The summer following my sophomore year of high school I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel to the British Isles and Paris, France for nineteen days. I traveled with my two best friends along with ten other students from my school, and thirty others from all around the county. The trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
It is therefore difficult to communicate my experience in such a short dictation, but I shall do my best. I remember nearly every detail- every emotion, touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste- of the trip as if it were yesterday despite the fact it has been nearly a year since I returned.Emotions: I remember the feeling I experienced flying into the city of London when I was enlightened by the reality that ‘they really do drive on the other side of the road.’ Even more poignant was the overwhelming emotion I felt observing the one year anniversary of the London terrorist attacks with the kindred, mourning nation (our group had flown into London on July 7, 2006). I remember my feelings each time I met somebody new and could not resist asking endless questions to gain a deeper understanding of their life and culture.
Unforgettable are the sentiments experienced each time I called my family back in Florida or sent a friend a postcard. Touch: I remember the cold rush of Irish air as I boated across the three lakes of Killarney and the bump of wooden wheels beneath me as I jaunted across the shamrock-gilded hills like the Queen had done years prior. I remember the piercing rain of Scotland, and could never forget the scorching sun on my glistening skin at Stonehenge.
The vibrations of bagpipe music in the streets of Edinburgh are forever embedded in my skin along with the cotton candy feel of a roaming sheep on the slopes of Ben Nevis. Sights: I remember the dramatic cliffs of the Ring of Kerry and the emerald water beneath them. I have memorized the images of abandoned sail boats in the muddy banks of the Minite Strait, and the most pristine castle, Beaumaris, on the Welsh countryside.
Also imprinted on my psyche forevermore is the twinkling of lights on the Eiffel Tower as seen from the River Seine and the quaint smile of the mysterious Mona Lisa- up close and personal. I remember the ancient, white wood of the Ha’Penny Bridge joining the North and South halves of Dublin. The red gateway leading to Strawberry Fields comes to my mind’s eye each time a Beatles song is heard, along with the modest sign reading Penny Lane.
Sounds: I remember the cheers of the surrounding crowd as a fellow American crossed the finish line of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees. I can still hear the pure voices of a Celtic duo singing on the corner of a cobblestone street and the chords of an organ in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
I recall the screams of fans in the streets of Dublin during half-time of the World Cup finals. I am humored when I hear the voice of the London tube reminding you to ‘mind the gap.’ I remember the excitement in my grandmother’s voice as I called her from the Louvre. Smells and Tastes: I remember the smell of leak soup and the taste of brown bread in the cafe of Blarney Castle.
Unforgettable is the first time I had fish and chips, marking my official entry into British society. I can still smell the faint aroma of Earl Gray tea in the massive kitchen of Harrod’s. I can still taste the warm, chocolate crepes I shared with my friends on the steps of Basilique du Sacre, overlooking the city of Paris.
Throughout my memorable travels, I took thousands of pictures but learned that sometimes one must put the camera aside and simply absorb the moment at hand. I learned that patience is a virtue when attempting to communicate in an unfamiliar language and that no matter where you live or what language you speak, you can always find a common bond with another. But the best lesson I learned is that the people with whom you travel are the true keys to a memorable experience. — I remember the l look of my sister as she welcomed me back into the states and the feeling of longing to return to Europe with her in the future.
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