A european Tour

A European Tour

In all we went to twelve places across Western Europe, and each one was just as fascinating as the next. It was July 2008, my Grandma, Mom, big brother and I left Portland around eight o’ clock to catch a connecting flight to Sea-Tac, an airport which I had been to many times. Two hours later we left for Heathrow airport in London, a nine-hour flight.
Once we arrived, we spent an hour asking nearly every person in the airport how to get to the National Express desk that would eventually get us a bus to our hotel. We found the desk, and after thirty minutes of sitting on the floor we finally got in to the bus, and remembered where the steering wheel is in Britain and what side of the road they drive on, it felt weird. We discussed the upcoming Olympics with a couple people from China and how in 2012 the Olympics would come to London. That night we left for the London Eye after a short rest.

We took the London underground, and again got lost having to ask a lot of people where to get on and get off. It was very confusing because some of the tracks were down.
When we got out of the underground it felt like being on the bottom of the ski slope after the first ride of the season. We got to see the main part of London for the first time. We crossed a bridge and saw the eye. It was huge. We waited in line for a while before finally getting on. I took about 100 pictures of the amazing views of the buildings, Thames River and of course Big Ben and the Parliament building as the day slowly turned to night.
The next day we took two-tour buses, one around London and the other to the Tower of London where they keep the jewels of the past Kings and Queens.

We woke up a little after 4 A.M. the next day and met with the group that we would be spending the next 2 weeks with. We drove in our tour bus to the white cliffs of Dover and took a big boat to Calais, France on our way to Amsterdam. After the long ride we arrived at our hotel and slept before we took a tour of the canals in Amsterdam where I moved on to my second memory card for my camera.

The next day we left for Germany. We drove on the autobahn where there are no speed limits. For lunch we stopped in Cologne, which stood out because of a big gothic style church called the Domo, it had two big towers. I ate bratwurst for the first time, it was pretty good. We drove along the Rhine River for a while before getting on a boat that took us up it. We saw lots of old castles hidden away atop the hillsides. When we got off we drove to Manheim were we spent the night. The next day we went to Heidelberg and took a walking tour. This was my grandma’s favorite part of the whole trip (even though we were only there for half an hour) because she lived there for three years in the1950’s. There was a huge old castle that overlooked the small town and river beside it. Once we got back on the bus we drove to Munich and saw the 1972 Olympic stadiums. They gave us an hour to do whatever we wanted, so we went to the Hafbrahous where Hitler gave a speech a long time ago. Then we went to Innsbruck, Austria a small town centered around a river. We ate Pizza at a small restaurant on the second floor of a small square. The next day we drove across Brenner’s Pass into Italy. We arrived in Venice in the late afternoon and took a boat ride to the island; we were only able to spend 3 hours there because our hotel was in the middle of nowhere. First we saw a glass blowing presentation and then we bought a new camera for my brother because he had dropped his in Munich. Then we wandered around before taking a gondola ride on the Grand Canal. Luckily, in our boat we had an accordion player and singer.

On day 8 of our trip we drove to Rome. I took lots of photos through the windows of the bus having to edit nearly all of them when we got back home. The next morning we had to wake up early to get in line in Vatican City to see St. Peter’s Basilica. It was huge, and filled with paintings and statues of former Popes. We crossed the Tiber River to ancient Rome where we overlooked the Forum and mighty Coliseum and later saw the Circus Maximus where they held the chariot races. After that we saw the catacombs where the bodies of Romans from very early on in history lie. That night we went to the Spanish Steps by the subway, the Roman subway, which wasn’t nearly as complicated as London’s. On the morning of our 10th day we again woke up early but, this time we went to the Sistine Chapel and saw Michelangelo’s masterpiece(s) and learned about some of the secrets behind it. After that we drove to Florence, and almost immediately after checking into the hotel took a walking tour of the city. The coolest part was a big white marble Duomo that had a little green and orange. We also saw the David replica and lots of other statues that stood outside in a square. Next we went to the Signoria Square and saw the Santa Croce Basilica where they have the tombs of Italy’s great men, including Michelangelo.

The next day we left early for the Swiss border while passing through the Italian lakes area. For lunch, we stopped in Lugano. We split apart from the group and ate at an Italian restaurant. Once we were done with that my Grandma thought we should get some Gelato like we had in nearly every other city, and it was good. By the end of the day we were in Lucerne, a relaxing city on a lake that’s surrounded by mountains. Once we got there we went to a Swiss Army memorial of a Lion that was carved into a hillside. The artist felt he wasn’t paid well enough so he later carved a pigs head around it. The next day was a free day to do what ever we wanted, because we opted not to do any of the optional excursions. So, we first went to a Swiss bank to convert some of our Euros to Swiss Franks so we could pay our tour guide for the previous optional trips we had chosen to do. My Grandma had a little bit of a hard time with the exchange rates no matter how many times we explained it to her, but in the end it worked out. After that we looked at Swiss watches but didn’t buy anything. Then we went to the old castle/town border to see a different view of the city. The rest of the day I read the Green Boy and played cards with my mom by the lake.
Paris was the next and last stop of our two-week trip. The night we got there we took a boat tour of Paris on the Seine River during the night and also got a city tour (by bus) once it got really dark. The highlight of it was seeing the Eiffel Tower, We got there at the right time because they made it sparkle with blue and white lights. The next Morning we went up the Eiffel Tower to the second floor and saw the city of Paris for the first time during the day. We walked down and waited for the rest of our group. The next stop was The Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa and other magnificent paintings. After that we split up, my Grandma went back to the hotel while my Mom, Brother and I attempted to guide ourselves through Paris. We got lost a lot trying to find the opera house, but also found a lot of cool shops and bakery’s along the way. Once we found it we ate at an Italian restaurant (again). After that we took the Parisian subway back to our hotel, It was probably the second best subway behind Rome’s. We woke up extremely early the next morning to get to the airport. The day we left was the day the Tour de France ended in Paris. Our cab that was supposed to pick us up didn’t show, so we had to get a new one, and then we thought we wouldn’t have enough money for the cabdriver to take us to the airport, But when we got to the airport the meter ended on exactly how much money we had in our pockets (after I watched it the whole ride). We just didn’t have enough for a tip, but he let us pay him in dollars. So, we made our flight back to Amsterdam that eventually took us back home to Portland.

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