Final Thoughts

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I know I slacked on the last couple days but we were so busy doing everything and experiencing the city that I didn’t even want to have to stop to update the blog!

But there are a few key things that I learned and wanted to mention before I say goodbye to this blog:

1. In every language we encountered, they don’t say “take a picture” they say “make a picture”. That really resonated with me as a photographer because it implies that you are creating something unique out of the beauty you are seeing, rather than taking something away from the experience. That’s how it feels too; you see something that is worth capturing and so you do. You make something new and tangible out of an intangible experience.

2. When you walk into a church in Europe, take a minute and look at the alter because it is going to be the most obviously spectacular part, but then turn to the back and look at the organ. Every time I thought I’d seen the most beautiful part of a church, I would turn around and would find something I loved even more. The ornate decorations that usually surround it combined with the perfectly linear pipes of the organ never cease to amaze me.

3. Take some time alone. Being with all my friends for 3 weeks was obviously a lot of fun, but some of the memories I cherish most are the ones I created sitting on a bench in he gardens of Schönbrunn palace for an hour or sitting in the windowsill of my room in Salzburg looking down at the beautiful street and people below me. Those moments of reflection and contemplation really gave this whole experience some perspective. Taking a minute out of the crazy schedule to sit and quietly take in the full blessings of this adventure made me appreciate it all the more.

4. Always try the food. No matter how strange the cuisine may seem, you are inevitably trying somebody’s favorite dish, and that in itself is worth a taste.

5. Be kind to everyone and always attempt to speak their language first, don’t always assume they speak English. My German is horrendous and I butcher even the few words I do know, but you can tell that people appreciate it when you at least try to fudge your way through it.

This has been such an amazing experience and I feel so blessed to have shared it with a great group of students and faculty. This experience has also made me want to explore my home area more as well. Sure there were a lot of cool things to do abroad, but there are so many adventures waiting to be had at home too! There are always new people to meet, new places to see and new things to learn and I am very happy that this trip has renewed that spirit in me.

Thanks for following along and be on the lookout for the real pictures from my journey in the next few days, http://www.facebook.com/callieklinkmuellerphotography

Tschüß!

“Climb” Every Mountain

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Today we climbed up to the fortress. We also learned why the fortress is still standing after all these years…it’s super difficult to climb!

It was amazing to see the panoramic views and explore the history of the fortress through all of it’s twisting corridors and hundreds of rooms.

Here are some photos from the fortress excursion:

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Afterwards we made the steep climb down and had some super wonderful soft pretzels for lunch and began our first official tour of Salzburg! We had a wonderful tour guide who took us around through the city and showed us all her favorite spots, with a special emphasis on Mozart, of course. At the church we stopped in, a choir from America was singing “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” and we all quietly sang along!

Afterwards all the ladies of the group went and had a little tea party at a nearby cafe and we got to sit down and chat and relax for a bit before walking back to the hotel. On the way though I saw an adorable dirndl in the shop window…and I BOUGHT IT! There will be many pictures to come I’m sure =)

We had dinner all together at a traditional beer hall called the Augustiner Keller and we had a blast laughing and chatting and eating Austrian fare!

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Monk-eying Around

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IT’S SALZBURG DAY!!!!

This morning we woke up and took our tour bus to Salzburg! The ride was smooth and fun and full of Frozen and Sound of Music sing-a-longs and naps! We got here safely around 3pm and we got some time to settle in to our Hotel…which is actually the most adorable little monastery, hence the title of this post!

 

We all got to go out and spend some time exploring around the city, which is so easy because we are staying right in the middle of it! I have only been here for 6 hours and I think Salzburg is my favorite city so far! The combination of the old/small village architecture and vibe, with still so many things to do and see have really made this an incredible experience so far. We had a lovely group dinner and then we all went out to a little bar/cafe afterwards for some hot chocolate before returning back home for the night. We’re all turning in early because our travel day has made us inexplicably exhausted. Tomorrow we are touring the fortress and further exploring the city, but for now auf wiedersehen!

 

Pictures to come as soon as my phone connects to wifi!

The Defunistration of Prague

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Disclaimer on the title of this post: We learned a lot about the Defenestration of Prague today. This was by no means an un-fun day, the choir group did leave however which made it a little sad towards the end, but we’ll get there!

 

This morning we got up and enjoyed a very cool tour of the castle! As an American, it is very interesting to see structures that have been around longer than our country! We think of buildings from the 1700/1800′s as being very old, but when you see a building, like this castle, that was being built while Christopher Colombus was still sailing to discover America, it’s pretty remarkable. We loved seeing the architecture of the building, hearing about the various uses of the castle in modern time and seeing the breathtaking views from the balconies.

 

Afterwards we went to a Museum where we took an audio tour of the Lobkowicz Family collection. Fun fact, the current Lobkowicz’s actually live in Boston! The tour was amazing and narrated by a living Lobkowicz son, so it was cool to hear him talk about his great x6  grandfather giving Beethoven the money to write his famous 5th Symphony! They had an astounding art collection and they had original copies of music written by Mozart and Beethoven in their own handwriting which was incredible. I think Scott may have died of joy a little when he first saw them!

Afterwards we sang our repertoire for the last time in one of the parlors of the beautiful home-turned-museum and we were treated to a wonderful lunch on property and we all felt very fancy and food was absolutely fantastic! We then got to walk through a restored part of the castle village to see what it would have been like back when the castle was first constructed in the early 1500′s. We got a little time to run back to the hotel and change before our farewell dinner as the choir is heading home early tomorrow morning.

It was such a wonderful experience, combining the two tours into one big musical celebration! I am going to miss all of my friends from the choir tour but I am also so so excited for all the wonderful adventures that Salzburg will bring the Mozart crew!

 

The Mozart group left dinner a little early to attend an opera in the National Opera House! We have learned so much about the role of the audience in opera and how that role has changed over the years, that it was a very special experience to all of a sudden be part of an opera audience and to see the customs that we have been talking about all along. The opera, Aida, was a very cool experience. It was inspiring to see singers performing professionally and recognizing some of their techniques and getting an idea of what singing in a professional opera would be like. We all felt very fancy and blessed to be able to attend and we returned to the hotel afterwards to say our final goodbyes to our choir friends, and to pack up our bags because tomorrow we head back to Austria and to Salzburg for the remainder of the trip!

Sidenote: today is my wonderful mother’s birthday! Happy Birthday Mom! Can’t wait to celebrate with you once I’m home!

 

Pictures to come once i get wifi on my phone!

I Should Praha-lly Come Up With A New Pun

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I have drawn a temporary blank on puns for now…but I think this one worked nicely for today!

 

Today we got to sing St. Vitus cathedral as part of our morning tour! This church was erected in memory of Good King Wenceslas, like the Christmas carol, because he was a prominent figure in the catholic church and a saint, as it turns out.

 

After singing our rep we got to walk around and see the rest of the castle district and explore the beautiful and winding roads that surround the castle in Prague. We then got to cross the Charles Bridge that connects Old Town with Lesser Town and that led us towards the Astronomical Clock and the square where we were to meet up after lunch on our own.I think that the bridge may have been my favorite part of Prague. It was amazing to see all of the street artists and musicians and the views up towards the castle as well as in the charming streets of the Lesser Town. The storybook roofs and and mixture of architectural styles was completely chaming and a lovely way to really begin exploring the city and get a feel for the atmosphere.

 

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a little nap before we went off on our own for dinner. A group of us headed back into the Lesser Town in order to find a cute little place for dinner, and after we split further into smaller groups we all found lovely places for dinner, and I tried poppyseed gnocchi which ended up being delicious! We met up with the other groups and headed deeper into Lesser Town to find a pub where we could all sit and enjoy our last free night all together. We ended up finding a little italian bar that was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed our last full evening together with both the choir people and the Mozart people.

 

Pictures to come soon once i get wifi on my phone!

Czech Mate

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Today was the most emotional day of the trip so far, we took the hour long bus ride to Terezìn, a Nazi concentration camp outside the city of Prague.

It was horrifying, amazing, moving, haunting and beautiful all at the same time and it was clear that the whole group could feel the weight of this venture. We are usually a boisterous and fun group but no one hardly said a word as we slowly walked around the Small Fortress, cemetery and dormitory.

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We did get to wind through an unused secret passageway and series of tunnels as part of the tour which was spooky but interesting.

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It was a humbling experience and it sparked many constructive conversations on the way home which was really wonderful and brought some good weight and discussion to the trip.

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The rest if the day was lighter, and some of the guys found the diversion that sparked the title of this blog post!

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The rest if the day we took exploring the Old City of Prague! We used their subway system to get comfortable with it and we found the Old City Center and it was lovely! Going up to the top of the Powder Tower was an amazing introduction to the city!

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We then walked to the best bar the Beer Museum of Prague, which we were originally sad about not being a real museum until we got to try some of the 30 different beers on tap and we were alright with it all of a sudden.

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I got a 5 beer sampler and I ended up loving the blueberry beer that I got the best! It was such a fun and chill way to spend a rainy evening in the beautiful fairy tale city of Prague!

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Pragueress

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On the road again!

We set off on our quest to Prague today and we made a completely adorable stop along the way!

In every travel brochure for Europe will have beautiful pictures of storybook towns that you are pretty sure don’t actually exist, well, we found the source of all these photos today!

The little village of Česky Krumlov just over the border between Austria and the Czech Republic is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. It is extraordinarily quaint and beautiful at the same time with varying shades of orange on the roofs contrasting with the green of the hills and the sky reflecting blue in the water. It’s truly breathtaking.

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See?!?

In an ideal scenario I would make enough money to retire in a beautiful town like that and just be able to enjoy how full the beauty is everywhere. That has been my favorite difference between the cities and small towns we have seen, in the cities there are beautiful things spread out everywhere and they are mixed in with modern designs and basic buildings, but, these small towns have beauty concentrated all together. You can’t escape the gorgeous views, you can’t turn your head without taking in some beautiful piece of nature or buildings, that has been my favorite part so far, these little towns.

Well we arrived safely in Prague and we are all eating at the hotel and passing out from our long journey today and getting ready for all tomorrow will bring!