People usually choose to eat among the living, but in Trafalgar Square tourists and natives opt to dine beside gravestones.
Eight rising seniors from the three Obion County high schools and their chaperones — Union City Middle School teacher Mary Hellen Johnson and her husband, David — after seeing much of London Wednesday, grabbed lunch at Cafe in the Crypt, a restaurant located under St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.
They are enjoying the fourth Union City Rotary Club all-expense-paid trip to Europe. The Johnsons got their initial experience last year, when they accompanied a group of nine students from Union City High School and Obion County Central High School.
Students taking part this year include OCCHS students Lindsay Castellaw, Matthew Kegan Tittle and Allison Wicker; South Fulton High School student Zack Vaughn; and UCHS students Macie Britt, Destiny Powers, Garrett Ransom and Grant Ransom.
The students, who were selected early in the new year and who have been preparing for this adventure ever since, had a last-minute-info family picnic Saturday and then met at Reelfoot Animal Hospital on Reelfoot Avenue in Union City early Tuesday morning. Dr. Leland Davis opened his office there so the students could weigh the bags they will be moving around Europe with them and avoid problems at the Memphis airport, where they checked in for the first leg of their trip.
Once the group had cleared the baggage check and said their good-byes to family and friends who convened to see them off on their grand adventure, they traveled south, courtesy of a Union City School System bus, and flew to Detroit. There they boarded a larger plane and crossed the Atlantic through the night skies.
They arrived at London’s busy Heathrow airport early Wednesday morning and, after claiming their luggage and negotiating the customs routine, they boarded transportation provided by Cosmos Tours, who will be conducting their trip for the 12-day period, and got their first glimpse of their hotel in busy London.
After lunch at the Crypt, they ventured across the Thames River to ride the London Eye, a large Ferris wheel. The students enjoyed a 25 mile, or 40 kilometer, view in all directions.
Miss Britt called home at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday (5:45 p.m. London time). The students are required to leave their own phones and laptops at home for the trip, but they maintain contact through a daily call from a different student and a “calling tree” system set up to spread the word from family to family once they check in.
Miss Britt said it was a long flight to the London Heathrow Airport. It also took them an hour to disembark the airplane.
The group went on a walking tour of Westminster, which included British Parliament and Big Ben. There they used an interactive system for information about the area.
“Macie said, while on the phone with me, they were walking to eat at an English pub,” Miss Britt’s mother said in her email to the other parents. “Then they will be going on the Thames River cruise.”
As her mother said, it “sounds like a full day of activities.” The travelers will continue sightseeing in London today and will depart for Paris Friday.
After Paris, they will journey to Lucerne and Lugano in Switzerland and Verona, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome in Italy.
The Messenger will continue its report of the travelers’ activities through this week and next.
Messenger intern Katie Donaldson is a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Glenda Caudle, special features editor, contributed to this article.
Published in The Messenger 6.28.12