Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Europe trip was five years in the making

by Wally Hall | June 6, 2023 at 2:58 a.m.

At 6:30 a.m., 79 years ago today, 150,000 American, Australian and Canadian soldiers stormed the Normandy beaches with one goal, to give France its freedom back.

There were other countries involved in the war Germany had declared on Europe, but those were the three leaders who forced the Nazi party to surrender after 10 years of tyranny.

Sunday's column was about visiting Utah and Omaha beaches last month and the impact it had, and since then there have been numerous emails and texts asking how it came about that a life-time sports writer decides to go to Europe for three weeks.

First, the trip was five years in the planning, then was postponed twice because of covid and again last year for a couple of stents in my heart.

That was when it was decided to not only make the trip while physically able, but to stretch it to three weeks and visit four countries.

In all there were three flights, seven trains, four buses and a subway (taken as an emergency but allowed us to catch a train back to Amsterdam with three minutes to spare.)

Not one American football field was seen, but there were countless soccer fields and apparently a couple of them are used for football.

Saw several outdoor basketball courts, and sorry coaches in Arkansas, not one prospect was seen, not even for the transfer portal where many players never leave, but a couple of the games were heated.

In every city there were tourists wearing caps or shirts from almost every SEC school and while visiting the Prague Castle we met some football players from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis., who were playing exhibition games there and in Munich.

One player asked where we were from and when he heard yours truly said Arkansas, he declared, "Me too."

Somehow Menasha, Wis., sounded like Arkansas to him. Maybe it was his accent.

We ran into the same team at Dachau Camp outside of Munich, Germany, and they were touring the former concentration camp with some of the players they had beaten the night before.

The opponents drew immediate attention because of T-shirts: a huge Razorback.

At first glance the Razorback on the T-shirt looked like it belonged in Arkansas, but on closer inspection it was very different.

They are an American team playing in the German Football League. A team that was founded in Ravensburg, Germany, in 1987.

While in Paris your trusty scribe kept an eye out for Victor Wembanyama, who is projected to be the first player taken in this month's NBA Draft.

Pretty sure we didn't see him. He's 7-3 or 7-4 depending on which scouting service you prefer. He is supposed to have every move ever made and can shoot. He was a soccer goalie until he decided to take his mom's advice and focus on basketball, the sport she played and coaches.

May not have seen him but saw some pretty spectacular sites and had some great local cuisine and while I expected to dislike France, it was fun and Paris has the best croissants in the world.

We saw almost every museum in Europe, a dozen churches and took tours on three different rivers, including a dinner cruise that was three hours long.

There were windmills, breweries and the bike scene in Amsterdam is something to behold. Apparently the average is two bicycles for every citizen and when they break they throw them one of the canals. The city employs a crew to fish them out and they get about 15,000 per year.

It was a historical trip, hard at times and overall fun and we met some Razorbacks from Ravensburg, Germany, and all of them knew about the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Print Headline: Europe trip was five years in the making


Sponsor Content