Band enjoys trip to Europe

Our trip started on March 10 at 6 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm with a bus ride to Winnipeg.
The atmosphere on the bus was vibrating with excitement until people started drifting off to sleep. Then it was very quiet right up to the outskirts of Winnipeg.
At the airport, the excitement level rose once again as we checked our instruments and luggage.
Our flight from Toronto to London was uneventful until the sun rose and we could see Great Britain beneath us. We realized we were about to land in a city that was more than 2,000 years old.
The first thing we did upon arriving in London was take a guided bus tour of the city. Our guide described many historical sites as we made our way toward our hotel.
We checked into the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square and then took the London Metro (subway system) to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Part of our group climbed more than 700 stairs to the top of the dome of the cathedral.
The view was spectacular!
On our return to the hotel, we split into different groups to see different sites in London. Some people went on the Jack the Ripper Tour, some went to the theatre to see some of the plays being offered, and others went shopping.
Everyone had a great time.
After a good night’s sleep, we joined our guide for a tour of Westminster Abby. At this historic site, we saw ancient architecture as well as the graves and memorials of many historic figures such as Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare.
The aura of the church was absolutely breathtaking. There seemed to be a calming effect while you were in the church.
After a quick lunch, we loaded up our instruments and headed to our first concert at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. We played and sang for an hour-and-a-half, then visited with staff and patients.
According to Mr. Dutton, the first concert was a success. Our evening once again was spent in small groups touring the city.
Our third and final day in London was spent partially at the Tower of London. We received a guided tour and then were granted some free time to explore at our own pace.
Our second concert was held at St. Mark’s Church in Teddington. Joining us during the concert was the Barisons Chamber Choir conducted by Adam Assen.
< *c>On to France
The next day, we went to Paris on the Eurostar train. This train goes 150 feet below the English Channel and the length of the tunnel is 31 miles–23 of which are under water.
After arriving in Paris, we went on another bus tour. Our guide described the historical sites of the city to us and gave us opportunities for photos.
We then checked into our hotel, the Campanile Bagnolet, where we had a short rest before heading to supper.
During our stay in Paris, we had a guided tour of the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre, we visited the Arc de Triumphe, and strolled down the Champs Elysees.
We also had a night-time boat tour down the Seine River on a Bateau Parisien, and we had a spectacular view of the city from the third level of the Eiffel Tower.
Part of our group went to Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame while a couple of people even went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery to see Jim Morrison’s grave.
We also were able to sample French cuisine, which some of us liked and some of us didn’t. There were times when McDonald’s was the choice of the evening.
Our concert in Paris was held at a seniors’ residence home, the Foundation de Rothschild. We received many compliments and congratulations from the residents of the home, and were invited to come back next year to perform again.
We then headed for the Cote d’Azur in the south of France, where we stayed in the ancient city of Nice. Our first day was spent on a guided walking tour of Nice and Old Nice.
We strolled along the Promenades des Anglais, lined with cafes and hotels, and gazed at the spectacular view of the Mediterranean.
Some of our group swam in the sea and sun-bathed on the unique pebbled beach. There was no sand to be seen. Others wandered through the open air market and looked at the architecture and historical sites.
Day two consisted of a coach tour to Eze, where we visited Galimard perfume factory and did a walking tour of the mountain village of Eze.
We then continued on to Monaco, which is a small country (known as a principality) covering 0.73 square miles. It consists of a narrow seaside strip which is almost vertical at times and reaches 163 metres above sea level.
There we saw the Oceanographic Museum and the grave of Princess Grace Kelly. We also viewed the historical casino at Monte Carlo, which was built in 1879 and still is a popular spot for the world’s celebrities today.
Day three saw us in Antibes, where we visited the Picasso museum and spent time in the open air market, where Palm Sunday celebrations were taking place.
We then travelled to Cannes, where we spent a warm afternoon wandering along the Mediterranean Sea and looking at the treasures in the market near the old city.
Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience and a great success. We tried new cuisine, saw interesting sites, and gained firsthand knowledge of places and scenes we have studied in school.
We walked many miles and collectively lost many pounds. We came home tired, with sore feet, but with a definite plan to return.