Oh the places we'll go when it's time for a summer vacation.
From exotic overseas locales to some good ol' American cities, five Top of Utah teenagers share their experiences from their summer travels.
The trip: "My family went to Europe (for two weeks) for my dad's 50th birthday."
The sights: "Italy was my favorite but we also went to Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France. ... (Venice) was colorful! The houses were all painted bright colors. There were yellows, blues, greens ... it was so fun!"
Favorite thing: "There were no streets. Just waterways. So instead of a family having a car they would have a boat."
Least favorite: "The people were not very friendly, or at least not compared to here."
Best food: "Basic Italian pasta! It was sooo good!"
One new thing I learned: "The atmosphere in Europe is so laid-back and easygoing. That's one thing I tried to take home with me. Just being chill, no stress."
Funniest time: "The weirdest thing was the fish markets. They would just serve raw fish out in the middle of everything. If someone wanted to buy some of a swordfish, they'd just cut them out a chunk right then and there."
Syracuse High School
The trip: One and a half weeks in Boston, where Sorenson's boyfriend's family lives.
The sights: "We saw EVERYTHING. We saw lots of beaches, Boston Harbor; we went to the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Blue Man Group, Dungeon Rock where pirates hid their treasure, and Salem. A witch there read my tarot cards and told me about my past, present and future. We rode the subway while we were there. We also went to a Red Sox game; it got rained out, but it was still fun."
Favorite thing: "My favorite part was meeting Michael's family. Also, the culture. There's an extreme culture difference from here. People play music on the street. There are Muslim people, black people, Italian people, white people and Chinese people. We also went to Chinatown. It's a lot different than here. There's really only one type of people here. Self-expression is a lot more prominent there."
Least favorite: "Coming back was definitely the worst part. I cried on the plane. We were taking off from the airport and I started bawling. I want to move there."
Best food: "We ate at an Italian place in the north end of Boston. It's one of the parts of Boston that was actually kind of settled by Italians. Everything in that area is owned by actual Italian families. ... I tried my first calamari, my first lobster and calzone. Also, you've never had lasagna until an Italian makes it for you."
One new thing I learned: "There is a lot more out there than what we have here, as far as people go and events happening. You have everything there. You've got the woods, you've got the beach, you've got the city, the ghetto, history and witches. I've never been to the East Coast before and I learned that there's a lot more opportunity in the world."
Funniest time: "I picked up a crab! We were searching for big clams. We found a bunch of these huge clam shells. I reached into the ocean and picked up an upside-down crab! ... I just picked him up and lifted him out of the water! I looked at him and he looked at me. Then I screamed, dropped him and ran."
Egypt & Israel
The trip: About 23 days in Egypt and the Holy Land.
"I went because my mom for Christmas asked my dad if we could go to the Holy Land, but he said no because it wasn't safe. Then we had a family friend who invited us to go and they had an extra spot for me."
The sights: "The temples the Egyptians built, the Valley of the Kings. In the Holy Land we saw where traditionally different religions believed Christ walked and lived."
Favorite thing: "Spiritually, the Holy Land. Physically, Egypt because it was really where they had walked. Overall, the group. I loved how they were all so knowledgeable and we helped each other learn."
Least favorite: "Probably that we didn't get much sleep. We were going 24/7."
Best food: "Personally I loved Egyptian pita bread. They had it everywhere. Even in the Holy Land you could buy bread parts and it was just yummy."
One new thing I learned: "The Egyptian temple was slanted. Peasants worshiped at the bottom. At the top was the 'Holy of Holyies' where they inscribed their religion and only Pharaoh could go up there."
Funniest time: "I was in Luxor, Egypt, and I was riding in a horse/buggy thing. We were riding down the main street and I saw a cute dress. I asked the driver to stop and see how much it was. He told me it was 40 Egyptian pounds. As I got out of the buggy to try it on the owner saw me and told me the price was 120 Egyptian pounds. They jack up the prices for tourists because they believe Americans are rich."
Christian Heritage High
The trip: One week in New Orleans, attending a national youth gathering with members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
The sights: "We saw the (St. Louis) Cathedral, the Mississippi River, (where) we saw alligators. We went on the Swamp Tour, too ... and we saw a bunch of hobos."
Favorite thing: "Probably walking around and looking at all the street performers. They were so cool, I just thought, 'They're so talented, I'll give them my money.' "
Least favorite: "Sitting in the airport. It was terrible, and there were all these creepy people ... and we had to sit there for a really long time. Also, the bus driver in New Orleans from the airport was insane. He wouldn't stop for a lot of stoplights or anything, and I thought I was gonna die."
Best food: "We went to the House of Blues, and it had a really awesome turkey sandwich. It was also really cool because it had lots of music and history and such."
One new thing I learned: "I learned that people from Louisiana have to have standing tombs, because of the really high water level. So they need to put the graves on top of the ground. They're pretty neat looking, though. They're marble."
Funniest time: "Well ... there's this kid in my youth group, and we were in the bus on the way to the Swamp Tour, and the driver gave my friend the mike ... and he just went off on all these funny jokes, about everything in general. He was making everyone on the bus crack up. It was good times."
Christian Heritage High
The trip: 10 days in Ecuador on a mission trip with youth group from Wasatch Evangelical Free Church.
The sights: "Well ... I got to see Quito, and I thought it was a great city. We also got to go to the equator on our tourist day."
Favorite thing: "I loved playing with the kids at the orphanage in Rio bamba. And getting to know the pastor and the staff at a church in Santos Pamba."
Least favorite: "Umm ... when our plane from Chicago to Miami got canceled, and we had to wait another day to fly to Quito."
Best food: "Well, I really, really liked these two meals I had. One was at the orphanage, and it was lunch with like ... rice and beans, these brown patties and avocado with fried bananas. It was delicious. The other was at the church in Santos Pamba, and it had fried rice, all Ecuadorian-style, with chicken and peppers in it."
One new thing I learned: "I learned that God is always faithful."
Funniest time: "One night, our youth group was playing Truth or Dare, and one girl licked the foot of a boy in our group. It was so funny because it was just kind of a 'Oh my gosh, she really did it!' moment.
"Also, when we were at the Equator, it was the first time we'd gotten really close to llamas ... and a boy in my group came up to me and said, 'I got to pet the llama! It went 'rraaaa,' but I thought it would've said something like ... 'Yama yama!' "
TX. correspondents Charlie Anderson, Christian Heritage High; Hillary Slaughter, Layton High; Mackenzie Stevens, Bonneville High, and Megan Stoker, Syracuse High, contributed to this story.