Barra Blast

I have returned!

Actually, I returned more than a month ago, but in usual fashion after I travel, am just now writing about it.

I have stories for WEEKS about Rio and all the amazing experiences I had and life lessons I learned. From working for the USOC during #Lochmess to giving myself a crash course in boxing 45 minutes before a bout to the tennis match from hell (don’t ask) to the unlimited Uncrustables in the office, it was definitely the opportunity of a lifetime.

I wish I could have brought my DSLR, but I didn’t want to risk it and wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to sightsee/have time to take pictures for fun. It turns out that I had a decent amount of free time so I was lucky enough to wander the Olympic Park quite a bit and attend a large variety of events, even if I didn’t cover them. I ended up covering fencing, diving, boxing, sailing, taekwondo and water polo in my tenure there. There were a few others on the docket but they didn’t do as well as expected so those stories never saw the light of day.

Without further ado, my “Best Of” picture list from Rio de Janeiro.

 

THE PARK:

 

THE ATHLETES:

 

OLYMPIC LIFE:

THE CEREMONIES:

I’m going to add something before these pictures. We were warned before leaving that while our names were on the list for Opening Ceremony tickets, it was unlikely we’d get them from the USOC (as the IOC does have to share the wealth and interns are low on the priority list for allocated tickets). However, we’d have a chance to wait in line for any extra tickets once the NOCs had been given theirs. So we did. And lo and behold, we all got into the opening. Literal dream come true, especially as it was unexpected. We had amazing seats in the press tribune and it was well worth the hour and a half trip to Maracanã via public transport and the two-hour wait in line, and the two-hour trip back to the hotel. It was an explosion of colors and I loved every minute of it. The closing, while not as grand, was equally as heartfelt and joyful.

 

 

**Re the title: So in Portuguese, “rr” has an English “h” sound. So thus, this blog title is pronounced “Baja Blast,” like the mountain dew drink. While I don’t like Baja Blast, I thought the linguistic pun was hilarious. I’m sorry. Barra da Tijuca was the name of our hotel’s neighborhood.

Até Pronto, Brasil

As many of you probably already know from Facebook/Twitter (Where HAVEN’T I posted about this tbh), I am heading to Rio de Janeiro TOMORROW to cover the Olympics.

YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.

I scored an internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee, along with three other students, to cover the 2016 Summer Games.

I’m excited, pumped, thrilled, ecstatic, joyful, where’s my thesaurus.

Covering the Olympics is my dream. It combines everything good and wonderful in this life: writing, sports, traveling, and a never-ending parade of cultures and languages.

I found out three days after graduation, after going through a multi-step application process in February/March. Best phone call of my life (shout-out to my entire family for not being home that day so I had to scream and scare my dog by myself. Dogs don’t know how to differentiate between, “OMG MY HUMAN IS IN TROUBLE I MUST BARK AND FIX IT BECAUSE #BARKING” and “OMG MY HUMAN IS EXCITED I MUST BE CALM AND LET HER HUG ME AND CRY AND NOT BARK BECAUSE BARKING IS BAD BAD DOG OMG KENNEL TIME”).

It was the latter kind this time around.

25 days of my life will revolve around sports and only sports pretty much 24/7. As in there are a few beach volleyball games scheduled for midnight local time so you think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Sports are the greatest. If my career lets me write features and profiles in any journalism specialty, I’ll be happy. If I get to do that within the sports world? I’ll be over the moon. In no other subset of society do you get such emotional extremes and such an intricate intersection of people from literally all walks of life. It’s fascinating to watch and it’s fascinating to write about and be in the middle of. Bonus of being a journalist not an athlete is that I don’t have the bruises and injuries to go with the thrilling parts.

I am going to try my best to update the blog with pictures and stories as I go but I suspect many of them will have to wait until I get home. But never fear! They will be coming at some point.

 

 

 

 

London: Day 3

Jess left the night before because of an unexpected work meeting Monday morning, but I still had one more day left.

I got quite a late start due to an unfortunately timed migraine and a poor night’s sleep. The day before I had bought a ticket to see “Miss Saigon” on the West End on impulse. In my defense, it’s a better impulse buy than most things. As such, I didn’t want to push myself to leave super early with a headache and make it worse.

I walked across London Bridge and down along the Thames to the Tower of London. I got fish and chips for lunch (finally. Fish+Chips make the world go round and if you don’t believe me, you’re wrong) and then joined a tour of the tower. At the start, a very nice young guy introduced himself and became was my attachment the entire time. Which was cool, I guess, if you like guys who think the Tower of London is a good place to pick up girls (I mean. Historically speaking people get rid of women there…). He disappeared after the tour and walk through the Crown Jewels building so I hope he made it out.

I wandered my way through the metros and various shops without actually buying anything (so proud of myself). I tried to find a Pret a Manger that wasn’t busy (haha. ha) but ended up somewhat lost in London’s chinatown and got food from a street vendor. Yes I’m surprised I was never sick. I finally went to the theatre an outrageous hour and a half early considering I was already in the area but hey. I got a drink and sat at the theatre balcony bar so all’s well that ends well.

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“Miss Saigon” was a dream. I saw almost the original cast (one main character was different). However the lead actress playing Kim was the original actress in the revival and she was incredible. Only 18 and her only theatre credits before this one were high school productions and one win at a national competition. What am I even doing with my life?

I’d never seen the musical before but loved the music so it was difficult to not hum along. The staging and lighting were amazing, the actors wonderful, and the story moving as always.

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It was an amazing last night in London and I easily could’ve spent another week there if not for the astronomically high costs (sorry London I still love ya). But the next day I was off to Madrid again to say goodbye to Spain and the boy (Post HERE from forever ago as this blog is 110% out of chronological order).

A Camping Trip Where It Didn’t Rain (What?)

So growing up myself, my adopted grandmother, my brothers, and her actual grandchildren would go on a camping trip every summer. And every summer, it would rain the exact days we’d be out in the wilderness. It didn’t matter if it was a weekend, the middle of the week, two days, three days, northern Indiana, western Indiana, central Indiana…it rained. Always.

So when I had the opportunity to go on a camping trip disguised as a women’s retreat part of me was like, oh yay strong female relationships! and the other part of me was like damn it I know it’s going to rain I just know it plus, you know, spiders and dirt.

But I did go in the end. I knew two people on the trip (Liv and Nina you guys are my rocks and among the greatest human beings I know) and precisely no one else out of the 11 others who went.

That weekend was so good for everything. As you all know from my post earlier in the semester, I’d been struggling a lot with being home, but also being away from home, trying to stay in the moment my senior year, but also being in a long distance relationship (Side note: 47 more days!!). This retreat was all about being “Unedited.” About not hiding the struggles, asking for help and advice and guidance from God, yes, but also strong women who are also going through their own struggles. It was about lifting each other up in prayer and with being social and meeting new people and also fireside worship complete with Famous Amos cookies and s’mores (never underestimate those).

Also it was in a beautiful location (Brown County State Park!):

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This retreat was a great decision and I loved every minute of it (even that moment when Nina told me she almost didn’t move a spider that was about to crawl into my mouth while I was sleeping but then did it anyway. You’re a true friend).

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London: Day 1

Hi all. Do I win the award for Worst Travel Blogger Ever? Probably as it’s now been two months since this trip.

Free travel tip: If you’re traveling on Virgin Trains from Birmingham to London and buy your regular-coach ticket online, on the day you travel, you can go by the office at the train station and upgrade to first class for only 10 pounds.

Jess and I did so because, I mean, first class.

Free snacks and a comfy two-hour ride later, we arrived!

After dropping our stuff off at our hotel (only a few minutes walk away from the 2012 Olympic Park), we headed off into the city.

We were starving by that time, so we headed to Burough Market.

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While we did not buy any squid (no fridge in our room unfortunately), we did get some other delicious items to share and try.

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Sangriaaaa

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After lunch, we walked along/took the metro down to the waterfront. We wandered past some iconic and historic London sites:

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Something Old–Oldest cathedral in London
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Something New–The Shard

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cute little guy in St. James’ Park
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Look! There’s Big Ben!

Finally we returned to visit the London Dungeons. This was Jess’s idea and while I’m terrified of haunted anything, it was something I hadn’t done the last time I was in London so why not? No pictures because it was too dark and I was honestly not thinking much past not having a heart attack. Jess can confirm the amount of screaming I did.

With that and some yummy dim sum by our hotel, Day #1 was a success!

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