Archive for March, 2010

Inter-Hall Korfball

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I had my first assignment of the semester due this Thursday for my Medieval Castles class – a 15 minute presentation

Intense Korfball

on Ayyubid Castles, exhilarating I know. I’m just pumped because I hate public speaking, even if it’s only in front of 20 people. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure I aced that bad boy. I had the same professor and the same assignment last semester, and I completely tanked it and still got a decent grade, so due to the fact that this one was infinitely better, I’m assuming I got a pretty good grade. No more assignments for another month.

On Tuesday night I played this game called korfball for my dorm in inter-hall sports. There’s usually a different sport every week, and I hadn’t played yet this year, so I figured it was time to contribute my amazing athletic talent. Since korfball has zero following in the US, it was a good way to get a little culture for the week as well.

If you’ve never heard of korfball, don’t worry, it might be one of the most ridiculous games ever invented. It’s played in a ton of obscure countries like Belarus, Taiwan, Serbia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and of course all of the UK. It was played in the ’20 and ’28 Olympic games so there’s no contention about its’ status as a sport.

Anyway, it’s a coed sport where the objective is to shoot a soccer type ball into an 11.5 foot hoop with no back board. There’s plenty more rules, but I’ll leave it at that and you can Wikipedia the rest. I actually learned the game from watching Youtube clips. My team came in 5th out of 6, but it was a good time, and I learned a new sport (which I will probably never play again), so it’s all good.

I went to a friend’s 21st birthday party on Saturday night. It was in this nice hotel called the Rusacks on the 18th hole of the Old Course which I had never been to but had walked past a million times. I ended up meeting a ton of people which was great because I only knew 2 or 3 when I first walked in. Nice place, friendly people, all in all a great night.

Didn’t get a round in on the Old Course this week, but I attempted to play the Jubilee today. Pretty miserable conditions (20 mph winds right off the beach) made for a miserable score, and it didn’t help that my game was off more than usual. As always, it was just good to get out, and as an added bonus, it didn’t rain.

We booked our hotel for Paris this week, so everything is just about set for that. We’re heading over there from April 4th through the 6th and it looks like it’s going to be a solid few days.

My Out of This World Adventure to Amsterdam

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Token sign that everyone takes a picture with

Token sign that everyone takes a picture with

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one – I just got back last night from my two day excursion to Amsterdam. It’s a crazy city, and even though we were only there for two days, I’m pretty sure I experienced everything Amsterdam had to offer and then some. Two days was more than enough and I don’t think my body could take any more. It’s the most tired I’ve been after a weekend trip.

For a city that’s not that cosmetically appealing, I think I can say that it has been my favorite city so far. It’s a canal city, which overall is pretty sweet, although I had a love/ hate view of them. They’re ridiculously dirty, and they’re filled with run down boats that looked like they haven’t been touched in twenty years, but at the same time, there’s a ton of decked out house boats lining the banks and seeing canals in the middle of the city in general is pretty cool.

The Heineken "Factory"

I’ve never seen so many bikes in my entire life, I kid you not. There are bike racks literally on every street corner, and at busy points they have multi layered bike rack/ parking garages for bikes only. The bike lanes on the road are bigger than those for cars. Just like some of the boats in the canals, I’m pretty sure some of the bikes on the racks haven’t been touched in a few years either – some are rusted beyond repair.

When we got into the train station, we got lost on our way to our hostel – which was in the middle of nowhere – so we decided to check out some of the coffee houses. Pretty crazy stuff. Even if you don’t plan on taking advantage of any of the amenities yourself, it’s still cool just to watch people nonchalantly buy drugs over the counter that are illegal in the US. We eventually found our hostel, checked in, and explored another coffee house.

In actuality, there are probably plenty of things to do in Amsterdam, but all we really cared about was the Heineken

Houseboats and Canals

factory, the Red-light district, and the Van Gogh Museum. So first on the list was the Heineken factory, which actually turned out to be more of a museum. It was run by guys about my age, who didn’t exactly seem like experts, but the museum itself is sick and you get two free pints of beer at the end.

Before the Heineken factory, we got some Doner kebabs for lunch. They seem to have those in every European city, which is good for us because we’re addicted at this point. Gotta love street meat.

We did a lot of walking around that afternoon, and that night, we hopped over to the Red-light district. Talk about crazy, I have never seen anything like it. It’s just straight up neon lights, fast food joints, euro rave bars, and any form of erotic entertainment you could possibly think of. I’ll leave it at that for now, if anyone wants to know more, send me a message.

The calmer part of the Red-light district

There are these fast food bar type restaurants where they sell fries in a paper cone, which most locals have with mayonnaise. A couple of the guys got some fries sans mayo, and we called it a night.

We hit up the Van Gogh Museum Sunday morning. It’s not secret I hate art, but since I haven’t paid to go into a museum since I’ve been abroad, I figured I might as well suck it up and go in. For a guy who doesn’t like art, I could appreciate it for what it was – he does actually have some pretty cool paintings. If you are into Van Gogh or know anything about art, you’d be in heaven. Anyways, we flew home Sunday night, and that was the weekend. Can’t say I’m in any rush to go back right this second, but if the opportunity did come up at some point in the future, I’d go in a heartbeat.

On another note, I played the Old Course again on Wednesday. It seems like it might just become a weekly thing. Had one of my best nine holes on the front and totally tanked in on the back, but whatever, it’s the Old Course. I just try to enjoy it.

Playing the Old Course (And Golf in General) Never Gets Old

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Last week, I did a little complaining about the weather we’ve been having lately. Looks like the golf gods heard my prayers because the weather did a complete 180, and other than a few showers Saturday, it was sunny all week. Perfect golfing weather. In the spirit of taking advantage of the only sun we’ve seen in 2 months, me and a few of the Holy Cross guys decided we would golf everyday this week – and we did. We actually went twice on Monday, so that’s a total of 8 rounds (even if some were only 9 holes) in a span of 7 days.

Unfortunately, a few of those rounds were on the Balgove Course, which is more of a field with holes and flags than an actual course, but it’ still golf so I’ll let it slide. We even attained a little variety with a few rounds on the Strath, 18 holes on the New, and to top it off, I played a solo 18 on the Old on Wednesday afternoon (probably my best round yet).

Our Holy Cross academic advisor took all of us out to dinner last night at this Italian place called Zizzi’s. We’re all pretty spread out around St. Andrews so although I didn’t get to see the people at the other end of the table, it was still good to have everyone in the same room. It was the first real meal I’ve had since Prague (where I had some bomb goulash). I ordered an entire 4 course meal and plenty of wine. Looking back on it I probably went a little overboard, but on the positive side, nothing went to waste and I got to eat real food for once.

All our plans for Amsterdam are finalized. We head out at the crack of dawn (or maybe earlier) on Saturday, and come back on Sunday night. I’m missing the New Hall (the dorm I live in) Ball on Saturday night but when I’m 40, I think I’ll look back and be happy with my decision. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ll look back on it next week and be happy.

Pretty pumped I’m getting out of St. Andrews for a couple days. I love the place but my life has become way too predictable. I either golf, go to the gym, go out, and twice a week I go to class – and that’s about it. While I’m living the dream, its still nice to have a little variation once in a while. Anyway, next week’s post should be pretty interesting.