Greetings from Austria!
We have had a very busy few days with lots of singing, culture and schnitzel.
On Saturday we participated in a walking tour of Vienna. We divided into two groups – the German group and the English group. Those studying German were able to improve their vocabulary and conversation skills through the German speaking tour whereas the non-German speakers took the tour in English. It was really interesting to familiarise ourselves with the history of the city of Vienna and to see some of the great landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, St Rupert’s – the oldest church in Vienna and the Plague Column. After the tour we then visited Mozart’s House where he lived from 1784 to 1787 and composed the famous opera ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. The apartment where he lived was grand with a number of large rooms, it was impressive to see the room from which Mozart composed this piece. The GCSE and A Level Music students were also able to get a greater insight into Mozart’s work as it is one of their set pieces for their examination study.
After Handel-ing the Viennese culture we went to the Prater funfair. It’s the oldest amusement park in the world. The girls had lots of fun playing on the rides, challenging Mr Keeley, Miss Dale and Mr Anstice at the Dodgems and eating lots of treats. Following this we went back to the hotel for dinner and an evening rehearsal.
Sunday brought a change of scenery. We left the hills of Vienna to travel to Salzburg. It was approximately a 3.5 hour journey and an opportunity for the girls (and Mr Anstice) to catch up on some much needed sleep. For those of us who stayed awake we were able to witness the beautiful hills, luscious grass and clear lakes that surrounded our route. It was also a blue sky, no cloud day so we were treated to a very pleasant journey.
Upon arriving in Salzburg we visited Mozart’s Geburtshaus (birth house). The museum had lots of facts about Mozart and his father Leopold Mozart (who was a famous musician in his own right). The museum had some interesting artefacts and even contained a lock of Mozart’s hair – this kept the girls amused. After doing what More House girls do best (spending money in the gift shop) we left the house and met up with our two Salzburg tour guides – Helga and Hilda. They showed us the sights of Salzburg which, incidentally, is a beautiful city. We saw the Mozart statue, the Cathedral (which we then sung at on Monday), the fortress at the top of the hill, the famous festival hall and the cobbled side streets with their pretty iron signs. After a quick pitstop for lunch we the wandered to the Mirabell Gardens which is famous for the fountain scene in the Sound of Music film. Strangely, the Sound of Music film is not popular in Austria and many locals have absolutely no idea what the all the fuss is about.
Monday was a fun filled day of concerts and Schule (Austrian School). In the morning we visited the Neumarkt Schule just outside of Salzburg. The girls were split into small groups and participated in two lessons. One group went to drama and performed a play with the Austrian students, one went to music and tried their hand at yodelling, others had a go at some German. The girls absolutely loved the opportunity to meet students from an Austrian school, practise their German and tell them about our school. It was also a chance for the senior students who take GCSE or A Level German to meet up with their pen pals. They have been writing to each other for over a year. To conclude our school visit we performed a programme of songs to over 200 students. We were then treated to lunch (more schnitzel) which had been prepared and cooked by the students who are on the catering and hospitality course – one of the teachers mentioned that they have to cater for the whole school on a daily basis as part of their course. An impressive feat, perhaps Brahim our school chef could trial this…?!
After a quick journey back to the centre of Salzburg we had an hour of free time before we went to the cathedral for our afternoon concert. The concert started at 4pm but there were crowds appearing from 3pm as they’d heard that a school choir was to perform. The girls sang outstandingly well. The repertoire of religious pieces sounded beautiful in the impressive Cathedral. At one point all of the front pews we filled with tourists. There must have been at least 100 people there.
Finally, after a busy day we headed back to the hotel for some down time, a nap and some strudel.