The Vanderbilt bowling team is on a 10-day trip in Paris, Rome and Florence, the latest in a series of Commodore varsity squads to see a different part of the world. While the majority of the trip is educational in nature with tours and sightseeing, the Commodores will bowl the Italian National Team July 28-29. Rod Williamson will provide periodic updates of Vanderbilt's journey to Europe.
Bonjour! The Vanderbilt bowling team has just completed its third day in Paris, one of the world's greatest cities. And if you wonder why you haven't heard from us there is a good reason -- we've been busy!
Vanderbilt University is a big proponent of study abroad opportunities and it's no different when a varsity team travels for international competition; the biggest emphasis is upon learning new things.
It's been a tremendous trip and we're just getting started. Here's a quick update of highlights.
After flying overnight July 21 on an Air France airbus, we went straight from De Gaulle Airport to a bus tour of Paris. Our regular tour guide is a friendly and helpful man named Johan, originally from Sweden and now living in Amsterdam but also having lived in Paris and Rome. He was aided on the bus tour by a local expert, Isabelle, and she was indeed an expert. Downtown crowds were large as the Tour de France was ending as we toured.
By late afternoon we checked into our hotel and enjoyed a "Welcome to Paris" dinner, then hit the sack after a long day.
Monday we left our hotel by 8:15 (Paris is seven hours ahead of Nashville time) and we didn't come back until 11:30 p.m. -- over 15 hours of touring!
We began with the Eiffel Tower and due to long lines and construction on parts of the tower, we were forced to walk the many flights of stairs to the final leg of the ascent; someone said it was 690 steps but it felt too many like 1,690. It was worth it!
Next, on to the Louvre -- perhaps the world's most famous museum. Someone said we could look at each exhibit for a minute and it would take a year to circulate so we all headed in groups to favorite destinations. There were many stories when we gathered back hours later.
From there we went to see Notre Dame Cathedral, a historic and inspiring church built during the time of Napoleon.
After dinner we took a relaxing cruise down the Seine, the river that runs through the city. It was dark and the Eiffel Tour lit and sparkled, an awesome sight. Everyone with a camera was busy.
Tuesday also began early, a short bus ride to the spectacular Palace of Versailles. Johan hooked us up with Terry (pronounced Teary), a local art historian, and he was an encyclopedia of knowledge on both art and history. It was an unforgettable tour.
We came back to the city and got off the bus at the Arch of Triumph, spectacularly placed in the heart of downtown. Again the group divided (nobody is allowed to stray alone!) and we enjoyed free time on the Champs-Elysees and other hot spots. We ended the formal tour at another beautiful church in the city's Latin District.
The many Eiffel stairs and the long days of walking have many in the group tired at best and nursing minor blisters at worst. Tomorrow we pack up and head to Rome and eventually to Florence, where the team will bowl the Italian National Team in a friendly set of matches.
There are many stories to tell, memories being forged. It's the kind of trip that makes being a Vanderbilt Commodore unique but for now we need to sign off. We'll write again when time allows.
The team shows off the 'VU' hand sign in front of the Palace of Versailles.
Commodore bowlers pose for a photo at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Another photo at the Eiffel Tower.