1st Trip to Europe - My Family Travels
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                                           Wagon Wheels cross the Atlantic

Jamie Wagenhoffer
 
You’re wondering how wagon wheels crossed the Atlantic; it’s not quite what you think. I, Jamie Wagenhoffer, nicknamed by many as “wagon wheels”, traveled last year across the Atlantic on a family cruise sailing the Norwegian Gem to Western Europe.
 
Our flight on Air France was scheduled to arrive in Paris ten hours later meeting a connecting flight to Barcelona. I was anxious about the experience that awaited me and before I knew it the “wagon wheel” was rolling. After a long flight we arrived safe in Barcelona. Almost immediately I learn that jet lag does indeed exist but all the sights and sounds were too invigorating to slow me down. I quickly notice that the people were friendly and in no time, I feel safe. At moments I forget I am in Spain despite the unique sites surrounding me. Saturday we pulled out of this beautiful port on our way to five exciting cities. The ship itself was an experience with most passengers being European. I was surprised on the commonalities among us, how easy it was to get along.
 
First port, Malta. It was astonishing to see such history right in front of me. Mdina a city from medieval times was fascinating as was the Tarxien Temples, 3000 BC prehistoric ruins. As I stood among the carvings, I realized how fortunate I was to be there and had a true moment of appreciation. The following day was France, Monaco was beautiful, as were the people. Again, comfortable with my surroundings forgetting at times I was far from home. Following that were ports in Italy. Florence and Naples were so filled with art and history that I cannot express what I felt. Was it the warmth of the people, Michelangelo’s David, the architectural amazement of Pisa or the feeling I felt walking the paths of Pompeii that left me breathless. I cannot say, but do know that I learned and felt things I never imagined.
 
But, it was not until that Thursday when I stepped foot in Rome that I felt overcome by emotion. There in front of me, the Coliseum, more magnificent than I imagined. Many feelings came over me as I stood inside her walls. Should I appreciate the workmanship in its creation or should I feel sad for all the unjust behavior that haunted its frame. I admit to feeling both but certainly do have a stronger sense of what it means to respect all mankind. Rome, with its amazing people is alive from the Trevi fountain to the Sistine chapel. But the real experience came from seeing the people involved in massive street protest. These, often resulting in transportation shutting down did indeed give us a true Rome adventure. With a ship to catch and no way to get there, the one feeling I had not yet felt shoot through my veins, panic! As we ran from one end of Rome to another, the wagon wheel was about to crack. I could barely roll no more when we finally found our way back to the ship. Barely in time, running had learned a new definition that day, as did an appreciation for sleep.
 
I will never be the same after this trip seeing things that alter ones way of thinking. Mostly, learning how people, no matter what part of the world we are from, are very much alike with little if any, insignificant differences. I hope one day my wheels can get rolling in another direction so that I may have the opportunity to meet more people.

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