5: On the road to Croatia!

Tuesday April 9

Today began on a bittersweet note as BBV and Blokes farwelled our lovely billets from Austria. This was a sad event for all, as each chorister had been so warmly welcomed into each host’s house and family life – many lifelong friendships have been made!!

Our Australian choristers gave some memorable gifts to our Austrian hosts including shopping bags with koalas on them, Caramello Koalas, Australian-themed tea towels, plush kangaroo toys and many more. Of course, whilst being billeted itself is such a massive gift to us, some Graz families also gave gifts for us to remember them by – including some lovely pumpkin seed oil, maps of Graz, some more Zotter chocolate, coasters and badges. We hope to see these two choirs again in Australia (please come visit us!).

BBV met at the BischGym for the final time to say farewell to the choir and Valentine, whom we will see very soon at the festival in Opatija (they even gave us some Austrian music to learn before then)!

Blokes parted with the Singakademie after some fine group photos were taken to remember our amazing experiences.

We left Austria to head to Slovenia where we stopped at the Ptuj Castle. This historic building hosts some intriguing art, 17th and 16th century furniture, armour and weaponry and traditional Slovenian masks.

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We were even able to try on some replica medieval helmets! Chorister Isaac Kozlovskis said his favourite part of the castle was seeing the old musical instruments, and the impromptu performance of Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” in the main hall.

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After this we departed for lunch. We were treated to a buffet selection of vegetables, schnitzels, soups, beef stroganoff, bread and some lovely desserts! Chorister Toby Sheppard said he especially loved the selection of cheese!

Feeling very full and satisfied, we hopped on the bus and made our way to our final stop. Parting ways, we all took advantage of some more down time on the way, recharging whilst we crossed over the border from Slovenia to Croatia.

When we arrived in Zagreb, BBV were greeted with warm hugs from our lovely Croatian host families, and spent the night immersed in their culture.

The Blokes’ bus dropped off our APs before settling in to a quaint hostel on the border of Zagreb. We were then taken to a hearty dinner prepared for us by KUD Dragutin Domjanic! We had a chance to meet some local young musicians from the Tamboritza Orchestra, enjoy some lovely crepes for desert, and perform two well-received songs for those who had prepared our meal.

Tomorrow we begin our Croatian adventures – stay tuned!

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

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