Our last journey – A visit to London during our language week
Right after the holidays, the senior classes paid a visit to London - one of the most marvelous cities in the world. This trip was our furthest one so far; for the first time we travelled by plane and could enjoy the sunset above the clouds. Luckily, nobody was kept from entering the UK at London Gatwick airport. In short, everybody was well and excited to experience the wonders of a culturally and politically relevant metropolis such as London.
We started out with an evening walk to the famous Tower Bridge and neither the dark streets of Whitechapel (the former neighbourhood of Jack the Ripper), nor the rats could keep us from exploring London. The next day, we pretty much saw every sight there is to see in London, since we walked all the way from Buckingham Palace to the London Eye, crossing every famous square on our way. Our afternoon was spent in the London Dungeon, where we were punished for our crimes by the amazing actors that illustrated the dark side of London’s history for us. Afterwards we tried to calm our nerves with some soothing artwork found in the Tate Modern, as well as with a walk along the river Thames. For those that were still in shock due to the horrors, there was a comedy show at the hostel to cheer them up - the quality of the jokes was questionable, but it was great fun!
When we first visited Buckingham Palace, we received a clue from an insider that the next day there was going to be a parade to honour the king’s opening of parliament with over a hundred horses! Even if it weren’t exactly a hundred horses, it sure was a lot, and we really got to experience the extravagance of the British Monarchy. We even saw King Charles III and his wife Camilla! Afterwards we boarded a ship down the river to Greenwich, where we stood on the famous prime meridian and got to know the role of the British empire in trade and colonialization during a visit of the Maritime Museum.
The day after we went in the other direction and visited Oxford university, the only centre of academic excellence in the UK according to them. However, it is unknown if Cambridge would agree with this statement. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the gothic buildings and wondered at the thought of the famous people that stood there before us.
On Thursday, our tour around the finance district of London with its glass skyscrapers provided great contrast to the historic buildings we have visited so far. It really is something else to take in the view of London’s skyline from the Skygarden at 155m height. Before heading to the British museum, we had to recharge our batteries with a bite to eat. Surprisingly, the food we ate during our trip exceeded all expectations, and thanks to the food markets that offered a variety of different cuisines, we were always happy and nourished. The British Museum was rather crowded, which was no surprise since it has an outstanding number of historical artefacts in its collection, ranging from ancient Egypt to medieval Europe. But even our less historically interested students had a blast, which was more likely due to the merit of the musical Mamma Mia, rather than the British Museum. It had drama, it had music, it was emotional- we didn’t know if we should laugh, cry or dance.
After the amusement of the previous day, it was about time to focus on something more serious. We paid the Austrian embassy a visit and faced a warm welcome of the ambassador and his co-workers. Their presentation about their responsibilities was so good, that half of the class wanted to become ambassadors afterwards. The rest of the day was spent shopping at Harrods (for those who could afford it) or Oxford street (for those who couldn’t). To reinforce some culture into the heads of the students after such a sinful contribution to capitalism, we went to the candlelit Globe Theatre to see Henrik Ibsen’s play “Ghosts”. The last day of our journey was spent at Camden market, where we got to experience the buzz of London’s food markets one last time. In the afternoon we went to see the British parliament and joined a tour which introduced us to its many traditions. On our last evening we followed the footsteps of Jack the Ripper around Whitechapel and got to see London’s lovely buildings one last time.
What can be said about our latest journey? It had everything we could have wished for – we learned a lot, had endless fun and got to know a culture that is very different to ours. A big thanks to our dedicated teachers for making it happen. London really was our cup of tea. Cheers!