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The Mustang Moon

The Student News Site of Mount Vernon High School

The Mustang Moon

The Student News Site of Mount Vernon High School

The Mustang Moon

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Jackson Thies Explores Europe


The Mona Lisa is overrated, Europe smells like cigarette smoke, and snails are interesting are three of the biggest takeaways that senior Jackson Thies had from the 2024 Europe J-term trip.

Thies enjoys a hobby of working on digital art and even won second place in a recent competition. This past J-term Thies went on a trip to Europe with a group of around 30 people including history teachers Margo Massey and Maggie Willems. The trip included stops in Chicago, Canada, London, Paris, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Vatican City. The trip would last from Jan. 5-15.

Jackson Bartlett, Jackson Thies, and Parker Zieser posing in front of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. (Jamie Hromi)


Jackson Thies giving a hug to Jackson Bartlett in front of a royal guard in London. (Parker Zieser)

The first European country visited was England, more specifically London. When Thies landed at the airport their tour guide Paul remained with Thies’s group until the end of the trip. Thies visited many tourist attractions like the Tower of London, Big Ben, and London Bridge in London. At the tower of London while walking up the stairs one unnamed group member got bit by a rogue raven. The victim provoked the raven into attack mode by attempting to pet it even though she knew that the raven would bite. While walking around the city Thies saw many of the famously stereotypical red phone booths and double-decker buses, but unfortunately, Thies was not able to ride any of the famous buses. During their two-day stay in London Thies said he stayed in the worst hotel of the trip because it was tiny and was not fun to sleep in with noisy sleepers.

Jackson Thies’s veiw of the french snails he was about to eat with Jaks Lee (Jackson Thies)

After London, the group left for Paris, France, by taking the train under the English channel, known as the Chunnel, for two and a half hours. One of the first places the group visited was the Louvre, which is the art museum that holds the Mona Lisa. The Louvre was so large it was pretty easy to get lost in. While in the art Museum, the group tried to see the Mona Lisa and were recommended to take their pictures of the artwork early on the tour because of the massive numbers of people that would flood the Mona Lisa. Thies, upon seeing this huge crowd all huddled around the famous artwork said, “The Mona Lisa is overrated.” He thinks this because the size of the crowd around the famous painting was not equivalent to the skill of the painting and not much better than the rest of the art in the museum. After the Museum the group went late-night shopping and went to go try some French cuisine. Thies tried the snails and said, “Snails are interesting” and that he would try them again. While in Paris Thies noticed the constant smell of cigarettes everywhere he went. In fact while in Europe Thies noticed the constant smell of cigarettes saying, “All of Europe smells like cigarettes.”. The group stayed in France for two days and Thies believes that the London stop was better than Paris.

The next stop was Italy in the city of Milan. Milan is known for its different types of tourist scams and one of the members of Thies’s group fell into one in Milan. A man put bird seed into the hand of one of the group members and was told to throw the seed onto the floor, after the seed hit the floor lots of pigeons flocked around. After the birds had landed the con man started aggressively asking for money for the seed and harassing the high schooler. Before the trip, the group had been warned by Paul not to address/acknowledge the scammers so that no one gets baited into a scam. One of the places the group visited was the Duomo di Milano which is a giant cathedral that was one of his favorite places he visited in Europe.

Random large seagull in the Colosseum (Jackson Thies)
View of the Colosseum in Rome with Will Errington. (Jackson Thies)

Also in Italy is the city of Florence, where he saw many old Renaissance buildings and statues. The group also went on a food tour experiencing many different types of Italian food. Thies’s favorite food served was a Creamy Bacon Carbonara. After visiting Florence the group left for the Italian city of Rome. The group saw many famous tourist attractions such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Lastly, after Rome, the group went to the Vatican City, where Thies had the hope of seeing the Pope Mobile (the vehicle of the pope). Unfortunately, no one in the group saw the pope or his vehicle, but the group did get a tour of Vatican Grottoes; it is the final resting place of over 90 popes. The group was able to see the preserved remains of popes. Since this was the last country the group was visiting they had some time to kill after doing all their activities. Thies spent that time sitting on a fountain talking to a friend for five hours.

One awkward interaction in Italy was when Thies and a friend went to buy some ketchup Pringles at a store, and when they purchased the Pringles and were leaving the store an alarm went off. A lady came running towards them trying to explain that they needed to scan their receipt on the way out, which they figured out after the alarm went off again. Overall Thies rates his trip to Europe a 7/10 and would recommend people to go. If he had to visit another country he would want to visit Germany because he would like to see some German culture. He is interested in German culture and has taken four years of German in high school.

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