The History students from St Paul’s High School at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Students from Year 13 recently visited Berlin as part of their AS Level History studies. Accompanied by Head of Department Mr Emmett McCaffrey and History teacher Mr Neil McArdle the students enjoyed their time in the historical German capital. Year 13 student, Niamh McGovern recorded the students’ activities and visits during their time away.
After an entire day of travelling, and arriving on Wittenbergplatz, the best impression of the city is definitely at night. After finally arriving at the hotel for a quick stop off, we went on a walking tour of the city… they said walking tour but every stop took a train to get to- first to the Brandenburg gate, very spectacular at night, and then the surrounding landmarks… Mr McArdle now holds the record of the highest piece of chewing gum on the Berlin wall (he needed about 3 people’s help for the height). The Holocaust Memorial, although quiet and respectful, makes an epic snowball arena.
The Russian war memorial is a great place for photos with T-34 tanks, and a random soviet soldier statue… perfect for Mr McCaffrey to show off his hipster camera (which didn’t take colour photos). After the crash tour of the city, we dined at the Sony centre, a very modern German looking building. The food was great, from pizza to crocodile to choose from. Staff very friendly, giving free glasses away- Ryan was in his element. And Sinead’s best souvenir from Germany was a 2ft Beer glass.
Early morning we took yet another train, this time to Checkpoint Charlie House, the highly acclaimed museum, and quite huge. Brilliant exhibitions on the Berlin wall years, and the perfect street to buy your own Russian Bolshevik hat, we were a mini march of communists on Berlin’s streets. This street in particular was very cultural, littered with war stalls and a re-enactment base, perfect to get a taste of history.
After a quick lunch in Mcdonalds, which, surprise, tastes exactly the same as anywhere else in the world, we went on another tour… an alternative tour and one of the best points of the trip.
Tour guide, Ben, from outside Boston- there’s no other word for him but awesome, led us through the backstreet, cultural side of Berlin. Graffiti is everywhere, they dedicate a whole house to it, it’s about 8 floors and filled with German art. He took us to every corner of Berlin, Berlin has about 6,000 number 6′s graffitied on walls, and a lot of a girl called Lucy who kills cats!! After a long walk through the city, we went to the Reichstag parliamentary building- a rare opportunity, as they don’t usually let big groups through. After security checks, where they took our Russian hats off us, we had a late tour, and were able to see the viewing dome, built new after the second world war, and a fantastic night time view of the city.
Then we went out and had kangaroo and crocodile burgers, trying to be very German.
This trip was much more about the history of Germany rather than their culture; we took an early and long train outside the city to Sachsenhausen, the closest concentration camp to Berlin. Probably the most serious trip we took, but very interesting. The entire place was absolutely silent, and literally had an eerie feel to it. By far, the Nazi exhibition was the most impressive, and one of the largest.
We got back to Wittenbergplatz and all separated, I took a trip on the train to the Kreuzberg district and it’s more unique style shops, rather than the main shopping street and got a taste of modern/alternative German music culture, literature (well, comic books) and fashion.
The small Chinese restaurant beside the hotel is 5 star. The atmosphere in the hotel was excellent; give a St Paul’s group 2 decks of cards and some drinks, and we have one very serious card tournament. Just don’t let any of them do a victory dance, (no names, but it’ not a student).
We had an early walk back to the Brandenburg Gate, down Unter din Linden; it’s like a gateway to the best street in Berlin and packed with landmarks. The German Volkswagen showroom, looked very sophisticated, has a really cool collection of vintage cars…and 1.8 million dollar Bugatti Veyron Unter din Linden street is packed full of historic monuments and further down, Berlin Cathedral; the most impressive German architecture in my opinion.