Friday, August 5, 2016
Today we performed at the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler at noon. This concert was a bit of a smaller turnout but it was a little bit sad as we said goodbye to Jake and Chris. Jake is going to college this fall and it was his last concert and Chris is retiring this year.
Afterwards we went up Mount Whistler on a gondola. We then did the peak to peak gondola to gondola which was 4.4 kilometers unsupported over a valley 1000+ feet below.
After getting down the mountain mostly calm we went and got Canadian pizza. The difference? There wasn't much but it was good. Is there anything else I'm forgetting? Oh right! It's my birthday, as of now it seems everyone else is scheming to do something at dinner right now.
We started the day off with a breakfast at the hotel, then met up in the lobby to quickly go over some musical notes (no pun intended.) Anyways, we headed up to the nearby hotel for our final performance of the tour. After a quick "knuckle-through" of the pieces, we gave a wonderful performance for the people who happened to stop by. I honestly thought this was my favorite performance of the trip, and it was a great way for me to end my handball career (for now at least.)
Afterwards, we went out on our own for lunch. I spend my afternoon at a wonderful bakery called Hot Buns (not my first choice for a name, but whatever) and had a delicious crepe with some of the other members of the choir. The tome had then come to face my fear of heights once again; we were headed up the nearby Whistler mountain in a very rickety gondola headed up the mountain. Once again I was forced to stare my fear in the eyes, and once more I came out on top. At the top, the view was gorgeous. Snow capped peaks and amazing vistas distracted my from the thought "Oh my God I'm gonna fall any minute now." But the worst was yet to come. Just like the Capilano suspension bridge (which I ALSO blogged about, coincidentally), we attended another high-flying view: the Peak 2 Peek railcar experience.
This railcar ran between the top of the maintain and a nearby peak, giving a beautiful view of the valley below while the car goes at a speed of about 25 feet/sec. I swear, I'm cursed with all the days with high oriented attractions to take pictures of. Anyways, once we arrived at the base of the mountain, we headed to the hotel for a quick power nap, then headed to the Brewhouse, a nearby restaurant. There, we were treated to endless pizza and soda while we celebrated the birthday of someone in our choir (hint: he's also doing the blog for today. Fancy that!)
Finally, we returned to the hotel to prepare to leave tomorrow. All on all, it was a very good way to round out the trip, and although I love it here in Canada, I do miss home. So, see you later, friends and fans.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
We started off today with a fabulous breakfast. Even though some of our alarms didn't go off (we blamed this on the ghosts from last night's tour) we were all on time to start the long bus ride to the ferry. Our three hour bus ride was luckily broken up with a nice rest stop at a little market. A lot of us napped on our way, because we didn't sleep much last night. Then we took a ferry back to the Vancouver Island port and resumed our bus ride. We had another pit stop at Shannon Falls, a beautiful place to hike for a great view (pictures attached).
We checked into our hotel in Whistler and had a walking tour of the town. The town was really pretty and reminded us of Disney World because of its shops and ambiance. We then had a group dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.
We're excited for our performance tomorrow and to explore the rest of this beautiful city.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
After lunch we drove to St. Mary's nursing home and performed for the people there. Then we went to the Craigdarroch Castle (which was more of a mansion than a castle) before taking the scenic route to dinner. After dinner we will have a free night to chill and relax, which will be nice.
Hi everyone back home! Today was probably one of the more exciting days because we finally did the ghost tour. On this ghost tour it was explained to us that the island of Victoria is a very haunted places and maybe the final resting places of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.
We learned about the old town hall where the hangings would happen back in the 1800's. The old building has been reported as the most haunted building in all of Victoria. After the hangings the priest would ask if anybody would claim the body but most of the time no one would claim the bodies. They would rest in the town hall until the church would take them but that didn't always happen and the bodies were left to rot. And when the buildings needed to be renovated the bodies were buried under the foundation and forgotten for ever. Including to young children who were later found not guilty of all crimes.
We also learned about different stories like a domestic dispute gone deadly and the possible last Jack the Ripper murder. Although these were some really spooky stories we didn't have to much sleeping off the scary stories.
Hope everything at home is great!
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Today is Monday August 1st. Today started with us going on the bus to bring us to the ferry that brought us to Victoria island, where we'd spend our day. Seeing and being on a ferry that could hold multiple buses, and on multiple floors, and still have other stores was really amazing to think about, and the boat ride itself was a a experience as well (arcades help).
Once we got to Victoria island we went to the wonderful Butchart Gardens which, was an amazing time because seeing all of the plants and flowers the regular gardens was beautiful. The Japanese garden was an especially serene scene. We then proceeded to have tea and cookies during the afternoon. After the gardens we went to the parliament building of British Columbia. It was almost spooky how close Canadian history is to US history. After the parliament building we had a successful practice and after that we had a free evening to have dinner, where we split up and tried many restaurants.
Monday, August 1, 2016
I have never had a day as terrifying and as beautiful than today.
Let's start at the beginning. Reeling from a fantastic final concert the previous night, we woke up early in the morning to the touring portion of the day. After loading all of our gear onto the tour bus, which is driven by our new friend Doug (who has a great beard like my dad and uncle), we headed to St. Andrew's church for a performance during their worship service. We contributed 4 pieces to worship and were a welcomed addition. After a quick and charming lunch with the members of the congregation, we headed to our next stop: the Capilano Suspension bridge.
Let me tell you a little bit about this bridge. The bridge is 400 feet long with a 200+ foot drop straight into a river. The bridge was filled with people, so it was swaying left and right. Kids were running around, bumping into me, people stopped to take selfies right in front of me. But the view was absolutely gorgeous, being the sunny day that it was. I managed to take one picture, despite the fact that my hand was shaking. After we all made it to the other side, we took a tour of the flora and fauna of the surrounding rain forest (Fun Fact: the Banana Slug has 27,000 teeth and four antennae: two detect light, two detect chemical trails) and had a bit of fun in the suspension bridges built into the trees. After crossing back over the main bridge (during which a kid ran into me and I had to resist the urge to punt him) we took the Cliffwalk tour (imagine a bridge built alongside a rock without any supports reaching the ground. Yikes!) and headed on our way.
The last stop of the day was at Grouse Mountain. We had to take a gondola to reach the peak of the mountain, and every squeak of the cables and every shudder the cab reminded me of how painfully far we were from the ground. At the top, we were treated to a wonderful Lumberjack Competition, where two flannel-clad men competed in various tree related activities, like carving or axe throwing. After a dinner in a room with a beautiful view, we rode the gondola again to the safety of sea level.
I have to say, despite the fact that I faced my fear nearly every hour of my day today, the views I got to experience were far worth it. Tomorrow will be even better. But until then.
Today we said good-bye to many of our symposium friends, including Eileen and Peter Laurence and Jay and Georgia Roelof. We then played in the morning worship service at St. Andrews UCC Church. We were welcomed warmly by the congregation and were served lunch. Our next stop was the Capilano suspension bridge where we walked along a the treetops. Next, we took a gondola ride to the top of Grouse Mountain. We saw a lumberjack show and had an amazing dinner. We can't wait to have more fun tomorrow!
Sunday, July 31, 2016
After the concert there was tons of applause. Lots of us went to find the conductors to get selfies and have them sign our copies of the music. Even if this symposium music is getting stored away when we get home, it will be fun for future ringers to know that we met the piece's directors. It was great for us to develop relationships with the conductors throughout the week- our choir even got a shout out during rehearsal from American conductor Ed Rollins.
It was amazing to ring with the hundreds of other fellow ringers in the hall. We really brought the music to life, and the hall was filled with peace after playing songs from all over the world. It was a one of a kind experience that we are thankful to be a part of. The ceremonial closing bell ended the evening after a (long) banquet. After the banquet, Singapore is now a member of the international handbell committee, and everyone is excited for the 2018 symposium in Cairns, Australia. Now it's off to our tour.
Thank you again for all your support!
-Sonja and Akimoto
Saturday, July 30, 2016
We woke up today thinking we had half an hour to get ready until we had to meet downstairs in the lobby at 7:15. But then we get a suddenly get a call saying that the rest of the choir had already left. We rushed around our hotel room trying to get our things ready and we rushed out to meet the rest of the choir. Completely worn out from waking up earlier than usual and running to catch up, we began our morning rehearsal for our solo today.
Yesterday in preparation for our solo (Magnificent Seven), a couple of people from the choir set out to a dollar store to find the cowboy related attire. We bought 17 straw cowboy hats and headed back feeling pumped up for our solo. This morning we brought in our hats and rehearsed feeling excited to play our solo. Before many of us were feeling intimidated by the other choirs in the earlier mini concerts. However, by the end of our practice we were ready to hit the road with our horses.
After our second mass rehearsal, it was time. We prepared and set up out attire. Everyone was nervous and also excited. The most important thing was to have fun. As we began our piece, many of us were moving to the beat of the music and dancing. We ended the song with a loud "yeeeeee haw!!!!" and large smiles on everyone's faces. Although we were unsure of how our solo was going to end, we would probably have ended the piece with the biggest smile on our faces. And that is all that really matters in the long run.
With lots of love Mio and Lexie.