](/node/46686)Being the Director of the Patriots Cheerleaders for the past 20 has afforded me many thrilling opportunities: being on the sidelines for six Super Bowls, experiencing a ride in an F16, taking off and landing on aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and traveling to more than 30 countries for photo shoots, military tours and international games. But one of the most amazing experiences has been visiting the Great Wall of China, and this recent trip marked my sixth time!
Alex, Brittany, Camille, Leigha Marie, and I dressed in workout clothes and sneakers, loaded into a minivan and made the two hour bus ride to the Great Wall. It was really interesting to leave the skyscrapers and 7 lane roads of the city for the rural route to the Wall. After entering and seeing the vendors selling food and souvenirs, we chose to take a gondola ride part way up. The view of the wall was nothing short of spectacular.
Once on the wall, we set our goal on climbing up three towers. Translation - hundreds of stairs. I think we stopped to take as many pictures as there were stairs, so there was some rest mixed in with the cardio workout!
The Great Wall of China is beautiful and goes on for as long as the eye can see. We met so many people from all over the world, together experiencing one of the wonders of the world.
We reached our third tower, climbed back down to our starting point and decided to take the toboggan to the entrance. The toboggan is pretty much like the greatest ride you'd ever want to go on at an amusement park! Each is an individual sled with a hand brake which controls your speed and is run on an aluminum ramp. I got to go first and got to the bottom pretty quickly. The rest of the group took a while. They got stuck behind Brittany who apparently rode with her brake on the whole time! Ha
On our way home from the Wall, our driver, Mr. Li, took us to the Bird's Nest, the venue for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. That would be a fun place for a game!
We returned to the hotel with just enough time to get ready for the Monday Night Football viewing party at Centro, the trendy lounge located within the beautiful hotel. The Jackson Twinz band was playing. They were amazing! Fans were enjoying the football game, socializing with the cheerleaders and having pictures taken. What a great way to close out an incredible day!
The next day, we woke up bright and early for a morning of shopping on Silk Street in Beijing! The Silk Market is several floors of "paradise"! Purses, shoes, scarves, coats, wallets, did I say purses yet???? I quickly came to realize that if I ever need a negotiator on my side, any one of my four traveling companions would be up for the task. After several hours of wheeling and dealing, the ladies left the market with their arms full of bags. We haven't yet figured out how we will be carrying all of new "stuff" home yet but I guess we'll worry about that on packing night...???
We were very excited to accept an invitation to the US Embassy and the Beijing American Center. What a privilege the visits were for us! The cheerleaders signed autographs, posed for photos, and answered questions about cheerleading and American football. Best part - they showed a film of the last 12 minutes of the Pats/Saints game. Getting to see that game twice was amazing! Guests had a lot of interesting questions and were really excited to meet the cheerleaders.
On Wednesday we visited ISN; the International School of Beijing where the cheerleaders held a mini pep rally and two cheer clinics; one for middle school students and the other for high school kids. ISB is incredible!! It is equipped with a huge pool, tennis courts, a beautiful track and field, a fitness facility, an amazing cafeteria, and most importantly, wonderful teachers and students. The cheerleaders performed, answered questions, taught dances, cheers and stunts and enjoyed a fantastic day with the students and faculty! We left the school, headed directly to the airport and flew to Shanghai for the final leg of our trip.
Arriving at the Shangri La Hotel, we were mesmerized! We felt like we were in a palace with chandeliers, beautiful views of the city and many amenities,
Signing off now. Ready for pleasant dreams of our trip so far, we still have lots of memories to make ahead.