As the flowers blossomed, the school year was quickly concluding. A select group of students, including myself, anxiously counted the days until our European trip which would encompass thirteen days roaming Italy and Greece.
As the planes landing gear came to a screeching halt on Roman soil, my pulse beat with excitement. Trying to decide what was more amazing, tasting the authentic Italian cuisine of my ancestors or touring the Vatican with the chance of seeing Pope Benedict XVI. For three days we walked, shopped, and toured nearly every square mile. Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are a must for any traveler. The temperatures ranged from 90s in the day to 60s at night.
If you like food, please go to Italy. You have to try hard to encounter a bad meal. My two favorite dishes were ziti and thin crust pizza. The gelato and spumoni sent my taste buds dancing.
We had a guided tour of the beautiful Vatican City. One could eat off the floor. Visiting the Sistine Chapel and gazing upon its detail and complexity was overwhelming. One of the special presents that I purchased was a pair of rose-scented rosaries that I bought for my pop-pop.
Walking back to my hotel after touring the Colosseum, my friend and I tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain and we each made a wish. The next day our group boarded a bus in route for Pompeii and Capri. Pompeii is a dry, dusty landscape, composed of volcanic remnants.
Capri was a water wonderland. We sailed around the island on a schooner and dove into the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I can still taste the salt on my lips and feel the carefree smile on my face.
As if our trip couldn't get any better, we were introduced to a small beautiful cruise ship called Louis Majesty. This would serve as our home as we sailed the high seas heading to the Greek islands.
The names Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens almost seem make believe to me, but when I saw the land rise on the horizon, I quickly concluded that Greece would be a special place. Our first adventure was jumping into the Hot Springs of Santorini. The spa-like water was a clear emerald color. We waded in the thermal pools and gazed upon the volcanic rock, trying to imagine how, why, and who could have created such a thing.
Athens was akin to other large metropolis'. It had the hustle and bustle feel of Philadelphia and New York. Like other cities, Athens had great shopping. I bought my best friend a sultry dress as a birthday present. The Greek style perfectly matched her taste in clothing.
A short subway ride took us to a town called Mykonos. A small Greek town filled with charm and warmth. We dined in a small café eating spinach balls, feta cheese, and baklava for dessert. After dinner we watched the equivalent of a talent show as the locals entertained us with dancing, singing, and acting, all performed in the Greek style. Mykonos really immersed us into the Greek culture and opened us up to the passion, intelligence and beauty of the Greek culture and its people.
I would highly recommend to any student to visit both Italy and Greece with EF Educational Tours. Both cultures have to be experienced to really understand their dynamics. Yes, we can read about such places in our textbook, but by only walking along the streets with Ulrich, our tour guide and imbibing in the history and culture, do we really experience the magic of Europe.
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