Art Student Documents Europe Trip

Somewhere back in Los Altos, students were sitting in their Wednesday fourth period class. It was April 8, and I was miles away, staring in wonder at the giant airplane I would be shortly boarding. Some 12 hours later I landed in Switzerland, on the first day of 10 days of touring Switzerland and Italy with the school Art Department. I was joined by 21 fellow students, most of whom were complete strangers to me. We were guided by art teachers Christine An, David Roberts and Alice Araneda.
The Art Department had previously led trips to locations around the world to give art students the opportunity to experience other cultures and see famous pieces of art that are usually only seen in textbooks. In past years destinations have included Greece, Austria and England.
The insanely long plane ride left us a group of sleep-deprived and disoriented students. After a long drive in our giant tour bus, we reached Lucerne, Switzerland.
No matter which direction you looked, it was absolutely stunning. Mountains rose up on every side of the region, and despite it being one of the most populated regions in Switzerland, it was pleasantly quiet.
From there on out, it was carpe diem or bust. There was barely a moment to waste. Even in our free time, we constantly explored and shopped in small groups.
Day three of the trip was the first day we lived to the fullest. We traveled 6,387 feet up Mount Pilatus by cable car. The view of Lucerne from the ground was just a taste of what we saw from the top of Mount Pilatus; the view went on for miles and miles in every direction.
After some free time, we were treated to dinner and entertainment. Many students were called up to the stage to participate in Alp horn blowing, yodeling and other parts of Swiss culture.
Sadly, that was all we would see of Switzerland. After a long bus ride, we reached the entrance to Venice, Italy. After entering the city by boat, I realized that it definitely wasn’t the romantic, colorful city it has been characterized as. But while bleak on the outside, the insides of the shops gleamed with the traditional Venetian glass and masks. And of course, many of us took the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a gondola ride around the city.
Following a busy day in Venice, we spent a day mostly traveling to Florence. On the way, we stopped to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In Florence, we visited the Accademia Gallery, where the famous sculpture “David” by Michelangelo is currently held in addition to countless other ancient sculptures and paintings. We also visited the Uffizi Museum. The extent of the museum’s collection almost put the Accademia to shame. It houses many of the most famous works by Italian painters, including “The Birth of Venus” by Sando Bottichelli.
While Florence sported historic art galore, Rome was the city of ancient monuments. We visited the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain, to name a few.
We also spent some time within Vatican City. The most stunning of all was St. Peter’s Basilica: it was so elaborate and expansive I felt like I was in a palace, not in a church.
On our last day, we entered the Sistine Chapel. To look up and suddenly realize that Michaelangelo’s famous painting “Creation of Adam” was directly over my head was a shocking moment I’ll never forget.
With each day packed with events, the time had flown by quickly. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m done traveling and taking each day as it comes.