Trip update: Students get dose of sticker-shock
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:01 pm
By: Glenda H. Caudle Special Features Editor
By GLENDA H. CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Life is expensive in Europe. That’s one of the lessons the group of eight Union City High School Class of 2010 student travelers is learning.
Whitney Smith, Will Arnold, Chambry Callicott, Katey Crews, Kayla Eason, Paige Fisher, Katelyn Ray and Andrew Speed and their chaperones for the 12-day Union City Rotary Club-sponsored tour of seven European countries — UCHS vice principal Jacob Cross and his wife, Emily — are having a great time, according to the mid-afternoon calls coming in to parents back home in Union City.
But expenses are running a little more than anticipated and they are learning to be careful consumers. Such lessons — not so pleasant as others the group has shared — are nevertheless part of the experience an anonymous donor, working through the Rotary Club, was hoping for when they decided to completely fund the trip for the students earlier this year.
The group left Union City at noon Friday by school bus and boarded a flight in Memphis which took them to Minneapolis-St. Paul Friday evening. There they traded planes and headed east, landing in London at Heathrow Airport around noon (British time) Saturday. They spent the weekend exploring England’s capital city, to the delight of all the first-time travelers abroad, and bright and early Monday morning boarded a Cosmos tour company bus with several other English-speaking tourists from scattered spots around the globe for a whirlwind tour of six other European nations.
They crossed the English Channel on a large ferry, landing at Calais, France, and proceeded with their Dutch tour guide, Joost, to Brussels, Belgium, where they explored the city and overnighted.
Tuesday’s adventures included a Rhine River cruise, complete with views of castles and Medieval villages and the sound of voices raised in unfamiliar languages when they made land.
Wednesday’s daily call came from Miss Ray, whose mother, Karen, said excitement was still high, even though sticker-shock had set in for some of the souvenir shoppers.
Because the Rotary-backed team that planned the trip wanted to be sure students devoted as much time as possible to absorbing the lessons of their surroundings and as little time and money as possible in keeping tabs on events back home, the group is traveling with a single cell phone, with phone and minutes provided by CELLPAGE in Fulton. A different student phones home once they settle in a new location for the evening and the parent who receives the call then contacts all the other families in the group to report in.
When possible, the group also makes contact through the Internet, but such arrangements are not always feasible.
Mrs. Ray also spoke to Cross Wednesday evening, and he had high praise for the students under his care.
“They are so well behaved. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better,” he reported. Mrs. Ray said the parents, in turn, agreed they felt fortunate to have the Crosses in charge of their teens for what some might call a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It is the hope of the donor making the trip possible, however, that the young men and women will be so impressed with the trip that it will encourage them to study, prepare and work hard to make similar journeys of exploration and discovery on their own in the future. So perhaps the 12-day holiday may turn out to be simply the first of several such adventures in each lifetime.
The 10-member group spent Tuesday night in Frankfurt, Germany, and last night in Innsbruck, Austria. Their Wednesday adventures included traveling the “Romantic Road” (a stretch of highway in southern Germany that affords tourists the opportunity to enjoy German scenery and culture while following a trade route established in the Middle Ages through areas that retain much of that Medieval character) and stops in picturesque Rothenburg (one of the best-preserved German Medieval old-town areas on tourist routes).
The group was to depart for Italy, via the Brenner Pass and Europa Bridge, this morning.
Before returning home, they will also spend time in Switzerland and will wrap up their adventures in Paris. Their return plane is set to land in Memphis Tuesday evening.
Published in The Messenger 6.25.09