you want to know more about our tour and all that then you can email Mario at mariodonato[@]hotmail.com and he will give you a wealth of knowledge. Once again Mario did not let a sign go unread. It must have cost a lot to bring the ship out and have it on display as they charge you 4 dollars an hour just for parking. On a side note I did play a game in Finland in a town called Vaasa if that means anything. haha. On Wednesday night Håkan and his lady had us over to eat again and I got the honor of cooking the desert, which I might add was a once a year delicacy. I told him that he's lucky we are leaving or we could make this a once a week tradition. lol. We had lasagna and salad and again left on a full stomach so that was a relaxing evening. Then on Thursday I couldn't resist it any longer and the opportunity presented itself so we had the shot and we took it even though we proceeded below the hard deck level. On Thursday afternoon we set out on the Silja line to Finland with our offensive coordinator Coach Wikstrom. The Trojans played the Roosters in the championship game again so it was only right that we spend a few days in Turku and be present for this spectacle. This is a picture of the boat what we traveled on. Here are some specs from the boat in case you are a detail freak: Passengers 2,852, Cabins 985, stories 12, Conference rooms 25, Bars 7, Restaurants 6, Shops 6, Sauna and Relax, Solarium, Etc etc...Length 203 m, Width 31.5 m, Power 44,000 hp An interior design of the boat is below ...
So as you can tell we were roughing it on the way to Finland. This was my first time on any type of cruise ship. Most of the time it's me and Coach Mangum in the John boat, but this was a little different. We left Stockholm around 3 pm on Thursday and landed in Helstinky at 10 am the next morning. Note there was a time change. The atmosphere on the ship was pretty neat. When we first got onto the ship we went to our rooms, dropped the luggage off, and then proceeded downstairs to the promenade to make arrangements to eat. After we had reserved a time to eat then we went out on the back of the ship to the stern ( if you look on the layout we were looking from the deck at Joe's Bar ) for the takeoff and it was neat to feel the big engines start cranking. After that we went and ate this huge buffet that they have on board the boat. We ate regular food and some oddities that we ate were like octopus rings, herring every way you could possibly cook it, salmon, and reindeer stew. After we ate we walked around the boat and looked around it some and then talked on the deck until the sun went down. Coach was taking pictures during the whole evening so it was pretty cool because we have a lot of pics on the site today. After the sun went down we went and watched some karaoke up on the stardust lounge and you could definitely tell when a Finnish song was playing versus a Swedish song. Then after this at 12 we went and saw the nightly show that they have on board. After the show we went up and went to sleep and when we woke up we were at the port in Helsinki. Below I have posted pictures from the trip over and pictures from inside the ship so you can get a feel for what it looked like.
One hand for Sweden , One hand for Finland
This Russian lady sang some karaoke
A dance on the cruise ship
Now let me back up and tell you that when I found out that there was a possibility to go to Finland I sent out a blanket email to like 8 people in Turku. Within 10 minutes we already had a hotel room reserved for us in downtown Turku and by the next day we had like 6 offers to put Mario and me up for 2 days. So a big thanks to Mr. Patrick ( HomeAmerican ) Morton for taking extremely good care of us while we were there. I think that just goes to show how nice the guys in Turku are and now you can understand why I'm always pumping up Turku at home. So you may be asking yourself..." wasn't Clint banned from Finland "...well that is a good question that I was worried about as well. However there was no passport control on the ships in between Sweden and Finland so we were able to ride right on. I say ride right on because that's what we did. Our offensive coordinator is from Finland and so when he goes on the ship he takes his car and then drives it right out when he arrives in Finland. It was kind of weird to ride a car onto a huge cruise ship, but that's how we got on. They have these huge doors that open up and you can drive right in. I got a pic of the car docks as well. I think they also ship goods back and fourth as there were also tour busses and transport trucks parked in the bay.
We parked underneath the ship
And for all of you who are wondering....no I did not tell Frank or Frances Patterson of our adventure. It was better that they not worry. We got into Hestinky and Coach Wikstrom drove us around for a little bit and we even revisited the Veladrome, where we took the crown last year. We were the only people there so it was weird and talk about De-ja-vu. The whole weekend was this way as I was going and visiting places that I thought I would never ever see again in my life. Many of the places had stayed the same, but some things had changed. So after this we went and had lunch with the president of the Finnish American Football Federation, as he and Coach are friends. This guy's name is on the official league ball that they play with in Finland. So that was neat. None other than Mika Sevon was contacted and it just happened that he was in town doing business so we waited on him to get through then caught a ride back to Turku with the oldest living active player in Finnish football history. For me this was another de-ja-vu thing because last year when I first arrived in Finland it was Sevon who picked me up from the airport and on the way to Turku we stopped at his house and met his wife and she walked out on the porch and said hello and she had a baby in her arms. Well sure enough we pulled up and she walked out on the porch and said hello and had another baby in her arms. It was beginning to seem like a flashback at this point. The only difference was that instead of saying " Its good to meet you " ...she said " Its good to meet you again ". So Mario got to know the one and only Mika Sevon on his first day in Finland and now Mario is the 2nd member of the Mika Sevon international fan club ( as I am acting president and founder ). So Sevoni dropped us off at the hotel in downtown Turku. We checked into the hotel and then I began to show the city to Mario. I knew once it turned night that I would be able to find some of my friends from last year working at the doors of the clubs. I had planned on sending them text messages when I got there, but go figure that an Ericcson ( Swedish ) pre-paid phone wouldn't let me do that on a Finnish network. So I couldn't get in touch with my friends through my phone. We went and ate a pizza buffet at Rax which is a historical spot for Marlon and I because it was the only buffet in Turku. After we ate we went back to the hotel for a bit and watched the massacre that was going on in Russia. Those guys are really crazy over there. Then it was night time and we did indeed walk the streets and I bumped into like 5 people that I knew that were still working at the same places. None of the players were out that evening due to it being the night before the championship. We got up with my boy Enes at a club called Kåren. It was good to see Enes again as he was one of the guys who really took care of me and Marlon last year. He was working at some international university's welcome back party and of course we were up in there. Man they had all kind of nationalities in there and you could see which countries/people groups had rhythm and which ones didn't. After he got off from there we went to another place. I think they had dedicated a club to Marlon as the name of this club was called " The Giggling Marlin " ...lol. After this we were heading back to the hotel and I had to eat just one more He'sburger before I died. I also got Mario to eat one too. Below are pictures from that day in Turku and some will be pointless to many of you, but for Marlon it will be neat to see so just bare with us.
Me in front of Prima
The Street next to the Prima
Mario at the team bar
Mario by the main river in Turku
The square in downtown Turku
Now on Saturday morning we woke up and ate the breakfast buffet and then headed to meet the bus to the game. We rode with Patrick and his family, the president of the team, and the cheerleaders to the game. It was a neat ride and we even stopped at the restaurant that we always stopped at when we were going to play the Roosters so once again de-ja-vu. I talked with some of the cheerleaders that I remembered from last year so that was kind of neat. Every one was asking me about Sweden and this season and my experiences over here. I felt like I said the same things like a million times, but it was all in good intentions. So it was Saturday and we were on the way to the game. When we arrived they were in warm ups and upon entering the stadium I began to see fans, friends, players wives, and player's girlfriends that I remembered from last year so it was good to see them all again. I even signed 4 footballs and 1 t-shirt for some fans and every time that happens I can hardly take myself serious. I'm just cheesing from ear to ear trying to act like calm, cool and collective or whatever. They were even giving out these papers at the game with my picture on them. Watching the game was once again odd for me as I felt like I had just graduated and was back at Central High watching my former classmates play again. The game was a pretty good game, but you could tell that a lot of the guys that had retired were on defense and mainly the defensive line. The team had also lost a lot of people to injuries this season as well. The score was 28 - 21 going into the half and I think the final score was like 49 - 28. After the game I got to talk with Brett (the Qb the Trojans had this year) again for a minute. So we had seen each other in Stockholm and now in Helsinki. I felt that he played really well and did as good as one could possibly do given the cards he was dealt so that is what I told him. The injured players on offense and defense had a pretty big effect on the team I think. I know that they had a starting TE, WR, and LB that didn't play. So the Turku Trojans did not repeat despite a valiant effort, but nonetheless Mika Sevon was 4 - 4 on extra points and thus the legacy continues. After the game I got pictures with some of the guys and talked with them again. I surprised myself by remembering all of their names without even hesitating. Also I don't know if it was something in the water, but many of the players wives were pregnant. Maybe it was post championship happiness that led to it from last year, but either way we sat in the pregnant wives section during the game...lol. Below are some pictures from before and after the game.
Me and the Findland fellas (Enes, Suopa, & Sami)
Me and the Findland fellas II (Mika Sevon, Juka Satola, Mikka Riionhemo, & Kim Gronlund)
At the championship game they gave out newspapers and I was on the cover... it was like dejavu
Once we got back into Turku we went over to Patrick ( HomeAmerican ) Morton's house and ate pizza for a bit while we waited on the team to get back into town. All of the players said that they were going to the Olkku which is like the team gathering place in Turku. We then met the team at the Olkku and it was good to see the guys again all at the same time. I even took a few snaps with Kimi (my center from last year). After some time there we left and went to the Giggling Marlin again. From talking with a lot of the people at the game and on the team I believe that there are more people in Finland that read my web page over here than people in Sweden. After the Gigglin Marlin we went caught a " black " taxi and stayed the night at my ex-o-coordinator's house. Mario got to meet a lot of the guys during this time and he and Harry P. Haatsa Malkimaki bonded over 70's & 80's music. Here are some pictures from that.
Proof that we were indeed in Finland... this guy was struggling
We got like 3 hours of sleep and then chef Malkimaki made us a gourmet, sit down, table properly set meal. Mario and I even caught a quick Finnish Sauna ( Mario's first genuine Finnish sauna experience ) and then got a taxi into town so that we could catch the bus back to Helsinki again. We made the bus by 5 minutes and were on our way back to meet Coach Wikstrom so we could get on the boat in time. We got off the bus at the wrong stop of course so we decided to take some pictures in front of the parliament building while Coach had to come rescue us. Of course Mario made me take some random pictures of statues for historical purposes I guess. Here are those pictures.
Me at the Parliament building in Helsinki
Mario at the Parliament
So we got up with Coach and then were on our way to reboard the ship. We stopped and took a few pictures around a port in Helsinki and coach also took some pictures from the the boat on the way back. Coach Wikstrom's below pictures are also available in a high resolution format at this link. You can even have them printed and buy them from that site as well (in case you cared). As we were leaving Helsinki we could see the Islands called the archipelago on the way out. Some of these still had military remains on them and one of them even has the only submarine that belongs to Finland in the picture (Rumor has it that it doesn't work). Check them out.
So we had arranged for the same buffet and we ate it up again and then after that we were all exhausted. Mario and I were running on empty and Coach Wikstrom said that he didn't get too much sleep in Helsinki either... something about a championship or something, but anyways we went back to our room and we all just knocked out. We slept for about 4 hours then woke up and went out on the deck again for some fresh air after which we returned back to the room and went to sleep again. We woke up in Stockholm the following morning and now we are back in Tyreso. This weekend was definitely a memorable one for me as well as Mario and the whole thing seemed surreal the way it all worked out. I think we stayed just long enough for Mario to not be able to make me go to another museum so that was good. Over the weekend I recognized that I can now pick out the different languages of Swedish and Finnish. Usually in the past I couldn't tell what they were speaking, but I just knew that it was foreign to me, but now I can definitely tell what language is being spoken when I hear it. I also got my brain scrambled with languages a few times too. I can only say and know a few words, phrases, and the numbers, but just going back to Finland threw me for a loop in the beginning. I was hearing Finnish and responding in Swedish subconsciously and vice versa. For a brief moment ( in McDonalds ) I couldn't draw the line on what words were from what country, but I got it straight after a little while. I was speaking a salad of languages and only got laughed at. I can still speak more Finnish than Swedish and this is probably due to 2 reasons; time spent in Finland was longer and more people in Sweden speak English. This weekend would not have been anywhere near possible if it wasn't for the generosity and kindness of many individuals. So its only correct that Mario and I say a huge thanks to Coack Wikstrom, Patrick Morton, Haatsa, Sevon, and all the guys in Turku and Helsinki that took extremely good care of us and made it all possible. It was definitely a trip to remember. We were there for 3 days and we went back and fourth from Turku to Helsinki once each day so it was all a whirlwind. As I have previously mentioned I was nominated for the " Import of the Year " award in our league in Sweden. Well needless to say I missed the banquet. I mean I normally wouldn't miss a function like that, but for a chance to do what all we did I would do it again without thinking twice. Turns out that it wasn't that bad anyways because I didn't win the award. I came in 2nd in votes and some people have informed me that going home in the middle of the season didn't help in winning so I can't complain. So thanks again to everyone. Off into the sunset.....Somebody say Denmark ?
So Mario had me running again everyday this week except for Friday and the one day that I don't go running he sees a deer in the woods. I have noticed that when we run we see these slugs crossing the trails and the slugs are huge. I've never seen any that big so its weird. Early on last week (Sunday) Will Smith was in Stockholm for the debut of his movie IRobot or whatever it was. Not only was he in Stockholm, but he did come to Tyresö and play a round of golf. Everyone was talking about that around here. They rescheduled some tournament they had for that day just so he could play 9 holes.
All the guys have been saying that while I was at home that it was raining a lot, but now the sun is out all the time so in their words " summer is here ". That is good because people are out everywhere just hanging out. I guess I would be too if I sat in the cold that long during the winter. We hung out with Ilija and his cousin a few times early in the week. One night we were out at "East" and this girl walked by and I called her " Paris " and yes we did end up dancing for a song or two. One evening we played putt putt at the local course in Tyresö and Mario and I both agreed that it may be the toughest mini-golf course in the world. If you think you are good at Myrtle Beach then you are nothing here.
On Wednesday we went to the Tyresö Castle and also to the beach. We had a guided tour by none other than Mr. Johan Rauge, who is a Swedish history buff, along with myself and Mario also added his knowledge on Swedish history during the tour. So with all of these scholars together the tour was pretty well rounded and I am surprised that we didn't receive job offers while touring. I have some pictures from the castle and the beach here. The beach is also different than from at home. I would say the differences are less clothes and no waves or sea shells, but other than that the principle is the same.
On Thursday one of the guys at practice told us to come by Berns which is a hotel that has a bar/dance room open at night time. So The Chief, Andre, Mario and I went to check it out. Since our guy was working the door we didn't mean to break in front of some people, but it just happened. Well, while we were going in we noticed a lot of Chinese looking people being around there mix with the Swedes. We went in and were hanging out for around and hour when we went to the restroom we noticed that it was " Tokyo weekend in Stockholm " because they had a sign on the door advertising it. This is explained why all of the Chinese looking people were there. I guess you would say Japanese rather, but anyways same difference. Mario saw 2 men in a business suit with a woman wearing a full kimono dress, but I didn't see her. Later on I told the guys that we should go out and check out this other room in Berns because this place is big and there was still a room that we had not yet been in. So we went into another room and this is where it got a little weird. Its going to be hard for me to explain this tactfully on here.
When we walked in (entering from the back of the room) I noticed that there were a bunch of people grouped at the front of the room. Then I recognized that they were watching a video on the movie screen, but I thought why was everyone so crowded at the front. Then we walked around to the side and could see what was happening. Let me try to explain here so bare with me. Ok this Japanese woman was laying on the stage with a gas mask and a rain coat on with 2 guns which had flowers on the ends of them and she was crawling like in Vietnam or something. There was music going on and a video screen behind her that was previously recorded and had a woman doing the same things that she was doing on stage. Like a routine. Well she got up and started doing a military march. At this point I turned and looked at the guys and they too were like " what is going on here " . Then she took the rain coat and the gas mask off as the music changed. Under the rain coat she had on this costume. Well the costume had a large upper end and it seemed to be cold in there as well and she wore another piece on the other end of the costume was some male anatomy, which had protection on it. Then these 2 guys walked out with kkk masks on their head and were also wearing white T-shirts with Japanese writing on them. They were holding a plastic chain from one of them to the other. So the girl, with the male anatomy suit ( it was red by the way ) hangs like 8 pictures on the chain. The pictures were of Osama, Sadam, Bush, France's pres, Japan's pres, The older Bush, Tony Blair, North Korea's president and the president of France. Then she was taking them off one by one and how can I say " reproducing " with the photos, but before she did this she had removed her protection and threw it in the crowd. Well she left President Bush up there to the end. She was singing the words to the song " Beautiful People " and they were randomly playing American music from back in the 60's in the mix as well. Finally she grabbed Bush's picture and looked at it real hard for a few minutes while she mustered up a huge loogie and then spit on it. Then she grabbed all the pictures and put them together and spit on them all together. On the backs of all the pictures it had the words "don't shoot". It was very weird to watch and it took me a while to figure out what she was trying to get across because at first it looked like another potential America Hate-a-thon. I guess it was a Tokyo performing arts thing and she was trying to say anti-violence because she equated everyone as being evil, but to me it was just like saying that she hated everyone, including her own president. This was only one of their routines, but we only watched 2 of their skits. Lord only knows how long these routines had been going on for. The other one that we watched for a few minutes was a parody to the song " The Age of Aquarius " which featured a Japanese guy with a globe on his head who wore a thong and a white bed sheet with random ornaments tied on it. To make it short I don't think I'll be going to Tokyo anytime soon. I would have given anything to have taken my camera with me so that I could have documented this spectacle, but I didn't so you'll just have to imagine the best you can.
So that night was extremely odd and I don't think I will forget it too soon. Throughout the week we practiced and boy these mosquitoes over here in Sweden are nothing to play with. I don't think they are as bad as Mississippi, but I think they are worse than South Carolina. Maybe its because they don't have as many people to bite, but for whatever reason they sure are out and about. On Friday night we stayed in since we had a game the next day. We went over to the O-coordinator's house and watched film on Stockholm and ate some food. He lives in the city and on the way driving through you could see all the people that were out.
We played against the Stockholm Mean Machines who are the #2 team in the league. I don't really know how to put it lightly here, but I guess I can just list the facts and you can draw from them what you may. The facts are that due to injury, vacation, wedding, birthday, funeral or whatever we took the field with 24 and the other team took the field with 44. They scored on the opening kickoff as they ran a reverse and had our whole team lost in the mix. We got the ball the next time and ran a counter and fumbled on the first offensive play. They then scored on a long pass about 5 plays later. I did however scramble one time and score. I did make some good throws in the first half, but either the pass would bounce off the guys shoulder pads or they would catch it and then we would get a penalty. I made some crazy throws falling backwards as well, but we don't really have anything to show for it. As I stated earlier it is just starting to be summer time here as far as heat wise and so the heat was wearing our guys down. Its not as humid as at home, but these guys aren't from SC so some of them were hurting out there and you can imagine with 24 that some of them were going both ways. We didn't get completely embarrassed in the first half as we were moving the ball and hanging in there what we could, but in the second half our guys gave completely out of gas and then they started running the score up. To top that off they starting blitzing in the 4th quarter which didn't help me out any. I also threw Europick #3 as I threw one up for the TE to make a play and I had gambled the wrong way on this one. One thing that is hard to adjust to is that if I let it fly like I have to at home then these guys won't catch up to it so I have to take some off sometimes and trust on my receivers making plays. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
If you would like to get positives from the game you could say that our guys never gave up and this game was more of a test of character than anything, as Coach Wikstrom stated. Also, my heel did not bother me which is good news for me. The o-line did give me more time in the first half which was pleasant and because of this I was able to make some good throws so I think Mario is helping the guys out a little. The final score was 62 - 7 and I was glad to see the clock hit 0:00. I also met the American from their team. He played at Buffalo State and informed me that he had played in Italy and Germany so it was neat to share stories of our experiences with each other after the game. Also a side bit of info is that this week in practice our head coach informed us that he would not be returning for next season. This coming week we have to play the #1 team in the league who blitzes every play so it should be another fun game.
Then of course after the game we came back and ate and then all went out downtown. We went out to a Latina club for a bit and then to 2 others and yes I did cramp up in 2 of the 3. It was fun trying to explain to a Swedish person what a cramp is and why I just kicked them in the leg....hahaha.
Below are some pics that David sent me after he figured out how to resize and email. Check out the bottom pics of the turf field at Solna that should be banned from anything taking place on it.
now this chick was really feeling me
I thought I saw Paris Hilton
The above picture was taken at 4am.
Check out Haggar's pants
Me & Tofe (and his snake suit)
David & Rauge
The worst football field on earth