Europe group takes on 5 countries in 9 days


Photo by Maile Sur

Tynell Ornellas (left), Aeris Joseph-Takeshita, and Kiaku Naeʻole are all-smiles on a bus in Europe. Forty-two traveled to five countries over nine days on the annual school trip to Europe, March 18-27, 2015.

Spanish teacher Professora Kristen Handalian took 42 students to Europe on the annual Spring Break trip to Europe, March 18-27, and due to both planned and unforeseen circumstances, it was jam-packed with adventure.

The group was made up of mostly seniors, with seven chaperones accompanying Professora Handalian.

Though the original plan was to only travel to two countries, a special turn of events sent the group to a few extra stops.

The first stop was British Columbia.

“Vancouver was really beautiful, especially the cherry blossom trees,” senior Tyra Kuia said.

Since the group had a long layover in Canada, Professora Handalian had scheduled a tour of the city instead of having everyone stay at the airport for hours.

Once back at the airport, a protest by Lufthansa pilots diverted the students from their original flight plan: Canada to Athens with a stop in Frankfurt, Germany; however, since the flight from Germany to Athens was cancelled, the group took a surprise detour to Paris, France.

I really loved Europe, but I was ready to go home, too.

— senior Tyra Kuia

“Though it was not part of the plan, we made the best of it, and it was a bonus,” Professora Handalian said.

The drive was long, but spirits were heightened by the sight of the Paris lights. After a trip on the local metro and a dinner full of different pizzas, the group was excited to see what was to come the next day.

While in Paris, students saw famous sights, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.

That night, it was off to Greece.

Because of the detour to France, the group had to cut out a day in Greece, but in their remaining time there, they visited Athens and Olympia.

In Athens, they went to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon with a local tour guide. After they took a lot of pictures, the group dined and shopped for about an hour in a small city near the Acropolis.

After lunch they toured the Acropolis Museum.

That night they trekked all the way to Olympia to see the ancient ruins of the original Olympic games.

After days of yummy eats in Europe, the group made sure to take a lap on the ancient Olympic running track.

They spent one night in Olympia before they jumped on a Superfast night ferry to Italy.

The rooms were ultra small with bunk beds to fit four people per cabin.

“We couldn’t have more than one person standing or walking around at the same time because there wasn’t enough room,” Kuia said. “It was hilarious.”

Since there was so much time to spare on board, students played different types of card games, such as Uno, Rich Man Poor Man, Old Maid, and Poker.

When everyone woke up the next morning, the Italian coast was in sight.

The first stop on the itinerary was the lost city of Pompeii, but first was lunch at Ristorante Vesuvio. At the ruins, students saw what life was like for ancient Romans.

Shortly after, it was back on the bus for another long drive to Rome.

For the first time on the trip it rained, which caught many of the students unprepared, but while walking through Rome, they visited the Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

“The architecture was insane,” senior Jacob Puʻu said.

As an added bonus, the group’s tour guide Gwen took everyone on a Rome by Night tour.

The next day, they visited the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon.

Since that was their last night on the tour, Gwen also took the group to an opera dinner. It was a four-course meal with a three-part opera show.

“It was a bittersweet feeling,” Kuia said. “I really loved Europe, but I was ready to go home, too.”

As an experienced tour coordinator for the past five years, Professora Handalian said that the students lucked out with the extra side trips because Paris, Rome and Athens are the top three destinations for students.

“It’s all about the students; how [they’re] going to learn the best, how [they’re] going to make the most connections to the classroom,” Professora Handalian said.

See related story “9 Ways to Humiliate Yourself Internationally.”