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My EF plus 30 day adventure in Western Europe or traveling with teenagers can be a different experience especially when they're not yours, by Baldworth

My EF plus 30 day adventure in Western Europe or traveling with teenagers can be a different experience especially when they're not yours, by Baldworth

Jul 25th, 2006, 08:28 AM
  #1  
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My EF plus 30 day adventure in Western Europe or traveling with teenagers can be a different experience especially when they're not yours, by Baldworth

Our first experience with EF or Education First was two years ago when my oldest daughter helped organize and recruit for a trip to Europe lasting 21 days and visiting 6 countries. For those of you who think its not traveling unless you stay at least one week in each place you can choose to stop reading now as this is not that kind of travel and I may never be able to afford that kind of travel until I put all three girls through college and retire from teaching. Anyway, as I was saying, my daughter brought mer into this 3 and a half years ago and we traveled through Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England for 21 days not spending more than 3 nights in any one place. We loved it and I got to spend my 50th birthday in Paris at the Eiffel tower. So when we got back I decided that I could organize another trip on my own and go to Europe without spending too much money. We looked for the longest trip we could find because the longer the trip the better value per day and came upon European Panorama, a 28 day excursion with an option for a three day cruise through the Greek Isles. We recruited the same friends of hers who ahd gone with us before and many others including other friends of hers and my middle daughter's. To make a long story short (and this is a long story) we finally ended up on a slightly shorter trip that ended in Spain instead of Greece called European Capitals. In addition to the 23 day trip wanted to do the Portugal extension so we could finish at the end of a week and then spend the weekend with the tour director from our trip two years ago, who now lived in Hamburg. Have you got all of that so far? Good because there's a lot more.
The trip to Portugal didn't work out because no one else from the European Capitals (EC) trip had signed up for it so we had to do some planning on our own. This was interesting because my oldest, we'll call her S, was in college two hours away and we needed to plan this together. Separately we began to look for someplace else to go between Madrid, Spain our EC ending point and Hamburg, Germany where we wanted to spend the weekend and finish our trip. We each came up with Barcelona and began to look for places to stay. We ended up with a low cost hostel on the Mediteranean for 22 euros per night per person in the Barceloneta area. I then began looking for low cost airlines and we were on our way. Our trip was set. We would spend two nights in London, England then two nights in Amsterdam, Holland (actually Edam) then one night in Heidelberg, Germany then two nights in Muenchen, Germany then two nights in or near Venice, Italy then two nights in Roma, Italy then two nights in Firenze, Italy two nights in Lucerne, (actually Engleberg) Switzerland one night in a small city in the Alsace region of France called Mulhouse then two nights in Paris, France then an overnight train to Madrid, Spain and two nights there. From there the rest of the 50 people we shared a bus with would fly home and we would take a train to Barcelona, Spain and from Barcelona we would fly to Hamburg and spend the weekend with Y. What a trip right? You have no idea. I want to say right here and now that EF did a pretty good job of making arrangements with a few exceptions and was a good company to travel with on a budget. Most of the nonsense that happened along the way was due to teenagers, prima donnas, and the law that we in the States call Murphy's Law and the English refer to as Sod's Law. If I had to do all over again I would do it in a minute. This will be my first trip report if anyone is interested so let me know if you want to hear it. If not, I'll just write it myself from my journal. It involves broken toes, trips to the hospital at midnight, $300 sunglasses, metros shut down due to World Cup Games, getting lost in the suburbs of Roma, getting lost in the canals of Amsterdam, etc...Let me know.

Baldworth
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Jul 25th, 2006, 08:34 AM
  #2  
 
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Hi Barldworth, this report looks very interesting and I would love to read more. It makes it easier to read if you use paragraphs, just a suggestion.
lizziea06 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 08:40 AM
  #3  
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Its baldworth and it was supposed to have paragraphs, they just didn't make it through the editing process. I'll do better next time.

baldworth is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 08:46 AM
  #4  
 
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OK, I'm hooked. Please continue . . .
LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 09:03 AM
  #5  
 
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You're saying that all of that was just a query to see if people wanted to read the story itself? How long is this story? Is it available on CD?
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 09:30 AM
  #6  
 
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You've got my interest. I do get bored easily so please use papagraphs.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 10:02 AM
  #7  
ira
 
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Hi B,

If you are typing the report up in Word and pasting to the board, try saving it as a "plain text" file.

ira is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #8  
 
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and IF you are typing it directly into the text box - use double returns to get

Yes, do go on!
janisj is online now  
Jul 25th, 2006, 10:49 AM
  #9  
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Alright, I am typing this directly into the post and I'll try to be better with my paragraphs, and yes Anthony that was only the teaser. I haven't even begun to describe the actual trip yet. It appears that you are interested so I'll get started on the actual trip.
My group consisted of five plus me; my oldest daughter S, her good friend R, her friend's mother L, a colleague's daughter ST, and myself. All of these people either went to school where I teach or in the case of R's mother she used to be a substitute there. For my daughter and I it was actually our third trip Europe as we went on an EF weekend with global points last summer to Paris.
We left on a Monday and took the shuttle from Chattanooga, TN to Atlanta, GA where our flight was. The flight itself was fairly uneventful, a 4:30 flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany. We ate well but didn't have the small screens in the back of the seats that we have had previously so were subject to watching the two films that were shown on drop down screens. I took a sleeping pill after dinner and actually slept for several hours. We landed around 7:00 in Frankfurt and had to find our way to the next flight at 8:25 from Frankfurt to London. I had had some contact with our Tour Director prior to the trip to get a feel for who would be directing our activities for three plus weeks and had found out the following: he was British, he loved history, he seemed to have a sense of humor, and he was an experienced TD. I thought we were to meet him when we deplaned in London at Heathrow but as it turns out it was another EF TD who directed us to our transport. Our hotel was on the East side of London out near the Docklands and the sight for the 2012 Summer Olympics, The Travel Inn-Beckton, and our driver showed us many sights as we rode along. He pointed out the smokestacks that comprised the majority of the Pink Floyd album "Animals" for those who have been around for more than a few years and many sights along the Thames. When we arrived at our hotel we were told that there were still two groups who had not arrived and we were to be part of 50 who would travel together. We met our tour director briefly and found out that he was dealing with a problem that had arisen before one group from San Diego left the USA. One of the kids had lost their passport in the airport in San Fran Cisco and she and her brother were there with a chaperone trying to figure out the best way to get a replacement and get going. It turns out that this would take another two days and they would not all join us until Holland but the result then was that we had a free day in London and the TD provided us with underground passes so we could go anywhere for the day and only had to meet for dinner at 7:00. We were off as soon as we checked in and my group followed me around as we toured the Tower Bridge area and others.
The second problem of the trip arose when we discovered that one of my party, L, had an ATM card that was not a debit card and wouldn't work in London. I loaned them money, she and her daughter, and a new pattern was set visiting ATM's in several cities and trying to see what would work and what wouldn't. The good thing was we spent the day in London, made it to Picadilly Circus and found my favorite Pub from last time, Callahan's, and downed a few Irish Cream Ales and Snakebites that seemed to make everyone relax. That's all for now, got to go to the dentist. I'll do part 2 later today or tomorrow.
No time to edit so sorry if there are any misspelled woords or typos.
Baldworth
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Jul 25th, 2006, 11:19 AM
  #10  
 
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Baldworth, Baldworth - do your students pay more attention that you do

Double return (i.e., hit return [enter], then hit it again)
janisj is online now  
Jul 25th, 2006, 11:24 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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This will be easier:

Alright, I am typing this directly into the post and I'll try to be better with my paragraphs, and yes Anthony that was only the teaser. I haven't even begun to describe the actual trip yet. It appears that you are interested so I'll get started on the actual trip.

My group consisted of five plus me; my oldest daughter S, her good friend R, her friend's mother L, a colleague's daughter ST, and myself. All of these people either went to school where I teach or in the case of R's mother she used to be a substitute there. For my daughter and I it was actually our third trip Europe as we went on an EF weekend with global points last summer to Paris.

We left on a Monday and took the shuttle from Chattanooga, TN to Atlanta, GA where our flight was. The flight itself was fairly uneventful, a 4:30 flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany. We ate well but didn't have the small screens in the back of the seats that we have had previously so were subject to watching the two films that were shown on drop down screens. I took a sleeping pill after dinner and actually slept for several hours. We landed around 7:00 in Frankfurt and had to find our way to the next flight at 8:25 from Frankfurt to London.

I had had some contact with our Tour Director prior to the trip to get a feel for who would be directing our activities for three plus weeks and had found out the following: he was British, he loved history, he seemed to have a sense of humor, and he was an experienced TD. I thought we were to meet him when we deplaned in London at Heathrow but as it turns out it was another EF TD who directed us to our transport.

Our hotel was on the East side of London out near the Docklands and the sight for the 2012 Summer Olympics, The Travel Inn-Beckton, and our driver showed us many sights as we rode along. He pointed out the smokestacks that comprised the majority of the Pink Floyd album "Animals" for those who have been around for more than a few years and many sights along the Thames.

When we arrived at our hotel we were told that there were still two groups who had not arrived and we were to be part of 50 who would travel together. We met our tour director briefly and found out that he was dealing with a problem that had arisen before one group from San Diego left the USA. One of the kids had lost their passport in the airport in San Fran Cisco and she and her brother were there with a chaperone trying to figure out the best way to get a replacement and get going.

It turns out that this would take another two days and they would not all join us until Holland but the result then was that we had a free day in London and the TD provided us with underground passes so we could go anywhere for the day and only had to meet for dinner at 7:00. We were off as soon as we checked in and my group followed me around as we toured the Tower Bridge area and others.

The second problem of the trip arose when we discovered that one of my party, L, had an ATM card that was not a debit card and wouldn't work in London. I loaned them money, she and her daughter, and a new pattern was set visiting ATM's in several cities and trying to see what would work and what wouldn't.

The good thing was we spent the day in London, made it to Picadilly Circus and found my favorite Pub from last time, Callahan's, and downed a few Irish Cream Ales and Snakebites that seemed to make everyone relax. That's all for now, got to go to the dentist. I'll do part 2 later today or tomorrow.
No time to edit so sorry if there are any misspelled words or typos.

Baldworth
janisj is online now  
Jul 25th, 2006, 11:29 AM
  #12  
 
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I am really looking forward to the continuation of your story, as a fellow teacher who has brought groups abroad.

Thanks for sharing!!

katya_NY is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 12:46 PM
  #13  
 
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I'm a little confused, was this a largly "adult" trip or were most of the participants children? Most of EF's trips are around 6 to 8 children per adult chaperone.
gforaker is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 08:28 AM
  #14  
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Thank you janisi for the edit. Sorry guys but sometimes life get in the way. The first afternoon continued from the pub to finding our way back to our hotel. We had to find the Docklands line which is somewhat hidden when you get off at Tower station. After wandering for about 30 minutes and getting turned around we asked fro help and a very nice British gentleman steered us in the right direction. When we arrived at the shopping center where our dinner meeting place was located it turned out that we were the first ones there. This was another pattern that emerged as it was rare that my group was late or not around whenever we were supposed to meet. For the first two weeks of the trip my group stuck to me like glue and it was very difficult to get them to try things on their own.

Let me tell you a little bit about the groups. My group consisted of me, age 52 my daughter and two of her high school friends (they are all now in college approaching their sophmore years)all 19, R's mother age 40 something, and ST age 25. Past S and I there wasn't a whole lot of experience but there was a lot of interest in history and the particular places we were going to see, except for N who was there to have a good time and collect some experiences along the way. The OTHER groups were not like us. There was a group from a small town outside of Charlotte, NC comprised mostly of either high school seniors or just graduated about to be freshmen in college. This group was there to party and get some cultural experience during the day. There were about 14 students and three adults who tried hard at times but weren't always in tune with what their kids needed or wanted.Their main group leader we'll call M. There were two groups from the San Diego area of California and it appeared that all of these kids came from families with a decent amount of money. One group had 18 students and two teachers B and SA and the other had six students and one teacher/group leader L. Altogether there were 50 together in hotels and on the bus and wandering the streets of each city en masse. When we hit a small hotel such as in Edam, Holland Heidelberg, Germany or in the suburbs of Rome, Italy we overwhelmed the place. These were not bad kids but some in each of the two California groups were as young as 14 and several were 15. One group who all spoke fluent Mexican Spanish only spoke Spanish whenever they were around each other in a hotel lobby, on the tour bus, on a walking tour, and tended to stick together excluding others for most of the trip. But I digress.

We all finally made it to the dinner spot and realized there were two places with the same name and we were at the wrong one. We walked together through the shopping center to a balcony and waited for...are you ready?...hamburgers and french fries! They weren't even good hamburgers. It was the worst meal we had the entire trip and I could have done better in their kitchen using their materials! After dinner some of the kids went to a bar, some went back to their rooms and crashed after many hours without true sleep, and most of the adults and some of the kids went to the hotel pub and watched whatever World Cup match was on TV and had a beer or two. The three from San Diego were not in yet and so my daughter did not have her room-mate yet. Day 1 and Day 2 finished. Day 3 and our ACTUAL tour of London to come later.

Baldworth
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Jul 26th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #15  
 
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Fascinating. I can tell we are slowly working up to some extreme events. Perhaps this will become "Final Destination 4".
kerouac is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Well, I'm still here so you've kept my attention so far, but I deduce from your title there are still about 29 days to go....

You'll need to condense the rest of the report a bit to have me there at the end!
julia_t is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 10:39 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Quite an adventure to travel in such a large group. Thank goodness you are able to break up into smaller, more personal groups.

Looking forward to how this works out . . .
LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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Dear Baldworth, I think those paragraphs need a bit more attention to be honest. Loving the report, though I just hope a live long enough to read it all!
annhig is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 06:05 PM
  #19  
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Day 3

We were still two people short as Willie had come along to England but his sister Kim nad their chaperone SA were still taking care of passport business. Jonny, our tour director (TD) had a meeting with all four of the group leaders and then a general meeting with all of the participants before we left on the bus to go into London to have our tour. We saw many of the same places we had visited the day before but we had an excellent city guide who added a lot to the experience. He shared amny details about places including Lord Nelson's body which was kept in brandy and stored that way until he could be returned to London and buried in his crypt under St. Paul's Cathedral. The day before we had seen the outside of Parliament, the outside of Westminister Abbey (they wanted about 13 pounds to tour), Trafalgar Square, and had walked out onto the Tower Bridge. This day we road evrywhere on the bus, visited St. Pauls, and got a great spot to view the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace thanks to our city guide. We ended up in Trafalgar Square again and decided as a group, of 6, to stick together and see how many places we could see before dinner that evening.

I had wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, someone wanted to see the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, we were all hungry, and another wanted to tour the museum in Trafalgar Square. We had gone to Picadilly Circus in order for everyone to know where our evening meeting point was for the walk to dinner. We decided to take our chances in China Town and eat lunch first. We had an excellent meal and headed back to catch the underground.

In the process of walking back we had to pass through a covered walkway that was separated by metal poles and above them scaffolding. I had stopped to let everyone catch up and leaned on one of the poles. Little did I know that it wasn't attached to anything and the next thing I know I am trying to keep a 20 foot metal pole from falling into the road into an oncoming taxi. One of my companions is trying to help, two others are gasping, and the other two can't stop laughing. Finally, before the pole actually hit something, a workman came up and grabbed the pole and got it under control. It took 15 minutes just to get my heart to stop beating fast. I hope this comes through in writing but I was sure I was going to destroy something, most likely a moving vehicle and it scared the hell out of me. Afterward we caught the underground and rode it to Holborn, the stop of the British Museum.

After about a fifteen minute walk and two stops for directions we found the British Museum and discovered it was free. Shortly after entering we found the room with the Rosetta Stone, the very object that had inspired my interest in World History when I was 14. After several pictures we moved on and explored the rest of the museum mostly consisting of ancient scuptures and artifacts from Egypt, Babylon, and Greece. It was quite an experience.

We made our way back to the underground and decided to go to Hyde Park. We rode to one corner of the park and decided we wanted some coffee/tea/hot chocolate before we explored the park. We stopped in Knightsbridge and had a very enjoyable experience. N decided he wanted to go back to the hotel and rest(sleep) before dinner so I gave him underground and Docklands Line instructions and he left. The rest of us walked through Hyde Park for about 30 to 40 minutes before reaching the Peter Pan statue and then the Italian Gardens beyond. By the time we were through ewe realized that we had exhausted our afternoon and needed to go in the direction of Picadilly Circus and our meeting point at the fountain. We went back to Callaghans for another round of drinks and then went to meet the other and wait for N.

The meeting time came and everyone was there except for N. I decided to stay and wait on him while the others went on to dinner. I watched them walk away and armed with good directions waited for N to arrive. I waited ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes and was beginning to panic when after 40 minutes he finally arrived running out of the underground, huffing and puffing and telling me the story of how it had taken him an hour to get from the hotel on the Docklands Line to the Circle Line and then the Bakerloo Line in order to get to Picadilly Circus. Personally, I think he overslept. We went to dinner and stuffed down mediocre fish and chips which was much better than what we had the night before at Fox London.

After dinner my group decided to stick together and go to Covent Garden where two years before we had listened to numerous street performers with genuine talent. When we got there there was almost no one in the Garden and only a couple of performers, neither of which were musicians. Disappointed, we walked back toward the entrance beforedeciding to stop in The Nag's Head and have a couple while watching the end of the World Cup match. England tied whoever they were playing and we had two ales/shots/snakebites. Afterwards we went back to our hotel via the same basic route and went to bed. End of Day 3 and still two California people have not joined the tour.

Baldworth
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Jul 26th, 2006, 06:36 PM
  #20  
 
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I'm enjoying your report. When I was 15 I went on a three week bus trip to six countries, followed by a six weeks French school in Montpellier.


There were about 35 kids from assorted schools in Louisville, Ky. We only had two chaperones and mostly behaved ourselves. I don't think we had curfews though since I rode around London one night with a Bobbie (actually it was in the wee hours of the morning.) None of us lost our money or passports. Guess we were lucky. I've never lost my love of European travel since this experience.

Trips like this are better than any classroom experience. I think chaperones like you do a wonderful service to your students. My parents weren't able to finance a trip for me and themselves, so I may not have ever made it to Europe if I hadn't been able to take this first trip. I learned so much about travel on this first whirlwind trip.
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