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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

French and Roman Beauty – ON TOUR European Experience

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Our French education continued as we left Paris, France and made our way to beautiful Annecy. The next morning, we awoke to see the beautiful city through a relaxing bike ride around the lake! Looking across the clear blue water, we had the beautiful background of mountains in the distance. That afternoon, we took advantage of the warm weather by enjoying the private beach! Having beach volleyball courts, areas for swimming and tanning, as well as a 15 foot water slide, there was certainly something for everyone to enjoy! Just before dinner, we played several group games to enhance the family atmosphere and bonding experiences on the trip. Watching Josh, Lily, Dean, Dani, and Sam perform charades really started the evening on a high note!

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The next morning was the Annecy highlight we had all been waiting for- white water rafting! Upon arrival, we were greeted by the enthusiastic rafting team who provided us with wetsuits, life jackets, and helmets. We were given a tutorial of what was to be expected; but nothing could prepare us for how much fun we were about to have! Rafting was a complete adrenaline rush and an experience that will always be remembered!

We thought Annecy was a small town…that is until we arrived in Zermatt! We took a breathtaking drive through the Swiss Alps, arriving at the legendary ski town with the beautiful view of The Matterhorn. We spent the afternoon exploring the town, local market, and eating the delicious Swiss chocolate. That night, we experienced our first ‘Swiss Barbeque’, consisting of four types of sausages, hamburgers, chicken burgers, and several different types of salads. The next morning, our group made our way to the top of the mountain. The gondola ride provided a scenic view of the countryside and a new perspective of the small ski town. Many of us spent the afternoon skiing the iconic slopes, while others went up the mountain to enjoy a majestic view-with a nice cup of Swiss hot chocolate. After an unforgettable day on the mountain, we capped of the night with a delicious family meal and a dance party. The small town lifestyle and fresh mountain air is one of the highlights of the trip so far! Although we wish we could stay longer, we know that we’ll be back again soon! See you later Switzerland; next stop Italy!

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Ciao! Warm weather, friendly people, and delicious food; benvenuto in Italia! Upon arrival, we took a vaporetto (a private chartered boat) into central Venice, providing a beautiful night-time perspective of the city skyline. That night we enjoyed our first taste of authentic Italian pizza, pasta, salad, and dessert. The Italian food exceeded our expectations! The next morning, we went to the Jewish district for our private tour of the many historical synagogues in the area. We learned about the resilient Jewish heritage, and gained a new appreciation for the Jewish-Italian community still living in the area. Next, we visited one of the most established glass blowing shops in all of Venice where we watched a ‘master glass blower’ create an intricate glass vase in just minutes! A Venice tour is not complete without a Gondola ride through the city. In small groups, the experienced gondoliers impressively navigated the beautifully decorated boats through the narrow city rivers. The picturesque boat tour was the perfect way to end our wonderful Venice experience.

After navigating the lively Venice streets, it was time for relaxation in Rimini. The hot sun and warm Adriatic sea was the perfect way for our group to enjoy the Italian weather. We also explored Rimini’s main street for delicious dinners and many gelatos. On our last night in the city, we watched France win the world cup, and could hear the French cheering all the way from Italy! Later that night, we fed into our competitive nature playing laser tag, cards, and billiards.

Lucky for us, “All roads lead to Rome.” We arrived in the Italian mecca just in time for sunset pictures at the iconic Trevi Fountain, and for throwing a few coins into the fountain for good luck. Later, we visited the beautiful pantheon before our first taste of infamous Roman pizza. We also celebrated Ben’s birthday with a disco dance party!

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The next day, we arrived at Vatican City, the central state of Christian religion. Our private tour guide educated us on the historical significance, religious importance, and architectural marvels of the Vatican Church. Our jaws then dropped even further, as we gazed up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and learned more about Michelangelo’s contributions to Vatican City. The group’s last day in Rome was spent exploring the markets and fresh food around Piazza Del Popolo. In the afternoon, our group took a magnificent group photo at the top of the Spanish Steps and enjoyed the breathtaking view of the city; the best way to see the city landscape! That evening, we dressed in Roman togas for dinner and shared our most memorable experiences and moments of appreciation of the trip thus far!

Arrivederci for now!

The Westcoast Blogger

Are you interested in seeing beautiful France and Italy? See our incredible 19-day and 28-day ON TOUR European Experience!