• 2013 Ensemble Tour to Germany, Austria, Slovakia

Castles & Chocolate - Day 10 - July 10, 2013

We woke up pretty early, nothing really out of the norm, but instead of heading to our normal rehearsal hall for our morning rehearsal, the kids walked to a church about 5 minutes away for a recording session with Andrej, a recording engineer from Slovenia.  Once the kids arrived, all smiles with lots of energy, Bob warmed them up with quite a few yoga stretches to get the blood flowing, and then a vocal warm up before they were to begin recording.  

Meanwhile, Andrej was getting all his equipment set up. They recorded from about 9:30-12:30, and they were able to successfully record 5 songs!   Bob and Sue were thrilled that they were so successful in such a short amount of time. Usually recording sessions take a minimum of 2 days before they are pleased with the tracks.  Must have been the Graz air or something, but they were quite successful!!

Following the recording session, the kids enjoyed their lunches provided by their home stays in the church courtyard, and then headed back to the school to start the days adventures in Austria!   Heinz, our amazing bus driver, picked us up and we took off to see Riegersburg Castle, perched up on a hill. This castle is situated on a dormant volcano in the town of Riegersburg, in the state of Styria. The peak, being at 482 meters above sea level, was no easy task for either the bus or us to reach without any trouble!  The very narrow, windy road that led up to the castle just so happened to be under construction. Our very patient, and skilled driver, Heinz, maneuvered his huge bus through the construction with what looked like ease to us, and then we were on our way. We kept climbing until finally we reached the parking lot of the castle.  All the kids were hot and tired and looked up with worry, thinking they would have to climb to the top, but were quite pleased when they saw and heard that they could use the tram that shot us up the side of the steep volcano! The kids had a good time exploring the 3 self guided sections of the castle.  One was the castle itself, and then they had a few rooms on display that were about witches, and weapons. Lots of pictures were taken by many of the kids and they had fun!

Following the castle, we went to the Zotter Chocolate Factory, which was just about 5 minutes away. The kids were in heaven, especially Michael Adams!!  We walked into this huge factory that smelled amazing, and were led to a mini theater where we watched a brief video about how their chocolate is produced. One of the interesting things about their chocolates is that every time you enjoy a chocolate bar, a child on the other side of the world stops starving.  For each sold bar of "Yummy! Meals for Schools" chocolate, a Burmese refugee child will receive a school meal, kind of like the "Toms" shoes idea.

At the factory, we were each given a porcelain tasting spoon, which we used throughout the factory, tasting all the different kinds of chocolates they produced there, as well as the various stages the chocolate goes through before it is a delicious chocolate bar, starting with the raw cocoa beans!  Andres and Rebekah both especially loved the raw, bitter cocoa beans!!   The kids had a blast going from station to station tasting all the different types of chocolate.  There was drinking chocolate, chocolate fountains in all different flavors, chocolate nougat, slivers of chocolate bars, and any form and flavor of chocolate you could imagine, they had there for us to taste!  As chaperones, our only stipulation for them was to not get "Chocolate wasted."  I think by the time most of them got through the tour, they didn't want to see another chocolate bar for quite some time, and they had a difficult time going through the gift store, because unfortunately, I think some of them did indeed get "chocolate wasted!"  None the less, they all had a great afternoon, and went home to spend their last night with their home stays in Graz.

Getting ready for the tram ride up the mountain
  • 2013 Ensemble Tour to Germany, Austria, Slovakia