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.  

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