Hornet’s Nest Girl Scouts Troop 1279’s journey to Europe began at least three years ago, when the girls voted to join the Girl Scouts international travel group in the 2014 tour.
Troop 1279 agreed to raise the money for the trip. Their goal was to visit two of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts centers: the Pax Lodge in Hampstead, England, and Our Chalet World Centre in Adelboden, Switzerland.
Since May 2012, the girls have been raising money for their trip this summer. Now they are back, with goals achieved and memories firmly etched in their minds.
The group flew to London on June 17 and spent the next three days in that area, including a visit to the Pax Lodge for a pinning ceremony. Then they were off to Paris, where they took a walking tour of the city and Versailles. After three days in Paris, they traveled to Adelboden, Switzerland, for another pinning ceremony, and then went to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. On June 27, they left the Alps for Florence, Italy, before traveling to Rome for bus and motor tours of the city and Vatican City.
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They returned to Charlotte on July 1.
The troop’s co-leader, Angela Lubinecky, and Girl Scout Andrea DiBiasio recently talked about their adventure.
“We went for the pinning ceremony at each location and to participate in a variety of Girl Scout programs. In London, we got to be part of a ‘tea ceremony,’ where we learned more about the practice of drinking tea in England, and we also got to eat delicious scones.” Lubinecky said. “In Adelboden we toured the chalet, learned about the history of “Our Chalet” and went on hikes around the area. We also each made a wish inside the magic wishing tree.”
DiBiasio was enthusiastic about the views.
“Some of the most exciting moments were those that went against my past fears of heights,” she said. “In London, we went on the London Eye. It took about 40 minutes to get back down, but the view from the top was extraordinary.
“In Paris, we decided to go up the Eiffel Tower at night. Only a few of us made it to the second floor. The climb up the hundreds of stairs was exhausting, but the view of Paris was also amazing as the sun set. The only problem was going back down.
“In Switzerland, we went up Mount Pilatus on the steepest cogwheel train. While on the top of this mountain, we went though tunnels and many stairs looking off scary cliffs.”
“We knew we had a very full schedule,” Lubinecky said, “but I don’t think anyone really understood how much walking was ahead of us. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had crossed Europe from London to Rome on foot.
“One of the other leaders in our group had a pedometer and measured 105 miles in 14 days. Whenever we were not walking, we were traveling in a varied assortment of vehicles: airplane, bus, metro, Euro rail, boat, cog wheel train and gondola.
“The girls had no trouble sleeping any time they sat down, especially on a bus or train. We older leaders struggled a bit with the time difference and unfamiliar noises outside. … ”
Both reflected on the lasting memories the trip brought.
“There were so many funny and wonderful moments – a few we got on camera, and others we were not fast enough to snap a picture,” Lubinecky said. “I think everyone agreed that the best food we had was in Switzerland, where the chocolate and cheese are so delicious. We can only assume it’s because the mountains and meadows are so beautiful, the grass so lush, and their cows look happy and smiling.”
The first night outside Florence made a lasting impression on DiBiasio.
“We decided to take a walk on this trail on the hotel grounds,” she said. “This lead to the crossing of a small creek and a road until we made it to the top of a small hill, where we could see the sun set on the beautiful Italian countryside. …
“After the trip and all my hard work to get there, my only regret is not having enough time to spend there. Fifteen days for 4-5 countries is really not enough time to spend.”