It wasn’t quite a European adventure, since, of course, we never left Germany. But considering the fact four bumbling Michigan State beat writers were trying to navigate the country in a nine-seat Mercedes-Benz Vito, it’s no surprise that hilarity and embarrassment ensued.
Well, before we even got to the van, we couldn’t get out of the elevator at the Frankfurt Airport. The strange looks were many as we finally figured out getting all the way in the elevator helps.
But it was just the beginning as we attempted to cover the Spartans in the Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Base.
We couldn’t figure out the GPS system, thought we were lost on the way to Kaiserslautern, the city we stayed in that was only minutes from the base, only to figure out we were on the right track the whole time.
We got stuck in the hotel parking lot, nervously held air-sick bags on a C-130 and successfully avoided the military police who, we were told, would not be fond of our cameras.
The capper came the day of the game. The key went into the ignition of the Vito and … nothing. Dead battery.
How it happened, some will never confess, though I never drove at any point. The day was saved by Hans Gunther, a tow truck driver who didn’t speak a lick of English but seemed to understand – and find humor – in our predicament. He had us going in a jiffy and we were off to the game, a little late but happy we met him.
The event was great, but what can really be taken from this trip were the people.
From Hans to the members of the medieval rock band who stayed up with us until the sun was rising on Saturday, the people we met were amazing.
Whether they found you a parking spot for your massive van or told you the best places to visit, they were as friendly as anyone I have ever met.
We talked sports, music, politics, you name it. It was, truly, a great time.
Players and coaches from both Michigan State and Connecticut gained plenty from their trip to Ramstein Air Base. It was genuine the gratitude the people on the base showed at both teams playing for them. It was equally genuine to see how humbled both teams were by their visit.
We got to witness it all.
It was one of those moments you understand how lucky you are to have this job.
Danke schön, to the people we met, the friends we made.
It’s a trip that won’t soon be forgotten.