On the last day of May the annual British International School trip began. This year the location of the visit was Ivanjica, a scenic town and the antithesis of bustling city life in Belgrade.
When the bus left the school gates a shout of excitement was heard and a few tears were shed from our students who were leaving their parents for the first time. Ten minutes later all the adults were forgotten about as the first of many songs on the journey began.
The group arrived to find spacious rooms with a view of a waterfall and mountains from their bedroom windows. As soon as the luggage was unpacked we ate a hearty meal and then rushed out to the playground.
At the rear end of the hotel a life size replica of a sailing ship dominated the horizon and most of our students set sail on imaginary voyages of discovery. The students seemed delighted at the quality of the facilities especially as they were so close to the hotel.
A couple of hours later our tour of the local town started and we managed to take in sights like the Partizan Square, the Waterfall, and the Javor Football ground. We were educated about the history of the town by our guide but some of the groups were slightly distracted by the Ice Cream shop.
Early the next day, we set off on a boat journey around the meandering turns of the Uvac river. The views were spectacular and it must be one of the most beautiful parts of Serbia. The boat eventually arrived at the ice cave and we went inside this freezing cavern. The single file path was difficult to negotiate especially as we were only able to use torch light. At the end of the first section the students were asked to switch off their lights and pitch darkness ensued. The students seemed to love the tranquil nature of the cave but did find the minute of silence a challenge.
Immediately after the cave visit we got changed and rushed down to the Spa Centre swimming pool. Luckily there were only two other guests at the pool so we had the whole facility to ourselves.
On the third day the students set off on a mountain waterfall adventure. The heavy rain the night before made the path slightly muddier than normal but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the adventurers. The students were surprised when we had to walk across a couple small streams on our way to the peak. A few of our school mates appeared to be more used to shopping centres than mountains and were initially hesitant to place their feet down in anything resembling mud. However, by the time we made our way back to the bus even the most hesitant of our party became veteran hill walkers.
On the last night the traditional disco took place with most students wearing their best outfits. The disco took place in the best night club in Ivanjica and the DJ played songs all night that the students loved but the teachers struggled to name.
At 9 pm some of the younger students were escorted back to the hotel. The older students spent an extra hour dancing to the latest sounds. After the final song was played a round of applause was given to the DJ and the slow walk back to the hotel began. Most students had already given every ounce of strength that they had left to perform gravity defying moves on the dance floor. The talk of late night parties soon vanished as the students appeared soundly asleep by 10.30 pm when the last lights went out and the second and third floors of the hotel were silent for the rest of the night.
The bus left Friday morning with comments from the hotel staff such as “this was the best set of guests we have ever had from a school’ glowing in our ears.
On the way back to Belgrade we stopped at a Serbian monastery in the Javor area and a lengthy speech by the head monk informed us about all the historical details of the area. The visit to the monastery shop proved more popular than expected with most students being determined to spend their money before they got home. The students bought souvenirs from the Monastery such as pencils, pens and rubbers for school or gifts for their parents.
Finally, the bus arrived back at school. Some of the educational tour attendees described the visit as the ‘best school trip ever’ and one teaching assistant mentioned the excursions each day were the most memorable of any trip she has attended.
The students and staff alike had a trip they will never forget and I know everyone can’t wait until next year’s trip!