Thursday 18th January 2007 by C. Freeman
Staff and students got into the Christmas spirit with a trip to Germany to experience the festive markets. The visit to Aachen also included tours of a chocolate museum, and Cologne's historic cathedral.
Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Mr Robert Nicholls, and several other members of staff accompanied the students whose ages ranged from Year 8 upwards. Accommodation was a comfortable youth hostel for the two night stay, and one of the highlights was visiting the traditional markets with food, festive wares and hand-made presents for sale.
'The great thing was the students could see the German language being used.'
The chocolate museum gave students an insight into the manufacturing process and also housed a humid 'mini-rainforest' the natural habitat of cacao trees, thought to originate in south America but now nearly 70 per cent of the world crop is grown in west Africa.
Cologne Cathedral, the city's most famous landmark was finally finished in 1880 after more than 600 years of building work. It reputedly houses the remains of the Three Kings in a gilded triple sarcophagus above and behind the high altar. In recent history the Cathedral suffered 14 hits from bombs in World War Two but did not collapse even though the surrounding buildings were razed to the ground.
The Christmas Market, Aachen
Students also visited Cologne's internationally renowned zoo, also a casualty of the wartime bombing raids. Now rebuilt and repopulated, the zoo houses more than 700 species and is the biggest and oldest urban zoo in Europe, with Cologne's citizens housed in apartments that overlook the animal enclosures.
This is the first year that Brooke Weston students have actually stayed in Aachen, previously the excursion was only run as a day trip.
Mr Nicholls said; The great thing was the students could see the German language being used, on advertising hoardings and shop fronts. Students did have a go and were complimented on their German skills.'
A Report By Grace Jenkins
We stayed in a youth hostel quite near to the town of Aachen. the staff were very friendly helpful, and the food was typically German. It helped us to really experience their way of life, like the variety of cheese and meat for breakfast. We visited the Christmas market on the first night and it was amazing, much better than the first visit because we were able to experience it at night with the lights and an essentially German atmosphere. The whole place was amazing, the German sausages were delicious; the handcrafted ornaments were beautiful, but mainly the people were very friendly. Many helped us get around and helped us to improve our German skills; one man even helped me to pronounce certain words when I was speaking to him. That sort of experience can only be gained from visiting the country. The next time we visited it was before leaving on the Thursday morning, the atmosphere very different; fresh and calm, it gave us a chance to see some other shops, speaking to the shop keepers was very useful practice for me, especially after being told I had perfect German.
Cologne was so different to Aachen, it was much busier but also more beautiful. We visited a chocolate museum and the well known Cologne zoo which was a lot of fun. Later on we went into the Christmas market which surrounded the Cathedral, which is said to hold the tombs of the "three wise men" from the Christmas story; seeing that was amazing. Myself and some others then climbed the massive tower of the cathedral, which was a challenge, about 2000 steps I think, but at the top the view was amazing, even with the fog we could see a huge amount of the city. The whole trip was very beneficial for us and it will be amazing to go again.