Saturday, August 13, 2016

#VirtualVacay: European Excursion by Sarah L.

From camping in Canada to hiking in the Swiss Alps to fine dining in the Big Apple, GSCTX Girl Scouts are on the move this summer going on whirlwind ADVENTURES! Follow along on their journey here on the Cookie Bites Blog and other social media platforms! Read more Sarah L.'s journey to Europe and the most important thing she learned while traveling with Girl Scouts! 

 I wanted to travel to Europe to experience new cultures and of course try all of the new food. I know that if I went with Girl Scouts I would be taken care of and safe. The leaders and the organization are trustworthy and scouting is international so why not? By going on the council trip to Europe I could meet new people and try a different food in each of the five countries we planned on visiting. I was going with my friend Emma who was from my troop and that helped me stay comfortable during the beginning of the trip. I am already a social person so once I got to know everyone on the trip Emma and I didn't have to stay so attached because we both felt safe and comfortable.

Landing in London 
We first went to London and the food was not so good, but I loved everything about it. I felt at home and loved being there. We saw the London Eye, Windsor Castle, got to ride on a Double Decker bus and the highlight was going to Pax Lodge, one of the WAGGGS world centers. Everybody was so welcoming and caring. It was nice to be there. We had a flag ceremony and got pinned for visiting.  I would love to go back to Pax Lodge and be a volunteer there for a season. Wouldn't it be a great experience to stay in a new country, get your food and lodging paid for and meet scouts from all over the world?
Fun Times in France 
Next, we traveled to Paris. By this time I was making friends with the other scouts that were traveling with us from California and Maryland. It was fun to get to know them and socialize. We walked around and saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc du Triumphe. One of the other girls on my trip, Lizzy, spoke some French so she helped me with the language. While we were there I tried crepes, macaroons, creme brulee and escargot. The first three foods were amazing and I wish I could eat them all the time. I tried escargot because my leader, Emily made me try it and I'm glad I did. It wasn't as bad as I thought, although I may not eat it again.
Sightseeing in Switzerland
After Paris, we drove to Switzerland. It was 100 percent beautiful and I would move there in a heartbeat. The scenery was beautiful, the people were nice and the food was good. We got to visit a second and the oldest WAGGGS world center, Our Chalet. The view was spectacular. Normally I wake up to a fence in my backyard and when I woke up in Switzerland I saw beautiful mountains, green countryside and clear blue skies. It was high up in the mountains and I would also love to return and volunteer once I turn 18. It made me want to visit all of the world centers and volunteer at all of them. They are located in Mexico, England, Switzerland and India. I had always heard that scouting was so big but it didn't make sense until we visited the centers. We also saw scouts everywhere we traveled. 

Italian Itinerary 
Our last trip was to Italy and Vatican City. Once I found out how good the food was I just wanted to eat the rest of the trip. We had gelato at least five times and I wanted to keep eating it. Italian culture is different from what I grew up with and it revolves around food. Food is my thing so this was the perfect country for me. Plus, the language is beautiful and sounds elegant. I learned that Vatican City is its own country. I wanted to see the Pope but Emily kept reminding me that was probably not going to happen. I saw the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum, they were breathtaking.

Inspired Traveler 
My trip was awesome. The most important skill I learned on this trip was how to budget. I had a certain amount of money per day and I kept all of my receipts to record what I spent so that I could stay on budget. I thought it was going to be really hard but Emily helped me. The less I spent each day the more I had for other days. It is important to know how much you can spend and how much you can't. If you go over budget it is important to learn how to fix it or how to not make it happen again. When I am older and get a job, I can use this skill to figure out my money. You have to make sure you have money in case something happens and to provide for myself. I learned how to budget previously when earning the Savvy Shopper badge but this trip helped me put my budget into real life.

I would travel again with Girl Scouts because I got to make new friends, learn about new cultures and reconnect with old ones. Our trip was planned well in advance and everything was taken care of. I didn't have to worry about anything other than having a good time. This trip inspired me to join the council trip to Russia in 2018. I want to keep traveling everywhere and see everything. Girl Scouts is opportunities and I am glad I went.

Follow along on our other adventures...
#VirtualVaction platforms 
Twitter: @gsctxcouncil 
Instagram: @GSCTX 

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