Friends Tour of Europe 2017
In 2015, we undertook our fifth European tour. For the first time, a group of Friends accompanied us for part of the tour. We very much enjoyed getting to know our Friends during the first 15 days of the tour. You can come with us in 2017 for 17 days of fabulous music and priceless experiences!
3 NIGHTS IN ROME
June 30: Meet your English-speaking assistant on arrival at Rome Airport*. Travel by private bus to the Hotel President* (4****), where you will stay for three nights. Rooms available from 2.30 pm.
July 1: AM Coach sight-seeing program. As we want to keep things flexible for you, all our sight-seeing activities are optional. Today we offer you a half-day private tour to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica. Skip the queue with us to enter the Vatican Museum. We plan to go directly to the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s famous ceiling before the crowds arrive. Our guide will show you some of the most important artworks in the extensive collection of the Vatican Museum. We can give you a headset so that you can explore further at your leisure. We have also made a skip-the-queue reservation for you to enter St Peter’s Basilica, where our guide can inform you about the architecture and important Renaissance and Baroque artworks (Headsets also included). The ACC performs in the Baroque church of St Anthony of the Portuguese at 7.00pm. Join the choir for dinner in a nearby restaurant after the concert.
July 2: AM and PM Coach sight-seeing programs. These will include ancient Rome and the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, which houses Michelangelo’s Moses.
July 3: Travel from Rome to Florence. Free time for lunch. In Florence you stay at the Hotel Mercure, Firenze Centro (4**** new property) for two nights. PM Walking tour of Florence. Remember, this is optional. The ACC performs at the Chiesa di Ognissanti (All Saints’) at the typically Italian time (assuming that you have had the customary siesta) of 9.30pm. The church was built in the 11th century. Rebuilt around 1627, it has one of the earliest Baroque facades to be constructed in Florence. Botticelli’ grave is situated in this church, adjacent to his fresco of St Augustine in his Study. Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger sister, is also buried here. Don’t miss the divine 15th century frescoes by Giotto and Ghirlandaio, whose St Jerome in his Study is pictured left (image courtesy of Wikipedia).
July 4: IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY! Yes, the ACC is 10 years old today. 9.30am Friends Choir rehearsal for those who are interested in the Church of Santa Monaca,Via Santa Monaca 6, 50124, Firenze. Sight-seeing program. Our Birthday Party will be at 7.30pm in a restaurant in the midst of olive groves. Located in the 14th century hamlet of Maiano, the restaurant specialises in Tuscan cuisine. If the weather is fine, we will dine on the terrace, with a beautiful view across the hills.
1 NIGHT IN VERONA
July 5: Travel from Florence to Verona. Free time for lunch. You stay in the Palazzo Victoria (5*****) in Verona’s historic centre. PM Coach sight-seeing program: Romanesque churches, Gothic towers and castle, Renaissance palaces, houses of Romeo and Juliet, Signori and Erbe squares, Arena. The choir does not perform here. We will be happy to help you to buy tickets as available to attend a lavish 1913 production of Verdi’s Aida in the Arena, Verona’s Roman amphitheater. The performance commences at 9.15pm.
1 NIGHT IN VILLACH
July 6: Travel from Verona to Villach (4 hours, 30 minutes), our first stop in Austria where you will stay at The Holiday Inn, Europaplatz (4****). Take a five minute walk across the River Drava to see the picturesque older part of this ancient alpine town. Once a part of the Roman Empire, Villach was ruled by Slavs (from 600 AD), Bavaria (from 740AD), the Bishopric of Bamberg (from 1007AD), the Habsburg Monarchy (from 1759) and France (from 1809), before becoming a part of the Austrian Empire in 1813. The choir performs at 8.00pm in the church of St. Jakob in the historic town centre.
3 NIGHTS IN VIENNA
July 7: Travel to Vienna. Time for lunch in Graz. Explore the romantic narrow streets and see impressive Italianate palaces. Continue to Vienna and check in to your hotel Rathauspark (4****) where you stay for 3 nights. The hotel was built in 1890 by celebrated author Stefan Schweig as his palais-style residence in Vienna. It is situated near the City Hall and Burgtheater. Afternoon at leisure. The choir performs at 8.00pm at the Augustinerkirche. This church was built by the Habsburg family in 1330 next door to their Winter Palace, or Hofburg. Many important weddings have taken place here, including that of Archduchess Marie Louise in 1810 to Napoleon Bonaparte of France. The church remains at the centre of a functioning monastery of Augustinian friars.
July 8: AM Friends choir session. PM Coach Sight-seeing program in and around Vienna: Ringstrasse, City Hall, Parliament, Opera House and Schoenbrunn Palace, where we have arranged a private tour through the apartment of Emperor Franz Joseph (1848-1916) and his wife, Sisi. The palace is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. In the evening, enjoy a light meal with choir members at a typical Viennese Heurigen with views of the surrounding vineyards. Heuriger means “this year’s wine” and the Heurigen began as a way for wine makers to offer tastings of their new wine with a few nibbles.
July 9: the ACC is the guest choir at the morning service at the Augustinerkirche. The rest of the day is free.
1 NIGHT IN INNSBRUCK
July 10: Travel along the Danube valley, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site to Innsbruck in the heart of the alps. You will see monasteries, castles, ruins, vineyards. We will make a short stop in Mozart’s town of Salzburg, where you will have time for lunch before continuing to Innsbruck. Here you stay at the Hotel Central (4****). You are two minutes’ walk from the Old Town Square and five minutes from the Imperial Palace. Evening: Travel (20 minutes) to the monastery of Stams (pictured, founded 1273) for the ACC’s concert at 8.00pm. Return to accommodation in Innsbruck.
3 NIGHTS IN LINDAU
July 11: Travel to Lindau (2 hours, 40 minutes). Our journey takes us to lake Constance, which forms a border with Germany and Switzerland. We will pass by the Kunsthaus Bregenz, where a floating stage sets the scene for operas during the summer months (A performance of Tosca on this stage featured in the James Bond film, Quantum of Solace). We will travel by ferry from Bregenz (Austria) to Lindau (Germany), arriving at your hotel in about 20 minutes. You stay at the Bayerische Hof (5*****) overlooking the lake for 3 nights. You are situated on the German island of Lindau, which is connected to mainland Germany by two causeways. PM Friends choir, probably in the hotel. Take some time to explore the narrow cobblestoned streets of this picturesque old town.
July 12: AM Travel (25 minutes) to Schwarzach (Austria) to visit the Rieger organ factory. Rieger’s most recent organ was completed in February 2016 at the Paris Philharmonie. You will be given a private guided tour of the organ factory, which is not open to the general public. The Managing Director of Rieger Orgelbau invites you to a late barbeque lunch. Return by coach to Lindau (25 minutes). In the evening, travel (20 minutes) to Wangen, where the choir performs at 8.00pm in the beautiful Baroque Martinskirche. Join the choir after the concert for a glass of wine in the town square. Return to accommodation in Lindau.
July 13: Travel (1 hr 30 mins) to Hohenschwangau. Visit Germany’s most famous castle, Neuschwanstein (pictured). During the tour of the tour of the castle, our guide will explain something of the story of King Ludwig and his friendship with Wagner. PM return to accommodation in Lindau.
1 NIGHT IN TÜBINGEN
July 14: Travel to the ancient university town of Tübingen (2 h 30 min). You stay in the Hotel La Casa (4****). We will take you on a one-hour Stocherkahn ride on the Neckar River. This boat is like a gondola or punt. You are welcome to try your hand at rowing, but don’t worry, an oarsman is at your service. Walk around the Castle (Schloss Hohentübingen), which dates from 1078 and is now a part of the University. In this castle is the laboratory where Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1869. At 7.00pm The Choir performs in one of Tübingen’s churches. After the choir’s concert, you are invited to join the singers for a supper hosted by Prof Andrei Lupas, Director of Protein Evolution at the Max Planck Institute, Tübingen and his wife, Janice Lupas.
2 NIGHTS IN LEIPZIG
July 15: Travel from Tübingen to Leipzig. We will stop in Nürnberg where you will have time for lunch. In Leipzig you stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel (4****) near the Opera House and the Gewandhaus for 2 nights.
July 16: The ACC is the guest choir at the 9.30am service at the Thomaskirche. JS Bach was Cantor here from 1723 until his death in 1750. In the afternoon, visit the Bach Museum and the Mendelssohn House. PM dinner with the choir.
July 17: End of services. It’s time to say goodbye to the choir, which continues to Berlin and Hamburg. We can take you to the airport or railway station*.
• Dedicated air-conditioned coach transport (including all ferry connections and toll-bridges)
• Ferry ride on Lake Constance, Stockerkahn ride in Tübingen
• English speaking tour guide, qualified for all sights visited
• Extensive sight-seeing program. Feel free to join in or opt out. Take it at your own pace
• All accommodation (4**** twin share basis) and buffet breakfast every day
• Four evening meals with the choir (beverages not included)
• a “Friends Choir” for those who are interested. We have scheduled 3 sessions. Not compulsory. Just for fun!
• Admission to all Australian Chamber Choir concerts
• Rieger Organ Factory tour and barbeque
• Admittance to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Rome, Schönbrunn Palace, Neuschwanstein Castle, Bach Museum, Mendelssohn House
• Cathy Sullivan, the Managing Director of Eastern Hill Travel will accompany the Friends Tour.
LAND-ONLY COST: $7,848 (twin-share)
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $1,900
* Eastern Hill travel is happy to arrange competitively-priced return airfares with a reputable airline. Transfers to and from the airport will be available for those who travel with the group.
For children’s prices, please contact Eastern Hill Travel
Bookings and enquiries Eastern Hill Travel
50 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065
Tel. 9417 4320