Memories of Austria

Highlights from our 2009 UCC tour to Austria.

Come with us this summer as we capture the magic again.

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July 2-12, 2017


Tuesday July 2

Choristers, chaperones and parents will meet at the Toronto airport and check in for our overnight flight to Munich, Germany. If you are arranging your own flight, please make sure you arrive before the group, or plan on meeting us at our first stop – Dachau.

Wednesday July 3

After a quick brunch by the airport we will secure our transportation. We will be travelling in caravan using several 9-seat vans. This is the same mode of transportation we used in both Italy and England (our last 2 international tours). We found it gives us the greatest flexibility and enables us to experience more than we could otherwise.

Our first tour stop is a destination of particular historical significance – Dachau.

Dachau concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, intended at first to hold political prisoners. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged during the war to include forced labor, and eventually the imprisonment of Jews. Dachau was liberated by U.S. forces on April 29 1945.

We will conduct our tour of Dachau with the greatest sensitivity. It is impossible to go through the gates of Dachau and not be permanently impacted by the horrors that were committed there. This is certainly an emotional experience, but one that can have such a positive transformational effect.  Our touring choristers will begin preparing, both emotionally and historically, long before we leave Canadian soil. Michelle Rawlins has completed a unit on World War II with the Rawlins children, and she has many great ideas and information to share with touring choristers that will keep this experience age-appropriate, yet still with great impact.

After an orientation session at the hotel you will have some time to freshen up and rest in the late afternoon before we continue our adventure with dinner.  Munchner Stubn will host us for a traditional German dinner of Bratwurst & Mashed. No doubt choristers will be tired as we acclimate to our new time-zone and recover from our flight. This will be an early night back to the hotel where we can get some well-needed rest before our next day adventures begin.

Thursday July 4

After a buffet breakfast at our hotel, we will take a 90-minute journey out of the Munich city centre to Neuschwanstein Castle. Neuschwanstein was commissioned by Ludwig II – The Fairy Tale King – of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of the great German composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig II wrote of it to Wagner, “the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world… this castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau further down, which is desecrated every year by the prose of my mother; they will take revenge, the desecrated gods, and come to live with us on the lofty heights, breathing the air of heaven.”

Neuschwanstein is one of the most significant and photographed castles in all of Europe, and served as inspiration to Walt Disney who used it as a model for the castle in Sleeping Beauty as well as the iconic castle at Disneyworld. After a morning and early afternoon exploring the castle and grounds, we will return to Munich and prepare for our first performance – Evensong at St. Markus, followed by a late dinner and an evening walk through the car-free cobblestone streets of Munich, where buskers and street vendors adorn.

Munich Inclusions – click to visit links

All dinners, entrance fees, tickets, hotels and transportation and breakfasts are included, with the exception of your first brunch after we arrive at the airport on July 3 (breakfast of sorts is supposed to be served on the plane, but we’re not counting on a feast from the airline, so we’ll be stopping before Dachau). Please bring money for lunches.

Dachau Concentration Camp
Neuschwanstein Castle
Hotel Mercure Munich Altstadt


Friday July 5

After breakfast at our hotel we will load the vans and begin a three and a half our journey to Melk. Next to the Wachau valley along the Danube river, Melk is an extraordinary Austrian town – a dream destination for bikers around the world. After we have checked in to our hotel, we will mount bikes and explore the extraordinary Wachau Valley. There will be a short bike tour option and a long bike tour option. If you do not know how to ride a bike, let us know, and we’ll come up with something.

The Wachau is an Austrian valley with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river. Orchards, castles and ruins punctuate the landscape. Our hotel, which is more of a large bed and breakfast than a hotel, will host us for dinner after our afternoon ride.

Saturday July 6

For our riding enthusiasts you will have another opportunity after breakfast to explore the Danube by bike. If your seat is already too sore, a second group will head to the town of Melk for some local shopping in this quaint Austrian village.

Standing in the heart of Melk is a Benedictine abbey – Stift Melk or Melk Abbey. The abbey was founded in 1089 (back when the earth was still flat). A monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, was founded in the twelfth century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The library in the Melk Abbey still contains countless medieval manuscripts. Melk Abbey is at once strikingly beautiful and historically significant.

Our tour of the abbey will culminate in a performance on site.

Melk Inclusions – click to visit links

All breakfasts, Abbey entrance fees, bike rentals, accommodation, performances, transportation and dinners are included.

Melk Abbey


Sunday July 7

It takes only about an hour to travel from Melk to Vienna, so we will arrive before lunch and begin our Vienna EBL (Experienced Based Learning).

Vienna EBL – Castles, Cathedrals & Galleries

This is a small group adventure through the sites and history of this great city. Special clues in sealed envelopes will guide you through the wonders of Vienna. But there is more here than we could possibly see, so choose your envelopes wisely and craft an extraordinary adventure.

Don’t tire out your legs too much, because after a traditional Viennese dinner of Schnitzel, we’re going to learn to waltz! We might even throw in an Austrian dance or two.

Saturday July 8

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the oldest riding academy in the world, and the only one where classical horsemanship of the Renaissance is still cultivated. The school is called “Spanish” because of the Spanish horses, which performed in the early days of the riding school. Today’s Lipizzaner stallions are the descendants of this proud Spanish breed, a cross between Spanish, Arabian and Berber horses, uniquely now Austrian.

While the adult horses are on vacation in July, the horse show Piber Meets Vienna is in session, and we will see some of the young horses as they work on their craft.

Apart from being regarded as the City of Music because of its rich musical legacy, Vienna is also said to be The City of Dreams because it was home to the world’s first psychoanalyst – Sigmund Freud. The city’s roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into and Medieval and Baroque city, and then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is well know for having played an essential role as a leading European music centre.

We will attend a formal concert while in Vienna, featuring the music of Mozart, so bring suitable clothing!

Monday July 9

We will be performing at St Peter’s cathedral on July 9 in the afternoon. We have a rehearsal at St Peter’s scheduled for the early afternoon, followed by a 3PM concert that will also feature the organist of St Peter’s. The concert is in formal dress.

Construction of St. Peter’s began in 1701. The design was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican in Rome. It was the first domed structure in baroque Vienna. The church makes an overwhelming impression on the visitor with its surprisingly rich interior filled with golden stucco.

Vienna Inclusions – click to visit links

All breakfasts, rentals, accommodation, tours, transportation and dinners are included.

Spanish Riding School
Schonbrunn Palace
Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel


Wednesday July 10

Early in the morning, directly after breakfast, we will again board our vans and head to Salzburg. We will be staying just outside of Salzburg at Lake Fuschl.  Fuschl is a truly magnificent place. Schloss Fuschl, our host for this final leg of our tour, is a castle in the gemeinde of Hof bei Salzburg. It stands on a peninsula at the western end of the Fuschlsee. It was built in about 1450 by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, who used it as a hunting lodge.

In the late afternoon we will explore sites and locations from “The Sound of Music” with Fraulein Maria’s  bike tour, then back to our hotel and spend some time relaxing by the lake, or in the spa. Michelle has some special activities planned, and it is here by this glacier-fed lake that we will conclude our final round of Quackenbush!

Thursday July 11

After a leisurely breakfast we are going to hike around the lake (we know a spot with some amazing Austrian ice cream!). Then to Hallstatt and the salt mines for a fascinating afternoon that will bring our adventures to a close. Evening will be spent sharing stories and memories with friends in this idyllic setting, looking at polaroids from our EBL, and re-capping an amazing tour.

Friday July 12

Our plane leaves from Munich in the afternoon on July 12, so we have some time to enjoy the extraordinary breakfast at Schloss Fuschl, and we will be back in Toronto by evening.

Lakes District Inclusions – click to visit links

All breakfasts, rentals, accommodation, tours, transportation and dinners are included. Please bring money for lunches.

Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour
Hallstatt Salt Mines


As most of the tour fees, including flights and hotels, are due in their entirety at the time of booking, UCC will have paid or committed to fees on your behalf long before the final payment is due. As such, there is no possibility of refund, and your deposit represents a commitment to the full cost of the tour.

Prices are based on student triple occupancy. If parents wish to attend, requiring double occupancy, we have kept the fee the same, but there are 3 dinners, including a dinner and concert, that would have to be covered independently. Travelling parents may decide to go on a separate dinner on these 3 nights. UCC reserves the right to make suitable changes to the itinerary as listed for the benefit of the tour. The itinerary above is a first-draft, and will be modified as we consider the make-up of the travelling choristers, etc. A completed itinerary, including links to all hotels, restaurants, etc., will be available before the end of December 2018.

If you are intending on participating in this tour we ask that you fill out the form below. The first payment is due by Thursday November 15 (cheque or e-transfer to We must commit all numbers before Friday November 16, so it is imperative we know you are coming before that date. We’re looking forward to an amazing tour!