NICK BRADY BLOG – January 28, 2011
Iceland continues to grow on us heavily. Every week we find ourselves looking at each other and saying, "I love it here." Maybe it is because for the most part the weather has been great. Maybe it is because both of our teams have been extremely successful the past few months and because we have been playing very well. Or maybe because we are just getting used to the culture and the country. No matter what the reason, Iceland has become home to us, and a very hospitable and enjoyable home at that.
As previously stated, Amanda and I left for London on the 16th of December. There we met one of Amanda's old roommate and her husband. Other then the weather, which was bearable however, London was a blast. The city is gorgeous. Just stunning. We took a ride on the "London Eye," which is basically the biggest Ferris wheel in the world. It takes about 30 minutes to complete one revolution and takes you up to 443 feet above the ground in an observation capsule. We went at the perfect time of day, as we were able to see the city right before dusk. And at 443 feet up you could see London, one of the largest cities in the world, in all of its glory. From here you could see everything the city has to offer: Big Ben, the London Tower, the London Bridge. Also while in London, we took a tour of Windsor Castle, which was very informative and historical. We also visited St. Paul's Cathedral. We were supposed to see the town of "Bath," and Stonehenge as well; both of these however were cancelled due to snow.
On the 19th of December, we took a ferry from London to Dublin, Ireland. It was my first time being on a boat. We stayed in the heart of Dublin's downtown and were only steps away from everything there was to see. We went and saw many sites across Dublin, including the Guinness factory, Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and Kilmainham Prison. One thing we noticed about Dublin was they are very proud of their churches, and rightfully so. The architecture is amazing. We visited three different ones, and even attended a service in one. Our favorite place however that we visited in Ireland was the "Cliffs of Moher". It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I remember when I saw the Northern Lights here in Iceland that I thought the sight of those could never be topped. The cliffs may not top them, but they rival them for sure. I cannot even attempt to describe the sight of this location. The best thing that I can do is tell you to go to Google, and type in "Cliffs of Moher," and click Images. There is a reason they are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The pictures will help explain why.
On the 24th of December, we arrived at the airport for our flight to Amsterdam. Our flight however was delayed six hours. So we arrived in Amsterdam on Christmas Eve and decided to call it a night. On Christmas Day, we were up and out early since we were leaving to return home to Iceland on the 26th in the morning. We visited the Heineken Brewery, several museums, and the "I Am Sterdam" monument. However, just walking around Amsterdam was the best part, as again, the architecture of the buildings were like none I have seen before. Canals running through the town everywhere, quaint, single-deck boathouses lined these canals. Buildings with unique designs, both houses and stores alike. It just has an old and homey feel to the city. Our favorite place we visited though was the Anne Frank museum. It is located in the actual attic where Anne and her family hid from the Germans during WWII. It was very informative, but at the same time very eerie, but in a cool way. When they pull back the bookcase that hid the entrance to the Secret Annex all your hairs stand up on the back of your neck and everyone is just silent. You walk through and stand right where Anne's bed was. You stand there and read the original clippings from newspaper and magazines that are still on the wall from when Anne hung them there 60 years ago. It really makes you be thankful for what you have and the fact that we are free. Also, in Amsterdam they are known for their "oil balls". They are basically over-sized donut holes with sugar on top. We ate a bunch of those. They are delicious.
It was definitely a little strange spending Christmas somewhere different then Hanover PA, but it was a good different. It was a different that made me feel like I had grown for the better.
We arrived back home on the 26th and immediately began preparing for the arrivals of our families over the next two weeks. Amanda's family spent New Year's with us. Boy, were they smart to pick New Year's to come. Reykjavik, Iceland, is said to be one of the top five places, but a lot of people say the number one place to be in the world on New Year's Eve. Amanda's family saw just why. There are huge 35-40 foot bonfires all over the place. And the fireworks display is one that is unparalleled by anywhere else in the world. It is an hour and 15 minutes of fireworks exploding, all different colors and sizes, in the air. And not just one position in the sky, it is happening everywhere. You can do a full 360-degree turn and not see one spot in the sky where there are no fireworks. We spent our New Year's Eve with Guðni and his family. He was a great host. We had salmon and lobster tail for appetizers, and smoked lamb for the main course. Amanda's family got the whole Icelandic experience. You follow it all up by heading downtown until the early morning. It was the most memorable New Years I have ever had, and one that I doubt has the ability to be topped. However, I do miss the rolling into practice the following day at 8:00 am for practice.
Amanda's family got the whole Icelandic experience. They saw the Golden Circle, got 50% off candy, and hotdogs of course. We also went to the Blue Lagoon. It is called Blue Lagoon because the water is literally Carolina blue. It is a geothermal heated lagoon that holds 6 million liters of seawater. The water is at a constant temperature of 98-102 degrees. It is said to be great for your skin and body, but better for your mind. You just lie back in the over-sized, natural bathtub and relax. It has a swim up bar for anyone thirsty, you can book massages, or if you want to be alone you can hideout in the large cave in the corner of the lagoon.
My family arrived a week after Amanda's family. They picked a perfect time as well because that evening I had my first game of the second half of the season. Both Amanda's family and mine were there in attendance. Maybe they were good luck because our team won in convincing fashion and I had 30 points, making 8-of-12 three-point attempts. I tried to convince them to move here and come to every game from now on. They didn't go for it though.
After my game, all 14 of us went out the ''Hamburger Factory'' to sit down and eat together. It was great to do because Amanda's family was leaving the next day and it was just very nice to have everyone together again for once. It made us feel like we were back home again.
Amanda's family left the next day, and that's when my family got the same tour as her family did. At the end of my family's stay though I got food poisoning. Luckily most of the sight seeing was over and no time was missed out on. My family left five days after they had arrived. I am happy to say that both families had a blast and recant our feelings about Iceland...that it is awesome here.
On the basketball front, both Amanda's team and mine continue to have successful seasons. Amanda's team (Stjarnan) is alone in first place in their league heading into a huge game this upcoming Sunday with the team one game behind them (Valur). My team (Brieðablik) is riding a five-game win streak to help us shoot up the standings, as we now sit alone in third place in our league. We too have a big game this week on Friday against the team that sits in fourth (Skallagrimur). Amanda and I both are playing a lot of minutes, and playing well. We both are averaging in the high teens in the scoring category and shooting the ball well, but both have also adapted to roles that we have not been used to in our career. For the most part of both of our careers, we have been looked upon as shooters and scorers. While we are still expected to carry the scoring load for our teams here, we also are usually defending the leading scorer for the opposing team on the other end of the floor. So far both of us have been doing a good job with this request. Hopefully our success, both team and individual wise continues as the season winds down over the next month and a half.
For the most part that is what has been going on with our lives in the past few months. Time is flying by, I cannot believe that it is almost February and our time here will be over soon. We are going to take it all in over the rest of our time here and hopefully not only come back with a great experience and great memories, but also a trophy in hand.
I want to wish everyone a late wish for a happy and healthy new year. I know I am several weeks late but you can never have to many warm wishes I feel. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas as well.
I wish the winter teams luck as the season winds down. Good luck especially to our women's and men's Spartan basketball teams with the second half of conference play. We will follow every game we possibly can.
Lastly, I want to wish Amanda a Happy Birthday! As I am sitting here writing it (January 24th) it is her 24th birthday today. I asked her how it felt to not only be dating a younger guy, but also how she felt about the fact that the younger guy could out shoot her. She just replied with 1st place. Shut me up pretty quick.