Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 20: Travel Home

Today we got up bright and early for our flight home! We had a great time in Europe, but it was definitely nice to get home after our long flight and longer landing!

Day 19: Paris

Today we started off with a trip to the Louvre, which houses such famous works as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo...

We then got on our "Champions Car" bus (since we're from Philly and World Champions) and went to enjoy the beauty of Versailles.

Day 18: Reims/Paris

Our morning began with a warm and heart-felt goodbye to our home-stay families and a 2 hour bus ride back to Paris...
We took a very nice bus tour of the city before visiting the famous cathedral of Notre Dame.

And celebrated Hannah's birthday over dinner!

Day 17: Reims/Epernay

Today our home-stay family started off the day by treating us to a tour of Reims and of the cathedral of Reims. It was in this cathedral that every French king was crowned from Clovis to Charles X. The cathedral was torn apart by bombs during WWI and WWII, and had to be largely reconstructed.

Next, a few of us were able to attend a private tour of the 2nd largest champagne production cellar in the world. We walked down 9 stories of steps to the miles of vaulted cellars that house 40 million bottles of champagne.

Upon returning to Sept-Saulx, we had a very nice BBQ to close out our night.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 16: Reims/Sept-Saulx

Today the students spent their whole day with their home-stay families in the town of Reims, as well as the surrounding villages and towns. Reims is located in the heart of the champagne region of France, and is famous for being the place where the allied forces first signed the truce with Germany after WWII. It was later decided that since Dwight Eisenhower was not an important-enough man at the time, the truce should be signed again the following day in Berlin.

One of my home-stay hosts, Gilles Salade, took me on a brief tour of a few champagne vinyards during the day.

Day 15: Paris

After 11 hours of being cooped up on a train, we were glad to get out and see Paris' iconic Eiffel Tower, both from the ground and from above. Elevators took us up 900 feet to the top of the tower for an incredible view of the city of that Hemingway called "a movable feast."We then had some free time to walk around the park...
...and for the Holy Cross kids to pause for a quick picture in our sweet new Tour De France shirts, since the race was ending just a few miles away from us on the Champs Elysee the same day.

Day 14: Venice

Since this was our last day in Italy, before departing for Venice, the leaders all paused for a picture with our Italian bus driver, Giancarlo.

Once we arrived in Venice, our tour began with a demonstration of how artists blow, shape, and mould pure Murano glass. In order for the glass to be considered pure, it must be made only of sand from the island of Murano, and only on the island of Murano, which lies just outside Venice.
Next we had a walking tour of the beautiful city, where we had a chance to appreciate the beautiful canals and little alleys.
And of course made more than one pass through Piazza San Marco.
After lunch it was time for our gondola ride through the canals of Venice!

After our day in Venice we said goodbye to Italy, and boarded an 11 hour overnight train for Paris.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 13: Carpi

We spent most of today visiting sites steeped in the history of the second world war. First, we made a stop at the Florence American Military Cemetery to hear the stories of Americans who lost their lives in Northern Italy during WWII.
We then went to Carpi, and visited the Fossoli Transport Camp, which was used as a concentration camp for Jews and political prisoners during WWII. From there, we went to the nearby Transport Museum to learn more about the holocaust through items, quotes, and graffiti from prominent artists like Pablo Picasso.

Tomorrow we're off to Venice for the day, and then on an overnight train to our home-stays in France! I will be staying with the French program director in a town called Sept-Saulx, near the larger town of Reims.

Day 12: Florence and Pisa

We started off today by exploring and getting a guided tour of Florence! Our tour included the famous "Duomo" and a trip to the Academia to see Michelangelo's incredible statue, David.
After our tour of Florence, we made our way to Pisa for a some free time to shop around the time and check out the famous leaning bell tower.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 11: Assisi

"Full On" is always a highlight of People to People trips, and this year's Full On experience in Assisi was no different! Full On teaches students to achieve results in life by focusing on what they want and by stepping outside their comfort zones. After a brief morning icebreaker with another delegation from New York, we all had the chance to rappel down a 90 foot tower that is over 800 years old!

The group was then in for another surprise challenge. Everyone was taught to chop through a block of wood with their hands.
After the Full On day, everyone had some free time to explore the beautiful hilltop town of Assisi. I used my free time to check out the 13th century Basilica of Saint Francis.

Tomorrow we head off to Florence and Pisa. Of course, everyone is very excited!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 10: Rome/Assisi

We visited the sites of ancient Rome today before heading north to Assisi. First, the Colosseum, followed by the ruins of the Roman Forum...

Then we made our way up to Assisi and heard a short talk from a Franciscan Friar who lives and works in Assisi.

Tomorrow we're looking forward to our "Full On" day in Assisi!