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Ring of Fire Europe Tour

June 23-July 10, 2003
  Our long-awaited trip to Europe was a thrill of a life time. With 13 teens, 13 adults and a big red coach, the fun went non-stop for 18 days. Join us for a brief review in pictures of the fun we had. Selected from over 8,000 pics, we painfully whittled it down to about 300 for your viewing enjoyment. Share with us our adventure...
The Trip Over
We left very early on Monday morning, June 23, from Hillsboro, taking a school bus up to Seattle's SeaTac airport for our long flight to Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom, with a stop over in Detroit, MI. We were up for 36 hrs that day before we got to sleep in a real bed. Here's a few pics from the trip over.
Arriving in England mid Tuesday, June 24, we loaded on board our red executive motor coach with Adrian our driver, Keith Rowland our wonderful host, and drove into London to start our sightseeing. Over the course of 2 days we hit many of the popular attractions in London and performed our first concert. Thursday, June 26 we drove 2 hrs west into the beautiful Sussex district to perform our second concert at the magnificent Wells Cathedral and spent a day in the quaint village of Wells, England. On the way back we stopped to look at Stonehenge.
Making the Channel crossing Friday morning, Adrian then drove us to Paris, France. Here we spent the weekend with Fred Gramann our host, who did a wonderful job making sure we got to see many of the sights Paris has to offer. This included several museums and a midnight assent to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We also performed our third concert at the American Church in Paris on Sunday, June 29.
Monday June 30, we arrived in Geneva and started 3 days site-seeing in gorgeous Switzerland. Zermatt is a village at the base of the Matterhorn where no fossil fueled vehicles are permitted to preserve the pure Alpine environment. The weather was perfect there allowing for fantastic photos of the mountain. Then on to Lauterbrunnen, a quaint Alpine village at the base of a waterfall. Jason's "2 hour" walk from Wengen to view the Eiger turned into about 4 hours but wonderful beauty we experienced, alpine flowers, cows, and glaciers. The day ended with an impromptu 10 pm handbell concert in our little chalet for Switzerland's handbell choir director, Eric Nunlist.
Friday morning, July 4, we drove from Switzerland, thru the Alps into northern Italy, around Milan, and on to Venice. Here we spent a wonderful weekend in this city filled with water canals instead of streets, boats instead of cars, maze-like walkways, red roofs, churches, art, glass-blown sculptures, face masks, shops, and other wonderful, romantic scenery. We parked the coach and took a ferry over to Venice, which is one of several area islands. Our Hotel Iris was just off the Grande Canal that snakes through the city and is the main artery for all transportation. With a 3-day water taxi pass, we made liberal use of this public transport to get around this incredible, visually-enticing city.
Sunday, July 6 we took a boat back to the mainland, loaded on the coach and drove to Innsbruck, Austria, for the night. Then on to Fussan, Germany where Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II is located. This is the castle that inspired the castle Walt Disney built in Disneyland and shares much of the same design. After spending the middle half of Monday touring the castle we then headed north to Darmstaedt for the night. Tuesday we took a 2-hour cruise down the Rhine River through vineyard covered hills and historic castles along the river banks. Tuesday night was our fourth and final concert at Dusseldorf. Nancy Poland was our wonderful host and provided us a wonderful German meal and excellent English to German translation during the concert.
We had heard about the beauty and wonderful sites of Brugge, Belgium, so we spent our last full day (Wednesday) there, walking the cobble-stoned streets, viewing the churches and many canals, and shopping for their famous lace and chocolates. This city was never bombed during the war so it's old buildings are still in tact and because of the canals, is referred to as the "Venice of the North". We loved the city and wished we had about another week to spend there.
The Trip Home
Thursday we got up early and drove to France where we took the Chunnel again back to England, then on to Gatwick Airport for our flight back home. We said goodbye to Adrian our wonderful coach driver and flew first to Detroit, MI and then Seattle's SeaTac Airport. Our bus was waiting to take us back to Hillsboro, OR. After being up for about 28 hours, our beds at home never felt soooo good.

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