When I was hired at the high school, the timing couldn’t have been better for me. One of the guidance counselors was moving north, and with his move came an opening to be the study abroad director at the school. I was shocked to learn that I was the only one gunning for the job, and with a lack of competition, I got it. A lot of the other teachers thought I was crazy being willing to take a ton of high school kids abroad without their parents, but I trusted my gut and started planning. What’s the worst that could happen? An Italy version of Taken — (insert 20 of my most recent nightmares here).
For two years I planned the trip to Europe. I recruited students, convinced parents that I wouldn’t let their kids die, and raised extra moo-lah for what seemed like forever. Finally this month after more meetings and stacks of insurance paperwork than I care to remember, it was time to take 20 high school kids on this trip to Italy, France, and Spain. — If you’re wondering..yes, more than once I was called insane.
We started in Italy in the Tuscany region. We traveled by train through four 16th century fishing villages called Cinque Terre. We hiked the side streets, went up into the mountains, and jumped off rocks into the crystal clear sea. (if the parents ask, leave out the rock jumping…) The villages were built up the mountain side and dead-ended in the sea via cliffs or steep mountain trails down to the water. It didn’t look real. We thought life couldn’t get any better.
But then it did. We continued on to Nice and Cannes in France where we stayed in a beautiful mountain resort. The kids didn’t know Cannes, so I threw in a few Entourage references and they quickly caught on to where we were. The film festival wrapped up a few weeks before our arrival, and there were still lots of tents up. At night, each group of students were given their own apartment. We fancy. The next day, we toured Monaco where we saw the prince’s palace and Grace Kelley’s grave. One day I’ll live in a palace and next to my grave will be a spot for tourist to take pictures too. We took a bus up to St Paul de Vence which is a village that dates back to 400 b.c. Whoa. Back in Nice, we shopped, swam, road bikes along the narrow alleyways, explored, and people watched. Life was good.
From France, we continued on to Barcelona, Spain where we spent about half of our trip. The adults on the trip all agreed that this is a city we’ll be returning to without kids one day. The night life looked INCREDIBLE from afar. Barcelona gave us all (teachers and students alike) a wonderful adventure. We took the metro (we had a mini-tutorial on safe metro practices for the students) to La Sagrada Familia (which was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen–we felt guilty taking pictures of it because they just didn’t do it justice) and Parc Guell. We saw Gaudi buildings and theaters too. The most fun thing about Barcelona for me was walking along Las Ramblas (the Main Street in Barcelona). There was so much to see and do in Barcelona that three days just wasn’t enough. I will definitely be going back one day.
Believe it or not, we made it back to the states with nobody being pick-potted, robbed, hurt, or lost. The kids had a wonderful time, and so did I!!
I’m trying to plan my next great adventure. Please comment here and let me know where you’ve been, why you’ve loved it, and where you most want to go!