Half term is normally a time for a recharge, catch up and spending time with family. However this year the Verulam Geography Sixth Form A-Level students all met on Friday morning in Morrison’s car park at 03:30 to board the coach for the beginning of their travels around the Baltic Sea.

The residential trip was to visit the three countries of Sweden, Estonia and Finland in four days, via planes, ferries and coaches. The aim of the trip was to show the students a variety of physical landscapes and how the weathering and geology has shaped the lands over millions of years. We looked at new regeneration programmes throughout the Scandinavian countries and the changes to Estonia after the collapse of Soviet rule. The students were able to witness architecture from a range of periods and leaders, cultures and communities from across the globe and interact with artifacts and real working lives within the capital cities.

On day one, we landed in Sweden at 10:45 and headed straight into the city of Stockholm, we started at Fjällgatan to see the magnificent view of the Swedish capital, spread out on 14 islands with Lake Mälar on one side and the Baltic Sea on the other. From here we headed into the ‘Old Town’ with its fascinating narrow cobbled-stoned alleys to find our underground tavern for lunch. This include traditional Swedish meatballs and delicious cakes with coffee for desert. After lunch we returned to the street to visit the Royal palace, the Cathedral and the City Hall. Before we bordered the first of our 3 cruise ships we stopped at the recreational island Djurgården to enter the Etnografiska Musset. A museum of collations of artifacts from around the world, categorised by their material and meaning. We boarded our ferry for our overnight cruise from Stockholm to Tallinn.

Day two, we began our tour to admire the Alexandre Nevski church and Dome Church and the 13-14 century Danish-German castle, today the seat of the Estonian Parliament. Then we walked down to the lower part of the city. The highlights of this part of the town is the Town Hall Square with the 15th century Town Hall, the 15th century pharmacy, and the buildings of Great Guild and Brotherhood of Blackheads. After lunch we made our way to the TV tower to see the views of the city and bay. After dinner our couch driver was kind enough to take us back to the city to see it by night.

Day three, breakfast, packing again and we are making our way to country number three. We boarded a smaller ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki. We arrived in even colder, snowier and now frozen waters of Baltic Sea. Our first stop was the large local city parks. The students (and the staff) enjoyed being children and playing with the snow and ice. After lunch, we were taken to churches, houses of parliaments and local streets before we embarked on our final ferry towards Stockholm.

We checked-in and walked along the gang way to the ferry and were greeted by a grand piano, jazz band bass players, shops and lobster restaurants. It was only a few steps further we realised that this wasn’t the arrival lounge but the actual ship. 12 floors, 5 restaurants, live shows, retail walk ways and again another captain’s feast of a dinner. A lovely way to end our last night on the trip, in 5 star style.

The morning arrived and we were taken to the Skansa open air museum and zoo. Seeing a range of Swedish cultures and housing, along with northern hemisphere animals, we wandered through the museum to have our lunch overlooking the islands of Stockholm. The final activity before our flight home was ice-skating in central Stockholm.

I can honestly say, I thought the students would sleep the whole flight home but they continued to talk, laugh and smile. The cabin crews had nothing but praise for their manners with a personal call out over the tannoy which made us all feel very proud. #SWEFINEST19 was a brilliant event, we saw a range of locations and lives, we made new friends and respected the world we live in. The students have now found a greater drive to achieve higher grades to ensure in the future they have the options to travel to even more countries.

I would like to personally thank you the parents for supporting the residential, the students for being ambassadors for the school and Mr Massey, Miss Rosler and Miss Southward for giving up their half term to join me. THANK YOU ALL.

Should you wish to see further images of the event please look at the twitter @verulamgeogHOD using the #SWEFINEST

Mr N Woodville

Head of Geography

For advice regarding gaining a place at Verulam School for your son via the Continuing Interest process, or for queries regarding appeals, please contact Ms K Bonass on 01727 754102 or [email protected]

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