Have you ever wanted to travel? Travelling definitely opens your eyes to the world around you and makes you realize and appreciate different cultures. You learn so much more through hands-on experiences then you ever would in a classroom. I know that I have.
If you’re a student, there are a lot of opportunities out there, including going with your school. It is an ideal way to travel if you don’t have a lot of money or time to spend, or if it is your first time going overseas and you want to try things out. The trips are cost-effective and everything is planned out for you, so that you don’t have to worry and can just enjoy yourself. This year my school offered five trips for students, including New York, Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands and the trip that I went on: Germany and Italy.
Guten Tag, my name is Ava. I am 17 years old and I am lucky enough to have traveled to Europe three times already. I went once with Girl Guides of Canada to Switzerland, once with my family to France and most recently, my school trip to Germany and Italy during Spring Break.
The trip was amazing and we started by flying into Frankfurt and then Munich. Right away, our tour guide picked us up and we did a walking city tour, seeing some of the main sights. This included Marienplatz, Frauenkirche and the main areas of the city. We only spent three days in Germany and then seven in Italy, so our time in Germany did go by quite quickly, yet was a lot of fun.
One thing that we did do in Germany was visit a Concentration Camp. We went to Dachau – the very first camp opened in 1933 for political prisoners. It was a very sad and touching place and the feeling there was incredibly difficult to describe. It felt deserted and empty, and there was a calm that was very disturbing. Of course it was a very touching and emotional day for all of us.
On our last day in Germany we went to Schloss Neuschwanstein for a tour. The castle was beautiful (!) and it was crazy the amount of money that was spent on it at the time. We took the afternoon viewing the rooms and going for a walk. When it was time to leave Germany we packed up our things and headed to Italy on an overnight train. What an experience that was!! We slept six in a cabin and when we woke up and did some train hopping, we found ourselves near Venice.
The day that we spent in Venice could not have been more perfect. The weather was gorgeous and we took a boat in. First of all we went on a relaxing gondola ride through the canals and waterways. There are no streets in Venice for cars, so you can only get around by boat or on foot through the tiny side streets. We visited the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square, and saw a glass blowing demo. Very Interesting! The city is amazing, but our days were limited so we moved on.
On the way to Florence we stopped in Verona, the city setting for Shakespeare’s famous Romeo and Juliet. We stopped by Juliet’s balcony and wrote on the canvas walls for memories. Of course, because we were in Italy, gelato became one of our favourite foods. It came to a point where my friends and I would eat it three times a day. Travelling with Mary, Marina and Sara really made my trip, as there was barely a moment’s time when we were not laughing.
In Florence, we explored the city for the first time at night. We familiarized ourselves and then had a guided tour the next day. Something that I really loved about this trip was the free time that we had; every day we had at least a few hours and sometimes we had a whole day. This time really allowed us to experience the way that the people in the areas lived. You could take the time to sit on bench and relax and not just be a tourist, but someone who knew the cities. In Florence we saw the Ponte Vecchio and a leather demonstration and we climbed the Duomo for a view of the entire city. Europe is just so awesome and completely different from Canada with its architecture and cultures. It is something that you must experience for yourself.
In our final city, Rome, we spent three days. We did so many things and had a full day of free time. On our last morning, we were given a day pass for the metro and we were told where to meet for dinner. How amazing! Rome showed us so many things. We went to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Coliseum, and Vatican City. In the Vatican we saw the Swiss Guards in their colourful uniforms, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Also in Rome we ran down the Spanish steps, threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and so much more.
Our Europe trip was an unforgettable, exciting, and laughter-filled adventure. The experiences that we had were truly great!
I cherish the memories that I have from my trips that I have taken. Travelling is definitely one of my favourite things and if you can, I recommend going on a school trip. Who knows? Maybe once you get back you will be inspired to go travelling on your own and create your own personal journeys.
Ava Vanderstarren. Ava is in her final year of high school in Chilliwack, BC.