Saturday, November 26, 2016

Volleyball Europe Tour--2001

During high school in the summer of 2001, my daughter, Jessica, and her friend, Angie joined a People to People tour to Europe they heard of from their volleyball club.  They would start in England, head to France and then end up their tour with a homestay in Italy.

Here is a joint People to People and Italian teams photo in Treviso near Venice, Italy. Unfortunately we and Angie's mother got calls that all was not well.  In England, while the volleyball tournaments were well organized and fun, their accommodations and the tour leaders were lacking.  They reported that they were put in dorms where they had to share a twin beds and their complaints to their tour leaders did not improve the situation.  They both wanted to come home.

Instead, after talking to Angie's mother, we decided that I should join the group in Paris, France for the rest of the tour.  I quickly called Delta Air and was able to get a 60,000 mile frequent flyer ticket on Air France that would get me to Paris within two days.

After landing at Charles DeGaulle Airport and taking the morning metro line into downtown Paris near where they were staying.  As I neared their hostel, I spotted them at a nearby bistro.  

They whooped and hollered and practically knocked me over with joy.

After breakfast, I talked them into seeing some of the sights in Paris beginning with a trip to  the Palace of Versailles about 10 miles from Paris by train.

During our exploration of the Palace followed by a tour of the Louvre and surroundings, they both said that this was the best day of their entire tour.

When we got back to the hostel, I met Joseph and asked him about the conditions they had experienced in England.  He indicated there were several problems, but that was behind them.  The tournaments in Paris had gone well and they were preparing to travel to Italy by night train that evening.

He appreciated my offer to join them as another chaperone, but that I would need to find my own accommodations and travel during the remainder of the tour.  I told him that I had no problems with that.

As the sun set, our group of 20 high school kids left the hostel and wended their way with their luggage to the Metro.  Some had lots of luggage and found it difficult to navigate the stairs and turnstiles to the Metro that took us to the train station with more stairs.  It was amazing that we did not lose anyone along the way.

Once on the train, the kids settled into their sleeper beds.  

They would wake up in the morning in Venice.  The plan was for them to play in a tournament there and sightsee.

Michela Quintavalle Trio Performing in St. Marcos Square.

After Venice, we traveled by train to Torino, where they would do their homestay and join in another tournament.  Once again, Jessica and Angie ran into problems where they were the only ones who had their initial homestay at a home that was over an hour from town and their guest had no children. All the other kids in their group were with families that had kids their age and also were on the competing volleyball teams.  Jessica, Angie, and I explained that this was not acceptable and fortunately one of the guest leaders overheard our complaints and offered to have them stay at their place with their children.

After Torino, the group headed to Rome for their last tournament and lots of sightseeing before boarding their plane for the return home.

At the Vatican

Cooling off at Navonne Fountain

Colosseum Visit

People to People Group at the Forum

Angie and Jessica at the Forum ruins

Farewell dinner in Rome before tomorrow's flight home.

I ended up traveling by train from Rome, Italy, through Switzerland and Germany to the Netherlands where my return flight left from Amsterdam.

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