For photos from the tour, go here.
**Day 18 – April 28, 2009
April 27 was the day I have been anxiously awaiting! It was a dream come true…we went to Italy!! My grandfather is from northern Italy so having an opportunity to visit the country he grew up in is wonderful.
Our day started at 6.45 a.m., Jessica (my roomie) and I headed down for breakfast but had to hurry back up to the room to pack. Each time we unpack it seems to get more difficult trying to reorganize each suitcase trying to divide each bag to weigh exactly 50lbs. But before we started packing, we jumped on the internet to see what the weather was going to be like in Verona, Italy. It has to be warm and sunny! Actually, it was 60 degrees with an 80 percent chance of rain...aahhh! That's okay, we were all so excited about traveling to Italy, a little rain wasn't about to dampen our mood.
After a few flights, we arrived in Italy around 5 p.m. One bag was missing, yep, it was my bag. The airline tracked down the bag, which was still in Munich, Germany (where we had a layover). Luckily it wasn't my bag with my costumes for our show, it was my personal bag with everything else I need to get ready for the show! Thank goodness I'm traveling with 10 other woman that I can borrow clothes from! We got checked into our hotel and went out for an authentic Italian meal. Once we broke through the language barrier and figured out the menu, Ali and I decided to split an order of penne pasta, it was very good. After a day of travel, everyone was exhausted. We arrived back to our hotel at 11 p.m.
We spent today touring the Ghedi Air Force Base. We had a great time meeting the woman and men who are stationed on the base. I must say, the espresso that was given to us at one of our stops was amazing! We ate lunch in the Italian mess hall. We caused quite a commotion as we all entered for lunch in our blue velvet rhinestone warm-up outfits. Our lunch was amazing, it was the typical Italian meal you would expect...bread and pasta! After lunch we went out to see the aircrafts. We toured the planes and of course took lots of pictures!
The day seemed to fly by. It was already time to set our positions for our show. The show went off smoothly. We had a very enthusiastic crowd. They loved our routines but their favorite seemed to be the Michael Jackson section. We finished our show by taking pictures and signing autographs with the troops. We went back to the hotel to quickly change. Since we didn't have time to shop or sightsee while in Italy, everyone told us that we were not allowed to leave Italy without having this amazing ice cream called gelato. It was still raining and we had to walk a mile to get the ice cream shop. We each were very happy to finally taste the gelato, which ended up being our dinner for the night!
(My bag finally arrived that evening at the hotel! Just in time before we departed for Spain!)
- Holly B.
Day 16 - April 25, 2009
This was a very busy day in Incirlik, Turkey! We started by going to breakfast in the dining hall. The food was okay, but I sure miss American food. After breakfast, we headed to the nearby baseball field for an appearance for the youth baseball teams. They were all so cute in their little baseball uniforms, lol. They even had a youth cheerleading team that performed! We did a short routine then had an autograph signing and pictures. After this appearance, we were wisked off to the Youth Center to do a Jr. Cheer clinic with some children. This was so fun! It gave us a chance to be up close and personal with the kids.
Before our show at the "Spring Fling" on base, the girls from the clinic performed with us on stage. They did a very good job. You could tell how much our appearance for this show was appreciated by the audience. The atmosphere was like a mini carnival. It had a petting zoo, face paint, blow up slides, balloons, and tons of food. I think I remember smelling funnel cakes! I was so hungry and hot after this show, but it was amazing. We had lunch right before our autograph session at the store there on base.
In the evening we were able to go shopping in "the Alley." This was a street that had all kinds of shops to buy everything at decent prices. We all went into the first store and bought so many "pashminas" (colorful cashmere scarves) that we didn't have enough time to shop anymore. I know the store owner was happy with our purchases and the amount of money we spent (shhh)! It started storming right as we were leaving. As it poured we waited for our bus to come so that we could go to the restaurant for dinner. At this Turkish restaurant the waiters were great! I ordered chicken schnitzel! It was so good. The waiter then played a trick on a few of us. They tried to give us "special tea." He handed us the teacups on saucers the cups flew off…but they were attached to the saucers. We thought tea was going to spill on us, but there was no tea in the cups! Ha! After dinner, we headed back because we had to get up and depart for the airport very early.
Stay tuned for the next stop!
**Day 14 - April 23, 2009
Yesterday was Brandice's birthday, but, unfortunately, we spent most of the day traveling. Luckily, we were able to have a small birthday bash for her last night at club inside our hotel in Amman, Jordan. After our show, the hotel manager opened the club just for us to celebrate a great show. She even arranged for Brandice's favorite song, "Poker Face" by Lady GaGa, to be played! I got Brandice a fun birthday cap and, with Natalie and Travasha's help, a cake too. We had an amazing time dancing and eating cake. But because of our traveling schedule today, we had to end the party early.
When Brandice was at breakfast in the morning, the hotel gave her a second birthday cake. Brandice carried that cake through two flights and two bus rides. She was not losing that cake! We arrived in Athens, Greece around 3:30 p.m. Brandice got a special treat and got to fly first class. Now that is a great birthday present! Once we landed, we had to re-check our bags (because of our excess luggage!). This was usually a big ordeal, but today we had a little fun with it. While waiting in the checkout line, we pretended we were a traveling Canadian circus! Everyone was assigned a role or talent, including: fire baton twirler, ring master, the contortionist, trapeze artist, girl shot out of a cannon, and a few others. After getting our bags checked, we hit up McDonalds for coffee and French fries, and while there, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Brandice and began eating that well-traveled cake.
Later that afternoon, we arrived in Chania, Greece on the island of Crete. The views of the islands and the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea were stunning. We took a van to the American base in Souda Bay. We stayed at the Navy Gateway Inn, where for the first time, we each had our own room complete with our own bathrooms! Last night, Travasha, Brandice, Natalie and I attempted to watch a movie, but didn't get too far into it. We were so tired, all four of us passed out on my bed.
We woke up early this morning and were able to see a little bit of Crete before having our sound check at 4:30 p.m. We went to a small area next to the sea where we shopped, ate lunch and took lots of pictures. We had our 6th show at Souda Bay around 5:30 p.m. It was a small but excited crowd that really seemed to enjoy our hip-hop section. After the show, we had dinner on the base, and then headed back to our rooms to rest up for Turkey tomorrow!
Day 12 - April 21, 2009
Yesterday was our free day in Amman, Jordan! The day started with a bus ride to a market town called Madaba, which is about 30 minutes or so away from Amman. We were told that Madaba is most known for its Mosaics. There were two main sites that we saw in Madaba; the first was the St. George Church and the second was the Madaba Archeological Park. The next stop on our tour was Mt. Nebo and the Moses Memorial. This was a beautiful area with a beautiful view! We were on top of the mountain overlooking the hills and valleys and once again learning lots of history. Visiting the Baptismal Site of Jesus Christ was next on the list! We hopped back in the bus and away we went! The road to the area was crazy!! Going down, down, down and around curve after curve! I cannot believe that I didn't get sick! Our last tour stop was the Dead Sea. After a quick lunch, we walked down the beach, unloaded all of our stuff and in we went! After a few pictures, we all held hands and got in a circle and just leaned back!! Everyone started screaming and laughing really hard!! We really did float.
Today was show day in Jordan. We were informed that the show was going to be poolside in the middle of their cookout at the U.S. Embassy! We were dancing so close the buffet line...I'm pretty sure we could have snuck a pickle or two during a routine and no one would have noticed! We heard this was the most people that have ever showed up for an event there, which made us feel good. We were invited to the Marine House for dinner and to talk with some of the people from the Embassy! This was our last night in Jordan and it was great. Tomorrow we will head out for Greece!
Day 8 - April 17, 2009
Today most of us had breakfast and headed to the on base pool at MFO North Camp. Thank goodness they had a laundry facility that we could use because the clothes we rode camels in five days ago were starting to really smell. We were able to get a couple of hours in the sun before getting cleaned up for our show tonight. We first visited a group of soldiers in charge of the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles, a.k.a. hum vees and took some pictures with the guys before heading to a barbeque at one of the colonels houses on base. There was a guy playing a bongo drum and another one playing what looked like a cheese grater and we switched out dancing with some of the guys. We got a little to eat before going to our sound check for the show. This show was also outside with a nice stage. After the great show we each were presented with North Camps coin from the chief of staff which is a sign of honor and appreciation. Theresa was given one of their berets for a cheerleader to wear at one of the games. I would definitely love to rock that beret at a game next season. We had a late dinner and then headed to our rooms to pack for the bus ride back to Cairo in the morning!
Day 6 - April 15, 2009
Yesterday, April 15th, was a day full of unbelievable memories that I will cherish forever. It was our day of rest at MFO South Camp in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. Our day of rest just so happened to fall on my birthday! Our day started off early in the morning with a "Zumba" workout and breakfast at the cafeteria. After breakfast, we headed through the desert sands and eventually arrived to the Red Sea at "Herb's Beach", the beach at South Camp. The excitement started as soon as our feet hit the beach. We overlooked a phenomenal view of the Red Sea right in front of our eyes. We instantly decked ourselves in bright snorkel gear and jumped into the water, taking pictures every inch of the way. The Air Force crew was training in the water and helped us float out to sea. They explained that the Red Sea is one of the top places to snorkel and scuba dive in the world. What an opportunity of a lifetime to say the least! The girls swam through the teal-colored water together, discovering unique fish of all colors and patterns...unreal!
After snorkeling, we were called into lunch early at 11:30 am for a "special talk" from the commander, or so they told me. We were a little anxious, not quite sure of what to expect. We double checked each other to make sure we were following the camp's cafeteria rules: no open-toed shoes, shoulders covered, shorts covering knees, etc. As soon as we sat down for lunch, the chef surprised me with a triple layered chocolate cake, my absolute favorite! I was ecstatic as the soldiers and girls sang happy birthday to me. I very much appreciated the thoughtfulness of everyone, especially the military. A soldier hand-picked a bouquet of hot pink, tropical flowers for me from the base. How nice! The flowers added a touch of glamor to the day and made me realize how much the troops truly appreciate us visiting them during hard times. I repetitively thanked the soldiers and the chef for the special surprises and explained that we are extremely grateful and respect all they do for our country. We finished our day of rest relaxing on the beach, which felt surreal.
Last but not least, we showered and got ready for a night of shopping and dinner in the town of Sharma (off base). A select group of soldiers went with us and split us into small groups for security and protection reasons. The taxi ride was interesting and lets just say...fast pace! When we arrived, bright lights and signs flashed from one restaurant to the next. People were in the streets bargaining purses and jewelry everywhere we looked. Some of the girls bought souvenirs to take home...everything from cartouches with hieroglyphic names to fun belly dancing costumes! After shopping, we ended up at our final dinner destination, the "Camel Bar." It was a roof-top location overlooking the gorgeous city. Dinner was great...most of us ordered American food. I was hesitant to explore any new kind of food in Egypt. I will save that for America! After dinner, the manager surprised me with yet another chocolate truffle birthday cake with my name detailed on the piece of chocolate on top! It tasted like a slice of heaven. I said, "Yikes, I suppose this calls for an extra hour of Zumba tomorrow morning!"
What a great day! We headed back to South Camp by 10:00 pm because the soldiers had to check in for the night. We had a flight to North Camp scheduled early the next morning on a military plane! Our very first military flight experience was a ride we will never forget. The seats faced each other in a row along both sides of the plane. We had to wear ear plugs and could not hear our Ipods because the noise was tremendously loud. I took deep breaths and gripped my seat as I am not the most easy-going flyer. It felt as if the small plane bounced from cloud to cloud. I opened by eyes near the end of the flight and the other girls were passing white bags down the row helping each other. We lost a few cheerleaders to stomach problems. Thank goodness we did not have a show scheduled after arriving! Another memory to look back on for good laughs. We recuperated in our rooms and appeared at a MFO North Camp Australian cookout later that evening. The soldiers were very excited to have us. We mingled and enjoyed our time with the American and Australian soldiers.
The past few days have been exceptional! I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to perform and support our troops overseas!!!
Day 5 - April 14, 2009 (MFO South Camp)
Today we traveled to the outposts affiliated with the base. We visited three separate locations to boost the morale of the soldiers. They stay at each location for one month and live the same day over and over. One guy told me that it was almost like the movie Groundhog Day. So I was very excited that we could bring a small change to their day. We would sign posters, tour the site, take pictures, and even play a little volleyball just to hang out for a while. Our last stop was on base where we got to ride on "HumVs." That was a cool experience! After all of our touring, we came back to our rooms to get ready for our third show. We performed that evening at an outside theater that overlooked the Red Sea. It was a beautiful night with amazing scenery. The show went over great with the crowd and afterward we again signed autographs and took pictures. Most of the troops at this location were from Ohio which is my home state. They all loved the fact that I was a true Buckeye! That night we were worn out after our show and went to bed.
Day 4 - April 12, 2009**
Today was so awesome! You'll never guess where we went...the one place you think of when mentioning Egypt...yes, the pyramids! We saw the Gaza Pyramids and the Sphinx. I even went inside the pyramid! It was a very small tunnel that was hot, stinky and sweaty. Sarrah and I were the only ones who went inside. I wish I could have taken pictures, but we weren't allowed to have cameras. Our tour guide on the trip was helpful, but a little crazy. He yelled "Andrews," that was the name of our AFE escort in Cairo, whenever he needed to find all of us in the crowds. For the rest of our trip, we say "Andrews" in his funny accent whenever we need to get the group together. And how could I forget the camels? We all got to ride them in the desert. That was so fun! We were snapping pictures of each other the whole time.
Right now we are on our way to do another show at an American school!
Talk to you later!
Day 1 - April 10, 2009
We have been traveling for the last 14 hours! I am so excited to start our tour.
Leaving the Colts complex yesterday was a mix of emotions for me. A lot of the Colts staff came outside to wish us good luck. My mom even met me at the airport to say goodbye, which was a little sad. But she gave me an Easter basket since we will all miss Easter with our families. Our very first flight in Indianapolis was delayed, so we were off to a slow start, but we just left Paris and are finally headed to Cairo.
Right now we are flying Air France. I am really hungry and all I want is American food. I am ready to get off the plane and be in Egypt already. I am not sure what to expect once we get there, but I know performing our show will be so much fun! I can't wait to meet the troops and hopefully experience some of the fun things each country has to offer.
- Natalie H.