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Gonzaga Women's Basketball 2019 Foreign Tour

Follow along here as the Gonzaga women's basketball team embarks its first-ever foreign tour, Aug. 10-22. The Bulldogs will make stops in Barcelona, Spain as well as Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy along with exploration days in Vatican City and Lucca.

We will compete in four games against international competition during the tour. The tour will also feature various sightseeing opportunities and city tours including landmark visits to La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Colosseum in Rome and St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for an in-depth learning experience of multiple European cultures.

Take a look behind-the-scenes of our media availability ahead of our #ForeignTour2019! 👇👇👇

We've been putting work in ahead of our #ForeignTour2019. Check it out! 💪💪💪

Travel Day ☑️

GEG ➡️ MSP ➡️ CDG ➡️ 📍 Barcelona, Spain

After we landed in Barcelona around 2:30 p.m. local time, we had some time to explore the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas near our hotel. Here, we were able to enjoy the spectacular architecture of the early Roman City as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Barcelona. The cathedral, on which construction first began on May 1, 1298, was completed just over 100 years ago in 1913.

La Sagrada Familia

We began our second day in Barcelona at La Sagrada Familia. Stunned by the sheer size and detail of the basilica, we spent the first part of the morning just taking in the beauty of the outside.

The basilica's first stone was placed on March 19, 1882 from original architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano; he failed to follow the plans for the building, and architectural duties were then assigned to Antoni Gaudi (pronounced GOD-ee), one of the most famous architects of the era.

Our guide informed us that construction is set to be completed in 2026; the year is significant because it is 100 years following Gaudi's death.

Following La Sagrada Familia, we headed to the Olympic sites, which played host to the 1992 Olympic Games. Do you recall, that was the first year that professional athletes were able to participate in the Olympics? That year was the birth of the Dream Team.

La Sagrada Familia and the Olympic Sites!

Following our walking tour, we headed to the town of Mataro to face the Mataro All-Stars in the first game of the tour. We took a 71-60 win with our fresh new squad.

On our third and final day in Barcelona, we took some time to really enjoy the city. As a team, we competed in our very own Amazing Race. There were multiple landmarks we had to find across Barcelona such as Casa Batlló, the Teatro Coliseum and the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi. Of course, it was a competition among the team to see who finished first! Melody Kempton, Gillian Barfield and Kaylynne Truong took first place, but Jill Townsend, Anamaria Virjoghe, Kylee Griffen and Jessie Loera played tour guides for us for the day, showing us around Barcelona. Check it out below!

We hit up the local market, full of tons of fruit, meat and veggie stands, and then we ran around the city trying to be the first to complete the Amazing Race. Finally, we hit the beach and relaxed for a few hours before a wonderful dinner back near our hotel. Hasta luego España! 👋👋👋

On to Rome!!

We had a quick two-hour flight to Rome, Italy to continue our #ForeignTour2019. Once we landed, we met our group guide Mattia and our tour guide, Lisa (easy name to remember for our group!).

After a quick stop for lunch, we hit the town and it didn't take long for us to be in total awe. We started at the Piazza Navonna, taking selfies in front of the gorgeous fountain and learning about the early Roman history.

Then, we headed to the Pantheon where Kayleigh Troung gave us a rundown of the history. Did you know that in ancient Greek, Pantheon means 'To honor all Gods'?? Oh, and it's also the world's largest unsupported concrete dome. Pretty cool history lesson!

Next, we headed to the Trevi Fountain and tossed our coins. One for a return trip to Rome, two for love and three for wedding bells. The fountain was constructed at the end of an aqua duct at the meeting point of three roads. This is where it gets its name, Trevi Fountain or Three Street Fountain. The fountain is constructed out of the same material as the Colosseum, travertine stone, and it is so heavy that many men were injured and even killed during construction.

We ended our walking tour at the Spanish Steps. It is the longest and widest staircase in Europe with 138 steps, and it was constructed in 1723.

Check out our full day below!

Check out a few photos from our first day in Rome, taken by our very own Jenn Wirth!

On our second day in Rome, we continued our epic historical adventure, taking a walk through the old Roman Forum and standing in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The Roman Forum was located at the center of the ancient city of Rome, and it was the location of important religious, political and social activities. Julius Cesar became the first resident of Rome to be deified (following his death), and he was honored with a temple inside the forum. He was cremated inside the forum within the walls of the city, which at that time was against the law.

Temple of Cesar
One of the arched entrances to the Roman Forum

Historians believe people first began publicly meeting in the open-air forum around 500 B.C., when the Roman Republic was founded. The location of the forum was strategically placed between the Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill, and it was home to many of the ancient city's most impressive temples and monuments. Plus, it was only a short walk to the massive Colosseum, the next stop on our tour!

The Colosseum was just a five minute walk east of the Roman Forum. The massive stone amphitheater was built around A.D. 72 and completed just eight years later in A.D. 80.

We had a great panoramic view of the Colosseum while on our first tour of the Roman Forum, so of course, we had to stop for some pics!

The Colosseum was used for several types of entertainment for the Roman people, including gladiatorial combats, wild animal fights and public executions. Our tour guide, Lisa, told us that following the animal battles, the people would feast on the meat of the animals. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people died inside the Colosseum and about one million animals were killed during the 390 years the amphitheater was used for entertainment.

Following our tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum, we rested for a few hours before our game against the University of Ottawa. We took a short bus ride to the arena and geared up for our second game.

We came out aggressive against Ottawa with high energy, and after the first quarter claimed a 17-8 lead after the first 10 minutes.

By the end of the first half, the Zags had doubled Ottawa's score, leading 32-16.

The Bulldogs continued to push in the second half and rolled to the 69-34 win.

✌️❤️🏀

Our final day in Rome was simply spectacular. We traveled to another country! Vatican City is it’s own separate country within the city of Rome, and it houses the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Entrance to the Vatican

We walked through the Vatican Museum and soaked up all the art history we could. Our guide, Lisa, told us of all the stories and meanings behind the major sculptures, canvasses and tapestries.

We then toured the Sistine Chapel. It took Michelangelo nearly five years to complete, and he had to create his own scaffolding to accommodate the unique location of his canvas. Given the delicate nature of the painted ceiling, photos were not permitted, but we gazed upward for nearly 15 minutes at the famous painting.

Then, we ventured into St. Peter’s Basilica. We were able to see where the Pope addresses the crowd in St. Peter’s Square as well as walk through the Basilica and admire the detail of the designs.

The day was full of history, art and religion, and we loved every second of it!

Check out the full video of our Vatican City excursion below!

On to Florence!

Saturday, following an incredible three days in Rome, we traveled to Florence by train. The one hour, 20 minute ride cut our commute by nearly three hours, as the bus carrying our luggage took nearly four hours to make the trip. It gave us a great opportunity to see the Italian countryside traveling at nearly 155 mph.

Once we arrived in Florence, we stopped at a local market for some lunch and shopping. Italy is known for its leather, and nearly the entire market was full of leather goods. Also, if you rub the snout of the wild boar in the photo below, you’re guaranteed to return to Florence. So of course, we all did!

Next, our guide Sylvia took us on a walking tour of the city. We walked across Ponche Vecchio (the only bridge not destroyed during WWII), continued through the Piazza della Signoria, gawked at the Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and walked through the Accademia Gallery, home to the famous David by Michelangelo.

Once we finished our tour of the Accademia Gallery, the team was free to shop, eat and sight see on their own. The coaching staff, meanwhile, decided to take a cooking class in the hills of Tuscany. It was quite the adventure! We learned to mix flour and egg to create the base of our pasta; then, when it was starting to get tough, we started to knead the dough. After letting it set for about an hour, we flattened it and created our masterpieces!

Watch the full video of our first day in Florence below!

On our second day in Florence, we took an hour bus ride to the small town of Lucca where we toured the area by bike!

The tour began on top of an ancient wall that was created to create the ancient town of Lucca. We rode along the wall for about 1.5 miles, while our tour guide pointed out different landmarks and fun facts along the way.

It was definitely a leisurely ride -- no Tour de France wannabes here! But it was the perfect way to explore this little town.

You can ride along with us! Check out the video below.

Game No. 3 vs. Flippo Baskets Gottingen

In our third game of the tour, our transition game continued to improve. A bit of a faster pace, we were able to finish around the basket and hit open shots, leading to our 64-43 victory over Flippo Baskets Gottingen.

Take a look at our game highlights below!

On our final day in Florence, we spent some time giving back to the community. Gonzaga's campus administrators in Florence connected us to some local places that were in need of assistance.

A few of us headed to the Casa Famiglia San Paolino, a halfway house for families in need. We had the opportunity to play with all the kids and give them their very own basketball hoop. We also enjoyed a nice meal with the residents, complete of course with pasta!

Another group of us had the opportunity to chat with women at Suore Francescane Elisabettiane, a retirement community run by nuns. We had so much fun maneuvering language barriers and getting to know each of these awesome women.

The final group of us went to work at Mensa Caritas Baracca, the local soup kitchen. There, we were put to work chopping and washing fruits and vegetables, washing dishes and of course, serving food.

A big thank you to Gonzaga in Florence for coordinating the day of volunteering for us! We also thoroughly enjoyed our private tour of the university campus. Incredible opportunity for any and all Zags to study abroad! Check out the video below of our full day.

After our day giving back to the Florence community, we geared up for our fourth and final game. We faced the Slammers Select, and grabbed our fourth-straight win to the tune of 78-49.

Check out the full highlights from our final game below!

We headed to our final stop on the #ForeignTour2019 on Monday, August 20th when we took the four-hour bus ride north to Venice. It was a long ride, but it sure was worth it. Venice was unlike anything we had seen so far on our tour, and it was spectacular.

Our first top was to St. Mark's Square and St. Mark's Basilica. St. Mark's Square is the principle public square for Italy, and it is generally known as La Piazza.

Following St. Mark's Square, we made our way to St. Mark's Basilica, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice and northern Italy. It is the most famous of Venice's churches, and it is one of the best known examples of the Italo-Byzantine architecture.

The interior is decorated almost entirely by mosaics; there are more than 85,000 square feet of mosaic in St. Mark's Basilica, and there are more than 500 columns. The majority of the mosaics include pieces of 24 carat gold, and it took more than six centuries to complete.

Venice was a dream. We've seen this city so many times portrayed in the movies, but it was quite the experience to see it in person. Check out the photos and video below to get the full experience!

A week after our arrival back in the United States, we each took some time to think about what we enjoyed most on the foreign tour, what we learned and how lucky we were to have had the opportunity to go on the foreign tour. Take a look below about what each of us had to say!

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