I had always been amazed by Europe, specifically the history that came from it. When the chance to travel to there came up, I sprang on it. As my life went on, and the trip became ever closer. I started to learn about the culture of Europe, the art, the people, my eleventh grade of school prepared me more than anything for this trip.
Our first stop was Amsterdam, which is is my favourite city we saw. I love the charm of Amsterdam and the Dutch. There’s more bikes than people, Willy Wonka looking staircases, friendly locals, and canals everywhere. Oh, I can’t leave out the coffee! Ironically Amsterdam was the only place to french press the coffee, which is my favourite way to have it, but nowhere in France did they french press. The Dutch coffee was the best coffee I have ever had, but we’ll see if that doesn’t change after Italy.
Next was the small town of Ipres, which was completely destroyed after WW1, however now looks medieval. I’m sure someone who actually knew what medieval towns look like wouldn't say that, but at least that’s what I thought. Nonetheless the town was stunning, I had the chance to go for a run with Mr. Becker on our first night, and I couldn’t take my eyes of the buildings. Ipres holds the Menin Gate, which was incomprehensibly annoying. The fact that all these names were people, and each of their lives was cut short for a war, for power, for lines on paper, for pride. One thing I really learnt from this trip, which I couldn’t have learnt in Canada, is how costly the price tag of war is.
After Ipres was Normandy and The Farm. In Normandy we stayed on a farm, which I thought was hilarious. The Wifi didn’t work, the showers were almost broken, the blankets were scratchy, and I absolutely loved it. We had baguettes and only baguettes for breakfast, which led to Mr. Dewinetz and I having a baguette sword fight. I lost of course. While in Normandy we went to Juno Beach, we saw the tunnels and fortifications our Canadian soldiers faced. My favourite place and thing we did on this trip was visiting the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. I cautiously say that, because this was not a fun experience, simply an incredible one. The cemetery has 2,000 graves, each one engraved with an epitaph. They’re written by the family of the fallen soldier, and are the most beautiful things I have ever read. Each one is full of love, each one holds a bond between son and family. I can’t explain the feelings it gave me, but I can say that it is indescribably humbling and the most mind numbing thing I have ever experienced.
Lastly is Paris. Just seeing Paris was one of my favourite parts of the trip. We drove from Normandy that morning. Understandably we were dead to the world. Headphones in, eyes closed, and minds off. We were driving through a tunnel, and none of us knew how close or far away we were from the City of Lights. The tunnel ended in the edge of a hill, just large enough to view the sea of concrete called Paris. As one everyone slowly raised from our comfortable resting positions to be awed. It truly was one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen.
I am so glad I was given the opportunity to travel with everyone on this trip. New bonds were made, and old ones strengthened. Reflecting on it only seems to make me more excited for the next.