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This summer, I baked in Italy

August 28, 2007|By NABELA ENAM

London, Paris, Rome. I visited these famous cities with my family this summer. There was so much to see in 10 days, and it all happened so quickly. Yet, in the end, this trip was unforgettable, filled with discovery and excitement.

London

Having heard so much about London, I wanted to see it all. However, it was impossible to do that in just a few days. My family and I took a bus tour and saw the famous London Eye, a 450-foot-tall Ferris wheel, from which visitors can see across London.

While on a bus tour, we learned about the clock tower known as Big Ben and how the name actually refers to the bell inside rather than the clock. Toward the end of our bus tour, we were able to catch a glimpse of the Houses of Parliament, about which I had learned so much in government class.

Later, while touring the city on our own, my dad told me about Harrods, one of the world's most famous department stores. We went there, and the crowd of people trying to get into the store was crazy - crazier than anything I've seen while shopping in Manhattan.

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One of my favorite places in London was Madame Tussauds, a famous wax museum. It was fun taking pictures with wax statues of actors and actresses, presidents, heroes, villains and people I didn't even know.

Did I mention the rain? There is one thing, if nothing else, that I learned: Never go out without an umbrella in London.

Paris

After our three days in London, we took a train to Paris. During the three-hour journey, my father, sister and I tried to master the French language by learning three very important phrases: bonjour (good day), parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?) and merci (thank you). With these three phrases we were able to get by in Paris.

As soon as we walked into our hotel, the manager came up to us and said there was a big problem. The air conditioner had broken. He gave us fans and, luckily, the weather during our visit was pleasant.

We saw the Cathdrale Notre-Dame, which was beautiful, and the palace of King Louis XVI in Versailles. The story of King Louis XVI truly astounded me - to think that someone could be supreme ruler of France one day and beheaded (with his wife, Marie Antoinette) the next. According to our tour guide, Louis was executed for elaborately decorating his palace while commoners were suffering from starvation just outside the palace walls.

While visiting the Muse du Louvre or Louvre Museum, I was able to see Leonardo da Vinci's painting known as the "Mona Lisa." I also learned some interesting facts about "The Da Vinci Code" from our tour guide. For example, in the novel, Robert Langdon, the main character, excuses himself to go to the restroom, from which he throws a bar of soap out the window. However, in the actual Louvre restroom to which the author refers, there is no window and the soap is liquid.

Overall, I found the Eiffel Tower to be the most fascinating sight in Paris, especially at night. During the day we saw people going up by elevator and by climbing steps. There was a restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower that we were thinking of having lunch, but we decided not to when we realized we would have to wait in line for at least five hours.

Before leaving France, however, we watched CNN and found out that many Italians were passing out because of the heat and wildfires were burning in the dry conditions. We called to make sure our hotel was OK.

Italy

When we arrived at the hotel, we found it to be very comfortable. And it had air conditioning.

Prior to our arrival, we planned on visiting Rome, Venice and Florence. However, we realized that we would not be able to cover so much. Instead, we decided to stay in Rome for most of the time and spend one day in Venice.

Because of the heat, we decided to take a bus tour with air conditioning, but found out - again - the air conditioning didn't work. Steamed but not wilted, we saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Vatican Museum including the Sistine Chapel.

We ate a lot of fast-food pizzas in Italy, but toward the end of our trip we were treated to a real Italian dinner. This was different from the fast-food pizzas we had been eating. It was a four-course meal with bread, pasta, the main dish and dessert. By the third course, I was ready to go. After the dinner, I realized that the Italian food I claim to be crazy about is really American-style Italian food.

Our last day in Europe was spent in Venice. We left Rome at around 5 in the morning and took a train to the beautiful city of Venice. The water was extremely clean, compared to what I usually see in the U.S. I was really looking forward to riding a gondola, but instead we rode a vaporetto to Rialto, which is Venice's old Wall Street. There is one thing I won't forget: Every 100 feet there was an ice cream stand. It was a dream come true for my sister, but even she got tired of it after a while.

As the days were coming to an end, I couldn't help but feel excited to be returning home. I couldn't wait to be back in my own house, lying on the couch, watching TV.

This trip was an amazing experience, not only because I was able to see Europe, but also because I was able to spend time with my family.

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