VMI sophomore guard Garrett Gilkeson's (Parkersburg, W.Va.) day-by-day account of the Summer Euro '17 trip to Belgium, Holland, France, and Germany.
Thursday - August 3
Travel from US to Brussels
As we headed to Europe today, the only thing that was on my mind at the airport was that it was my first time ever flying. I had some teammates and adults telling me everything was going to be fine, but at the same time I had a few teammates joking with me and telling me the flight was going to be horrible. As everything was going smooth, a thunderstorm began and delayed us for nearly three hours. Eventually we were able to take off and the flight was smoother and better than I had expected.
Friday - August 4
Arrival in Brussels 10 am tour Mechelin
After an extended day yesterday and losing six hours of sleep due to time change, we landed in Brussels around 10:00 AM and made our way to our new home in Mechelin. Before grabbing some lunch, we took a tour of Mechelin. Site seeing a few cathedrals and getting a feeling for the atmosphere. It was very awkward at first because for some reason, everyone was staring at a group of young men wearing black travel suits looking at the city like we were in a different world. Those young men were us. It took some time getting used to everyone staring at us, but after we talked to some English speaking people and ate some amazing burgers, everything settled down and we stared back at them. In the evening, we walked a couple of miles to a basketball gym where we had a shoot around for a little over an hour and tried to learn some of the new European rules and size of their courts. They fed us pizza after practice and we was able to watch Christopher Newport University play their first game. Overall it was an amazing day and now its time to get caught up on jet lag.
Saturday - August 5
Today we were given the opportunity to see a million bikes in picture. We started off our tour of Amsterdam by taking a boat tour on the famous canals, including herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht. We were able to see the different architectures and house gables along the canals. After the boat tour we walked to their national monument in Dam Square. Breaking off into groups from their, some of us went to shop and explore the different clothing styles that Europeans wear while some went and explored other monuments. As we were walking around, some of us saw a parking garage, but it wasn't what we as Americans are used to seeing. Instead, it was a four level garage full of bicycles. That's not including the thousands of bikes that were parked throughout the city or the thousands of people that were riding their bikes around. It was an exact opposite culture compared to what Americans are used to. After spending roughly six hours in Amsterdam, we headed back to our hotel in Mechelin and called it a night.
Sunday - August 6
Fort Breendonk and Game 1
After an amazing breakfast, we headed to visit the camp of Fort Breendonk. It was a time to learn of the history of the Belgian people during the Second World War and the many years following the war, as well as learning how the Germans used the fort as a concentration and transfer camp. Seeing the fort and learning of its history makes us appreciate the lives we have today. After visiting Fort Breendonk, we headed down the road to Antwerp where we played our first game of the week. The game was against the Fellows Ekeren, a good team and a great host. It was very different adjusting to the new rules of European ball, and after numerous traveling calls in the first half we were able to find our groove in the second half and pull out a victory, 84-78.
Monday - August 7
With an early breakfast and start to the day, we rode on a double decker bus with CNU to Paris, France. It was a four-hour drive and an amazing nap on the rides there and back. The bus driver took us on a quick tour of the city and showed us the different places we would like to see. We all took pictures underneath and around the Eiffel Tower and had the chance to soak in just how big the monument was. We had nearly five hours to walk around in small groups, see the sights, eat amazing food, or shop. The majority of us were able to do all three. To have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in Paris, a few of us were able to see the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre (the Mona Lisa), and the Notre Dame. After making our families jealous with souvenirs and pictures, we hopped back on the bus and made the four-hour drive home.
Tuesday - August 8
Bruges and Game 2 - To be continued.
Remaining games and location. Game times listed as local.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 8 p.m.
Opponent: Hawks Gent
Address: Tolhuislaan 77-79 9000 Gent
Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.
Opponent: Hawks Gent
Address: A.Rodenbachlaan, 23 9120 Melsele