It all started in June 2008, our tour group sat waiting around Cleveland Airport for a delayed flight to Spain. Upon learning that our flight was too late to make the connection, we went home that night. The next day we took a nonstop flight to Paris, and connected to Madrid where we once again waited in another airport for luggage and a bus that had left without us. Hours later, we met our EF Tours leader and boarded the returning bus. Our adventure was finally underway. I watched out the window at the streets of Spain; lined with old apartments and festively designed shops, but I also noticed the familiar American Pizza Hut as we moved along.
The bus dropped us off at our hotel where we quickly checked in and sprinted down the street to a Flamenco show. These shows during which performers convey emotions through song and dance are a “must see” for anyone who visits Spain.
Within the few days our group stayed in Madrid, we saw many monuments, cathedrals, Palacio Real; the king’s palace, ironically where king does not reside, and Plaza Mayor; Madrid’s main square where you can find shopping and human “statues”( similar to Hollywood Boulevard in California) . Madrid is more than just history, many people there like to party into the early morning hours, which my roommates and I got to experience from our balcony- attached rooms that overlooked part of the city. It was one of my favorite places on the trip.
Days later, we took a bus to Barcelona and changed hotels because of a robbery that occurred. Luckily nobody was hurt and those who had money stolen were reimbursed. Outside of the engaging downtown area we saw the Spanish Cathedral La Sagrada FamÃlia in its progressing state, and Park Guell known for its art by Gaudi. On June twenty-third we viewed fireworks from the hotel roof in celebration of a Spanish soccer victory, and the first night of summer. The next day we headed to France, stopped in Zarzoga Spain along the way to see the architectural sites, and also got to meet some gypsies from whom most of our group lost money; lesson learned, don’t talk to strangers.
Our tour continued into France where many more things were learned; don’t let your roommates spray too much Lysol in your room regardless of bugs, be careful of watching television at night if you are unaccustomed to nudity, avoid swimming in rivers with rapid currents, and make sure to ask someone who speaks English for directions if lost. We stayed in Southern France, a beautiful part of the country regardless of the little mishaps that occurred.
The next part of our tour was Italy, my other favorite place for not only the food such as famous Italian pizza (different from American) and the gelato, but for the friendly people and culture as well. Our tour bus broke down on the way to The Leaning Tower of Pisa. After switching buses, we arrived and it was amazing, a lot more lifelike than on the Olive Garden menu. We toured Florence, the city known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. In Rome we saw The Roman Coliseum, Vatican City, the gorgeous island of Capri, the famous Trevi fountain, and I could think of little else to wish for as I tossed in my coin.
Overall the trip was a great eye opener to the similarities and differences in American and European culture. It was a great way to meet new people, an experience of a lifetime.
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