by Aaron Addidle Year 12
On Thursday 11th February, 52 pupils and 6 staff began the highly anticipated trip to Berlin. After a long coach journey of singing, smiling and for some, sleeping, we arrived at Dublin Airport. After the stressful ordeal of checking bags in, the teachers let us loose on Dublin airport as they went for a much needed coffee break and a celebration after getting all 52 of us to the airport and on time. After indulging in the exotic delights of Dublin Airport, basically Burger King, we all piled on to a packed Ryan Air flight. After a smooth and safe flight we had finally arrived in the German capital. We hopped on another coach and were joined by Tatiana, a Berlin tour guide, who gave us some background and history on the city.
It was then a pit stop at the hotel before heading out again to the restaurant for dinner but this time on foot, a way of getting around we would become very well accustomed to over the coming days. On our first walk I was taken aback by the beauty of this grand city and the stark contrast between some very old but beautiful architecture and the very modern buildings. Once we invaded the restaurant and enjoyed a delicious three course meal it was then back to the hotel for a much needed sleep.
It was an early start on Friday as it was up, breakfast and out for nine o’clock where we were greeted by Michael, who was to be our tour guide for the four-hour tour of Berlin. Thankfully we didn’t have to walk the whole time but we made many stops at thought-provoking monuments such as the Soviet soldier memorial site and the Holocaust memorial site. We also made stops at the Berlin Wall, the Olympic Stadium and other historical sites. After that it was off to my personal favourite, the Reichstag, where we had the privilege of getting a tour and had the chance of going to the dome at the top of the building where we could see the beautiful Berlin skyline very close to sunset.
Checkpoint Charlie was next and we had the opportunity of going into the museum and learning even more about the Berlin wall and how the city was divided not too long ago. After that it was another brisk walk and we arrived at our second restaurant of the trip and on the menu that night was sour cream. It was served with the starter and main and Mr Matchett was particularly disappointed it didn’t come with the dessert. That evening it was off on foot again to the TV tower where we were able to rise 20,000 metres up and look out and see Berlin lit up and thankfully it was a very clear night and we could see virtually right across the city. Although, when I turned around everyone was on their phones as for the first time all day we had Wi-Fi and I think some people were having withdrawal symptoms (especially Mrs Hutton)!
Saturday morning was quite a brisk morning and a perfect morning for taking the underground to the Topography of Terror which was a museum about the Nazi regime, how the concentration camps were run, what sorts of people were put in them and how they were treated. Off for a spot of shopping next and it was an opportunity for the teachers to get some caffeine into their system at least for the next few hours before the next stop. After an exploration of a Berlin shopping mall we went to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which had the finest architecture I had ever seen. It was very captivating. After roaming the streets of Berlin for a few hours we went to the ‘Story of Berlin’ museum and were given a guided tour of one of the bunkers which had been set up in the case of a nuclear attack on Berlin. It was then off to an American diner where we had a ‘delightful dinner’ … well most of us got dinner! That evening we were able to sample the finest cultural experience that Berlin had to offer… bowling! It was a great way to end an eventful day.
For many of us Sunday was quite a sad day as it was our last day in Berlin and we had all enjoyed the trip immensely. Our last visit was to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp and it was a bitterly cold morning which was fitting for the atmosphere we had entered into. The silence around the camp was very eerie and it was incredibly moving to walk around and heart breaking to read some of the abhorrent things that went on at these camps. Our last hurrah was back to the main city where we enjoyed some free time and lunch before getting back on the coach and heading to the airport for a pleasant flight home.
On behalf of all the students who went on the trip I would like to convey my thanks to Mrs Hutton, Mrs Sloan, Mrs Bailie, Mrs Murphy, Mr Matchett and Mr Mahood for accompanying us to Berlin and certainly giving us a trip to remember.