Blog: European Excursion!

Day 1 (4 November 2010): Take-off time

I’ve been preparing this trip for months. After what seems like countless coachings, lessons, and itinerary planning sessions it’s finally here. Today I’m heading to Berlin to begin a 13-day audition tour. Familiar to most classical singers, these excursions fulfill many needs. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we get a chance to sing for companies that might not otherwise know about us. However there is another boon for all of the planning and preparation. This is a chance to see the world! On this particular journey I will be in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Cologne, three of which are utterly new to me. I can’t wait :)

So today I woke up and began to get ready to leave. I packed as lightly as possible so I can carry-on my bag on every trip (even within Europe – sometimes their regulations are stricter than over-seas flights). In a way I’m glad to be traveling alone, if only because whoever would be traveling with me would get SO bored of the 3 outfits I have.

I allowed extra time to get to JFK today, and I’m glad I did. The security lines were CRAZY long. But I made it through unscathed and meandered towards my gate. Currently I’m on the very full flight listening to calming English Song on my iTunes, and trying to stay as hydrated as possible. I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this trip. Perhaps an opportunity to return to work will come of it – perhaps not. But I know that no matter what happens this will be an eye-opening venture. Cross fingers!

Day 2 (5 November): Guten Tag Berlin!


I guess this is really an extension of day 1 as I just got off the plane this morning! And as of now, the foremost thing on my mind is STAY AWAKE. So far the score is:

Susanna=1, Jetlag=0

However, if I fall asleep before 10pm the score will be reversed. So instead of hitting the hay, I’m going to hit hit the pavement to keep my eyes open.


Well, it’s now:

Susanna=0, jetlag=1

But it’s not for lack of trying! I walked around the city to check out my surroundings. My friend Seth agreed to put me up for my stay here, and he couldn’t have a better-located apartment. My window literally looks into the Deutsche Oper. Great restaurants and a convenient U-bahn (metro) stop are just steps from his front door.

After acclimating a bit, I decided to check out a museum. Perhaps great art would keep my eyes open. False. However, I did love checking out the exhibits at the Neue Nationalgalerie. I then tried to stay awake with shopping! Again, no help at all. I nearly fell asleep standing up. At that point, I gave up. I bought a small sandwich and a bottle of wine from the region just south of Berlin, and headed back to Seth’s place. A nice quiet dinner just relaxing and reading a book was exactly what I needed at the end of this day. So it’s now 7pm and I literally can’t keep my eyes open. So after a looooong day, it’s Gute Nacht Berlin – bis Morgen!

Day 3 (6 November) – Oh, what a Night!

Woke up this morning at 6am, but had a great time reading in bed until 8am. Then it was up-and-at-‘em! After chatting with Seth, my gracious host, we headed to the coffee-shop at the Detusche Oper. There I had internet access (it’s surprising how liberating it felt to not have it yesterday!) and ever important coffee. Caught up on emails while Seth was in rehearsal, and then went with him to catch the end of the dress rehearsal for the AIDS Benefit Gala to be held that night at the Deutsche Oper. After that I thought I’d go check out the CurryWurst Museum and maybe catch an opera at the Staatsoper that night. Well, while watching the rehearsal that morning, my game plan for the day changed.

I ran into my college buddy, Evan, who now works at the opera house. He had an extra ticket to the concert that night and invited me to go. So, feeling spontaneous, I went out and bought a gown and went to the gala!

What a night. I mean, this was truly an amazing event. The evening started with a red carpet entrance to the opera house. We sat down, and several speakers came and talked about AIDS and the impact that it has made in the world. They were very moving speeches, a sobering way to start the evening. It’s wonderful that that organization was able to raise a great deal of money to support the fight against this horrendous disease.

Next came the musical portion of the evening. The star-studded program included singers from around the world and arias that I don’t often hear. They were all party pieces (everything from Winterstürme to Vilja’s Lied, to a crazy aria from The Fairy Queen) and it looked like all of the singers had a great time.

However, it was after the music that the party really began. The opera house morphed into a cool night club with a band, champagne, and dancing! Everyone seemed to let down their hair and just have a good time. After a couple of hours I had had my fill, and left to meet some friends who were having a beer nearby. That was the best way to end a night like that.

After a glass of wine and a Doner (AMAZING street food – kind of like falafel), I finally hit the hay WAY later than I’d hoped. Amusingly, as I fell asleep across the street from the Deutsche Oper house, the party was still raging. What a night!

Day 4 (7 November) – Back to Basics

So far this trip has been pretty crazy. Lots of people, a different country, opera galas… today was a “recovery/come back to earth” day. Last night I didn’t get to sleep until embarrassingly late – apparently a regular thing in Berlin – so today I decided to just let myself sleep in. When I finally did wake up, I wandered to a nearby café to get some lunch and a cup of coffee. I hung out there for a few hours, catching up on email, chatting with Seth, and then decided that I needed to do some musical work. So I went over to the opera house tonight to do some practicing.

It turns out that a trans-atlantic flight + jetlag + an all night party = a not so great practice session. Not rocket science, I know, but still brought me back to reality. This is a serious trip, and I needed to focus. SO, I hunkered down and set to work. I started by getting back to the basics and did simple vocalises to re-center. After that I worked on my audition rep a bit. During a pause between songs, I realized that Andreas Scholl was singing next door… NEXT DOOR. Yeah, that was pretty cool. It made me just want to stop and listen to him (which I did for a few minutes) and then I got back to the task at hand. At the end, feeling a little better about where I was vocally (thank goodness), I met up with Seth to hit the movies and let my mind rest a bit. We saw RED with Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Bruce Willis. I thought it was surprisingly funny, and a relief that it was in English. I know, I know, it’s sort-of cheating, but it really was a great way to veg-out.

Now I’m home, and going to go through my music before hitting the hay early. It’s the start of a big week, and at this point I’m feeling a little apprehensive and also eager to give this a try.

Day 5 (8 November): Paris, here I come!

This morning I went to the Deutsche Oper in the morning to rehearse with the pianist who will play my audition next week. Though it was a little early, it was very useful to go through my music with a pianist before heading to my first audition. After that session, which was better than the night before, but still not up to par, I met up with Seth and Evan in the cafeteria to say goodbye. They went back to their Troyens musical rehearsal, and I went on my way to get some lunch and finish packing. I made my way to Shoenefeld on the U-Bahn, and made remarkable time… super easy trip. Then I boarded the EasyJet flight and took the bad weather with me to Paris.

The funny thing about EasyJet is that the boarding process is like a strategic competition. It’s all first come first serve – checking in, boarding, seats – so you’re constantly trying to position yourself to be able to snag a good seat. Their policy is to board from both the back and the front of the plane. My strategy was to take advantage of the less-used back line and go for the aisle. Success! The plane was packed, but I was as comfortable as I could hope to be, and we took off for Paris. As consessions cart passed by – the people in front of me paid 36 Euros (like, $29,000!! Ok, not that much, but it’s still crazy…) for a sandwich and a glass of wine. I was suddenly not at all hungry or thirsty.

The flight was short, and the trip into Paris was easy and uneventful. I made it to my friend Mirabelle’s house a little after 10pm, and was SO happy to find her father at home, as she is still in the States. Her father and I chatted for a bit before I headed up to bed. So, now I’m gearing up for tomorrow – making sure the tabs in my folder are clear, going through my part in my head, making sure my dress is hanging up. I’m really glad to get these auditions started. After all, that’s what I’m here to do, right? Tomorrow it starts.

Day 6 (9 November): One day in Paris

Today I awoke around 9am IN PARIS (aaaah!) and enjoyed a nice quiet morning after the flight last night. I hung out with Mirabelle’s father for breakfast, and slowly warmed up, checking to see how my voice was doing – so far so good, though a little sluggish from a fitful night of sleep. Nerves, I guess. Anyway, I made my way to the Palais Garnier via the Metro. As I walked outside in the light rain, it took me a minute to realize where I was (and more importantly, what language to attempt). I arrived on time to the theater, but had a terrible time finding the stage door. Unbeknownst to me, I had walked DIRECTLY by it on my way, but typically wasn’t paying attention. After several false attempts, I made my way through the Entrée des Artistes at the back of the theater.

Immediately upon walking in, everyone was very welcoming and kind. They showed me to a small dressing room where I could sing some, meet with the pianist, and of course try to not get more nervous – fail. However, I was able to make a plan and stick to it. With the five other auditioners, I went backstage to wait my turn. I was #3 to go, so I paced and wandered a bit to keep my body warm. I’m not sure that a single one of us singers stayed in one place. We must’ve looked (and sounded) like a bunch of chickens in a coop.

When my turn came, I perked up and walked out onto the stage. That theater is so beautiful. It’s the old opera house in Paris, not the Bastille, and still houses some opera and some ballet. The ceiling is covered with a Chagall painting, which is inspiring in itself. The chairs are covered in velvet, and the intricate architectural details throughout are stunning. Even being on that stage was humbling to me. So, a little overwhelmed, I began with “Non mi dir” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and followed that with Lucia’s first aria from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti.

I felt good about the audition. I mean, you ALWAYS leave thinking “That note – shoot!” or “This passage – ugh!”. But overall, I thought I represented myself fairly, and that’s all you can ask, right? When it was over, I took a cab to the Gare du Nord to rush and catch the train to Brussels. That’s when the day started going a little awry.

Apparently someone had put a cinderblock on the train track near Lille, and an earlier Eurostar train had derailed. Hence, every other train was delayed. I wished I hadn’t splurged for a cab to the station, but oh well, the worry-free ride was nice. To my good fortune, I had arranged to meet my friend Orhan there for a quick coffee before my departure time, so the delay just gave us a chance to properly catch up (and get more caffeinated). After a 3 hour delay (he was so sweet to wait with me!) I boarded the Thalys train and left for Brussels.

This will be my first trip to Brussels, and I already wish it were longer – if only for their delicious cuisine.

Day 7 (10 November): Brussels to Barcelona

After a long afternoon of delayed trains, I relaxed last night with a light dinner at the hotel… and then CRASHED.  Slept soundly at The Dominican Hotel in Brussels, conveniently located 10 feet across the street from the Artist Entrance to the Opera House. Even I couldn’t get lost finding that place! But I didn’t need to be there until 4pm.

So I began my day today with a cup of Nespresso coffee in the room, and gathered my thoughts for the audition at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. But I couldn’t stay cooped up all day, so I hit the streets to try and check out a tiny bit of Brussels.  I mostly kept to the Monnaie area, wandering the streets and alleyways, until I came upon a little café near a small park. I sat, ordered their special of the day (leek soup followed by a delicious pasta dish with shrimp), and settled in for a couple of hours of reading and people watching.

The thing that always surprises me as I travel from place to place is the commonalities of each culture. Today I saw a 16 yr old boy being chided by his mother, who barely reached his shoulder but towered over him nonetheless… a sulking 5 yr old girl begrudgingly following her dad, who was carrying her pink backpack… a couple of regular guys out for a smoke on their lunch break…. This afternoon I could’ve been anywhere, which had the remarkable effect of making me feel right at home.

With my stomach filled and my heart warm, I went to the opera house to face the task at hand. As I walked in, the backstage area seemed small – not closed in, but sweetly intimate. I snuck a peek at the house, and it is beautiful. About 1100 seats, it exemplifies the European house – small and personal. I went to the chorus room to warm up, expecting some private time to get into the zone. I was not so lucky. But I shook off the random people walking through, and just did my thing.

The actual audition went well, and I felt confident about what I did. They asked me to do one of the arias twice so they could tape it – my mind went immediately to the imminent documenting of my snagged hosiery, of course. But all in all it was good!

After that I grabbed my bag and headed to the train station to get to the airport. I had a couple of hours to kill before my flight, but I decided to go ahead and get through security and maybe have a bite to eat on the other side. Glad I made that decision. I have NEVER seen a line at a security checkpoint like I did tonight. Maybe line is the wrong word. Try mob scene. People were crammed against each other for 400 feet, moving at a snail’s pace towards the x-ray machines and metal detectors. It took me an hour and a half to get through the line! But I made my flight with no problem, and left bustling Belgium.

So here I am in Barcelona! I decided not to brave the train station at midnight in a country where I really don’t speak the language at all, so I cabbed it to the airport. I will admit that the hotel receptionist’s warning about pickpockets lurking around the area was not exactly settling. I think my lack of familiarity with the language and customs here is a little disconcerting too. Maybe a good night’s sleep will ease my mind and make me feel a little less completely out of my element. I sure hope so, because right now I’m not feeling all that convinced…

Day 8 (11 November) And exhale…

Woke up this morning with that pit still in my stomach. I think it’s my unfamiliarity with the language and culture here that makes me feel apprehensive. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really “plan” my trip here – I’m just winging it. I don’t know. But I decided to lay low and just concentrate on my audition for the morning. A quiet breakfast at the hotel, a slow warm up in my hotel room (sorry neighbors!), and I was out the door to the Liceu.

To my delight, I found that the theater was a 2-minute walk from my hotel. Once located the artist’s entrance I had some time to kill, so I wandered around the area to check out the place. It was vibrant with so many different kinds of people walking around. Street performers and painters lined the colorful boulevard called La Rambla, and I was thrilled to see the ocean at the end of the avenue. With that inspiration, I went back to the theater primed to tackle the audition mission. Upon arrival to the theater, raring to go, we began to wait… and wait… and wait. An HOUR past our audition slot they finally called us in. Needless to say, by that time I was slightly deflated, but tried to do my best anyway.

At this point, I’m in the groove. My voice feels on perma-warm (when singing a lot, and the voice just seems to stay warmed up from day to day) and I’m focused. I did my best – felt good – and I hope it was enough to come back here. My body is feeling a bit of the wear and tear of daily travel, and I have to say that I’m glad I have a couple of days in one place to exhale.

After the audition I went back to the hotel to change and figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of the day. A day and a half off in Barcelona??? That’s a dream! Well, a dream for someone who isn’t besieged with anxiety over pickpockets. So I decided to focus on the dream part and just get over the nerves.

I hit the streets and found a city bus tour. I figured a good way to see as much of the city as possible would be to just be a tourist and hop on the open-air bus. It was a good idea because I learned so much about the history and layout of the city. 2 hours later I was starving, so I popped in a café and had some paella. I had noticed earlier that the Opera Ballet was performing Giselle at the Liceu tonight. I decided at 7:30pm to just SEE if they had tickets for tonight’s 8pm performance. I was in luck! I snagged a seat and reveled in the beauty of the house, the music, and, of course, the enchanting dancing.

So with a revitalized traveler’s spirit, I’ve planned my day out and about tomorrow – take that, you pickpockets! – and will just go out and try to see what I can. One day seems far to little to really experience this city’s energy, but I’m thrilled to even be here.

Day 9 (12 November)  Only a day in Barcelona

I woke up early this morning; ready to embark upon the one day I had in Barcelona. I had a relaxing breakfast with my book, and headed out. I decided today that I would own my homeland, and be unabashedly, unapologetically an American tourist. So with my camera in one hand, and a map in the other, I set out to see what I could of Barcelona.

Because the bus tour was a two day venture, I hopped on the bus that was taking a different route than the one I took yesterday. I’m telling you, if you only have a small amount of time, this is the way to go. Today the bus served as tourguide, headquarters, and taxi service. They had multiple buses running on the quarter-hour, any of which was ready to take you along the route. I began the day in Plaza de Catalunya in the center of the city. We rode all around the different districts, and it was fun to see the city change from place to place – the people, the general atmosphere really had a different feel in each place.

The first thing that really took my breath away was Sagrada Família, the astounding Cathedral designed by modernist Gaudí. It is still unfinished since its inception in 1882…. They’re hoping to be finished in 2026 (the centennial of Gaudí ‘s death). All I can say is that it is a wonder. The facades are full of texture and movement, and I could barely take my eyes away. I am so excited to see the finished product, as they are still planning to add 10 more spires – I can hardly imagine it…

We then rode on through the outer regions of the city until we reached La Fundació Juan Miro (the Foundation Juan Miro), located in the beautiful Parc Montjuïc. This park houses not only the Miro Museum, but also the Botanical Gardens, the National Museum with stunning vistas of the city, and the Olympic Stadium (built in 1929 and finally used in 1992). This would give me quite enough to fill a weekend, much less a day.

So, tourist that I was, I bought my museum ticket and my audio guide. I wandered around the museum and its grounds, being sure to see every little crumb available. This museum is a must-see for any Barcelona visitor. The building alone is reason to go, but the perspective I gained as an artist was enlightening, to say the least. Miro was a remarkable artist to me because he went through a real process of discovery throughout his life. By trying different styles and mediums, never apologizing for what he produced, one can see his development from youth to full maturity, relating to each stop along the way.

Also, today this encounter was rather appropriate, as I’m currently reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (a guide to 20th century music). So Miro’s body of work directly corresponded with the time frame of composers in the book. And it all comes together…

I spent as much time as I could there, and then began to walk around the grounds of the park. The Olympic Stadium is grand in every sense of the word. I walked around the National Museum, but didn’t go inside, still reeling from the Miro experience. Instead I decided to sit on the steps for a while and take in the beautiful view of the city. What a city! Filled with rich architecture from every age, bustling with people from every country, it was almost overwhelming. And yet, as I sat there I felt very still… calm… content.

After a while my stomach started to grumble, so I took my chauffeur service back to the area near La Rambla. I wandered the streets until I found a regional, reasonably priced, mom-and-pop restaurant, just off the main road. I settled in for a delicious meal of fresh fish and a glass of Rioja red wine, and unwound from the day.

And I couldn’t have imagined a better one! Of course I only whetted my appetite to come back and see more, but today I really got a sense for Barcelona – its people, its cuisine, and its culture. I wish I could stay, but in actuality this trip is not a vacation. I’m back to Berlin tomorrow for an audition on Monday, and I still have to pack. But I know I’ll be back, and next time it will be for a dip in the ocean!

Oh, and I got over the pickpocket fear… and wore a skirt ;)

Day 10 (13 November) Oh no, not now…

One of the most trying things about being a professional singer, and everyone has to deal with it, can be the common cold. It can really take you out of the running because your instrument simply can’t do what you tell it to do – what you know it can do – something that on any normal day would be just fine and dandy. But we are human, so part of “learning” vocal technique is learning when to go on about as usual and to sing without doing damage, and when to just close your mouth.

Well, I woke up this morning with a bit of a sore throat. Nothing major, just a silly autumn cold. However, this is really, REALLY bad timing. So instead of doing what I would normally do and just ignore it (I’m not a very good patient), I went into cold-annihilation mode. After only consuming OJ, Emergen-C, good old H2O, and loads of hot tea, I’m hoping it will run its course soon. That said, I’m still sniffling and my throat is still a little raw this evening, and that is frustrating.

My next audition is on Monday, and it’s an important one. I’m just going to rest, stay warm, drink (you got it) hot tea, and pray that it’s just a little nothing cold. My rational brain knows it’s just fine, and will be gone in a day or two. My singer-brain is going through all of the “what if it doesn’t?” scenarios. Right now rational brain is winning. That may well change tomorrow.

So with tea and tissues in tow, I took the bus from downtown Barcelona to the BCN airport this morning and boarded a flight to Berlin. I arrived in one piece, and am planning to just take it easy tonight, probably watching a movie or something. I HATE to not really get out there and see a live performance while I’m here… I mean, it’s Berlin, people! But I have to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to be as close to 100% as I can be on Monday. Glad to have the day tomorrow to rest up and gear up. I’m sure it will be fine. I’m sure… it will… be fine…

Day 11 (14 November) Yeah, definitely sick.

Not much to write today. I’m definitely sick, and am trying my best to make it go away… but I know it has to run its course.  So instead of getting out and seeing Berlin on this beautiful day, I’m staying inside, staying quiet, and my mug is staying full of hot tea. NOT fun… but on the positive side it’s a good excuse for a movie :) More tomorrow…

Day 12 (15 November) – Home stretch

Despite doing everything I could, I just couldn’t manage to get rid of this cold in time for my audition today. So I had to consider whether to cancel or not (REALLY not wanting to). I decided to wait until I warmed up to make that choice. I had reserved a room at the Berlin Philharmonic to warm up for a couple of hours in the morning, and I’m so glad I did that.

First, it was wonderful to see that building. The outside reminded me initially of a birthday cake from a Dr. Seuss book, with bright orange tentacles bursting from the top of it. The inside is clean, bright, and very well appointed. From my practice room I could see the parking lot just outside; not much of an inspiration… that is, until the players of the Berlin Philharmonic began to arrive for a rehearsal. That parking lot became real inspirational real quick.

Secondly, I think it was good to get out and take in some fresh air. I had stayed inside all day the day before, nursing this maddening cold, and the sun was a welcome change. I took the metro from the Deutsche Oper to the Potzdamer Platz and walked from there.

Lastly, it was great to have set aside some reserved time in a different place to calmly and slowly test the waters. At first, it was very bad – lots of residual coughs and sneezes interrupted the scales. But as I methodically went through my list of vocalizes, my vocal chords began to clear up a bit. After a while, I was at about 80%, and decided that if the audition was important to me, which it was, then I should do it.

I made my way back to the Deutsche Oper and met up with my friend Seth for some lunch. It was good to take my mind off the 2pm audition, and get some warm soup. I then began to focus on the task at hand, and went to meet the pianist. We only had 10 minutes to quickly check tempi, but I immediately felt at ease with him .A native of Britain, he has been at the Deutsche Oper for over 25 years – remarkable pianist, and terrific guy.

So the audition started, and I sang… and sang… and sang. I tried at each moment to really give 100%, knowing that if I let up at all, I would cough, sneeze, or blow my nose. Not the best situation in which to be judged, but I did what I could do that day. After 5 pieces, arias and art songs, the audition was over. I let out a huge sigh of relief – I’d made it through!

I headed back to the apartment to quickly repack my bag and head back to the airport. This time I flew to Cologne, where Fenna, an awesome friend of mine from college, picked me up from the airport. We headed about an hour outside of Cologne, Germany to a small town near Aachen, Netherlands. She now lives there with her boyfriend, Willi, their 3 month-old son, Raf, and their adorable pup, Laurent. They made me a delicious home-cooked meal, and I got to hold Raf (the highlight of my day!) for a long time that night. After helping to put him to bed, we chatted for a bit before I hit the hay myself.

As I’m sitting here tonight in this very small town (there’s not even a grocery store here!) in the southern part of The Netherlands, my heart is full. Even though the life of traveling so much can wear on the mind and body, it’s moments like tonight that make it worth it. I hadn’t seen Fenna in 4 years, and it was like we had never skipped a beat. And how else would I have gotten to see her beautiful home and held her child with her living halfway across the world? I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to be here, and am grateful that this trip has happened.

Day 13 (16 November) – Last one!

This foggy morning I woke to the sounds of a happy baby and the scent of fresh coffee. Though I would have loved to stay longer, I had to get to the train station near Fenna’s house to get back to Cologne for my LAST audition. After a cheerful goodbye, I set off for my last stop on this crazy audition tour.

Just as a side note, I have to plug the European train system for a minute. What a wonderful way to travel! First of all, there’s no shoe-removal or metal detectors, a plus in the fashion arena. The seats are quite comfortable, the ride smooth, and you can watch the landscape morph from one town to the next. I loved seeing the beautiful verdant landscape of Germany as we flew by. #1 choice when it comes to travel, by far.

Upon arrival at the Cologne Banhoff, their main train station, the first thing I saw was the towering majestic Dome of the city. I wish I had had time to go inside, but I needed to find the opera house. It was a pretty easy walk from the station, and an imposing structure from the outside. I made my way to the artist entrance to check in, and began warming up. I immediately knew something was a little off – the cold had moved down, and I couldn’t really feel much in the way of resonance (a bad sign). I got myself revved up as best I could, met with the pianist, and joined the other singers to head down to the stage. Lo and behold, I ran into an old friend from our days at the Lyric Opera of Chicago young artist program, Jordan Shanahan. What a small world!

I followed him in the order (he did a great job with arias from Eugene Onegin and Of Mice and Men). Starting with Non mi dir, I just felt off. I tried the best I could, but it was just one of those days. Nothing seemed to come together just right. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was the fact that it was the end of a long and wild series of auditions and my energy was waning. Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Anyway, I’m not sure how it came across, but I didn’t feel that great about it. It’s too bad because I really liked what I saw of the opera house and the city.

I took the train to the airport, and flew back to Berlin for my last night in Europe. I took Seth, my gracious Berlin host, out for a delicious Italian meal, and then we met up with friends over at a bar near the opera house. I got to see buddies from so many different places – Marlboro, Santa Fe, Ft. Worth – and met some really wonderful new friends. Also had my very first real German beer in Germany. It was delicious. Who knew? :)

Day 14 (17 November) – Homeward Bound

So after all of that, I’m on the plane back to the States. It has been the most wonderful two weeks in Europe, full of friends, eye-opening cities, and lots and lots of singing. Thank you to Seth Carico, Mr. Ordinaire, and Fenna Ograjensek for hosting me during my stay – your hospitality meant a great deal.

All I can think is how lucky I was to be able to see such amazing cities on this trip: innovative Berlin, chic Paris, bustling Brussels, breathtaking Barcelona, and vibrant Cologne. All very different, and yet all inspiring in their own manner.

But now it’s back to the grindstone, and I’m smiling all the way home. As much fun as this trip has been, I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed, if only for the night. It’s off to Hunts-Vegas, Alabama tomorrow, and then back to work in New York just after Thanksgiving.

What a life-changing 2 weeks in a beautiful part of our world! I hope to return there very soon to continue to explore. Until then, I have very fond memories to take with me as I go.

Thank you Europe!

Leave a Comment


  1. Thank you so much for the fabulous blog, Susanna! It is so wonderful and inspiring to read. I hope I will see you soon!

  2. Well and good. What have you picked up as of now. Do you hope for more

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