In June, French teacher Kriste Karolak and Spanish teacher Bridgit O’Shea took a group of students to France and Spain. Here is a remembrance of the trip by 2013 graduate Armaity Minwalla.
Liggett is more than a school, it is a family. The children grow into adulthood together, the teachers know everything about you, and the campus becomes a second home to many of the students. Occasionally the Liggett family will even take vacations, like a week-long trip to Europe. Twenty-three members of the Liggett family traveled to Madrid and Paris earlier this summer for a trip filled with history, art, cuisine, laughter and memories.
The monuments of Madrid tell stories of the city’s rich history and culture. Throughout history in the Plaza Mayor alone there have been markets, bullfights, fútbol games, public executions, and the Spanish Inquisition. In the Puerta del Sol (the Gate of the Sun), tourists can stand on Kilometer Zero from which all distances in the city are measured. Although the Palacio Real is no longer home to the royal family of Spain, it still contains priceless antiques and paintings by masters such as Goya, and receptions for the head of state are still held there.
Next to the Palacio is a huge cathedral at which the students had the option of attending a Spanish Mass. In the Prado Museum the group saw works by Spanish masters such as Goya, El Greco, and Valazquez. After studying Las Meninas for a few weeks, a few of the students were stunned and awed almost to the point of tears at the sight of the original painting. Of course, a trip to Spain would not be complete without paella for dinner followed by a traditional Flamenco show. The group also found time to go shopping for Spanish fans, clothes, and real Madrid paraphernalia.
The historic city of Toledo, just an hour from Madrid, is a combination of Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, architecture, cuisine, and culture. The Toledo Cathedral is one of the greatest Gothic structures in Spain. The Damascene style of art with black background and gold inlay can be found there in jewelry and decorations. Toledo is also famous for its swords, knives and daggers. After a few tours of beautiful churches, the group had a few hours of free time for shopping.
Almost immediately after their arrival in Paris, the group ascended the hundreds of stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, where we had a view of the entire city. After this they climbed more stairs to see Sacré-Coeur Basilica on the top of Montmartre. Sacré-Coeur is huge and gorgeous. With stained glass windows, and a giant altar, Sacré-Couer is one of the most iconic basilicas in the world. Also on Montmartre is an artist square where students could get caricatures done or buy sketches of Paris monuments. Notre Dame was a good contrast to Sacré-Couer as its Gothic style let in very little light. However, the huge, circular stained-glass window is even more spectacular due to the lack of color and light elsewhere.
The second day in Paris was an extremely wet one, with a few students braving the storm by staying on the second level of the boat during a boat tour of the city on the Seine River. The gardens of Versailles could take half a day to explore. Students posed with statues, roamed the gardens, and found a pet snail named Fred. Inside Versailles is magnificent to say the least, with its painting-covered ceilings and the awe-striking Hall of Mirrors.
The Louvre Museum was another tear-jerker with masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Coronation of Napoleon. The grand finale of the trip was the Eiffel Tower. The group climbed a thousand steps to the top of the tower and then reached the bottom just in time for sparkling cider just as the lights on the tower started flashing.
This trip just proved further that Liggett is a family. There are the little brothers you need to keep an eye on at all times because they stop for food every 15 minutes, the protective older brothers who make sure everyone safely enters and exits the metro, the lovable little sisters who need some handholding during turbulence on the eight-hour plane-ride, the bossy older sisters who make sure the group stays together, and the moms who run the show, keep the kids safe, and make sure everyone is having a fantastic time.
For some of the siblings this was the first Liggett Family vacation of many, and the moments will keep culminating into a giant scrapbook of memories. For others this was the last vacation and final hurrah with Liggett, and they will also remember this trip forever. By the end of the week all the siblings were sad to leave each other after the family vacation of a lifetime.
By Armaity Minwalla