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Ysabela Garcia's European Vacation


My mom, Kelly, and I had looked forward to our European vacation for a year. Mom helped me do fundraisers to earn enough money to go.

We left Denver in the afternoon of July 10, and we arrived in London the following morning. Our awesome EF tour guide, Rich, greeted us. After the rest of the group gathered, we deposited our luggage and went on what I called a forced march through London. We saw Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, just to name a few things.

Mom was surprised to hear so many different languages instead of “the Queen’s English” as she says. There was more walking on this tour than we were comfortable with! I have a pin in my hip, and the prolonged walking made me cry at least once. We took breaks and lagged behind whenever possible. Trafalgar Square was a great chance to stop walking and watch the buskers. I spent some time talking to Natasha, a girl in our group, because she was a cosplay model. It was nice to have something in common right away.

The best part about London was seeing Mamma Mia and going to the M&M store. The English food was a bit disappointing since we won’t eat blood pudding. My advice if you want to taste fish and chips is to eat at Long John Silver.

After two or three days exploring London, we took the train to Paris. I, of course, had to check out Platform 9 ¾! Mom rolled her eyes and laughed. The train was more comfortable than we thought it would be, and most of us slept for part of the ride. Paris was so exciting! Mom was thrilled to see the Eiffel Tower, but I loved the Joan of Arc statue. The tour guide said she might not have gone into battle as a warrior, but I believe she did.

The Louvre museum is huge! Mom wanted to see the Mona Lisa, but she was too tired to go find the painting. She sent me to take a picture of it! We picked up a few souvenirs from the museum gift shop. The prices weren’t too bad. Mom and I both got lost (or “misplaced” as she says) more than once. I thought we would never find each other again. After we escaped the museum, we had to search for our group. Mom has no sense of direction, so we were late.

Mom is a people watcher, so sitting outside at the cafes made her happy. It gave us a break from the walking as well. She swears it helps her absorb the culture. During our fundraising, a lovely couple in town, Pete and Carolyn, donated money for us to spend (specifically) on coffee in Paris. Mom achieved her goal of ordering coffee in French. Besides eating a crepe, the best part of Paris for me was finding an entire street with anime and comic book shops! I met several cosplayers like me. I compared experiences with a girl from Brazil.

Too soon, our time in Paris was over, and we took another train to Barcelona. In Barcelona we were surprised that the street signs seemed to be a mix of French and Spanish. That’s Cataluña for you! Mom and I speak Spanish, so we understood the signs in spite of the differences.

Mom was waiting for free time so she could lounge at cafes, but there were so many stores to explore! She had spent her time and money on souvenirs for family and friends, so she finally got to shop for herself. In our precious free time, we shopped our way down Las Ramblas. We visited Gucci, Christian Dior, Swarovski and Hermes. Hermes was the best. Even the air smelled expensive! While we (window) shopped, we took advantage of rest rooms for

customers because there are few free public bathrooms in Europe. While mom was checking out the Hermes facilities, I spotted a perfume called Kelly. Mom called over a sale clerk and asked if perfume samples were ever offered (even for purchase) because she had to have the perfume with her name on it. You should have seen Mom’s happy face when we each got a free sample!

I found a book store where I bought a Cthulhu stress ball, a stuffed owl and a Slitherin key chain since that’s my house. I met four other American Harry Potter fans, so we chatted a bit. Overall, people were friendly in each city we visited. There were plenty of tourists in each as well.

The next day had a flamenco dinner show on the schedule, but I was worn out and stayed at the hotel. According to Mom, the show was fabulous! The food was good too. (When we got back to Nebraska, she even made some like it.)

Our 10-day European trip was a once in a lifetime adventure, but it felt great to get home again.

Ysabela García

North Carolina

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