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Skyline Choir: Spring Break In Europe By loey jones-perpich

In the late morning of Sunday, March 25, 35 students gathered in the place none of us wanted to be during spring break — the fluorescent-lit first floor hallway of Skyline High School. Suitcases lined the sides of the hallway, chaperones digging through each one, searching for required pieces of our uniforms.

Laughter flew through the gray hallway as my peers exchanged stories. Despite exhaustion and boredom, we couldn’t contain our excitement for long — Skyline Choir was headed for Europe.

The family of a Skyline student look out the window at the Detroit airport.

After arriving in Amsterdam on the morning of Monday, March 26, we had a one-hour layover and then boarded a quick 45-minute flight to Munich. We flew KLM — the Royal Dutch Airline.

One of our first stops was the Dachau Concentration Camp. Dachau was the first operational Nazi concentration camp; it was opened in 1933. We saw barracks where thousands of prisoners lived, walked through a museum with gut-wrenching photos and details, and walked through a gas chamber. We spent a couple heartbreaking, emotionally draining hours there before boarding our bus and heading to Salzburg.
Salzburg, Austria
That evening, we went to Schloss Hellbrunn, a yellow palace in Salzburg, Austria. At this site, we visited turquoise ponds and the "Sound of Music" gazebo, as well as learning the Viennese waltz.

On the morning of March 27, we took a walking tour of Salzburg.

ABOVE LEFT: The locks on a bridge drip with rain as our group crosses, continuing on our walking tour of Salzburg. ABOVE RIGHT: Mirabell Palace, where "The Sound of Music" was filmed. BELOW: A thin street looks up at the cable car used to take visitors up to the castle.
The view of Salzburg from the castle. The turquoise roofs of the Salzburg Dom loom over the other rooftops; our choir would perform a concert there later that morning.
After taking the cable car down from the castle, we sang a concert at the Salzburg Dom.

After our concert at the Dom, we got on the bus and drove to Mondsee, Austria, a small town dominated by people of the Roman Catholic faith.

Mondsee is home to the church used in "The Sound of Music" wedding scene, where we sang a 20-minute concert. The church is bright yellow and the inside is filled with beautiful paintings and flowers.

After our performance, we walked around the quaint town for a couple hours. My group went to the lake, which provided a spectacular view of the Austrian Alps. In this image, the peak of a snowcapped mountain looms over homes.

That evening, we stopped at a restaurant in the Hotel Sacher, famous for serving the Viennese specialty sachertorte — a rich chocolate cake made with apricot jam.
Melk, Austria

On March 28, we left Salzburg and headed to Vienna. On the way, we stopped in Melk for a tour of the world famous Abbey.

The Abbey, located on a hill, looks out onto the town of 5,000. The entirety of the exterior is yellow and white.

We took a long tour, detailing the intricate history and present day purposes of the Abbey. It is residential for a few monks, but also acts as a school for kids of any religious denomination. Afterwards, we sang a recital in the gold-encrusted church. The acoustics rang effortlessly, bringing a chaperone to tears.

Vienna, Austria

That evening, we sang a one-hour concert at Vienna's Karlskirche. The audience was full of excited music lovers, curious visitors, and pedestrians looking for a break from the cold.

The Roman Catholic church was competed in 1737 and dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of Austria's great counter-reformers.

The next morning, we went to Schloß Schönbrunn — a huge palace that had been remodeled during the reign of empress Maria Theresa. We toured the rooms of the palace, explored the grounds, and shopped at the Easter Market.

That afternoon, we headed downtown. We explored the shops, the churches, and saw an award-winning Japanese choir's performance.

ABOVE: Downtown Vienna, packed with tourists and locals. LEFT: St. Stephen's cathedral, a gothic church used for worship and tours, looms over the city. RIGHT: A Japanese choir performs for a packed audience in a local church.

My group took the tiny, cramped elevator up to the landing of St. Stephen's Cathedral, which provided us with a spectacular view of the red and turquoise roofs of Vienna.

As we left Vienna, we stopped at the Vienna Central Cemetery to visit the grave sites of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and many other famous composers. We sang in the church located on site.

The church was covered in mosaics and tiles, made complete with the enormous blue and gold dome.
Prague, Czech Republic

After our five-hour drive to Prague, we checked in to our hotel and slept.

On the morning of March 31, we headed out on a walking tour of the city, which included seeing the Castle District, Charles Bridge, and Old Town.

TOP LEFT: The Charles Bridge in Prague is a popular tourist destination: its street sellers and old statues attract many people. TOP RIGHT: The cathedral in the Castle District looms over all other buildings in the area. Built in the gothic style, the interior is cold, dark, and flush with visitors. MIDDLE LEFT: The red roofs were visible from the castle. During warmer months, the castle has a vineyard, but the land was barren when we visited. MIDDLE RIGHT AND BOTTOM: Our walking tour took us past many vibrant, brightly colored buildings. Prague is filled with beautiful architecture, made even more spectacular by the color schemes.

After about an hour to eat, we headed to our three-hour clinic with one of Prague's most famous conductors. He taught us important lessons about music and we learned music in Czech.

We woke up early the next day in order to get to St. Nicholas Church in Prague's Old Town. We sang their Easter Mass and performed a concert afterwards.

After the concert, we spent five hours wandering around Prague and the Easter Market. The square was filled with tourists and locals alike, shopping for gifts and jewelry at the kiosks.

My group wandered the market and relaxed in a cafe, eating endless desserts.

Many kiosks in the vast Easter Market sold Trdelník, a traditional Czech dessert. Almost everyone in my group bought one, and we were delighted with the chewy, sweet cake.

Before we knew it, we were in Prague's airport saying goodbye to our tour guide and our adventures. We took a short flight to Paris, and after a long layover, boarded our AirFrance flight home.

Created By
Loey Jones-Perpich
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