Kursfahrten 2006 - An LK's adventure: Going to the UK
Hastings and Battle
Our journey to Hastings proceeded well, except that the bus refused to go on after a short break at a petrol station someplace in Belgium because its battery had run flat. Some boys had to push and then – fortunately - our trip to the UK could continue.
When we awoke on August 15th shortly after dawn, we didn't know where we were. Only very slowly our memory started coming back to us. These unstable bunk beds stood in the White Rock Mansion in Hastings, East Sussex. We started to get the whole picture, this was our class trip to the United Kingdom and we had arrived just the day before. Today our tight schedule proposed a walking tour of Hastings and a visit to Battle, the site of the famous battle between William, Duke of Normandy and King Harold II (William won by the way.) and “Yesterday's World” a place in which some Britons accumulated and presented many artifacts from – well – yesterday's world.
So after a good breakfast (We had anticipated a real British breakfast with toast and beans, but the breakfast actually looked very German. No wonder, because as it turned out our host was German himself.) we left for Hastings’ city center. We found the town to be an interesting mixture of old and new. The “new town”, complete with the ambassadors of American culture like KFC® and McDonalds® as well as huge arcades and casinos, was directly connected with the “old town”. And in the “old town” Hastings looks just like you'd expect an English town to look: Charming little houses along narrow alleys, pubs, tea shops and eventually a fisher's hut or two.
From there we started our walking tour with our enthusiastic tour guide Nicci. In the following hour we should learn about Hastings’ glorious past as a “Cinq Port”, one of the five strongholds against the sneaky Frenchmen and should get to know lots of smuggling stories and tricks. Some rather interesting features of the tour were, of course, some very special British oddities you'll only find in the UK. For example, houses formed like a piece of cheese with a floor space of stunning 12m² or cats that were encased in chimneys alive (really helps against witches, although it may stink after a while...).
At 11:30 am the group went up the East Hill Cliffs from which we had a wonderful view of Hastings and the sea. After we had finished our tour and pursued several enriching activities such as comparing McDonald's British cheeseburgers with German ones (believe it or not, the only difference is that on the British burger the pickles aren't placed in the center, but on the side of the burger) or winning seven Garfield® puppets in a casino we got on our bus and left for Battle. The bus didn't fail us this day, we didn't have to push and so we arrived on time.
Battle presented itself to us as another very pretty little town. Just as planned we visited Yesterday's World. In amazement we saw all those everyday life artifacts, the oldest going back to the 1850s. Someone really turned their passion for collecting random stuff into a venture there. From antique candy and drug stores over historic children's bedrooms and even the queen's room (equipped with a live-sized Queen Elizabeth of course) almost everything could be found in that tiny house.
But that was not enough history for us. We lusted blood so we set off to find the ancient battlegrounds of Battle. What we found there were peacefully grazing cows, unaware of where they were grazing.
We left Battle timely for our shopping spree at Sainsbury’s, a big British supermarket chain. There we restocked our food supplies for the London trip on the following Wednesday. Regrettably some girls’ supply of rolls was immediately stolen by a flock of seagulls out of the open window back home at the hotel – these seagulls are incredibly huge, extremely well-fed and terribly noisy. In the evening we could spend our free time independently – some went on a “pub crawl” for a wild night in the local pubs. (At least that's what we thought. That most British pubs still close at 11pm during the week was quite a surprise...) Eventually, some just gambled on poker games and thus tried to increase their spending money.
Benedikt Henrichs and Dorothee Ohle
Thursday, 17th August 2006 - Rye and Canterbury
On Thursday, we left the youth hostel at 9 o’clock, so we didn’t have to worry about coming late to breakfast as we mostly did on the London days. Our bus driver picked us up from the hostel and drove us to the small town of Rye. Since we had plenty of time, we walked around the weekly market, which had lots of things to offer. At 11 o’clock we went to the Heritage Centre, which is also the local Tourist Information office. There we watched the interesting Town Model Show. We all gathered in a big room with a big model of the town of Rye in the centre. Through light effects and a background voice, the history of Rye was told in an interesting way. Of course, the flashes of our cameras supported the exciting light effects. In the end, we found the show really entertaining. At least that’s the way it looked like because nobody fell asleep.
After the show, we went on our bus again to go to Canterbury. Our first stop was Canterbury Cathedral. We were free to move around in it by ourselves. In small groups we went through the big building and learned about its impressive history. The architecture was mostly Gothic, but the cathedral also has some Roman features. Once we were done looking at the cathedral, we had some free-time to explore the ancient streets of Canterbury, to go shopping or to have yummy fast food as we did almost everyday. Thanks goodness McDonald’s wasn’t the only option!
On our trip back to Hastings we stopped at a huge outlet centre where particularly the girls enjoyed themselves indulging in their favourite pastime – shopping, of course. At dinner time, we were back at the hostel again.
Trips to London
From 14th to 19th August, 2006 our English Leistungskurse went on a trip to Hastings in England.
One of the highlights were the two day trips to the capital of England. Even after the first visit, everybody was excited about going to London for a second time to discover the big city once again.
First of all, you have to know that London is huge. After we had reached the outskirts of the metropolis, we still had to travel for about another 45 minutes to get to the centre.
The peripheral area or suburbia sometimes creates that special old English atmosphere. There are lots of terraced houses which were built in a pretty 19th century architectural style. Unfortunately, you can also find run-down buildings, as it is quite common in a huge city like London.
Wednesday: On our first trip to the City on Wednesday, we remained together as a group and booked our “flight” on the London Eye, from which the views over London and all its sights are quite spectacular, to say the least, especially if the weather is fine. As all of London was on terror alert, we got thoroughly checked at the entrance gates before we were allowed to enter the capsules which hold about 25 people. Due to terror fears we didn’t really have to queue for a long time and were able to go “on board” straightaway. The flight then lasted for about 30 minutes. After that we were free to explore London with individual bus tickets issued by the Big Bus Company. Open roof-top “doubledeckers” take you to all the sights and you can decide on your own what to see and for how long. On the tours we were informed about what we were about to see, and it was a good way to find your way around the city for the first time. The bus ticket also included a boat trip on the Thames from Westminster to The Tower.
Friday: After our coach driver Ralle had dropped us off the bus at the underground station “Canada Water” at 11am on our second trip to the capital, we all received an underground ticket to discover London on our own.We all left that place in little groups of 3-6 students. Let the adventure start!!!
First we have to say that it was fairly difficult to find the right underground connection. After we had found the right line, we wanted to visit some important sights. First of all, we gained great impressions in the “British Museum” (Russell Square). The most interesting exhibition was about the Egyptian mummies. You could also see mummies of kids and pets like cats and dogs.
From Russell Square we went up north to see the “Camden Lock Market”. That is an area where you can see all kinds of people: There were hippies or really strange looking punks. The atmosphere was somewhat different, because it is not a typical tourist area. The people at the market sold hookahs, funny-looking clothes and funky music.
Our next stop was Selfridges in Oxford Street. This is a famous designer department store, where you can go if you don’t know how to spend all your money. So we were shocked by those high prices (swimsuits for £ 300 each), but admired the new collections of designers like Ralph Lauren or Dolce & Gabbana.
Then we went to shops with more affordable prices like the ones in Carnaby Street. Time was passing fast and we were getting hungry. So we decided to go to “Pizza Hut” for “cultural diversity”.
After we were done with the buffet, it was already 4 pm. So we discussed where to spend the rest of the time.
We were tired of walking and the sun was shining, so the “Hyde Park” was the right place to go. We just enjoyed the last couple of hours with relaxing and talking about our great adventures in London.
It sounds like we did not visit that many sights like “Buckingham Palace”, but we had already done those trips on our previous day trip to London.
Suddenly it was time to find our way back to “Embankment”, but we were fooled by the puzzling underground system. We took our line in the wrong direction. Being “overground” again we recognized our mistake fairly late, as we could not see the landmark “London Eye”.
Fortunately, we got back on time to travel “home” to Hastings by coach. We all were a bit sad to leave that amazing and impressive city.
Roxana Leitold and Moritz Breul