Advanced German Students Travel to Germany

LHSKC Advanced German Students Take a Trip to Germany
Posted on 06/12/2017

On Saturday, June 10th LHS German Teacher Emily Meier and 17 of her students left Kansas City for a 2-week trip to Germany. On the trip the group plans to visit a number of cities including Berlin, Munich, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, and Bonn. They will return on Saturday, June 24th. Interested readers may track their trip by checking back to this page daily to read comments about their travels made by Ms. Meier.

(Day 2) Grüße aus Berlin! Thank you for all of your prayers for our group- we made it safely to Berlin around 1:15 pm this afternoon! This was my first time landing in the Berlin airport and it was much smaller than Frankfurt (where we usually land) which also means we got through customs and luggage pick up much quicker. After that we met our tour director, Catherina, and headed out to the hotel!
Shortly after getting on the highway we got stuck in a traffic jam due to a Bicycle Demonstration on the exact route we needed to take to the hotel. There were over 150,000 bicycles in the city demonstrating for more rights for cyclists. It was interesting to see, but also meant we sat for over an hour without moving. The kids were so great though- I heard no complaints and they enjoyed the time to rest, stretch out, and chat. We also made friends with the bus driver who loves American Football and wants us to mail him a football (apparently they cost 110€ here?!).

When we finally arrived at the hotel we were able to check in to our rooms right away and change before heading into the city for dinner. At dinner we met the other two schools that will be with us for the first 9 days and we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Spätzle (homemade egg noodles) and Apfelkuchen- yum!! After dinner we stopped for a photo opportunity at the Brandenburg Gate and then headed back to the hotel by public transportation. We are going to have an early bed time here to hopefully recover from our jet lag- tomorrow is another day of exploring Berlin! 

(Day 3) Hallo aus Dresden/Chemnitz. Our second day in Berlin began with breakfast in the hotel of lots of good German options like Brötchen with toppings, Müsli (German cereal), Frühstücksei (hard boiled eggs) and Kaffee! This hotel also had scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit though so all were happy :).

After breakfast we headed into the city by tour bus where we met our local guide, Alexander, who is American, but has lived in Germany for 8 years or so studying history. He was a very knowledgeable and an engaging guide. We started at the East Side Gallery which is where the largest portion of the Berlin Wall is still standing and has been painted with many murals, some very famous. Alexander explained that the wall that is still standing today is really only a part of what it used to be. In the Death Strip- there were guards up in watch towers that would shoot anyone who might manage to actually get over the first wall (which was just tall enough that you couldn't reach the top by standing on another person's shoulders) and 160 yards behind the first wall there was usually another wall with barbed wire, but in the picture the river served as the second barrier. The documentation center has record of about 138 people who died trying to cross the wall, but Alexander said it is probably quite more because after the first few years the East German police would take people who were shot to the hospital so it would go on record that they died in the hospital and not in trying to flee.

The wall was built in 1961 and stood until 1989. It was 27 miles long and ran through some very important parts of Berlin like right in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Alexander explained that even today they are still renovating and leasing out the area that was the death strips and that all of the renovation projects means that Berlin changes a lot every two years or so, even today.

After the East Side Gallery we drove around and saw some other famous sights of Berlin like the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche (a church destroyed in WWII that only had the damaged tower left standing), the Siegesäule (victory column built in the late 1800's to commemorate Germany's victories over the Austrians, the Danes and the French in the middle 1864, 1866 and 1870, Schloss Bellevue (like the White House, where the President of Germany lives), the Reichstag (German Parliament building- see group photo below), KaDeWe (a large mall) and a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (sometimes called the Holocaust Memorial- see photo below).
Our guided tour ended by Checkpoint Charlie, the old check point where you would go through to get to the American sector of Berlin. We got to try many great German foods during our first day with freetime for lunch, and Fabi was also able to join us at this time for the rest of the day! Many students had Currywurst or Schnitzel (yum!).

In the afternoon we went to two museums- the Topography of Terror which is a museum on the same piece of land where the Nazi SS offices were. There were great exhibitions about the rise of National Socialism and the terror it caused on many people groups in Europe. There was also an interesting exhibition about Martin Luther and how he has been viewed by the Germans throughout history. After that we went to the Pergamon Museum which is on Museum Island and contained ancient Greek, Roman and Islamic statues and exhibitions about architechture. For dinner we had Frikadellen with rice which is basically like a German hamburger. The kids seemed to like it! After dinner we had free time to go shopping and eat ice cream and in the evening many students enjoyed playing Apples to Apples in German before bed. It was a full but fun day!


(Day 5) This morning we drove 3 hours to Dresden which is the capital of the state of Sachsen (Saxony). We started with a guided tour of the city and drove around with our tour guide on the bus to see many sights such as the famous Semper Opera, the Zwinger palace, the grand gardens of the place, beautiful old neighborhoods from the 1800's in the style of large villas, two very advanced bridges for their time that cross the Elbe river to other parts of the city, the Frauenkirche (a famous church), a 300 ft long mural of all of the kings of Saxony, and finally a Martin Luther statue! The statue is in Dresden because there were two brothers in the ruling family of Saxony that, instead of fighting over who should rule in the previous capital of Meißen, decided to each choose a new city to make there one. The one brother chose Dresden and the other chose Wittenberg!

Other interesting facts from the tour include that before the German kings conquered Dresden, there were Slavic people living in the area so many of the neighborhoods have names that end in -itz like Blasewitz and Loschwitz. Also the entire city center of Dresden was destroyed in World War II and has had to be rebuilt since. Many of the churches and palaces currently have a mix of old and new stones on them because instead of building entirely new from scratch they used what they could salvage from the rubble and included that in the rebuild.

After a short break for lunch we headed to the Zwinger Museum where we got to see many famous paintings by artists like Cranach, Rembrandt, Rafael and Carnavaggi. Our tour guide did a great job of explaining details in the paintings we never would have noticed if we just looked at them on our own.
After the museum we had free time to shop around after taking a group picture by the Martin Luther statue. For dinner we ate in the restaurant of Galeria Kaufhof (my favorite department store in Germany!) and we had a buffet for dinner with many delicius options like Goulash soup, Spaghetti, Salad, Chicken and mushrooms, and Frikadellen again. For dessert was Rote Grütze which is made of Johannis berries and vanilla sauce. It's one of my favorites- yum! The kids had about 30 minutes to shop after dinner and found many great snacks and candy and German pens (like caligraphy pens). Now we are in the hotel getting excited to head ro Nürnberg and München tomorrow!


(Day 4) Grüß Gott! (typical Bavarian greeting)

The last two days we have been in the state of Bayern (Bavaria) which is in southern Germany. We started yesterday morning (Wednesday) by heading from our hotel in Chemnitz to the city of Nürnberg. The city of Nürnberg has been around since the early Middle Ages and is the home of a famous fortress, the Kaiserburg. Most Americans know Nürnberg in the phrase The Nürnberg Trials where US forces convicted top Nazi leaders of breaking international law for their role in the war.

What we visited in Nürnberg had to do with this- we visited the Documentation Center which is located on the Reichparteitagsgelände (a large tract of land that the Nazis bought before the start of World War II). Hitler had planned at least 15 buildings to be built on the land to be used for rallies, sporting competitions, and other pro National Socialistic activities. I didn't realize until we were all the way through the museum that they museum is housed inside one of the buildings that was completed, the "Congress Hall.”  The exhibition inside was a fantastic look at how the Nazis were able to rise to power, the crazy ideas they had, and a wonderful memorial of the terror they caused during the war to many groups of people. I know I learned a ton of new information and I'm sure your students did too- please ask them what they learned or what impacted them at the Documentation Center. Most impactful for me were the large scale photos the museum displayed of famous sites in Germany that I have visited many times such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag and how those places were full of Nazi officers on a march. It makes me wonder what life would have been like back then and be very thankful to be alive today!

After that visit we traveled to the city of Munich or München as it is called in German. Our group first hustled to Marienplatz to catch the Glockenspiel, but it unfortunately didn't play at 4 pm like usual. It was still an amazing piece of architecture to see though! Once we found this out we had some time for shopping and some groups were able to come back at 5 pm and watch the Glockenspiel play. After free time for shopping we headed to dinner which was supposed to be hamburgers, but ended up being curry? The curry was still delicious even if it isn't a very German dish at all ;)


(Day 5) This morning (Thursday) we began with a visit to the BMW Welt (BMW world) where we got to  learn about BMWs and even sit inside a few! After that we met our local tour guide for our bus tour of Munich. This was by far the most entertaining local tour guide we have had so far, she did a great job of keeping us laughing and yet learning about many sights of Munich. On the tour we were able to see the Olympic Stadium, the University of Munich where much of the movie Sophie Scholl takes place which we watched in German 4, the Nympenburg palace which was the summer residence of the Wittelsbacher family, a Bavarian royal family, and the Isartor, one of the former city gates.

After the tour we began the over 2 hour drive to the city of Schwangau in the German Alps which is the home of Neuschwanstein! On the way we made a bathroom stop at the Wieskirche which is a pilgrimage church built in the 18th century. The church is unique because the altar piece features Jesus being whipped before his crucifiction instead of a plain cross or a crucifix. It sure was ornately decorated on the inside!

After that pit stop we made the last leg of the journey to Schwangau where we first had free time for lunch and many students were able to enjoy a typical Bavarian dish- Weißwurst (white sausage) with sweet mustard and a pretzel with Obazda (a Bavarian cheese spread). After lunch we began the walk up the hill to the entrance of the castle Neuschwanstein. Our group made the trek in 20 minutes which Catherina said was a record! After a few minutes of rest we headed I to the castle. It's not allowed to take pictures inside the castle so this is another thing you could ask your students- what was their favorite room in the castle? Mine is probably the hallway from the King's bedroom to the rest of the rooms that looks like a grotto! King Ludwig the 2nd or "Mad King Ludwig" had Neuschwanstein built in 1869, but only was able to live there 172 days before he died. Therefore, only about 1/3 of the rooms in the castle are finished at all. Once Ludwig died, building was stopped.

After our guided tour of the castle we had some free time during which a few students hiked over to a bridge behind the castle with an incredible view of the entire thing. Then we made our way back down and headed to dinner in Landsberg am Lech. We had Schnitzel with Käsespätzle and I heard from many students this was their favorite meal!

After dinner the bus drove us back into Munich and we headed to the Hofbräuhaus for music. We enjoyed some loud music by a traditional Bavarian band and ate delicious Apfelstrudel, Dampnudeln or Kartoffelsalat (yum!). Now we are back in the hotel getting ready to head to Rothenburg tomorrow!


Guten Tag from the train! (Day 6 - Friday) started with a 30 minute drive to the city of Dachau which we all know to be the location of a concentration camp during World War II. We had about 2.5 hours for a self guided tour. There were many different areas to visit- The first was an extensive museum on the history of Dachau and the prisoners/victims of Dachau housed in the original administration building including a 22 minute documentary with authentic photos and video footage of the camp throughout the years. Next there were two standing bunkers with examples of how bunks were arranged throughout the various phases of the camp. Finally you could walk around and see the guard fence, the foundations of where the other bunkers used to be, and the crematorium in the back.

New additions to the museum are 4 memorial chapels- Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Russian Orthodox. There are many things that could be said about this experience. I will share a few facts and a few of my impressions but this would be another good thing to ask your students about what they learned there and what their impressions were visiting such a place. Dachau was the first concentration camp opened by Heinrich Himmler in 1933, the year that Hitler took control of the German government. It really was a work camp for many years as Germany didn't even begin its military offensive until 1939 with the invasion of Poland. The first prisoners were political prisoners from a state prison in 1933, nest were Jehovah's Witness and Homosexuals in 1935, and Roma and Sinti (gypsises) in 1939. The first Jews arrived in 1938. Dachau was not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, the first crematorium was not built until 1940 and was first only used to cremate bodies of people who had already died. Between 1942 and 1943 a second crematorium and gas chamber were built, built were not used for mass murder. There were still terrible conditions in the camp, however. Especially near the end of the war this camp that was built for 200 prisoners was housing over 2,000 prisoners.

My biggest impression visiting the camp is always to wonder at the evilness and horribleness of the place and to think- what led to this that such an evil place was allowed to be built and run? The museum had great information about how Germany's political and economical conditions after World War II led to Hitler taking power and how good the Nazi propaganda was that people would vote for them and think positively about them because they didn't know about the evil they were planning.

After Dachau we drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber which is the most well preserved medieval town in Germany- It still has an intact city wall around the entire city. When we first arrived at the Marktplatz in Rothenburg, the most exciting thing was that we saw Ellie!! Peter even ran into a lady running over to give her a hug ;).

After we met at the Marktplatz we had two hours of free time to go shopping and explore the city. Some groups visited the Imperial City Museum, most tried Schneeballen, a popular desert in Rothenburg, and some explored the beautiful cobblestone streets and old architecture of the city.

After free time we had a guided tour by the most entertaining guide so far- he was dressed up as a cellarmaster from the Middle Ages. We learned a lot about the history of the city- be sure to ask your students what they remember about Rothenburg! My favorite part was that many of the vocabulary words we learn about German cities came to life like Fachwerkhaus, Stadttor, and Marktplatz :) For dinner we ate at our hotel where we had a four course meal and it was delicious!


Day 7 (Saturday) began by an interesting drive from Rothenburg to Heidelberg. We were supposed to take the Romantic Road there which is an old road through the German countryside from before the Autobahn was built, but we got off the Romantic Road somehow and ended up driving through some very small but very adorable German towns. After some collaboration between the bus driver and the tour director we got back on the right path and made it to Heidelberg.

First thing we had an hour for lunch near the main city center of the old town and then we had a guided tour of the city where we got it take the Bergbahn (mountain train) up to the Heidelberg Castle above the city. The view of Heidelberg from up there is amazing! The Heidelberg Castle was destroyed by the French in the 1700's and never rebuilt. Only recently they rebuilt one of the buildings to be used as a museum and for community events. Inside that building we got to see a video model of what the castle looked like throughout the years before it was destroyed and also the world's largest indoor wine barrel. After the tour we had 2 hours of free time to go shopping and explore the city.

For dinner we ate together in the city center and had one of the students' favorite meals- Maultaschen. It means 'big mouth bag' and is basically a thin pasta outside with cheese, spinach and pork. This was also our last dinner with our EF tour guide, Catherina, and she played the piano for us as a goodbye and also gave a very sweet speech about how great of a tour it was!


Day 8 (Sunday)- this morning we headed to the airport with the group from Indiana, dropped them off, said goodbye to Catherina and then our bus driver drove us to the church. We had plenty of time to store our suitcases, get coffee, and even do a bit of a Martin Luther puzzle before church. The pastor was so kind to us and even met us at the bus drop off point to show us the way to the church!

Church started at 10 am and they said a bit in English at the beginning and we sang a few songs in English, but otherwise was all in German. It was such a cool experience to be able to sing Praise to the Lord the Almighty, say the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed, and take communion with our fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters in Germany. Please ask your students what the favorite part of the service was! Mine was definitely singing the songs- the students' beautiful voices combined with some excellent voices in the congregation was so incredible!! My favorite song was the last song which ended by saying "und bis wir uns wiedersehen, halte Gott dich fest in seiner Hand" (and until we see each other again, God will hold you safely in his hand).

After the service they served coffee, juice and cookies and we got to chat with the members of the congregation and they were all so welcoming and friendly! Please ask your students who they talked to- everyone was doing great speaking German as much as possible! I talked with two older ladies who were so complimentary of our group and to the principal of private, Christian school near the church about the possibility of setting up an exchange with them through LHS. So exciting!

After that we walked into the city center of Frankfurt to eat lunch. Many students got or tried Frankfurter Grüne Soße which is a dish of eggs, potatoes and a green sauce. We also got to see the town hall and some historic Fachwerkhäuser (half timbered houses). Then we headed back to the church and on to our first adventure without our EF bus- traveling by train! I am currently writing this from the IC about 30 mins away from Cologne.

We have had a wonderful trip- the train is spacious and comfortable, our seats are all right together, and the views as we drive along the Rhine river are so gorgeous! We have passed so many castles and cute little towns. We will be staying with host families in Leverkusen tonight.


Guten Abend from Bonn!

Day 9 (Sunday) ended with our host families picking us up at the train station in Leverkusen and enjoying a homemade dinner with each family. You will have to ask your student what they had to eat- at our house it was sausage and pork on the grill with salad, pasta salad, bread and ice cream for dessert. It was a gorgeous night to sit outside and chat with our host family!


Day 9 (Monday) began by traveling over an hour by bus to Bergisch Gladbach where we visited some English classes at the Nelson Mandela Gesamtschule. My friend Danjana teaches there and organized the whole visit for us! We started by being welcomed by the principal and getting a tour of the school. A Gesamtschule (Comprehensive school) is a somewhat new concept for German schools. It used to be that elementary school was 1st-4th grade and after that your teacher recommended which of 3 schools you should attend: Hauptschule only goes through the 9the grade and when you graduate you enter the workforce, Realschule only goes through the 10th grade and when you graduate you can go to a trade school, Gymnasium goes through 12th or 13th grade (depending on the state) and after you graduate you can go to university. (Gymnasium is comparable to a US High School diploma + a US College Associates Degree).

The Gesamtschule is different because it combines all three schools so that you don't have to decide on the 4th grade which to attend, you can choose later. The Nelson Mandela Gesamtschule only opened four years ago and currently has around 500 students in 5th-8th grade. They share a building with a Realschule and a Hauptschule which will be closing in the next two years and then the Gesamtschule will be the only school for the area.

After our tour we attended a 3rd hour English class- we watched how they usually begin class, they asked us questions about the US and our school, and we explained about where we are from. Then we split into small groups and they asked us questions personally about our families and our interests. Most of them didn't speak much English so our LHS students got to practice a lot of German!

In the 4th hour we were divided up among four classrooms- one 6th grade with Danjana, and one 7th grade and two 8th grades with Danjana's colleagues. Each class was very unique so you will have to ask your students what they did in their class, but the 7th grade class I was in was a bit crazy! There were 28 students packed into a small room with no air conditioning and little air flow and, in my opinion, some unclear instructions about what to do. Nevertheless we got to see that foreign language class is pretty similar in other countries- writing, listening and speaking activities, some kids shouting they don't need to learn another language while other kids were on task and speaking very good English. We got to walk around and help them with a dialogue about booking a room at a hotel and that was fun!

After visiting 3rd and 4th hours we went to the cafeteria to have lunch- spaghetti. Then we said goodbye and thank you to Danjana and headed to Cologne for the afternoon. We first did a 2.5 hour bike tour which was so awesome! I have been to Cologne probably 7 times and I hadn't seen most of the sights we saw. Most of the things were historical city gates, defense fortresses and churches. We got to ride along the Rhine River for quite some time as well which was so beautiful! After the bike tour we had free time for dinner and then headed back to Leverkusen by train where our host families picked us up at the church.


Day 10 (Tuesday)- Today was our relaxing day. We didn't meet until 9 am when we headed by bus to the Bauer Leverkusen stadium! This team is in the top league of German soccer. (It's kind of like having three levels of Major League Baseball). They aren't the most popular team in Germany, but I have been a fan since my first time in Leverkusen in 2004 and I was so excited to visit the stadium for the first time!!

I'll share a few fun facts I learned on the tour and you can also ask your students what they liked/learned on the tour. The stadium holds 30,210 fans, they have 14 full time greenkeepers and don't have to replace the grass as often as other Bundesliga teams because the field gets great light, there is a hotel attached to the stadium and it's the only Bundesliga stadium that has that, every night at 7:04 (or 19:04 in military time) they light up the stadium red because 1904 is the year the club was founded, they have several unique programs like collecting and using rain water to water their field and a section for blind fans with special earphones and reporters describing the game to them.

We got to visit many parts of the stadium like the field, the away locker room, the press room, the VIP area, the bench, the field, and the Nordkurve (supporter section). My favorite was probably the press room because I see that room on the Bayer04 Snapchat feed a lot and it was so cool to see it in person!

After the tour we walked to the mall and several hours of free time to eat lunch and either shop at the mall, go see a movie, or go swimming at the pool, or a combination of both. I heard positive reviews from all 3 groups- lots of shopping options, a very fun swimming pool and a great movie! I know for me it was so nice to be in an air conditioned mall and movie theater instead of outside in the 90 degree weather like the day before.

In the evening we went to the church for their youth group event which started by having a barbecue they made for us! We chatted with the Germans in the youth group while we ate, then we sang songs, learned about what their church youth group does, and we explained about our school and what activities we do for our church. It was a great exchange of ideas, culture, and Christian fellowship and my favorite part was probably singing "You Are My All in All" in a round with them- such a cool moment!


Day 11 (Wednesday)- this was probably what seemed like the longest, hottest and toughest day yet. Once again over 90 degree temperatures the whole day and after saying goodbye to our host families and storing our suitcases in the Cologne train station, we headed out to climb the Cologne cathedral! It was 500 stairs to the top and it sure was a lot more exhausting than I remember, but the view was definitely worth it once you got to the top! Such amazing views of the Rhine river and the sights in Cologne.

After that a group headed to lunch with Sophie Trocha who was an exchange student at LHS a few years ago, and a group headed to the chocolate museum. I went with chocolate myself and loved the free samples and getting so see chocolate being made and packaged! That whole museum smelled so good!

After the museum visit we headed back to the train station with a stop for lunch along the way. After retrieving our luggage we headed to our track for the train to Bonn. It was very hectic on track 9 with the train before ours arriving late, but we all made it on our train safely. It was quite stressful finding seats for 22 people plus luggage (so really like 44 people) because in regional trains you can't reserve seats. We survived, however, and made it to Bonn! There we had about a 10 minute walk to the hotel but it sure seemed longer because it had to have been closer to 100 degrees at that point. Everyone made it, although exhausted and sweaty, to our extremely nice hotel! Ask your students to send you pictures of their rooms- especially the girls in the 3 bedroom rooms have so much space. Their rooms could really sleep four people and even have a kitchen in them! This hotel is half Senior Living Home, half Hotel which means it is super quiet, clean and fancy. We love it!! They even have a swimming pool (the first hotel with a pool this trip!).

After checking in and cooling off we walked to the University of Bonn main building for a short tour. This was the building where I had half of my classes when I studied here for a semester in 2010. The building is really a palace built in the 1700's and we got to learn a bit about some historical items in the building and the history of the university. Some students also enjoyed the information about famous students who studied at the university of Bonn, especially a science thing that I didn't understand but it was something about finding electrons?

After the tour we headed to buy food at a bakery or a grocery store and then we ate, read, chatted, and played games on the Hofgarten (main lawn in front of the university). It was pretty nice sitting in the shade, but still too hot to stay long which meant we got back to the hotel by 8 pm (early for us!) and the kids were able to go swimming in the pool and relax for the rest of the evening.


Guten Morgen aus Frankfurt! Day 12 (Thursday) began with a wonderful breakfast in our hotel that finally included eggs again! ;). After breakfast we walked to see the Poppelsdorfer Schloss which was built in 1715 within view of the castle where the main building university of Bonn is now housed. The road between them is known at Sichtgasse (Sight alley) because you can see both castles when you walk along it. It was originally supposed to be a canal, but they ran out of money for that so it's just a beautiful tree lined street now.

Then we headed by street car to the Erich-Kästner-Schule, the grade school in Bonn that I volunteered at when I studied there 7 years ago. I still know one of the English teachers there who was a student teacher back then, is now a full time teacher there and helped organize our visit. On the way to the school we walked past the actual factory where Haribo gummy bears are made- it smelled very strongly of licorice in my opinion!

At the school we were first welcomed by the principal and two English teachers while the kids had recess and then we split up into 5 groups and helped out with English classes! Ask your students what age class they were in and what kinds of questions they were asked. My group was in a second grade classroom and they were so adorable! They asked us great questions in very good English and we all took turns answering in English and using German when it seemed they didn't understand. After that we colored in a map of the world to show where Missouri/Kansas and Germany were. Finally we sang an adorable song with the kids and then got to help and observe an hour of science class. The kids were so excited to have us visit and were so sweet to interact with!

After visiting the school we took the subway back to the city center, to the Alter Zoll (a place for boats to dock) on the Rhine where we had free time to eat lunch. After lunch we got on a boat for 50 minutes to the city of Königswinter. The boat was air conditioned on the lower level and the students took advantage of that to cool off and get some rest as it was, once again, a very hot day. The ride on the Rhine was very smooth and beautiful to see some important sights along the river bank.

Once arriving in Königswinter we walked to the cog train station and then took the cog train 10 minutes up the mountain to the ruins of a castle called Drachenfels. There was such a good view of the entire Rhine Valley from up there- it made for some gorgeous photos!! We also found the path to walk all the way up to the ruins of the Drachenfels fortress. It was a bit windy and felt fantastic!

After exploring for a while we headed back down the mountain where there happened to be three deaf people on our train! I was able to communicate enough with them to find out that they are from Cologne and there is a deaf school there. German sign language is very different than American Sign Language so communication was a bit difficult, but was very fun to try! :) After stopping for some delicious ice cream, we took the boat on the Rhine for 40 minutes back to Bonn and most of the students were awake this time to enjoy the view. Back in Bonn we had free time for dinner and most people spent the time in the wonderful, air conditioned hotel!


Day 13 (Friday) was our last day together in Germany :(.

It finally was a bit cooler today, but we still changed up the plan a bit in order to relax and recover from the heat of the past few days as much as possible. We also were able to spend time with two former LHS exchange students- Lilly Kramer and Stephanie Scharmann.

After sleeping in we all headed together to the Haribo factory outlet store which, as Noel described it, is basically a grocery store of only gummy bears! They have every kind of gummy bear that Haribo makes and so many kinds that we don't have in the US. My favorite part is a section like the candy stores in the mall where you can fill up a bag with many different kinds of gummy bears and pay by the weight. I tried to get 2 of every kind and, of course, a lot of my favorite kind- Pasta Basta. Ask your students what kinds of Haribo they saw there, hopefully they also are bringing some home for you to try!

After the Haribo store we walked to the grocery store Lidl so that students could buy chocolate to take home as souvenirs. During the first weeks of the trip I had them try my favorite kinds of German chocolate- Milka, Kinder, Ritter Sport, Hanuta, Knoppers, Prinzen, Duplo, and Leibniz. Ask your students what their favorite kind was, again hopefully they are bringing some home for you to try :).

Next we headed back to the hotel with our purchases and then had free time to go swimming, explore the city, go shopping, or relax at the hotel. I was able to finally talk to my family, catch up with my old boss from when I studied in Germany, and find my old dorm from when I lived in Bonn during the free time. Ask your students what they did during their free time on the last day.

In the evening we all got dressed up for our farewell dinner at a cafe not far from the hotel. We had a great area in the upstairs part of the cafe and had a relaxing final dinner together.

After dinner we stopped for ice cream where students go to try Spaghetti Eis (looks like Spaghetti but is really vanilla ice cream, strawberry sauce, and white chocolate shavings). Back in the hotel we all met together to share some memories from the trip and had a great closing time remembering both funny and impactful moments of the trip. It was emotional for me that the trip was actually coming to an end- I still remember the first days of German 1 four years ago or three years ago, and thinking what wonderful students I had and how awesome it would be to take them to Germany some day. That dream became a reality and it was such a blessing and a joy for me to be able to be show your students one of my favorite places!! Thank you for sharing them with me and allowing them to embark on this journey.


Day 14 (Saturday)- after very little sleep we left the hotel at 3:45 to catch the train from the main train station in Bonn at 4:16. We made it on the train without a problem and it was, thankfully, an older and more spacious train that was perfect for sleeping as we were on it for 2.5 hours and most students slept for at least an hour or even two. Checking in at the Air Canada counter in Frankfurt was a bit stressful due to a lack of having enough workers checking people in, but we were there plenty early so we had time and were all able to check in and get through security in time. The group is currently on the plane en route to Toronto and I am on a train heading to visit my friend and her two kids near Hannover, returning to KC a week from now.

This will be the last update from me- it has been a blast updating you all throughout the trip and I hope you have enjoyed the play by plays and the photos! :) Have a blessed summer!