History Trip: Germany & Poland

This spring break, some of our Grade 11 and 12 students are visiting Germany and Poland. The aim of this excursion is to support student learning of the history of modern Europe. Read the trip updates below:

Kathryn, Gr. 11
After three long flights, we finally landed in Berlin! We first stopped at the hotel to check in our bags, then left to sightsee for the day. We saw lots of famous buildings that were incredibly beautiful. Next, we went to the German History Museum and a huge chocolate store. Lastly, we climbed 267 steps to the top of a cathedral and saw an amazing citywide view. Overall, we had a great but busy, first day in Berlin!

Megan, Gr. 11
The first thing we did in the morning was eat breakfast at the hotel. We had an awesome view over Berlin and the food was delicious! After breakfast, we visited the Holocaust memorial site which was such an incredibly powerful site with amazing architectural choices. The Holocaust memorial museum was full of personal stories and history. We got to read letters of families, reflect on the war, and our personal lives. We had a chance to get lunch after visiting the museum at a small cafe close to the Berlin wall.

After lunch, we walked to the Berlin wall and our teacher taught us a little bit more of the history behind it and how it would have affected our lives depending on which side of the wall we lived. Following the Berlin wall, we walked to Checkpoint Charlie and down to the train station to take a train to the Stasi Museum. There, we got to see the actual headquarters with a guided tour. They taught us about their technology and methods of spying. Our last stop of the day was the Bundestag, which is the German Parliament. We had a wonderful guided tour of the entire building, including where they do the actual voting. At the end of the tour, we went up to the garden rooftop which had a breathtaking view over the city. Finally, we got back on the train and picked up dinner at the train station and went back to the hotel.

Julianne, Gr. 12
Good morning! We woke up still in Berlin and headed off to the Pergamon Museum, where we saw elegant antiquities, beautiful Islamic art, and fascinating historical objects from the Middle East. After that, we had a quick (but yummy) lunch near the train station and boarded at around 2:30 pm for our ride to Poznan. It was a very relaxing few hours on board the train, and most of us were able to catch up on a few hours of sleep or stayed awake to socialize or play games.

Once we arrived in Poland, we were introduced to Conrad, Chris, and Veronica (who will help us on our visits to the children later in the week) and were welcomed to Poznan with a warm dinner and a leisurely stroll through the magical town. After checking into our new hotel, we finished off the day by splitting off into two groups according to the children we would be visiting the next day, and wrapped their presents.

Jadyn, Gr. 11
After waking up early in Poznań, Poland, we split into two groups taking our luggage and presents with us to visit the kids. Our group visited Damian, Rafał, and Martyna, and we had a lot of fun playing games, getting to know each other, and drawing. We ate dinner pizza for dinner and celebrated Talia’s 17th birthday with cake in Bydgoszcz after wrapping presents.

Saphren, Gr. 11
After long car rides filled with scenic views from our window, we spent an excellent day visiting children and delivering presents. Although we had enjoyed our time with all three kids, we had an especially fun time with a 16-year-old boy, where we got to tour around his small town. After visiting the beautiful lake, which was just a five-minute walk from his home, we then walked to their local school, where we met many of his friends and other community members. At the school, the Yorkies spent over an hour playing in a fairly competitive, but incredibly fun match of volleyball against a few of their students. At the end of the day, we met up with the other group of girls who were visiting another group of children to have a tasty pizza dinner. We then settled at our local hotel in Gdansk, Poland and got ready for the next day.

Taylor T., Gr. 12
Today we are in Gdansk and Malbork. We had breakfast in the hotel and headed out to Malbork Castle. This fortified monastery is a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest castle surviving castle in the world, used by the Teutonic Knights. Following this, we went to Westerplatte, the peninsula site of the first battle in the Polish invasion during WWII. After, we went to the Museum of the Second World War, where we were given a thorough and in-depth examination of WWII from its beginnings to its conclusion, and lasting its impacts. After this, we went to dinner which was attended by one of the wish children and her family who we had visited the day before and really connected with. Then we went for a brief walk in the dark around the Gdansk Old Town area and went back to the hotel to wrap presents for the next day’s visits.

Hannah, Gr. 11
Today we began our day in Gdansk and drove to three different children’s homes, making our way to Warsaw. Each of these children have varying terminal illnesses, making visiting them both emotional and rewarding. The first young boy was very shy at first, but was extremely excited by the gifts and warmed up by playing games with us. The next little girl constantly had a smile on her face. She gasped each time she opened a present and was overjoyed to solve a puzzle with us after. Finally, the last little boy we visited was a checkers champ and beat Mr. Cropley in a hard-fought game. All of these visits were so unique and really immersed me into the Polish culture. We have now arrived in Warsaw and are excited for the days ahead!

Taylor S., Gr. 11
We all slept in a bit today which was nice, and our first stop was a military cemetery. While we were there we learned a bit about the Katyn Massacre and details about the people that were buried at this cemetery. Next, we went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum where there was a guided tour. The museum was really nice and there were a lot of authentic props that helped our learning. For lunch, we went to a big mall and also got a bit of free-time to shop as well. Our final destination was this Invisible Exhibition where it was pitch black, and we had to use our listening skills along with our sense of touch to move around which was an incredible experience. Our guide was also blind, so we experienced (almost) the same thing as her. For dinner, we went to a really fancy Italian restaurant where there was a lot of pizza and pasta, then went back to the hotel for an early night.

Talia, Gr.12
We woke up and ate an incredible breakfast at the Radisson Blu Hotel. We then went for a nice morning walk down through the Jewish quarter of Krakow to the old synagogue where we explored the gothic architecture of an old Jewish worshipping sight. A guide then took us on a tour of old Krakow where we learned of the Nazis use of the old castle as well as the prevention of the destruction of the ancient city. We then broke off into groups for some individual exploration and lunch. We visited the beautiful church in the centre of the old town square which was extravagantly decorated with colourful stained glass and gold. We ended the day with a warm dinner together and retired to our rooms after a long day of walking.

Matteya, Gr. 11
We woke up early to pack our suitcases and depart from the hotel, but not before a wonderful breakfast. We’d booked a coach bus for our long drives to Auschwitz and Wieliczka, which we loaded our luggage into before boarding. We drove for about two hours and arrived at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. There, we walked through the camp with an English-speaking tour guide. This was very emotional and every one of us learned much about the suffering of the prisoners, all of it shocking and terribly impactful. I dare say it is something we will never forget. From there, we drove to another section of the camp, much of which had been destroyed, before a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant. We drove to Wieliczka, where we went on an underground tour through some incredible salt mines, something very important to Poland’s heritage and full of interesting tales and information. The Salt Mines are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. From there, we turned back into the city and had some free time in a mall connected to the train station for some shopping, rest, and bonding time. It was there we boarded a sleeper train with six to a room, which while a bit cramped, once sorted, became cozy and a fun experience.  


Voyage à Québec 2018

Daily news from trip leader Mme LeMay

Our Grade 8s travelled to Quebec City from February 8-14th to immerse themselves in French language and culture, experience the famous Winter Carnival, and enjoy several winter activities.

We arrived safe and sound at our comfortable hotel downtown, after a seamless day of travelling from a cloudy Vancouver to a very snowy and chilly Quebec City (- 20 degrees!). On our way to dinner, the girls were already marveling at the beauty of the architecture surrounding them. It already sounds like we will be having an amazing trip!

The girls went to bed well-fed after a lovely dinner at Café de Paris in the old town.

After a hearty breakfast, the girls were ready to visit le Vieux Québec (Old Quebec) by foot on a guided tour. After a leisurely stroll through the beautiful streets, we enjoyed a guided tour of one of the most photographed hotels in the world: Château Frontenac.

After being inside for a while, we could not wait to go tobogganing on the Glissades de la Terrace Dufferin, which have been a wonderful Winter playground since 1884!

Dinner tonight was enjoyed at Cuisine Là Là, one of the best meals I have personally ever had: rainbow trout served on arugula and spinach purée and seasonal vegetables sautéd in maple syrup. Desert: pudding chômeur, a traditional Quebec recipe my grandmother used to make. Delicious!

The evening was spent on a Ghost Tour during which the girls discovered some of Quebec’s most beautiful historical spots while being entertained by ghost stories: a perfect way to finish our stay in Quebec City.

We’re all back, safe and sound, at the hotel, happy to get out of all our heavy winter clothing and get into our cozy warm beds. After the travel day, and a jam-packed day outdoors in the cold, I’m sure everyone will sleep well tonight.

If we didn’t tire the girls out today, then I don’t know what it takes!

We started the day in Observatoire de la Capitale where we could enjoy a 360-degree view of Quebec City and learn about many historical, economic, and cultural facts that have faceted the city since its foundation in 1608. After our first culture fix of the day, we took a long walk in the sun and headed down to the lower part of Old Quebec: Le Quartier du Petit Champlain. The girls explored the streets where live theatre and music were being performed, and most importantly, where they were able to eat their first maple toffee on ice: la tire d’érable!

Then, we stopped by the great Musée de la Civilisation where we looked at various exhibitions.

After a delicious lunch in a local restaurant, we took the ferry across to Lévis on the other side of the ice-laden Saint-Laurent for some spectacular views of the upper and lower cities. Super cold but so worth it!

After dinner, it was time for the famous Carnival Night Parade, where we danced along to French-Canadian music and got to salute Bonhomme.

The girls went to bed very tired but happy and feeling invigorated by all the excitement!

We began our day by heading to the Plains of Abraham Museum to partake in “The Military”. Under the command of generals Wolfe and Montcalm, the girls had the chance to re-enact the 1759 battle that took place between the British and the French on the Plains of Abraham. Great fun and what a perfect way to learn about history!

From there, we moved to the Morin Center, a former prison, which is now a cultural center designed to educate people about the historic contributions of the Anglophones in Quebec City.

After our daily culture fix and a great lunch, we headed for the outskirts of Quebec City to Village Vacances Valcartier where we slid down hills in rubber tubes all afternoon. Then came the touring the Hôtel de Glace… how impressive!!!

The snow was really coming down hard. It was absolutely gorgeous!

For dinner, we drove to a Cabane à Sucre where we learned about how maple syrup is made, and enjoyed an evening feasting on local specialties while being entertained by a fiddle player who had the girls playing the spoons. To finish off a perfect day, we all went outside for fresh maple syrup taffy rolled in the snow.

As usual, we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel before embarking on one of the most exciting activities of the trip: L’école de cirque de Québec (Quebec’s circus school).

For three consecutive hours, the students were immersed in modern circus techniques. Under the supervision of qualified circus artists and instructors, they tried a wide variety of circus equipment and activities. So much fun! And so physically NOT exhausting ENOUGH for the girls! They are so great!

After lunch, we discovered the stunning Montmorency Falls and played in the heaps of snow that had fallen the night before.

After all that fun, we moved on to our next activity, the Copper Museum, where the girls learned how to work with the malleable metal and had the chance to make their own piece of art.

Our last day in Quebec City started by visiting a local school in the Limoilou district of the city called L’école de la Cité. Our girls were paired up with other students of the same age, and they quickly began introducing themselves in the “other” official language. Québec students showed our girls around their school, played different games such as a bilingual version of scatégories where they had to find words in both languages. We ended our time together by sharing a pizza lunch together and saying a warm “au revoir”. It was wonderful to see the children laughing and communicating in both English and French.

Now…off to the big adventure: dogsledding, which we did in the sun! The girls loved it from start to finish, especially the puppy huskies!

After dinner, we carried on to an evening of improv theater and had some good laughs: a great way to end another fantastic day in the capital of la belle province!

Departure day. The sun was out for us and the temperature was around 2 degrees Celsius!

After checking out of the hotel (with compliments from the hotel staff – especially the cleaning ladies – on how kind and respectful our group was), we headed to Epicerie Moisan, the oldest general/grocery store in North America (1871) where students could find a wide range of products from all over the world.

Our second “food must” of the day was at Chocolats Erico where we were able to taste various chocolates and look at the Museum information.

The girls were on their own to have lunch and shop on in the various boutiques.

Early afternoon was spent ice skating on the outdoor Patinoire de la Place d’Youville; two hours of pure fun and a big bowl of fresh air before our trip back to Vancouver.

Then… time to say au revoir to our fabulous guide Maryse!

What a perfect trip this was!

Thank you to the chaperones (Mme Robin, Mme Ichter, M Lum), Grade 8 teachers and parents who have made this trip possible. Et merci les filles pour ces bons moments passés ensemble!

Mme LeMay