On Friday 10 February 2012, forty Sullivan pupils all met at Spafield car park bright and early in the morning. We had been counting the days and finally it was time to head off on our History/German trip to Berlin for five days. There was great excitement and lots of chat onboard the bus en route to Dublin Airport. The flight lasted about three hours and we were picked up by NST Travel and taken to our hotel. The first thing that hit us was the freezing weather!! We settled into our rooms, explored the hotel and after dinner which the hotel provided we were soon out on our travels to the Reichstag (German Government Buildings). We needed to wrap up extremely warm for the -13 degrees temperature outside. We took the Underground train and then walked past many sights of Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate. After a long day travelling we arrived back at the hotel to defrost over a mug of hot chocolate and game of cards and soon after headed to bed.
The next morning, we were all up early for breakfast at 8 am and headed off on a guided coach tour of Berlin. We past many of the sites we had seen the previous evening and hopped off at the Brandenburg gate for photos of this former city gate and one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. Our tour guide then left us on the coach as we were headed to Sachsenhausen Holocaust Memorial and former Concentration Camp. This part of the trip was something I was not particularly looking forward to seeing but felt it was a must see insight into the fate of many of World War II victims. There was an eerie silence throughout the huge camp and as we toured around with audio guides, I kept thinking back to the book we studied in second year, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”. The three hours we spent in this camp really brought home the horrors of the Nazi ideas and we were all moved by this all too real experience. When we arrived back in Berlin we took a guided tour of the Gedachtniskirche Memorial Church. This church is a striking building with it’s bombed out tower and it stands as a reminder of the 2nd World War. Our tour guide Philip was extremely funny and had us all in fits of laughter. We had a relaxing evening out at Café el Gelato where we had a chat over some large delicious ice-cream sundaes. Exhausted after such a long and cold day, lights out seemed like a good idea at 11 pm.
With another early morning start on Sunday, we knew the time was flying by and we only had a couple of days left. After a good breakfast at the hotel we made our way on the train to the large station, Potsdamer Platz. From here we walked along the Berlin Wall and stopped at Checkpoint Charlie for some photographs with the German soldier. Further along the wall we reached our destination at the Jewish Museum. Inside the Museum there were many memorial rooms all of which were symbolic to the holocaust. We were given a few hours to wander around the exhibitions. After a fast food lunch we went to see the Olympic Stadium which held the 1936 Olympic Games under Hitler’s regime. This Stadium is massive, steeped in history and is still in use today. In the VIP box we sat in the seats where Hitler would have watched the games.
As the temperature had dropped more layers were put on for our evening activity of ten pin bowling. Unfortunately I was not the winner, but my bowling skills provided some entertainment and lots of laughs.
On Monday morning, we made our way to see the Berlin Bunkers, an underground world in which the German citizens lived during the air raids from the allies. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs in the bunkers. That afternoon we visited the large department store, KaDeWe which is a large store similar to Harrods. We then had some free time to explore the shops around Kurfurstendamn where the girls had some retail therapy judging by the number of shopping bags everyone was carrying.
On our last evening we headed to Wonderpots Frozen Yogurt Café where we played Jenga, ate frozen yogurt and chatted about how sad it was that our trip was nearly over.
The next morning we headed to the souvenir shops for those all important presents and a last few group photographs in the large Square at Alexander Platz before heading to Berlin Airport. We touched down in Dublin Airport at teatime and headed home for Holywood. As the coach pulled into Spafield we were all sad that our trip was over as we had all got along so well and really enjoyed spending five days in Berlin together.
Berlin is a very interesting and moving place to visit. It was a fantastic trip which I’m sure none of us will forget and we owe a massive thank you to all the teachers who came with us Mrs Black, Miss Connolly, Mr Ballantine, Mr Thom and especially Miss Orr for the time and effort they put in for organising such a fantastic trip. We hope they enjoyed the trip just as much as we all did.
Stephanie Craig Year 12