At the beginning of the year, Petra, the head of the school board, and Katya, one of our music colleagues, had picked a little village in the Harz Mountains called Wernigerode as the location of the Orchester-und-chorfahrt. It being only an hour and a half drive from Wolfsburg, Petra kindly offered to take us on a day trip out there a few days before we were there with kids so that we could better plan our stay.
Many of the old historic buildings still stand today. Walking through the village center, descriptors of the village such as "quaint", "picturesque", and "toy-town" come to mind.
The beautiful well in the town center seems to be a cool hang out spot for young boys, as well as a good place to go diving for change.
One of the highlights of the day trip was visiting Cafe Wien, a lovely little place to get coffee and baked goods.
The cafe's building dates back to the 1500's and has gorgeous stain glass windows and a wonderfully decorated exterior.
Originally the home of a merchant, the interior is surprisingly spacious. The downstairs resembles more of a normal cafe, though as you progress further inside, the more it feels like a high-class place to take your afternoon tea. We took our coffee and delicious cakes upstairs where you could overlook the giant chandelier that hangs over the grand stairway, appreciate the delicately wallpapered dining area, and feel completely transported from the modern world.
Perhaps the biggest attraction of the village is the castle that sits high above the rest of the village.
Originally a medieval fortress, it was rebuilt and renovated again and again due to damage from the European wars and changes in residency. Now the castle draws hundreds of tourists who go to see the preserved living rooms and bedrooms of European higher nobility, the architecture of the fortification, shop, and stay the night in the apartments rented especially during Walpurgis. This festival that occurs around May Day,
is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken and await the arrival of spring.
The Orchester-und-chorfahrt, henceforth known as the retreat, began the first day back from spring break, the first Tuesday of April. We returned five days later having put in over forty hours of rehearsal with our kids. By the end of the weekend, many of my kids had lost their voices, unaccustomed to singing so much!