German Tour for Second and Third Years was a Trip of a Lifetime
Forty-one Second and Third Year students from Presentation College began December with a four day activity packed trip to the Rhine region of Germany. They left on Sunday December 1 at 3am from Askea Church and arrived into Düsseldorf in time for lunch at the famous Königsallee, where they found out that Sunday in Germany is “Family Day” and shops are not open to the same extent as in Ireland. They enjoyed their first experience of the Christmas Markets, had lunch and continued by bus to the Rhine Tower. The weather was perfect and after an ear popping ride in the lift to the ….restaurant and café at the top students and teachers enjoyed the breath taking views of the Rhine, Düsseldorf and the surrounding region. The next stop was a guided tour of the home of Bayer Leverkusen – the ‘Bay Arena’. Even the least sporty enjoyed the tour following which we headed south to Koblenz and to our evening meal in the hotel.
Monday morning students were woken bright and early at 7am (6am Irish time) as following breakfast we were going to visit a local school. We were going to be participating in active learning with students having pre-selected activities. We were expected at 8:30! Fortunately we had a fantastic group of students and superb teachers and throughout the four days we never missed a deadline. German students do not wear a uniform. We wore our tour hoodies which made us instantly recognisable. Our students were divided into groups of six to ten and matched with their German counterparts. The activities ran for two and a half hours with two breaks during them. One of the Irish teachers attended each activity. These were: pottery, working with dogs, robotics, cooking and sport. Following a meal prepared by the cooking group we headed off on the bus once again and students had the option to ride the cable car across the Rhine. They got aerial views of the ‘Deutsches Eck’ which is in Koblenz and is where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet. From there we headed south to visit Marksburg Castle, where we enjoyed a very interesting and informative tour which had something for everyone. The views were spectacular and there were coats of armour dating from before Christ. We then returned to the hotel for our evening meal before heading into Koblenz for our first bit of shopping and to enjoy the Christmas Markets at night. Just in case that was not enough – we then went bowling. This finished off a very exciting and busy day.
Tuesday was our third day. There was no problem waking anyone as this was the day we would visit Phantasialand – a theme park on the scale of Disney – or even better. It is about an hour north of the hotel. The gates opened at 11am and we were there eager to get started. Being a Tuesday the park was not too busy. Students and teachers had a maximum wait time of five minutes for rides and there were many adrenaline junkies among our group. The huge rollercoasters were a big hit. Later on we decided to stay longer to go ice skating in the park. This proved to be very successful. Students and teachers skated into the evening and when the lights came on the Christmas Trees and on the buildings and rides it was pure magic. There was even artificial snow falling and the Christmas music added to the atmosphere. That evening students had time to get themselves packed as they would be returning home the next day.
Wednesday was the fourth and final day. It was a long eventful day. We headed to Cologne as we had planned to meet our pen-pals from the Anne Frank Realschule in Ahaus at 11am. We arrived in plenty of time and visited the famous Cathedral first of all. We met the pen-pals outside the Cathedral and students were introduced to their friend and after a short while chatting they had time to get something to eat before we all went on a walking tour of the city at 12. Following the walking tour we had our bearings and we were left off along the bank of the Rhine and pointed in the direction of the Chocolate Museum. All enjoyed visiting the museum, eating the Lindt chocolate, working the robots and chatting to each other. The museum is well worth a visit and sitting drinking hot chocolate and looking out on the river Rhine felt like one was really on holiday. We said ‘good bye’ to our new friends and students had some free time in Cologne. Most headed to the Christmas Markets and to the ice skating arena in the Hay Market area of the Altstadt. We all congregated at the cathedral for 4:30pm and laden down with gifts and chocolate we made our way to the airport. Being early was no doubt a bonus as Aer Lingus kindly checked in our hand luggage and nothing was left behind.
Everyone had a fantastic time and we were blessed with good weather. We would like to thank the teachers Ms Barrett, Mr Kiely, Mr O’Mahony, Ms Ryan and of course Ms Byrne who organised the trip. It was the trip of a lifetime.