Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 4 - Heilsbronn, Schwäbish Gmünd, and Täferrot

On Sunday morning, Sean, Elise, and I went to church at the Münster where we'd performed the previous evening. How often do you get to go to church in an 800 year old building? It was a pretty cool experience, despite the fact that most of the German went right over our heads. They had a guest brass choir there that Sunday that played during the service. That was pretty sweet to listen to in such an acoustically live space. The weird thing, though, was when they got to the postlude. Here we are, sitting in an ancient building, and this brass choir plays... "Hey Jude." Yes, the Beatles song. I like the song, and it was a good arrangement, but it just seemed kind of out of place for the situation. I think all the Germans around me thought so too, judging by the surprised facial expressions.

As we were walking out after the service, the church's music director (who spoke very good English, thankfully) hurried up to us to tell us how much she enjoyed our concert the night before. We talked for a little while, and then I told her that I am also a church music director and wondered if I might be able to buy one of their church hymnals (yes, I'm a nerd and I collect them). She enthusiastically presented me with a hymnal as a gift! SCORE! So now I have this awesome German Lutheran hymnal, and it includes a section at the back with hymns and prayers and such that are specific to the Bavarian area. It's pretty nifty.

Anyway, after we got back, we checked out of the hotel and said auf wiedersehen to Heilsbronn. We drove along some German back roads to the town of Schwäbish Gmünd. We weren't actually singing in that town, but the town where we were performing, Täferrot, wasn't big enough for us to lodge there. Our hotel, Hotel Patrizier, was a very nice, large house and turned out to be one of the nicest hotels we stayed in. After checking in, we wandered out to explore the town and find some lunch.

Some kind of children's festival was going on in the center of town, so there were about a million kids in orange shirts running around. We never did quite figure out what that was about. For lunch, we stopped at a Kebab place and had what were basically gyros. I'm pretty sure the owner was Turkish, and he had this gigantic rotating spit filled with a huge piece of meat (lamb, I think?). It was delicious.

Schwäbish Gmünd had a few medieval watchtowers in it, a beautiful old cathedral, and there were Smart Cars everywhere with unicorns painted on the side. I wish we could have spent more time in this town, because it seemed pretty cool. In the early afternoon, we drove out to Täferrot to rehearse in the parish church of St. Afra. This church was much smaller and the acoustics weren't as good, but it was still a beautiful building.

The concert was very successful and we had much more attendance this time around - the place was packed! I think they estimated about 450 people were there. We had to do an encore again, and we had to come back in and bow at least five times. Some people up on the balcony even stood up, which is extremely rare for concerts in Europe. So, that was a pretty awesome feeling. We talked to a few people afterward and they were very appreciative and friendly.

Dinner that night was epic. We ate outdoors at a restaurant next to the Dom (cathedral) in Schwäbish Gmünd. Much tasty beer and wine was had, and this was the first time I experienced the joy of Jägerschnitzel and Käsespätzle. Jägerschnitzel is a breaded and fried pork cutlet covered in a mushroom/cream gravy, and Käsespätzle is homemade cheesy noodles. Pure deliciousness! Dessert was fried apple cakes with vanilla ice cream, and I topped it off with hot chocolate (no, I didn't gain weight on this trip... too much walking!). Sitting next to the cathedral was fun, because we had church bells as a backdrop every once in awhile.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and shared a bottle of wine in the dark in the hotel's terrace garden. Elise made the mistake of falling asleep first, so she had many candy wrappers and fake flowers thrown into her hair. The rest of us enjoyed many laughs and good conversation!

This was definitely one of the best days of our trip!

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