2016 History Europe Tour

Days 1 & 2

On April 9th, 23 students and 3 staff members joined staff and students from Epping Boys High to explore historical sites throughout France and Italy. Upon arrival in France, we began exploring this amazing country immediately. Our guide, Christian, met us at the airport and took us to the famous Royal Palace of Versailles. We had the opportunity to explore the opulence of the palace including royal bed chambers and the Hall of Mirrors. Following Versailles we boarded the coach and headed in to the heart of Paris. We visited the Notre Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs élysées, Napoleon's monuments and many many more sites. Day 2 gave us all the opportunity to explore the treasures of the Louvre and many students took the opportunity to see the Mona Lisa, Egyptian and Greek antiquities as well as other famous masterpieces. Following this, we departed Paris and headed to Bayeux where we saw the famous tapestry and explored Bayeux cathedral which is one of the few in this region to remain untouched by the destruction of WW2. The coming days will see us exploring Normandy and the landing beaches before heading north to Amiens.

Days 3 & 4

Days 3 & 4 were action packed exploring the area of Normandy and learning about WW2 and the D- Day landings. 

Our first stop was Caen Memorial museum where students had the opportunity to explore a variety of exhibits about WW2, D- Day, the Cold War and even walk through a German bunker. Following this we met our eccentric local guy Richard who took us around the Bayeux Commonwealth Cemetery, German bunkers at Caen, the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach and Point du Hoc. 

Today we left Caen and headed north (but not before visiting a local castle for some opportune pictures). We visited the stunning towns of Honfleur and Rouen where students had the opportunity to shop and learn more about local history. This afternoon we arrived in Amiens, a town dominated by a stunning gothic cathedral and a place we are all excited to begin exploring tomorrow.

Days 5 & 6

During these days we had the opportunity to explore northern France. 

On Thursday we visited and toured Amiens, a town largely destroyed in both WW1 and WW2. We toured the stunning gothic cathedral, saw the old Gaelic walls, and French government buildings. We also had the opportunity to visit Peronne and tour a museum with some fantastic WW1 exhibits. 

On Friday we toured various sites and cemeteries associated with WW1. Our first stop was the A.I.F Burial Ground Grass Lane in Fleur. This was a particularly special visit as we were able to pay our respects to one of our student's great great uncles who fought and died for Australia in WW1. Everyone found this moment to be an emotional and moving experience. We also toured several cemeteries important for all Australians, including Pozieres, Villers Bretonneux, Newfoundland Memorial Cemetery where we are also able to tour allied and German trenches. 

We have all had a fantastic time exploring France and ready to begin visiting sites around Italy tomorrow. Ciao

Days 7 & 8

On Saturday morning we all woke at 3.45am to begin our journey to Italy. 

Our first stop was the Piazzale Michelangelo where we had a panoramic view of the city. Once we made our way down into Florence we had the chance to eat our first Italian lunch, visit the Duomo, the Piazza Della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio and the main town square. 

Our second day in Italy gave us all the opportunity to explore the Uffizi Gallery where we saw the famous 'Birth of Venus' painting amongst many other stunning works. Sadly we needed to leave this gorgeous city and make our way to Orvieto, a stunning town reached by a funicular. Here students enjoyed the impressive views and quaint nature of a small Italian town. We explored some of the 1200 mines running under the town (some even dating back to the Etruscans era) before boarding the coach and making our way to Rome.

Days 9 & 10

It is hard to believe we are in the final stretch of our European adventure. All staff have noted how students of Chatswood High School have mastered the art of shopping and Italian food but also how much they are learning and absorbing. 

On Monday morning we toured Vatican City, taking in the atmosphere of such an incredible place, examining famous sculptures and stood in the Sistine Chapel which was completely awe inspiring experience for us all. Following this tour we walked to the Piazza Navona for lunch before touring various sites of Rome. We saw the Pantheon, including the tomb of Raphael, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. 

Tuesday was an exciting day as it was time to learn to how be an ancient Roman gladiator. Students learnt about the different types of gladiators and their weapons before beginning their own training. They had complete fitness and skills training, prove their ability in training with a wooden sword before facing each other in one on one combat. We all had a brilliant time. Following this we journeyed south to Solerno where we will spend the next two night's. This afternoon gave is all an opportunity to walk along the foreshore of Solerno and observe the natural beauty of the region. 

Tomorrow we immerse ourselves in ancient history by exploring the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as the Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Days 11 & 12

Despite the tour drawing to a close, the pace did not slow down.

On Wednesday staff and students had an opportunity to explore the ancient site of Pompeii, a Roman town destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD. Students were able to explore the site and learn about the daily lives of the towns inhabitants as well as how the site is being preserved for future generations. Follow this visit we made our way to Naples and be Museum of Archaeology. Here we saw mosaics and frescoes from the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It was amazing!

Thursday marked the final day of our European tour. In the morning we visited the site of Herculaneum, another town destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. This site is in a much better state of preservation and students were able to see two storey houses and gain a true understanding of life in Ancient Rome. Following this visit we made our way back to Rome so we could explore the famous colosseum, a highlight for many students. With a final farewell dinner we all packed our bags to prepare for the long journey home.

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