Clare and I recently returned from Europe where we truly had the experience of a lifetime. We landed in Paris and travelled through France and Italy before flying out of Rome. While we spent much time on foot, we also travelled by plane, by train, and by bus. We were there as a part of her Color Experience class trip to see the sights, experience the museums, and get a taste of the culture of these two countries. In these next several blog posts, I hope to transform my mishmash of notes and pictures into coherent thoughts in hopes of recording our adventure. (These are actually written in early April, but I back-dated the blog post date to coincide with the actual trip dates.)
Thirty-two of us finally pushed off from school Thursday at noon for the long bus ride to Chicago’s O’Hare International airport. For a few of the girls on the trip it was their very first plane ride. Nothing like sitting on a plane for 8 hours to get that out of the way. We endured a very bumpy flight to London for what I thought would be a too-long layover. It turned out to be just about right for us to get our legs under us, eat a little breakfast, and check out the sights that are Heathrow. We all thought it odd that we had to go through security again when we arrived in London. The whole thing, all over again – liquids out, computers out, carry-on back through the screener, everyone back through the metal detector. Maybe because we were coming in from the US? Maybe because we took a bus from the plane to the terminal? A word to wise: a Kindle counts as a computer. If you don’t take it out separately, they will empty your carry-on in front of too many people to make sure you didn’t hide anything else. Just ask Sidney. And remind Sidney’s mom that pictures of this amusing event are not allowed. “Madam. Madam. MADAM. No, no, no. Let me see your last 2 pictures.” It was a nice bit of levity to wake everyone up. And it always sounds better with a British accent. We all safely survived the big trek across the Atlantic, now it’s just another quick 45 minute flight to Paris and we can begin.
It was at Charles de Gaulle Airport that we met our guide, Luigi, for the first time. He speaks French, Italian, English, and Spanish, and was our teacher, friend, and advocate throughout our time in Europe. Adrenaline pumping through everyone’s veins, we boarded the bus and headed to our hotel. Thanks to Google street view maps, I knew we were staying within shouting distance of the Eiffel Tower. When we saw it from the bus I knew we were getting close. No time to pause, we had mere moments to check in and proceed on our way to our first group activity – a Seine river cruise. Conveniently, we walked right by the Eiffel Tower on our way to the river.
The river cruise was a great first activity to begin to get the lay of the land. Important monuments were pointed out, and we began to appreciate the architecture and history of this great city. Highlights from the tour included seeing the buildings that housed the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay, Hotel de Ville, St-Jacques Tower, the Invalides (museum), and the Eiffel Tower. It was also here that, unknowingly, we got a taste of the overcast skies and cooler weather that would follow us on our trip.
The full complement of Day 2 pictures can be found HERE.