From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 17 - July 24, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Eating Ice Cream in Europe
Part One
by Casey Dean

"Oh my gosh, you guys, we're in Europe!"

Tillie Bennett updated us when the Wyoming Ambassadors of Music first landed in Gatwick Airport in England. She continued to enthusiastically inform us of what we were doing, and where, throughout our entire tour of Europe.

About 200 Wyoming high school musicians traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and Germany to perform for foreign audiences. There were five musical groups, including a jazz band, concert band, orchestra, choir and pop choir.

Eight Pinedale students and one Pinedale grandmother traveled with this group. Sara Domek, Kari Boroff, Gracy Huntley, Amber Pearce, Holden Vargas, Alex Gunn and I played in the concert band; Vargas played with the jazz band as well. Bennett sang in the choir, and Mary Ellen Steele accompanied family members for the trip.

After practicing our performances for two full days, we left Cheyenne for Denver International Airport, from which we few out to Europe June 15. We spent eight hours over the ocean, arriving in Gatwick Airport just in time to start a full day in London.

First stop: Windsor Castle. The Queen and royal family were in, and we all wandered around a bit, gazing at the beautiful castle and recovering from jetlag. Some of us tried the ice cream. Amber Pearce and I had decided to taste the ice cream in each country, and our first sample was at Windsor Castle. Then we loaded the coaches and headed to London.

"Guys, we're riding our first subway, in London!"

Each bus was divided into groups of about 10, and after dinner each group headed off in different directions. Tillie and I jumped on the 'tube' with our group and headed to Piccadilly Circus, where we strolled the square and bought our first souvenirs. From there, we took the tube to the Millennium Mile and saw the world's largest Ferris wheel, the London Eye, before heading back to the hotel.

Our second day in England we were given a tour on our coaches, where we picked up many interesting little tidbits about London and the rest of England. We stopped at the Wesley Chapel, where the choir had the opportunity to practice before our first concert the next day. The church was beautiful and so was the music the choir made while the rest of us gazed at the architecture and stained glass windows.

Then we loaded up once again and headed to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard in the rain. This was a sight to see! At least I think it was, there were several tourists taller than I, who I feel may have seen it better, but the ceremony was fun to see firsthand (or first-tippy-toe).

We then enjoyed lunch in the park before loading the bus to continue our tour. On this driving tour, we drove past the Ritz and the first Hard Rock Café. We had a chance to see the rebuilt Globe Theater from a distance and snap a picture, before running back to cram more into the day.

We went to the National Gallery to see some famous works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh and many others. Seeing these pieces from just a few feet away was phenomenal.

We were all in awe as we left the National Gallery; imagine what the Louvre must be like! Dinner was on us; we paid for just one meal each day, and our group headed to Covent Garden. Here we could either eat in an outdoor restaurant or pick up a baguette at a deli down the street. Either way, we all sat around the edge of the square, watching entertainers juggle on stilts and perform other fun tricks.

Then we meandered through the stands looking for teas for mom and a painting for the neighbors. We tried the ice cream here too, raspberry, and once again, it was delicious.

After dinner, we ran through the rain to find a seat in Her Majesty's Theater for the Phantom of the Opera.

"Guys, we just watched The Phantom of the Opera! In London!"

This time most of the group joined Tillie in excitement. "The Phantom of the Opera! In London!"

Our last day in England, we held a concert in Embankment Park after seeing the London Tower and Crown Jewels first thing in the morning. We had several regular fans who watch the groups from every state, including one lady who dressed up in red, white and blue with an American Flag shirt. She waved her pom-poms to the beat and danced with all of our music, especially "Stars and Stripes Forever," and posed for pictures afterward.

Our last afternoon, we got in as much of London as possible and roamed museums, galleries, and stores or rode the London Eye high above the Thames for a last view of all of London. For dinner, our group headed to the Hard Rock Café, where we soaked up the American/English atmosphere before entering a world in a foreign language, France.

"Wow guys, we're riding a ferry across the English Channel!"

On our departure across the English Channel, we leaned out from the ferry and snapped pictures of the white cliffs of Dover. Then we headed back down below to spend the last of our change in pounds on lots of chocolate.

For the majority of the time from now on we were to be using euros. We arrived in France and immediately headed to Paris. First stop the next morning was the Eiffel Tower. We didn't have the time to climb to the top, but after gazing, we enjoyed a quick ice cream cone in the park.

Next, the choir and orchestra held their concert in St. Severin Church. With a little extra time, we headed to Notre Dame. Amber and I found that after leaving Notre Dame, our necks hurt from staring up for so long. We each took about half a roll of film while in the church. From there, the entire group moved on to Luxembourg Gardens for the jazz band, concert band and pop choir performances.

Overall, the crowd enjoyed our performance. Although a few walked away during "Stars and Stripes Forever," a couple got up and danced right in front of the band at the same time.

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