Oh, the places you will go: Europe 2014 (Part 1/2: Austria)

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That was a journal page I filled on the way to Europe. 

Hello, everyone! So about this time last year, I was on a trip to Europe with some 89 other kids from my high school choir and band. 

We were there to compete and participate in an international music festival being held in Vienna, Austria, then took a few days before and after the festival to explore Salzburg, Venice, Florence, Rome and Heidelburg. So two weeks, three countries. 

It's been a year after the trip, and I still don't really know how to put into words what it was like. It was amazing, exhilarating to be so far away from home and have an adventure with my friends. And for a few of us, it was the best cap to high school; we went on the trip a week after graduation. Our last hurrah. In Europe! 

Anyway. I don't really have a whole lot of photos, but I do have enough that I can break them up into two parts: Vienna and Italy. Unfortunately, we only really had about half a day and a night in Heidelburg, Germany since it took us 17 hours to get there from Rome (we left Rome about 10 pm the night before). So two parts. Today, just Austria. 

Regrettably,  I don't have as many photos as I would have liked, but I also know it was because I was more concerned with being in the moment than getting the perfect shot. We were also constantly moving, so I couldn't stop to get a lot of photos I wanted to take. And I was also taking mostly vlogs that I told myself I would compile into proper videos. But that didn't happen (let me know if you want it to...?), so. But here's what I have!


The Hohensalzburg Castle. This is the view from our youth hostel on our first morning.
Salzburg was a dream. It was the most relaxed city we went to on this trip, with the exception of our half day/overnight at Heidelburg. We stayed at a youth hostel and spent two days exploring the town centre, visiting the house Mozart grew up in, and performing. We were lucky enough to have been able to get a few minutes to perform in Salzburg cathedral and oh my goodness. Singing in that space was like being lifted into the heavens. It was amazing.
I also watched bits of the Sound of Music a few months ago and it was weird seeing all these places on TV and going "*gasp* I WAS THERE. IT LOOKS THE SAME." Yup.

Crossing the bridge from the town centre on our way to Mozart's house.
Another note: it was strange to be inside the Mozart house. It was great, yes. It was educational, yes. Inspiring, yes. Interesting, YES. But it was strange knowing that that's where Mozart lived. I was in a place where history became history, kind of. You know what I mean? It was like trying to marry my present with a very distant past with someone I didn't know. I was also thinking about what else happened in the house. I mean, we were told about him growing up and being taught how to play and having siblings but I couldn't stop thinking: what were the dynamics like? Were fights a thing in the Mozart house? Was anyone jealous because Wolfgang was the one bringing the Mozart name to fame instead of everyone else??? But that's just me. 
Oh! We also learned how to yodel. :)

Salzburg Cathedral

Town Centre


Okay. Vienna. Vienna was my favourite out of all the places we went. Such appreciation of art and culture and music! GOODNESS. Vienna was just fantastic. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos in a lot of the places we went to. 

We spent about five days there, staying at a hotel with a few other groups competing in the festival. Days were long in Vienna. We woke up at about 5 or 6 in the morning everyday to get ready, eat and get out the door and into the bus by 8 or 9. They were long days of performing and dinners and tours and getting home late at night to try and get the last hour the hotel pool was open because it was so frigging hot during the day that we all just needed to cool off.

Musikverein or the Golden Hall, where we performed. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside. But take my word for it. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

And since it's easier, here's a list of things that happened in Vienna.
  • went on a tour of the Schönbrunn Palace. BEAUTIFUL. It was inspiring, and I was awe-struck throughout the whole tour. There was such detail in every single part of the palace it was too much for my little maker heart.
  • Performed in the countryside, hiking down the hill/mountain (in dress shoes. Some of us were in heels.) to what we all lovingly called the Pit. It was really a cleared space in the hill/mountain with a platform for performing.  It was very hot. But there was also a fantastic view of the countryside from up there.
  • Some people in the group danced with Austrians performing a common round dance? I don't know what it would have been called. But I was pulled in. There was lots of spinning and my partner had very strong arms and I was very dizzy. 
  • Met some kids from the Bay Area! They were rad. We took many group selfies.
  • Went around the city centre/shopping district. Many purchases were made. 
  • Went around the city in the bus, and Vienna was just so great. I wish we had time to explore every inch of it.
  • Went to a gala dinner with all the other groups that were part of the festival and it was really fun! Even if we were only there for a while. We got to dress up and mingle with people and dance with new friends and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. 
  • Ate dinner at the Wiener Rathauskeller, which was like an underground restaurant in the town hall. And I mean underground as in, like a basement. It was a beautiful space. Only trouble was that I don't think they were prepared for 200 hungry kids. The space wasn't exactly massive.
  • Of course, performed at the Golden Hall for the festival, which was absolutely beautiful. Singing in a place like that was just... I don't even have words. It was just beautiful.

If I remember correctly, this was the building across from Musikverein.
Honestly, being a part of a festival of youth singers... It was great to see such respect among the groups, and everyone was supportive of everyone else. And it was beautiful, the passion in some of them, the way they sang or performed, breathing life into the music, or as if the music was bringing life into them. It was just beautiful.

As for the competition... We competed with our Chamber Choir (of which I was a member)  and our Senior Choir. After a day of performing in the heat and travel, we got back to the hotel at about probably 10pm. Our choir director, Mr. Holmes, gathered all of us choir kids outside the lobby, and told us that results from the competition have come in. Chamber choir won 4th, and Senior Choir, 3rd place, (out of technicalities because the groups in 2nd and 1st place were tied for 1st so really we were 2nd and 3rd). BUT ANYWAY. We won. We won. A bunch of kids from an inner city School in little Surrey, BC placed 3rd and 4th in an international festival, among groups of students with intensive musical training and intense auditions. Our senior choir isn't even auditioned! It was an amazing feeling, and you could feel the intense solidarity right there. We all won that together, and we all celebrated together, a bunch of kids in bright red polyester polo shirts, hugging and crying outside a hotel in Vienna.

The Rathaus or Town Hall. Part of the building was the Wiener Rathauskeller, where we ate dinner one time. Beautiful building. 

Just a  close up of Musikverein because I like this shot.

So there it is. A few photos from my trip. Stay tuned next week for Italy!