Magnet takes on Central Europe

Magnet seniors sit in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary on their first day of touring Central Europe. After spending hours on two different plane rides, students found relief in touring the basilica, eagerly learning about the history of Budapest.

Haley Kish

Magnet seniors sit in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary on their first day of touring Central Europe. After spending hours on two different plane rides, students found relief in touring the basilica, eagerly learning about the history of Budapest.

Haley Kish, Photo Editor

In previous years, Magnet seniors took trips around the world during their summer vacation, making this a tradition for the program. This year, the seniors embarked on their journey through Central Europe as they visited Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland on a 12 day trip from June 2 to June 14. The trip, arranged by Education First (EF) brought 64 travelers, consisting of students and chaperones, making this the largest amount of NC students taken out of the country at the same time. 

The trip of a lifetime began when students met at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 3 p.m. on June 2. The group awaited an eight-hour-long flight, which would first land in Amsterdam (their layover flight), at 6 a.m Central European Summer Time. 44 students and chaperones went on the next flight to Budapest, Hungary, while the remaining students waited two hours before boarding the next plane and meeting up with the rest of the group. When the second group landed, they met up with the first group and started their walking tour of Budapest.

“At first I didn’t like arriving in Budapest later than everyone else since the flight was so long, but I learned to appreciate it. I got to hang out with my close friends and the cool AC of the airport rather than walking around in the hot sun,” Magnet senior Kathryn Bywaters said. 

The group spent two days in Budapest exploring  St. Stephen’s Basilica, home to the mummified hand of the saint; Heroes’ Square, the city’s marketplace; and Memento Park. After Budapest, travelers boarded tour buses and drove to Bratislava, Slovakia. Students extensively toured the city and ate lunch at different spots in the square. They later made their way back to the bus looking forward to their travels to Vienna, Austria.

While in Vienna, the group visited three different museums: Mumok for modern art, Kunsthistorisches for art history and the Naturhistorisches for natural history. The following day, the students and chaperones visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral in downtown Vienna where they wondered at the catacombs. During their free time, students ate lunch at a park, later visiting Schonbrunn Palace, home to where the Habsburg rulers resided during the summer.

Students boarded their busses and headed to Kutna Hora, Czech Republic to visit the Sedlec Ossuary, a church made out of human bones. Students who did not wish to tour the ossuary stayed outside and waited for their peers to finish looking around. Once the tour drew to a close, students reentered the bus and went to their third stop: Prague, Czech Republic. As soon as students arrived, they walked to Old Town Square where a music festival filled the square with people, making the square more crowded than normal. 

Students visited the Prague Castle, which contained the Katedrala Svateho Vita, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Jeleni Prikop (Deer Moat in Czech), once a village, home to people who lived around the cathedral and now a museum of how the town formerly looked. After visiting the village, students made their way to the John Lennon Wall on which tourists and citizens are permitted to create art using spray paint. The tour guides provided students and chaperones with bottles of spray paint so students could take part and express their emotions and inner artist.

 Soon after, students and chaperones loaded on the buses and headed to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, a concentration camp Jewish people were subjected to while living in Prague during World War II. Students felt a range of emotions from sadness to anger as they toured an area that tends to make people uncomfortable. The area brings tourists back into the past as it reminds them of a period when times were rough for the Jewish community.

“I was proud of our class for being respectful. I have been through countless holocaust programs and classes but only amongst Jewish peers. Doing this with a majority of non-Jewish people was not my idea of a good time, but I valued the respect we all showed. The site itself is a rude awakening to see before your eyes, but I felt like it’s kind of a responsibility for us to remember and feel that pain that people had to go through, in order to be more accepting individuals,” Magnet senior Jordan Ross said. 

After wrapping up in Prague, students and chaperones loaded the busses and went to Salzburg, Austria. On their way there, they took a pit stop at Cesky Krumlov, a medieval town in the Czech Republic. Once they arrived in Salzburg, students went on a Sound of Music-esque bike tour where they saw sites from the movie in person. While biking through Salzburg, the tour guide played the soundtrack from the Sound of Music to prepare students for viewing the sights. 

The next day, students and chaperones visited Berchtesgaden, Germany to view the Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden, a German salt mine. During this, students went underground to see the salt cave as a laser light show chronicled the history of the mine. After the salt mine, the group split in two, one half went to The Eagle’s Nest (where Hitler resided in Germany) while the other half went back to Salzburg and participated in a walking tour exploring the city and wilderness. 

On the way to Lucerne, Switzerland, students, and chaperones stopped in Linchistein for a 30-minute break and enjoyed the tiny country. 

Once arriving in Lucerne, students witnessed the Lion Monument. Students later toured the town and boated across the water to the Swiss Alps. Once they reached the Swiss Alps, students boarded a train moving up the sides and top of the Alps. Students then took a cable car back to the bottom of the mountains.

The trip opened the eyes of the students who embarked on the journey with NC, allowing them to explore parts of the world they never thought they would see. The NC Magnet program helped make this possible, leaving students forever grateful for the opportunity.