My 17 Day European Vacation - My Family Travels

This trip was organized through my high school with EF Tours. We left on June 22, 2006. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and made me fall in love with traveling. We flew on United Airlines from San Diego to Chicago, then on to Frankfurt, Germany. This was an overnight flight and our teacher warned us to sleep, but we were all way too excited. We hit the ground running, with no sleep.  The first thing we saw was the Heidelberg castle and the Neckar River. We do not have castles in San Diego, so from that point on we all knew this was going to be a trip of a lifetime. We all survived and then slept very well that night. One hotel we stayed at here, was the Atlas Posthotel.

The 3rd and 4th day we explored Munich, Germany. We saw the BMW headquarters and Munich’s Mareinplatz. One of my favorite memories of this trip was the Dachu Concentration Camp. This was the first concentration camp during World War II, built in 1933. The entrance gate reads “Work will set you free”. It was very interesting to see the gas chambers, the bunkers, and walk through the museum.    

Day 5 and 6 were just as fun! We went to Venice. Even though it was extremely hot and it smelled bad, we had a blast! We saw Marco Polo’s home, the Bridge of Sighs, Doge’s Palace, and the Grand Canal. We toured a glass making factory, where we saw a demonstration of how to make a horse. We just had to experience a gondola ride, so a group of 6 girls (including me) got one. Our guide was very funny and he rapped 50 Cent for us, since we were from America.

The next 2 days, we were still in Italy. We toured Rome. We were able to go to the Vatican and see St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We bought rosaries as souvenirs and had them blessed by the Pope. We also got to go into the Coliseum, which was very educational. During a free day exploring Rome, my group tried to find our meeting spot first, so that we would know where it was and then could enjoy the rest of the day. It did not work out so great; we got lost and spent the entire day looking for the meeting location. We ended up walking on a Roman freeway for a few miles, which was scary and frustrating then, but very funny now. Once we finally found the spot, we only had a short time left before the meeting time, so we could not explore as much as we wanted. We were very hot, hungry, and thirsty, so we found a little café. We ordered Cokes and mango ice cream. The American Embassy was located a few blacks away, so we got to see our American flag and that made us feel a little closer to home. It ended up being one the most memorable days of the whole trip.

The 9th and 10th day we were in Florence. We were able to see Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the replica statue of David. Before we left Italy, we saw the leaning Tower of Pizza, then headed to Switzerland.

Day 11 and 12 were spent traveling and in Lucerne and Alsace. We stopped in Austria to get lunch; we also saw the roof made of gold and the crystal store. The store has a whole dress made of crystals, it was gorgeous. We saw the Lion Monument as well. Mt. Pilates was a very exciting side trip and not only because of the free hats we got. We took a boat to the mountain, then a train/tram type of thing up the mountain. The way down was very fun; we took a sky bucket contraption all the way down and it was swaying with the wind and movement; it was like a ride!

The next 2 days, was filled with excitement: the Strasbourg Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elsees, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, and wine tasting. Paris was a lot dirtier than I expected. I always thought of Paris as romantic, but there was trash all over the ground, every other store was either a strip club or an adult book/video store; not my idea of romantic. In Paris, we stayed in the Comfort Hotel Median Paris Congres and Hotel de l’Ange. We took an evening cruise in Paris that totally made up for the other disappointments. When we started it was light out, then at the end it was dark and we got to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, it was beautiful.                             

The last days were spent in London, England. We took the Eurostar from France to England and went through the English Channel. Here we stayed at the Somerset hotel. This was one of my favorite places because everyone spoke English! We got to see Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and St.  Paul Cathedral. Here is where we did most of our shopping. We got to take pictures with the English Guards as well as see the Blue Man Group perform.

We all had so much, but after 17 days with the same girls and being away from home, we all really wanted to be back in San Diego and get some Mexican food. We all decided to stay up all night, so we would sleep on the flight home and that way it would go faster. Plus we were too excited to sleep anyways! Our flight was pretty early in the morning on July 8, 2006 and once we got to Heathrow airport, we were all very disappointed. Our flight was delayed! …overnight! We did get to stay in a very nice hotel near the airport, so that was a nice experience. Unfortunately the hotel had really gross food, so of course, we found a McDonald’s! We tried to stay up again, but after a night of no sleep before, we ended up falling asleep. We went to the airport again the next morning to find out our flight was delayed again! Luckily only a few hours this time though. We were flying straight from London to Los Angeles, but missed our connection to San Diego due to the delay. We did not want to wait in LA for 6 hours, when we were only 2 hours from home; we called our parents to pick us up in LA, road trip! Even with getting lost and the flight delays, this was my favorite vacation so far and I cannot wait to go back again!

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