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Modern History Tour Blog 2019

Modern History Tour in April 2019 to Europe. 

From 14 - 27 April 2019, 21 of our intrepid Senior School students will experience Modern History up close in Europe. They will visit France, Belgium and Germany. We will be giving a daily update of their adventures here on this blog. Stay tuned.

 



Group Photo 550

The Plane 

Some happy snaps from the plane. They have arrived in Singapore for their three hour layover and taken off again bound for Europe. The group will arrive in Paris at 3:30pm Monday afternoon (Sydney time). 


Below is the lovely Maya - showered by the Singapore airlines host. What a great 16th birthday present! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 From the Plane 600w    
 Happy Birthday Maya    


 

Day 1: Arriving in Paris 

After a long flight via Singapore we arrived in Paris at 8.30am. We were greeted at the airport by our Tour Manger Anja. It was a lovely sunny Monday morning (and very fresh at only 11C), but we had very excited ladies ready to go and explore Paris! 

After arriving at our hotel in the 12th arrondissement, changed  into some warm clothes and headed off on a walking tour of the old Latin Quarter for lunch. Here Tracey tried frogs legs and Pip and Mr Hinton both sampled escargot (and loved it!) - Pip tells me it takes like chicken! We bought some colourful berets and headed to Notre Dame Cathedral. 

After wandering along the banks of the River Seine, we arrived in the late afternoon to walk through the impressive gothic cathedral - Notre Dame. This 9 centuries old cathedral was tres beautiful and we managed to spot some well known historical figures - including Joan of Arc who was canonised in 1920. 

Thankfully, we were not at the cathedral when we heard of the terrible news of a fire, we were safe at our hotel eating chocolate puddings! Early to bed tonight - as we had some very sleepy historians! 

Mrs Morgan 

 

 

 

 

 

 First day in Paris Group  
 Day One    
     

Day 2: Versailles and a River Cruise

Tuesday morning started with a lovely French breakfast of crepes, pain au chocolats and fruit in our hotel. We then boarded a train to the Palace of Versailles, 20km outside of Paris. We met our local guide Martina, who navigated us through the crowds into the palace - the principal royal residence of France until 1789.

The Palace of Versailles, made famous by the French Revolution (especially Louis XVI and his Austrian wife Marie Antoinette), was spectacular. The girls were amazed by the grandeur of the rooms and their decorations. We walked through both the kings and queens apartments (which are newly renovated) and through the Hall of Mirrors (discussing its significance in the signing of the treaty of Versailles in 1919). The gardens were equally as lovely and very impressive - highlighting the wealth and prestige of the 1st Estate pre-Revolution. Lots of selfies were had by all!

Returning to Paris, we had the chance to wander through some very pretty Parisian streets, buying ice cream, chocolates and coffee. Our walk ended with squeals as we saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time!

After dinner at a Parisian restaurant, we ended our day with a river cruise up the Seine, taking in the beautiful sights of Paris including the Statue of Liberty, The Louvre, Notre Dame (although there were some restrictions around the island due to the fire) and of course the glittering Eiffel Tower. A perfect way to end a busy day.

Mrs Morgan 

   
 Day 2  

 

 

 

 

     

Day 3: Louvre and the Eiffel Tower 

A beautiful sunny and spring-like day in Paris today. We began the day with our local guide Martina who met us at The Louvre. One of the worlds largest museums, we had a ‘highlights tour’ of this beautiful building, including of course the Mona Lisa. We learnt that The Louvre was originally a military fortress used to defend Paris in the 12 century, before being transformed into royal residences. It was not until 1793 in which it became a museum, housing thousands of sculptures, frescos and precious artworks from around the world. The girls got their elbows ready to get nice and close for a selfie with the Mona Lisa, as it was very busy! 

We managed to squeeze in a few little stops for shopping as we walked the streets of Paris - which the girls loved. Alongside lots of walking, the girls managed the busy Paris metro beautifully in peak hour traffic - we were packed in pretty close!

In the afternoon after a stroll through the Jardin du Palais Royal, a walk down the Champs-Élysées, viewing the Arc de Triomphe and a walk along the local Rue Cler market, we finished our day with a trip up the Eiffel Tower to level 2 to see the panorama of Paris, which was breathtaking. Some of the girls took the stairs on the way down! 

Dinner was on the Champs-Élysées, with a local metro ride home to Bastille. Leaving Paris tomorrow! 

Mrs Morgan 

   
 Paris Day 3 2019    
     

Day 4: Paris to Ypres

We left the busy market town of Bastille (the coach was blocking the narrow Parisian street - so we had the quickest loading of the bus ever!!) this morning on route to Ypres, Belgium! Just over a 3 hour drive in total, we travelled directly north of Paris.

A beautiful sunny (and warm!) day, we meandered our way through the small towns of Northern France which lined the Somme River and formed the Western Front during WWI - the girls learnt a lot about Trench Warfare and battle strategies today from our local guide Miriam. Miriam started our tour by stopping at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in which the girls walked through actual trench systems used by the Allies, looking out onto No Mans Land. This was amazing experience, which really showed us the horrors of trench warfare and attrition. 

Next on the stop was a beautiful memorial at Thiepval in Authuille France in which Louisa’s great great uncle Private William Linn was commemorated for this involvement in the Battle of the Somme. What an amazing site for all if us to witness - standing on the hill viewing the valley of where the trenches would have stood.

Next on the stop was a French school in Villers-Bretonneux in which their motto is “Remember the Australians” - we learnt here that 1200 Australian soldiers lost their lives to save the French town from German capture in April 1918. The school had a new museum in which the girls could see images from the trench systems and read about the soldiers’ experiences. Finally we visited the brand new Monash Centre at the Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial. The memorial lists 10,773 names of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force with no known grave who were killed between 1916, when Australian forces arrived in France and Belgium, and the end of the war - simply breathtaking. 

Tonight is our first night in Ypres - we are staying in the charming Medieval city centre, after eating ice cream and waffles!! Yum! 

Mrs Morgan 

Modern History 2019 Belgium Day 4 

   
     
 

Day 5: Battlefields in Belgium

We started the day with a delicious buffet breakfast in our hotel. Here, we were met by Simon, our local guide from Ypres, who had an amazing knowledge and passion for all things WWI battlefields.

We started our busy day (of which Simon tells us it was the hottest day in Belgium all year!!), with a short bus trip to Hill 60 - a battlefield between German and British troops from 1914-1915. Here we saw (perfectly preserved) the effects of battle tactics and weaponry - including broken tunnels and mines. 

The next stop on the list was a tiny town called Dickebusch, where Pip’s great grandfather’s brother Lieutenant William Wentworth Bucknell (killed in 1917 at the age of 26) had a memorial stone in the military cemetery. It was a really lovely moment for Pip as she lay a poppy to remember his sacrifice to WWI, Australia and her family. 

Another WWI soldier we learnt about today was Sergeant Sydney Wakefield Gregg - Mr Hinton’s grandfather! Gregg survived WWI, but we learnt from Simon of some of the interesting missions he went on (near Warneton) in pushing back the German front line in early 1918. Gregg was a awarded a military medal “for gallant service on the night of 3rd/4th March 1918 during raid on enemy trenches”. How cool is that! 

We continued to hear beautiful stories from Simon at the Polygon Wood Cemetery and the Tyne Cot Cemetery - both beautiful and quite emotional. Our tour of the battlefields ended with a museum at Zonnebeke dedicated to experiencing trenches and weaponry first hand! 

After some free time in the town centre of Ypres, (with lots of eating of Belgium chocolates and waffles), we finished our ‘WWI day’ with Soph and Ally laying a wreath at the Menin Gate in Ypres - the memorial to unknown soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. The last post is played every night of the year at 8pm in remembrance. It was especially special as we sang the Australian national anthem with some other Australian schools - super cool! 

Off to Berlin early in the morning! 

Mrs Morgan 

Belgium Day 5

   
     
 

Day 6: Belgium to Berlin

A very early rise this morning as we made our way to Brussels airport (a 1.5 hour drive from Ypres) for a 1 hour flight to Berlin. 

We arrived in a sunny and warm Berlin just before lunch time and made our first coach stop (on the way to our hotel) at the Soviet Memorial at Treptower Park, which stands in the former Russian occupied East Berlin. A cemetery for over 7,000 Soviet soldiers, this memorial for the Red Army is commemorating the defeat of National Socialism under Stalin. This is just the he beginning of our Cold War history learning! Much more to come tomorrow. 

After checking in at our lovely hotel, we grabbed some lunch and set off on foot along the streets of Berlin, looking at markers of where the Berlin Wall once stood. We took a self guided tour of the Reichstag (German parliament) - looking out from the Reichstag dome at the sights of Berlin - a very large and diverse city which has a mixture of very old and new buildings (a consequence of Allied bombing during WWII)

Our day ended with dinner at a local restaurant and shopping at the Mall of Berlin - with over 300 shops!! 

Mrs Morgan

Day 6 Belgium to Berlin

   
     
 

Day 7: Berlin

After a lovely long sleep in the political heart of Berlin, we started our day with an insightful walking tour. We gained interesting perspectives surrounding the German role in WWII, later Prussian influences and the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall. We began with one of the most photographed carparks in the world, the site of Adolf Hitler’s bunker. The site was both interesting and intriguing, providing us with a new context to the physical and psychological state the dictator was in before his death. We then walked to the sight of a Holocaust memorial, a reflection on the grisly and macabre destruction led by the Nazi party. The monument resonated in a different way for each student, engaging personal reflection.

After a short walk, we arrived at the Brandenburg Gate, created in 1788. The Neoclassical monument displaying peace and victory, was ordered under the rule of Kaiser Frederick William II. We enjoyed a fabulous picture opportunity and learnt about many concepts laid by the Prussians, influencing the reign of the German Empire, thanks to our knowledgeable guide, Sam. Our next stop was the site where the Berlin wall stood up until 1989, when it was permanently removed. The walk was very interesting, providing us with an in depth study concerning the economic, and governmental split of the Eastern Berlin and Western Berlin. We ended the walk around the city with a fascinating tour of the “Topography of Terror” museum, where we learnt all about the Nazi party, the SS police and the SA forces, with the visual aid of thousands of photographs.

Later on, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the heart of the city, before a well deserved rest in the hotel.

Modern History 2019 Day 7 Berlin

   
     
 

Day 8: Wannsee and Cold War Berlin

Our day started today with an Easter hunt around the beautiful grounds of Wannsee House, a lakeside villa (turned memorial museum) outside of Berlin. Despite the picturesque surrounds, this was a place where Nazi’s planned the annihilation of European Jewry. The girls had a self guided tour around the memorial and really unpacked the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”. This was a really interesting museum, physically showing us the place where leading members of the NDSAP decided on the systematic use of death camps from 1942 onwards.

Following Wannsee Haus, we came back into Berlin by bus to the German Historical Museum. Our guide focussed on Weimar Germany - looking at the conditions in which Hitler rose to prominence. In the same area, the girls had some free time for lunch, which consisted mainly of pork knuckles, sausages, pretzels, schnitzels and ice cream! Yum! It was a beautiful sunny public holiday afternoon and the girls really enjoyed relaxing with their friends. 

Our final stop for this afternoon was the DDR Museum, a museum dedicated to life in East Berlin during the Cold War. This was a great interactive space where the girls got to sit in a trabant (trabi) - a car produced from 1957 to 1990 which became a symbol of the former East Berlin. 

Finally our tour ended with attending the Easter Service in the beautiful Berlin Cathedral Church - and despite the service being entirely in German - it was a great experience to see. 

Off to Nuremberg tomorrow - so a 4.5 hour bus trip in front of us! 

Mrs Morgan 

Modern History 2019 Wannsee Day 8

     
 

Day 9: Travelling to Nuremberg

A big day of travel today from Berlin to Nuremberg. Lots of lovely countryside along the way - including castles! There was also lots of sleeping - recovering from a few big days of walking around Berlin. 

After arriving in Nuremberg in the late afternoon, we had a few hours exploring the lovely Medieval city - particularly impressive was the gothic architecture! We also did some shopping and had a nice dinner inside the city’s medieval walls at a Bavarian style restaurant. 

Modern History Nuremberg Day 9

Day 10: Nuremberg’s Nazi History 

After a little sleep in today, we started our day with a coach ride to the nearby Nazi Rally Grounds (covering 11 square km’s!) in Nuremberg. This really interesting sight showcased some of the key aspects of Nazi propaganda. We explored the grounds with our local guide Janet, who explained that some of this area was unfinished remains (namely the Congress Hall) - as War broke out in September of 1939. What we really enjoyed was walking on the site of the former Nazi party rallies - the Zeppelin Field and feeling the impressive scale of the site, imaging what happened on the rally grounds in the 1930’s. Within the same site, we had a self guided tour through the ‘Documentation Center’ - a museum which brings the archaeological remains alive! This museum contained lots of clips of live footage of Hitler’s rallies ( a total of 6 Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938).

After some lunch in the sunshine, we then returned to Nuremberg by coach stopping in at the Nuremberg courthouse where leading Nazi were placed on trial by the Allies after 1945. We sat in ‘Courtroom 600’ and had a guided tour around it’s museum. The Nuremberg Trials had an enormous influence on the development of international criminal law right up to the present.

Final stop of the day was Nuremberg Castle overlooking the medieval city. The girls walked up to the beautiful medieval castle - made largely of sandstone - which dominates the historical center of Nuremberg. So beautiful!

A wee bit more shopping and Bavarian chicken schnitzel for dinner!

Mrs Morgan 

Modern History 2019 Nuremberg Day 10

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