We were all sad to say goodbye to Prague, an amazing city we have come to love, but excited to explore a new place in a new country with a new language and new currency! We drove for about 4 hours with a stop along the way for lunch. Of course, there was KFC, which is surprisingly popular in Czech Republic from what we can see (and, honestly, the chicken wraps are pretty tasty). We also found the Czech version of Wawa – StopCafe. With our bellies full courtesy of our last Czech per diem, it was on to the city center of Vienna!
We arrived with a bit of time to spare and had about 45 minutes to wander. With the city at our feet, we all beelined to the gelateria that Stefano had suggested. It was totally worth it! We then met our guide, Sylvia, for a walking tour of the historic city center. Vienna has a very different feel than we are accustomed to in Prague, more cosmopolitan and busier, but absolutely gorgeous! We were lucky to have a fun and engaging guide that really helped us understand and get excited about what we were seeing. One of the strange highlights – Vienna is known for having amazing tap water. We all got to try it, and many of us filled our water bottles right away. We then hopped back on the bus and Sylvia gave us a bus to of other parts of the city as we drove out to Vienna Central Cemetery. It was a great tour, although a few of us may have nodded off along the way…
Now, a cemetery may seem like an unusual place to take a tour bus of teenage boys, but this is no ordinary cemetery! It’s the largest in Europe, and home to the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (and his father and son), Gluck, Lanner and Brahms. It was quite the pilgrimage, and these were no ordinary grave markers – these are gorgeous stone monuments! It was truly special to see the musical history of this city in such a tangible way.
Finally, it was time to check into our hotel. It’s not quite as chic as our Prague accommodations, but clean and nice, and we unanimously decided that the buffet dinner food is better here than it was in Prague. On the other hand, we’ve definitely learned that the Europeans are not nearly as enthusiastic about air conditioning as Americans! Unfortunately, at dinner we received the news that one of our friends in a collaborating choir tested positive for COVID. Luckily, we’ve had relatively limited direct exposure to the singers, and both their group and our group have been wearing masks consistently. We’re taking extra precautions to keep our boys safe, and while we’re sad to not be hanging out with our friends from this choir, everyone understands why it’s important for us to keep a bit of distance. On the upside, no one in our group has shown any symptoms, and our final concert is still on for Thursday evening in Vienna! We can’t wait to share our music with the people in this beautiful city.