France and Spain 2010 Travel Blog
Tuesday, June 29th
Our adventure begins..........we had an uneventful ride to JFK airport. Many of the students hadn't been to New York City before and enjoyed the ride through the city. Our flight left exactly on time. It was a relatively smooth flight and we arrived an hour early. The first time fliers did a great job, they're experts now.
Wednesday, June 30th
Once we landed in Paris we hit the road running. We were too early to check into our hotel, so we had time to walk around the neighborhood. We saw the Opera house and a huge department store called Galeries Lafayette. We were finally able to check into our rooms. We only had enough time to shower and leave again. We took the subway to the Eiffel Tower. First, we took a boat ride along the Seine River. It was very hot, sunny and in the 90's. We then went up the Eiffel Tower. We then returned to our hotel and had dinner in a nearby restaurant. The food was delicious everyone had duck or cheese and egg omelet. At this point, we had been up around 36 hours and heads were bobbing at the table. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and everyone was sound asleep by 9:00 pm. We have a full day tomorrow starting with a 6:00 am wake up call.
Thursday, July 1st
Another very full and HOT day. It was 98 degrees today. We took a train this morning to Versailles to see King Louis XIV palace. We had a private tour of the palace and walked around the beautiful gardens. We then went back to Paris. The kids were able to a couple of hours eating lunch and shopping on the Champs de Elysee. We then went to the Arc de Triomphe tower. 11 of the students and Mr. Jones climbed to the top for a spectacular view of Paris. We took the subway to Montmartre and climb the hill to the top to the church Sacre Couer, we enjoyed some street performers, and had dinner. Tonight for dinner we had lasagna or pasta. The kids have trouble going to sleep once we return to the hotel after all the activity and the heat. Everyone's been great. No one has gotten lost. They all have been very responsible. We say Adieu to our French tour guide, Danielle. She says our group has been one of her favorite groups because the kids are all so interested in everything. Tomorrow night we travel to Spain on the overnight train.
Friday, July 2nd
Last day in Paris. We started the morning with a visit to the Louvre museum. We had a private guided tour at the museum. We were able to see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and many other beautiful works of art. Afterwards, we walked and sat in the shade of the Tuileries Park. The weather again has been very HOT (at least 95 degrees). We had a delicious lunch of crepes at the creperie. After lunch, we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and we're awe inspired with its grandeur and beauty. We went back to the hotel and prepared to go to the train station. The overnight train ride was an experience for all. There were 4 people to a car. Needless to say, it was very compact! It was quite a juggling act to get all the bags to fit in the compartments. At 10:00 pm one of the conductors comes and turns the seats into bunk beds. It was a difficult fit for the taller boys. But most were able to sleep at least a little bit with the rocking of the train.
Saturday, July 3rd
Bienvenido an Espana! We arrived in Spain an hour late and in the middle of a thunderstorm. We meet our Spanish tour guide, Hugo. We had some breakfast at the train station and then we boarded the bus for Toledo. Toledo is about an hour south of Madrid. It's a beautiful little town on the top of a hill surrounded by the Talgo river. Its streets are all cobblestone and very narrow. It was like a maze and I'm sure we would have gotten lost without our guide. We say the beautiful church in Toledo which rivaled Notre Dame in its grandeur. We returned to Madrid in the late afternoon. It was difficult for the bus to get to our hotel because they were having a HUGE Gay Pride Parade on the street of our hotel. Needless to say, this parade was quite an event which lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Our hotel in Madrid is very nice. It's located right in the center of the city walking distance to everything. We were finally able to take a much needed shower. (Thank God, we were getting a little smelly from the train ride and the heat!) Hugo took us to a typical little restaurant for the best meal that we've has thus far on our trip. It was a tapa meal which means there were several courses of typical Spanish foods. They were all delicious! Hugo entertained us with stories about how to eat each of the different courses. We ended our evening with a delightful stroll around Madrid. Once we returned to the hotel, the students were asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows. The students enjoyed Paris but they are loving Spain. The people here are so much friendlier than in Paris.