Day 11, Friday, 10 July 2009

Today is a travel day, so we had to have our luggage at the coaches at 6:10 am.  Our final Swiss breakfast was at 6:15.  I took advantage of the great variety of dried fruits and grains by building a granola out of the offerings.

We departed at 7:00 am to head to our next destination, Austria, by way of Lichtenstein.  We zig-zagged down the mountainside as we had done several times before into the Rhone valley.  The road followed the Rhone River through the valley.

Once we were in the town of Sierre, we noticed one of the other buses pulled off the road.  Our bus stopped to see what the problem was.  Apparently, one of the students on the bus had fallen out of his seat and hit his head and was bleeding.  His injury was serious enough to require further attention, so we waited for the city coordinator from Crans-Montana to come to retrieve him and get him to the hospital.

Once that was taken care of, we resumed our trip.  We passed through Bern and Zurich along the way.  At some point, we stopped at a rest stop, which was more like a mall, for lunch.  We arrived in Lichtenstein around 1:30 pm.

We didn’t have much time there since the medical emergency had taken up some of our travel time.  Teagan and I went in pursuit of a shot glass for her collection.  Beyond that, we just looked around a bit and rejoined the group on the bus.

We arrived in Seefeld, Austria around 4:30.  After we were checked in, I went to town to get oriented to walk around and get oriented.  Each coach was in a different hotel, like in Switzerland, and ours was a little further away from downtown than the others.  The trade-off was supposed to be that ours had better food.

Supper was at 7:00.  We had a good salad with several different lettuces, cream of zucchini soup which was outstanding, Viener snitzel and a vegetable I can’t remember, and ice cream for dessert.

After supper, it was back to town (5 minute walk) for shopping.  A festival with live music was getting underway, so we got to hear a band play on an outdoor stage that was set up downtown.  Several of the Tennessee Ambassadors gathered near the stage and provided an audience for the band.  The lead singer came out to the group and sang briefly.

The stores were open quite late, perhaps for the festival, so we were able to continue shopping/browsing until we headed back to the hotel around 10:00 pm.

Day 12, Saturday, 11 July 2009

We had an 8:00 am breakfast to get ready for a 9:00 am day trip to Innsbruck.

First, we stopped in downtown Innsbruck at the Basilika Wilten (Wilten’s Parish and Pilgrimage Church) where the choir sang two songs.  The church was originally built in 1259, but was replaced around 1750.  The church interior is in the Rococo style with lavish plasterwork and ceiling murals.  It was very different than the Gothic structures we have seen so far in our trip.

Then we went on the new Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck.  This was the sight of the famous “agony of defeat” video from “The Wide World of Sports” tv program, although that ski jump has been replaced with this new one.

After that, we moved on to the old part of Innsbruck where we had some free time around lunch.  Teagan and I check out several shops.  We also stopped at a cafe for some warm strudel and cappuccino.  I had apfel (apple) strudel and Teagan had a topfen-fruct strudel (the main fruit being cherry).  We both had our strudels served in warm vanilla sauce (think milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sugar, and you will have a close approximation).  After our snack, we headed to the Swarovski store, which seems to be a main attraction here.  We looked, but didn’t buy.  We tried to tour St Jakob Cathedral in old Innsbruck, but it was closed for lunch when we were there.  It houses the grave of Maximilliam III.

Our entire group met back in front of the Goldenes Dachl (the golden roof) to count heads and return to the buses. The Golden Roof is a roofed balcony built in 1500 with gilded copper tiles to honor Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.  There was a wedding going on in the square there to add to the charm.

We returned to Seefeld, where we had more free time.  Teagan and I walked around in the light rain.  We went to the church by the lake.  Its the church that is pictured on many of the Seefeld advertisements.  It was very small inside.  An organist and female vocalist were rehearsing while we were there.

We also went into the Olympia Pool to see what was there, we visited several gift shops, and went to the train station.

I left Teagan at the band shell at 4:15 to get ready for the concert while I headed back to the hotel to get the video camera.  On the way back, I stopped by a market to pick up some supplies (apples and salami) for tomorrow’s day trip to Venice.  I also bought a couple of 25 cl bottles of red wine for 1.29 euros apiece.  One was a Bordeaux and was excellent.   The other was a Spanish wine, and was just ok.

The band concert at 5:00 went well.  Afterward, we headed back to the hotel.  Several of the adults shared a drink on the patio outside my room (this is where I put my Bordeaux to good use).  Then it was supper at the hotel.  There was a nice salad, cream of potato soup, pork cutlet and carrots in sauce, and saccer torte for dessert.

The choir left after supper to take a coach to a nearby town for their concert.  They couldn’t sing in the church in Seefeld because of the band music from the festival.

I stayed behind in Seefeld and visited with some of the non-choir members of the tour out on the patio.

Day 13, Sunday, 12 July 2009

Today we did a day trip to Venice, so we started with an early breakfast at 4:45am  and departed from Seefeld at 5:30.

The early morning light made for great Swiss Alp scenery on the way to Brenner Pass.  The roadside was dotted with small villages, each with its own church, castles, and vineyards.

We arrived at the Troncetto coach park in Venice around 10:30 am and ate a sack lunch there.  At 11:00, we boarded a large water taxi that took us along the San Marcos area of Venice.

Each bus group had its own tour guide beginning near St. John the Baptist Church.  We got an orientation to Venice there, then followed the guide through alleys and across foot bridges to a Greek Orthodox Church, past the Bridge of Sighs, the Doge’s Palace, and on to San Marcos Square.

Since it was Sunday, we couldn’t enter San Marcos Cathedral until after 2:00 pm, so the group went on to the Murano Glass Factory where we had a glass making demonstration followed by a sales pitch.  This was contrary to what the tour directors had told us.  We were expecting to get into the cathedral as part of the guided tour.  They even had everyone wear pants that covered the knees and shirts that covered the shoulders in preparation for the church visit.  I’m sure many would have opted for shorts had they known we wouldn’t be getting into the church.  Since I was wearing convertibles, I just unzipped my legs and continued on.

When we finished the glass factory around 1:30, we had free time until 4:30 when we were to meet at the columns on the square near the Grand Canal.

Teagan and I set out on our own to visit gift shops and take pictures.  We went in many shops looking for Venitian trinkets.  We paused for a gelato at one point.  Teagan also got a brushetta for a snack later.

Eventually, the gift shops began to run together in our minds since they mostly all had the same stuff.  We made our purchases and met the group back in the square, where we walked along the grand canal back to the place where we catch the boat.

We rode the boat back to the coach park, where some of the group made their final Venice purchases, including a shot glass for Teagan.  She had seen it there earlier, but held of on buying it in case she saw one in Venice she liked better.

We boarded the coaches to return to Seefeld, arriving around 10:00 pm.  The evening light on the return trip was almost as dramatic the sunrise light on the way down.

Day 14, Monday, 13 July 2009

Today was a travel day.  We had breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 and departed at 8:00 for Munich.

The coach ride was along much flatter terrain, although we did pass the highest peak in Germany along the way.

We arrived in Munich about 10:10 at the Munich Opera House.  We had free time to explore old Munich.  Many headed to a Starbucks on the way to the main square for coffee and rest rooms.  Teagan got a Mocha drink of some sort.

Teagan and I visited a few shops, but mostly we were hanging around the square for the glockenspiel tower at the old city hall to do its show at 11:00 am.  From what I heard a guide tell her group, the glockenspiel puts on its display at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 4:00 pm each day.  It has to be started by hand, so a person has to climb the stairs three times a day to start it.

Near 11:00, the other nearby towers started chiming, and at 11:00, the glockenspiel tower started playing its music.  Eventually, the characters started moving around.  They depicted several scenes, the most memorable being a jousting contest between a Bavarian knight and someone else.  When the Bavarian knight de-horsed the intruder, the crowd cheered some slogan, although I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

We rejoined the bus at 11:30 for departure.  We drove by Dachau, which is closed on Monday, and headed to a Bier Garten for lunch.  It was attached to a western-style restaurant, although we ate ourside.  The interior included western decor together with a Confederate flag.  How strange.

The lunch began with a nice salad with many pickled items, the main course was a quarter chicken with French fries, followed by a custard dessert.

We regrouped at the buses for a 1:30 pm departure and headed for Rothenburg.  We arrived there around 4:00 and had a quick orientation.  After that, it was free time until supper.

Rothenburg is a walled city with a long history.  The wall has been restored and has a walking path along the top.  So Teagan and I headed to the wall so we could walk along it.  We started near the hotel and headed clockwise, but we found we had to exit the wall before it brought us back to where we started.  We were a little lost at that point, because we were planning on returning along the wall to where we started.  But we eventually found our way back to the hotel just in time for supper, with a little help from a waiter at an Italian restaurant who helped us with directions.

Supper was ok, but not nearly as good as we became accostomed to in Austria.  It began with a salad, followed by a mediocre broth soup (think Lipton cup-a-soup).  Then we had some beef in sauce with plain pasta and fried potato cylinders, followed by a custard dessert.

After supper, Teagan and I went on the night watchman tour, as did most of the others in the Tennessee Ambassador group.  The tour lasted an hour and was very entertaining.  The tour was very entertaining and informative about the history of Rothenburg.

After the tour, we walked around the town until about 10:00 and headed back to the hotel.

Day 15, Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tuesday, 14 Jul 2009
I got up around 6:00 am and went out to explore Rothenburg and take pictures.  I returned to the hotel around 7:30 am when it started raining.

Breakfast was at 8:00 at the hotel.  Afterward, Teagan and I went to one of the Christmas shops a bought a few items.  It took us about 45 minutes just to look through what they had.  It was huge, and many of their displays were quite unique.  The store had multiple levels and some areas looked out over two-story tall rooms that had huge decorations in them.

Then we went to the Criminal Museum.  We got to see many ancient instruments of torture and punishment.  There were pillories, stocks, maces, etc.  There were also lots of documents on display that were several hundred years old.

After the museum, we walked around the city.  We found a music store and spent some time in it.  Then we ate lunch at an Italian gelato cafe.  Teagan got a frusta and I got a foccacia vegitale.

After lunch, it was time to head to the hotel so Teagan could get ready for the concert.  It was at 2:00 pm in the town plaza.

The concert was well attended and appreciated by the town.  After the concert, the choir headed to the church to prepare for their concert at 4:00.  That concert was also well attended.

After the concerts, the directors bought everyone gelatos at the same shop where we ate lunch.  I headed out to do more exploring while Teagan spent time with Rebeca, Alibear, Colton, Kianna, and some other friends.  .She spent a lot of the time in the back of an armour shop watching them fight with swords. She fought with Rebecca once and lost very quickly. Then they headed back to the hotel.

Supper was at the hotel.  It consisted of a salad, followed by soup, then chicken and french fries, and ice cream.

After supper, I went with a group to the cafe call Hell (didn’t buy the tee shirt) while Teagan went with Alex P, Mackenzie, Bradly, and Sam to the tunnels that were in a section of the city wall.

We returned to the hotel area to attend what was billed as a party.  It turned out to just be a meeting with instructions from the direcgtors to go over details about flying back tomorrow, most of which we already knew.  There were some awards given out, then people exchanged e-mail/facebook addresses.

Then the students returned to their rooms to pack.