European Adventure Made Sweeter with Friends

Riding along the Italian countryside, on our way to our second to last destination, Florence, we are all feeling a little bittersweet. This trip has been simply incredible, from new friendships built, cities explored, sights awed over, and delicious new foods discovered, this has been the summer of a lifetime.

Nature made an impact on many trip members. For Julia, “skiing the Swiss Alps was the most unforgettable moment in my life.” Matt , David , Sammy, Elijah, and Carly were in close agreement, while Amanda took a slightly different response, “ falling down the Swiss Alps was my favorite moment!” #idontski. Sun worshipers Victoria, Dani, Jason, and Hunter loved the beaches. From Annecy, to Rimini, Capri to Positano, sun was soaked, water splashed, and smiles plastered.

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From the big cities toured, London, Amsterdam, Venice, Paris, and Rome – George, Tori, Sam, Caroline, Brooke and Robby felt Paris was the most exciting. Brooke loved the climbing the Eiffel tower,  Robby enjoyed exploring the city streets, while Sam and Tori loved the exploring the little shops and boutiques – gaining a sense of the famous Parisian style. Yet for others, the smaller towns had more magic. A veteran visitor to Europe, Natalie expressed her gratitude, “Positano is beautiful and I’m so happy I got to experience it again.” Rachel, Esther, and Shayne were entranced by Sorrento’s streets and Plazas, happy to settle into la dolce vita.

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Let’s not forget the food. Eli loved the schnitzel in Amsterdam, Zach the dinners in Sorrento, while Josh pointed out that really, the gelato in Annecy was the best. But beyond the food, sights, and city streets, what mattered most is the time we all got to spend together. From celebrating Camryn’s birthday, to dancing at the discos in Rimini and Zermatt, favorites of Jamil and Jake, even bonding during bus rides, we have been lucky to explore Europe – together. Miranda summed the heart of our trip up perfectly as “bonding with my best friends in the entire world forever and ever.”

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While we are sad to say ciao ciao to Sorrento, we cannot wait to spend our last days Florence and Nice. What a wonderful journey it has been!

-The Westcoast Blogger

Sights and Songs in Paris – ON TOUR European Experience

Bonjour, mes amis! Bienvenue à Paris! Taking the scenic route (is any route in Paris not scenic?) past the Louvre Museum, we arrived at Notre Dame. Trip members took in the gothic beauty that is the famed location of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. A quick walk later we arrived in the Latin Quarter for dinner, where some of our trip members tried escargot and indulged in French delicacies like foie gras and crème brûlée.

Later that evening, we climbed the Eiffel Tower to get a magnificent view of the city at night. Once we reached the top, we were treated to a full view of Paris. Trip members marvelled at the Arc de Triomphe, which stood out amongst the buildings. During our time in Paris, we were able to get an almost 360° view of the Eiffel Tower at night on our boat ride around the Seine River. Riding beneath Paris’ numerous bridges, we were treated to the sparkling light show the tower puts on at promptly 11pm each night. That night we truly learned why Paris is called the “City of Light”!

OT European Experience at The Thinker

Driving through the streets of Paris is a drive through history as gothic and French baroque architecture grace every street corner. We drove past where Napoleon was buried, a special moment as this year France is commemorating 200 years since Napoleon was defeated. It’s been truly wonderful for us to be immersed in a city that is littered with its rich history; every street felt like a reflection of the French Revolution or the Age of Enlightenment. Arriving at the Rodin one sunny morning, trip members enjoyed the idyllic gardens of what used to be artist Auguste Rodin’s home and tried their hands at snapping a shot of their best impersonations of The Thinker. We’ve got some budding models on this trip, that’s for sure!

Perhaps the highlight of the trip and the most memorable was the Palace of Versailles. One of our trip members rated the visit to the royal palace as second favourite only to the Eiffel Tower. Our tour guide took us back in time with stories of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and their life together in the palace. The sheer luxuriousness of the Palace left no doubt about why the lives of the King and Queen ended so tragically.

OT European Experience at Karaoke

Of course, an adventure in Paris would be remiss without a trip to the Louvre to see the famed Mona Lisa and the over 35,000 works of art stored in the old royal palace. Our tour guide informed us that if we were to spend only 60 seconds looking at each piece, we would need 24 hours/day for almost a whole month! Filled with knowledge but hungry for French food, we took a break for lunch on the Champs-Élysées so some of our trip members could take a much anticipated trip to Laudrée for decadent pastries and macarons. Between every trip member who indulged, we must have tried every flavor!

Is there a better way to end our wonderful time in Paris than with dinner and a night filled with fun, laughter and music? Our karaoke night kicked off with a rendition of Bowling for Soup’s “1985” and continued with great hits such as “Wonderwall” and The Black Eyed Peas“ Where is the Love?” performed by our very talented staff group. We left Paris with smiles on our faces and the hopeful promise that we’d all return soon. Paris, nous vous aimons!

We are currently in Annecy, nestled in the French Alps enjoying the sun and cozy feel of the quaint town. Au revoir! À bientôt!

The Westcoast Blogger

Falling in ‘Louvre’ With Paris – Backpack France, Switzerland & Italy

Bonjour parents, friends and family all the way from France! We don’t even know where to begin with how amazing the trip has been and the number of crepes we’ve eaten so far. When we first arrived, we were quickly thrown into the backpacking lifestyle, taking the train to our hotel as we looked out […]

Locking our Love in for Paris! – ON TOUR European Experience

Bonjour from Paris! On Thursday we left London and made our way to Paris. To get there we took the Chunnel. The bus drove onto the train and we all got off and played some soccer and volleyball in an empty train cart. It was definitely a great experience like no other. Upon our arrival in Paris, […]

Culture & Cuisine, from Paris to Tignes! – ONTOUR Backpack France, Switzerland & Italy

Our third day was filled with a tour of the Gardens of Rodin Museum and the iconic castle of Versailles. One of the highlights for many of the trip members, especially Erik and Greg, was assembling a picnic lunches from the various food vendors at the open-air market on the other side of the city. […]

Bonjour De Paris – On Tour Backpack France, Switzerland & Italy

Bonjour de Paris! Nous sommes tous arriver et notre aventure est commencer!! (We have arrived and started our adventure!!) Day 1 began with trip members arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport early Sunday morning. After plenty of name games and immediate laughs, everyone came together to tackle our first European adventure — navigating the Parisian train and metro […]

Rest, Relaxation & Reflection! – European Discovery

Bonjour from France! After a whirlwind start to our European adventure we are now in Annecy, France for some rest, relaxation and reflection on our first week! The past few days have taken us from the beautiful sites of Amsterdam to the magnificent and historic landmarks of Paris. Our Amsterdam adventure started with a visit […]

Swept Away in Europe! – European Experience

Here we are in the beautiful city of Paris! Our first five days on our On Tour European Experience have been packed with team-building activities and enriching tours of London and Paris. As each group of trip members filtered into our meeting spot in Terminal 5 of the London Heathrow Airport, one could instantly sense […]

Souvenir Hunting Around The World – European Edition

Heading to Europe this summer? Fear not! We’ve compiled some great authentic and local souvenir ideas, so you don’t come home with more fridge magnets for mom (not that there’s anything wrong with fridge magnets, if that’s your thing.) FLORENCE Paper Products Florence is famous for its fine paper products. You might think that paper […]