eurotour epilogue – random thoughts

All together!

All together!

Wednesday, January 14th in Paris was easily my favorite day of the trip. Notre Dame Cathedral blew away any of the churches or cathedrals we had previously seen. This 375 foot behemoth boasted stained glass windows and large vaulted ceilings that served to bring in the divine light as well as reach up to God. I also had a great experience with the Paris Metro when a cashier gave me a discount for an entire day pass after I explained I was an American student, it was a great way to start the day and put me on track to see all of Paris.

My visit to the Eiffel Tower was somewhat disappointing as the very top was closed due to maintenance but I was able to go to the second level to see some amazing views of the city before rain forced me back down. A short walk to Les Invalides treated me to the Museum de l’Armée and Napoleon’s crypt. The crypt was absolutely incredible with Napoleon’s personal items on display as well as a massive red stone sarcophagus. If Napoleon’s goal was to become another emperor, his crypt alone would definitely qualify him. Next stop would be a record time 15 minute Métro jump to the top of l’Arc de Triomphe located at the end of Les Champs-Elysees. I enjoyed the view from the top of l’Arc de Triomphe much more than the Eiffel Tower because of the 12 avenues running into the Place d’Etoile, the Arc’s central location.

Check out my flickr photostream
(blog admin’s note: excellent photostream!)

~ Feliks

I’ll remember the friendships and camaraderie long after the visions of the cathedrals and museums have faded. We were a diverse group: young and well, not so young, faculty and students, friends and colleagues. But we all bonded along the way on our intense and awe-inspiring journey to see the antiquities, art treasures, and history of Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, Florence, and Paris. What stands out most in my mind as I close my eyes and remember the trip is the floating jewel of Venice appearing before us as we rode the ferry across the straits. The lacy, pinkish marble of the Doge’s Palace appeared before us, and seemed otherworldly, an architectural confection. Experiencing St. Mark’s Cathedral was the dream of a lifetime; to see the treasures brought back from Constantinople by the crusaders was stunning. I couldn’t believe my eyes, “pala d’oro” the golden cloth, at the altar and the bronze horses dating to Greek times were breathtaking. I could practically hear Gabrielli’s antiphonal music resounding from the balconies within the church. Vivaldi’s music still reverberating in my mind after the concert at St. Mark’s Chapel that evening; I brought back the CD of the concert to remember the brilliance of the San Marco Chamber Orchestra and their virtuoso performance.

We spent hours in the Gallerie dell’Academia and feasted our eyes on the Renaissance art of Titian, Tintoretto, Bellini and Veronese before we headed off to the Taverna for a family-style meal in a building that probably dated to the 1600′s. Marco Polo’s house still stands on the Grand Canal – just another neighbor in the ancient city.

The trip was so well organized and planned by our leaders, Helayna, Anna, and Joe. Thank you all for your expertise and guidance through the world of art, architecture, music, and cuisine!

~ Rachel

We had made new friends, had new experiences, new memories. Together we experienced the wonders of the Western World – thousands of years of architecture, art and history. We were exposed to cultures old and new. Experienced the modern life of the current generation along with that of the ancient world. All this made possible by our tour leaders, three individuals who love the arts and want to teach others about the beauty, history, and music that has existed for thousands of years. We seem so small in this expansive – ancient – enduring – historical world of mankind – again, exhausted but satisfied.

Au revoir
Auf wiedersehen
Good Bye

~ Debbie

The trip overall was a success and I thank the tour leaders for everything. I really appreciated all the previous classes and meetings and having your friendly faces with me on this adventure. Thanks.

~ Christina

My favorite moments from the Europe trip include seeing the snowy Alpine peaks by moonlight from my balcony in the hotel at Innsbruck, seeing the opera Elixir of Love at the Vienna State Opera House, experiencing the cavernous interior of the 1000 year old St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice which has its walls completely covered with gold glass mosaics, taking that gondola ride in Venice with many of our participants and sharing the laughter, and finishing the day in Venice at a live performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concerti.

Paris offered many enjoyments as well but especially that walk through Ste. Chappelle which is probably my favorite place in Paris. I catch my breath every time I walk into that little jewel box of a royal chapel which was built 800 years ago with so much rose colored stained glass and gilded wood. As a co-leader it was very gratifying for me to see all our travelers laughing, learning, and enjoying themselves, and I am already thinking about possibilities for the next trip!

~ Helayna

With the tour of Europe now over, there are a lot of thoughts that come to mind.  One of the first ones occurred to me as I was having a conversation with Lisa, one of Mission College’s associate English instructors who was on the tour.  I told her that I had been wanting to do one of these EF Tours for several years, then a year of preparing for this actual trip…and now it’s over.

I was also thinking about all the miles that we covered, or should I say kilometers, and thought wow…did we really travel all that distance?  But we really did…Vienna, Innsbruck, Verona, Venice, Florence, and Paris.  By bus through the Alps, water taxi to Venice, overnight train to Paris and subway, and walking the many city streets.  Maybe it was a little more than one should really try and do every time but for this time, it was a great experience.  Group travel has its challenges and rewards and for me, my final thought is…where do I want to go next!

~ Joe

Regarding Joe’s comment, I had intended to but then forgot to ask our driver Luigi, the total kilometers he logged. However, based on Google maps, the rough distance we covered overland was 2,313 kilometers or 1437 miles! Incredible.

For me, equally important as the monuments and museums, were the off tour moments: sitting in Harry’s Bar, Ernest Hemingway’s home away from home in Venice, chatting with the Algerians on the overnight train using my awful French, staying up almost all night(!) laughing SO hard with Aaron and Lisa. These are the things I will remember.

Many, many thanks to our hardworking, tireless, and ever cheerful Tour Leaders: Anna, Helayna, and Joe and to our exceptional tour guide Kathi to whom I will not say adieu, but au revoir!

~ Ken