Thirteen MMI Preparatory School students and two faculty members recently completed a 10-day educational European tour of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The group learned about the culture, history, geography and people of each region and sampled traditional European meals.
Seniors William Bower, Samanta Cottone, Brian Galbiati and Sarah Moyer; juniors Ali Aijaz, Niklas Byriel, Garrett Kost, Anna Olivieri, Keenan Overa, Dylan Slusser and Jacob Weiksner and sophomores Nicolo Cottone and Joseph Taylor attended the trip. T.R. Laputka, MMI IT Director, and Gabriela Moustardas, MMI world language department chair and German instructor, were the faculty advisers. The trip was planned in conjunction with educational tour company EF Education Tours.
The MMI Group departed from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on March 19. They arrived in Vienna the next day and were met by the local tour director who accompanied them throughout the 10-day trip. The guide shared historical and cultural information and insights about the sites, places and people during the trip.
A walking tour explored the center of Vienna and a bus tour the next day added a broader picture which included a tour of Schoenbrunn Palace. Following two days in Austria’s capital, the group headed west to Salzburg, with a stop at the famous Benedictine Monastery of Melk. Salzburg’s picturesque old city was made famous by the musical The Sound of Music as well as for being Mozart’s birth place. After strolling through the old town, the students traveled by funicular railway to the Stronghold Hohensalzburg above the city, where they learned about its history and appreciated the panoramic view.
The trip continued to Munich. A very informative bus tour of the city, with a stop to watch surfers on the Eisbach, brought the group to Nymphenburg Palace and ended at the Opera House. From there, the group explored the city center on foot. The morning program included watching the Glockenspiel at the Marienplatz and a quick lunch by the Viktualienmark. The afternoon was spent visiting the concentration camp of Dachau outside of the city.
From Munich the group traveled to Neuschwanstein castle. The dramatic Alpine landscape with its snow-capped mountains provided a spectacular backdrop for this well-known home built by Ludwig II of Bavaria.
Crossing the border into Austria again, the group entered the Tyrol region. They spent the night at an inn on an Alpine slope above the city of Innsbruck with breathtaking views of the valley below and the mountain peaks to the north.
The following day, after exploring and shopping in Innsbruck, the trip continued west to Liechtenstein, a tiny country of 62 square miles, with a stop in the capital city Vaduz. The bus wound its way up into the Swiss Alps surrounding Lake Lucerne to the village of Morschach, where the group would spend another night in a beautiful setting surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
On Easter Saturday, sunshine and warm temperatures accompanied the group into the city of Lucerne. The tour director led a walking tour from the Lion monument through old town and across the Speuer and Chapel bridges. One student’s German grandfather met the group and took them all out for a traditional and delicious lunch.
A stop in the village of Brunnen provided the opportunity to tour the Victorinox Swiss army knife museum and store. Accompanied by the tour director and Gabriela Moustardas, some students walked from the hotel to the small village church of St. Gallus in Morschach to attend Easter Mass. The church dates from the 14th century.
The following day the group traveled north into Germany. On the way, they made stops at the Rheinfalls by Schaffhausen and at the Titisee in the Black Forest. The group visited Heidelberg Castle, where they saw the famous giant wine barrel housed in one of the buildings and took in a view of the city below. A walk down into the city led to a historic restaurant where they ate an authentic German meal.
The students and teachers departed from Frankfurt on March 28 to return home.
Gabriela Moustardas said, “For most students this had been the first time they had traveled to Europe. It was a tremendously enriching experience – not only academically, but also personally. The bonds and memories made, things learned, places seen and food tasted will not soon be forgotten.”