Our last school year has now begun, but before it gets all serious, we went on our very last school trip: 17 students, Mrs. Baumgarten and Mrs. Luem.
We met at 5:45 a.m. at Strasbourg main station on Monday morning to take the TGV to Paris, went through border control and took the Eurostar to St. Pancreas Station in London.
There we were, in the busy capital of London. On one of the traditional red busses we soon arrived at our hostel which was located in the City of London, about one minute from St. Paul’s Cathedral. That's where we went first on our first today. We visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and luckily got on the last tour which allowed us to go to the very top of the big dome. What felt like 10.000 steps finally got us to the outside of the dome, the Golden Gallery, which offered us an incredible view of London in brilliant sunshine.
After that we had some time to explore the area. The first phone booth pictures – they still exist! - were taken and we had some time to enjoy the unseasonably sunny and warm weather which lasted for almost all the days we stayed in the capital of Britain.
After a typical ‘fish and chips’ dinner in the neighbourhood, some of us went with Mrs. Baumgarten and Mrs. Luem to the Millennium Bridge, from which we had an amazing view of London by night.
On Tuesday, our day began with our 7:30 a.m. breakfast, but as Mrs. Baumgarten said: 'The early bird catches the worm.' And that's what we did. We managed our first underground and bus drives through a very busy London and ended up at the Thames foot tunnel to Greenwich. It was really weird going through that tunnel knowing we were walking under the River Thames.
Afterwards we strolled around Greenwich and dropped by the prime meridian from which we had another amazing view over East London.
For our lunch break, some of us found a little market with delicious finger food and then we proceeded to Westminster by a Thames Cruise Boat. Along the way we saw Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Big Ben, but we could not take pictures of it that day because sadly it is being renovated and scaffolding was all around it. We passed Westminster Abbey, the Horse Guards, 10 Downing Street and finally arrived at Trafalgar Square. The four so called 'silent' lion statues, which guard Nelson's Column, were joined by a fifth temporary additional lion. This lion, however, wasn't silent, it had his mouth wide open, roaring and shining in bright orange.
The new sculpture, by Sir Edwin Landseer, encourages visitors to 'feed the lion' and in return, roar out words to create unique and quirky poetry.
A quick visit to the National Gallery gave us the chance to see Van Gogh’s “sunflowers” among other impressive art and then we were free to explore the shopping district around Piccadilly Circus.
On Wednesday morning we visited the Globe Theater, where Shakespeare presented his plays. Well, as we later learned from our very nice guide, the Globe was a replica, because the original Globe burnt down after a cannon was fired during a play. Sadly, we didn't watch a play, but after learning that it would have lasted for three hours (with us probably standing), some of us were quite relieved.
After the tour, we visited the Globe exhibition and then went ‘next door’ to the Tate Modern, a gallery of modern art. It was really interesting looking at modern art, which for some of us was quite irritating. Probably the highlight was the view we had from the viewing platform on top of the Tate.
Walking along the south bank of the river Thames we arrived at the impressive Tower Bridge and passed the Tower of London which looks impossibly small amidst all the modern high rise buildings like the Pint, the Shard and the Gherkin.
At 7:30 p. m it was time for the 'Jack the Ripper Walk'. Our tour guide led us to various places where the serial killer Jack ‘ the Ripper’ brutally murdered five innocent prostitutes in 1888. We were told about the lives of those women and how they were murdered and how mysterious that case was and still is because no one knows who he was and why he committed these horrible crimes. The tour lasted for almost two hours which was quite exhausting after a long day walking; we were so happy eating dinner together at an Indian restaurant to end the day.
Thursday saw us walking to Buckingham Palace, which was not as interesting as we had thought. Some of us had had some tiny little hope left to maybe see the Queen, but sadly we didn't and instead observed the Queen's famous guards. A long and drizzly walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park brought us to Speakers’ Corner and in the afternoon a canal boat from Little Venice took us along Regent Canal to Camden Lock Market where the offer of food and various other things was huge. Later that day we had time to explore London in small groups. Some went to Oxford Street to go shopping, others bought their last souvenirs, and some even went to see the musical 'Wicked'.
We then individually came back to the hostel and fell asleep happily.
Way too early our last day in beautiful London arrived. We visited the British Museum, one of the biggest human history, arts and culture museums of the world. Unfortunately we only had two hours to explore the 95 rooms filled with over 8 million works of art from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, Europe and Asia.
At King's Cross Station we had to carry our heavy, souvenirs filled bags down the escalators because they didn’t work, but arrived in time to board the Eurostar back to Paris. With just half an hour of delay we made it back home, where our school life began again the following Monday.
In a nutshell: London is the perfect study trip for students who enjoy long walks, short nights, good food and are interested in exploring the world-famous sights of a vibrant city.
Anna Hummel, J2