Italy, Switzerland, and France--Spring '89

The trip to Switzerland, France, and Italy in the spring of 1989 arranged by EF was the last one we were to take with the student travel companies. It was also the only time I have ever traveled with the students without Brenda. In looking back at it, I realize that in many ways this trip represents the best and the worst of what teachers and students can expect from these companies. The Best: You can see a wide variety of sights covering a broad area in a short time; you have the services of a trained guide who can offer assistance for all kinds of difficulties; and you have the opportunity to meet students and teachers from all over the country. The Worst: In covering such a wide area in such a short time, you are forced to spend too much of your time in a packed tour bus; if you are unlucky enough to get a very poor guide, you are stuck with that person throughout the trip; and you are often mixed with students and teachers who are more obnoxious than anyone you have ever met at home.
Eze near Nice But worst of all, this trip emphasized what I have always considered to be the biggest downer of all in student travel: the choice of accommodations. In order to find decent enough rooms for a large group at a price that leaves profit for the company, they often choose accommodations that are FAR from the center of town. On this trip, our Nice hotel was the only one in the city. In Geneva, we stayed out on one of the highways into France at a motel conveniently located near a gas station; in Florence, we were in a large hotel well out of town; in Rome, we were past the airport, miles from the city; in Venice, we stayed at one of the summer resorts (where everything was closed in spring except our hotel) 15 miles from Venice; and in Lucerne, we stayed at a tiny village 10 miles from the city. Finally, the photograph on this page itself illustrates both the best and the worst. The best--I would probably have never seen Eze, the ancient hilltop town in the background on a trip that I planned by myself. The worst--I only got to see it from a distance; our stop was at the perfume factory so the guide could get one more chance at a kickback from sales to a captive group.

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