Last school year, following the unforgettable week of skiing in Obertauern, which included breath-taking sceneries high up in the mountains and great class chemistry amongst all of us, Mrs. Droste came up with an ingenious idea. She offered to join us on another class trip the following year and even left it up to us to decide the destination. Our first reaction was to travel to somewhere as far away as possible from our school. Then again it also had to be a location where we would “learn” something new for our own benefits as it was still mainly an educational trip. So we finally came to an agreement that it would be best for everyone, if we all could enjoy our much needed holiday in the capital of England, London. At that moment in time, Mrs. Droste unfortunately hadn’t realised yet what she was letting herself in and how many sacrifices would have to be made. Fast forward to the beginning of the next school year, where we were already in the middle of booking our flight tickets and accommodation, organising the programme for our stay in London and even planning on how to earn some vital pocket money, by selling cakes and cookies in the lobby of LMRL. Yet we still had one mission on ourhands: to find a second teacher who would join us voluntarily on our 4-day trip. At first we couldn’t believe our eyes, when our beloved teachers requested to join us all at once. In the end we had to cut our never-ending list down to only one, so we decided to delight our History teacher Mr. Köhler by informing him, that he had won the lucky last spot on the plane to London. After months of preparation, thinking everything through and working endlessly towards the day of the departure, the big day finally arrived, and not a minute too soon. As we strolled in to the Findel airport one after another at 5 am, although the majority was still extremely tired, we could all feel the buzz and excitement in the air. It was a win-win situation for us, not only would we be off school for four days, it was also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get away from our bossy parents. After faking to be heartbroken when we had to say our last goodbyes, we already bumped into our first problem. Going through the passport control, Mrs. Droste suddenly realised that something important was missing: Mr. Köhler’s parental authorization! Luckily the security officer was kind enough to turn a blind eye by letting our History teacher pass through after all. Close one! For some the journey to the capital of England would be a first, for others it was even their first ever time travelling by plane. The entire flight, from the departure to the arrival, went very smoothly and after only one hour and 15 minutes we touched down on British soil. Without having too many difficulties, we made it out of London City airport and in to the first train station. From the beginning the teachers and I gave clear instructions that, even if the train were to be a bit crowded, we would still ALL (without any exceptions) get onto the SAME train. Yet while we thought we had passed the first hurdle easily, two of our distracted students who were caught day-dreaming, completely forgot to hop on as well. So we didn’t have a choice but to get off at the next station and wait patiently for both of our clumsy tourists. Oh well, some people have to learn it the hard way… Yet this scenario was nothing compared to what would happen later on that day… At the end of a rather long journey on the train, we arrived safe and sound at the luxurious Lee Valley Youth Hostel, which was conveniently situated right in the centre of London, so we wouldn’t have to travel too far every day. Unfortunately, we were unable to check into our rooms because we had arrived before time, so we decided to leave our luggage at the hostel and immediately began our cultural tour of London. We started off by travelling to the train station Liverpool Street, where most of us had their first encounter with the delicious, but simple food, sold at an affordable price by the popular English supermarket chain, M&S food. After a shortpit-stop we moved on to the world-famous region of Westminster. It was here where we caught our first glimpse of the impressive Big Ben tower. While we were treading across the Westminster Bridge and taking numerous pictures of the amazing scenery and monuments, I was positively surprised that nobody had gone missing up until that point. After walking along the river Thames for a while, our legs started to become slightly tired, so we all felt it would be best if we took a pleasant rest by going on a guided boat tour across the river. Not only did we get an even better view of all the buildings situated along the river while not even moving an inch of muscle, we also were able to gather useful and educational information on the fascinating history of the river and its bridges. It was also here where I was informed about my fate that I would have to write a report about our trip to London. Having recharged our energy, we were all ready and highly motivated to continue our wandering tour throughout London. First of all, we walked past Downing Street, the location where the current PM Theresa May lives, followed up by a stroll through the peaceful St. James Park and a short visit of the royal residence, Buckingham Palace. Our exhausted legs started to wear out again, we were in desperate need of another break. As we arrived at Leicester Square, we all thought that we had made it last. Yet we were in for a big surprise, when our teacher told us that our destination for the evening, Henry’s Café Bar, was still distanced a couple of miles away. Suddenly Mrs. Droste and Mr. Köhler both decided to enter the M&M’s and Lego store, while we could only watch in disbelief. Instantly it became clear why we had made such a detour on our tour; just so that our teachers could finally fulfil their childhood dreams. Unbelievably, this was only one of many stores we stopped at on our way to the Café. Finally, after having suffered deeply for hours, we could sit down to eat our pre-ordered dinner. The majority of the class, never having been at a bar in London, got a first impression of how crowded and busy these places can be, especially in the evenings. On our way back to the youth hostel, we stocked up on some M&S food yet again and hopped onto the train, hoping for a quiet and pleasant ride home. Yet we would all be in for an almighty shock, as to what would happen next. About two thirds of the journey had passed, when out of nowhere, a man sitting near a group of students, started staring aggressively at our head teacher Mrs. Droste. In response, she calmly tried not to look back at the man who wouldn’t keep his eyes off her. As the train came to a halt, the man suddenly jumped up and began confronting Mrs. Droste of having stared at him for no good reason. Clearly, the man had taken some sort of substance, supposedly alcohol or drugs, which made him very agitated. Once he began insulting our teacher and approaching her, she desperately shouted out for help, searching for someone who would step in to protect her. At first nobody dared to interfere and the other passengers preferred not to get involved. After calling for help time after time, an elderly man finally told the aggressor to leave the train at once. Just as we thought we had successfully returned to safety, all hell broke loose. The man re-entered the train through a different entrance and a huge fight between him and a muscular teenager broke out. The situation couldn’t get any worse, because at the time half of the class was only within a couple metres away from the scruff. Suddenly, an elderly lady jumped up to help push the troublemaker out of the carriage, so that the train could depart again. Everyone was able to breathe through, once the situation had calmed down and the suspect had left the train at last. Yet not everyone had noticed this life-threatening scenario, including Mr. Köhler, listening to music on his headphones, that he didn’t even realise that Mrs. Droste’s life was on the line. Oh well, I can kind of understand that he was very busy at that moment in time and had other priorities. The day was capped off with my room finding out that we only had two beds in a room for three. So we took the challenge of mission impossible to move one of the beds from Mrs. Droste’s room into our own. In the beginning we were struggling to get the metal bed around the narrow corners of the lodge, but as a famous man, William Edward Hickson, once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Me being so frustrated by the difficulties we were facing, I just let the bed fall for a second. What happened then was revolutionary! The bottom part of the bed, which I was holding fell off. Immediately, we understood that the different parts of the bed could be separated, making life much easier for us. All in all, our first day in London was very… unique and adventurous! Unfortunately, as most of my classmates, having never been part of such an incident before, were extremely traumatised and even had to endure a sleepless night filled with nightmares. Despite my best efforts to calm everyone down, I wasn’t really able to free them from their fears.
The following day, I woke up before sunrise to join a small group of 5 students, 1 girl and 4 boys, led by the athletic runner Mr. Köhler. Even though we got lost over and over again, we were distracted by the challenge to keep up with our group leader, who was running at a ridiculous pace without even breaking a drop of sweat. It was only later that we found that he had once been a professional runner years ago, before focusing on his History studies. Successfully having survived the morning workout, we returned to the youth hostel to eat a full English breakfast with our fellow sleepy pants. It was also at the breakfast table where we found out about the haunting news that a toothpaste-spreading ghost had appeared in the night before and had empoisoned all the handlebars in the lodges with its deadly substance. Next, we had planned to visit the Natural History Museum, one of the most well-known in the whole of London. Instead of a guided tour, our teacher-tandem had prepared a mini-game for us: we would have to complete certain missions by going through the entire museum and search for the different solutions. In addition, we also ate at a dinosaur restaurant in the museum itself. It was here where the waiter didn’t want to believe his eyes when our History teacher wanted to order a beer. So he had to prove it by pulling out his ID card, or else he wouldn’t have received any alcohol at all. As most of us were fascinated by the overload of new information we were getting in the various sections of the museum, we were all deeply disappointed when we had to leave the breath-taking museum and were left to roam freely across London. The majority took this unique opportunity and made the most of it by visiting as many museums and churches as possible. Others (the minority actually) didn’t use their time wisely and decided to visit places like Harrods, walk through vast parks and go shopping instead of trying to improve their knowledge. Their loss! In the late afternoon/evening we met up in two separate groups, one which enjoyed a lovely ride on the Coca-Cola London Eye, and the others who went to see the fabulous musical Lion King. After taking in the beautiful sights from high up in the sky, my group made its way to a bar in Westminster Street. We became a little impatient because our reserved tables hadn’t been prepared yet, but Mr. Köhler generously offered us all a NON-ALCOHOLIC drink, without even having to show his ID card. Good progress! Many of us got their first bite of the beloved English traditional food, fish and chips, and were very impressed of its delicious taste. On our way back to the youth hostel, we had a good laugh and everyone took it in turns to tell silly jokes about various topics. In our lodge some of us even started heating up their M&S lasagne and devouring it within seconds. As the night came along and the sunlight outside faded, we all went to bed really early so that we could be as fit as possible for the following day.
The next morning, we travelled to the popular Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest food markets in the whole of London. Luckily, this market was very hygienic and only had the best quality food, so that the chances of anyone getting food poisoning were very slim. The visit of Borough Market was followed by a long walk along the river Thames, during which we got to see different bridges again, the Tower of London and other tourist attractions. Furthermore, we decided to climb the narrow winding staircase of 311 steps of the Monument, a Doric column that commemorates the Great Fire of London. Coming to the end of our trip, we were all a bit low on money, so we had no choice but to falsify our age, to reduce the entry price by £2. We carried on with our tour up until St. Paul’s Cathedral where we were, yet again, given the freedom to wander around London by ourselves. Once more, we used this free-time only for educational purposes, not to go shopping for gifts or something like that. We rounded up our last evening in Chinatown, where we all (well nearly everyone) gobbled down numerous delicious portions at a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet. For one last time, we set off back to the hostel, without forgetting to stop at M&S for a last little treat for the long journey home. We decided to organise a sort of goodbye party the last evening, by all meeting in a spacious room to celebrate the amazing time we had had together. This party included the prize ceremony of the awards for the various tasks we received at the museum, loud music and a performance of our hip-hop dance routine, choreographed by our PE teacher, Mr. Trierweiler. Yet this wasn’t the only big celebration of the night, because we were all obliged to stay up until midnight to wish a happy birthday to one of our fellow students turning 16. The evening was rounded off with a prank by Mr. Köhler on his fellow assistant which went terribly wrong. Someone (not me of course) had come up with the ingenious idea to start a polonaise in the lodge, even though it was already way past midnight and we weren’t allowed to make too much noise, as other flat-mates were fast asleep then. On our way down the stairs Mr. Köhler had the courage to knock on the door of an extremely tired Mrs. Droste and then run away. This prank immediately backfired though, because she ripped open the door furiously and accused the birthday kid of being very inconsiderate.
The last day was supposed to include a visit to the Docklands of London, but unfortunately this idea was short-lived, when we found out that one of our dear friends had become heavily ill overnight and wouldn’t even be able to join us on our flight back to Luxembourg. This was devastating news, as we had all really looked forward to the climax of our trip, the opportunity to get an insider look of the long-lived history of these ports. Out of respect to our fellow classmate we decided not to leave the youth hostel, we had all wished him a speedy recovery and safe journey home. It is also worth mentioning, that Mr. Köhler was kind enough to stack back in London to look after our sick classmate until his mother arrived. The rumour has it that they had both negotiated beforehand to fake an illness, giving them the possibility to stay a whole day longer than everyone else, as both of them thoroughly enjoyed London. So we made our way to the train station to hop on to one last train before heading to London City Airport. We said our last goodbyes to London as we were preparing to board the plane, just to find out that our flight had been delayed for over 2 hours, forcing us to suffer on our last coppers and last drops of drinkable water. Finally, at 17:30 we were allowed to board the plane and fasten our seatbelts for take-off. The arrival of our plane was bang on time and we all got our luggage in one piece (or without one piece). At last, we could breathe the Luxembourgish fresh air (and rain) in again. Yet most important of all was being able to see our joyful families again, who had deeply missed us for those four days. All in all, our London trip was an unforgettable experience for all of us. As a class, we are very grateful that both Mrs. Droste and Mr. Köhler accompanied us on this adventurous school trip.
Oliver Jack, 4M6