Italy / Greece - July 5

Monday, July 26, 2010

Check out all the Greece/Italy pictures!

We've posted hundreds of pictures from our 15-day adventure in the heart of the Mediterrenean. These images capture every captivating event we enjoyed--from Greek dancing on Day 1, to the fast-paced and exciting scavenger hunt in Rome during our final full day! You'll find them all by clicking on the pictures tab on the top of the Greece/Italy blog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rome scavenger hunt video

Exploring the eternal city of Rome

What a magical way to end an amazing 15-day journey to the heart of the Mediterranean--with an exciting, self-guided tour or Rome. Armed with treasure maps, water bottles and cameras, students split into four groups to discovery the iconic landmarks of this historic city, including the Colisseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and more. It was truly a fascinating way to experience Italy's bustling capital. Prizes awaited scavenger hunters at the finish line, and the winning group got an extra something special: T-shirts from the Hard Rock Cafe-Rome, the meeting place for our last dinner together. The lifetime of memories we created during our visit to Greece and Italy are priceless! Thanks to everybody who made this journey such an awesome, mind-blowing adventure!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Finding solitude in the holiest of all places

No matter what your religious beliefs are, you can't help but feel a deep spiritual connection when entering Italy's most sacred landmark: The Vatican, capital a Catholicism and the wold's smallest state. Our normally lively (and talkative) group was uncharacteristically quiet as our tour guide explained life at the Vatican -- both today and in centuries past. Awe-stricken, we admired the masterpieces of St. Peter's Cathedral, including Michelanelo's glorius Sistine Chapel, and were later honored to meet with a ranking Catholic priest who answered all our questions, and then with a member of the Swiss guard, whose vital mission is to protect the Pope.

Uncovering the buried mysteries of Pompeii

Walking through the streets of this ancient city south of Rome was both fascinating and eerie. Some 16 centuries ago, in 79 A.D., this town of about 250,000 people became instantly extinct when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying everything in nearly 40 feet of volcanic ash. The explosion happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that the townspeople were caught off guard and died quickly from the volcanic fumes. Many were intombed in ash, their bodies preserved like ceramic statues. The buried town was discovered in the 17th century and excavation efforts since that time have revealed its many secrets. Exploring the cobble stone streets, ancient dwellings and sacred temples of Pompeii was like taking our own private journey in a Discovery Student Adventures time machine!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We didn't just hike Mount Etna, we CONQUERED it!

It's one thing to stand at the base of a massive volcano and admire its sheer size. It's a whole other thing trekking to the summit, feeling the its lava-like heat on the soles of your shoes and breathing the steamy vapors spewing from the crater. The views from the summit at just over 10,000 feet were unimaginably cool!

Reaching the top of this monster mountain was not enough for us adventurers. Would we hitch a ride back to the bottom? Forget it! We did an about-face at the summit and barreled down the steep slopes, plunging our shoes deep into the course volcanic sand that quickly filled our shoes and skinned our knees as some of us not-so-graceful hikers experienced a tumble or two. After this extreme adventure, we're ready for just about anything life throws at us!

Nicole Prainito

In my freshman English class we read "The Odyssey," which is a very, very old epic poem about a hero named Odysseus. In this story, he encounters a Cyclops named Polyphemus who loves and owns a giant herd of sheep. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that Mount Etna was the home of this monster -- and that is exactly where my friends and I went. We trekked all the way up to the very peak, and then came all the way back down. Although we did not meet any mythical creatures on our adventure, standing at the edge of a crater on the top of the second most active volcano in the world, you can't help but think that it was created by the hands of a monster. And when we got to the bottom of the mountain, we saw a sheep running down the mountain "Baaah"-ing the whole way down as if he was talking to his heard that was waiting for him at the bottom of the mountain, warning them that the monster is not far away. This was a very exciting activity for me, especially after making a connection between this and school! It still seems surreal that we actually went that far up a VOLCANO! This was an accomplishment that I will remember and be proud of for the rest of my life!

Danielle Carr

Because I am such a competitive athlete, victory is something I always strive for. When reaching the top of Mount Etna, the victorious feeling inside of my bones was stronger then ever. I climbed to the top of a volcano's peak with my four best friends. It's an experience I will never forget it! My children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will ALL hear about. We worked together to get through the hard parts. I have rocks in my knees to prove how challenging the climb really was, Anna does as well! It was definitely worth it and will forever remain forever in my positive memories!

Kicking up some serious volcanic ash on Mount Etna!

Tackling the relentless inclines of a volcano on mountain bikes was every bit as rewarding as it was challenging. After some operation and safety instruction from our expert guide Pepe', we strapped on our helmets and headed for the hills. Our trek began at an elevation of 5,100 feet at our rustic lodge, Rifugio Ariel. Pedaling upwards, we quickly learned that knowing how to operate the gears is a MUST if you plan on keeping yourself upright. After some early struggles, we settled into our seats and climbed, climbed, climbed!

The volcanic landscape was breathtaking and we stopped several times to take in the panoramic views. After climbing to nearly 6,000 feet, we decided it was time to give our legs a break and we descended, wind in our faces and dust at our backs. It was the perfect introduction to Mount Etna, one of Europe's most active volcanoes. What an experience!

Cara Boxer

Me and my friends have always wanted to go an adventurous bike ride, so when I found out we were going to bike ride up Mount Etna I knew I would enjoy it. It may have been one of the hardest things in my life, but the experience was worth every ounce of pain I felt. When I look back on it now, I can officially say I will never forget any of the memories that I shared with everyone on this trip. I wanted an adventure and I definitely got what I asked for!

Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When July 5 - 19, 2010
Focus Conservation Biology
Earth Science/Volcanology