5th Year Tour to Munich

This year's foreign tour for 5th year students took place over the Easter Holidays. The group spent four days, from 19th to the 22nd of April in the Munich region of Germany.

At 1am on the 19th of April, forty seven students and five teachers headed off on what proved to be a great trip. The Munich region has many attractions that make it an excellent venue for a school tour. Our first stop after arrival and hotel check-in was the Olympic Stadium.This is an iconic building both structurally and historically and we were treated to an excellent tour by our guides before proceeding to the 291m, 52,500 tons mass concrete, Olympic tower. The view from the tower is spectacular and to reach the viewing gallery we ascended in a lift travelling at 7 meters per second(25 km/h) from here the whole Olympic park was visible as was the City itself and the surrounding countryside. Nearby was the"BMW World" display where many of their new cars were featured and some of the girls got a chance to sit in and see what they were like- perfect location for a selfie.

The second day saw the girls tour the Dachau concentration camp. This was a sombre but educational tour that brought home the extreme cruelty that man is capable of when hatred and intolerance is allowed to take hold. In the afternoon we travelled to the Munich Science museum, reputed to be the biggest science museum in the world, where the girls viewed the various exhibits - all in all a very educational day. 

Our third day was spent in southern Germany with a visit to the Alpine region on the border with Austria. Spectacularly clear weather greeted us as we proceed via cable car up into the Alps. Deep snow at the upper cable station and restaurant made for a fantastic experience with plenty of photo opportunities and the odd snow fight. From there it was on to the famous castle of Neuschwanstei, built by King Ludwick of Bavaria  in the 19th century. This castle was the inspiration for the Disneyland castles.

For our final day, we took a break from the educational trips and went for a bit of relaxation instead- if you can call travelling in roller-coasters of all types and other theme park rides "relaxation". This is what Skyline Park, an adventure park near Munich, had to offer. After many hours trying all the parks attractions we headed to the airport for the trip back to New Ross.   

It is always hard to quantify the educational value of such trips, there are so many aspects that add to the education and experiences of those who travel, from the direct experience of the various sights seen and visited to the cultural experience itself or the chance to try their language skills, travel on the local transport, explore the markets and just experience travel itself and of course there is a whole experience of being with a group of friends - all this adds to the key skills that they will need in the future. Such an experience would be hard, and expensive, to replicate on a family trip. So hopefully the tradition of school tours will keep going in St. Mary's for a long time to come.

I would like to thank the staff who volunteered to accompany the girls on the trip, Mr McDonald, Mr Wafer, Miss Murphy and Miss L Ryan, without their help the trip would not be possible. Finally, I would especially like to thank the 5th years girls who travelled on the tour for their cooperation, punctuality and excellent behaviour during the trip - it was a pleasure to travel with them.

S Fogarty.