It was 2:00 AM when we ambassadors, slightly groggy but excited, loaded a bus from South Dakota State University’s campus and began what would become the adventure of a lifetime. We were the Midwest Ambassadors of Music, about 300 teenage musicians and chaperones, and were to perform band and choir concerts in a variety of locations throughout Europe. The trip we were about to embark on was a 16 day tour of Europe, including cities such as London, England; Paris, France; Crans Montana, Switzerland; Seefeld, Austria; Rottenburg, Germany; Venice, Italy; and a quick stop in Lichtenstein.
We began in London, an exciting bustling city where there is never an absence of something to do. My advice would be to make sure you do these two things: go to a London musical, and eat fish and chips at one of the local restaurants. The musicals in London are amazing; Broadway quality performances (some would argue that they are better than Broadway) especially The Phantom of the Opera which I saw while in London. But before you go and hit the theatre, stop at a local restaurant and order a plate of fish and chips like we did; you will be glad you did.
Next we embarked for Paris via ferry. I would recommend riding the ferry from London because you get a beautiful, picturesque view of the White Cliffs of Dover. When in Paris be sure to see the Louvre and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. We found that the best way to take on the Eiffel Tower is to get to the tower before it opens, the lines are massive during the day, and take the stairs not the elevator because the line is shorter; those of us that walked reached the second floor before those who rode the elevator. Then be sure to buy a ticket at the second level to ride the elevator to the top; it has the best view of Paris. Also, when in Paris be sure to buy a crêpe. They are cheap, made fresh in front of you, and filled with delicious jam.
Worn down by the hustle and bustle of the city, we next embarked for Switzerland and Austria. One of my favorite stops in Switzerland was the Matterhorn. The mountain is absolutely breathtaking. Other than seeing the Matterhorn, Switzerland is a great place to just wander through the city, relax, take in the fresh mountain air, and buy some delicious Swiss chocolate. The same can be said for Austria; we were able to see the mountains from our hotel room and Seefeld was great for wandering.
From Austria we left for Venice for the day and then drove back to our hotel in Austria. In my opinion that is definitely not enough time for Venice. One fun thing we did in Venice, though, was take a gondola ride; the gondoliers are great and ours serenaded us in Italian for a part of the ride.
We finally arrived at our last country, Germany. In my opinion they saved the best for last. Rottenburg, Germany is a walled city that has been frozen in time; I suggest walking up on the wall and finding out when the Night Watchman is giving a tour. His tour is great at explaining the history of this medieval town.
Finally, filled with exhaustion and a sense of satisfaction with all we had done and seen, we said our goodbyes to Germany and all of Europe and headed back home to South Dakota; all of us hoping to return to Europe someday.
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