Western Europe has been a journey through time and history. It has shown us a face of the past that many people seem to forget. Throughout this trip we uncovered the blankets of the unknown and learned about the legacies that were forged in the wake of a new era. We visited cities such as Paris, Bordeaux, Bilbao and Porto that revolutionized the world we know today. And with the ever-growing society we live in, we were given the opportunity to travel back in time to figure out the development of mankind.
As we trekked across Western Europe our understanding of evolution broadened and expanded to new horizons. We encountered cave paintings, statues and ancient artifacts that told the story of time. We entered several caves that portrayed the cave paintings of our ancestors and through these cave paintings we analyzed the ideas and beliefs from the era of pre history. We visited museums that held paintings from the great Renaissance Period and even paintings by modern day artists. These were the two ends of the spectrum that we focused on, the past and the present.
This trip has brought us back into the past but it has also taken us into the future. Looking back, the greatest part of this voyage would not only be the people, but also what these people left behind. They left behind a legacy, a story that would be told for generations to come. How can we as a whole be remembered and not be forgotten in the whirlpool of time? We were captivated by what we learned and what we saw. And with this experience we were given knowledge and with this knowledge we were able to form our own legacy.
By Audrix Arce
We left Porto at 8:45 in the morning to officially start our final part of the trip. We were going along with the coastline to the capital of Portugal: Lisbon.
After approximately Three-hour-long drive, we finally arrived in the city. It was about noontime when the bus pulled over at the hotel. As Mrs. Pollina distributed the lunch money, we spread out to search for restaurants for lunch. We had a nice break to eat and explore.
After the lunch, we went back to get on the bus and had a city tour with our new local tour guide. She explained the city in details including the history, the tradition and the features. It wasn’t long before our first stop, which was Jerónimos Monastery, one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon.
I just got stunned by the marvelous scenery of it as I made the first step into the church. The structure of the building is perfectly symmetrical — the stained glasses are perfectly symmetrically installed above each altar or each statue, receiving and projecting the light to represent a sense of power.
It was not only the indoor installation that had astonished us, but also the entire structure of the building. Walking upstairs to the second floor, we saw a totally different scene.
After paying a brief visit to the church, we went to another park and held a special activity: a relay race among three groups of people to decide which group was the winner of the scavenger hunt on the previous day. Unlike the normal relay races, what made it different was that every player had to hold a toy of rooster with a tiny spoon. Plus, the player couldn’t continue the relay if the rooster fell off the spoon. He/ She had to pick it up and put it back on the spoon so that the game could be continued. It was really intense and everyone had fun there.
For the last part of the day, we left the hotel at 6:45 P.M. for dinner. We went to a local restaurant. Instead of having the normal meals just like what we did before, we experienced something different: a local concert by a bunch of musicians who played traditional Portuguese instruments. Even though we didn’t understand what the singer was trying to express since we don’t quite understand Portuguese, we could feel the tranquility as well as the emotion that the artist brought to us.
After yesterday’s arrival at Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, we took a well deserved rest at the hotel; today, students came back with full of energy to start their first journey in Porto. Around 9 o’clock, we finished breakfast and got on the bus to begin the city tour. On the bus, our tour guide introduced the culture and specific information of the city comprehensively: it has a population of 200,000 citizens in the area of 400 km2; the western part of Porto area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and port wines are one of their famous exports.
Because there was plenty of sunshine, we had an amazing view of the urban landscape this morning; our bus dropped us at the front of the Porto City Hall, then we walked to the Sao Bento Railway Station for photography and sketches. The next site we visited is the stock exchange palace called PALACIO DA BOLSA, which is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square. The feeling of walking inside of the building is fabulous, the colorful decoration of the inside room made all of us stop and took many pictures. Out of this stock exchange palace, we headed to the Church of Sao Francisco right next to it. The main façade of the church has a large elaborate window in Gothic style; while walking inside of the church, the resplendent altarpieces amazed us. The main color of the interior is gold, which attract all students’ attention.
The next place we headed to was also located near the downtown Porto at Vila Nova de Gaia. We visited the “Sandeman Wine Company” and their winery. The Sandeman company was first developed during the 1790s, considered one of the oldest wine production company. According to the tour guide, the company have their own vineyard 60 miles away from the city of Porto. We were taken into the winery and introduced how wines are being made. The temperature inside was around 10 centigrades in order to preserve the wine to its best condition. We also saw a short introduction video of the Sandeman wine production. Their production various from pure yellowish wine to dark red wine from green and purple grapes. They also produce Brandy, Sherry and Madeira wine. Although it was unfortunate that we cannot try their wine after the visit. Then we headed to food and shopping center where we can seek for lunch.
After the lunch, we visited the famous Torre Tower and the Clérigos Church. Located in the center of Porto, Torre tower is not only famous for its Baroque style of architecture, but also its importance as a landmark of the city. What was especially peculiar about the tower is that we have to take stairs all the way up to the top. There is no elevators at all. The size of the stairs only allow a single person to get through at a time. As a result we would have to slide pass all the other tourists coming from opposite direction. It did take a little effort to get to the top of the tower. But at the top, we could have an unbelievable beautiful view of the city of Porto. After we took some amazing photos, we followed the same stairs back to the base floor. Originally we were planning to have a boat ride on the river, but the weather turned out to be a little unstable. So instead of that, we went to a famous book store in Porto: Livraria Lello. The style of the architecture was designed as neo-gothic. It was considered as one of the oldest bookstores in the world. It was frequented by J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, when she was living in Porto and teaching English to the Portuguese. Later in the afternoon, we went back to our hotel for a short break, then headed for dinner.
We started our day at 6:50 this morning. This was the earliest we have woken up yet. We got on the bus at 7:00 for our six hour long bus ride from Burgos, Spain to Oporto, Portugal. We stopped an hour into the bus ride to have breakfast at a rest stop. Breakfast was really good. There were Croissants, Chocolate Croissants, Orange Slices, and Donuts. After breakfast we headed back on the road. We stopped once more during our journey at a rest stop where we all got drinks and snacks. Shortly after that we arrived in Portugal. When we arrived in Portugal, we went on a scavenger hunt in the city of Guimaraes. Some of the things we had to do were take a picture of our groups at a castle, take a picture of the Portuguese flag, and take a picture with a rooster. After the scavenger hunt we had free time to eat lunch.
Once we all finished lunch we met in the main square and walked back to the bus. After our bus ride we quickly dropped off our luggage at the hotel and went straight to the beach, which was right down the road. The weather was beautiful for the season. Usually the weather is much colder during this time of year in Portugal. Arriving at the beach Skelly purchase ice cream for everyone, then we all split up for an hour to explore the beach and enjoy the nice weather. Finally once our time was up after an amazing time at the beach it was time to head back to the hotel to wash up and get ready for dinner. At 7:30 we headed out to the restaurant for dinner, which was right across the street and enjoyed a delicious meal. After eating we headed back to the hotel and completed our long day.
Nickolas Swanson and Sam Zanchelli
After the breakfast, we left the hotel that we stayed for three days and continued our trip. We took 2 hours’ bus ride to Archeological site of Atapuerca, one if not the most important discovery in Europe about human history. We met our tour guide inside the building first. He gave us the basic geological information about this place. Then we went to the real spot. For safety reason, we were all required to wear helmets into the places. We all looked funny.
There, scientists found the remains of different human species, such as Homo sapiens (human right now) and Homo heidelbergensis. The discovery was founded in a mountain, which scientists believe ancient human used to live here. They also defined the layers of the cave in to different layers and labeled them along the timeline. The tour guide showed us a lot of pictures of the remains. He also gave us a chance to have close observation of two skulls, which belong to Homo sapiens and Homo heidelberhensis. By comparing these two skulls, we understand the change of human faces during the evolution. What’s more, the tour guide gave us a lot of information about how to judge the age and sex of bone remains.
One very interesting story our guide told us was about the jawbone, tip of the left pinkie figure, and humerus of what they believe to be a female around 25 years of age. The style of the teeth make them believe that this female from an undiscovered species. This information is not published yet because they need more pieces of her skeleton to prove their hypothesis.
After visiting the Atapuerca, we took bus and went ahead to the historical city of Spain, Burgos. We first got to our hotel to settle down and drop our luggage, after while we walked to the Plaza Mayor. In there we were able to have a one-hour trip to discover this beautiful city. Our group was divided into four teams. My group was leaded by Skelly. Our goal was to work in small groups to find shots and sketches that the group members need for their final projects. We spent some time hanging around the sidewalk of the city and saw some really beautiful scenery. The city was full of historical atmosphere, which I felt really enjoyed. After that we had two hours of free time and then we got back to the hotel to work on our academy.
We woke up this morning in the wonderful Novotel Bilbao Exhibition Center for an incredible Spanish breakfast. Then, we headed off to our first stop of the day, a museum studying prehistoric technology and cave paintings. The museum contained a faithful recreation of Altamira cave. The group was split into two, ones who would first visit the cave recreation, and the others went to through other prehistoric artifacts. The cave paintings incorporated the contours of the cave into the art and had renditions of bison, reindeer, and horses that were painted using carving, charcoal, and okra. The museum showed off different bones and videos showcasing primitive tribes and tools.
After our visit to the museum, we left for a gorgeous Spanish town called Santillana del Mar. The town contained gorgeous landscapes, delicious food, and shops for our group to enjoy. We spent some time exploring the town, shopping and getting lunch. After our travels through the town of Santillana del Mar, we hopped back onto the bus and headed to continue our expeditions through two extraordinary caves. When we arrived at Puente Viesgo, the area that contained the caves, we once again split into two groups with one group entering the Cueva del Castillo cave and the other group entering the Las Monedas cave. The caves were filled with beautiful rock formations and breathtaking cave paintings.
Departing late from our journey through the mysterious caves, we entered our bus for the last time of the day to our hotel. We first separated to our rooms to freshen up from the long day, followed up with dinner at the hotel. For dinner, we ate green eggs and peppers as an appetizer, grilled meat, and french fries as our entree, and for dessert, we had rice pudding. After our delicious dinner, we returned to our rooms to prepare for bed and went to sleep.
Joe Zanchelli and James Mulvey