In October last year, St Benedict's School from Ealing in London took a trip to the east coast of America, taking in New York City and Washington D.C. With 5 nights on the ground and a day either side for travelling, the 35 students and 4 teachers were unfeasibly excited as they arrived at London Heathrow prior to their outward bound flight.
Following a smooth Virgin flight and the usual customs procedures post landing, the group were met by their local guide at the airport who after meeting and greeting issued everyone with MTA tickets, cruise tickets and an ESB voucher.
The coach transfer to the Hotel Pennsylvania took just under an hour and was located bang smack in the middle of Manhattan, a stones throw from Madison Square Garden. Due to a late arrival the group checked in and retired, with individual beds for all.
The Statue of Liberty
Day 2: Civil Rights Walking Tour, Statue of Liberty Cruise and Empire State Building
After breakfast the day began with an exciting subway ride north, to Harlem. Here the group took a Civil Rights Walking Tour, telling the story of Harlem’s impact on the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, remembering important moments and civil rights leaders.
After lunch the group took the ferry from Battery Park to Liberty Island, to visit one of New York's many icons, the Statue of Liberty. A walk around the statue was followed by a further ferry trip to Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum. Dedicated to the 17 million immigrants who entered the country through New York, the museum provided a free audio tour.
With the light fading the group returned to Manhattan for another must see, a trip to the top of the Empire State Building at dusk, to take in the amazing spectacle of the city lighting up. Tired but exhilarated, the group returned to the hotel.
Ground Zero from the air
Day 3: Ground Zero and Wall Street Walk
The morning of day 3 was spent at Ground Zero, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. This extensive and sympathetic complex gives a real understanding of the horrific events of September 11th 2001.
In the afternoon the group took a walking tour of Wall Street taking in all the important landmarks, including the Bull, Federal Hall, the New York Stock Exchange, Bowling Green and Trinity Church. The group then had a chance to do some shopping and exploring before returning to their hotel on their last night in the Big Apple.
Memorials on the Gettysburg battlefield
Day 4: Transfer to Washington, Hershey Chocolate World, Gettysburg
Sad to say goodbye to NYC but excited about the rest of the tour, the group checked out after breakfast and boarded the coach for the transfer to Washington DC. The first stop was a special treat with a visit to Hershey Chocolate World for lunch and shop stop.
Suitably stocked up on chocolate the coach then continued to Gettysburg for a historical tour encompassing the civil war, the battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address.
On arrival in Washington after checking in to the Capitol Skyline Hotel and dinner, the group took an evening coach tour of the city to see the monuments and sights illuminated at night.
The Supreme Court
Day 5: Walking tour of Washington
Day 5 and fully acclimatised stateside, the group set out on foot after breakfast to soak up the sites and sounds of the capital. The White House headed a list including Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, The Washington Memorial and the State Department.
Some of the group visited some of the numerous museums in the late afternoon before a hearty meal back at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.
Days 6 & 7: Coach tour, shopping, return flight, arrive UK
On the groups final day a morning whizz round Washington to catch the last photo opportunities was followed by the mandatory shopping for gifts and souvenirs before heading to the airport for an early evening flight.
Arriving into London, bleary-eyed early in the morning of the following day, it was with bittersweet feelings the group headed back to school, glad to be home but already remembering the trip of a lifetime!