A group of students from Williams Lake Secondary School and Columneetza Secondary School as well as some adults spent 20 days touring Europe this summer.
For many of the young people it was their first time flying, and for most their first time being overseas.
We travelled with EF Tour (Education First Tours) and our amazing tour guide was Lindsey who was with us 24/7. She looked after all the details and made sure we had a great time.
We began our tour in London, England and quickly learned how to use the London Underground or “tube” to get around.
Our group was amazing as they learned to navigate the city of London during their free time. We saw the highlights of London including the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.
One evening we did the Jack the Ripper tour walking through the streets where these horrific crimes occurred. Who knew that learning about history could be so fascinating?
We then took the high-speed Euro-star Train under the English Channel and all the way to Paris in just a few hours. Paris did not disappoint as we saw the highlights of this world-famous city.
We spent time at Notre Dame Cathedral, toured the Louvre Museum where we saw the famous Mona Lisa, went up the Eiffel Tower, saw the Arc de Triomphe, walked along the Champs-Elysees and took a boat ride down the Seine River at night.
What a magical way to see this beautiful, romantic city. We went to Versailles, the summer palace of Louis XIV, the Sun King and marvelled at the beautiful gardens and opulent décor of this palace.
Next it was on to Switzerland and the town of Lucerne. It was a beautiful, sunny day when we took a boat ride down Lake Lucerne and rode the steepest cog railway in the world to the top of Mount Pilatus. The air was clear and cool as we hiked more than 6,387 feet up in the sky.
Then it was on to Italy and the city of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. We enjoyed seeing the statues, churches and artwork as well as eating some of the best gelato in the world.
Then we travelled south to Assisi, where St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, lived. This was a quaint, little town on the top of a hill with a view that was glorious.
Our next stop was Rome, where we toured the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. The story is that if you throw a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain you will return one day.
We spent time at Vatican City, the world’s smallest country. We toured the Vatican Museum with its amazing artwork and then went to the Sistine Chapel, which was painted by Michelangelo. It is breathtaking to look up at the ceiling and view the amazing frescos.
Then it was onto St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most amazing churches in the world.
Our next stop was the magical city of Venice, where we toured St. Marks Square and the Doges Palace.
We all rode on a gondola through the canals and viewed the city from the water and then got lost as we walked through the maze of bridges and canals in this unique city.
Austria was our next stop where we visited Innsbruck, with its amazing winter sports for skiers, snowboarders and ice mountaineers.
Then to Neuschwanstein Castle, built by Mad King Ludwig. This fairy-tale castle was the model for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle.
Our last stop was Munich, Germany where we visited the BMW headquarters, and the town square with the clock tower.
We also visited Dachau, a Second World War Nazi concentration camp, which now is a memorial museum to those who died during this horrific time.
The best part of the tour for me was seeing the students get so excited about the places that we visited.
They were amazing travellers and I was really proud of the way they behaved and the respect they showed toward the new cultures that we experienced.
I know that these young people will go on to travel in the future and that this trip really opened their eyes to the world. What a great way to spend the summer.
Next March we will go to Italy and Greece on a 10-day tour, which includes a three-day cruise through the Greek Islands with a stop in Turkey.
If you would like more information about this amazing trip contact Sharon Smith at Columneetza or Susan Kurkiniemi at WLSS.
There will be an information meeting on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at Columneetza in room 157.