So my original plan for this blog post was for it to be a diary entry from each day of the tour. Unfortunately, I’m a forgetful slacker and I didn’t really make diary entries, so we’re just gonna work from memory and a copy of the itinerary. Should I have broken this into multiple posts? Probably. Did I? Absolutely not.
Choir Tour (n): a week-long (at a minimum) tour of several states (or in this case countries) wherein the choir travels by bus to perform in many different locations
We arrived in Leipzig on Good Friday, and can I just say that I really am not used to pretty much every single business being closed for holidays? I’m not against the sentiment, but it is definitely strange.
Our hotel here was about 20 or 30 minutes from the city by tram – not exactly something we had anticipated dealing with. Despite the inconvenience, a group of us braved the long walk to the tram station and paid for tickets into the city. When we got there, we found an Italian buffet-type restaurant which was pretty good. (Full disclosure, in my 3 days in Leipzig, I ate there 3 times.) And that’s pretty much my whole Friday.
On Saturday we all woke up too early and got back on the bus for a 4 hour city tour. Let me tell you, Leipzig is really not that interesting of a place. It’s okay, but not really a place you want to spend 3 days of your spring break. After the tour a few of us got milkshakes, walked around an Easter festival, did some souvenir shopping, and went to the Mendelssohn house (he’s a famous composer). It was pretty cool getting to walk around in a place where he actually lived, but my favorite part was getting to direct a virtual orchestra. (It’s hard to explain, but I’ll post some pictures.) The rest of the day consisted of walking around the city, going to the Italian place again, getting some drinks with friends, playing BS and Mafia at the hotel, and going to sleep much later than I should have.
Easter Sunday in here was one of my favorite parts of choir tour. I got up early, met my family at the train station, took them to the Italian place for lunch (I am fully aware that I have a problem, thank you), and walked with them to Bach’s former church. We did an informal concert in the aforementioned church, and, brace yourselves for the cool part, I got to sing a solo. In Bach’s old church. On Easter Sunday. On the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I was also the only person who got to do a solo there, so that was pretty awesome. And for the rest of my life I can say something that no one else that I know can say. One unbelievably cool moment later, I bid a brief farewell to my family and got back on the bus to head to Berlin, Germany.
We arrived in Berlin on the evening of Easter Sunday and immediately after checking into our hotel got on another bus tour of the city. We got out to see the famous arch (that I don’t remember the name of), and the section of the Berlin Wall that still stands (which was really, really cool), plus Checkpoint Charlie. It was all very cool, and seeing the bricks across the city of where the wall used to stand was crazy, but I wish we had more time there. We had less than a day, so all we really did was go on the city tour and go to our hotel.
I, however, met up with the fam for one last dinner. We walked in the pouring rain, ate, talked, and when it was time to say goodbye I cried like a little baby and begged my mom not to go or to at least take me with her. I’m so grateful for this experience, and I have loved so many parts of it I don’t think I could ever explain it all well enough, but I will be so very glad to get back home in 28 days. I knew it would be tough to say goodbye, but I am incredibly happy that at least three members of my family got to come over here and visit because I think it would have been infinitely harder for them not to have visited at all.
After a short night in the hotel, where I cried some more and tried to sleep away my emotions, we headed out for Nuremberg (via Juhnsdorf).
We stopped about an hour into the trip to Nuremberg to sing at the smallest and cutest church I think I’ve ever seen. There were maybe 10 rows of seats in the little building. Very few people spoke English, but the joy on their faces while they listened to us sing was heartwarming. The church gave us a little gift of chocolates and seeds for a certain type of flower common in Germany, and on the way out we got hand decorated little plastic eggs. Everyone at this church was incredibly sweet. We got to see a member of the congregation get baptised, watched little kids learn about the story of the resurrection, and were joined during our concert by the cutest little redhead girl who stood up with us and even started singing a little. She was adorable and it made my miss all of my tiny humans back home even more than I already did. Honestly, I’m not sure what we did to deserve such kindness from the people at that church, but they were some of the nicest people I’ve met while in Europe. After a short-lived break, we piled back onto the bus and headed out for Nuremberg again.
By the time we got to Nuremberg we were all pretty much starving half to death, so in groups we took taxis into the city (or to the carnival going on) in search of food. Four of us went in one cab and found a relatively traditional place with some good schnitzel, and after we finished eating we walked up to the Nuremberg Castle and took pictures of the city at night. We couldn’t walk around too much since it was so late and everything was closed, but what we managed to see was beautiful. And that’s it for this city – we literally spent about twelve hours here. The next day we woke up, early as always, and made our way to Salzburg, Austria with a brief stop over in Mondsee for a performance.
Our time in Mondsee was even more brief than our time in Nuremberg, but infinitely cooler. If you don’t know what Mondsee is famous for, I refer you again to the Sound of Music. Mondsee is the location of the church used in the wedding scene, and that very church is where we sang. Unfortunately I didn’t get to solo there, but I did get to do a cool descant so it almost counts. From Mondsee we traveled just down the way to Salzburg for more choir kid adventures.
Salzburg was by far one of my favorite stops on this choir tour. It was sad not being there with family, but it was still beautiful. After the concert, a bunch of us went out to eat at this burger place. I was disappointed in their mac and cheese, but very happy about their brownie and ice cream dessert.
The next day was 30% city tour and 70% free time, so after taking a city tour of a lot of stuff I had already seen, a place where Mozart lived, and the fortress (which tbh was really cool – literally, it was snowing up there very heavily), I got lunch by myself and went back to the hotel to have a day alone. I cherish my alone time, so having a full 12 hours without seeing anyone but my roommate (shout out to Maggie) was a huge blessing. I honestly still have no idea what everyone else did that day, but I loved getting some time to myself. After my short lived relaxation in Salzburg, we woke up the next morning and boarded the bus to Budapest, Hungary.
Upon our arrival in Budapest we had a little bit of time to ourselves, then we went off to yet another concert. I sang a solo, this time in a different song, and a young girl came up to all of the choir members after the performance and asked us to sign her program. In short: ya girl is famous (except not really at all). We went back to the hotel, got some dinner in the hotel restaurant, and then had an early night. After a long bus ride and a choir performance, you get pretty tired. Plus I was drained from being around people all the time.
Day 2 in Budapest was a city tour, which was pretty neat, and then a river cruise where I had some of the best hot chocolate of my life (it came with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and a colored straw. I may have been in heaven for a minute). After the cruise we got back on the bus – can I just interject here and say how sick I am of buses? ‘Cause it’s actually a problem. I can’t even look at them. – and started the drive to Vienna.
Vienna was the last city on choir tour. We got there on Matt’s birthday (he’s one of the basses), so a bunch of us met up with his parents and went out to dinner. The place we went is known for their schnitzel, which was pretty good, but the main event of the evening was a group of parents asking the seven of us that ended up at the dinner to sing some of our choir repertoire in the middle of the restaurant. They half-bullied us into it and we ended up singing 3 songs (and Matt ended up playing the spoons in lieu of actual instruments). It was actually kind of fun, even though my voice kept breaking. The night turned into a really late one, and the next morning we woke up early for our final city tour.
The tour was mostly on the bus (which was nice because it was cold), and when it was finally over a bunch of us went back to the hotel to nap until our final concert of tour. The last concert went really well, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t lose feeling in my toes from frigid temperatures. Following the concert half of us headed back to the hotel on the bus while the other half went out with family. Right as we were turning into the hotel, a tram crashed into the bus. No one was hurt, and our bus driver wasn’t at fault (the tram driver was drunk), but the bus did take a little bit of a beating. The next morning we woke up less early than usual and got on the bus for the last time (!!!) to head back to Prague.
Back to Prague, Czech Republic
You would think that this post would be over after the last city, but the bus rides are as important as the cities themselves, especially this one. Each year, a group of Chamber Singers members create superlatives for all the members of the choir (plus Dr. Foster), and this year Shannon, Matt, and I were the superlative committee. We spent the first hour or so coming up with the wording and creating the awards themselves, and then after our lunch stop we presented all of the awards. My award? Most likely to have a Burn Book. I think it’s pretty fitting honestly. (And if you don’t know what a Burn Book is, you need to go watch the cinematic masterpiece known as Mean Girls.) After the awards Foster had us do an activity and describe what we find beautiful about each other. It was heartwarming to see and hear so many kind things.
So now that I’ve thoroughly bored everyone, that was choir tour. It was an adventure from start to finish, and I’m continually remembering how blessed and lucky I am to have such incredible, unique, and life changing experiences. So thank you to everyone who made this possible, thank you to everyone who has supported me, and thank you to everyone who I’ve gotten to share these adventures with.