Breathtaking Views of the Matterhorn – ON TOUR European Experience

Guten tag friends and families,

Last time we connected you, we were on our way into the quaint little town of Annecy, France. After a fun filled couple of days in Paris, we arrived in this beautiful lake side French city and got a chance to take in some beautiful sites. One especially memorable moment happened as we emerged from a tunnel just outside the town when all trip members gasped in unison at the beauty of Annecy.  Annecy is a unique city in that it has narrow cobblestone streets with very few cars. It was a great experience for our group to walk around and see the town’s great cafes, galleries and boutiques. Our group activity – a photo scavenger hunt – was a highlight of our time in Annecy. The group was split up and given clues and challenges to complete using their cameras. Not only did this scavenger hunt result in a little bit of friendly competition but gave Trip Members a great chance to explore the nooks and crannies of one of France’s quaint cities. Some of the clues the Trip Members were looking for included a man with a toupee, a crazy mustache and ask a local to take a picture with their dog, IN FRENCH!  The first team to arrive back to our meeting spot having completed all the tasks, consisted of Sascha, Raquel, Ryan, Andrea, Cameron and Joe. Coming in with a very admirable second place performance were team members, Jake, Brad, Hayley, Brooke, David O. and Henry.

Day 10 was not only a very active day but gave us yet another chance to see the unique charm Annecy has to offer. A wonderful bike ride along the Lac des Cygnes, which translates to the lac of swans, gave Trip Members a picturesque riverside view and great bike path route along which to follow. Amanda really enjoyed the bike ride and said “the best part was when we got to swim in the clearest lake I’ve ever seen!” Reid definitely agreed with Amanda and also enjoyed such clear water! Sarah was so excited for her second bike ride ever and did a great job maintaining her newly developed skills. Following our bike ride, we had a relaxing afternoon at the Annecy beach. Trip Members enjoyed the warm French sun and sports coordinated by our sports coordinator, Jon. Beach volleyball, paddle ball and some water slide fun was definitely a great part of the afternoon. The Hermosa boys consisting of Joe, Jimmy, and Ryan and honorary member Brad went undefeated in the 2011 Westcoast Connection Volleyball Elite Series tournament.  Some rest and relaxation at the hotel and dinner in small groups around Lac des Cygnes closed off our 10th day together.

Day 11 Wow, white water rafting was both thrilling and exhilarating!!  With full wet suits on, each Trip Member was well on their way to taking on this challenging course without a hitch.  Some friendly competition down the river, which resulted in a significant splashing battle between boats, added to the excitement and fun of the rafting experience. Melissa sat way up front for most of the ride and really enjoyed the adventure! Sara and Boone lead one group at the front of the boat as Boone has rowing experience and taught her skills to Sara. Jordan loved the rafting and had a great time in her all-girls boat! A delicious gelato treat after dinner was a great ending to another perfect day.

Day 12 saw us traveling through one beautiful Swiss town to another as we made our way to the hidden town of Zermatt, which is tucked away in the Swiss Alps. Our Trip Members had the chance to ride the shuttle train into Zermatt as we learned that Zermatt is a village with few cars and pedestrian streets. After checking in to our hotel, we headed off for a fun night of games and billiards. Brooke played a fun game with Ryan while Julio and Ilyssa cheered them on! Amanda and Brad beat Bobby and Sara in a thrilling duel of pool that lasted three rounds.

Day 13 was definitely a day all Trip Members will remember. One of Zermatt’s biggest attractions is the Matterhorn. Luckily for us, we had the chance of either skiing down it or taking a gondola right up to the very summit.  Stanley had a great time skiing and spent his ski day on the hill with fellow ski friends, Jack, Jake, Josh, Jeff and Troy. Another group consisted of Allie, Boone, Ari and Raquel. Michael had a great time skiing the Swiss Alps with Cameron, Mitchell, Scott, Andy, Cody L, and Henry. After experiencing a fun day on the slopes, it was time to show off our dancing moves at the local disco! Kaela enjoyed dancing the night away with Allie. Cameron and Henry started a cool shimmying conga line and had a great time leading the pack!  Our wake-up in Zermatt on our last day was very exciting as the Matterhorn was in clear view. What a breathtaking site!  We said our goodbyes to the majestic mountain, and headed off to Italy.

Our first destination in the country famous for pizza and pasta was Venice. Our first ride on the canals of Venice was exciting and gave us all a great idea of how the locals travel around each day. Dinner at a traditional mom-and-pop restaurant was enjoyed by all, filling us up and giving us energy to explore the famous Piazza San Marco. The night ended with a nice dip in our hotel’s rooftop pool! We had a great time and enjoyed a refreshing cool down after a warm and enjoyable evening in Venice. For our second day in Venice, the group had a guided tour of the old Jewish ghetto. We then headed over to the famous Murano glass factory after lunch by the Rialto and the group was enthralled as they watched a glass blowing master create a beautiful vase. We learned that there is no school for the glass blowing master to learn this art, but rather it is a family skill passed on from generation to generation. Kaela and Ilana really enjoyed watching the glass blowing master create something beautiful from what appeared to be nothing. They, along with the rest of the group, gasped out of amazement and excitement as they saw the flaming glass ball transform before their eyes. We returned once again to Piazza San Marco for a fun and challenging “people hunt” where the objective is to interview locals and tourists based on a series of tasks and questions. The group was split up and was running through the Piazza looking for couples on their honeymoon, and people who could sing the Italian, American and Canadian national anthems.  Once all the groups were back we got our chance to experience a true Venetian attraction – a gondola ride. A group of boys made up of David J., David O., Ethan, Andy, Sascha, and Stanley were first to take off. Isabelle and Alanna shared a gondola with Hannah, Raquel and Ari and were all smiles during their trip! Cody L and Valentin shared a nice ride with Jordan and Melissa. Leaving moments before the quad was yet another boys group consisting of Sammy, Cody L, Scott, Cameron, Henry and Mitchell.

We hope you all at home are enjoying your summers, we sure are. Look out for another update very soon.

Arivaderci from Italy!

The Westcoast Blogger