September 12, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 21

The trip of a lifetime

This summer 18 Cheney High School students had the amazing opportunity to travel to Europe for 19 days, visiting 11 major cities in seven different nations. Five adults accompanied them, including myself as group leader. I take student groups to Europe every other summer, and this was her seventh time to do so.

Kathy Brainard
Students stand outside the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

The group departed from Spokane on June 27 and returned on July 15. The tour began in London where the travelers saw the “Changing of the Guard” at Buckingham Palace, rode the enormous Ferris wheel called the London Eye, visited the British Museum and made the short excursion to visit Stonehenge. They then traveled by train to Paris, crossing the English Channel through the “Chunnel,” the underground rail tunnel.

Paris sightseeing included visits to the Louvre Museum, the Musee d’Orsay, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Basilica of Sacré Coeur. A beautiful summer evening was spent on a cruise on the Seine River followed by the ascent to the top of the sparkling Eiffel Tower. There was also an afternoon excursion to the extravagant Palace of Versailles.

The students experienced the adventure of travel by night train from Paris to Berlin, sleeping six to a compartment in the small “couchette” beds. In Berlin, the city tour included the Brandenburg Gate and a visit to the Check Point Charlie Museum. After the hectic pace and crowds of tourists in London and Paris, the whole group enjoyed the more open and laid-back atmosphere of Berlin.

From Berlin, the rest of the tour was by private coach, with the next stop being the charming city of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Then it was on to Austria and its beautiful capital, Vienna. Here the travelers visited two lovely palaces. Schönbrunn Palace was the home of the Hapsburg rulers and where Marie-Antoinette grew up before marrying the king of France and moving to Versailles. Belvedere Palace was also impressive and is a museum today that features the art of Gustav Klimt.

Continuing west across Austria, the travelers enjoyed an afternoon tour in Salzburg, which included a visit inside the house where Mozart grew up. Then it was on to the Tyrol region near Innsbruck to spend the night in a ski lodge high up in the breath-taking Austrian Alps.

Then it was on to Italy where no opportunity to have gelato was passed by. The first stop was Venice, with a visit to the Palace of the Doges and gondola rides on the canals. The group also traveled by boat to the nearby island of Murano for a glass-blowing demonstration. Next up was Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, followed by a city tour of nearby Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Finally, the group arrived at its last destination, Rome, where they walked through the Coliseum and the ruins of the Roman Forum, and visited the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. And here they also visited the capital city of the smallest country in the world, Vatican City, with its impressive art collection, the famous Sistine Chapel, and the world’s largest cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica.

The group of CHS students included Chase Aagard, Kassandra Bailey, Shelby Beedle, Brianna DuFour, Melodie Eaton, Kendall Franklin, Galin Grime, Kylee Harmon, Breeann Johnson, Mackenna Jones, Kassandra Krous, Kaylynn Maya, Haley Pontier, Christian Ramirez, Kendra Swenson, Paige Warnick, Cassidy Weatherbee, and Roberta Williams. The adults that accompanied them were Lori Beedle, Kelsey Cook, Kane Holloway, Margy Swenson, and Brainard.

The group traveled with EF Educational Tours, but used a customized itinerary. The next opportunity for Cheney students to travel to Europe will be in summer 2015.

Editor’s note: Kathy Brainard is a French and German teacher at Cheney High School.

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