Europe in a Heartbeat: My Twelve Days in Italy, France, and Spain - My Family Travels
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     This past June my mom and I headed off with fifteen other parents, teachers, and students from my school to Italy, France and Spain. I was particularly excited to experience different cultures, as well as test out my Spanish skills. It was a trip I will never forget.

     Rome was a place where modern life and years of rich history mingled together freely. But it was also a city of traffic. I remember many people in our group almost getting run over. Our tour guide told us that in Europe, road signs are merely suggestions. We soon found out that she was not kidding.

     Casa San Giuseppe, the hotel we stayed at, provided us with ample places to entertain ourselves nearby. We were located just near the Tiber River and surrounded by quaint Italian cafes, stores, and places to buy gelato. We saw wondrous sights such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, where I felt compelled to throw a coin behind me and make a wish.

     All too soon it was time to take our tour bus down to Tuscany where we would be staying at a place called Hotel Giglio. From there we would go into Florence. We discovered the beauty of Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia as well as the gorgeous Duomo cathedral and its bells. When we arrived back at the hotel our tour guide told us of a cable car that left every half hour to historic Montecatini Alto. However, an hour of walking along a mountainous road, many blisters and failed attempts to ask directions from locals later, we had found nothing but a gorgeous view of the landscape. I value this rare site just as highly as our planned expeditions.

     We did not have long to rest our achy feet, for the next day it was off to take cheesy pictures at the leaning tower of Pisa and head for the home of the Cannes Film Festival. From there we went to the medieval fortress of Eze and got to spend an hour in Monaco where we saw the cathedral for the royal wedding. We also took multiple trips to the beach, which was located very close to Hotel Colette. Regretfully, after two nights, we packed our bus up and drove to Pont Du Gard, a Roman aqueduct. After one night in Nimes, it was finally time to embark on the long-awaited drive to Spain.

     We stopped at a place called Carcassonne, a medieval fortress. I could not help but be amazed by this gorgeous place. I was walking on cobblestones from hundreds of years before I even existed! It was so different from home, where everything was new.

     It was dusk when we arrived in Barcelona. The next day we saw the creations of the odd, yet brilliant, Spanish architect Gaudi, including la Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.

     After that, we headed to Madrid on a daylong bus ride. Our final sights in Europe included the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia where we viewed original works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. We spent our last night at cooking school, learning how to make tortilla Espanola and paella from teachers that only spoke Spanish. I even got to try flipping a tortilla. However, after one last adventure on the metro, our twelve days in Europe had passed and it was time to return home.

     I am changed because of my trip. I understand that there is a bigger world out there and I have a burning desire to see more of it. I cannot wait to have another European adventure!

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