The German ICGL group poses in front of the Berlin Philharmonic. Photo: Mr. Smith

On Jan. 5, 2024, eleven students and three teachers arrived in Munich for the Germany ICGL trip. Led by history teacher Mr. Tim Hornor and math teachers Mr. Jason Smith and Mrs. Heather McCloskey, the group checked into the Euro Youth Hostel and headed to dinner. With bratwurst, pretzels, schnitzel, potato salad and sauerkraut, this was the first taste of German cuisine. “The food was great,” said senior Vivian Kohn. “It was cool getting to try authentic German food and I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the restaurants.”

After a good night’s rest, the group set out to explore Munich. With Mr. Hornor pointing out the various landmarks ranging from the origin of the Beer Hall Putsch to the local Rischart bakeries, the group made its way to the Alte Pinakothek museum. Mr. Hornor acted as a museum guide for the group, pointing out instances of chiaroscuro and orthogonal lines as well as cold-calling students to answer questions on the works they had seen in AP Art History. Housing the famous portrait of Albrecht Durer and other Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, the museum was breathtaking. 

Waking up early the next morning, the group took a bus ride to Füssen where they saw the Neuschwanstein castle. After a short horse carriage ride up to the top of the mountain, the group was met with a stunning view of a snow covered castle. “My favorite part of the trip was visiting Neuschwanstein castle outside of Munich,” said junior Nicholas Demba. “It was a super cool place to see both inside and outside.” Inside the castle, the group was met with the lavishly decorated home of king Ludwig II of Bavaria. Though the castle remains unfinished, it boasts elaborate paintings and meticulous decorations that would leave anyone in awe. “The German castle was so breathtaking it made my dome piece tingle,” said senior Mac Barnette. 

After a quick detour to Nuremberg, the group was met with its most formidable foe: German fries. With outrageous prices and questionable fries, the students were upset. “I hate that fry place in the Durer town,” said Barnette. “Their fries were so dusty I didn’t even finish my food.” Aside from the food, Nuremberg was an enjoyable city that housed Albrecht Durer’s former house, turned museum. 

The next day, the group took a train to Berlin and checked into the Grand Hostel Berlin. “The hostels were a fun experience, but they were pretty small with only a couple showers,” said Junior Reid Richardson. “We were all rooming together so it made it much more enjoyable.” The group then set off into the slick, icy sidewalks of Berlin. After a short walk, Mr. Hornor led the group to the Reichstag building. With the glass dome, the group saw an incredible view of the whole of Berlin. With the glass floor of the building, Mr. Hornor explained how the Reichstag was a representation of democracy for Germany. Anybody could look down and see the government officials at work. That evening, the group went to see the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. “I really enjoyed seeing what high-level playing looked like,” said senior Joe Shippen. “It gave me something to look up to an model my own playing after.”

On the final day, the group visited the Neue Museum, hosting many ancient Egyptian sculptures and paintings. “My favorite museum was the one with the ancient civilizations stuff with the mummies,” said senior Mac Warren. After the museum, Mr. Hornor introduced the group to his cousin, Gregor Menke. With one final German dinner, the group was ready to return to Atlanta.

Unfortunately, the flight back was not so smooth. After a quick flight landed the group in Amsterdam, the layover flight to Atlanta was unfortunately canceled due to a KLM airplane malfunction. With a new plan to fly back to Atlanta from Frankfurt, the next two day’s worth of flights were canceled due to snow and black ice. With the luggages being buried in the Frankfurt airport, the group was without a change of clothes for three days. Despite the airplane troubles, both the students and teachers still made the most of the situation. “Although getting three flights canceled and being stuck in the airport for 3 days was frustrating, it brought our group even closer together,” said senior Ellie Arenth. “Many of my favorite memories of the trip happened during those days.” 

On the fourth day, the plane was delayed due to de-icing but made it back to Atlanta with relatively little hiccups. “I’d say we crammed a dozen years’ worth of travel snafus into one 3 day period,” said Mr. Smith. “In the previous dozen or so trips, we’d had maybe one slightly delayed plane and that was it.”

Mr. Hornor still plans on returning next year, despite all of the unfortunate circumstances this year. “This year was the first in which we had major logistical issues, whether it was the German transportation strike, the farmer’s strike and then the airline dysfunction and then the weather making it a challenge to get back.  My hope is to not fly KLM again. Delta was great and really did everything in their power to get us home,” said Mr. Hornor. “I really like the itinerary of our trip, the core of which remains stable, though my hope is to return to the Nuremberg Courtroom where Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Martin Bormann and the rest of the Nazi elite were tried by an international tribunal from 1945 to 1946…What has made the trip special is the different mix of students we have brought each year, with each group memorable, different, and yet incredibly interested.  The students make the trip!”

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