Eurotour 2011

Germany / Switzerland / Belgium: 1-15 October 2011


Friday 30 September 2011
 
 
The day began at 07.45 when everybody got together at the George Airport to say goodbye to SCCC! Michael Lindt sang "Karoonag" with us, Innis Benade prayed for us and the community came out in huge support!
 
 
 

Then it was boarding time on 1Time and Kulula flights to Johannesburg where we collected our baggage and prepared to check in at Oliver Tambo International international departures!


 
After passing thorugh passport control, we relaxed and sang a couple of impromptu concerts!



Then we boarded the Lufthansa A380-800 flight to Frankfurt!

 

Day 1: Saturday 1 October 2011

We arrived at Frankfurt International Airport at 05.20, collected our luggage and proceeded through passport control and customs. Frankfurt is the 8th busiest airport in Europe. The city of Frankfurt is the 2nd biggest metropolis in Germany and Europe's biggest financial centre. Historically the name "Frankfurt am Maine" means "the fort of the Franks on the Main River."
 


 

Loading our luxury double-decker bus was quite a job!


 

Then we departed on a day tour of the Romantic castle cities of Germany, commencing with Rothenburg, a medieval walled city (Rot=red) known for its red roofs and (Roth=rattan) flax production. (Red fortress above the Tauber River) This is where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed, and traditionally is the home of Pinocchio! We had lunch at Burger King and then went to the Altstadt (Old City) where we visited the Markplatz (marketplace).






We sang an impromptu concert on the steps of the Rathaus (Town Hall) (built in 1250) and watched the Town Clock figurines depict the 1630 mayor of Rothenburg drink a gallon of wine in a challenge by the enemy to save the town from destruction in war!
 


Then we departed for Heidelberg, but discovered that it would take too long to visit Heidelberg, so we departed directly for Bensheim where we arrived at St Georg Katholische Kirche to an incredible welcome party!



 
We  attended a cultural exchange workshop with our friends from the St-Georg Choir, and then spent some time recording an Advent cd-recording in the wonderful church!sleepover, Bensheim, a city at the edge of the Odenwald Mountains, overlooking the Rhine valley! After an exhausting but wonderful day, we went home to sleep over with our host families.


Day 2: Sunday 2 October
 
Today we sang  the Gloria, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion in the service of the historic St George Katholische Kirche, in Bensheim, with its twin towers.  After the service, we presented a short concert in the church and had lunch with our hosts.







 
 
Then we departed for a hike over the gigantic boulders of the famous Fehlsenmeer. Watch out for twisted ankles!


We returned to our Bensheim host families where we slept over with them one last time.

Day 3: Monday 3 October
 
On Monday we sang "Nkosi Sipea" to our wonderful Bensheim host families, and travelled to Lake Konstanz, the biggest lake on the German-Swiss border, for lunch.

We visited the medieval city of St Gallen, with its magnificent cathedral...



and made our way to the picturesque Alpine village of Appenzell, (the village of "Heidi") where we visited the Altstadt (Old City)!


We finally arrived in Bulach, where we met our Swiss host families, and slept over.


 
Day 4: Tuesday 4 October

Today we departed for the breathtaking city of Lucerne, where we sang an impromptu concert on the steps of the wooden Chapel Bridge of Lake Lucerne, after which we walked through the Altstadt, visited the Luzern cathedral and Lion Monument, and finally, went shopping!






And then serious work! We returned to Bulach for our rehearsal in the Bulach Katholische Kirche, and presented our second Eurotour concert in this incredible church. It was attended by the South African Ambassadorial representative, who was blown away by the standard and professional concert that SCCC presented!







After the concert, we returned to our host families and slept over with them for our second night in Bulach.

Day 5: Wednesday 5 October:

Today we left for Engelberg and Mt Titlis, for a snow picnic on the summit! We ascended the slopes by rotating cablecar. Watch out for snowballs!








 

After a great outing for the day, we returned to Bulach for our third and final evening with our Bulach host parents.

Day 6: Thursday 6 October

Today we said goodbye to Bulach and departed for Altdorf (Old Town) where we visited the monument of William Tell (who shot an apple from his son's head with a bow and arrow, to save Switzerland!) But first we auctioned off all lost property!





 
Then we travelled to Andermatt, south of Altstad, on our way to Locarno, passing over the famous Devil's Bridge, where the ancient earls of Switzerland lost a fortune of treasure that has never been found!

 
Then we travelled over the Gotthard Pass to the beautiful Swiss-Italian border city of Locarno.
 

 


Upon arrival in Locarno (Lion's Flesh), the children met their host parents, while the adults slept over in the Garni Rondinella Hotel, on the banks of Lake Maggiori (for 2 nights!)


Day 7: Friday 7 October

The day started with everyone gathering on the steps at Coro Calicantus Choir School.
Then we had a guided tour of the Piazza Grande and Altstadt of Locarno.




We attended a master class with the conductor of Coro Calicantus, Mario Fontana.


At 14.00 we departed to the resort town of Ascona where we strolled along the lakefront and rested before our rehearsal at the Collegio Papio..



  We had a wonderful concert with the Swiss Children's Choir Champions, Coro Calicantus, in the Collegio Papio School, in Ascona!





At the end of the concert we honour composer Ivo Antognini by singing two of his compositions together!
 After a wonderful concert, we returned to our host parents and the adults to their hotel where Coro Calicantus and SCCC decided to become sister choirs!

Day 8: Saturday 8 October

Today we signed a joint venture agreement with Coro Calicantus, and then had to take very sad leave of our new friends in Locarno, who refused to let us go, and staged a sit-in in the road! We then traveled almost 900 km, through the Gotthard Tunnel, all the way back to Heidelberg from the canton of Ticino, in the south of Switzerland!


 
 
On our way, we saw snow falling!

We passed through the cities of Lucerne and Basel (on the Rhine River), and arrived back in Heidelberg, where we briefly visited the markplatz, after which the whole choir booked into the Heidelberg Youth Hostel.








Day 9: Sunday 9 October

We departed from Heidelberg on route to Solingen. We attended a celebratory concert of several choirs, after which we presented the second half of the concert in the Evertz Exhibition Hall!





 
After another highly successful concert, we met our Solingen host families who took us for a Sunday afternoon outing, after which we returned to Solingen to sleep over.
 
Day 10: Monday 10 October

We departed from Solingen for Bottrop, for a day of three concerts!

 

Concert #1 is at  a school with 12-16 year-old learners at 10.00.

Concert #2 is at the same school with 16-19 year-olds at 12.00.


After lunch we went on a sight-seeing tour of Bottrop and climb the Tetraeder (Tetrahedron) for spectacular views of the Ruhr (Industrial heartland) of Germany!
 



Then we departed for the St Joseph Parish Church for our rehearsal with the Buona Novella Choir, followed by a spectacular concert where they joined with us in singing some of our African songs! We slept over with our Bottrop host families who treated us to great hospitality!





 


Day 11: Tuesday 11 October

We said goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Bottrop and departed for Bruhl.

 
Bruhl features the theme park, Phantasialand, which we visited for most of the day!

 
We said goodbye to Phantasialand and travelled to Aachen, with its famous Cathedral, where Charlemagne lies interred, where we rehearsed, held q deeply moving Concert in the magnificent 1300-year-old  Aachen Cathedral, which, after 25 years of restoration, was finally completed 4 weeks ago! We were the first international choir to hold a concert in the newly-renovated cathedral! What an honour! After the concert we met our host families and went to bed!








 

Day 12: Wednesday 12 October

Today we crossed the German/Dutch/Belgian border at Aachen into Belgium.

 
We travelled to Antwerp where we visited the newly erected (and very impressive) MAS Museum (Museum Aan die Stroom)  We met up with members of the Kiliana Choir who escoredt us to the Antwerp Cathedral (Katedraal van Onse Vrouwen), where we were granted the exclusive privilege of singing a mini-concert at 14.00!
The name Ant (Hand) werpen (Thrown) comes from the myth that a giant (Antigoon) stood at the spot where this city is built and demanded a toll from everyone who passed here. If people could not pay, he chopped off their right hand and threw it in the river Scheldt. One day a young hero, named Brabo, saved the people from this giant by cutting off his hand and throwing it into the river. This incident is portrayed by the statue below.


 
 
Then we met our Overpelt host families for our first overnight stay in Overpelt.

Day 13: Thursday 13 October

Today we met at Den Drossaerd at 08.00,
and departed to a windmill in St Huibrechts.
Then we departed to Mater Dei School, a very impressive school of the arts, where we held a concert with the pupils.



 
We also sing a short concert for a preschool in another beautiful church:
 


Then we departed for the Cultural Centre Palethe, where we rehearse with Dana Winner and the Kiliana Choir.
 
After supper we had our final concert of the tour in this amazing concert hall!








Day 14: Friday 14 October

Today we visited Brussels, the capital of Belgium!


We visited the Atomium, which was built in 1956 for an Expo, and has become synonymous with Brussels. It has remarkable views from inside!
 
...after which we drank the sweet water of the Mannekin Pis (Little man wee-weeing). The Mannekin Pis is dressed in different attire on different days of the week.
 
We passed the Royal Palace Gardens andvisited the Grote Markt of Brussels.





 
Finally, we returned to Overpelt for a great Farewell Party with Kiliana Choir!


Day 15: Saturday 15 October

Today was the last official day of our tour! We travelled to Maastricht, the Aachen, where we spent our last hours shopping!

 
 
Then we left for Frankfurt Airport, Johannesburg and a hero's welcome at George Airport!


MORE PHOTOS TO FOLLOW!