Blog, Travel

People to People (my #TBT)

People to People was when I first traveled internationally. The trips are usually 3 weeks long, and many include traveling through many different countries. For my experience, we visited France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. We had a group of 40 high schoolers from the CNY area, along with four teachers who acted as our leaders. We had a group leader we met up with once we flew into Paris.

p2p flying

Now, it has been almost 13 years (July-August 2004) since I fashionably traveled around Europe (khakis and the blue people to people polo), but it still remember how excited I was to head off on my own and explore.

Our first stop was Paris. I don’t know why, but for some reason I remember not being very excited to go here. But that quickly changed and I found myself loving Paris!

Literally the only picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower.

p2p eiffel tower

We had a very strict schedule to keep on this trip. Every day was mapped out for us. The only thing I really remember about my first day in Paris was being incredibly sleep deprived and pumping my body full of allergy meds (because apparently I was allergic to Paris). We saw all the must see items: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, took a boat ride down the Seine, took a trip out to Versailles, and had dinner across the street from the Moulin Rouge.


From Paris we traveled to Strasbourg in the Alsace region. We had one day there and it rained the entire time. But we did get to see the cathedral. And had lunch at a place called Flams (I cannot believe I still remember the name of this place). We also paid a visit to the Council of Europe as you can see by the header picture up top.

After we left France, we headed to spend only one day in Switzerland.

p2p lucerne

Now, because we were student ambassadors, we had to take part in community events. Our event was playing games with kids at a lakeside park. Best community service project I’ve ever done. We visited Zug, Lucerne, and Zurich. We literally had one day here and that was nowhere near enough time to explore this beautiful country.


Austria was up next. We visited Innsbruck and stopped at a culinary school and made authentic apfelstrudel.


In Salzburg we stayed at an international high school and did some shopping. In Vienna, we took a bike tour through the city which was a ton of fun and a great way to see the city. We also went to a classical music concert at Schönbrunn Palace where the played pieces from Mozart. For three days we headed to Maria Alm for a guest house stay where we bunked with 40 german students who liked to party and get some of us in trouble.

p2p slazburg
Johann Strauss statue
Schönbrunn Palace
Prater Amusement Park
Maria Alm

Before leaving Austria, we stopped at Mauthausen, a concentration camp. I still remember how eerily quiet it was there as everyone struggled to take in everything that had happened there. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to talk with a holocaust survivor. I think this part of the trip was the most important. This is something that needs to be remembered. Our generation is said to be the last to know people who lived through this time. My grandfather himself was a purple heart marine from WWII. Listening to this man recount his childhood spent in ghettos, then camps, re-telling the unimaginable….there are no words.

Our last country to visit was Italy. This was actually the one place I was looking forward to the most. I ended up with a love/hate relationship with Italy. I loved the history and the food, I hated being groped every two steps I took.

Grand Canal

We visited Venice where we had a gondola ride which took some surprising turns. Also, the entire city smelled like a dirty bathroom. Would I return? Yes, but maybe in the winter.

p2p venice
Venice at sunset

We also paid a visit to Pisa, but didn’t have much time to explore. We were able to take some photos, though.

Leaning Tower

We explored Florence at such a fast pace that I sometimes forget I was even there. I did see the Duomo as well at the Statue of David. And there may have been some gelato eaten as well.

The Duomo

Rome was the last city on our whirlwind tour. Here we did something really cool. We split up into groups, were given a map, and took off on a scavenger hunt. This was such a fun way to see the city and all the major sites! I saw the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountian, and lots of fountains in piazzas. Of course, we also visited the Colosseum a day prior.

spanish steps
Spanish Steps
Trevi Fountain
2015-06-18 13.49.23

Our last day in Italy brought us to the Vatican City. We visited the Sistine Chapel, went through the museum, and had some time to walk around and explore St. Peter’s Basilica. Just an FYI, when visiting the Vatican, make sure your knees and shoulders are completely covered or you will be denied entrance into most buildings, especially the churches.

St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Square

We spent 21 days traveling through Europe on a coach bus. We ale made pit stops in Liechtenstein and Germany. Traveling the roadways allowed us to see what was in between the cities we visited. I saw the Alps, swam in the Mediterranean, ate my weight in gelato, saw some of the most amazing pieces of art up close, had a medieval dinner in a medieval castle, and had an all around great time.


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