More from The European Experience!
The Westcoast Blogger
We finally made it to Italia! The land of great pasta, creamy gelato, and fine cooking! Our Italian extravaganza begins in Venice – home to soothing gondola rides, and world famous glass blowing. In order to enter Venice, we took a Vaporeto into Venice – a large enough boat to take all of our trip members! Our first evening in Venice began with an incredible dinner at a homey Italian restaurant serving home made pasta, pizza, and delicious gelato! We entertained the evening with “singled out” – a game of finding your true match! Some of our couples included Kevin and Laura, and, Brandon and Maggie! Our first full day in Venice was packed with sightseeing, tours, free time in the city, and cultural experiences. We began by walking over the Rialto Bridge, and walked through the narrow streets to the Jewish Ghetto where we learned about the Jews that remain in Italy and where they came from. Many of the members bought lots of souvenirs and gifts made of Murano glass and experienced some kosher food in the area! Our day continued with a walk to a glass blowing location where the expert has been making glass objects for over 35 years! He was quite the expert, demonstrating a very colourful vase he made in approximately 2 minutes! When in the glass shop, Brooke, Laura, Amanda, Ariel, Lindsay A., Rachel, and Maggie bought nice, unique jewellery and gifts. But the day doesn’t end here yet! We marched along to gondola central where groups of 6 enjoyed an hour long ride through the windy canals of Venice – perfect photo opportunities! We rode down the Canal Grande and learned some Venice history all while being able to relax, hear some Italian singing and soak in some sun as the day began to wind down before dinner. We enjoyed a nice leisurely dinner by the water and took our last vaporeto ride back to the hotel and got ready for Rimini – Our first of 3 beach towns!
Rimini is exactly what you would expect for a beach town – hotels on one side of the cobblestone streets, and the beach on the other side! Once we found a spot on the sand, we were ready to swim in the Adriatic Sea, soak in some sun, and enjoy an entertaining yet competitive game of beach volleyball! The morning began with some swim time in the sea, water games, and some beach ping pong. Morgan, Melissa, Bari, rented a paddle boat with a slide and Audrey, Stef C., Maggie and Caroline decided to hop on board and enjoy some fun in the Adriatic Sea! On the sandy beaches, we enjoyed a friendly competitive game of beach volleyball – Canada Vs. USA . and yes, the Canadians won 2 games to 1! Dillon made some great sets, while Jordan Z. spiked the ball on the opposite side for the big points! Lauren W. impressed us all with her serves which got the Canadians a great lead at the start of the game. A few steps away was a ping pong table where Dan G. and Kyle played a great match alongside Alex and Brandon. After our activity sessions, we cooled off in the water, played some pop 500 and water frisbee! It was quite the refreshing afternoon before heading in to shower and nap before the evening started. We had a great dinner where we celebrated Melissa’s birthday with candles, music, and cake and headed out to play some mini golf! We had more hole in ones than I thought we would see! Eric, Dillon, Lindsay B., Laura, and Taylor are just a few of the many who got them throughout the course! We had an evening of laughs and competition, gelato treats and headed back for our journey into Rome!
Our stay in Rome began with an evening walk to Trevi Fountain where Lindsay A., Amy, Sam, Lauren, Michelle, Jamie E., and Megan threw some change in the water and made a wish! After snapping some spectacular photos by the fountain, we navigated the streets, and explored the shops of the city. Jeremie posed with a street character both sporting clever masks … Jeremie got more applauses than the street performer! After dinner, we headed back for some relaxation time at the hotel and prepared for a full day of sightseeing in Rome!
The day began with a stop at the Coliseum where we explored and took pictures of the ancient site. Our tour guide explained the details of the structure and followed us throughout the day to the Spanish Steps and Vatican City. The boys enjoyed making gladiator poses and being all macho while the girls admired the view from the top and used it for great photo opportunities! We headed over to the Spanish steps right after for some sightseeing and lunch before heading for the main attraction – Vatican City!
Our personal guided tour began with a walk through the Vatican museum explaining all the artwork, and the artwork that was painted in the world famous Sistine Chapel. Oona and Michelle especially enjoyed the Creation of Man on the wall as it was quite exquisite. Shadow painting made it look as if moldings were added to the ceiling where in fact it was just unbelievable art work! We entered the Sistine Chapel for a view that left everyone in shock and awe. Lindsay F, and Brandon were just a couple that were amazed of the beauty inside the chapel. We concluded our stay in Vatican City by walking around St. Peter’s Square and finding the balcony where the pope stands on when elected! We walked around the square, took some pictures in front of the fountain, and got back to the hotel to rest – it was a full day!
As a surprise, we decided to take the members that wanted to a concert – David Guetta! A house DJ that remakes many popular songs that many of them enjoyed hearing! Just before getting there, we made a quick pit stop at the Pantheon, and to our surprise, a man drew hundreds of people singing Italian opera … we tried to give it a shot, but we were not as good! So we made our way to the concert hall where 26 of our members enjoyed a real up beat evening filled with fun and entertainment. Dan K., Justin, and Jordan Z., were the most excited and were singing to every song! It was also a great way for Jamie S to spend her last night in Italy! Many thanks go out to Jordan Z. who got elected by the concert committee to get tickets with a counsellor and made all 26 teens of the group really really happy! Thanks Jordan! For the others that weren’t as enthused to go see David Guetta, they went to a cafe for a more relaxed evening. They shared good stories, laughs and a relaxing evening before our drive into Sorrento!
The drive into Sorrento was a windy road into the town. We stayed at the magnificent Michelangelo Hotel in the main district where lots of shops, restaurants, and entertainment can be found. Our first dinner was a 3 course meal with a piano man setting the mood for the evening. Jamie E. and Stef C. took the stage for a bit and played some piano for the restaurant and the group. As usual we were all impressed and gave them the round of well-deserved applause! After dinner, everyone walked around the shops where Rachel and Jeremie got some neat glasses, whereas Jill and Lindsay A got some balloon hats which looked great! After walking for a little while, we stopped at a nice lounge which resembled the Rainforest Café, where we danced a bit and enjoyed the perfect evening weather. We of course stopped off for gelato before heading in for the evening and prepared for our day trip to Capri Island. We took a Ponza jet to the island. We then took a smaller boat which brought us to the grottos where we went for a swim in the crystal clear water. Jill, Mikey, Amy, and Lindsay A all jumped off the boat, which made for a nice picture. We all got to see red coral and cool off in the clear blue water as we headed back into the city for some lunch and optional beach time. Mikey and Jamie enjoyed picking sea glass on the beach while Austin, Dillon, Jordan Z. played some card games. Most of the others laid out their towels and soaked in the sun before heading back to Sorrento to relax and shower for the evening. Dinner was interrupted by a staff presentation of a song describing our trip so far and we have officially challenged all of the tour members to come up with a song better than ours for our banquet evening. We’ll keep you posted on what happens! Like most nights, after our activity, we made a quick gelato pit stop where we now got 3 scoops and headed to the hotel to pack again and head to Florence – Our last Italian stop! Stay tuned for more as we spend our last 3 days in Florence before concluding our trip in Nice, France!
Ciao for now!!!
European Experience Staff