Here is the crew! All 26 of us toured London, Paris, Florence and Rome together. What an amazing adventure it was! This was at the airport just as we were about to head out. This was the culminating experience of their 12 years of classical education as they are about to graduate and head their separate ways. So many parents also went on the trip as a sort of celebration of our own to be able to experience all the places and history we have helped our children study through all these years - TOGETHER! What a blessing to experience everything we did together as a group - these kids are such a special group - they blew me away during the ten days, their respect and consideration for themselves and everyone around them, the chivalry the boys showed the girls and women, the embracing of other cultures, their maturity, their wisdom, their vast knowledge of so much we saw and did, the knack they had for making every tour guide and bus driver fall in love with them, the blessing they were to others, and most significant I think was the complete absence of "drama" of any kind. These kids love each other, and it was an absolute blessing to witness.
Explorica was our tour company - and I can whole heartedly recommend them!
Just the kiddos!
Riding the underground train in London - that first day was a looooong one - I think we were awake for 24 hours straight. Well, some of us apparently took a snooze here and there. The underground in London was NOT my favorite method of travel. But it wasn't quite as bad as the Paris Metro.
Our fabulous tour guide Marianna wasted no time in getting us started off with a bang - the first experience we had in London after the bus dropped us off at our hotel to store our luggage, was to get right on the underground and begin exploring London. I will always remember her asking me if I was a student or a parent so she knew which ticket to give me - I found out later I was actually several years older than she was!
Our first stop was Covent Garden - a very historical town center square with plenty of street vendors, open air markets, and lovely little cafes. Joanne, Madison, Kirsten and I stopped at this little tiny shop for hot tea and a sandwich.
and while we ate we acquainted ourselves with pounds!
Then we were off on a walking tour of the area
we stumbled into this beautiful old church right at Covent Garden,
and our fabulous kiddos made their mark!
the streets of London
an interesting photo opportunity..
I loved the European cars - especially the taxi cabs.
another ride on the underground took us to Trafalgar Square - I loved this place!
Here is where we explored the National Gallery - London. What a HUGE museum full of unbelievable paintings. It was pretty overwhelming, and at one point I may or may not have simply curled up on a bench inside the gallery and had a little nap - maybe.
This theater, Her Majesty's Theatre, was the inspiration behind the story of The Phantom of the Opera. This is where the story took place!
At Picadilly Circus - very interesting historical location that got it's name from the place where one could go to buy a "dilly", which was a very fancy lace collar. So, you actually would go "pick a dilly". HAHA! You could even pick a frilly dilly! :)
Notice the "Mind the Gap" t-shirt held by Madison in the middle - it became one of our favorite catch-phrases throughout the whole trip. It was a recording you heard at every stop on the underground - as there was a "gap" between the train and the platform.
After an authentic fish and chips dinner to initiate us London style, we headed back to our hotel exhausted on the VERY crowded underground after a very long day (or two it seemed). Day one in London was very exciting!