Austria 2014

The 2014 tour to Austria was the most eagerly anticipated event of this year, promising stunning locations, a large amount of fun and the opportunity to show off our musical talent, all of which were definitely achieved! We were set to play three concerts situated in Salzburg and surrounding areas, as well as having plans to visit local attractions including the renowned Sound Of Music Tour. So at midday on Sunday 29th July we boarded the coach with enthusiasm, exhilaration and intense excitement.

We thought that the bus journey to Paris felt like a lifetime, but it was nothing compared to the stupendous 29 hours that took us from Bodmin College to the Hotel Hutter nestled at the foot of the Austrian Alps. Getting to sleep was exceptionally challenging, despite pillows, blankets and the odd dressing gown or cuddly toy, but the daylight hours were worth it as we passed into Austria and were blown away by the breath-taking scenery. The staggering scale of the mountain range, topped with snow and complete with several tunnels cutting through, certainly made up for our lack of sleep!

Tuesday was our first full day, and also a set date for the first of our concerts, taking place in the city of Salzburg. We spent the morning exploring Mozart’s life through Mrs Wren’s “Mozart Tour” which took us to key locations such as Mozart’s birthplace, and we then had chance to explore the charming streets ourselves in search of ice cream and souvenirs (although the golden coloured Spar seemed to be the most popular attraction). The afternoon then took us to Mirabel Gardens in the heart of Salzburg for our first performance. The weather was glorious and a large crowd had gathered to hear us play our set of classics and modern favourites, including Minnie The Moocher, Louie Louie and Simply The Best. Set in the picturesque gardens it was the perfect start to our showcase of virtuosity.

The next day opened with a visit to the Werfen Ice Caves, and consequently a brisk forty minute walk up part of a mountain – thankfully punctuated by a cable car ride that allowed us to effortlessly enjoy the astonishing views (but not so effortless if you’re scared of heights; this was the steepest cable car in Austria). At just under 1600 metres above sea level we entered the caves, and were immediately thankful for the constant reminders to wear warm clothing as we were hit with an icy cold blast of air! Presented with lanterns and 700 steps up we began the ascent through the frankly spectacular ice formations that had shaped themselves into magnificent sculptures over the years, the experience was truly unforgettable! We then travelled to the village of St. Gilgen to perform for the second time, the sudden arrival of rain not deterring our high spirits. The concert went down well with the residents of the village and tourists walking through the park, and the atmosphere was brilliant. The highlight however, had to be the bandstand we played in that not only kept us dry, but was beautifully designed.

Thursday morning saw us up even earlier in order to keep to our busy schedule, with two activities planned before our last concert. Our first event took us back to Salzburg for the Sound Of Music Tour! The weather had brightened significantly, making the stops to see all the filming locations even more enjoyable; and we had an excellent guide who kept us all thoroughly amused with some quality Sound Of Music banter. Afterwards we continued on to a tour that took us underground this time and into the Salt Mines. Dressed appropriately (although definitely not fashionably), we made our way through the tunnels by foot, train, boat and even slides – these were so fantastic they prompted several goes! We then returned to our lovely hotel for a speedy dinner before setting out again, to the idyllic village of Filzmoos - made even more peaceful by the summer evening aura. The bandstand was impressive to say the least, not only in style but also in its sliding floor, revealing benches and drum kit hidden from view. We had a wonderful crowd as well, all of whom clearly enjoyed our music; especially the youngest generation who amused everybody with their quirky dance moves. It was definitely the best concert of the three, and our highest level of performance this year. To put the icing on the cake, as it were, we were all treated to free ice cream by the pizzeria owner, which was enjoyed tremendously (Austrian ice cream is truly something else).

Our last day in Austria was one for relaxation, and sadly packing, before we began the journey back home. We took the time to venture into the village near our hotel and had the opportunity to explore a traditional Austrian fair, the highlight of which being the huge portions of cake we consumed. The remainder of our time was spent playing football, sunbathing or having fun in the pool with the sun burning down at thirty degrees Celsius, a temperature that was appreciated at the time but not at 3 o’clock on a coach. And so after 27 hours, many service stops and a queasy ferry crossing we arrived back home; completely exhausted and with wonderful memories to share. Throughout the tour we had interacted with a different culture, experienced incredible settings and people, and certainly showed the best of our musical ability. Without a doubt, we had the time of our lives.

Author: Izzi Brinsley
Tagged: Bodmin College Jazz Orchestra, Austria, Salzburg, Filzmoos


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