Friday, March 30, 2012

Hunger Games!

Don't you just love how I'm blogging more often? I know I sure do! Anyways, the subject of today's blog is my latest obsession: The Hunger Games. For those of you who don't know what The Hunger Games is about, here is a brief summary (don't worry I won't give anything away).
The Hunger Games takes place in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and 12 surrounding, poorer districts. At one point in the country's history, a rebellion rose up within the districts and the citizens of Panem attempted to overthrow the Capitol. The uprising failed, and the Capitol regained control over their districts, destroying a 13th district in the process. Every year since then, as a reminder of the horror and destruction that a rebellion can cause, and to keep the districts under control, the Capitol forces each district to offer up (as tributes) one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18. These tributes would be trained in hand to hand combat and survival skills. After they are trained they are placed in an outdoor arena (controlled by the Capitol) to participate in "The Hunger Games", a fight to the death on national television.
This is Katniss.
This is Peeta.
Katniss and Peeta are the tributes that were selected from District 12. The book centers around their journey as they fight for survival in the 74th annual Hunger Games. 

24 Tributes...1 Victor

Sounds intense, huh? 

The Hunger Games is only the first book in the series of three. I originally read the series about a year ago. I fell in love immediately. But, I'm the kind of person who likes to reread books right before their movie comes out (some people don't like to do that which I completely understand). So, I started rereading the first book of the series about a month before the movie was scheduled to come out. Well, I completely forgot how addicting this book is, and I underestimated how fast I can finish a book that I'm really hooked on. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about three days, and the plan to reread it right before I saw the movie kind of failed. And I couldn't wait to read the second book until after I saw the movie either. Once you start the series, the pages practically turn themselves! Well, I finished the entire series about a week before the movie came out. Oh well! The good news is...

66. Reread The Hunger Games series.

The movie came out in theaters here in Vienna on March 22nd (not sure when it came out exactly in the States). And THANK GOD we have an English cinema here in the city. I went and saw it with Jenna. I was so excited because I had heard nothing but good things about it. It definitely did not disappoint. The stuck to the plot line really well (I hate when movie adaptations completely stray from what actually happened in the book), and overall, all the actors did really well with their characters. 

After seeing the movie, Haymitch officially became my favorite character. Haymitch is from District 12, and is a past winner of the Hunger Games. He now serves as a mentor for Peeta and Katniss doing whatever he can to prepare them for the arena and to help them survive the games. Haymitch is portrayed in the film by the amazing Woody Harrelson.
He did an awesome job giving Haymitch more depth as a character and bringing to life his relationship with the lead characters, Katniss and Peeta.

If you haven't read the books, I would HIGHLY recommend them. You will be instantly hooked. And, if you're not a reader, the movie is definitely worth seeing! An amazing, gripping, intense, and inspired story! 

"Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!" -Suzanne Collins (author)


P.S. Because this post is all about The Hunger Games, here is a trailer from the movie for you! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vienna Zoo!

Hey all! So recently, I was able to cross something else off of my 101 in 1001 list! I went to the Vienna Zoo with my teammates! I think the last time I went to the zoo was when the team traveled to Hawaii for spring break my sophomore year of college. Needless to say, I was super pumped to go! And so was Jenna...
We got to see so many cool animals! And we were there during the tigers and jaguars feeding time! Yeah, we watch them chew a rabbit's head off. 
We were also there during the sea lions' feeding time! This was SO COOL! I took a video for you :)
We saw Timon!
And we hung out with some Pandas!
Ahh, nothing quite like going to the zoo! Everyone gets to be a kid here! It was definitely a great day for me :)

And that means... 72. Go to the zoo. Yay!

Sending all my love from Vienna! 17 days til' our last match!


P.S. The other night I watched "Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again" and I laughed so hard! So the next few posts are gonna have clips from that because I just think it is so funny! And since I went to the zoo, here is your animal related clip courtesy of Bill Engvall :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Good News!

Okay, so some of you may know that I tweeted earlier saying, "I might have just gotten the best news of the entire season! Stay tuned! As soon as I find out something more concrete I'll let you know! :)"

Well, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for some good news...

If you read my last blog post, you know that my team has recently advanced to the Austrian League Finale. The Finale is NBA-style best 4 out of 7 matches (yeah, a little obnoxious, I know). The first match of the Finale was originally scheduled for April 7th, with the next three matches being the 11th, 15th, and the 18th, respectively. However, today we received the news that WE ARE STARTING THE FINALE SERIES A WEEK EARLY!!!!!!!! Yay! So, we are starting on the 1st of April with the next three matches being the 4th, 11th, and 15th (they scheduled Easter weekend off). That means: I'LL GET TO COME HOME A FEW DAYS EARLIER THAN EXPECTED! I know what you're thinking! "Well Kayla, the finale is best 4 out of 7 matches. What if you lose a match?!" Good question! The answer is we will not lost any matches because my team knows I will kill them if we do. Problem solved. But, in all honesty, we shouldn't have any problem sweeping the finals. We are the better team as long as we don't mess around. So, I did the math. THERE ARE OFFICIALLY 19 DAYS UNTIL OUR LAST MATCH! THAT'S LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!!!!! I'm so excited! Are you excited??? Yaya!

So that's my good news! Sorry it's not something cooler than that, but I'm super pumped about it! :) And that's all I have for you tonight. Until next time...

Sending all my love from Vienna! 19 days! :)


P.S. And since this is a sports related blog, here is a sports related clip!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lifelong Frienemies

Hey there! So, last night our team won our third semifinal match, advancing us to the Austria League Finale. Pretty exciting, I know! However, this wasn't just any old semifinal series. There is a pretty cool story attached to it. Ready? Here we go!

Okay for those of you who don't know Ellie Blankenship, this is her...She is my age, and she is from Cedar Rapids, IA.

She and I have been playing against each other LITERALLY our entire volleyball careers. No joke. We played against each others' club teams in grade school when we were first starting out in the sport. She played on Cemar Blast, and I played on Courtmasters.
If only I had a pic like this of Ellie. Good thing I don't because she'd probably kill me if I posted it :)

We played against each other in high school. She went to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. I went to Dubuque Wahlert.
Not sure where she's at in that pic but she's in there somewhere.
We played against each other in high school club, as well. She played on Six Pack, and I played on DVC (Dubuque Volleyball Club) and Courtmasters. Then finally, we actually played TOGETHER our senior year of club. We were both on Six Pack Volleyball Club together. This is where the friendship phase of our very long history begins :) We clicked instantly and became good friends! We were definitely fun lovers and we brought out each others goofy sides. 
I'm the libero and she's #4 to my right.

After high school, we both went our separate ways. I went to Nebraska, and she continued her volleyball career at the University of Northern Iowa. 
We weren't in the same conference. But, as fate would have it, we met each other in the NCAA tournament in 2009. 
She was the starting libero all four years at UNI.

After our college careers were over, we were both invited out to Anaheim to train in the 2011 winter training block with the US National team. Once again, we were teammates! 
Still bringing out my goofy side.
And we got to enjoy Southern California together.
We both decided to continue to pursue professional volleyball. Surprise, surprise! We both signed in Austria. And, prepare yourselves, this is gonna come as a huge shocker....She is on the team that we just played in the semifinals! Weird! 
 As James Norrington of Pirate's of the Caribbean said, "Our destinies are entwined." I have a feeling we're gonna be competing against each other and with each other for the rest of our careers. And I can't wait :)


P.S. Frienemy: A friend that you love but at times you call an enemy for joking purposes. (Source: You could say that Ellie and I are frienemies :) 

P.P.S. Here is your "The Office" clip of the day! Enjoy!

P.P.P.S. Ellie has a blog of her own if you want to start following her and getting to know her better!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Paris Day 3!

Alright folks! Here is the third and final installment in my Paris blog trilogy! I dedicated the entire third day to the Chateau Versailles!

Once again, I was up and at 'em early on Day 3. I woke up at 7:00 AM again and was out the door by 8:00 AM. I checked out of my room, but left my luggage there again so I wouldn't have to carry it around with me again.

It was an absolutely perfect day in Paris! Thank God the sun decided to come out at least one of the days I was there!

The first place I went this morning was Starbucks. I was dragging a little and needed a pick-me-up. So, I bought myself a caramel machiatto and did some people watching. Thank God Starbucks is international.

Around 8:45 AM I hopped on the train that would take me to Versailles. It was about a 25 minute train ride; not too bad. Plus, I got to see other parts of the city. It was a short walk from the train station to the chateau. I arrived at the front gates around 9:15. I'm still taking pictures on my digital camera right now so I'm afraid I can't post any pictures from the beginning of my day yet. However, this is what the front looks like. Absolutely amazing!
I picked up the audio guide to help me tour the castle. It was amazing! And you're in luck! About halfway through my tour, my digital camera said that I didn't have any space left on my memory card. So, I was forced to switch back over to my camera phone! Here is the royal dining room!
Apparently, whenever the royal family was dining, the public were allowed to come and stand on the other side of the room and watch. Strange. Anyways, the chateau was completely filled with amazing artwork. Here is one of my favorites: a painting of Marie Antoinette being crowned by Napoleon.
It took me about an hour and a half to get through the inside. Then I moved outside to the gardens!
The gardens were absolutely HUGE! I walked through the first part of the gardens with my map in my hand (yeah you needed a map to get through this place). There were so many beautiful fountains, statues, and groves that you could explore. Then right in the middle was the Grand Canal. Here is the picture of the map so you can get a sense of how big this place was.
I spent about an hour walking through the gardens and groves closest to the chateau. This was the King's Grove.
A few more pictures from the gardens.
Around noon, I headed to the Trianon Palaces (which were the royal families privates residences) and Marie Antoinette's private estate. I toured through a few of the private residences for about an hour.

Marie Antoinette's private bedroom.
This wasn't an actual kitchen. This was just a "warming room". The kitchen that prepared the food for the royal family was in a different building entirely.
The King's billiard room. 
After I toured the private residences, I decided to walk back to the palace along the Grand Canal. 
It was gorgeous outside! I loved it!
So there is a small dock on part of the canal. This is a popular place for visitors that need to sit down and rest for a bit. While resting, we have some amazing company :)
There were about ten near the dock. They swam right up to you! Of course, they were expecting bread, which I didn't have any. But still, I could've literally reached out and touched them! Incredible!
There were a few sandwich shops along the Grand Canal. So, I decided to have lunch there around 1:30 PM. 
I can't get over how beautiful it is!
I sit by the Grand Canal until about 2:15 PM. After this I make my way back up to the chateau. This place is absolutely breathtaking! I could get used to living like this :)
By this point in the day, I am absolutely EXHAUSTED. I spent almost three days going crazy in Paris, walking at least 5 miles a day, and getting little sleep. My back, my knees, my shoulders, my feet, and my right ankle (the one I had surgery on...weird, I know) were KILLING me. I didn't have anything else that I wanted to see during this trip. So, I decided to head back to the hotel, grab my luggage and head to the airport early. I got on the train back to the city at 2:20, was on the train to the airport at 3:30 and after checking in and finding my gate, I settled down in the airport around 5:00 PM. It feels so good to sit down, because at this point, I am in so much pain. I guess 23 is the age when everything starts hurting :)

My flight left at 8:15 PM.
I landed at 10:15 PM.
I took the train to Vienna at 11:05 PM.
I hopped on the subway back to my street at 11:30 PM.
I arrived back at my apartment at 11:54 PM. 
Talk about a jam packed three days of pure adventure!

It took only three days for me to fall absolutely head over heels in love with Paris. I want very much to be able to go back someday (but maybe next time with company). I don't really have any highlight points of my trip because everything was so AMAZING! I can't pick a favorite so don't make me :)

I spent an amazing three days in Paris, and you know what that means....
99. Visit at least one other country for a weekend while I'm living in Austria.


As always, sending all my love to you! Four weeks til I'm home! :)


P.S. As usual, have a good laugh. Enjoy!