By Carolyn Mayer
In June of 2015, I went to Europe with about 40 other people from the Burton/Middlefield area. We went for 12 days, and we travelled to Greece and Italy. The trip was organized by Meghan Hull who is an English teacher at Berkshire High School. This was the second time that I had travelled on a tour to Europe organized by Mrs. Hull, the first time being in the summer of 2013 to England, Wales, Ireland, and France.
We left on June 15 on a 10-hour overnight flight to Athens. I didn’t sleep as much as I would have liked on the plane, but when we landed in Athens at about 11 a.m. and the temperature was already more than 90 degrees, I was energized to go exploring. But first, we set our luggage at our hotel that had an amazing view of the Acropolis. Our first destination was to The Plaka, which is essentially a large, outdoor shopping center. The shops were open-air, and the vendors were very nice. One vendor even shared with us is homemade wine.
The next day we went to the Parthenon, which required a lot of hiking, but it was worth it. The Parthenon is cool, but what I think is cooler is the fact that I’ve seen pictures of the Parthenon in every history textbook I’ve ever had, and I’ve learned so much about the goings-on of the city, that it was surreal to stand at such and ancient and historic landmark.
The next day, we drove through the winding roads of the Greek countryside to get to Delphi where they had the most delicious honey that I have ever tasted. Our hotel was built on the side of a mountain, which overlooked acres of olive trees and vineyards; so naturally, I bought olive oil in Delphi. We learned about the history of the city, and then my friends and I walked around the city and talked to shop owners, reflecting on all the great experiences we’ve had and were going to have. Delphi was one of the highlights of my trip.
The day after that, we got onto an overnight ferry that took us to Italy, and then our Italian bus driver drove us to Florence, which was also wonderful. I befriended the college-age employee who worked behind the desk at night, even through the language barrier. We stayed in Florence for a couple nights, and then drove to Rome. Our first destination in Rome was to the Colosseum, where we tried to imagine ourselves as one of the many spectators at a gladiator event in the blazing heat.
The next day, we went into Vatican City, where I had one of the most magical experiences of my life. I stood in the silence of the Sistine Chapel, and stared at Leonardo DaVinci’s masterpiece that was painted on the ceiling. I will never be able to express the feeling that I had in that room, gazing upon that artwork with my eyes tearing up from the majesty. I will never forget it.
On our final days in Europe, we travelled to Capri, which is an island off of Italy. There were lemons growing on trees in Capri, so needless to say, I drank some lemonade there. We also visited Pompeii. We walked through the ancient and perfectly preserved city and town square, with Mount Vesuvius lingering ominously in the background. We could also see some of the perfectly preserved artifacts from the eruption that killed so many. It was an unforgettable way to end an unforgettable trip.
Carolyn Mayer graduated from Berkshire High School in 2015, and is an upcoming sophomore studying political science at the College of Wooster. In her free time, she loves to golf with her friends and family.