Aug. 16, 2006
The Notre Dame men's tennis team continued a four-day stay in Vienna, Austria, this week, and senior Barry King - a native of Dublin, Ireland, which is the team's next stop - takes the time to tell tales of sightseeing and visiting and amusement park on Monday, all in his distinctive Irish speech pattern. Check back soon to und.com, as 2006 graduate Eric Langenkamp will describe Tuesday's trip to the zoo in his diary.
Men's Tennis European Tour Diary #4 - August 14, Vienna, Austria; Barry King
With Iran on Sheeva Parbhu's mind, we awoke at 10 a.m. on Monday and met in the hotel lobby to tour the city. Our first port of call was the magnificent St. Stephen's Cathedral, which is right in the heart of Vienna. The place was packed with people so, inevitably, Brandon Pierpont quickly got lost. Since most of our team - particularly Ryan Keckley - was struggling after the exertions of the match and activities from the night before, we decided to go to an internet café and return back to the hotel minus Brandon after a quick tour of the city.
We were particularly looking forward to lunch since Coach (Bayliss) told us Iri's (senior Irackli Akhvlediani) dad Yuri was going to bring us to the United Nations for a bite to eat. So under the instructions of the Bullet we went and got changed into slacks and a dress shirt, so we at least could pretend we were important. However, when we met downstairs we soon realized there was some confusion - due to the language barrier - and that only Coach, Mrs. Bayliss, (deputy director of athletics Stan Wilcox' wife) Ramona Wilcox and (sports information director) Bo Rottenborn were going to the U.N. (since we didn't have a way to transport the whole group), while we were left to our own devices with Iri's brother, David. So to borrow a term from our coach, "We were all dressed up with no place to go." But that didn't dampen our spirits, since we found out David was taking us to an amusement park in Prator, just outside downtown Vienna. David excelled as a host in the absence of Iri, who was laid up with a stomach bug.
Before we could even get our bearings in the amusement park, Stephen "The Money Machine" Bass was absorbed by a game that involved putting 50-cent coins into a machine full of them in the hope that a lot of them would eventually fall. It was obvious to me and to the whole of Vienna that these machines were impossible to make money from, but Stephen didn't think so and persisted. To be fair to him, he says he did eventually come out with a bit of a profit after a loan or two from yours truly. Sheeva and Brett Helgeson were starting to get mad waiting for him, so we moved on towards the actual amusements. The first one that caught our eye was "The Superman," which lasted five minutes and pretty much threw us every way possible. Every one on the team - bar Stephen and Eric Langenkamp, who had been battling presumably the same bug that struck Iri - took part, because their stomachs were feeling "weak." Unfortunately, their stomachs were feeling weak for the whole afternoon, so Eric and Stephen kindly took up the task of using all seven of our cameras for action shots of us on the rides. We got a particularly good one of Brett Helgeson looking more than a bit frightened.
The most memorable part of our afternoon was definitely the go-karting experience we had. It's safe to say we were extremely competitive and trying to pass each other everywhere. Brandon Pierpont and I were the most reckless drivers by far. On one particular occasion, I was accelerating into a corner when I saw Sheeva Parbhu right behind me determined to pass me - and, as most of college tennis can attest to, it is a pretty fearful sight when Sheeva wants something. So I decided to cut him off at the corner, as you do, but Sheeva wasn't giving in and went right into the side of me at full speed. His cart tilted into the air and seemed to me to hang there; for a split second, I saw Sheeva's life flash before my eyes - and also my own life once Coach had gotten his hands on me - but luckily his car fell back down correctly, and I carried on with my heart in my mouth.
Brandon and Santiago Montoya also had a wreck resulting in the owner of the track screaming at Santi in the middle of the track. When we were finished, the owner of the track was conversing angrily in German with David. Afterwards, we asked what he was saying. David's exact response was, "He wants to know who gave you all your driver's licenses!"
On the way out, Stephen Bass tried desperately to win a cuddly toy for a special person in his life, so eventually with the help of Ryan Keckley's bow-and-arrow skills, he won a small, cuddly toy. Was it worth the effort, you ask? I guess we'll have to wait and see back in the States. Afterwards, we had a small bite to eat at the amusement park and headed back to the hotel to catch a few hours of shuteye to reload for a Monday night in Vienna.
David again showed us a really good time in Vienna by taking us to a very nice place to relax with people our age and to mix with the locals. Monday night was a surprisingly popular night in Vienna, because Tuesday was a national holiday. So, needless to say, we enjoyed mixing with the locals. A few hours into the night, we played a game called "Shoulders," which Ryan (Who else?) unfortunately knew. Sheeva couldn't keep up with the pace, so we stopped and headed to a different venue. It was obvious that everywhere we went, people labeled us a mile away as Americans. Brandon thought it was because the girls were taking a shine to him, but I wasn't so sure. The night ended on an eventful note when Santiago ended up chatting with a very nice Viennese girl. They appeared to be hitting it off immediately and had a lot in common, but unfortunately she turned "psycho" - as Santi put it - after a couple of hours.