Rome and Greece


Wild cats in Delphi. They were very friendly.

Duncan Schiller

This year, Mt. Vernon students had the opportunity to travel abroad. Education First partners with Mount Vernon High School to plan trips for students to other countries. The trip to Rome and Greece was supposed to happen in 2020, but due to complications from a tiny little thing called Covid-19 that shut down the whole world for two years, it was delayed until earlier this year. The tour consisted of visiting Rome and Athens.

Ancient amphitheater
A view into an amphitheater on the Acropolis, which is still used for festivals.

I was lucky enough to be included in this trip, and it was a fun one. I’ve been out of the country on a cruise before, but never to another continent.

City of Athens from a hill top
A view out onto Athens from the Acropolis. Fun fact: The city is named after the goddess Athena, who in legend gave the Greek people olives.

First we had to get on two planes in order to get to Italy, and the second was an overnight flight. I’d recommend getting a long night of sleep before the trip, or sleep at the airport if you can’t sleep on planes.

ancient temple in Greece
The temple of Athena Nike. Fun fact: none of the statues are the originals, four of them are in Britain, and the last one is in a Greek museum.

When we arrived in Rome, we met up with our tour guide Marina, who was very friendly. After that, we hopped onto a bus, and explored a bit before going to our hotel.

ruins in Greece
A view up on Delphi. Those mountains go on for miles.

The hotels on this trip weren’t great, and we had to share a room with someone else. For the one in Italy, we had a room keycard that unlocked the room and activated the lights. The bathroom had a toilet, a shower, a sink, and an unidentified bidet-like object.

Wild cats in Delphi. They were very friendly.

In the Greek hotel, we had a room right next to a bar that played loud music late into the night. The hotel was hot and muggy, and the food was subpar. The doors were extremely difficult to open, and there was only one room key, which three of us had to share.
Not to worry though, because there was minimal time spent in the hotels. Most of the time we were out touring and exploring. A word of advice while touring in another country: ignore the wandering peddlers. They’re like flies, annoying and plentiful. We were harassed by these people regularly, and tried to ignore them. I’d recommend that you do the same if you ever take one of these trips.
Now then, onto the positive side of the trip. Rome was beautiful, there were vines everywhere, the buildings were impressive, and the fountains were stunning. There was a lot of pasta, and the ice cream (they call it gelato) was amazing! There were dozens of flavors, I got mango, coconut, and lemon. Portion sizes are smaller, and have less sugar, which is refreshing. Be aware though, Rome is extremely humid, so make sure to have water at all times. A lot of people smoke in Italy, so be prepared for that too.
We visited several places in Rome, the most notable being the Colosseum. It’s under repair currently, which was an odd sight to see. We also visited the Vatican City, which is technically a country, but we didn’t get our passports stamped. There was a beautiful garden near the entrance, so most of us took pictures of it, and we got to visit the Sistine Chapel, which was beautiful, but extremely crowded.
At the end of our visit to Rome, there was a concert, but of course it was all in Italian, so we couldn’t understand any of it. Overall, Rome was fun, but I wouldn’t visit again.
Greece was very different from Rome. It was less humid, and our hotel was near a bakery and a beach. There were some neat restaurants nearby, and on our first night there, I got a gyro and ate it in a park. In Greece we visited the Acropolis Hill, which had ruins of the Parthenon and other temples. There were some great photography locations up there that overlooked Athens.
We also went to Delphi, but the bus ride there was about two hours. We visited a museum of ancient Greek art and architecture. To end off Greece, a fun fact: Gyros with lamb in them are an American thing, they use pork and chicken in Greece.
Overall, it was an enjoyable trip, and I never felt overwhelmed or lost. We got to pick where we ate for lunch, which was nice, since we got to choose what we tried, rather than have it pre-planned for us. It was a nice experience, and it was worth the wait. By the way, EF is holding another tour to Madrid and Paris in 2024, so be on the lookout for that.