Although it is difficult to express how spectacular this trip was, I will try.
On March 13th, 36 students and four wonderful music and arts teachers set off on a journey to Paris and Amsterdam. Despite a 5:30am departure from Crothall, we were all excited. After long flights and a couple of instruments misplaced, we arrived in Paris in the morning.
We went on to tour around Paris, seeing Le Tour Eiffel, Champs-Elysees and L’Arc de Triomphe. Our tour guide, Desirée, described the historical and cultural context behind every place we visited with detail. During the following days, we saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Louis XIV’s bedroom in the Palace of Versailles, almost got pickpocketed and performed in front of many students at an international jazz school. Last but definitely not least, we went up the Eiffel Tower and were awestruck by its tremendous view.
On our last night in Paris, we went for dinner at the Hard Rock Café, followed by a cruise along the Seine River to admire Paris at night. We were lucky enough to see the Eiffel Tower flashing, an event that only happens for the first five minutes of an hour after sunset. Even though we were sad to leave Paris, we knew there was a lot in store for us in Amsterdam.
We took the Thalys train the next morning to Amsterdam. Travelling at a speed over 300km/h, we arrived in Amsterdam in less than three hours. The streets of Amsterdam greeted us with just as many bicycles, if not more, than cars. We saw numerous canals, bars, and quite… unique gift shops — no other word could describe such places. We visited two schools: the Amsterdam International Community School (a small city school), and Griftland College, in Soestdijk, Utrecht. We not only performed for the students but also had the opportunity to join them in their classes.
“Goedenmiddag, bent u vrigezel?”
“U bent erg mooi.”
My broken Dutch certainly put smiles on the students’ faces in all the classes. The musicians in Griftsland College were very talented. The school’s music curriculum focused more on contemporary music, and the students’ passion and love for their art clearly showed when they performed for us in their class.
We enjoyed a tour of Amsterdam in a canal boat one evening, and on our final evening we got dressed up to attend the ballet of Romeo and Juliet, set to the music of the Russian, Sergei Prokofiev. This took place in the world-class Musiktheater. We were astonished by the power of the music and drama in the dancing, not to mention the massive pit orchestra of 94 players! That was something no one present will ever forget.
After visiting museums, shopping, and playing music for others, it was time for us to head back to Victoria. It was a tough journey yet again, from Amsterdam to Frankfurt to Calgary to Vancouver then Victoria.
We learned a lot from this trip, and it was certainly a memorable experience. We would like to thank Ms. Williams, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Reid, Mrs. Forbes, all of whom helped make this trip fantastic.