A Travel Essay By Emily Espinosa
When I decided to go on tour with Blue Lake’s International Youth Symphony Orchestra (IYSO) I thought it was going to be all about the music. The week we spent at camp prior to our departure for Europe only enforced this idea - what with rehearsals eight hours a day and concerts every night. Once we arrived in Paris and began our journey through France, Germany, and Belgium, everything changed. No longer did my days revolve around rehearsals and playing my violin. Yes, we still rehearsed and gave concerts, and Sheherazade was constantly running through my head. However, it was the people I met and the places I saw that really made this trip an incredible and memorable experience. Thank goodness I heeded Rick’s advice to buy a camera (the Canon PowerShot SX130) to help me record my adventures.
As with any new device, it took me quite a while to figure out how to work it. Because we travelled everywhere by bus, I had plenty of time and opportunities to try it out. I liked what I discovered. I brought an immense 48 pack of AA batteries, thinking that I would blow through them. I probably would have too, if I hadn’t decided to use a couple Advanced Lithium ones first. It had been a whole week of the same two batteries before I realized that I needed to start using up the regular ones. I was not about to take those home with me, especially with a 30 lb. weight limit.
My camera was my constant companion during the trip. It was there when we accidentally left some people behind and drove away with them running after the bus. It was also there when we ran into Snoop Dogg at the airport. It helped me capture the magic of Europe.
We were hosted in six different communities throughout the three countries. Each one offered a completely different experience. They varied from villages over a thousand years old, cities that reminded me of New York, to the beautiful Alps of Southern France. We stayed with families in each of the stops. I loved it! I felt like I really experienced Europe because I lived with real Europeans and got to try out their lifestyles for a few days. All of my host families were great, for the most part, and took me all sorts of places. We saw castles, churches, visited historic cities, saw more churches, of course shopping, and even more churches. I think the only reason I didn’t gain fifty pounds during the trip was because of all the walking and all the stairs we climbed. In the city of Ulm, we climbed to the top of the tallest church in the world. All 768 steps of it! Oh, then there was the mountain. In Villard-Bonnot, France, we climbed to the top of a mountain on our free day. Honestly, I thought it was a joke when they told us we were going to, but no, we really climbed a mountain. It was no easy hike. It had rained the day before and there were literally streams of mud flowing down the mountainside. But, the view from the top was breathtaking.
Now my journey is over and I’ve reached the stage where I’m not sure if I’m happy to be home, or sad to not be in Europe. One thing that makes me content is the fact that I will always have 2,000 pictures of memories to look back on and relive. The PowerShot really is a wonderful camera. It has an amazingly clear and big digital screen so you can view your pictures easily. It has an incredible zoom that makes far off sites seem mere feet away. Nevertheless, my favorite aspect of my camera is how it feels in my hands. It makes me feel like I’m ready to face any adventure that comes my way. And I am.