Rhine River cruise latest highlight for UCHS students
Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 9:18 pm
By: Glenda H. Caudle Special Features Editor
By GLENDA H. CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
A float down the Rhine River, where Medieval castles are strung like gems on a precious double-strand necklace, was the highlight of Tuesday’s all-expense-paid seven-country European vacation being enjoyed by eight Union City High School members of the Class of 2010.
The students include Whitney Smith, Will Arnold, Chambry Callicott, Katey Crews, Kayla Eason, Paige Fisher, Katelyn Ray and Andrew Speed.
Chaperones for the Union City Rotary Club-sponsored 12-day tour of England, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France are UCHS vice principal Jacob Cross and his wife, Emily.
The group of 10 travelers left Union City Friday at noon, traveled to the Memphis airport in a big yellow school bus, courtesy of the Union City School System, departed about supper time and made a stopover and switched planes before midnight in Minneapolis-St. Paul, arriving in London in time for lunch (British time) Saturday. They spent the weekend in London and departed from their hotel there Monday morning on a Cosmos tour company bus that carried them to the English Channel. They made the fluid crossing on a large ferry and then resumed the land journey from Calais, France, on to Brussels, Belgium, where they feasted on waffles and tried to understand the flow of unfamiliar languages all around them. Tuesday morning, they boarded the bus again, with travelers from the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, and headed toward Frankfurt, Germany.
The spectacular Rhine River cruise was the highlight of their day.
Students were not allowed to take their own phones on the trip, but they are able to use an international phone provided by CELLPAGE in Fulton, which is covering the cost of the use while the group is on their trip.
Prior to leaving home, the students and their parents set up a “calling tree,” and a different student uses the donated phone and minutes to make contact and report on the day’s events as the trip progresses. The fortunate parents who are the recipients of the excited call each day then contact other parents and report the highlights.
Tuesday, Miss Smith phoned her mom, Beth Elam of Union City, to say the group was glad to exit the bus after a four-hour ride and was thrilled with the cruise. While her call came during the afternoon hours in Union City, it was almost 9:30 p.m. in Germany, and the teens and their chaperones were through sight-seeing for the day and were looking forward to unwinding in their hotel pool before turning in for the night.
The travelers are up early each day to have their packed bags at the door for loading onto the bus, to enjoy breakfast and board the Cosmos conveyance for transport to a new European adventure.
Cross also e-mailed The Messenger with a report on the day’s activities.
“There was no e-mail access last night (Monday in Brussels), but we are in Germany tonight and we have it again. The last two days have been great. The ferry ride over from the White Cliffs of Dover was neat. From there, we met up with Joost, our Dutch tour guide. We visited the Grand Place in Belgium (‘the central market square of Brussels … surrounded by guild houses, the city’s Town Hall and the Bread House. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels,’ according to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.), Cross wrote in his message.
“…saw the Manikin Pis (a world-famous statue dating from the 15th century of a little boy eternally seeking to fill a pool in the manner indicated by the statue’s name), ate a Belgian waffle and did a little bit of additional site seeing. We were in the bus a lot today, riding to Germany on the Autobahn, (a high-speed road where automobiles and other motor conveyances move at speeds that would merit speeding tickets in the U.S.) We went 200 miles an hour — just kidding!
“We got to the Rhine and cruised past a few castles and the Lorelei (a huge rock formation on the eastern bank of the Rhine, marking the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea). Went past The Mouse Trap (sometimes referred to as ‘Maeuseturm’ or ‘mouse-tower,’ this tower, dating from Medieval times and situated on a small island in the Rhine, once featured a stout rope or chain running from the tower to the shore which ‘trapped’ merchant vessels plying the river. The tower’s controller extracted a custom’s fee for removing the barrier and allowing ships and boats to go on their way.) From the end of the cruise we drove to Friedrichsdorf for the night and had dinner. Some of the kids are swimming at the hotel now. We will be going to Rothenberg in the morning and then to Innsbruck.”
The students will wind up their introduction to Europe, courtesy of an anonymous donor working through the Rotary Club, in Paris, where they will have a couple of days to explore on their own before returning home Tuesday.
Published in The Messenger 6.24.09