Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tuesday 5 July

After breakfast and some last minute morning shopping, we are arriving at the airport and so over and out until we see you all tomorrow.

Monday 4 July

On the road early to get to the oldest National Park. What a pristine sight – it consists of a variety of waterfalls and turquoise lakes high in calcium created because of the oxygenation of the water. We followed the walkways around the lakes and caught a short ferry across the largest one. Lunch was at a road side restuarant which had a bit of an animal park. The main attraction were the two bears but it also included a few deer and a peacock. What should have been a two and a half hour trip in Zagreb turned into an hour longer after an accident on the road on which we were travelling. This meant being diverted through the back roads on narrow country roads. Most of the boys were unaware of this as they slept through most of it. There were, however, a few with floating eyeballs as we pulled up at the Hotel Palace. That was certainly a treat for the boys at the end of a long trip. There was, however, no time to hang around as we had organised a match against the VK Mladost Club.  The boys scored some sublime goals and probably shaded the opposition in the final score line. We are still prone to playing to much like a rugby team in the pool and the subtleness of confining physical play to under the water is something that will need a lot of work. What is encouraging is the improvement in the play of our boys over a relatively short period of time. I sincerely hope this bodes well for the season ahead. Back at the hotel we were treated to a three course meal in our own dinning area and the banter between the boys was great to hear. A fitting end to an exhausting and amazing tour.


Sunday 3 July

We checked out of the the hotel and headed off to Split to watch the finals of the Croatian National U16 Championships. This was won by ┼áibenik in extra time – what an exciting match! It was then into the city centre and the Diocletian's Palace for a walk around before free time for lunch and shopping. We then headed on to ┼áibenik. After checking into the hotel we went into town for sightseeing and supper. We saw the beautiful St James Cathedral but could not unfortunately go in as it was evening mass. There was a nice vibe about the place with a children's 51st International Festival taking place. Some of the boys went to extraordinary lengths to get themselves McDonalds – I must be getting old because I most definately didn't see the point.

Saturday 2 July

After a hotel breakfast we headed back to the pool for a shooting session, while the National Team were put through their gym programme. Besides some of the players being in the actual gym, others worked through their excersises around the pool deck. After training we headed back to the hotel and then on to the Old City for lunch before a guided tour. Some of the boys then opted to head back to the hotel for a fun match in the sea pool in front of the hotel, while the others did the walk around the city walls. In the evening we headed for Cavtat, were we played in the harbour pool having divided the Hilton players into two teams. We then hung around in this picturesque town to have supper and explore a bit. It was then back to the hotel before setting off for the old city to experience the night life and get a vibe for the place. We used the bus system to get back to the hotel after a fun evening out.

Friday 1 July

We were back on the bus today to complete our journey south to the 'Jewel of Europe', Dubrovnik city. On our way there we made a planned stop at Trogir to see its beautiful Cathedral, its old city and castle. Whilst only there for a short stop it was well worth the time we spent there and once again we were in awe of the innumerable ancient historical treasures Croatia has to offer to those who visit. On the way there we heard the exciting news that we were going to be training in the same complex as the Croatian National Team. We arrived in Dubrovnik and headed straight for the pool. We watched the initial part of their training which included doing man up before we continued with our own training. At the end of practice we were privileged to have a photo taken with their National players.  We rushed back to the hotel for a late supper and a bit of free time to see our surrounds.