Danielle's European Diary - Part 4

VIENNA, Austria - Kansas State senior guard/forward Danielle Zanotti is keeping a diary during the women's basketball team's 10-day trip to Europe. The following entries are the final entries during this tour of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.

Danielle’s Diary

Entry #7 June 30


Hello from Europe!


We got up this morning and went and did some last minute shopping in the downtown Bratislava district. Our tour guides, Johnny and Maria, took us to one of the well known crystal shops in town so that we could look around and buy some gifts for our families. I have a tendency to be drawn to shiny things like a magnet so of course my eyes were immediately pulled to the beautiful necklaces. All of the soon-to-be seniors (I don’t like talking about us graduating, so this next season if you could refer to us as freshmen that would be great) got the same necklaces. It’ll be nice having something that we can all look back on and remind us of this amazing trip. The rest of the morning we all ran around trying to get our last minute purchases done and then we boarded the bus for Vienna. As we drove we passed the former “Iron Curtain”, the border that used to divide the capitalist and communist regions, Maria explained to us the significance of this ride to Vienna. She told us that when she was a child and the communists were in power they weren’t allowed to travel, so when communism fell her family took their first trip to Vienna. She described for us how her and her sister wept in a department store after being able to see and touch all the beautiful dolls and toys for the first time in their lives. Her stories were more than just not being able to have pretty things or eat fruit, or even travel. They were about the freedom to finally have control over their own lives and the ability to make choices that we as Americans in a free country so often take for granted. It was a very symbolic and moving bus ride to say the least.


After getting to our hotel that is right on the Danube River, we went to this totally awesome amusement park called Wiener Riesenrad. We all rode the Giant Ferris Wheel, which has been around for over a hundred years and survived the bombings during World War II. You ride in this miniature room with a long bench in the middle and windows on all the sides. When you are at the top you get a perfect view of Vienna. When we were on the ground we were all talking pretty big and bad about rocking the cabin but I’ll tell you, when your 65 meters up in the air we were all screaming for absolute stillness and for the weight to be balanced on both sides. After the ferris wheel, we chowed down on some of the local wienerschnitzel. After our bellies were packed with pork, spinach and all the French fries we could consume we decided now would be the best time to ride all the crazy rides. Great idea kids!! We rode a water ride that spun you around so much you were caught in a whirlpool, a giant swing set that was so high in the air you could see some of the castles in the downtown area, and one of those space rocket things that makes your stomach roll. All of the carnival workers thought it was so great they had a bunch of Americans riding their rides that they felt the need to torture us with extra long rides until we screamed to get off. I’m sure the locals that were riding it with us were overjoyed that they got to do 5 extra rounds of “The Boomerang” (Coach Ethridge thought it was so funny to get the worker to keep making us go over and over even though I was about to lose my schnitzel!!). Some of the more daring girls rode this ride called “Extasy” that I’m pretty sure should be outlawed because it has to cause brain damage (of some of the girls that rode it can’t afford to lose any brain cells! Just kidding...We all made the Commissioner’s Honor Roll remember!!!). But, the unanimous favorite ride of everybody would have to go to this ride that basically straps you in and makes you go upside down continuously for about 3 minutes and was clocked at 115 km/hr. I think the coaches loved it the most! They were screaming the entire time...it was hilarious!!! After all this excitement we got some ice cream (I would pay so much money to get a box of these Magnum ice cream bars back to the States! I am not even kidding!!) and headed back to the hotel on the newly installed subway system. Vienna actually built part of this public transportation system solely because they were hosting the EuroCup this summer.  We were all so tired, and a little bit woozy, after all the rides that we pretty much passed out as soon as we got back. I would definitely say it was one of my favorite days that we’ve been in Europe. It was a blast to see everybody act like they were 10 years old again, even though some of us act like that most of the time anyways!!


Love from Vienna, Danielle




Danielle’s Diary

Entry #8 July 1


Hey Ya’ll!!


They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I couldn’t agree more. So today I started off the day right with the breakfast of champions...two of the most delicious chocolate donuts with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate filling! Yummy! ;) After breakfast we did a one hour bus tour around Vienna where our tour guides talked to us about how the famous composers Mozart and Strauss lived much of their lives in Vienna. Since Vienna is the capital of Austria, they also gave us a short version of the political history of the city. Vienna was a major player in World War II because Hitler was actually from Austria and even gave one of his most famous speeches from the Royal Palace, which we visited today. The downtown area is absolutely beautiful with its gothic style churches and the giant palace compound. We went inside the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, which was built in the 12th century and is larger than the cathedral we saw in Prague. They were actually having a mass while we were in there which was pretty cool. After the guided tour they let us loose in Vienna (I know...that’s a little scary to think about, right?) and we all went our own ways to sightsee, shop, and eat some of the local cuisine (or McDonald’s if you’re Kari Kincaid and Ashley Sweat).


That afternoon some of us sat out by the pool and played UNO, which Marlies Gipson and I dominated, while the rest of the team either did homework or rested so they would have plenty of energy for the night’s activities. The coaches took us to this really nice restaurant called the Marina Wein, which looked out over the Danube. The food was delicious but us growing girls needed more. So we all went downtown and ate some amazing Italian gelato (a richer ice cream). You would think by this time that we were stuffed but then you may not be familiar with the appetites of Division I student-athletes. Oh no, now it was time for some Weiner Wurstel. I will describe what exactly this is for those of you who aren’t familiar. It is a long bread roll filled with ketchup and mustard and then stuffed with a giant hotdog with cheese in the middle. This may sound like a clogged artery waiting to happen but it is well worth it. After 9 days of European sized portions, which are very small, we all needed that absolutely full feeling that we are used to after eating our beloved Chipotle burritos! After stuffing our faces we all rode the subway back to our hotel and just hung out for the rest of the night.


This will be my last diary entry since we leave early Thursday morning. I have truly loved writing this and I really hope you have enjoyed reading it. We were all so blessed to be able to have this opportunity and we can’t thank the people responsible enough for this tremendous experience. The memories that we have made the past 10 days will be something that none of us will forget and all of us will treasure. I hope that you have had fun reading my blogs and feel at least in some small way that you were a part of it with us. We can’t wait until next year when we start a brand new season in Bramlage Coliseum with the best fans in the nation cheering us on as we defend our BIG 12 title!!!! See you there!!!!


God Bless, Danielle