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Jul 06 Rob Browning with the U.S. Men at World League

July 06, 2008, 2:46 a.m. (ET)
Our hotel in Spain is adequate, but quite dated. It is located next to a big train and metro station.  It's kind of an eclectic area with miniature golf and skating rink besides all the typical stores and eateries you would find at a major train station. One other special feature is a nightclub close by that goes until the wee hours. The players and staff on that side of the hotel have had to adjust to the noise by closing windows and using ear plugs. The patrons like to hydrate outside the club before going in because I think it gets hot and sweaty in there. They take their hydration seriously -- they seem to be very health conscious in that way. (In fact, it's 2:45am as I write this and they are still hydrating down below my window!)

We eat lunch and dinner at a nice restaurant just outside the hotel. The food is good but we haven't had any paella yet!  Maybe Sunday we'll go out to find some good Paella.

Although the schedule has been fairly easy with a day off between matches, the boys have taken advantage of that time to rest, so they haven't gotten out yet.  They are finding time though for ongoing finiente and Guitar Hero. Some of the staff have been able to jump on the metro to go downtown and see Plaza Mayor, the old center of the city, and other surrounding areas.  I asked about possibly going to a bullfight, but the bullfighting season does not start until Monday morning at 7am in Pamplona for the famed running of the bulls.  It's too bad the team will miss that because outrunning a herd of angry bulls on cobblestone streets would be a good team bonding activity.

The day after we arrived, we planned a workout at the health club next to the hotel.  It's a nice club with extensive cardio equipment, weights, and squash courts.  Hotel guests get a discounted rate of 6 Euros per day to use the club. As Doug Beal will confirm I am an excellent negotiator, especially in Spanish speaking countries. I headed over early to work my magic--get a group rate for our 12 guys to use the club for an hour or two. After much haggling I was able to secure a group rate of 150 Euros!  I knew I negotiated a sweet deal because the manager of the club was laughing.  When Aaron Brock showed up with the guys he kind of messed up the deal I brokered and we ended up having to pay the 6 euro per person rate.  Oh well, he's not getting paid for his negotiating skills.  (When in Mexico for the NORCECA Championships in 1999 I negotiated a laundry deal to end all laundry deals. It was such a good deal that the hotel employee with whom I negotiated was given a raise and a week of paid vacation.)

The weather has been beautiful. Sunny every day and mild.

I think the boys will do well tomorrow. I'm confident that we will serve better and that will make a huge difference in how the match goes.
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