Hello everybody and welcome to the fifth entry into Jamie's Journal. Our trip to Monte Gordo, Portugal is now over with, and boy was it an unforgettable trip. So, put up your away message or your "out to lunch" voicemail, refill your coffee cup and prepare to laugh along with Jamie's Journal.
You Call the Shots
Before we get into "You Call the Shots," I want to take a second and thank all of you guys and girls out there who take the time to read each journal entry and even take the time to pass along your thoughts to me via e-mail. I know when I look back at this trip, I will remember the soccer experience as well as the experience of writing to the devoted Real Salt Lake fans out there, and that's thanks to you guys so ... THANKS!
Okay, let's get down to business. A lot of you out there are still telling me that I need to add some pictures. You want it, you got it. Last Sunday, several of the guys took a day trip to Seville, Spain and spent the afternoon walking around the beautiful city and taking in the sights. Others decided that walking around all afternoon didn't float their boat, so they went and watched Spanish club giant Real Betis play some neighboring city in a stadium downtown.
I chose to walk around with some of the guys and see the town. One thing that caught our attention was a bus tour that took us throughout the city and drove by all these beautiful historical buildings and other touristy stuff. During this trip, I caught some good pictures and I thought it would be very fitting to pass these along, so here you go. Just scroll down a bit to see them all.
I don't know what the name of the first building is, but it was absolutely amazing and I was lucky to get a good shot of it with the water fountain in front so I thought you might enjoy it. The second picture is of your truly. I thought I would share this one because it has me in it ... um, I mean because the view on the river behind me is so nice. We were listening to these overly touristy headphones during the tour and they told us that the bridge in the background was famous for some reason but I couldn't understand what the lady was saying in her broken English.
The last picture is of a cathedral that Matt Benchke took us to. Matt had done his homework the day before and found out about this cathedral near where we were going and had the group walk there as soon as we got off the tour bus and walk through it. This cathedral was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life (other than the time I met Anna Kournikova) and everyone was really amazed by it, so I thought I would share it with you guys. So there you have it, today's edition of "You Call the Shots." If you want you something written about next time, send me some love at email@example.com, let me know what you want and we'll make it happen.
The Last Few Days
The last few days in Monte Gordo were probably the best few days of the trip. Good thing you guys out there have an inside source in yours truly to fill you in with all the details of the escapades that took place in our final days. We'll start off by recapping Saturday night. We had our second-to-last rookie challenge at a local restaurant named Paddy's that had reserved an entire section (basically, the whole place) for us.
Jamie Watson poses in front of the Alamillo Bridge in Seville, Spain. (Real Salt Lake)
All seven of us rookies lined up in chairs and had all the veterans stand in front of us while the emcee of the night, Jason Kreis, played Alex Trebek for the evening and asked us a variety of questions that ranged from soccer-related to very personal. Due to numerous threats by the guys on the team, I am not able to pass along the classified information of just what was said, but just imagine everyone on the team getting called out for past experiences that they would much rather forget. That was a great night, with Kenny Cutler running away with the competition; he is now known as the soccer encyclopedia for his wealth of soccer knowledge.
Sunday was the day in Seville, which we already discussed, so I'll move onto Monday, which was the final day of the rookie challenge. Monday will be a day that I will never forget, and not in a good way. The final challenge was an Olympic-style challenge where we competed in seven events and kept a running total of points. Noah Palmer and I were competing to avoid coming in last place, as the last place rookie gets a special prize (to be determined). The competition had three eating events that were very Fear Factor-ish. (Trust me, it wasn't seeing who could be the most bugs or anything, but still it wasn't fun.)
After those came a competition to stay in freezing water longer than everyone else. This one backfired, as we all ran into the water and quickly became adjusted (A.K.A. numb) and stayed in so long that they called that event a draw. After that, while we were dripping wet, we had to lay on our sides and barrel roll through a slalom course on the beach, causing sand to stick all over us. Then we had to go back out into the water, only knee deep this time, and balance on one leg. This may sound easy, but as any beachgoer knows, when the water rushes away from the beach, the sand around your foot goes, too, and causes you to lose your balance. This event had all of us hopping around on one foot in the water, and Braden Chandler had the camera rolling to catch all the embarrassing footage. The last event had us racing to build a hole in the sand deep enough to fit our bodies in. This one was the nicest of them all and after we dug, we had to let the guys bury us and take pictures with just our heads sticking out. After they had their laughs we were done and the rookie challenge was over.
The rest of Monday was quiet as we got some sleep before our final game on Tuesday against Recreativa Huelva. The game didn't go our way as we got unlucky several times and lost 2-0 to a very good side. Normally I don't like to compliment teams that beat us, but this team was very good at keeping the ball and defiantly showed their experience in the Spanish second division. That was the last few days for us in a nutshell in Monte Gordo, Portugal. Now onto the trip home ...
Defender Matt Behncke took his RSL teammates to see the Seville Cathedral. (Real Salt Lake)
Travel Day Disaster, Take Two
I guess it's only fitting that since our trip to Portugal was a nightmare, the returning trip to the U.S. was one as well. This trip started at 3:30 a.m. Portuguese time. We had to get up early to make the 4-hour bus ride to Lisbon to be there by 8 a.m. since our flight left at 10. We made that trip fine and got there at the right time and waited to board the plane. Everything was going smoothly and we boarded the plane and prepared for the long flight.
Just as we got our seat belts fastened and put our tray tables in their upright and locked position, the pilot came on over the loudspeaker and told us that there was a mysterious substance in the cargo hold that made one of the guys who take the luggage out sick and we had to de-plane and wait to see if the substance was hazardous. We thought this may only take a few minutes. Wrong. It took six hours of sitting around the gate for the results to come back negative. After waiting from 10:30 until about 4:15 we re-boarded and started the seven-hour flight to Newark.
We arrived in the U.S. at 8 ET and raced to the gate to see if we could catch a connecting flight out that night since we missed our original connecting flight. Well, the ticket agents only had bad news for us. The bad news was we were going to be staying in a hotel that night and waking up before the crack of dawn to catch an early morning flight home. We got to the hotel at about 9:30 p.m. ET, capping off a close to 24-hour travel day. The guys heading back to Salt Lake had to call the front desk and ask for a 3:20 a.m. wake up call to make sure they caught their 5:30 a.m. flight Thursday morning. So after all this, we all finally made it home and are going to enjoy our few days off and get prepared for our next training camp in Redlands, Calif.
Feature Player of the Day
I thought I would throw you a curveball today and not have a feature player of the day. Why you may ask? Well, I am working on something special that I think quite a few of you may enjoy next time, so like any good writing, I'm going to leave you in suspense and make you wait until next time to find out what I'm working on for your reading pleasure. Make sure you check back in to see just what I've got up my sleeve for next time.
A lot of people helped to make this trip possible, and some people who haven't been thanked yet need to be thanked. First of all, Mr. Dave Checketts, our owner, has gone un-thanked by me for the longest time. That's my mistake, as he has been very gracious in supporting us in so many ways and he hasn't gotten the credit he deserves. Next, I think it's important to thank everyone in the front office who helped contribute to making this trip possible. Whether they played a big role or just did simple things that get overlooked, I know all the guys are thankful for your help and support. And of course, I'd like to thank you guys out there who read along entry to entry. I thought this was an appropriate way to end a very fun trip and a trip that was unforgettable in so many ways. Take care and we'll catch up in a few days from Redlands, Calif.