A whirlwind tour of Europe ends Rotary exchange study year
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
My stay in Denmark as a Rotary Exchange student is coming to an end in a few weeks. We don’t think the day will come when we have to start saying goodbye to everyone, but here it is.
Before thinking about the sadness of saying goodbye to different people who I have come to know over the year, my school had one of the biggest parties ever thrown. The school had a popular Danish singer to come to our year-end party, Clara Sofie Rune RK. I was really excited to see her perform live.
This past month, I wrapped up my school year here in Denmark. It was so hard for me to think this day would come so quickly. I baked some American cookies for my classmates as a goodbye. I knew I would see them again, but it was sad to think I will never be in class with them.
After my last day of school, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe for 18 days with 57 other Denmark exchange students.
Our first stop was Berlin, Germany. The city still has a section of the Berlin Wall standing. Instead of being a wall to keep things out, they have made it into an art piece where different artists paint their ideas about Berlin’s history. We also saw Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish National Monument.
Our next stop was Prague, Czech Republic. On the way, we stopped at an internment camp in Terezin, Czech Republic. This camp was a holding place for the people who were being sent to the concentration camps of World War II. Seeing it really opened my eyes to reality of World War II and how the Nazis treated the people.
Trying to get past this sad trip of the camp, we were off to Prague for two days. The architecture there is quite different from the rest of Europe, and is quite gothic. We were able to see a castle and many churches. I also went with a couple of friends to a flea market and toured around town.
Next we traveled to Vienna. Austria is well known for the film “The Sound of Music” and for world class opera, which I attended while I was there. It was amazing to hear one of Beethoven’s pieces. The next day, we saw Schönbrunn Palace, a well known chocolate shop, Demel, and then took a ride on the Viennese Ferris Wheel.
From there, we drove to Italy through the Austrian and Italian Alps. I felt as if I was back in Colorado. They are so gorgeous and huge.
For three days we stayed in Italy. Our hotel was a five-minute walk to the beach of Lido di Jesolo. We spent one day relaxing on the beach and the other days were spent sightseeing in Venice. In Venice, you had to be careful not to get lost, as not all of the streets had names. I took a 45-minute gondola tour with some other exchange students.
Then we stopped in Verona, Italy. In Verona, we saw the balcony where Romeo supposedly called out to Juliet. Then we rode back to northern Italy, where we stayed a night in San Remo before we heading off to Monaco and France.
Monaco is a small country of less than one square mile. But it is absolutely stunning! Monaco is built on a mountainside above the Mediterranean Sea. While there, we saw a Formula One race car race, quite a treat.
We then drove to Avignon, France, where we stayed two days and toured the town and a spectacular castle.
Following Avignon, we drove to Paris and stayed for three days. The first evening, we went on a boat tour to see the big monuments lit up. The Eiffel Tower was so wonderful, you could even see it sparkle every once and a while. The next day, I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It took a while to get up there, with waiting in lines, but at the end it was breathtaking to be so high up and see a spectacular view of Paris. Afterward, I had lunch with a friend in the garden right by the tower, and then toured the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Our last day in Paris went by so fast. I was able to meet up with another exchange student from Durango who has been living in France for the past year. Afterwards I saw Arc de Triomphe. I tried to visit the Louvre, but it was closed that day.
It was sad to say goodbye to Paris, but we were off to Brussels, Belgium, for one night. We visited the Manneken Pis, a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin, and other parts of the city. I was able to try some true Belgian waffles and chocolate.
My cousin who lives in Germany was on holiday in Brussels that week, so we met up. I haven’t seen her for five years, so it was great to have coffee and catch up.
Our last and final stay was in Holland. We stopped a few hours in Amsterdam and toured the city by foot and took a canal tour to see more of the town. We couldn’t explore too much, since we could only be there for four hours.
The last day consisted of lots of driving and some sad goodbyes with friends. It was hard to wave goodbye and wipe away the tears, when you never know if it will be the last time you see these special people.
Although the trip was one of the best three weeks of my life, it had its ups and downs. Overall, I would relive it in a heartbeat.
Alida Eide of Glenwood Springs has been studying in Denmark as a Rotary exchange student. She will be coming home to Glenwood Springs in early July.
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