Christmas treat for German students!
After school on Friday 16th December, almost definitely the coldest, snowiest day of 2011, 31 Westholme girls left Wilmar Lodge on a coach bound for Cologne, Germany. The inclement British weather had caused some girls, and their parents, to doubt that the visit would go ahead but by 5pm all the girls were ready to board the coach – passports, pillows and, in some cases, mini suitcases at the ready, for the long journey ahead. Blackburn definitely seemed to have seen the worst of the weather and the further south we went the less snow there was to be seen and the noisier the girls grew. Finally, after one stop, one DVD and one reminder that a whole day of sightseeing is very difficult without any sleep, the coach quietened and, I pods playing quietly, the girls started to sleep. We travelled, in almost silence, from Folkestone to Calais on the Eurotunnel, through France, Belgium and in to Germany, arriving in Cologne early Saturday morning.
Mrs Saunders was excited at the prospect of going to the train station in Cologne. Those who have never been to Germany before had not experienced the main train stations in Germany and were surprised by her excitement. However, upon arrival it all became clear. One could admire the grand architecture of the impressive building and enjoy a, by this time, much needed breakfast. The first opportunity the girls had to sample the joys of German food – BrÃ¶tchen and fresh juices.
Robert, Westholme’s German Assistant this year, is from Cologne and was able to treat us to a whistle stop tour of the main landmarks of this vast city. The first stop was the cathedral, followed by the railway bridge covered in hundreds, if not thousands of locks. Each lock having been placed there by a romantic couple wanting to metaphorically lock themselves to each other for the rest of their lives – the keys cast into the river once the lock had been secured.
Before moving onto the town hall, where we were able to witness a wedding taking place, we had a lunch stop at the smaller of the 9 Christmas Markets that take place each year in Cologne. Girls were able to try the delights the stall holders had to offer, including the world famous Bratwurst. Dessert was in the form of chocolate, as we all visited the Lindt factory. Free samples were everywhere and the chocolate fountain was particularly impressive.
But then to the highlight of the visit.. As the evening drew in we all walked from the chocolate factory to the Christmas Market in the centre of Cologne. From the front of the cathedral one could see the entrance, brightly lit and welcoming. It was dark and cold but the smells and sounds were enough to keep most people warm! Chocolate covered fruit proved popular, as did the chocolate and the warm, Christmassy drinks. At the end of a very long evening an exhausted group of Westholme girls rejoined the coach for the long journey back. This time little persuasion was needed for girls to try to sleep! We all arrived back at school on Sunday, with just enough time to recover before the end of term entertainment got underway.