On Thursday 8th December, 112 students and 13 excited members of staff set off at 10pm on an adventure to Aachen in Germany to discover the delights of the Christmas markets! Primed with pillows, blankets, toiletries and an abundance of food and drink (primarily sweets and chocolate!) we were ready for our 32 hour trip to the continent.
We travelled to the port of Dover and crossed the channel to Calais, where we drove the remainder of the journey through Holland and Belgium before arriving mid-morning in the town of Aachen, which is famous for its incredible Christmas market and festive atmosphere. Our first stop was for breakfast in a typical German restaurant which gave us the much-needed energy for the shopping and sight-seeing packed day. We had the opportunity to visit the Aquis Plaza, a brand new shopping centre, before visiting the town centre. Students had the chance to see the cathedral, town hall and fountains and at the same time, soak up the culture and tradition of the season.
Much was on offer at the Christmas market including hand-made decorations, personalised gifts, a huge variety of food and souvenirs of all kinds. Students got the chance to try out their German in the bakeries where Printen were being sold, which are a type of gingerbread, often decorated with nuts or chocolate. These sweet treats have protected designation of origin and can therefore only be bought in the town of Aachen and nowhere else in the world.
A hearty traditional German dinner was on offer in the early evening and many students enjoyed the opportunity to try out a Schnitzel!.
A trip to Germany would not have been complete without a visit to the Lindt Chocolate Factory Outlet shop which was the last port of call on our list. The shop itself was huge and a chocolate lover’s dream. Advent calendars, chocolate teddies and the iconic Kugeln were snapped up by the students and staff alike. Most purchases were presents for loved ones at home, but not all made it that far and were gobbled up before we even left for the return journey!
After two overnight journeys by coach and by ferry, and a long day exploring the town of Aachen, a very weary but contented group of students and staff returned in the early hours of Saturday morning. A well-deserved long sleep for all involved beckoned, after such a wonderful and successful trip.