Beach Diaries, Masters (Sandahl) 8/21/11

Posted: August 22, 2011 10:56 AM

For the most part, Venice is pretty much what you’d expect.

It’s full of canals and boats and tourists and everything is beautiful in a historical kind of way but you pay for that beauty with hard earned euros.  Our hotel (Hotel Alla Salute da cici) was big and old and had 50 or 60 rooms and a very friendly staff.  Folks trickled in over the course of four days and those who’d already been there the night before took the tired and jet lagged new bunch for food and a walking tour.  You walk everywhere in Venice and though its quite mazelike – It’s surprisingly easy to avoid getting lost.  You just follow the tourist mob and you’ll often find what you need.  There are also dozens of churches each with hundreds of nooks and crannies as well as one of the biggest Palace’s anywhere.

The first thing we didn’t expect was the heat.  It was bright sunshine and 85 to 90 every day.  So the shade of the narrow alley’s was more than welcome – it was often necessary.  Most of us spent a fair amount of time trying to find air conditioned shops and restaurants as well.   Luckily most of those shops are air conditioned. 

The second unexpected part – the Biennale.  La Biennale is a modern art exhibition that occurs once every two years in Venice.  Its huge.  In scope and renown.  To have your art exhibited in this show is potentially career changing.  Over 45 countries and hundreds of individual artists contribute and most of the bigger countries have permanent buildings which are used for the exhibit each time.  If you go – (and it runs through November 27th) be sure to check out the Korean, Hungarian and Japanese buildings in addition to the U.S. 

Actually, you can’t really miss the U.S building – It has a full size M-1 Abrams Tank upside down with a personal treadmill on top of the track. Every couple hours a member of USA track and field gets up there and “runs” the tank.  For a group of athletes representing the USA – this seemed like a good sign. 

The hardcore artistic minded folks in our team (Matt Wilken) and I spent the better part of two days going through every exhibit we could and we saw so much art we felt like we’d crammed a four credit college art appreciation class into the trip.  Highlights of the show: 

  • A 15 foot Classical statue (like one you’d see in the Uffizi) of two people intertwined made entirely out of candle wax that was slowly burning down to the ground.  All the pieces that fell off were kept near the statue.
  • A 12 hour series of movie clips that contain references to the current time.  So at 12:15 in real time all the clips were containing clocks that showed that time or people talking about that time. 
  • A Opera in twelve acts where each of the acts was 8 minute discussions of a car crash.  Video of the Singers was also projected on one wall and all the backgrounds were BMW automobile factories where cars were being rolled off the assembly line. 
  • A room with four mirrors where every so often a bullet hole and the corresponding gunshot sound would appear meaning that you’re watching yourself get shot through glass.
  • Hundreds of exhibits that we couldn’t absorb or really even enjoy…but because there were so many – just keep walking.

The group of us that were there on Friday night got a recommendation from Jumpi (Italian organizer of the Beach tournament Paganello) for a great restaurant in Venice and Jumpi definitely came through for us with a recommendation of the Seafood restaurant Paradiso Perduto.  It had copious amounts of seafood, delicious Pastas and wine by the liter to wash it down. The wait staff were also quite inspired as well as they took turns spraying customers with the seltzer water gun behind the bar.  At least a couple of our teammates were told to open their mouths to get a “drink” only to get soaked shirts.  And we’re pretty sure the servers aim wasn’t that bad.  But – because its hot – and we’re in Venice!) we all laugh and enjoy ourselves.

On Saturday afternoon we got those that were in town together on the Beach in Lido to do a little practicing. It felt really good to throw with our teammates and make this experience a little more real.  We are here after all to play Frisbee – not just look at art.  After a couple throwing drills and some offensive play kind of work we were ready to cool off in the ocean and the water felt amazing.  Playing in Worlds is going to be incredible but being able to enjoy time with your teammates is what it’s all about.  After Sandblast, Wildwood and dozens of emails about training and working together…we’re all anxious to get out to the beach and play. 

We spent most of Sunday traveling to the tournament site – which is approximately 80 miles up the coast line from Venice.  The heat followed us unfortunately and we’re going to have to work hard to stay cool but we’re all so excited to be here and see the other teams with their national pride…honestly we’re not complaining much.  We’ll see how we are in five or six days of sleeping in non-air conditioned rooms but for now we’re happy. 

We did have one highlight – we got to watch a competitive opening showcase game between the former 2007 Open champions Philippines Boracay Dragons (who were being supported by several hundred fans watching online in their home country) and the home town Italian team.  Beach Ultimate is fun to watch.  Especially in the stands with a thousand beach loving Italian fans and a thousand plus Ultimate heads in national colors.  Pretty sick sight to see…and hear.  Every layout draws a gasp from the crowd.  Hoping to have the same feeling ourselves.

And tomorrow it begins. 


Team USA Beach Diaries

Some members of Team USA will be submitting diary entries during the event to keep everyone posted on their experience in Italy.

  Grand Masters
Mixed Masters