The following morning the group left for Switzerland, where they would stay in the small village of Crans-Montana. Alissa, as well as many others, were happy to arrive in a place with less hustle and bustle. The group became a lot more comfortable there. “A lot of us are used to small towns,” she expressed. That evening they relaxed by exploring the village and watching the sunset.
The next morning, she had some free time, so she rode the cable cars up towards the mountains. Later, they group toured a castle and walked along the lake before going to the town of Montreux. “It’s kind of famous, there’s a statue of Freddie Mercury from Queen there,” she added.
They returned to Crans-Montana for their concert. It was a late night, as the performance didn’t begin until 8:30 p.m. and band and choir each had about ten songs. “Everyone in the town comes to see it. It’s a pretty big deal,” Alissa recalled the biggest crowd they performed for. “A lot of people came, so that was pretty cool.”
The next day they went to Zermatt to do some shopping and go up to the mountains before returning to Crans-Montana that evening to attend a Swiss Fondue party that the locals put on for them. “They had music and dancing, and a lot of traditional performances for us,” she grinned. At the end of the evening they brought out a Swiss Alp horn and allowed the students to try and play it.
The following day they were back to traveling. They made their way to Seefeld, a village in Austria, where they would stay that night. The winter Olympics had been held there, so the students were able to see the site that they took place at before heading to Innsbruck. They explored the Austrian city and did some shopping before returning to Seefeld. That evening in Seefeld the band held their concert in the park, and the choir performed in a church there.
The following day, they traveled to Venice, Italy by way of a boat taxi. A tour-guide showed them around the city. They were able to visit a glassblowing factory to watch glassblowers create different things using their artistic and refined skill. The choir met to sing a few songs in the San Marco Cathedral before returning to Seefeld where they would rest for the night. “We didn’t do a full concert, but we sang a couple,” said Alissa.
The next day they departed Austria and made their way to Germany. In Germany, their first stop was Dachau concentration camp. Dachau was the first of the nazi concentration camps, opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler. It held over 188,000 prisoners until 1945. “It was hard seeing everything,” Alissa said despairingly. After leaving Dachau the group continued to Rothenburg, Germany, a small village with a wall around it from the war, where they would find sleep.
The group spent the next morning going through the many interesting shops in Rothenburg, including a Medieval weapons and armor store, a music store, and a large Christmas store. “They had a lot of Cuckoo clocks there, so I got one of those,” she said.
That evening the band held their concert in the market square and the choir held theirs in a church. “That was our last concert,” noted Alissa. Following their performances, the Northern Ambassadors group had a party where they laughed, told stories, and recalled experiences from their travels.
The next day most of the students flew from Frankfurt back to the United States while about one fourth of the students headed to Greece for an optional extension. Alissa and the remaining students landed in Athens, Greece where they were able to see the Acropolis Museum. The next day they went on a sight seeing tour before going shopping in the Plaka, a neighborhood in Athens. The evening was finished off with the entertainment of singing and dancing while they enjoyed a traditional meal.
On the last day of their trip they went on a cruise. “We went to three different Greek islands,” said Alissa. Once they arrived at the last island, they were able to get out and swim. They flew back to Frankfurt, Germany for the night. “We just had dinner and talked and shared memories.” The next day they flew back to the United States. Alissa landed in Minneapolis and arrived home on July 28.
Among her favorite places were Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. “I think it was the small-town aspect of it,” Alissa disclosed. One of them sticks out in her mind because of the kind-hearted villagers and the interesting wall. “If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be Germany.”
Alissa smiled, recalling the performances, her favorite experience of all of her travels. “It was so cool being a part of something so big.”