A whirlwind trip seen through postcards
by Elizabeth Tzagournis, ’13London Eye
Westminster Bridge Rd
Dear Arlingtonian, June 15, 2012
I am now suspended 443 ft (135 m, if you’d like the European metrics version) on the London Eye. The immense ferris wheel-like structure, formed in honor of the new millenium, gives an amazing aerial view of the city of London, England. From our place in the sky I can see the House of Parliament, with the famed clock tower proudly rising above the rest. I scan the horizon and glimpse the royal and ornate Buckingham Palace in the far distance. The stunning, gold-accented Palace proves worthy to host Queen Elizabeth, the second longest-reigning monarch of England’s history. I can hardly believe it’s a little over a month till the London Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Tomorrow we are going to see the Trooping the Colour when Queen Elizabeth makes one of her two public appearances every year and there is a parade where she inspects the English military. Not only will I see the Queen but Prince Harry Wales and Kate, now known as the Duchess of Cambridge. Tomorrow we will also be seeing the church of Westminster Abbey, where past and current monarchs are buried. Although it has only been a day since departure from Columbus, I don’t think I will ever come back.
Avenue Gustave Eiffel
Dear Arlingtonian, June 18, 2012
The Eiffel Tower is looming over me and I feel incredibly small. When you’re in the midst of world phenomenons like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre (is she smiling or not? I still can’t decide) or the Notre Dame Cathedral, it’s difficult not to be awestruck. We took an excursion to the Palace of Versailles, basically an enormous thousand-room mansion sitting on seemingly endless gardens. King Louis XIV created it to show off just how wealthy he was, eventually angering his French citizens enough that they beheaded him. The expansive gardens, full of statues and fountains, has tall hedge mazes that lead to more and more new wonders to explore. Upon returning to Paris I was greeted by the Eiffel Tower again, all lit up for nighttime— so large and impressive. It demanded respect our respect and succeeded. I watched as the lights twinkled off the iron giant, the tallest structure in all of Paris.
Lucerne, Switzerland Dear Arlingtonian, June 20, 2012
The Swiss Alps still retain a hint of snow at their very highest tips. It’s nearly July but the snow remains, almost as a reminder of the grandeur of a Swiss winter. It’s hard to believe any time can be more beautiful than the rolling green hills and untouched nature. Yesterday we hiked up to double waterfalls in Adelboden, basking in the strong, cold spray that shot off the rocks and drenched us within a minute. Now, as I meander across the wooden Chapel Bridge, constructed almost 700 years ago I look out to into the city of Lucerne. Swans glide across the sparkling water, while on my right mountains appear through the slightly foggy air. I leave with a Swiss Army Knife and the satisfaction of taking the world’s steepest cable car up to Mt. Pilatus. I leave hoping to soon return.
Acropolis Museum Dionisiou Areopagitou 15 Athens, Greece Dear Arlingtonian, June 23, 2012
I’m back to my roots. Sure, England, France and Switzerland were once-in-a-lifetime experiences but Greece is the land of my family. It’s The Big Fat Greek Wedding kind of family; we all know what I’m talking about. Right now, I’m looking at the most quintessential structure in Greece, the monument that shows both the talent and dedication of my Greek ancestors all those thousands of years ago: the Parthenon.Finished in 432 BC, to be standing next to a structure that has existed for so long is simply unreal. Although I am spending two weeks in Greece, we are still planning to see more places than I could ever imagine. Along with being in the land of my roots I will be meeting relatives and family I have never met before— from Athens to Nafpaktos (a city still on mainland Greece but on the shore of which my mother’s side originated) then to the islands of Naxos (beautiful beaches), Santorini (think white buildings) and Crete (the island of the Tzagournis family). We will be seeing so much and constantly surrounded with beauty that seems unreal. Now all I have to do is learn Greek…
Colosseum Piazza del Colosseo Rome, Italy
Dear Arlingtonian, July 13, 2012
It is the last day of my great monthlong European adventure. I don’t know where the time has gone. I have seen the David, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and now the Colosseum. The incredible structure and story of the Colosseum blows my mind. Completed after the Parthenon, the Colosseum was completed in 80 AD, eight years after its initial construction. The difference comes in the uses of both structures, whereas the Parthenon was a place of worship created to honor the Olympian gods, the Colosseum was created to entertain the Italian people could watch gladiators be ripped to shreds by lions, tigers and other gladiators. We are in the presence of so much history and it just stuns me. I stared up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and realized this was it. My trip to Europe may have ended but I know there ar emany more adventures to come!