I’m writing from a hotel in Bruges, Belgium, where twenty two other recent SVHS graduates, two chaperones and I are enjoying our eighth day of a trip through Europe. The past week has been an unreal whirlwind of exotic experiences that has everyone in the group grinning with silly, ex-hausted smiles on their faces. I’ve decided to take some time out of my schedule to write a brief report letting everyone in Sonoma know how things are going halfway around the world.
I’ll start with the airplane ride. Ten hours in the air plus another hour just waiting on the tarmac. I didn’t get much sleep. Actually I’m not sure I got any sleep. I tried for six hours, but it didn’t work too well. Maybe it’s the cramped upright seat position or the unending monstrous hum of the plane engines. Or maybe I was just too excited about the events to come to calm my mind. Either way I entered London yawning. The first thing everyone wanted to do was go to the hotel and flop down on a bed. Is that what we did? NOPE! We had a full day of touring before we checked in. Going to sleep in the small London hotel room I thought back to when I last woke up. That was about twenty eight hours prior. It felt like weeks.
Everyday has been like that. When we go to bed we can hardly believe that we’ve managed to jam so much into a single fourteen hour span. Today for example: wake up in Paris, pack, eat break-fast, take a four hour bus ride to Bruges, check in, eat lunch, go on a walking tour, climb 300+ stairs of the Belfry of Bruges, stop at a pub, go on a boat ride through the city, take a two hour nap, eat dinner, and now this. And to think: only this morning I was in another country.
I mentioned before that there are two chaperones. One of these is our tour guide Peter Voice. We met him at the Heathrow Airport, where he impressed everyone with his authentic British ac-cent. He sounds like a less wild Austin Powers. Several of the students considered asking him to say “Yeah Baby!” or “Shagadellic!”. Someone asked him if he had seen the movies. Apparently he has and he doesn’t like them very much. He’s a nice guy.
The other is Mr. Gary Gissell, who teaches Civics at the high school. This trip has given the stu-dents an opportunity to realize how often he does things that he tells people not to do. He told us to pack light and ends up bringing one of the biggest suitcases here; he tells everyone to eat authentic cuisine from local restaurants but ends up eating at a pizza joint when in France; he in-structs everyone to get a tour book about the nations we’re visiting but throws his own book out in the middle of the trip; and lastly he told everyone not to dress like a tourist. Personally I have never seen a more touristy tourist than Mr. Gissell. Sandals, sunglasses, shorts, backpack and camera. All he needs is the Hawaiian shirt and he’d be set. Peter Voice freaked when he learned that Gissell got half the students lost on the Paris underground for an hour and a half.
But I really should thank him. All the students should. He makes delightful company, and en-hances the trip with his unfailing eagerness and enthusiasm. Without him there wouldn’t be a trip at all really, and I’d still be stuck in Sonoma with nothing but the newspaper to entertain me. So I’d like to take this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude to Mr. Gissell for putting this trip together. Thank you for a wonderful experience.