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From country to city, From farm to fireworks…Through marriage & children, Through employment & ownership, Life continues to be an amazing journey…

Thursday, June 28

People To People - European Discovery

One event at a time our busy summer is beginning to unfold. The boys had their birthday, graduation came and went, and we have “junior” all registered for college. Next…the big trip. Quaid will have his second journey with
People to People
in less than a week. Not your average “senior tr
ip”, but for him I am both proud and extremely jealous! Tonight was the official “send off” party and pinning ceremony. The kids are all giddy and anxious to board the plane. About 35 students are in my son’s delegation.

The photo above was taken on Quaid’s “junior” trip with People to People on the Gateways to China trip. How many 17 year old kids actually have a picture of themselves climbing up an ancient brick stairwell at the Great Wall of China?

I like to publish the entire itenerary not only to brag on my son’s accomplishments, but again to encourage ANY PARENTS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL AGE STUDENTS to look into this magnificent program and get your children into it. As a legacy to Dwight Eisenhower’s vision of world peace, thousands of students each year explore the USA and the GLOBE to further that vision. Save your money, and get your children involved. It’s an amazing program and a life changing opportunity. Even after high school graduation, People to People alumni still travel the world. I won’t lie to you though, it’s an expense of about $5500 per trip…but students are encouraged to hold fundraisers, and in larger families where relatives and friends can contribute, it’s possible…and WORTH ANY EFFORT :)


DAY 1 - Travel: Greet your fellow Ambassadors in your departure city before boarding your international flight to France! (This year at 4:00am at the airport)

DAY 2 – Paris, France: Bonjour et Bienvenue en France! Upon arrival in Paris, known as the “City of Light,” your People to People delegation manager and coach driver will greet you. For a dazzling first impression of Paris, the best place to go is up! Take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower (899 feet), built for the 1889 World’s Fair to commemorate the French Revolution. This evening, journal your first impressions of France.

DAY 3 – Paris France: Set out with your French guide for an orientation of the city Ernest Hemingway called “a moveable feast,” because “wherever you go for the rest of your life, Paris stays with you.” Marvel at the white Basilique du Sacré Coeur. Did you know that the dome is the second highest point in Paris? Experience one of the most unforgettable places in Europe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, a building that took two centuries to complete. Point Zéro, the spot from which all road distances are measured in France, is found in the courtyard in front of Notre Dame. Afterwards, enjoy the Opéra Quarter, where cafés and shops line the grand boulevards. Explore this vibrant area in small groups. Later visit the historic Montmartre area, a haven for artists and writers before WWI. Take some time to discover this area’s hidden treasures in small groups. This afternoon, enjoy a guided exploration of one of the most important art collections in the world, the famous Musée du Louvre. Since it would take at least three weeks to see all the wonderful treasures held inside, you will visit only the principal parts of the museum—including a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa! Afterwards, have a rockin’ and rollin’ good time at the Hard Rock Café, amidst its fascinating collection of music memorabilia.

DAY 4 – Reims, France: In the morning you will have the opportunity to visit the UNESCO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945. Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter .Later you will explore the magnificent Château de Versailles. Built during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, it was the seat of the royal court from 1682 to 1789, when the French Revolution put an end to the monarchy. Au revoir Paris! Journey to Reims, where you will spend the night.

DAY 5 – Strasbourg, France: Today, cross the rolling plains of the Northeast, an area well known for some of France’s finest landscapes. The region of Champagne is also famous for its fine wines. Alsace and Lorraine, regions containing many charming medieval towns, have changed nationality four times since 1871, as Germany and France have fought over the border. Later, explore Strasbourg with your delegation.

DAY 6 – Zurich, Switzerland: On the way to Zurich, make a stop in the medieval city of Lucerne, in the heart of Switzerland. For lunch today you will be divided into four smaller groups to buy part of the lunch for the entire group (money will be provided for this activity). Find local shops, decide what to buy, and communicate with the shopkeepers, who may not speak any English! Afterwards, stroll along the picturesque Kapellbrücke, the wooden bridge spanning Lake Lucerne, and have a look at the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss soldiers who died in the French Revolution (1792). Take the opportunity to buy some famous Swiss chocolate for your friends and family back home! Explore downtown Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous city. The Old Town boasts many charming shops, and the lakeside setting can’t be beat! Along the way, see how many of Zurich’s 1,030 fountains you can spot.

DAY 7 – Home Stay Germany: STOP THE PRESSES! (The original plan was to stay in a hostel in Austria…but just tonight at the pinning ceremony, there was a surprise announcement that AN EXTRA COUNTRY had been added to the trip…and yes…home stay with an actual family in GERMANY!) Innsbruck (“Bridge over the Inn River), the capital of the region of Tyrol, and home of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics will be your next destination. Enjoy lunch at the “Villa Blanka” in Innsbruck, where you try your hand at baking your own dessert–the famous Austrian Apfelstrudel! In the evening, meet your Home Stay family near Munich, Germany and get to experience life in Europe. Be ready to try new things!

DAY 8 – Home Stay Germany: Spend the day with your Home Stay family, learning about German home life.

DAY 9 – Home Stay Germany: Your Home Stay continues with a chance to live everyday life in Germany and meet the locals. This is your opportunity to make lifelong friends!

Remember to thank your Home Stay family as this will be your last night with them. Write a thank you note and leave it with them, or mail it right away. Don’t forget to exchange address information so you can keep in touch! (The kids also bring a gift to the home family that represents photos and life from the city in America in which they represent)

DAY 10 – Salzburg, Austria: Early today you will journey to Hallein, where you will visit the famous salt mines. Go deep into a mysterious underground world, as you ride a mine trolley or swish on wooden slides into the heart of the mountain. Continue your drive through scenic Austria to Salzburg, the city of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the world’s greatest composers. This afternoon you have the opportunity to investigate Salzburg and uncover its many treasures. Stop at the strange and ingenious Hellbrunn water castle, where trick fountains and water-powered figures have been attracting visitors for four hundred years. Expect to get wet!

DAY 11 – Vienna, Austria: Continue your journey to Mauthausen, where you will experience a darker aspect of European history when you visit the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp. Here you will have the chance to learn about the true nature of these camps as you delve into Mauthausen’s terrible past. Later, travel to Vienna and enjoy the Prater Amusement Park, where James Bond had an adventurous ride on the giant Riesenrad (the second largest Ferris wheel in the world) in 1987’s “The Living Daylights.”

If you want to ride the giant Ferris wheel or any other rides, you will need to bring your own spending money. Most rides are approximately EURO 5.00.

DAY 12 – Vienna, Austria: Explore Vienna, taking in many of the famous sights as you pedal your way through this bicycle-friendly city. Later you will meet and take part in a discussion with a survivor of a concentration camp. This is a unique opportunity and a true honor for Student Ambassadors. This evening, attend a concert at one of the famous concert houses of Vienna.

Remember, the concert calls for conservative dress, please.

DAY 13 – Sirnitz, Austria: After breakfast, depart for the small castle town of Friesach, once important for its key location on the Venice-Vienna trade route. Enjoy a rousing medieval lunch at the Strassburg Castle, followed by a formal welcome by the residents and town officials of Sirnitz. There will also be a pool party, so don’t forget to bring your swimsuit.

DAY 14 – Jesolo, Italy: Before leaving Austria, stop to visit a mill and farm. Work with the local residents to gather all the necessary ingredients to make your own lunch. Afterwards, continue on to Italy. Bon Giorno e Benvenuto in Italia! This afternoon enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Italian beach town including a swim in the Adriatic Sea.

DAY 15 – Venice, Italy: If any city in the world can be described as unique, it’s Venice, the one-time gateway to the Orient. Winding through the heart of the city is the Grand Canal, which remains, in the words of a French Ambassador of 1495, “the most beautiful street in the world.” Spend the morning exploring the bustling alleys, quaint bridges and narrow canals of Venice. Why not enjoy one of life’s great pleasures and take a ride in a gondola? If there is one thing Venice is famous for—besides gondolas—it’s glass. Watch a demonstration of Venetian glass blowing in the glass factory, Veccia Murano. Here you will also have an opportunity to buy some wonderful souvenirs for your family. In the afternoon, enjoy some time to investigate the city.

DAY 16 – Montecatini, Italy: Leave Venice this morning and travel through the Tuscan countryside to one of the most culturally rich cities in the world: Firenze (Florence). When you arrive, you will meet your Italian guide for an overview of the colorful history of Florence and take a walk through the city center. The Duomo, the famous symbol of Florence, is the tallest building in the city and the fourth largest cathedral in Europe. Look for the bronze doors to the Baptistery known as the “Gate of Paradise.” Then pay a visit to the Accademia Gallery, which houses Michelangelo’s colossal statue, David. Leave Florence and continue your drive through the Tuscan countryside to Montecatini, where you’ll spend the night.

DAY 17 – Rome, Italy: See one of the most famous buildings in Europe when you travel to Pisa, whose powerful navy once dominated the Mediterranean. Discover the Square of Miracles, where you’ll see some of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy, including the Leaning Tower. Begun in 1173, the Tower started to tilt even before the third level was finished in 1274; it was finally completed in 1350. Later you will travel to your last stop, the Eternal City of Rome!

DAY 18 – Rome, Italy: Discover the sights and sounds of Rome! Pay a visit to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. The afternoon’s activities include an exploration of the city center. Your group will be divided into teams and you’ll compete against each other to collect information about the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Don’t forget to bring your coins; tossing a coin in the fountain will grant your wish to return to Roma!

DAY 19 – Rome, Italy: This morning, you will have a special visit to the world famous “Christian Catacombs of San Callisto”. Learn more about the important meaning of Rome’s history and about the Catacombs .Visit the capital of Catholicism and the world’s smallest state, the Vatican. Marvel at St. Peter’s Basilica, which contains hundreds of works of art, including Michelangelo’s glorious Pietà. Just off the basilica, you’ll find the Sistine chapel, containing what are perhaps the most amazing frescoes in the world. This afternoon you will meet with a priest who will speak about Catholicism in Italy, and the organization of the Vatican or with a nun who will explain what life is like for a nun in a Roman convent.

Remember: There is a strict dress code at the Vatican. Girls must cover their shoulders and knees. Long skirts or pants are appropriate. For boys, short-sleeved shirts are okay, but no shorts, please. Sandals are fine for either. You may be asked to leave or be denied entrance if you don’t follow these guidelines.

DAY 20 – Go Home: Pack up your suitcase for the last time and board the coach for the airport. Remember to complete your program evaluations and exchange friendship cards with your fellow Ambassadors! Arrivederci, Italia! Goodbye, Europe!

There are other amazements not mentioned in the itinerary. Shopping at Louis’ Veton, and Armani for example…the original stores actually in Italy. People, do your kids a favor…get them in this program. If I would have known about People to People six mere years before I did…BOTH MY CHILDREN could have just about seen the entire world by now…(of course I’d be living in a tent somewhere eating potted meat and Top Ramen…but hey…for that experience for them…gladly sacrificed!) All I know is…if I come back in a next life…I want to come back as a People to People Student Ambassador! Viva La France kiddo!


Lauren said...

Wow! your itinerary is v. similar to mine, both of us having the german homestay! Any advice?