36 Rotary exchange students, 11 cities, 12 days… C’est parti!
We started day one of the Euro tour bus trip in Paris, France on Easter! Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to visit all of the famous monuments but we did have time to stop at the Eiffel Tower! It was an Easter we’ll never forget!
Bienvenue à Strasbourg! Day 2 was a lovely, rainy day in the city of Strasbourg located right on the border of France & Germany. The word “Strasbourg” in German means “street city.” Strasbourg is less than a 30 min drive from the German border, therefore there is a lot of German influence in the architecture and food. One of my favorite foods we tried here was the “Bretzel,” a German-style soft pretzel.
Next stop: MÜNCHEN! This was my first time visiting Germany, so I was pretty excited. We arrived in the afternoon and had “Rotwurst” which is like a sausage served with French fries for lunch. En route to Munich, we got caught in traffic because of the snow storm that was going on, but that didn’t stop us from arriving in the beautiful city of Munich! We took a very nice tour where we learned that it is the wealthiest city in Germany and is known for football (soccer), beer, and cars. With that being said, we visited the BMW museum. BMW is one amongst 3 other companies that do the most hiring in Germany, roughly 36,000 people work for BMW. It is also a very popular University city, there are many university students in the city of Munich, where college is free!!
Day 4 & 5:
Czech this out!
The next 2 days were spent in Prague! We took a tour around the “Old Town” visiting a lot of the important buildings and cathedrals, and since it was Easter week, we even got to see the adorable outdoor Easter market. We also tried a Czech specialty food called “Trdelnik.” The best way to describe it is like bread dough rolled up around a hot iron rod where they roll it in sugar, bake it, and then spread caramel sauce/ Nutella/ whipped cream/ etc on the inside. It was delish! We then visited the john Lennon wall, a beautiful wall where you can find graffiti with drawings or quotes of world peace.
We then drove to, in my opinion, probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe… VIENNA! We took a nice walking tour around the city but we’re unable to visit the entire city by foot, so we hopped on the bus and saw the rest of the city. There were so many beautiful buildings with ‘Art Nouveau’ style architecture.
Day 7 & 8:
Next up on our tour is Venice, Italy! I had seen so many beautiful pictures of Venice in books/ social media/ etc, but when I saw this city in person, my jaw dropped. It is such a unique city built on water. We had to take a 20 minute ferry form the main land to get to Venice. First thing we did when we arrived was get Gelato! I got Stracciatella, which is vanilla with bits of chocolate, it was delicious! We then took a guided tour where we saw a good bit of Venice including the Byzantine cathedral and learned about Venice’s 15 day carnival and specially in Glass making. I bought a pair of beautiful glass earrings that are made on an island not far from Venice. We ended the day off right with a run along the beach at sun set and had pasta for dinner! Fun fact: pasta is considered as an appetizer in Italy, so we had one plate of pasta, then a plate of veal and potatoes, and then Panna Cotta for dessert.
Every day I spent in Italy I ended up loving more and more. The people are so friendly, the food is great, and I even got to practice my Italian! For breakfast we ate traditional Italian food: presunto, cheese, pannetone and café with latte (which means warm milk!). I was surprised to find that Italian is quite easy to understand. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant in Milan where they did not speak English, therefore we had to make an effort to speak in Italian. Luckily my knowledge of Portuguese, Spanish and French came into hand and we had no problems ordering our meal. I ate a delicious “gnocchi Verdi,” which is a potato based pasta with basil and garlic.
We then took a guided walking tour visiting all of the major monuments in Milano. We saw the beautiful Duomo cathedral and the Plazza Della Scala, which is a very high end shopping centre. I was completely starstruck by this city because my freshman year of high school, I did a project on Milan and its famous monuments, so I was in awe to actually get to visit Milan and see the city in person during my senior year of High School.
And since Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, i just had to go shopping. I found an adorable Italian hand bag store, from Naples, where I bought a beautiful summer-y purse. And we couldn’t leave Italy without trying the coffee, so I tried an espresso. Boy oh boy, those Italian espressos are about the size of 2 sips but it gave me so much energy!
En route back to La France! Today we adventured to Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in in Europe. We arrived in the afternoon, it was raining so we decided to eat a warm lunch. We found the cutest little Swedish restaurant in the centre ville of Chamonix where we ate Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes. We then caught a train to take to the top of mount blanc. It was such an awesome view! We then took a gondola to the bottom to check out the glaciers! It was incredible to get to see the inside of a glacier but alarming because of how fast it is melting.
Guess who’s going to the UN in Geneva today?! ME!!!
Today we drove from Annecy, France to Geneva, Switzerland. We got to see an actual conference going on during the ‘eCommerce week’: Assessing eTrade readiness of the least developed countries. We also learned that there are 6 official languages of the United Nations: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic.
We then stopped in downtown Geneva for lunch! I ate at a delicious Brazilian restaurant with all of the Brazilian exchange students. It was delicious!!!
Then we headed back to Annecy where we spent the rest of the day! We drank hot chocolate and saw some of the other exchange students who live in Annecy.
And to end the bus trip, we had a dance party in the hotel! This was a trip that I’ll never forget! Thanks to everyone who made it unforgettable!