Students Tour Of Europe
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After a 22-hour plane ride halfway accross the world, a total of 34 Students and teachers arrived in Brussels, Belgium where we begun our 21-day tour of Europe.
Although we had not slept or showered in an embarrassing two days, we were still excited to breathe in the fresh European air for the very first time.
Despite the fact that the temperature was below 10 degrees [celsius], we explored the old city before moving to our quaint and beautiful hotel in Ypres.
After a 50-minute break in which 34 people, including 17 girls, had showered and eaten dinner we arrived at the historic Menin Gate.
The Last Post has been played here every eveing since the 1920, other than during the Second World War.
We came bearing an original 1916 bugle as a gift donated by the local branch of the RSL.
The organisers of the ceremony were so moved that that they invited our students to lead the ceremony which included the laying of a wreath on behalf of the students of the Central Coast.
The following day, the group explored the Somme Battlefields and other war memorials on the way to Paris, which would be home for the next five days.
Here, we experienced the metro where we were taught our first two vital lessons of the tour.
The first we learnt, at the expense of our head teacher Mr Macey who was left behind; to be quick when boarding the train.
The second was that train tickets are demagnetised if kept inside mobile phones.
Day by day, we ventured further into the realms of the Parisian life through experimenting with the foreign language.
Inevitably, the group became absorbed in te city's magnificent culture and history, drifting through museums, cathedrals, tombs, and crowds.
We climbed the famous Eiffel Tower asnd Arc De Triomphe, strolled the Champs Elysees and gazed into the eyes of Da Vinci's most well known artwork, the Mona Lisa in the Grand Musee Du Louvre.
Our next destination was Italy.
Through the window of our overnight sleeper train, we glimpsed our first impression of the busy city, Rome.
Streets branched from narrow alleyways and into busy piazzas that were filled with fountains, statues and cafes.
Spring flowers bloomed from windowsills, illuminating the pale yellow, pink and orange coloured buildings that we later identified as shops, hotels and restaurants.
At one of these restaurants, we served our first traditional Italian meal of pasta and veal, which we continued to enjoy for most of the next 10 days.
In Rome, we spent time touring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and the Vatican Museum, whose walls and ceilings were covered in paintings, sculptors and artworks.
Although having to push ourselves to the front, we each made a wish at the Trevi Fountain before getting lost on the way back to the hotel.
Our next stay was at the Sorrento Coast where our hotel was situated on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Already overwhelmed by the view from our balcony, we were amazed to find a crystal chandelier decorating our ceiling, and a bidet in our bathrooms.
We spent two days exploring the ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, whose ancient civilisations were destroyed nearly 2000 years ago by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, which we later climbed.
Upon our arrival in Vencie, we caught a ferry to the mainland where there really are thousands of swarming pigeons.
After taking another detour (lost again) through the narrow, residential streets and having to get a local to direct us, we eventually made it to the Grand Canal.
We road on a gondola and did some final shopping before departing Italy.
We got off the small propeller plane and arrived in freezing cold Vienna, Austria.
Over the next three days, we explored the city, toured the enormous Schronbrunn Palace and attended an amazing concert performance of the music of Mozart and Strauss in the wonderful Vienna Konzert Haus.
A pleasent stroll through the streets of Vienna back to our hotel concluded our final night in europe.
The three-week tour of Europe has been an amazing and life changing experience for both students and teachers and many of us are already planning to return some time in the future.