“We’re going on an adventure.” As if we we’re all meeting for the first time with old friends all over again. With excitement and hugs, new faces and old, we all came together in Amsterdam to begin this journey through Europe!
Our first taste of the local life in Amsterdam was at the Albert Cuyp Market. We left the bus to the smells, sounds and sights of the lively market life. Tasting stroopwafels and the local freshly cut fries with sauce was just the beginning of our cultural experience. Walking through Dutch daily life and breathing it in was an amazing introduction to the trip and the cultural adventure we’re going to experience.
We became locals, biking through the city amongst the Dutch people. There are more than 880,000 bikes in the city of Amsterdam alone. The excitement from being amongst the people on the bike lanes to tour the city was flowing throughout the group. Next, we stepped through a time-machine as we walked through history during our visit to the Anne Frank House. We saw where her world-famous diary was written and ventured through the entire hiding area that has become renown. Seeing the original diaries was remarkable. This young girl’s dream was to have her story told and to be a writer, and we kept her dream alive by reading her words and by sharing her story.
Our new best friend and bus driver, Jaco, brought us into “la ville des lumières” (the City of Lights). Memories of watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame flashed for many of us as we stopped by the Notre Dame Cathedral. With heights up to 300 feet, the towers just kept rising as we crossed the river to it. Our first night ended cruising along the Seine River seeing all the gorgeous sights. “Oohs and ahhs” resonated from all over the boat. As we neared the end of the boat tour, the boat grew silent as the Eiffel Tower lit up with sparkling lights. It was the epitome of the city’s nickname, with the gleaming tower shining in the sky.
We all brought out our inner models the following day, posing along with the famous “The Thinker” statue at the Rodin Museum. Then our group took a casual stroll through a backyard. Oh, the backyard just happens to be nearly 2000 acres. Welcome to the Versailles Gardens. Fountains spurting into the sky, statues towering over everything, shrubs and plants as beautiful as can be- all bringing your eyes through a colorful journey. This was all before we had the chance to enter the palace itself. Rooms and hallways adorned with gorgeous tapestries and designs. The highlight being the famous Hall of Mirrors. This hall is known for its massive arches full of mirrors and has been used for court functions and entertaining for around 500 years.
That night we got to experience watching the World Cup of soccer with the locals at a restaurant. The atmosphere was incredible. With every kick and near chance there was an uproar from the whole crowd amongst us. After that excitement, we had our own concert at karaoke night! Some Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, and Halsey made appearances on stage. We all belted out our best and celebrated a birthday with an exciting night.
Our last day in Paris started with a smile, from Mona Lisa herself. Our visit to the Louvre spanned centuries in history from ancient Egypt to the French Renaissance. One of the more striking pieces was the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which is the goddess of victory (Nike), with arms spread originally as part of an altar from the second century. Our day then brought us to one of the most famous streets in the world, Champs-Élysées. From the Arc de Triomphe all the way down was the Parisian “Carnivale” parade. The dancing was everywhere, the smiles were infectious, and good times were had by all. The group’s last highlight of Paris was all of us conquering the Eiffel Tower together. We climbed the steps as the evening sky darkened and celebrated on top together as the lights began flashing and made our own little party on top. The lights were almost as bright as the smiles on everyone’s faces in our last Parisian adventure!
À la prochaine Paris!
The Westcoast Blogger
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