Liam Fletcher (left)

Liam Fletcher (left)

Student adventures in Italy and Greece

During this spring break students from WLSS and Columneetza went on an adventure of a lifetime traveling in Italy and Greece.

During this spring break students from WLSS and Columneetza went on an adventure of a lifetime traveling in Italy and Greece.

We toured with EF Tours – the largest educational tour company in the world and they made sure we had an amazing trip!

Our tour began in Florence the birthplace of the Renaissance where we visited the Domo, Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio.  During free time some of the students climbed the 400+ stairs of the bell tower and saw the original statue of David by Michelangelo in the Museum of Academia.  Lots of great shopping and eating pizza, pasta, and the tasting the best gelato in the world!

The next day we drove to Vatican City where we met our guide who explained the history and importance of this great place.  We toured the Sistine Chapel and saw the beautiful ceiling painted by Michelangelo and then entered into the largest domed church in the world, St. Peters!  It is truly awe inspiring to walk through this great church.

Then it was off to the Roman Colosseum where we learned about gladiator fights during the time of Roman rulers Vespasian and Titus.  Animals were brought from far away Africa and the Roman people were treated to many gruesome fights between animal and man.  We then continued our tour through the Roman Forum where Julius Caesar gave many of his speeches and ancient Roman life took place.  Then it was onto the Trevi Fountain where the students threw coins over their left shoulders to ensure their return to this amazing city.  We had free time around the Spanish Steps with its upscale shopping and ultra modern MacDonald’s restaurant!   We were very tired when we finally left the city and drove back to our hotel….the bus ride home was exciting when the bus went up a very narrow roadway only to discover it was a dead end!  The driver had to back down a very long, narrow roadway and when we finally arrived at our hotel it was past midnight!

Bright and early the next morning we set off on our journey to Pompeii – driving south through the rolling hills of Italy.  Another excellent local guide told us the stories of the people who lived in Pompeii before their lives abruptly ended when Mount Vesuvius erupted….so many years ago.  The city is very well preserved as it was covered in a thick coat of ash – keeping it intact for so many centuries!

We then arrived at the port of Bari where we boarded our overnight ferry to Greece.  How exciting to get on this huge ship and spend the night.  After a great dinner we were rocked to sleep by the gentle rolling of the Adriatic Sea.  An abrupt message came over the PA at 7:00 am telling us we had to get off the ship five hours before we thought we had to get off!  We all scrambled to dress, pack and have breakfast before leaving the ship.

We met Demetrius our bus driver in Greece and drove to the ancient city of Delphi high in the hills of Greece.  Our hotel was magnificent with a beautiful view of the sea of Corinth and steps away from the modern town of Delphi.  Everyone had a great time shopping and walking through this beautiful little town.  The next morning we were off to the ancient city of Delphi and had a fantastic guide who told us stories of the oracle of Delphi and how progressive the people of that time were.  Our guide really challenged us to think about our lives and to look at life with critical eyes.  This was an amazing site where we were able to touch the writing on the rocks that were over 2,000 years old and walk through the ruins imagining life thousands of years ago.

Then it was on to Athens with a brief lunch stop where everyone had delicious authentic Greek food!  We arrived at our hotel in Athens and were thrilled to find that it was right on the Aegean Sea.

The kids enjoyed walking along the beach and watching a beautiful sunset.

The next morning it was off to the city of Athens and we could see the Acropolis looming above as we drove into the city.

We met our local guide and walked through the streets of Athens and up to the Acropolis where we learned about the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike – whom the city is named after.  As we continued our tour through the city we stumbled upon ruins everywhere.  We had two wonderful days seeing such sites as the Olympic Stadium from the 1896 Olympics to Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

We had fun shopping and eating in the Plaka district and learned how to barter and get great deals!

A three day cruise through the Greek Islands was our next adventure – how fun to find our rooms and tour the ship.  Our first stop was the beautiful island of Mykonos where we wandered through the streets and saw the old windmills.  Our days on the ship were amazing as we lounged on the deck taking in the sunshine, took part in crafts and lessons, ate amazing meals, and enjoyed the onboard experience.  But we loved the stops at the small islands including Patmos, Santorini and Crete.  We also stopped for a morning at the city of Kusadasi in Turkey and experienced the true Turkish shopping.  Some of us went to Ephesus to see the ancient ruins of this ancient city.  That was amazing!  Billy Hyde has his 18th birthday on the cruise and we all dressed up fancy for dinner on the ship – he even got two birthday cakes!

We spent another day and night in Athens which EF treated us to.  This was great to get some last shopping done, or enjoy time at the beach.

Our Tour Director Emily was with us for the entire trip and she worked hard to make sure our trip ran smoothly.

Next year we are heading to Costa Rica to explore this beautiful country.  We will experience jungles, beaches, volcanoes, lakes, and the people of this biologically diverse nation.  This trip is open to students who will be in grade 10, 11 or 12 as well as their friends and family.

This is a very affordable trip – for more information please contact Sharon Smith at Columneetza or Susan Kurkiniemi at WLSS.