The Screaming Eagles Band Trip to London


Sammie Herbst

The entrance to the Royal Opera House. Beyond the windows holds the foyer and the upper floor dining hall.

Sammie Herbst, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va.- Stepping off the plane on Dec. 28, I looked at my surroundings. The airport was nothing like the one I had left seven hours before. 

As my bandmates made their way through the crowds, we waited for the coach to take us to our hotel. All we knew was that we were tired and cold. 

None of us could sleep before that, as the excitement of the upcoming trip was too much for us to bear.

Dead tired, none of us were able to think clearly, as the coach, a double-decker bus, took us through the streets on what seemed like the wrong side of the road. 

Most of us were only just comprehending that we were no longer in the United States. Our minds were set on falling asleep on our beds in our hotel rooms.

Though a little shocked to hear that we got there nearly two hours early, we all left our luggage in the lower ground floor as we went to explore the city. Though tired, we managed to shop a little before getting back to the hotel to grab dinner and get into our rooms.

Most of us were asleep not long after dinner.

Once we were well-rested, our excitement over London began to set in. As we went on the tours for our second day, we entered a coach to take us on our morning tour of the city. 

Setting out to see the most spectacular landmarks, we took dozens of pictures. Afterward, we headed to Covent Garden, a shopping and entertainment center, for lunch. 

London’s Sondheim Theatre
London’s Sondheim Theatre has been open for over 100 years. It is also the theatre where the musical “Les Misérables” was performed on Jan. 2, 2023. (Sammie Herbst)

Along with my roommate and a few of our friends, we explored London on foot after rehearsal and grabbed dinner at Kasa and Kin in Soho.

The next morning, we took a trip on the Thames River in a riverboat as it began to pour. We watched as we passed the Eye, all the most famous bridges of London and finally made it to our destination: the Tower of London. 

Home to some of the most infamous prisoners in London history, we explored the magnificent fortress. Held in the Jewel House, the crown jewels stood on display with no flash photography allowed. 

Yet it was the Bell Tower that held my interest; it was the tower that held the future Queen Elizabeth I.

Afterwards, we ate lunch at Covent Garden again, where I stopped by to see the Royal Opera House. Inside, I stopped by the largest dining room I had ever seen, which was covered in ornate gold and opened up to windows that were several stories high.

The next day, we traveled to Oxford. It was there that we learned about the history of the British post-secondary education system as well as the foundation of most of the British Empire. 

It was here that we visited Christ Church. After a tour of the ornate main hall of the college, including the dining hall that inspired the Great Hall in “Harry Potter,” we were sent off to explore, have lunch and shop.

Christ Church College Dining Hall
The dining hall at the Christ Church College, a part of Oxford University. Many students at the college dine here. (Sammie Herbst)

It was New Year’s Eve. In the dining room of our hotel, my bandmates and I gathered for food and dance as we waited for the New Year to begin.

Some started the evening at the nearby pub, which had some of the finest food I had ever tasted, but others started the night out at a party. 

As a quieter person, the party was a bit much for me, so my roommate and I ate chocolate as we waited for the New Year fireworks to begin.

The next morning was the morning of the London New Year’s Day Parade, the true reason we were in London. We had a short breakfast in the hotel dining room before putting on our band uniforms.

As a member of the color guard, we each counted off before heading to the parade. All of us were nervous.

Though the guard was easily dressed the warmest among most of the other bands in the vicinity, it was still a chilly day.

Surrendering our jackets before the performance, we lined up in order and held our breaths. We worked together as we made our way through the streets and began our routine to “Star Wars.”

With smiles on our faces, we worked through our fatigue as we showed our flags in joy. At the main camera, we began our routine once more as we danced to the beat of the band.

Though I enjoyed our other events, including my trip to Abbey Road with a few of my friends and a trip to the London theatre to see “Les Misérables,” I would say the parade was easily the greatest part of our trip. 

We worked together to perform our greatest show yet. The performance of “Les Misérables” will always hold a special place in my heart, but I will never again experience the feeling of our last performance of the Screaming Eagles 2022 season.