I have to think for a second to recall the approximate time that I joined Herr Degans Biology class. I would venture a guess of November. And it was around this time that I was invited along with the class on their Finishing Trip. So like an official Senior Trip but technically in the year before their final one. Well, I said sure and punctually paid the cost and asked Rotary, etc. But I never really thought that the time to leave would come. On April 8 we collected at the main entrance of school, and waited for our (pimped-out) bus.
Sometimes on bus trips in Europe, I gathered, the drive is done over night. When you think about it, its pretty practical. And so we left Bensheim at 8 PM and arrived in Castlioncello (?) at 9 AM the next day. They trip was alright. It wasnt nearly so uncomfortable as one would imagine, and I discovered a pretty cozy position in the front seat on the top deck. I even woke up at such a perfect time. We were climbing the Alps in Switzerland and shortly after I woke up, it started snowing, crashing against the enormous window and it was just awe-inspiring. I will like to say I was the only one awake at 4AM.
I didnt take any pictures of our hotel but it wasnt very impressive anyway. For an exchange student, it was perfectly simple and fine, and thats all I will say about it. The first day it rained, but we ventured out anyway. First we saw this old old city, which still had an intact wall around it. The coolest thing is that the city still functions. People live there. In the picture you can see the wall in the background, car acting as the new-next-to-old juxtaposition.
Then we went to Siena, where there is a famous horse race every year around the main square, which has a bowl shape to it.
Here are some German kids, Ana and Teresa.
This is me with my 3 Euro Emergency Umbrella. I still use it, though the handle has been bent by wind.
This dude was checking out the unique boxy fountain and grooving to his headphones.
Then we went to see this church. Like many cathedrals in Tuscany, it was inlaid with Red, White and Green marble. The colors of Italys flag.
Thick city wall.
The next day we went to Lucca, I think. That was nice too. This church had a cross from the 13th century as its center piece.
The whole group climbed the clock tower, which led to some hilarity. There is also a famous tower in the city that has trees at the top.
Sebastian, Teri and I. Sebastian is a good friend of mine.
Our Biology teacher, Herr Degan. You can see in the back ground, the girls are holding their ears closed because the bells started to ring! 3 feet above our heads. It wasnt SO loud but it also wasnt a whisper.
More funny ones:
The old clock mechanisms.
Back on the ground, I gave Markus and Sebastian 40 cents to give to the guitarist. It made a good photo.
Oh, and in another big church there was a collection box that had American money in it! Ahhh!
Ok! I was already in Pisa with Rotary, but we went too. This was again, hilarious, and I took photos of the people doing the Pose.
These two are added to my favorite list.
In Pisa we saw a sacred burial area that was bombed during WWII but now is in the process of restoration. I liked these arches. They made me think of delicate sugar sticks.
This was a beach near our hotel. The clearest water I have ever seen. Beautiful.
Me on another beach. We went to some town to just go shopping. A free day.
It was called this. Viareggio. It was alright. Big beach but soiled by a waste pipe tossing its slightly purple contents onto the sand.
Our bus ride to the hotel everyday went along this perfect coastal route.
It always was so peaceful and sparkling.
The next day was Florence. We did a completely different tour than the one with Rotary. We started with the oldest church in the town. The holy water basin was dry and had flowers in it.
Someone needs to photoshop a cigar into Svens mouth. Sven is also a good friend of mine.
A church that was very large. It had more than just the cathedral in it. Also gardens and museums and various rooms. I found it to be the best church we saw the whole week.
Michelangelo is buried here.
And Machiavelli lays here. Galilaes grave was being renovated and was covered.
The Florentine Chathedral. Also Red, White and Green.
Chilling on the steps.
A part of our group. I didnt realize that they were being explained something about the building by Dr. Ream, the other teacher that came with us. You can think of him in a way as a German Dr. Seitz. But just a little bit.
Lesson from Dr. Ream.
Thomas and Kahled, who is Afghani and born in
The next day we went to see some grave mounds. I have never seen the ones in West Virginia, but maybe they are more impressive
these are from 7000 years before Christ, though.
Being very tall and haming it up.
This field was full of lizards. This one caught by Sven and someone said, Name it! and I immediately thought in my mind of names like, Mark, John, Roger
But the name was to be Hans, which I found funny. Just because it is common for them. Still a good name for a pet. We didnt keep this thing, though. Hans left.
The beach here was supposed to be black but we never saw it.
Row boat parking lot.
We went sat in the sun here.
And. On the drive home. The mountains were big. You cant even see the sky in this photo. Geez geez.
I dont think I have to tell you I liked the Rotary Trip better. But it was a good experience to travel with German kids. I think Exchange students as a whole behave themselves much better too. The Germans are really nice, but it was sort of like going home and going to high school again. I can tell that I am finished with that part of my life. But on a positive note, I made some really good friends and showed the skeptical Germans that I really was nice and friendly. Because at school, I am quiet, bored and sort of withdrawn. Because school is school, you know. No big deal. It was fun. I am glad I am home and living in a house again.
Speaking of which
I have a new host family. Cool huh? Very. I dont need to remind myself how great they have been so far. If you are tired of sending money and or complaints to Ben, please feel free to direct them to:
C/o Familie Bartl
An den Roemersteinen 3