Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Old Bavaria


Typically, once a tour Blue Lake will cover the costs of a day trip from one of the towns in which we are staying, and this year they were not. messing. around.  A couple of hours bus ride from Augsburg is located the Neuschwanstein castle, planned retreat for Ludwig II, homage to composer Richard Wagner and eventual inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disney Land.

For a nice little overview on the history of this late 19th century castle:


The BEST thing about this little day trip was that, as luck would have it, my brother and sister-in-law were in the country for a friend’s wedding.  Though Joanie was busy with bridesmaid duties, Matt was able to drive down from their town near Heidelberg to take the tour with me!  As neither of us had ever been to the castle before it was a bit hard to decide where to meet up. “Ummmm… the front?” was about all I had to offer, but Matt was smart enough to look for where the buses parked and greeted me once I got off the bus. (With the permission of the director) I high tailed it out of there so I could get a little one on one time with Matt and we took the steep walk through the woods up to the castle, first stopping at one of the restaurants to grab a quick drink and small bite to eat.

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Oooooohhh, nature!




Just down hill from the castle is an observation area, perfectly suited to taking in the Bavarian countryside.

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Besides the countryside, it’s also a great place to get your first real good look of the castle; or, if you’re so inclined (we were), get a picture with the castle:

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The tours are planned out in five minute increments and, with a group as large as the combined orchestra and choir, we naturally had to divide up into several different times.  Matt’s ticketed time was about ten minutes after the last Blue Lake group, but he was able to join ours so we could do it together.

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Unfortunately, pictures are strictly verboten inside the castle, so you’re missing out on the opulence that is the interior of Neuschwanstein.  Ludwig II had quite affinity for Wagner and his music, and most of his rooms are elaborately themed with stories from Wagner’s operas.  It’s always one of those tenuous lines to tread as a classical music lover: Wagner’s music is absolutely, undeniably glorious but, you know… Nazis.  I’ve actually been working my way through Curb Your Enthusiasm for the first time these last couple of months and couldn’t help but think this scene when doing the tour.

(Slightly nsfw language)


Visitors were provided one more great view at the end of the tour, and luckily pictures could be taken from the balcony.

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It’s all about location, location, location


A short walk away is the Marienbr├╝cke, a bridge which affords an unbelievable view of the castle.  I wasn’t exactly sure if I had enough time to make the trek and still catch the bus back, but Matt was able to go over and get the view for both of us!

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A view of the bridge from the castle and vice versa


As far as castles go, Neuschwanstein is unarguably amongst the most beautiful in the world and I ‘m so glad that not only did I get to see it, but I got to share such a cool experience with Matt.  That’s just how we roll these days.


Artist: Mel Books / Album: The Producers

Bonus!  I also couldn’t help but visit a castle and think of the clip from Eddie Izzard's Dressed to Kill special:

As is typical for one of his routines, beware the salty language!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fields of Gold


Okay, so not so much “fields” of gold as it is “walls” of gold, but the sentiment is there nonetheless.  One morning we were all invited to visit the town hall for a special reception with the mayor in the city’s famed Goldener Saal (Golden Hall). 

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Don’t touch ANYTHING, campers!!!


Our conductor, Michael, was telling me that after World War II the hall was never restored to its original glory and to celebrate the city’s “I don’t know, 1,000th or 2,000th” anniversary renovations were finally undertaken. I’m sorry… 1,000th OR 2,000th anniversary, that’s quite a gap of uncertainty there, right? (FYI: it was, in fact, the 2,000th anniversary). 

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Choir director, Kelli, addressing her minions students


And don’t think for even one second that I got away without getting another photograph with a politician!

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There’s nothing I love more than a photo op in my Blue Lake uniform and badge :-/


Artist: Eva Cassidy / Album: Live at Blues Alley

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Cast of Cooks


The halfway point of the tour was located in Augsburg, whom some of you might remember as a daytrip from our last stop of the tour in 2011. In fact, Sarah, my host “sister” from Dillingen now lives in Augsburg and was eager to host me during our stay!

On one of the free nights I had she invited her friend over to cook dinner; and, as luck would have it, my friend Cameron (Mallory’s brother) was doing a study abroad in Munich and hopped on a train to join us for the day as well. So many friends in one place!

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Sarah and her pal carrying the most important part of the meal. (Beer, that is)


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They wouldn’t even let us help!


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Cameron had to catch a train back to Munich, but not before we snapped a quick picture on the platform.

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Sic ‘em, Baylor grads!


Sarah’s mother was kind enough to come over from Dillingen to see our performance of The Creation and even brought along their dog, whom I just adored two years ago. 



And speaking of bringing things from Dillingen, she happily fulfilled a personal request passed along by Sarah: the return of the Raclette.  Carole and I were huuuuge fans of this typically Winter tradition, and while we were at the concert, Sarah and her roommate, Andreas (who was kind enough to vacate his room during my visit), prepared all of the vegetables and meat for the feast!

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Grill it, broil it, devour it



Andreas and me before he headed back out


I feel extremely lucky to have been able to reconnect with so many friends, both from past tours and even from America, on this trip and I am very very grateful that Sarah was as excited as I was to be able to stay together for a couple of days.  She is a fantastic host and I look forward to getting to hopefully see her sometime in the not too distant future!

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2 more years??


Artist: Michael Giacchino / Album: Ratatouille

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Windmill


After our stroll through Flensburg we hopped over the border into Denmark and stopped at a hot-dog stand to grab a traditional Danish polser, which, apparently, many hot-dog aficionados consider to be one of the best in the world. 

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A polser consists of the meat, sliced pickles, raw and fried onions and a sauce of some type


The view wasn’t too shabby, either, as we could look out onto an island along the border of Germany and Denmark. 2013-06-24 13.41.32


Lunch devoured, we headed to the nearby city of Dybbol, home of a famous windmill and memorial site for a battle between the Danes and Germans.  As my host described, the northern Germans and southern Danes had a long history of fighting between them and even attempted to draw comparisons to Texas’ relationship with Mexico.

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Never one to miss a good photo opportunity on a giant, hot metallic object I thought these two cannons looked a little lonely.

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Artist: Danny Elfman / Album: Sleepy Hollow

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boat on the River


Our last full day in Kropp was entirely free, and our host parents decided to take us to the northern most city in Germany, Flensburg, then off to Denmark to visit the site of a famous battle (more on that in a later post).

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So helpful that one of the boats had the name of the city on it


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Ummmm… church.  That’s about all I can tell you


I’m not sure exactly why, but I was a surprised when I looked down into the water and saw jelly-fish just hangin’ around.  In my head I thought: “but surely it must be too cold for them.”  You’d think all that Planet Earth I watch would have sunk in a little.

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We also took some time to visit a small museum dedicated to the restoration process of older ships.  Our host dad spent years in the Navy and was definitely helpful in explaining things.

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I also happened across several boats that had been re-purposed in a way that I just knew Nancy Roberts would appreciate.

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Out door planter, anyone?


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With a little sprucing up, maybe this could be Daisy’s summer home.


Right before leaving we passed this sign, and as much as I wanted to get a picture of our host dad standing next to it for comparison I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Lucky for you I already had one of him from a previous post!

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Seriously, though… right?!


Artist: Styx / Album: The Best of Styx

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fish in My Dish


On one of our free morning/afternoons our host family took us on quick trip to visit the nearby shipping canal and to enjoy some tasty tasty seafood at a restaurant right off the water.

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Our first stop was to see the underground pedestrian tunnel that connected the two sides of the canal, which begins with a looong elevator followed by and even loooooonger walkway.  The numerous o’s denotes length, obviously

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Miniature model of the tunnel


Should you need to get across by car, there is an alternative route which involves getting on a motorized carriage. 

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2013-06-22 12.10.14  At least it’s not a long drop!


But the real reason we came to the canals was for lunch at one of our hosts’ favorite fish restaurants, and it did NOT disappoint. 

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When looking at the menu it was a. impossible to know which fish was what in English or b. narrow down to just one, so I just ended up getting the sampling platter of about 10 different kinds.  I’d say the most surprisingly enjoyable piece was boiled eel in sour jelly… fo’ realz.

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De-lecker!  Where are the Roberts Matt I and II when you need them?!


All in all it was a quick trip, but nice to visit the canal, watch the ships go by and chow down on some delicious fresh fish!

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You’re doing it wrong!!! Aren’t you supposed to be under the water??


Artist: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings / Album: Naturally