Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 6: Karlskirche

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. ~ 2 Samuel 6:14

close-up of unique baroque architecture of
the Karlskirche, dedicated to a saint who
healed plague victims (built 1716-1737)
Tuesday evening The Chorale had a concert at St. Charles Church (Karlskirche), and our tour guide had managed to get Dear Husband more than an hour of practice time on the organ there. While there are different brands of piano (Yahama, Baldwin, Steinway) that have different actions and therefore play slightly differently than one another, they all have 52 white keys, 36 black keys, in the same pattern, everywhere. By contrast, each organ is a unique instrument. They differ in number of manuals, pipes, registers, stops--and in the case of the two old pipe organs DH played on our trip--in the number of keys and pedals. Organs can have different kinds of stops and combinations and therefore sound fairly different. The stops can be in different places on the console. So it's really hard to just sit down and play a new organ without getting some time to "test drive" it first. That's what DH and I did on the morning of Day 6.

This organ dates from some time in the nineteenth century and has two manuals, 30 stops, and a mere octave and a half in the pedals--which means you couldn't play most of J.S. Bach's organ works on it! We spent the first twenty minutes just figuring out which stops went to which manual, how they sounded, and what kinds of combinations he could make with them. I turned pages, took photographs, and tried to remember not to fall off the big step next to the organ. We were up in the organ loft, 75 steps and I don't know how many feet from ground level.

Dear Husband at the organ
The choir director had asked me on rather short notice whether I would like to choreograph a dance to go with one of the pieces, a slow, beautiful lament written after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try, and since I wasn't on the program, if it didn't come together I could bow out at the last minute, and the audience would be none the wiser. So on this morning DH played the piece so I could hear it (for the first time!); over lunch we dissected its structure; and in the plaza next to that afternoon's art museum, I began to compose a dance. I cannibalized a liturgical dance I had done at church a few months ago and added some new themes. The dress rehearsal after dinner was atrocious, as I still hadn't figured out the middle section. But I studied the piece some more after changing (into a borrowed shirt and skirt suitable for dancing, and a patterned shawl as a prop) and devised some "filler" moves in case there was more time before the next phrase--and somehow it did all come together. I processed down the aisle, danced to one side and the other, fluttered the shawl like a flame and like waves, and ended in a pose of supplication to the altar.

The reactions were mixed, but mostly openly positive. I admit I was a little hesitant to dance at all (in a Catholic! church!), which is why I borrowed the t-shirt to wear instead of a strappy tank top (which is more than being naked but less than a linen ephod). But all the movements were dignified and as emotional as I could make them. Apparently I made the tenor section choke up, although they were supposed to be looking at the choir director and not at me. How's that for a European liturgical dance debut? However, one of men noted that at least one audience member was not keen on the idea of my dancing in the House of the Lord, and he wrote the following poem about it.

 "Requiem" by Eliza Gilkeyson,
      arranged for choir 
      by Craig Hella Johnson,
      sung by The Chorale in Vienna

She had come to the church to worship God,
to hear a touring choir sing classics  with
some spirituals--she thought the choir was good.

The young liturgical dancer was lithe,
quite serious as she embodied grief
and bafflement at death from tsunami,
earthquake, and flood. 

                                     The choir prayed for relief,
for understanding from Mother Mary.

The worshiper, offended by the dance,
looked at the floor, her eyes narrow and hard,
her jaw was clenched, her lips were white and thin.

In choir and congregation there were tears
in sympathy with grieving mother, child...

To turn away from beauty is a sin. 

    A Sonnet by Steve Shoemaker
      June, 2012

view from the balcony with altar directly in front, modern artwork
hanging from ceiling above, and the elevator used in the renovations
that tourists can now pay to ride up in for a better view on the right

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's For Dinner? Part I

The photograph to your left was the inspiration for this post. The plate contains lasagna, chicken tetrazzini, some kind of gumbo? (rice with sausage), and scalloped potatoes. It was the entree at the home of a Viennese singer who very graciously hosted us; this was preceded by a soup and followed by a sweet dessert with a little buzz. All the food tasted very good...but that's all there was. Have you figured out yet what was missing? There were nothing green, no vegetables.

Several of us had noticed this patter to dinner: soup, meat + starch, dessert. If there were any vegetables, they served as garnish, as with the entree from Budapest below, of cheesy breaded chicken breast, french fries, white rice, a piece of lettuce, and a curly-Q of shaved carrot. (I ate everything but the fries. Dessert came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream; good thing I didn't have to sing right after that--I don't know how the rest of them did it without getting phlegmy!)

Now, I am familiar with this Central European menu, since it comes up in my dissertation research. The soup is to stimulate the appetite. The meat + starch are the main event (calories, protein, carbohydrates). According to at least one physiologist, the purpose of dessert is that the sugar helps with gastric motility and therefore digestion of the dinner just eaten. Fruits and vegetables are good for appearance  and variety, both of which stimulate appetite, but too many--especially raw--burden the digestive system with indigestible cellulose. The low nutritional worth of fruits, at least, can be increased by cooking them down with sugar into compote. This is, as you can see, a pre-vitamin paradigm.

I knew about this way of eating, and yet I was surprised to experience it consistently in Budapest and Vienna at our restaurant dinners. Granted, we were served hot meals in the evening of the kind that Central Europeans traditionally ate/eat in the middle of the day (~1pm). Fruits and vegetables are normal parts of the two cold meals at the beginning and end of the day, which generally consist of bread or rolls, meats, cheeses, bread-spreads, pickles, and maybe hard-boiled eggs. But when I mentioned this to my (American) mother-in-law, she told me that her (Austrian) mother-in-law had been of the opinion that a proper large meal of the kind our hostess served us should include three meats and a starch!*

Look, honey: parsley counts as a vegetable, right?
Wienerschnitzel and potatoes in Vienna

*--This must be a national formula, as while at a food conference in Preston a year ago, I learned about the British "meat and two veg" formula, both of which I suppose are analogous to the American Midwestern stereotype of "meat and potatoes."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 5: Architectural Tour of Vienna

Rhenish-Romanesque St. Francis of Assisi church (built 1898-1910) Dear Husband took from the bus window. Also known as the Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Jubiläumskirche to celebrate Emperor Franz Josef I's 50th anniversary on the throne, or more colloquially as "the Mexico church," as it's found on Mexico Plaza. Here's a better, street-level view.

The Neo-Gothic Rathaus (town hall, 1872-1883) lit up at dusk. It stands on the Ringstrasse, the semi-circular boulevard created where the the medieval city walls once stood. Like the Hausmannization of Paris (1850s), the idea here was to tear down the walls to ease the flow of traffic and commerce and to increase land for building. In Vienna, 1/3 of the Ringstrasse was supposed to be devoted to shops and residences, 1/3 to cultural installations (like museums and the opera), and 1/3 to green space. It was very popular with the up-and-coming bourgeoisie: they got big houses, refined past-times, and wide, green boulevards perfect for promenading but terrible for blockading (i.e. during a revolution). The Ringstrasse is only a semi-circle, because World War I interrupted the building orgy. 

Urania, the observatory, built in Art Nouveau style  at the confluence of the Vienna and Danube Rivers (1910). Now a public education institute with a restaurant overlooking the waters, its dome was badly damaged by bombing during World War II. It was reconstructed and re-opened in 1957.

UNO City--the O is for Office (1978)

Vienna is one of four headquarters of the United Nations. Trivia: do you know where the other three are?* It is also home to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Trash incinerator/heating plant (1967-1971), designed by Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (1928-2000). It may look fairly tame, but the artist known as "Peaceful Realm-Rainy Day-Darkly Colorful-Hundred Waters" had a penchant for curved lines, uneven floors, and "tree tenants" growing on the roof and from windows. DH and I visited his museum (Kunsthauswien) the first time we were in Vienna; this time the group just went to the "Toilets of Modern Art" across the street.

At 51 stories, this is Austria's tallest building and Vienna's only skyscraper, the Millennium Tower (1999). It houses a cinema, office space, and a shopping center (Millennium-City), and it has its own internal telecommunications network. In the background you can see the Vienna woods, the foothills at the beginning (or the end) of the Alps. What? Can you hear that? It's the sound of music! Coming soon: post(s) about our performance(s) in Vienna.

* New York, Geneva, and Nairobi

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 4: Central Cemetery, Vienna

Editor's note: we are pleased to announce that this is FrauDoktorDoctor's 100th post! 


After Eisenstadt we were driven up to Vienna. Our first stop in the capital of Austria was at the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in the southern part of the city, where numerous musical luminaries are buried all together under tall marble slabs carved with various images and symbols. That's a close-up of Johannes Brahm's gravestone at left; someone left him roses while he thinks deeply about his next composition. Below are photographs of Ludwig von Beethoven's obelisk (left) and Franz Schubert's bas relief (right). Johann Strauss (father and son) are also buried in the area. Nobody knows the location of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's grave, of course--only it's not because he was too poor to afford a grave plot and a proper funeral. Rather, it's because Emperor Josef was into Enlightened Absolutism and wanted to reform burial customs from irrational individual graves to space-saving mass graves. Funny, but it didn't catch on. However, there is a statue in the center of this area to that classical composer.

I also took photos of some of pretty or striking monuments in the area. So that this post doesn't take too long to load, I'll just include three others. Below left, a nymph waits under a tree that has been incorporated into the gravestone. Below right, a fairy from 1890.

The strangest monument was undoubtedly this one (left). I can only guess that the deceased was a sculptor who designed it before s/he died. The vertical part consists of a naked, headless woman wearing high heels embracing a skeleton (also headless). The horizontal part is a tortured, twisted body missing head and feet.

We could have wandered about and looked at more gravestones, but the onset of rain made sure we ended our pilgrimage on time! We hurried back to the bus and continued to our hotel, across the street from the Hapsburgs' summer home, Schönbrunn Palace. More from Vienna next post.

Day 4: Eisenstadt

On our way from Budapest to Vienna, we stopped in Eisenstadt, a little town just on the other side of the border between Hungary and Austria. We had one reason (Josef Haydn) and two destinations (the Esterhazy Palace and the Haydn House). The town center was pretty quiet that Sunday afternoon as we ate lunch as quickly as we could at a little cafe. Then we hurried back to the palace for the tour before the scheduled afternoon concert. It turns out there was no need, as the tours started late, and neither guide seemed to know an abridged version of the palace tour. So we heard all about the family that had employed Josef Haydn, including their connections to the ruling Austrian Hapsburgs and their marital woes. The one happy marriage ended prematurely with the death of the wife at 35 (left). We also saw the baroque palace chapel, complete with preserved(?) body in a glass coffin, supposedly St. Constantine, the Roman legionnaire who converted to Christianity.

The Haydnsaal (Haydn Hall) is an ornate performance hall in the palace. The Chorale was scheduled to go on at 2:30pm, but I don't think the formal singing started until 3pm. Not that the audience minded, all 5 of them or so. And they were hurried off the stage 20 minutes later so some kids could play dress-up and make believe. Ah well. The acoustics were at least as good in the open-air courtyard below, where they sang "Nellie Bly" as a parting gesture to the palace.

Second stop: the Haydn house and museum, where we had cheerful guides with better English. For 12 of his 40 years in service to the Esterhazy family, the composer and his wife lived on one floor of a house just down the street from the palace. The prince even paid to have the house remodeled and expanded after two different fires. Like the Mozart house/museum in Salzburg, the museum contains portraits, some personal effects, and compositions. By the way, that marriage was also arranged and unhappy, and like many of the Esterhazys, they also took lovers. Poor Haydn: as my memento of his home, the only thing I took a picture of was his kitchen. You can see a photo of a piano-forte he used in the header on the museum's website.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 3: Fisherman's Bastion & Concert

After visiting Heroes' Square and St. Stephen's Basilica, we drove across the Danube to Buda and uuup the hill on which the castle sits. There we climbed the Fisherman's Bastion (left). The name comes from the Middle Ages, when that guild was responsible for defending that part of town, but the building (really mostly a facade) dates to the turn of the last century. Its seven towers represent the seven original Magyar tribes, and a statue of King/St. Stephen on a horse stands in the square between it and Matthias Church,which was used as a mosque when the Ottomans were in charge and was under renovation when we were there. There's a restaurant on the first floor, and the ramparts above are a popular vista point with tourists.

Across the river you can see the Parliament building (right). Constructed in a frilly, Gothic Revival style, it was the winner of a design contest, inaugurated the same time as Heroes' Square (1896), and completed in 1904. They liked the two runners-up so much, they built them, too (facing Lajos Kossuth Square on the other side). This is the largest building in Hungary and the second-largest Parliament building in Europe, after London's. Today it is rather out-sized for the single-chamber legislature, which only uses half the building.

Despite all that sightseeing, can you imagine that this day was only half over? Dear Husband and I ate a quick lunch before setting off on our own for a hour or two at the Gellert Spa. We had to meet the group at a nearby restaurant for an early dinner, because this evening they rehearsed and gave their first scheduled concert, in St. Matthew's Church back in Pest. DH accompanied them and played a few organ pieces; I organized his sheet music and turned pages. As you can see below, the venue was really beautiful. The concert was, too. I had several "musical moments," and I know the audience did as well, because they were very receptive and appreciative.

Day 3: Heroes' Square & St. Stephen's Basilica

In addition to afternoon and evening concerts, the tour company organized guided tours each morning. On our first full day in Budapest, we were driven up to Heroes' Square (Hősök tere). Built in 1896, it commemorates 1000 years of Hungarian history in statues. (The area was supposedly first settled in 896.) In the center of square, the Angel Gabriel stands aloft on a pillar; beneath him ride seven horsemen, one for each of the founding Magyar tribes. That's the Museum of Fine Arts on the left (above); on the right behind the column you can see one of two curved colonnades whose interstices are occupied by the succession of rulers. Below left is the first figure and the most famous, King Stephen I (r. 1000-1038). Below right is one of the figures atop the semi-circles, Labor (with scythe) and Wealth (with cornucopia). (I note that she is wearing a dress, but he apparently can't afford clothes. Somebody get that worker a union!)

After a quick tour of the square to hear some facts and take some photographs, we piled back on the bus to drive around the City Park and down the boulevard that used to be the swankiest in the capital (Andrássy Avenue). A number of foreign embassies are still located there. 

Next stop: St. Stephen's Basilica, named for the king. He is the patron saint of Hungary, and his saint day (August 20) is still one of three national holidays, as the Communists were not able to stamp out devotion to him during their forty-one-year rule. In fact, Hungarians are so devoted to St. Stephen that while erecting the basilica, they asked the Vatican for a special dispensation to put a statue of him on the main altar, rather than a crucifix. It was granted. In addition, his right hand is preserved in the reliquary.

At 96m (315ft), the Basilica is one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest; the other is the Parliament, completed a few years earlier. No building in the capital is allowed to be taller. The church would have been done much earlier if the first architect hadn't died, leaving unsound plans for the dome. When the second architect couldn't get permission to alter them, construction went ahead. The dome collapsed, just as the replacement architect had predicted. They had to tear it down and start over! The interior is gorgeous, warm with gold and brown and sunlight. Good acoustics, too, despite the bustle of tourists hurrying to the next place. The group had decided beforehand to do a sort of "flashmob" and sing one song from their repertoire, which they did.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 2/3: Aquincum & Gellert Spa

Panoramic shot of some of ruins at Aquincum. 
That's the rich man's house on the left and the amphitheater on the right.
"Hey there, lil' buddy!"
On our first afternoon in Budapest, a bunch of us went out to the Aquincum museum and Roman ruins in Obuda, about 20 minutes north of the city center. The recently renovated museum has dig finds from the site that go back to the Neolithic period, but most are from the time when Aquicum was a Roman military outpost on the far eastern frontier of their empire, c. 100-200 C.E. When looking at old things pulled out of the ground, I am often impressed at the fine metal work that went into making jewelry. Dear Husband's second favorite object was from the governor's palace that had been located on an adjacent river island: a slightly larger-than-life statue of the Emperor with a removable head. When one died, the next one's likeness could be added to keep the cult of the emperor up to date.

DH's favorite find--and the reason for our trip--was the remains of the oldest known pipe organ. It was a hydraulis, a water-powered organ, gifted in 228 C.E. to the town's volunteer fire brigade by a rich musician whose wife had played it but had recently died at the tender age of 35 years, 3 months, and 14 days. Too bad they were only a volunteer team of boiled-wool merchants and the like, because the town burned down and the firehouse with it!

The organ was discovered, in pieces, in the building's basement in 1931. Those are now laid out in a glass case. The museum also includes three reproductions: a wooden one (with video of how it sounds), a see-through plexiglass one, and the large one outside (above). It had 13 keys, 4 registers, and 52 pipes and apparently sounded something like a glass harmonica.

The name of town comes from the Latin word for water (aqua) and refers to the area's natural springs. No Roman town was complete with a public bath, and Aquincum was no different. In addition to houses, shops, and a temple, the town boasted a large bath with cold, hot, and steam rooms (below). The floor was raised for a fire to burn underneath + water = sauna.

In fact, Budapest has long been famous as "Spa City." The afternoon DH and I got to experience one of the famous public baths, the Gellert Spa & Baths, opened in 1918. Gellert is very popular with tourists, probably because it claims to be tri-lingual (Hungarian, German, English). Unfortunately, this is only partly true. Some of the staff speak reasonable amounts of German or English, and some of the signs are in all three languages. But a very important one--for the men's and women's changing rooms--is in Hungarian only with no pictogram or the like! The signage was generally confusing about the steps for getting from the front door to the lockers, towel counter, various pools, and massage room. In the end, though, DH got a massage, while I lounged in the 36-degree inner pool and the swam in the 26-degree outer pool. Now we can say we got the "spa experience" in Budapest.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Shades of Meaning

On his way out the door this morning, Dear Husband looked over the top of my laptop to kiss me good-bye. Catching sight of my split screen--primary source on the right, highlighted notes on the left--he said, "You know, Faulkner wanted to publish in multiple ink colors already, but they wouldn't let him. Sorry, you can't be the first to do that." Unsure of whether he was being a font of trivia or of sarcasm, I googled it. It turns out that someone has in fact made Faulkner's wish come true: publishing has "grown up" enough to put out a 14-color edition with a color-coded bookmark to track the jumbled time periods and tenses in his stream-of-consciousness masterpiece, The Sound and the Fury. (It's limited to 1,480 hand-numbered copies at a cool $345 each.)

I've used multi-colored highlighting ever since Word started supporting it, especially in order to organize my reading notes from oh-so-many book reviews for my preliminary exams a few years ago: yellow for useful factual information, teal for the author's argument, green for praise, red for criticism, hot pink for important ideas or theories. For my own writing, blue is usually for my own thoughts and ideas, green or maroon for a section I'm still working on, red for things to look up, orange or italics for text that probably won't stay but I don't want to delete it yet, purple for sections to work on in the future, and black for text I've settled on. My documents often look like the screen shot below, at least in the writing/editing stage. I have entertained the thought of trying to get my advisers to read chapters in technicolor, but probably they would just print them out in black and white anyway. When I turn in the first draft of the second chapter of my dissertation at the end of this month, I guess it will be in plain (authoritative?) black and white after all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 2: Budapest

The bend in the beautiful blue Danube River in Budapest.
Margrit Island is in the background.
Day 1: Got a ride to bus pick-up spot, rode bus to airport, sat/slept in airplane to Frankfurt am Main.

Day 2: Connected to flight to Budapest, met travel guide (Karel) and bus driver (Armin), and drove into Budapest. Learned that in this city of nearly 2 million people, it is almost impossible to make a left turn, so we circled around for a while until we were able to cross a bridge to green, hilly Buda, on the left bank of the Danube. This photo was taken from the Citadel, facing north (and Slovakia in the distance). On the right is flat Pest (pronounced Pesht), on the right bank of the Danube (Duna in Hungarian).

The capital of Hungary is a pretty typically big, central-European city with old and new buildings. Some of both are ugly (either the result of neglect under Communism or questionable architectural style later), while others are quite nice to look at (like the Parliament building). Alexandre Gustave Eiffel designed its train station, which was just down the street from our hotel.

After checking in, showering/changing, grabbing a slooow bite to eat from the restaurant next door, getting the local currency (Hungarian forints, HUF), retrieving hats and cameras, and buying tram tickets from the concierge--a bunch of us set off to view the Roman ruins and museum at Aquicum in Obuda, twenty minutes north of the city center. That's the subject of the next trip post. At dinner at the hotel that night, two musicians serenaded us on violin and cymbalum. This gentleman sang for us, and once he figured out we were a singing group, the two of them played songs for us to sing along to. "If I were a rich man" from Fiddler on the Roof was probably the hit of the night. Having traveled for a day and then spent the afternoon in the hot sun, we went to bed exhausted but excited that night.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Trip, By the Numbers

Clouds over Frankfurt am Main.
Photo credit MAH.

Dear Husband and I have returned from our choir trip to Central Europe, a whirlwind 9-day tour of 4 cities in 3 countries. I keep using the adjective "fabulous" to describe the traveling, the hotels, the sight-seeing, the performances. It took me 2 hours to go through my photographs (not to mention his). Over the next few weeks I will write up and illustrate some remembrances for you. This first installment is "our trip, by the numbers."

Key: B-Budapest, E-Eisenstadt, V-Vienna/Wien, P-Prague/Praha, T-Terezin/Theresienstadt

For the record, we traveled in 2 cars, 4 planes, 3 buses, 3 trams, and 9 subways. There were no boats, rickshaws, or hot-air balloons on this trip, but there was plenty of walking. DH even went for a run three mornings (around St. Margaret Island-B, in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace-V, and along the Vltava River-P). 

Scheduled concerts: 5 (St. Michael’s Church-B, Haydnsaal-E, St. Charles Church-V, Jutta Unkart-Seifert's apartment-V, St. Nicholas Church-P)
Impromptu “flashmobs”: 4 (St. Stephen’s Cathedral-B, Esterhazy Palace Courtyard-E, St. Vitus Cathedral-P, Terezin Ghetto-T)

Setting off from home. Photo credit NJE.
Dear Husband played 3 organs, 4 keyboards, and just 1 piano, at the apartment of former opera singer and current music-charity organizer Jutta Unkart-Seifert. All in all, the instrument situation was rather disappointing, from a grand piano locked in the wings of the Haydnsaal to a sorry excuse for an electronic organ at the concert venue in Prague. However, the two old pipe organs were fun to play. I even choreographed a liturgical dance for one piece on the concerts in St. Charles and St. Nicholas. (More on the instruments here and on my European dancing debut here.)

Countries visited: 3 (Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic)
Currencies: 3 (forints, Euros, crowns)
Cities: 5 (Budapest, Eisenstadt, Vienna, Prague, Terezin)
Rivers: 4 (Danube/Donau-B & V, Vienna/Wien-V, Vltava/Moldau-P, Eger-T)
Bridges: no idea—I lost count
Churches: 6 (in addition to the 5 already named, also St. Giles-P to hear an organ, soprano, and violin concert)
Palaces: 2 (Esterhazy-E, Schönbrunn-V)
Art museums: 2 (the Belvedere-V, the Albertina-V)
Roman ruins: 2 (at Aquincum in Obuda-B + the fake ones at Schönbrunn-V)
Former prisons/Jewish ghettos: 1 (Terezin-T)

Medieval-themed rest stop
between Vienna and Prague.

Missing group members: 1 (showed up in time for the concert)
ER visits: 1 (after a fall, thankfully negative scans)
Marriage proposals: 1 (at Jutta’s apt)
Surprise visits by German cousins: 2 (not mine, although I did some translating)
Lost passports: 1 (recovered from the seat-back pocket)

Ice cream cones/bars: 5
Glasses of wine: 1
Beers: 0
Pálinka (Hungarian brandy): 0 officially, but my water smelled and tasted of it one night at dinner-B
Slivovitz (Czech plum brandy): ½ shot each-P
Schnitzels: 3
Polkas: 1
Photos taken: 630 between the two of us

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We packed our towels!

View Chorale Trip 2012 in a larger map

Thursday morning we leave for our 10-day trip to Central Europe. Above is our concert itinerary (click the map to find out when and where the choir will be singing).

p.s.--This is why in a drawer in the kitchen I keep a Cool Whip tub of rubber bands and twist ties from every bunch of broccoli or loaf of bread I have ever purchased:

Because when searching for the right "little dongly thing"* to pack from the enormous box in the closet of cables, chargers, and dongly things, I might just be inspired to put all those little stretchy circles and pieces of paper-covered wire to good use. Voilá!

* Yes, that's a technical term. Bonus points if you know who coined it!