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Paul Mallers & Jake Dietz Blog From Greece - Days 5 Through 9

From Sports Information Director, May 26, 2009 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes,, (920) 403-4077

Day 5 - We started the day with a tour of the city of Kalamata, which included a Byzantine church and a monastery. The church at the monastery was small, but beautifully painted and decorated. After touring some of the historical sites in Kalamata, we finally got the opportunity to relax on the beach and go swimming in the Mediterranean! There was a long rocky pier that extended into the sea, so lot of us had fun jumping off the end of the pier. A couple of us tried swimming back to the beach from the pier, but Chris Peterson and his "doggie paddle" only made it a little bit of the way before Paul had to save him and head back to the pier.

In the late afternoon we had our second game against the Ekaskenop Men's basketball club of Kalamata. The gym we played in was extremely hot and the floor was made of a hard rubber that somewhat felt like a wrestling mat. The game started out good, and we played much better than the last game. We had a good lead for most of the game and held on for the win even though they cut the lead to seven in the second half. It was a good win for us after the last one. We got back to the hotel for a late dinner and got ready for the next day.

Day 6 - We had another early wake up call before we had to head out back towards Athens, which was a good five hours away. Along the way we stopped at Nafplion, which was a nice place to shop for souvenirs and look at the view, since a castle was at the top of a mountain overlooking the town. Next, we stopped at Epidaurus, which is the site of the sanctuary of Asclepius. This place is known for a spectacular theater that has the best acoustics in the world. The sound was so good that even though it seated 17,000 people, you could hear a penny drop from anywhere in the theater!

The last stop on the way back to Athens was a short stop at the Corinth Canal. It was amazing to see the size canal, as it was about 80 meters deep and stretched for four miles. After that we headed back to Athens and said goodbye to Yannis, our tour guide, since tomorrow we are going on our cruise of the Mediterranean without him. We have the rest of the night to relax before our cruise and our last game tomorrow. We will check back soon to let you know how it goes!

Day 8 - Waking up early once again and another good breakfast and it was off to our cruise boat for the all day cruise on the Mediterranean Sea and explore three Greek Islands. The cruise boat had three levels with the dining area in the middle. The entire team stayed on the top deck and enjoyed the sun while working on a tan and enjoying the slight breeze. About half the guys got a game of cards going. Coach Grzesk won a game of hearts between himself, Kenny Rideout, Chris Peterson, and myself (Jake). I'm sure he won't let us forget that.

When arriving in Hydra we were able to get off the boat and walk around the beautiful island. Some shopped for more souvenirs and others went swimming. Some of the guys jumped into the sea from a rocky platform. A few of the braver guys on the team found a 35-foot cliff to jump off of. All in all, Hydra, the view and scenery was amazing! We had lunch on the second floor of the boat. During lunch, the band played music and sang. A group of David Wipperfurth, Chris Peterson and Kyle Johnsen did a Greek dance with about 15 other people. John Taylor did a little improv of Frank Sinatra's L-O-V-E song which got the entire place laughing. There were a lot of pictures taken and there may be even a video of it floating around!

The next stop was to the island of Poros where we had only about 35 minutes to get off and explore. It was about 90 degrees outside so most the guys just jumped into the sea and swam. The last island on our stop was Aegina which we had the most time to spend there about two hours. Like the other two island there was a place to swim and get food. After two hours of having fun in the sun it was time to head back to Athens for the game. When arriving to the stadium some of the guys got a good rest on the bus and were focused to play.

The stadium was home to the Maroussi Basketball Club who was an A1 professional team in Greece. The team we played were the younger group of the club team. The game was a complete success - we won by 40 points. Every guy played a major role in the victory and it was a great way to end the trip and the basketball games. We headed back to our hotel for a late 11 p.m. dinner. Afterward, we were free to spend the rest of the night doing whatever. Most just went to bed since we had a 3:30 a.m. wake up call for our flight the next morning.

Day 9 - Heading home after a great week in Greece. We got a wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. since we had to be at the airport three hours before our flight out of Athens at 8:15 a.m. We said good by to our bus driver (Bobby) and the other guide -- another Yannis. Yannis was our guide for all the basketball games. He was a great guide and got along with all the players and families on the tour. After the four-hour flight to London, we had a couple more hours there before we got on our eight-hour flight back to Chicago. The bus finally pulled into De Pere around 8 p.m.

It was sad to have such a fun week in Greece come to an end, but it was exciting to get back home at the same time. We all had a blast!! It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and we will never forget it. The memories will last forever and hopefully our success will continue into the next basketball season. Thanks to all - Jake and Paul signing off for one last time!!!!!!!!