Making history! First Mount Mercy group to ever raise the Mount Mercy College Flag at the summit of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, 19th October 2015
On Saturday 17th October 2015, a group of senior MMC students of German together with their teacher, Ms Loftus, and accompanied by Ms Coughlan, flew from Cork Airport for an adventure in Munich and the Bavarian countryside.
Pictured L-R back row: Ms Loftus(Teacher), Aisling O Donovan, Emma Sheehan, Lea Bennett, Julie O Sullivan, Fiona O Sullivan, Kornelia Bukowska, Alison Devlin (Deputy Head girl), Front row L-R: Clara Bennett and Olivia Savage
Upon arrival in Munich International Airport, the group proceeded to their accommodation at Haus International in Munich which was constructed originally for Olympic athletes participating in the 1972 Olympics. This warm and comfortable hostel provided a solid base where the group received daily breakfast and hearty evening meals for the next few days.
On day 1, the group set off on foot and used public transport to get to the Saturday evening ice skating disco in the Olympic Park. This proved to be an evening of great excitement and fun. Navigating the city’s excellent transport system was an adventure in itself and superseded only by the outstanding experience of skating on such a world class rink. Special effects, changing lighting and music make this a real disco experience! Before long, our novice MMC skaters were skating like professionals and enjoying the fun with each other and some new found friends on the rink.
Day 2 commenced with a hop-on/hop-off bus sightseeing tour of Munich which provided an excellent chance to view many famous sights and get a bird’s eye view of the City. This was followed by a visit to the Marienplatz in the centre of Munich where the group got to see the famous Townhall Glockenspiel dance which is performed at certain times each day.
Pictured at Marienplatz in the heart of Munich in front of the ‘Rathaus Glockenspiel’ L- R: Ms Loftus, Clara Bennett, Aisling O Donovan, Alison Devlin, Emma Sheehan, Niamh Busby, Lea Bennett, Kornelia Bukowska, Olivia Savage.
The group enjoyed their first experience of the sights and sounds of Central Munich before visiting the famous landmark church the Frauenkirche (Our Lady’s Cathedral), with its famed “onion towers” where Sunday morning mass was celebrated. The group lit candles in this beautiful church which was restored after World War II. This visit was followed by a trip to the famed Hofbrauhaus restaurant in downtown Munich where the group sampled traditional Bavarian fare for a delicious lunch and marvelled at locals dressed in customary Bavarian costume of Lederhosen and Dirndl. In the afternoon, ice cream was enjoyed in a nearby trendy ice-cream parlour boasting amazing flavours ranging from traditional to experimental. These must be tasted to be believed!
After the refreshment of lunch and ice-cream, the group set off to the Deutsches Museum which is one of the largest science and technology museums of its kind worldwide.
Visiting exhibitions at the Deutsches Museum
The museum contained outstanding displays on several floors. A warm evening meal and relaxed evening followed as the group prepared for their special journey on day 3.
The third day commenced with a very early start as the group set off by bus to visit the world famous 19th century Neuschwanstein Castle which is located near Füssen in Southwest Bavaria and near to the Austrian border. Beautiful views of Germany’s largest state Bavaria were enjoyed as the bus journey of approximately 2 hours from Munich deep into the heart of the Bavarian countryside provided ample opportunity to enjoy the landscape throughout the region. Excitement gathered as the alps came into view and the group was thrilled to experience snowfall upon arrival at the fairy tale castle.
Arrival at Neuschwanstein Castle
This was followed by a lovely tour of the special castle which is full of weird and wonderful decor and pervaded by a sense of mystery as it was never completed due to King Ludwig II’s untimely death in mysterious circumstances in 1886. The Disney Cinderella castle was inspired in part by Neuschwanstein.
Beginning our tour of Famous Neuschwanstein Castle
Surrounding countryside at Neuschwanstein
The group then set off by coach to travel to Zugspitze which is the highest mountain in Germany.
Views on ascent to summit of Zugspitze
This was an outstanding experience and represented the pinnacle of the tour for many in more ways than one!The group ascended to the summit of the mountain on a special cogwheel train followed by the glacier cable car. The mountain is 2962 metres high and ears popped on the journey upwards to the peak.
Almost at the peak of Zugspitze!
it was a very special feeling to be surrounded by a combination of snow and sunshine as we raised the Mount Mercy flag on the summit of Zugspitze.
At the summit
This was the first time the MMC flag has ever been raised on Zugspitze and was a fitting tribute by our pioneering group to mark both the 50th anniversary year of MMC and our trip to Germany. A celebratory atmosphere was enjoyed throughout this expedition to the mountain peak. Our group then returned to Munich and enjoyed a hearty evening meal at the hostel following an exceptional and unforgettable day.
The final day of our stay arrived and the group set off by coach to Dachau Memorial Site. A very moving experience, visiting Dachau leaves a lasting impact and we were led by an excellent tour guide. The aim of survivors of Dachau concentration camp was to ensure that, by opening it to the public and informing the world of atrocities committed there, that such events would never be allowed to happen again. Sadly, this had not been the case as concentration camps have also arisen elsewhere in the world. Visiting the site of such tragedy makes us think deeply and question ourselves as human beings, however easy answers are not found in relation to this very sad topic.The group returned to Munich deeply affected by this experience.
Upon return to Munich City Centre, the group enjoyed lunch and a few hours shopping around Marienplatz and Central Munich. Trips to famous German department stores and the famed Viktuallien Market were greatly enjoyed. Shopping in Munich is an experience in itself and offers a wonderful range of quality products for every pocket from postcards, souvenirs and trinkets to high end shopping. There was a lovely atmosphere in autumnal Munich and the start of winter was evident in Christmassy trinkets available in the market and in stores. After a fun-filled afternoon, the group returned to collect luggage in the hostel before setting off for the final part of our journey – returning to Munich International Airport.
MMC Group pictured at Munich International Airport for return flight to Cork. Teachers Ms Loftus on far left and Ms Coughlan on far right.
A pleasant flight home to Cork ensued. Our group returned home happy and filled with wonderful memories of a special stay. The trip proved to be an exceptional experience and provided for many students both an introduction to Germany and an excellent chance for immersion in the German language and culture. The MMC team spirit, sense of fun, involvement and excellence were clearly evident throughout and the group left a wonderful impression on everyone encountered throughout the trip thanks to their exceptional behaviour. Well done and sincere thanks to all who participated.
In conclusion, and to give you a bite-size flavour of the trip, you will find below a list of keywords and phrases used by students who went on tour to describe their highlights of the trip.
Leaving Cert students of German Alison, Julie, Kornelia, Aisling, Lea and Clara created the following list of highlights using their personal memories, impressions and experiences:
” SKATING – conga line, skate off, walk to ice skating rink, meeting Ms Loftus’ friend (and each receiving gift of German Xmas decoration from her), falling on the ice, making new ice skating friends. HOP-ON HOP-OFF – overview of city, seeing all important sights, Michael Jackson shrine, walking man statue, cylinder ads, architecture. HOFBRAUHAUS – food & traditional dress. ICE CREAM PARLOUR – Euros and Times. DEUTSCHES MUSEUM – ship models, measuring weight in Newtons, hot air balloons, measuring our strength. NEUSCHWANSTEIN – snow on arrival , taking picture of Korean man, classical Memes paintings, meeting Irish Americans. ZUGSPITZE – train up mountain, view, snow, new American friends, MMC flag being raised at the peak, cable car back down. DACHAU – educational, important to learn from the past, black cloud. SHOPPING – selection of shops, souvenirs, Rathaus (Townhall), Marienplatz , cathedral, people stopping to watch the figures in Rathaus Glockenspiel dance, photo shoot of wedding couple. FUNNY MOMENTS – running through U-Bahn, pizza machine, disco, munching food together in the rooms, Lea buying glass cleaners in every shop, Julie’s love of Pretzels, night we stayed up til 3am, scary stories, public transport everywhere, playing pool, playing Fussball, seeing Allianz Arena, paprika chips, german man asking about the ‘times’ i.e. the economy, Lea on ice.