It’s 1 pm. Our families are saying goodbyes, hugs all around. The anticipation and excitement shake me with anxiety for the trip that’s about to happen. We sing the Australian National Anthem for all our families. I remember all the previous tours, and realize that this is the biggest one yet. We head to California, and take the 15 hour flight to Sydney.
Before I headed on the trip, I thought the 15 hour flight was going to be awful. But even though we spend a whole day in flight, it isn’t really all that bad. After all, you get to sit next to your friends, and there are screens in your seats, so you can watch movies, and play “games”.
Tip: Sleeping on the flight will magically cut your flight time in half!
At 6:20 am (Sydney time, of course), we landed in Australia! Soon after immigration and customs, we meet Rob, our courier. He immediately took us by coach and we spent time at Manly Beach for some great free time after the plane. We ate lunch at the Ivanhoe Hotel, where we had delicious burgers. If you ever go to Australia, I personally recommend trying the chicken schnitzel burger, which is a grilled chicken breast in breaded crumbs. Transferring by ferry we headed over to see the Sydney Harbor, where we (or at least I) took hundreds of photos, including the Sydney Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. If you look up close at the opera house, you’ll see that it is composed up little “tiles” on the outside.
We checked in at our hotel and had dinner at the Curve Restaurant, which is where some people started to feel the jet lag–some fell asleep at the tables!
I’ve begun to notice some differences between America and Australia. For one, like the UK, they drive on the left side of the road, with their steering wheel on the right side. And, of course, you can’t forget their accents!
The next day, we ate breakfast in the hotel. Half of us went on a bus to the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, while the rest went on a bit of sightsee. Overall, it was great to see the kids light up with excitement and joy as we brought something great to their day! All of us met up, headed back onto the bus, and did a sightseeing tour, which included going to ANOTHER beach, Bondi Beach, which is where we also ate lunch. We visited Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the first cathedral ever in Australia. I’m putting it on my “Things to see in Australia” list; the gothic architecture is on quite a grand scale in this cathedral, with the high ceilings, stained glass windows, and the several detailed statues, paintings, etc.
We headed back to the Sydney Opera House through the Botanical Gardens, and sang Blue Skies. It was interesting to observe the immediate attention we got outside of the opera house; people quickly took out their phones and snapped pictures or recorded us before we finished, all applauding grandly afterwards. We ate dinner at Mamma’s Restaurant, with pizza and pasta to go around.
On Thursday, anybody that didn’t sing yesterday would be transferred by coach to the Children’s Hospital in Westmead. I was one of the ones who sang yesterday. We went all over the place, walking from out hotel back to Paddy’s Market, meeting up with our rest of our group, spending time eating and shopping. To give you an idea, it’s pretty similar to an American mall on the inside. After that, we went to St. Patrick’s Strathfield, where we met our hosts.
Friday was a huge day for us. We participated with the Chapel Choir during their Mass. Immediately after we performed two songs for them at their assembly, then had a workshop with them. We went to the Olympic Park for lunch, where they hosted the 2012 Olympics. We returned and had a concert at St. Mary’s Primary School in Rydalmere. We did an interactive concert with the little kids, and they asked us questions about America. We returned to St. Patrick’s College, where we did a joint concert for out hosts.
On Saturday we said our farewells to our hosts and departed by coach for Port Macquarie for 5 hours. But first, we stopped at Taree, a quiet little town where we sang at St. John’s Anglican Church, where we were welcomed by the Hastings Choristers. We checked into a motel in Port Macquarie, ate dinner, and slept.
Sunday, we visited the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, where we enjoyed a guided walk on a raised platform through the rainforest. Though we didn’t see that much animals since it was winter, I loved the look and beauty of the elegant trees and abundant plant life in the forest. We had an informal performance at Bellevue Gardens Retirement Center, and then had a concert at the Glasshouse.
Halfway through our concert, Mr. Eanes, Mrs. Nelson and the chaperones realized that there was too much work for them, to the point that their main jobs weren’t being done to the best of their ability. And that’s when some of us were given jobs, which included Personal Assistant, Venue Crew, Equipment Crew, a Make-Sure-Nobody-Got-Left-Behind Person, a blogger and a photographer. This is only my personal opinion, but I think the blogger has the most important job.
And if that sounds like a horrible idea to put kids in charge–it worked really well! There wasn’t as much chaos and everybody seemed less stressed overall.
Monday, we had a take-a-break day and rested while we drove 6 hours to Brisbane. We ate lunch by the river, eating a lunch of meat pie, which was very delicious! We got to Brisbane Grammar School, where we met with our hosts.
On Tuesday, the trebles worked with their SA choir, while the changed voices worked with, well their changed voices in a combined workshop. Then we had a combined SATB rehearsal, and ate burgers before the concert. Our last concert was absolutely amazing! Some of us started crying during the concert, and all of us hugged afterwards.
The next day, we performed at their assemblies, and went to the Lone Pine Sanctuary where we got to hold koala’s and see some of Australia’s native animals! I got to pet a kangaroo up close!
Thursday was our last day before traveling. We went to Mooloolaba World, and spent leisure at the beach, with our farewell dinner in the Parkland Room Hotel.
For many people this year, including myself, this is their last year. I personally have spent 6 years in this choir. All of us have made countless friends, and I can speak for all of us that we will hold this experience very close to our hearts, not just in Australia, but in the Boychoir. For many of us, that includes the joy of singing, and the experience of learning about music. The laughter that you would share with your newly made friends, or with old ones that you have done the Boychoir with for a while. The excitement of going somewhere foreign and not seeing your family for quite some time. But as all good things, they must come to an end. I can see the Boychoir only becoming a childhood memory, but it gave all of us a great and safe community for us. It gave us the spark of our passion of loving music. It gave us friends for some of us that weren’t able to at our school. For me, this tour was about growing up. For being prepared to let something go. To move on, and carry your experiences with you. To truly pursue your interests. And although I’ve only held the “Official Blogger” badge for two years, it’s been great doing it. The Cincinnati Boychoir will truly stay in my heart as one of the best experiences I have ever had throughout my childhood.
-Nathan Trajano, Alto