Spring break is an event many students look forward to. During that week, some go to the beach. Some go to theme parks. And others just stay home and enjoy their time off.
However, over this past spring break, a group of students from Meridian High School spent their time off away from school in a very special way: By traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to the country of Germany.
On March 9, eight other people and me boarded an 8-hour flight to go to Germany. The nine members of our group – including myself – were students Scott Ellis and Lori Lovette; MHS librarian Kimberly Coley; art teacher Marsha Iverson; counselor Tyrone Neal; my mother, Jaime Kelly; and, of course, our history teacher and fearless leader, Ed Abdella.
After we landed in Frankfurt International Airport, we met our tour guide, Lukas, and another group that joined us on our trip – a history class from Missouri. We put our bags on the bus and met another member of our crew, our driver Klaus.
We then traveled from Frankfurt to the quaint town of Rothenburg. Rothenburg looked a lot like an old German village with its cobblestone streets, small houses and shops, and even an old-style town square. On the first day, we took a simple guided tour around Rothenburg before going back to our hotel to recover from the traveling.
The next day, we spent more time in Rothenburg – this time mostly on our own. We looked through many of the little shops, took pictures of all the old-style architecture, and went through a beautiful Christmas shop that sold souvenirs, cuckoo clocks and Christmas ornaments.
Later that day, we traveled a few hours to Munich. During that first day in Munich, we went on a walking tour and took in the sights. After our thorough walk through Munich, we ended up at a famous farmers market. In the middle of the farmers market was a traditional German Maypole. The Maypole was a constant presence during our time in Munich and was usually our meeting place. Needless to say, we got a little sick of the Maypole after a few days.
The next day, we were taken on a bus tour of the city by a Munich native. She provided a lot of great information about the history and the culture of the big city. We saw a lot of awesome and interesting sights, like the Munich Olympic Stadium and the Allianz Soccer Arena.
After our Munich bus tour, we traveled a few miles to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.
It was, as one would expect, a very sobering experience. To see the pictures and hear the painful, sickening stories that came from that place is something that cannot be described. It is just another reason that these trips are important, so that the new generation will learn about these events and will never repeat them. Finally, we ate dinner and went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day.
On Wednesday, other schools from our group went on a side trip to the nearby Salt Mines – which gave us plenty of free time to explore Munich on our own. We spent our day going to two of the art museums in Munich. We went to the Renaissance Art museum, which featured art by Van Gogh. We also went to the Modern Art museum, which featured pieces by Andy Warhol.
We spent the rest of our time in the city looking for a gelato shop so that we could enjoy some authentic European gelato – which is like ice cream, but with less air.
On Thursday, we traveled to the Swiss city of Lucerne. On the way, we visited some very beautiful churches and the castle of the eccentric King Ludwig the II of Bavaria. The castle was unique because of its,very purposeful, fairy tale esque architecture. Much of the art in the castle was based off of the operas of Richard Wagner, of whom Ludwig the II was a big fan. After all of the traveling and the sightseeing, we arrived in Switzerland and in the city of Lucerne.
The next morning, we took a walking tour around the big city of Lucerne. Then, we and another school in our tour group took a small side trip to Mt. Pilatus, a mountain in the Swiss Alps. The view from the top of the mountain was breathtaking, and it was wonderful to experience it with friends I'd made on this trip.
After coming down from the mountain, we spent a bit more time in Lucerne, where we did some souvenir shopping and exploring. We then went back to the hotel to prepare for our last full day in Germany.
On our final day, we traveled through the famous and hauntingly beautiful Black Forest. In the Black Forest, we visited a shop that creates authentic handmade cuckoo clocks. It was fascinating to see the process of making one of these beautiful clocks, and impressed me that people still made them by hand.
Then, we went to the city of Heidelberg. We first visited Castle Heidelberg, which housed a huge wine cask that took up an entire room of the basement. It also had a good amount of wonderful gothic architecture. We then went down to the actual city of Heidelberg, which was frequented by American author and humorist Mark Twain when he visited Germany. It had some beautiful churches and wonderful architecture, but it was mostly just a big city like any other big city. We then went back to the hotel to prepare to travel home.
The next day was spent in airports and airplanes coming back to the United States.
This was a wonderful trip full of amazing sights and experiences; everyone had so much fun and excitement. I don’t know about the other kids, but my favorite experience was climbing to the top of Mt. Pilatus and taking in the view.
I – as well as everyone from Meridian who traveled to Germany – would like to thank the Meridian Public School District School Board for allowing us to take this trip, as well as our Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor and our Principal Victor Hubbard for supporting us as we prepared for it.
Mr. Abdell always says that he organizes these trips for one reason: To see students' faces when they see the history they have read in books come to life in front of their eyes.
Mr. Abdella will take a group to Greece next spring break and to Paris and the Riviera in 2016. Anyone interested in going may contact him by calling Meridian High School at (601) 482-3191.
Pearson Kelly is a student at Meridian High School.