PT: Article written for school, about a school trip I took to Italy and Greece. "The school" in bold replaces the name of my school.
It was nine o'clock, and soon ten. Forty-one students and six teachers were aboard the Swiss Airlines plane; it was late, and the sun had already dropped under the horizon when the school took leave of JFK airport. Hours were spent then, talking, sleeping, and watching movies or playing games, until the Atlantic had been crossed—thus the school reached Zuerich, Switzerland. The Swiss seemed to be more French than German there. Another three-hour flight was whiled away sleeping until reaching Rome in Italy. Once there, there was once again a long wait as luggage was picked up. Finally the school stepped onto Italian ground.
Still, waiting was not yet over—there was a bus to take them to their hotel; the driver's name was Luciano, and he and the bus would work for the school's transportation for the rest of their visit in Italy. The guide that would be leading them for their whole trip throughout the Mediterranean was Linda. Linda, I must mention, has an amusing habit of saying "Hey!" in a way that was pronounced like "'Eeeyyy!"
The first day was spent learning during the bus ride about history involving the Romans, and later suffering culture shock with the narrow European elevator, the bidet (read: creepy sink-toilet thing), and the system of stairs in which the second is marked as the first. Another object of note is the constant appearance of flags for the European Union and G8. Italy is also a rather pleasant change from New York—all narrow streets and rolling hills. Nature and modern technology seem to get along so well there.
The first full day in Italy was spent in Florence, after a brutally early wake-up call (throughout the whole trip, waking time was always early), during which several students had their first taste of real Italian pizza, learned something of the Medici family (especially Caterina and Cosimo), went to the Ponte Vecchio (upon which it soon became clear why Italy is coined as a nation of love), and visited the David in the square (unfortunately, the line for the museum in which the real David was would have proven to be too long and time-consuming). A day was spent in Vatican City, smallest nation in the world. Although slightly put off by the long line and the frustrating photo copyrights set on the Sistine Chapel by Japanese TV (that didn't stop a couple of sneak shots being taken, though), it was an enjoyable look at St. Peter's and the Tiber River, and an opportunity to send home postcards with Vatican stamps. The school was even allowed the grace to see the Pope out in public, for it was Easter Sunday—despite the monstrosity of a population of people.
The A1, so-called "Highway of Sunshine" was taken. The Colosseum was entered, as was the Roman Forum (where Julius Caesar's temple and place of cremation was!). The Piazza Navona was explored, its Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi admired (also, the author made a very stupid mistake here, one which will not be disclosed). The Piazza Navona has a beautiful church, Agnes's Church, and there is much art there. The penny-pinching author was tempted to buy one exceptionally wonderful piece. There was also quite a bit of art that presented the red poppy that is so common in Italy. Next was the Trevi Fountain, the end of the only aqueduct that still works—it was brilliant! (Students also had fun pointing strong lasers they got at the last square at it.) Italy's pride and joy, gelato, was also available.
Naples (constantly referred to as its original Italian name "Napolis") was visited, as was nearby Pompeii, the famous city buried by Mount Vesuvius (I, the author, must mention that the date of its eruption in destroying Pompeii was August twenty-fourth). Plaster casts including the bones of the victims were seen—the dog, the pregnant woman, the man covering his face, and two others with nothing spectacular about them except that they also died in the same manner—along with countless artifacts left over, frescos, temples to sibling deities Artemis and Apollo (Artemis being called Diane by the Romans), and Vesuvius itself were seen. The bathhouse was visited, including—interestingly enough—their Jacuzzi. A lethargic dog—"Half dead," said one of the students—was seen and taken pictures of while he was lying down. He is one of the forty-seven strays of Pompeii. Another one was later seen walking about.
The island Capri was visited, and it was absolutely stunning—on top of the incredibly blue European water, the weather was agreeable and it was a beautiful place (the boat tour also did well in wetting the students). To boot, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were there the same day (but no one saw them, so...)! It is at this point that the author must state: Of this one thing, one can be absolutely sure: Italy is a beautiful country. (Yes, this is a very slight parody of Twilight, a series that the author, taking liberties, must say that she absolutely loathes...but Italy is still undoubtedly a beautiful country.)
Greece was visited next, on a twenty-hour ferry. There was a party on the ship, even (but the author of this article was not there, being a horrible dancer, unattractive, and nearly anti-social, so no details can be given...except that the Canadians that were traveling adjacent were there as well). There was, however, a real treat that even the author enjoyed, on the ship—the school, for once, had a decent night's sleep!—or near to it. Still, more sleep!
The ferry docked at Athens. Another driver was waiting, named Christos. The Rio–Antirrio Bridge was crossed, and the school ate at a restaurant whose name the author could not read (for it was in Greek) before rushing out to its beach, Clovino. It's a pebble beach, and was enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, one of the students stepped on an urchin, and suffered nausea, fatigue, and extreme pain as a result. (At this point, the author must ask...you're getting bored with my narrative, aren't you?—and yes, I'm laughing.)
Delphi was climbed (by bus, of course; if we had done so by foot, we would be dead, and you wouldn't be reading this article right now, probably drifting off to sleep from my dull style of narration). Delphi was where the school stayed at that night, and shopped at. The Evil Eye was everywhere, and what really was an eye-catcher was the array of blades on sale, designed in a variety of styles (including Nazi types, to the author's Germanophilic joy). The Greeks also seem to take pride in their olive oil soap. There was much jewelry, something many of the girls seemed to be interested in. Although the rice for dinner was highly questionable (for the I, the author, cannot understand why no one in Europe can even make a half-decent bit of rice) and a number of students didn't feel like attending another party, that night in Delphi was enjoyable, and everyone went to their hotel content. Also, the author took photos of pornographic playing cards that another student pointed out—later it was to be discovered that the Greeks are rather shameless in selling products featuring their ancient porn. The author would also like to muse that probably more people than herself and her roommates hit their heads on the sloped ceilings of their hotel.
The next day was April Fools, and Linda enjoyed telling us that the school was to help out at a farm—a joke, of course. Still, the students' reaction was hilarious to bear witness to. Photography was done at one spot convenient to capture a town and the land—Greece is also very beautiful, with rugged land and terra-cotta roofs—and Delphi was visited. The Temple of Apollo was visited, as was the Roman Theater. The spot where the Oracle was supposed to have appeared in ancient times was seen. There were cats at the nearby café...Greece has many strays. Those who felt like it went to the Delphi Archaeological Museum, at which the author had to dump her slushy, but, took pictures (as long as there was no flash...).
The school explored the Acropolis, and the Parthenon, to the author's delight (and others, because it was an awesome view and some actually got the author to be in a few photos). The ancient Greek Olympics were seen there. A stop was made at the modern Greek Olympics. (Another half-dead...lethargic dog was there.) Shopping was done again, and again there was plenty of jewelry. Athens's so-called "Cafeteria" was explored, though the author must comment that it was only a bunch of regular stores for clothing and such, and was disappointed at the lack of tourist shops. Still, the café was rather nice. The hotel offered comfort and television that actually worked...and internet connection! The next day—the last—was spent shopping at a flea market around a square, where even a penny-pincher like the author could not survive—the Greek moussaka was surprisingly good, the gelato refreshing, the stores satisfying. Europeans are rather friendly, so the author concludes, whether they are insistent salespeople or not. They even have herbal stores there, again to the author's delight (at this point I believe I am taking too many liberties with this article...author's privilege, I guess?). There were extraordinarily tasty strawberries sold at one euro a bag, and this must be noted because they were undoubtedly awesome. The ruins of an ancient library could also be entered. The hotel was returned to by tram—which, despite Linda's warnings about its speed, was actually quite slow—and arrived at by around sunset. The body of water nearby was magnificent, with the sky's colors and land in the distance. The school was to wake up at around two in the morning—there was no point in sleeping, but everyone was so tired...
Thus the school left for the airport, groggy, at around two in the morning, saying goodbyes to the Canadians and picking up bagged breakfasts. Students were rather reluctant to return home. There was again a flight to Switzerland. A final goodbye was done with Linda—wrought with many mock exclamations of "'Eeeeyyy!"—before the school headed off to wait at the gate. Sleeping was done, of course, before boarding. There were four hours when arriving in the morning in Zuerich—this was spent shopping, eating, or simply falling dead asleep on the tables—the author did all three. Shame Switzerland could not be explored a bit during those four idle hours. This time the Swiss seemed more German than French.
The long ride across the Atlantic Ocean was...long. It was whiled away with sleeping, games, sleeping, listening to music, reading, sleeping, talking, sleeping, watching movies, and sleeping. There was a lot of sleeping, by the way. The Swiss were generous enough with their chocolate...they gave small bits as part of their flight—small Easter eggs, for one. The plane flew over the German border, flew over France, over the English Channel, and over England, to the author's Germanophilic and Francophilic and bibliophilic dismay. Upon finally landing in New York City, there was only one way for the school, gathered in one section of the plane, to react—cheer.
There was a lot of waiting done on the trip...but it was a rather invigorating experience. Europe is both a fascinating and stunningly beautiful place, rich with history and culture. The trip to Italy and Greece was truly a wonderful occasion, and I, the author, would like to state that it was much loved by those who went.