July 17, 2009 I left for two week to tour Europe with a group of students in the People to People Student Ambassador Program. (People to People Student Ambassador Program was founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956). The flight was eight long hours. I was too excited to sleep so I watched movies and continuously looked out the window until we landed. Our first stop was the Magna Carta/John F Kennedy Memorials. The next stop was the London Eye; the largest Ferris wheel in Europe built to celebrate the incoming 21stCentury. The ferris wheel turns slow enough to get a 360-degree view of London’s Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the House of Parliament. The next several days we visit other landmarks such as Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. The Tower of London, which houses a collection of jewelry, that includes the Imperial State Crown that’s covered with over 3,250 precious stones. One day we dressed in our best attire and met a former Member of Parliament. He told us about the British constitution, discussed the respective roles of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch. We went punting along the River Cherwell and saw the Christ Church meadows, a famous popular walking and picnic spot where author Lewis Carroll wrote, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and ‘What Alice Found There’.
The next several days were spent in France becoming acquainted with its beauty and history. We toured one of England most recognized towns Stratford-upon-Avon, the birth place of William Shakespeare. From there we visited the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, a circular setting of large standing stone that dates back to 3000 B.C. We toured the Le Memorial de Caen Museum which is a World War II museum that focuses on the events leading up to D-Day.
Explored the magnificent Chateau de Versailles which was built during the reign of Lousis XIV. The Chateau de Versailles is a beautiful castle with halls of bejeweled mirrors, statues, and formal gardens with numerous fountains. While touring the Musee de Louvre I couldn’t wait to see the Mona Lisa. I was surprised that it’s much smaller than it appears in books. Another landmark I couldn’t wait to see was the famous Effiel Tower. We then toured the Belgium chocolate factory. The cholocate was the best I’ve ever tasted.
Next stop was Holland to learn the secret of making dutch cheese and wooden clogs. We walked the busy canals through the flower markets. I will never forget the aroma and their beautiful vibrant colors. We also visited the diamond factory and saw how rough stone is cut and shaped into beautiful jelewry. The last day of travel was the most memoriable. Our tour guide told us the story of eight people forced into hiding and their story which is portrayed through, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. I remember reading the book in school and visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. To walk inside the house and see the actual diary in Anne’s handwriting was an emotional moment. I saw items she described in the diary and couldn’t imagine a family living in such a small narrow home.
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