Friday, February 20, 2015

European Tour

So last June I had the opportunity to travel with the Utah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra around Europe playing the solo part of Rhapsody in Blue with them.
Our stops included Poznan, Poland, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague. Needless to say, I felt like a rockstar.

Our first stop was Berlin. Holy cow. I LOVED BERLIN. Oh my gosh. I can't say enough. It was SOOOOOOOOO fantastic!!! The city was beautiful! The people were great! The history was fascinating! The weather was perfect! The food was great! Oh man. Seriously LOVED it.

There were so many amazing monuments and historical sites, it was hard to fit them all in! I ended up taking a little three hour rickshaw tour that was TOTALLY worth the forty euro - definitely one of the benefits of traveling by yourself!
 I pretty much spent the entire four days in Berlin running from stop to stop, trying to fit in as much as I could in such a short amount of time! I did not think I would enjoy it so much...but it was amazing. I wish we could've spent five more WEEKS there! I pretty much ate while running, no bathroom breaks! Haha! I was grateful that I did that study abroad in Vienna so 1) the little German I could remember was VERY helpful and 2) I totally utilized the U-bahn system. It was fantastic!
 I ended up spending most of the trip with a fantastic group of girls and their moms! The first day I was pretty lonely - completely across the globe not knowing a SINGLE person in our group of fifty people...but by the end of the first day, we were pretty much all besties :) It was great!

 While we were in Berlin, I read about this little town called Potsdam. Me, and a group of people, all took the train out and biked around it. It was the most BEAUTIFUL village E-V-E-R! If anyone gets a chance to go to Berlin - make a full day trip of Potsdam! We spent five hours there and it wasn't nearly long enough!!!

Yep. Out of all the stops - Berlin was my favorite.

Our next stop was Poland. While we were in Poland, the Polish Philharmonic played with us during our performance. It was AWESOME. It was so fun to play with such an amazing orchestra!
I had never been to Poland before and it was such an amazing place! I would love to go back. We spent a lot of our time in the city center touring around and shopping. It was very cool :) We found a Chopin monument, too!
(okay, wide hips coming through...keep in mind I had just had a baby four months before this...)
There were different alley ways filled with all sorts of antiques that were SO cool! I wish I could have bought them all! There was a little bit of a language barrier in Poland because no one spoke English...or we were all kind of at a loss when it came to communication. Lots of hand gestures :) haha! The weather was a little cold, but all in all, Poland was pretty cool. We wandered around and found lots of cool little buildings, churches, and nooks and crannies of Poland.

We took a bus ride out to the "Birthday Place of Poland" and toured this beautiful church and its catacombs. I have decided that catacombs are SUPER interesting. Not everyone would think so...but I sure did :)

We spent two (or three?? I can't remember!) days in Poland and then were off to Prague. Our bus driver only spoke Polish...or Russian...or something that NO ONE understood. He ended up taking us on this wild goose chase through the back countryside of who-knows which country! What was supposed to be a couple hour bus ride, ended up being an almost seven hour bus ride! While the countryside was VERY beautiful and can only take so long being on a crowded bus with a bunch of teenagers...hahah :)

The venue we performed at in Prague was BEAUTIFUL! It was inside this gothic architecture church that was beautiful! The acoustics were CRAZY and I'm not sure our performance was that spectacular, but it was still fun...and made for some great pictures :)

I had been to Prague before, so I kind of knew my way around, but it was fun going around with a much smaller group. We toured small alleyways, took a bus tour, even took a ghost tour under the city square! It was pretty creepy :)

The food was great and most people spoke English, so there was little or no language barriers in most of the places we went inside :) Prague really does have the most beautiful architecture, but the city planning was a little crazy. It was a good thing we had plenty of different maps so we could find our way around! haha!
On our way to Vienna, we stopped at this little Castle community...which I cannot remember the name of! Oops!

It was very beautiful! We were only there for a couple hours - just long enough to eat, walk through the main street, and make our way back to the bus. Oh, and there was some CRAZY cool gingerbread we saw, too :)
Check out that detail lace stuff! Woah. Impressive. No, I didn't buy any...I wouldn't have been able to make myself eat it...and then it would have just gotten smooshed. :(

Anyway, our last stop was Vienna - and would you believe it...I didn't take any pictures!!! Since I lived there before, it was just like going back home! How many of you take pictures of your hometown streets? Not many, right? Well, that's why I didn't take any! It was crazy...

Vienna was fun, but it was weird being back after ten years. Time flies. I found that most of the time I was in Vienna, I was wishing my husband was with me. I have spent so much time telling him about everything we would do when we went together...that I missed him even more. I'm glad Vienna was at the end of the trip when I was so exhausted from all the other cities, that I didn't miss too much by not walking/running every moment of the days we were there! :)

All in all, the trip was FANTASTIC! We were traveling a total of fourteen days and it was amazing. The women I bonded with were so much fun and we all had a blast! The students I performed with were phenomenal and it was great hanging out with such a fun group of kids :)

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