Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I've been having so much fun, I haven't even had a chance to pick up my iPad.  Saturday morning we started our drive early to get to the Neuschwanstein castle. Driving through the rural farms in Germany was stunning.  We took a lift up the mountain and viewed the castle from a bridge suspended over a running river.  The view was magnificent (pic.)  The coolest part of the tour was being able to sing in the King's Singer's Room.  After lunch we headed to the Wieskirche. This small church is nuzzled into a hill in the middle of a beautiful meadow. The inside was richly designed in the florid Rococo style (pic.) The miniature recital we gave sounded great. Afterwards we drove back to Munich one last time, and I was able to make it to The Tales of Hoffmann. We were able to find tickets for €5.50. That's cheaper than a movie in the States! Of course The Doll's aria was stunning, but even more exciting was how many of the other arias I already had in my ear. The overall experience was awesome.  After a quick bite we headed back to the hotel.

Sunday we drove to Salzburg. After a coffee in Cafe Mozart we toured Mozarts Geburtshaus, which was Mozart's birth house.  I was actually able to see a few locks of Mozart's hair (maybe a little gross but still totally cool!) we walked by the Mozart Wohnhaus, which is where Mozart lived later. Then we sang in the Salzburg Dom. Singing in this incredible space was awesome. (Pic) We walked through the Mirabell garden in front of the palace.  Hidden to the side of the garden is Salzburg's oldest theater.  Just a few benches and a stage built into a hedge maze created a fantastic atmosphere.  (The following day I would come back here with a few friends and sing. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip so far.)  We visited the Festung Hohensalzburg, the white fortress atop a mountain watching over the city.  At the bottom of the mountain we walked through St. Peter's Abbey.  This cemetery has flower beds  commemoratings each grave. The fragrance of the flowers and the chirping of birds as we walked through the abbey was very cool.   (Pic)
After the tour, we drove to St. Gilgen to get ready for our concert in the Mozarthaus.  Looking over a lake under layers of mountains was yet another stunning view. Our concert bookended a mini-recital given by a local choir. Being able to share music with other musicians was such a humbling experience. They even sang a yodeling piece, but I promise it wasn't what you are thinking. It was a local folk song, and I could see and hear the the passion behind the music. 

Monday we were able to explore the city on our own.  I found a small group to have espresso with in the Café Tomaselli  in the old part of Salzburg. ( Pic) After a little caffeine we walked through an open air market.  Seeing local art and goodies was a refreshing break from the many souvenir shops.(pic) We walked through the abbey again to spend a little more time with the beautiful tributes. We walked up to a beer garden named Stiegl where this popular brand was created in 1492.  After another delicious sausage, pretzel, and beer lunch, we walked to a the Fürst chocolate shop- the original maker of the Mozart ball truffles.  Filled with marzipan and pistachio paste, this was an awesome treat!  After some more walking we revisited the Mirabell garden where the nine of us sang an impromptu song.  We walked around the inside of the Mirabell palace and on our way to the bus we braved the worst hailstorm I have ever been through. (Traveler's tip: the weather changes very quickly in Salzburg so always pack a jacket and an umbrella!) After a warm shower, three of my friends and I went out for dinner in the city.  This was the perfect way to end such a busy day.

This morning we packed up and headed to Mondsee to see the St. Michael Basilica. This is where the wedding scene from The Sound of Music was filmed. We were able to sing a few pieces and it was a blast. We then headed to the abbey at Melk. Singing in the cathedral was an awe-inspiring experience- a true once in a lifetime moment. On the way we passed Linz, the city where Anton Bruckner (a composer of a piece in our program) was born. Being able to sing one of his pieces in the cathedral was really cool.  After dinner we sat in on a professional choir rehearsal and seeing how their rehearsal etiquette varied and was also similar was an important thing to learn.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

This morning our tour guide shared some fun facts about Munich and, before I get into my day, I thought I would indulge you with a few. The name München comes from the German word "mönchen", meaning monks.  Making his first visit at six years old, Mozart went on to visit  München a total of 5 times.  This morning we went to the Schloss Nymphenburg- in this case Schloss meaning "palace" and not "lock"!  As soon as we got off the tour bus we immediately smelled the lilac trees, which, combined with the stunning view of the palace created an incredible experience- even at 9 in the morning! The palace was rich with artwork from Renaissance, Rococo, and the eighteenth century periods.  It was amazing to contrast the different styles and characteristics between rooms.  The artwork on the ceilings, rich textiles in the bedrooms, and chandeliers were my favorite parts!(pics to come!)
I watched the glockenspiel at 11, which was a lot of fun. I can say that is probably the biggest coo-coo-clock I will ever see, and the figurines were quite entertaining. (Pic!)
By law, no building may be built higher than the  Frauenkirche in Munich.  We were lucky enough to sing in this incredible space.  The ceiling is about 120 feet high, so you can only imagine the incredible sound in the space. 
Afterwards, I thought a visit to Munich would be incomplete without visiting the Hofbräuhaus. This was the Bavarian court brewery, and having a liter of their beer with wollwürste and pretzels on a long wooden table created what felt like a true German experience. It was so delicious, and the the tuba and accordion in the um-pa-pa band were wonderful!   After a quick visit to the city opera house called the"Bayerische Staatsoper",  we headed to our next performance in Erding.  Here I finally got a picture with a linden tree- a tree referenced in German poetry and lieder. (pic!) The audience at our concert was super responsive and it was a great way to kick off our European tour. What a day! I'm looking forward to getting into my hotel bed and waking up early.  Tschüss!
I started writing this yesterday from a Bavarian restaurant called "Zum Franziskaner."  Having my first beer in Germany in the first Bavarian restaurant I've ever been to, I ordered a sausage plate, "natürlich!" I can't describe the flavors of these sausages- it was an experience. (Photo to come!)

To get here I took the S-Bahn and I felt like a true German.  The fields are filled with canola flowers and the view from the train was even more gorgeous than from the plane (photo!) After that we roamed around Munich for a bit, got settled into our hotel, and had dinner, we went to bed.  I was too exhausted to post this yesterday so I will post today's just below!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Awaiting my flight to Munich at the JFK airport. I promise the next post will be more exciting! For a copy of my itinerary through May 27th please visit

The rest of my trip (including Brussels, Pisa, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Copenhagen, and Malmö) will be included in this blog as well!

If you're looking to get in contact with me, my email will always be best (

I will also have an international plan if you're looking to call me.

Until München, tscüß!!