THE PARTY left Victoria at 10.0 a.m. on Sunday, 2nd September. For some it was the first trip abroad, but everyone was feeling very excited.
This part of the journey was soon over and we arrived at Dover only to find ourselves at the end of an enormous queue - the content of two earlier trains. But we eventually passed through the Customs and on to the boat, where we were lucky in obtaining seats. As one can imagine by the bad weather during the summer, the sea was pretty rough, and quite a number of people were sea-sick.
At Ostende we were to catch the Dalmatia express, which was already late in starting. So in spite of the fact that we couldn't find our reserved seats we had to climb on anywhere and hope that we would be able to find some seats, which we did eventually and made ourselves comfortable for the five-hour journey to Cologne. We reached Cologne at about 12.0 midnight and having just missed a connection had to wait for fifty minutes, part of which we spent eating Frankfurter sausages and rolls.
The journey to Honnef was completed in a carriage without lights and we arrived at about 2.0 a.m. A 'bus took us to our hotel where, to our surprise, people were still sitting round tables talking and drinking-apparently quite a regular feature in Germany. Once shown to our rooms we were soon in bed, tired out after our long journey.
Monday was spent by most boys looking around the town, though owing to the rain not much could be done in the morning, some of which was spent down by the Rhine, watching the long barges ploughing their way upstream loaded to capacity, and tied in pairs, racing downstream with the swiftly-moving current.
The food was very good though some boys did not fully appreciate continental cooking. Meals consisted of rolls and coffee at about 9.0 a.m., lunch at 1.0, of soup, a main course and a sweet; and supper at 8.0, with soup and a main course.
On Tuesday most of the boys went further afield; some to the Drachenfels - one of the seven mountains that is steeped in legend and folklore. I went across the river to Rolandseck and climbed a hill to the Rolandsbogen, an arch which is all that remains of a castle.
On Wednesday we split into two parties - one going to Bonn with Mr. Mudd, and the other to Rolandseck with Mr. Rowland. I went with Mr. Mudd as his guardian angel. We went by electric train which ran alongside the Rhine. In Bonn we spent most of our time looking in the shops and were impressed by their cleanliness and the displays in the windows of even the small shops. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the government buildings and saw them only from a distance.
That night some of the boys went to the cinema. Unlike British cinemas there are only two performances and they are not continuous, so that if one goes in in the middle of the performance one still has to go out at the end.
On other evenings after supper some of the boys went for short walks or stayed in the hotel and watched the television.
On Thursday the whole party went on a boat trip on the Rhine. On the way a party of German boys and girls came aboard and we soon made friends. We had intended to go to Boppard, but as we had already been on the boat for quite a time we decided to get off at Koblenz with the German children. Some boys went off into the town and a few went with the German party to the Fortress Ehrenbreitstein across the river, from which one got a wonderful view of the Mosel joining the Rhine at the Deutsches Eck. We caught the boat on its return journey in the late afternoon. The strength of the current was shown by the fact that where it had taken us 4 hours to get to Koblenz it took us 11 hours to get back to Honnef.
Most boys didn't go very far on Friday as they didn't have much money left, but a small party of us went to the Drachenfels. We went by boat to Konigswinter and then by mountain railway to the top from which we got a wonderful view of the mountains rolling away to the south, of the Rhine winding its way northwards through the flatter land of industrial Germany with smoking factory chimneys here and there on the horizon, and a birds-eye view of the barges and pleasure boats making their way along the Rhine below.
On Saturday we had to make an early start but it turned out to be a pretty hectic one. We were supposed to catch the 6.30 a.m. train from Honnef station and therefore arranged to be called at 5.30 a.m. as a 'bus was going to pick us up at 6.0 a.m. Unfortunately we were not called till 6.0 a.m. But being boarding school boys we went from bed via breakfast and 'bus to Bad Honnef station and still managed to be on the 6.30 train.
The journey home was uneventful. The sea was calmer and a group of us sitting huddled in a few square yards aft of the forward stack eating sausage, cheese and rolls might just as well not have been on the boat for all we knew of it.
We had made a list of the things we had bought, and being a party were soon through the customs and straight on to a train on which we had reserved seats.
We arrived at Victoria at about 9.30 p.m. with our parents to greet us and waiting to hear what a wonderful time we had had.
W. BAUER, 1st VI