The final update from Backpack Europe!
The Westcoast Blogger
Dear Parents of Backpack Europe,
Well here we are at the end of the trip, chilling out on the island of Sardinia and being blown away by the incredibly blue waters! Before we fill you in on the island wonders, we need to catch you up on our visit to the green heart of Italy, Umbria. In Umbria we stayed in the very stone-encompassed medieval town of Perugia that Halle especially enjoyed exploring. While in the Umbria region, in addition to visiting Spoleto (where the highlight was an amazing medieval stone bridge as well as a neat old Roman house), Daniel T., Polly, Daniel R., Judah, Keeley, and Michael thought the Umbria Jazz Festival was particularly fun and jammin’. Imagine walking out of a stone hotel where you can open wooden shutters to view fun streets or the hotel terrace before merely going down the street to be enveloped by thousands of international fans going crazy over some of the best jazz artists known. Judah particularly enjoyed a sweet band from Texas that had an awesome sax player, and Keeley had a blast with the funk offs where she joined in with following bands walking through the streets playing. Dan R. even found a CD for his brother to enjoy the notes upon his return home.
In addition to the jazz festival, amazing sleep-ins, and a visit to the Perugia Chocolate Factory, a few from the group agreed to trek around the old medieval town of Assisi as well – a particular highlight for Annica. Besides seeing the burial grounds of St. Francis, this crew enjoyed a hike from the train station, through the whole town, and back down – but we must mention that the hike was to the very top of the mountain where there was a castle where we climbed towers to get even higher to see the breathtaking views of the amazing green, green countryside. Too picturesque for words!!
After Umbria came a quick stop in Rome where of course the Colosseum was the highlight for most, but experiencing a local Roman evening by walking along the Tigre River exploring different tent shops was also a hit. Some tour members also visited an island in the middle of the river to check out the vendors set up there and to enjoy the local environment. We even had a treat in the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel), as during our guided tour of the Vatican the lights in the chapel randomly went on allowing us to have a non-dimmed view of the famous paintings. Our guide said she had no idea why the lights suddenly turned on and definitely said that it never happens!
Before we knew it, we were already at our last destination, Sardinia!! Our trip there on a night ferry was a great time — where a lot of the members joined in with the Italians on the dance floor, trying to follow them with their much choreographed dances to many different Italian songs. They definitely could recognize that we were the group of Americans/Canadians and particularly liked watching our group when the musical artist decided to play the YMCA song (they were very intent on watching how to properly do the motions for the letters)! As for Sardinia, the bungalows we are staying in are essentially right on the beach, where we spent the better part of our first day. They are equipped with a small kitchen which enabled a few tour members to cook up their own food after buying some goods at the camp market. No one will ever forget the absolutely delicious scrambled eggs that Benny made for many in the group. A highlight for Benny, but obviously a highlight for all of us who enjoyed his eggs – it was fun to see him cooking up the peppers, olives, onions, etc. and mixing them into the scrambled pile of yum! The reality is, however, that probably the best day of the entire trip happened when we jumped on the boat with our captain Sergio, a local Sardinian (with our interpreter Linda as our guide on the side), and boated around the island, stopping into coves and beaches. The beaches are the best we’ve had all trip, and for some they are the best beaches the tour members have ever seen in their lives. The water is very, very blue. At one beach, Gary, Alex, Brandon and Jamie enjoyed jumping into the crystal clear waters. Gary and Alex pretty much couldn’t say enough about the amazing and beautiful beaches, and Brandon definitely chimed in that besides exploring the beaches tanning has been great. Some chose to bask in the sun from the beaches while others preferred to lie out on the boat. A few tour members even swam into a cave, and a group got off the boat at one point to take a guided tour of a cave high above the sea. The food they made and served for us for lunch on the boat was absolutely delicious – seafood pasta as course one, followed by shrimp and full-bodied fish (tiny skinny ones as well as small flat pan fish) that we had to pull the heads off of and remove the spines ourselves, with our dessert of espresso and lady fingers. They even cooked up options for our trip vegetarians and non-fish eaters. What hospitality!! Michelle put it best when she simply said the “boat ride was amazing.”
It’s crazy to think our trip is coming to an end. In a few hours we are going for a true Sardinian barbeque (meat rolling around on a chary spit!! goat! sheep!), followed by a bike ride this afternoon where we get to have an archaeological exploration. Besides doing some community service (cleaning up the beach), playing some sports with the locals, and enjoying more of the beach for the next day or so, our trip is coming to a close. This very well may be our last scribe going out to all of you. Therefore to close, we’d like to capture a few of the funny phrases that have been heard to describe our backpacking excursion together
This trip was “freaking awesome” (Annica), or another way to put it is that this trip was “ballin'” (Bethany)!
It will be sad to leave each other with this close bond we have all formed, but we know all of you at home are missing your sons and daughters and are excited to see them return. Don’t forget to have the Michael Jackson “Blame it on the Boogie” playing when you pick up your sons and daughters from the airport!
Much love and see you soon,
Backpack Europe Trip