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Jolly Hotel in Lecco

Editor's Note: Senior forward Matt Betley is chronicling the Lafayette men's basketball team's trip to Italy on May 19-28. This is the first of his journal entries. In upcoming editions, he may receive a literary assist from his classmates.

We made it! The flight was long but it went well. We had a layover in Paris, France before we landed in Milan. Our team stood out like a sore thumb in the airport as we used the five-hour layover to sleep on the floors of the terminal and comment on the different clothing style of the Europeans. Now we know why Jesper Andersson looks the way he does.

The best part of the trip over was flying over the enormous, snow-covered Alps just before landing in Milan. Our plane was at a perfect height to view the beautiful mountains and we couldn't wait to land and experience the rest of Italy.

Driving from Milan to the town of Lecco, many of us got our first taste of European life. The roads, buildings, houses, stores, and cars are just some of the things that are very different from life in Easton, Pa. As we drove to Lecco, it seemed like our bus was on a collision course with the Alps. As we got closer, we began to see the scenic lakes and cliffs that this area is known for.

Our four-star hotel, the Jolly Hotel in Lecco, is surrounded by mountains and lakes on all sides and is at the southeastern end of Lake Como. Shortly after checking in, the team took a short walk to the lake area that was bustling with activity. Italian mopeds whizzed by us as we explored the many shops that were set up lakeside. Kids, and Mike Gruner, enjoyed a mini carnival that was set up and pictures with Spiderman. The atmosphere and scenery was unbelievable.

It was time for dinner...and we were hungry. We had heard about the great food in Italy but I don't think our team was ready for it. We got a three-course meal of lasagna, turkey and potatoes, and tiramisu and that left us more than satisfied for hours (maybe days). It is customary for the Italians to walk after dinner so our team got its first taste of nightlife in Italy. Tomorrow is an exciting day as we take a tour west to Como and north to Bellagio on the famous Lake Como. Later that night (8:30 p.m. local time) we'll play our first game. Right now, life couldn't be better for the Leopards of the men's basketball team.