Buongiorno, je m’appelle Jessie. Wait. What I mean to say is, hello, I’m Jessie. I guess you could say I’m having trouble reverting back to speaking English after spending ten glorious days in Europe this summer. Over the period of ten days, I traveled with a group of 40 students from my school to four European cities: London, Paris, Florence, and Rome. They didn’t tell me when I applied to go on this trip that you would be lucky to get seven hours of sleep most nights. But who wants sleep when you can be out exploring the foreign nations? So needless to say, these ten days define the meaning of whirlwind.
The trip began in the St. Louis airport where we left for takeoff much too late for my nerves and excitement to handle. After a “short” flight to Britain following a layover in Charlotte, I finally took my first breath of European air and first steps on European soil. We spent the first day in downtown London visiting tourist favorites like Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. The means of transportation included the Underground, called the Tube by London dwellers. One privilege of this trip was the independence the chaperones allow you, including exploring Victoria gardens, Trafalgar Square, and Covent Square in small groups, as well as dining for lunch. It soon became a contest of who can find the most remote, yet authentic cuisine in the town. The next day in London, we took a bus to Windsor Castle. Exploring from inside a large double decker, we saw Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, and Saint Paul Cathedral. And lastly, at sunset, we saw London from a grand, new perspective; the top of the London Eye.
The next morning, we woke up early to take the Eurostar Train, the second fastest train in the world. After only two hours, we were no longer greeted in our comfortable language, but with “Bonjour.” Now I don’t speak French or Italian so this day was when everything became a little more foreign to me. Over the next three days, we visited the Louvre, Notre Dame, Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Champs d’Elysses, and Sacre Coeur. Leaving Paris, we boarded the Night Train, which I like to call Nightmare Train because of the stifling and crowded cabins.
But the arrival at Florence brought the hope of fresh pasta and gelato. And there was a lot where that came from. We toured the Uffizi Museum, Medici Castle, the Duomo, and the renowned statue of David. Florence was short visited but that’s why I bought leather that’s sure to last. On our last stop to Rome, we stopped in Assisi where we saw St. Francis Basilica and explored from the hilltops. Finishing off our full day, we toured the Colosseum and ancient Roman Forum. I observed that there are too many ruins to count in Rome. The last day of touring included the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Sistine Chapel, within the Vatican. In total, I probably had gelato seven times in 2.5 days but absolutely no regrets.
More important than the itinerary, is how this trip affected me. There are two things I have learned not to take for granted: free water and public bathrooms. On the other hands, there was an abundance of souvenir shops to visit during any bit of free time. My opportunity for this trip opened up after surviving AP European History. This was an unforgettable experience to see history from a book come to life, reminding me that this is a huge, remarkable world.
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