After months of preparation, excitement and saving, the date had finally arrived: we were leaving for Europe.
Fast-forward through a full day of travel and many hours spent curled up on a plane, our group finally reached Italy. As we drove into Rome, relics began to surround us. Early Roman dwellings, columns and monuments were mixed in with modern architecture and the effect was spectacular. The insane traffic didn’t take away from the scenery as we took time to relax and explore the city. We ate gelato and marveled at the sights; Rome was overwhelming.
The next day was packed full of sightseeing, starting with the Vatican. We toured the Sistine chapel (which was frescoed by Michelangelo himself), St. Peter’s Basilica and the square. There is nothing like the Vatican anywhere else in the world, it’s simply amazing. We then went to see the Coliseum and the original roman square. The size of the Coliseum is ridiculous and it’s incredible to think that it was built so long ago. We wrapped up our time in Rome with a visit to the Trevi fountain and the Spanish stairs and drove into Florence the following day.
We drove through the Italian countryside, past olive groves and pastures, stopping in small towns along the way. We rested in Assisi, and explored its small cobbled streets and the church of St. Francis (we learned about many, many saints while in Italy). We continued on to Florence where we explored the streets and saw a leather making demonstration.
The following day, as we made our way out of Italy, we stopped in Pisa and saw the famous leaning tower. The tower was most definitely leaning; in fact it was a little frightening up close, as it appeared as if it was going to fall on us. We waved a sad goodbye to Italy as we drove into Switzerland, through a seventeen-kilometer long tunnel.
We entered a world of mountains not too different from our own. It was a beautiful, albeit long drive. We set off into Switzerland, spending half of our day in Lucerne where we were able to shop, sightsee and relax. We then jumped onto a gondola and rose 7000 ft. onto the top of mount Pilatus. The view was spectacular, the sun was shining, and the day was beautiful. We had fun running up steps looking for the best view, and spent lots of time outside enjoying the sun.
After only one day in Switzerland we moved on to Paris. We arrived in the evening and were able to stop by the Eiffel tower. Everyone was in awe of the beauty of Paris and many of our group members fell in love with the city. As we took a boat tour around Paris, we were able to goof around and see the sights found all throughout the city.
The following day we had the privilege of visiting Versailles, former home of Marie Antoinette and birthplace of the French Revolution. Everyone loved the palace, and we were shocked by its size. The building itself is massive and the gardens stretch farther than the eye can see. After that we climbed the Eiffel Tower (about 700 steps, although it felt like much more). The view from the tower was dizzying and we were able to see all of Paris. On the last day of our trip we visited the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. After a selfie or two with Mona, we explored the rest of the massive gallery. To wrap up our day we took some final free time with our friends we headed back to the hotel. Leaving Paris was bittersweet, but we were all excited to return home. After all, there is no where else quite like Tumbler Ridge, and we had all missed home.
Looking back, the trip was a great success and an amazing experience. The memories made among friends will never be forgotten, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime.