Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Presentation of the team

     About this time all over France (and maybe other countries as well), clubs have 'presentations' of the teams where the teams and the uniforms are introduced to the sponsors and sometimes the public. Although most teams have already played 'friendly' games in front of their home crowds, this is a more formal event where the players mingle amongst the sponsors and can be more of a 'face' rather than just a 'name'. I always enjoy these events because I am a social person and need I say...they usually have wine and champagne there. This year, Antibes had their presentation at the Sophia Country club and it was classy. There was mood lighting, a band, synchronized swimming and a plethora of finger foods...not to mention, the aforementioned wine and champagne. A good time was had by all, especially us wives, and hopefully it is a sign of the things to come this season.

{These girls were awesome, this photo doesn't do them justice}

{The crazy wives, normally I am the only one but these ladies can keep up}

{Laughs are abundant with this team}

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Wanted to wish the most amazing mother in the world a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY today. One of the bummers about living so far away from family is missing celebrations such as this. But thanks to skype and all the modern technology, we can communicate a wee bit better but still, it's not the same. So Mom, hope you have a wonderful birthday filled with all good things and love. And as you can see from the following pics, I get my serious side from my Mom, no laughing allowed..none whatsoever.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Swimming with Sharks

{At least they all got the sunglasses memo...}
     Last week, the gm for the team approached some players asking them if they wanted to do an optional 'press conference'. Often times, anything 'optional' is met with a pretty resounding 'no' since they have to do many mandatory appearances, so why volunteer for another? Well this one came with a was the unveiling of the new uniform, new name and the new direction the team was going in and it was taking place at Marineland (think Sea World) and the players were going to swim with the sharks. Some said 'no', but most of the players figured they would never have this opportunity again so why not?? Over the last week or so, we have all talked about it and it seems that 'swimming with the sharks' is high on a few bucket lists and it got us thinking a bit. Neither Shaun nor I have a 'bucket list', sounds too morbid for me, but we do have a 'want to do list in our life-time' which basically is a 'bucket list' with a prettier name. All week, we talked about this opportunity and how flippin' awesome it was. I was unable to go with the team, so I threatened management that they had to take lots of pictures and videos for me to see. The day came and Shaun left early in the morning all a flutter with excitement. 2 hours later, he walked back into our place with a sad look on his face and when I asked how it went, he replied, "not good, not good at all, couldn't do it". Unlike scuba or snuba diving, which we have done with no issues, this time there was just a helmet they slipped over their head providing oxygen. Well, the helmet weighed over 100 lbs and for some reason, Shaun was unable to adapt and breathe normally which left him light headed, dizzy and nearly passing out. So, not wanting any brain damage on the account of unveiling a new uniform, Shaun smartly gave the 'thumbs-up' sign and asked to be taken out and watched from the side. Sucks, but such is life. So when Shaun walked in and told me the bad news, my first reaction was a little sadness because I knew he was excited about it, then I laughed...and laughed. I laughed because I pictured Shaun frantically giving the 'thumbs-up'. I laughed because I could only imagine the crap his teammates gave(and still give) him. I laughed not because I am cruel but because we don't take ourselves seriously (kill us if we do). But mostly I laughed because it reminded me of a little story on our honeymoon where we saw someone have the exact same problem and we have told that story over and over and laughed like hell since then. So from here on out, there will be a Marineland worker whose go-to story at dinner parties will be about a basketball player who panicked and had to watch from the sidelines. To him, Shaun is the new 'honeymoon' story. All I can say is, enjoy it while it lasts mister, because Karma is a sneaky beast. Until then our 'want to do in our lifetime' list will look like this...

Swim with the sharks

Les Sharks à la rencontre des requins ! from Antibes Sharks on Vimeo.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cap d'antibes

{Sentier du littoral cap d'antibes}

    Finally after nearly a month, 2 a days are becoming more and more sparse for Shaun's team. And while I am sure Shaun is happy to only have 1 practice for the obvious reasons, I am happy for a less obvious one...more exploring time. (That is just what Shaun wants to do, replace a 2 hour practice with a full day of walking and exploring, but sometimes in relationships, you have to sacrifice for your significant other out of love...or your wife will make your life miserable for that day.) With the day at our disposal (after cryo-therapy in the am) and the weather in the high 80's, we decided to explore Cap d'antibes. We had heard of a 3 mile path that weaved between the coast and villas that was only accessible by foot. So with map and camera in hand, we headed off. The entire walk should of taken around 1 hour and 45 minutes but  since we took multiple pictures and the terrain was a bit rough, we came full circle in 2.5 hours.  The walk isn't for the faint of heart as some of the paths are with-in inches of the cliffs but the views were amazing. Sadly, we were unable to actually see most villas themselves since many sat behind walls and closed gates but we did spot Abramovich's palatial estate and his many security cameras. And I guess it was everything I expected for someone who owns the world's largest yacht. I will keep the words short because the photos are looonnnngggg....

{The beginning of the path...}

{Nice across the water}

{Lots of textured rocks, looked like something you would find on the moon..I'm guessing}

{Path etched out of the cliffs}

{Doors leading to private property}

{Being very careful by holding the rail the entire way}

{Stairs leading where}

{Private property above the path with the balustrades }

{At this point, I think Shaun was getting annoyed with the 'taking pictures' all the time, then I reminded him that is why we spent the $700 on a new camera and he was very happy to take pictures after that}

{Abramovich's place}

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yachts Yachts Yachts

     Having lived in the South of France for the last 3 years or so, we always knew it was an affluent area. The weather is beautiful almost year round, the water is a picturesque bright blue and the joie de vivre can't be beat. But what we didn't know was the massive draw it was, specifically Antibes, to some of the world's largest yachts. The last few weeks, we have seen yacht after yacht cruise on in, either anchor off shore or moor at Port Vauban in Antibes, stay for a few days, then head back out to sea only to be replaced by an equally large yacht in it's place. Then, factor that in with the fact that most of our new friends here outside of basketball have either worked on said yachts or currently work for companies that host these yachts and it almost became to much for me not to have a little knowledge of the 'yachting life' here in Antibes. So off to the Internet I went to find out a little more about our 'new home'. Turns out,  Port Vauban in Antibes is the largest yachting harbor in Europe. It has over 2,000 moorings and can host yachts over 100 meters (330 ft) and that it does, frequently. Little side story...I was talking to a friend who used to work on a yacht but now just acts as a liaison for the crews when they are here in Antibes and long story short, she told me she lived on a yacht her first 2 years here. She said the yacht was large and the owner required drug testing on a frequent basis. I asked if I would know who the owner was and she asked me if I knew who Paul Allen was...yeah, that Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seahawks and Trailblazers. At that time, Paul Allen's Octopus was the world's largest yacht at 126 meters (414 feet). Seriously, 414 feet though. But not to be outdone, Roman Abramovich (owner of Chelsea FC and I am sure many other things) since built a yacht, Eclipse, that know holds the record for being the biggest personal yacht in the world at 170 meters (557 feet long). The Eclipse has 2 helicopter pads, 24 guest rooms, 2 swimming pools, multiple hot tubs, a submarine, 3 launch boats, bullet proof windows, a German missile defense system and paparazzi scrambling lasers. Oh, and it needs a crew of 70 to run. Abramovich has a house on Cap d'Antibes but is unable to moor the Eclipse at his house so he has to leave it at Port Vauban but since there is only 1 slip large enough to hold a yacht that size, it takes a little planning. Apparently last year he ran into a bit of a snag since he showed up to Antibes and a Saudi prince had his puny little boat (265 feet) in the only slip big enough to accommodate Abramovich's Eclipse ...can you imagine the gall of that Saudi prince? I wonder if he does what I do when I pull into our garage and some one is in our parking spot? Just lay on the horn until someone comes out and moves. If not, let me tell you Roman, it works. Not willing to move, he had to drop anchor just off shore and use of of the 3 boats to get to his villa on shore. Rumor has it, he is less than thrilled by the constant hounding of the paparazzi when he is here. Maybe Roman, if you didn't arrive on something resembling a small city, you could go under the radar a bit, but until then, suck it up. You be the judge, would you notice a boat like the one in the first picture...?

{Abramovich's Eclipse towering over the beach in Antibes}
{Fort Carre overlooking Antibes Harbor}

{Yacht off the coast of Nice, you know it's big when it makes the helicopter look like a toy}

{Off coast of Antibes}
{Port Vauban, the Quai des Milliardaires, where the big players roll}

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surprise care package...


The other day, I received a phone call from a guy at FedEx saying he had something for me. I, chalking it up to the fact that I only have about 5 people call my cell phone in conjunction with no one knowing our address over her yet, told him it was the wrong number and hung up on him. Being a glutton for punishment, he called back and I took the time to put on my 'speaking French on the phone' hat for the 2nd call. (FYI, talking on the phone in French still proves challenging for me since I can't actually watch their lips move. I find myself limiting in person conversations with Frenchies to 10 minutes because as we speak, I inch closer and I would hate to actually kiss someone in a lip reading mix-up. So 10 minutes is where I draw the line, because at that point, I can walk away just labeled a 'close-talker' and not 'the weird girl who kisses people'.) So back to the FedEx guy, he stood by the fact that he had a delivery for Nikki Fein, and that he did. With spider monkey-like speed, I ripped open the package to see 2 boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies that our dear friends, The Martins, had sent. Now, I don't know the girl on the front of the box but I was sure happy to see her. We love care packages, did I say that slow enough for everyone to hear, no? Ok, again, we love care packages. Yes, we are pretty French in our eating habits but there are times when we need to represent the good ol' US of A with things like Ranch dressing, buffalo wings and girl scout cookies. Being in such a tourist city, we are able to find many things but never have we seen Thin Mints. So I would like to thank the Martins for my sweet minty breath, sugar highs and the little black crumbs that have made their way into every nook and cranny in our couch. You guys are the best!! And no I am not sharing because 1- Shaun doesn't really crave things like cookies so why waste a good thing on someone who would not appreciate it and 2- I am an only child. The end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frenching it up

I giggle all the time when I hear Shaun speak French. I don't know why, maybe because most of the time we look to each other in search of words, and during this video I see him looking up to someone for help. Also, he does the stereotypical guttural French 'ughhh' while searching for his next word. In case you didn't know, that is the sign you have officially made it over here. (Now if I could only get him to rock a 'banana hammock' we would be 100% French). Don't get me wrong, we speak pretty well, but there is always a part of us that is a little self-conscious speaking in front of others. I am sure there are many 'we go tomorrows' or 'we go yesterdays' that creep into our conversations but all in all, pretty happy with our language skills. With this video, most of you won't understand what is being said but it is just your run of the mill interview questions...introduce yourself, when did you start playing basketball, what teams have you played for (which Shaun used to hold the record for Frenchies but since he stayed at Toulon for 2 years, he has since lost his title), style of play, strong points of team, weak points etc.... And FYI, that is not a black 'beater' he is wearing, it's his practice jersey.

Portrait Shaun Fein from Antibes Basket on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

While the cats away...

{Backyard view}
     My motto has always been, 'I do my best shopping when Shaun is on the road" and yesterday was no exception. That might sound sneaky, but it's not. Shaun is well aware that this is true and he embraces it. Unlike those rare men that love to shop and browse all day, Shaun detests shopping. It is as fun for him to be dragged from store to store as it is for me to be 'the dragger'. We figured out a long time ago, it was beneficial for both of us to not force the issue. So yesterday while the guys were on the road, I heading to Nice to do some retail therapy with my friend Muriel. Fyi, Muriel is a fellow bball wife whose parents have a place in Nice. Now while we did find some new gems in the stores, the best part was meeting Muriel's family, who by the way, doesn't have a 'place' in Nice. They have a fabulous home overlooking the Mediterranean and are awesome hosts. We drank homemade grape juice (squeezed from the grapes dangling from their arbor), had an aperitif over looking the sea and later ate the most amazing meal accompanied by rose, wine and music. Talk about knowing how to entertain!!! What was only supposed to be a meet n' greet turned into a 5 hour dinning experience that I can't wait to do again. Oh, and the evening was capped off with 15 minutes of unexpected fireworks off the coast in front of their house. This might be the type of shopping and dinning Shaun might want to re-think about sitting out.

{More backyard pics}

{The cliffs below the house}

{Path carved out in the cliffs}

{Even saw some crazy kids cliff jumping}
{Even though it doesn't look like this jump ended well ( can you say...belly flop), the kid turned it around at the last minute and totally redeemed himself}