Traveling across the continent to the European scenes

On Mar. 20, 24 RCHS students journeyed across the continent to Italy, Switzerland, and France.

Venice, Italy, Lucerne, Switzerland, and Paris, France: three destinations 24 students from Rancho Cucamonga High School explored over spring break. 

I was among the students who traveled with Señora Adriana Velazquez, Señor Donald Velazquez, and Señora Nancy Lopez to these European destinations. Here is a recap of our trip. 


The mahogany wood of the gondola cuts through the surface of the salty water, navigating the hidden canals of Venice. (Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot)


On Sunday, March 20, 2022, after twenty-four hours of traveling, our flight finally descended into the fashion capital of the world: Milan, Italy. As soon as we landed, we met Giovanna, our free-spirited tour guide who guided us throughout the tour.

She then led us to the beautiful city of Verona, a short bus ride east of Milan. Known as the city of love, it was where Shakespeare thought of his many great works, notably The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. 

Ancient buildings and brick roads lined the cobbled streets as our jet-lagged crew took in the beautifully preserved architecture. 

The next day, Venice was awaiting us. A boat ride into the city showcased the gorgeous sectors broken by miles of deep,

blue-green canals.  Excitement kindled as we pulled into the dock. Crossing bridges and canals, it felt like I was in the Venice I imagined in my head and could not believe that I was in the real place.

During lunch, sarcastic Italian waiters greeted us as we sat at a table right over a canal. My friends and I ordered pesto spaghetti and pizza because, of course, what else would you get when you’re in Italy? The pesto, my personal favorite, was life-changing and with my accustomed taste of Americanized pesto, I didn’t even know how flavorful and perfect it was supposed to be. The pizza was so rich, with its bubbling mozzarella and glistening crust -a meal fit for a king. 

Shortly after, gondola rides, glassblowing tours, and time to walk through the city followed. It was so rewarding to see the different lifestyles of the city, specifically

Swirls spaghetti garnished with pesto and fresh herbs, sizzling mozzarella atop buttery crisp crust, and scents of crushed pepper and garlic fill the atmosphere with the aroma of Italy. (Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot)

the floating city of Venice and how locals live their lives.  For example, what caught my eye was an ambulance boat coursing down the water instead of the street.

Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot


The following country, Switzerland, was next on the itinerary. Riding by bus, I felt guilty trying to get some sleep because of the harmonious and majestic mountains that filled the twisty eight-hour drive. The greenest grass and the whitest snow I’ve ever seen was something I would get the pleasure of living in for the two remaining days.

We went into the city of Lucerne the next morning and saw the town for ourselves. The only familiar thing was a Starbucks. 

Taking a river cruise near Rigi mountain, the clear and ice cold water flowed effortlessly. Even while knowing it was freezing, I had to resist the urge to jump into the crystalline water for my own good. 

Switzerland is also known for its chocolates. It was one important stop we made, and the chocolate was honestly the best chocolate I’ve ever had the chance to eat. The creamy and perfect flavor still has me craving for more.

Then, the only place to go was up. A thirty-minute trolly ride up to the top of the mountain of Rigi bestowed upon us incredible views only admired in movies and Apple lock screens. It was otherworldly. 

Just outside the chilled window of the tour bus, winding up Rigi Mountain, the evening haze shrouded the city of Lucerne below. (Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot)

After a long night’s rest, a high-speed train would take us to our final and my favorite destination on the trip: Paris, France. 


Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot

I anticipated Paris the most because it had been my dream. Ratatouille is my favorite movie and I’ve always been so intrigued with the innovative, historic architecture, people, fashion, and food this city had to offer.

Building after building was uniquely shaped and looked even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

We even got the chance to enter the Louvre and see the real Mona Lisa. Having seen the prominent painting everywhere, it was crazy to believe that I was right in front of the same canvas touched by Leonardo da Vinci. 

But, the best part for me by far was seeing the Eiffel Tower at the top of the hour, glistening in the dusk light. I admit, I cried from its beauty, and the whole trip I just couldn’t believe that I visited the locations of my dreams. 

Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Rays of sunlight flood the stone chamber, illuminating the sculpted clay. (Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot)

A big thank you to the adult chaperones, Señora and Señor Velásquez, Señora Lopez, and the other adults who took our group under their wing as we indulge in our adventures across the continent.

Observing different lifestyles and ways of life is something I am so grateful for and is a perspective I will always cherish in my life. If anyone ever has the chance to travel, take it because it was the most refreshing and transformative experience I could have asked for.

This trip was an EF Tours trip offered to students on campus. Students who are interested in traveling the world should consider going on an EF Tour during their high school career.


Benjamin Lightfoot poses in front of the glimmering Eiffel Tower set against the blues and purples of the darkening sky. (Photo by Benjamin Lightfoot)