Updated: Oct 21, 2022
By Maria Suomi
This June, nine Kingsley High School students, and two teachers spent almost two packed weeks exploring the British Isles and Paris. The travelers flew from Traverse City to Dublin, Ireland, home to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Georgian Squares, and St. Stephen’s Green.
A visit to Trinity College to view the famous Book of Kells with its beautiful illuminations of Celtic knots and mythical beasts came next. The Trinity College library included winding staircases and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with accompanying ladders. In the evening, we left our rooms at the University of Ireland at Maynooth to wander the beautiful gardens and ruins of Castle Antrim, just a short walk away.
Later, the Irish House Party gave everyone a chance to learn some traditional Irish dances and songs that we were able to use later at a traditional pub restaurant. While rambling around the city, we saw beautiful arched bridges, traditional pubs, and, of course, the famous statue of Molly Malone selling her cockles and mussels.
In Belfast, we visited the Titanic museum and learned the history of the “Troubles'' of Northern Ireland. Guides, who actually had been affected by the violence between the Catholics and Protestants, related their stories. Everyone had a chance to see the Peace murals and to contribute a message of their own. The next day brought us to the famous Giant's Causeway from the sea.
At Cairnryan, we boarded the ferry to Alloway and Edinburgh, Scotland. We explored the city of Edinburgh after wandering through the ancient Edinburgh Castle, situated on Castle Rock since the 12th century.
Harry Potter fans scrambled to get selfies in Princes street, the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley. A visit to the Robert Burns Memorial and Gardens allowed us to stretch our legs. Many students were surprised to learn that Robert Burns is Scotland’s most famous poet and responsible for the words to “Auld Lang Syne,” widely sung on New Year’s Eve. Another stop introduced us to the “Kelpies,” water horses from Scots mythology with a dark history.
In Scotland, we boarded the train to London, arriving at Charing Cross station for another Harry Potter landmark photo: the iconic 9 and 3/4 Platform where Hogwarts students boarded their train.
In London, we posed before Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Some of us visited “Dippy the Dinosaur” at the Knightsbridge Museum of Natural History while others wandered through all things royal at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The London Eye allowed us a birds-eye view of London from a large enclosed “bubble” in the sky. Afterward, we scouted for royalty at Windsor Castle and heard tales of “The Traitor’s Gate” and the tower ravens while at the Tower of London.
Leaving London on a Eurostar train bound for France, via the “Chunnel,” we headed for Paris, the City of Light. While Notre Dame Cathedral was still closed for repairs, we were able to view its beautiful windows and architecture from the outside. There were excited “ahs” and “ohs” when the Eiffel Tower, Place de Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs Elysées came into view.
A climb up the many steps to the Montmartre area around Sacre Coeur church led us to the famous district filled with streetside cafes and numerous small shops, as well as a beautiful carousel. Patisseries and sweet shops displayed multicolored macarons and decadent chocolates of all kinds. A visit to the Louvre was a highlight for many. Several of us also enjoyed selfies outside by the glass pyramid popularized in the movie The DaVinci Code.
Arrangements for the next trip to Venice, the Alps, and Paris are beginning right now!
Questions? Email Maria Suomi or Robin Lewis at the high school.