International Chorale Itinerary 2014

Saturday, May 10
Bon Voyage Concert, 4 p.m., Sanctuary, Hesston Mennonite Church
Sunday, May 11
Sing at Hesston College Commencement
Tuesday, May 13
Depart for Europe! We will meet in Chicago for our 9-hour flight to Europe. United #908 departs Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 6:05 p.m. We arrive in Amsterdam the next morning.
Wednesday, May 14
Arrive at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam at 9:25 a.m. local time. Get luggage, clear customs area and meet the Voyages Emil Weber bus, our home for the next three weeks. Our coach driver is Jean Paul (JP) Weber. Load luggage on the coach. Depart for Zaanse Schaans, an open-air historical museum where we will see windmills, how they make wooden shoes and cheese, and eat lunch. By mid-afternoon we will make the short drive to Aalsmeer where we will meet our hosts for the next two nights.
Thursday, May 15
Today we will visit Amsterdam, starting with the Anne Frank House and the newly renovated Rijksmuseum where we will see art works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. In the afternoon we will return to the Aalsmeer Doopsgezinde (Mennonite) Church and rehearse for our first concert this evening!
Friday, May 16
After an early farewell to our host families, we visit the world’s largest flower auction located in Aalsmeer. We then head north, crossing the 32 km (19.8 miles) long Afsluitdijk which separates the North Sea from the fresh water IJsselmeer. Having entered the province of Friesland, we will visit a hidden Mennonite church in Pingjum and learn about Menno Simons, who began his career as a Catholic priest in this small village. A short trip to Witmarsum, will take us to the birthplace of Menno and a monument dedicated to his life and ministry. Finally, we arrive in Joure and meet our hosts for the next three nights!
Saturday, May 17
Since 1982, every Hesston College Europe tour choir has been hosted by the members Joure Doopsgezindekerk. Today is being organized by our Dutch hosts, and you can be sure of a wonderful time! Tonight’s concert will be in the nearby village of Terband at the Rotondekerk. This historic church, built in 1845, was restored in 1985 and hosts many concerts throughout the year.
Sunday, May 18
This morning we participate in a worship service with our hosts in Joure. After free time in the afternoon, we will give our full concert at the Joure church in the evening.
Monday, May 19
This morning we say “oant sjen” to our Friesian hosts and depart for Germany. Our first stop is the city of Münster, site of one of the darkest times in Anabaptist history. After lunch we head to Espelkamp, a town founded after WWII and home to several Mennonite churches, many founded by immigrants (Umsiedler) from the former Soviet Union. Concert and host homes with the Mennonite congregation.
Tuesday, May 20
After breakfast with hosts families, we load the coach and head to Meissen, a town known for its world-famous porcelain. After visiting the porcelain museum and factory, we continue on to Dresden. After checking into our first hotel of the tour, we will have a walking tour of the city.
Wednesday, May 21
Today we explore Dresden. Once considered the crown jewel of Germany, it was completely destroyed by Allied firebombing on February 13, 1945. Now beautifully restored, Dresden is a reminder of the cruelty of war as well as the resilience of the human spirit. Highlights will include the Frauenkirch, Kreuzkirch, Katolische Hofburg, Zwinger Palace and Semper Opera House.
Thursday, May 22
After a good breakfast, we load the bus and head for the Czech Republic and its capitol city, Prague. One of the largest cities in central Europe to escape the destruction of WWII, Prague is consistently listed as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. After checking into our hotel, we will explore the famous Charles Bridge and Old Town. Tonight we also say goodbye to our drive, JP.
Friday, May 23
A walking tour of the city starts at Prague Castle, seat of the government and the largest ancient castle in Europe. Inside the castle is St. Vitus Cathedral which houses St. Wenceslas Chapel. Other highlights will include the Jewish Quarter and Jewish Cemetery and the Jan Hus monument.
Saturday, May 24
Our bus has a new driver today, Marcus! Our short trip takes us south into Bohemia, and the town of Český Krumlov. With the second largest castle in the Czech Republic, beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral, and historic Old Town, Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There will be plenty of free time to explore this quaint city.
Sunday, May 25
Concert clothes are required for the morning. After attending Mass at St. Vitus Cathedral, we will give a 30–40 minute concert. Then back to the hotel to change clothes and head to Ingolstadt, Germany. Home of the car manufacturer Audi, Ingolstadt has a rich history which is both ancient and modern. Our hosts for the next two nights are members of the Mennonite Church who are sponsoring tonight’s concert.
Monday, May 26
After breakfast with host families, we load the bus and head to the capitol of Bavaria – Munich. Highlights may include City Hall and its clock, Frauenkirche, Nymphenburg Palace, the Englischer Garten, Deutsches Museum, and BMW Museum. Don’t forget to try some of Munich’s special foods: pretzels or some Weißwurst (white sausage). Return to Ingolstadt for the night.
Tuesday, May 27
We say goodbye to our wonderful hosts and once again load the bus. Today’s first stop is a sobering visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp. One of the first concentration camps in Germany, Dachau’s museum displays the systematic way the Nazis took control of Germany and began to exterminate Jews, gypsies, political enemies and others they considered undesirable. In the afternoon we continue to Singen on the Swiss border where we will stay at the Hotel Victoria.
Wednesday, May 28
Today we enter Switzerland. Our first stop is Neuhausen and the Rhine Falls. Near the headwaters of the Rhine River, these falls on the Swiss/German border mark an impressive start to the river which flows through the heart of Germany. Back on the bus, we travel to Interlaken and then head into the Alps and the town of Lauterbrunnen. There we will park the bus for 48 hours, get on a cog train the depart for the village of Wengen, our home for the next two days. Situated at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain, this is a wonderful place to relax, hike and take in the incredible views.
Thursday, May 29
Waking up in the historic Hotel Falken, you won’t want to miss the buffet breakfast. Today is a free day to relax, hike in the Berner Oberland, or perhaps take the train all the way to the Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe.
Friday, May 30
Unfortunately, after a morning of taking in the Alpine air and views, we must depart Wengen. Descending into the valley by train, we load the bus and make our way to Wattenwil. The Swiss Reformed Church in this town has hosted a number of Hesston College choirs over the years. After meeting our hosts, we will depart for the nearby town of Blumenstein where our concert will be in a church which dates to the 9th century with stained glass dating to the 14th century. We return to Wattenwil for the night.
Saturday, May 31
This morning we head to Bern, a city famous for its bears as well as for being the seat of government for the Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica). After lunch, we depart for the Emmental. Home to generations of Mennonites, it is also the location of the oldest continuous Mennonite congregation in the world, Langnau Mennonite Church. This congregation will host us for two nights. Tonight we will give our last full concert.
Sunday, June 1
A special outdoor service is in store for us this morning. After lunch with the church, we may do more exploring in the Emmental, or visit with host families. Evening free with hosts.
Monday, June 2
Our last full day in Europe. Zurich is our main destination. The morning will include a walking tour of the historic district and the story of the birth of Anabaptism. In the afternoon we will hike to a cave near Bäretswil where Anabaptists gathered to worship in secret. A short communion service will be a fitting ending to the tour. By the end of the afternoon, we have crossed the border back into Germany and to our hotel in Singen.
Tuesday, June 3
An early call this morning as we depart at 7:45 a.m. for the Zurich International Airport. Our flight departs for Chicago at 12:55 p.m. with arrival at O’Hare at 3:40 p.m. local time. After clearing customs, we begin to go our separate ways. What a great trip!

Don’t forget to come back to Hesston College at Thanksgiving for a Europe Tour reunion.