Hey! We’re going to Europe!
This page represents the combined efforts of Sarah Wojcik, Jay Besch and myself (PDH) as we amalgamated our thoughts and reflections following the recent reconnaissance trip to Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. In case you missed it, you may wish to watch the ZOOM meeting from last week (May 31, 2022) where we addressed a lot of this information in real time. In short, there are only a few major points that are absolutely critical:
- Programming repertoire for this project has been an absolute joy! The choir rosters for each WEEK ONE and WEEK TWO are truly outstanding, and the main objective of the trip is to maximize our musical potential while rehearsing, performing, and living in a truly magical corner of the planet. Matters of conduct and behavior should not only be congruent with those set forth by the University of Delaware, but should always be guided in the best interest of the group. One “cotton-headed ninny-muggins” can ruin a life-changing experience for the entire choir.
- We’re almost on the back-side of a world pandemic. Europe has essentially lifted all restrictions regarding COVID testing and vaccinations, but the US has not. Please pay careful attention to information related to testing as not to infect your fellow singers while making it possible for you to come home when it’s time to do so.
- Please make sure you keep Sarah abreast of any changes to your travel itinerary, while making sure you have contact information for all three of us should anything go askew during your travels. And for those on the first week traveling through Salzburg, know that the bus leaves on time, whether you’re on it or not! Finding your way across the Alps will be more challenging and annoying than you might think.
Table of Contents
- Drop-Dead List
- Munich to Rovinj
- Departing Rovinj
Drop Dead List
- Passport (and photocopies)
- Vaccination Card (and photocopies)
- 3 or 4 COVID self-tests
- Sheet music
- Concert Attire
- A little bit of research ahead of time goes a long way. Know a bit about what you are walking into when you arrive at a new location.
- Plan your COVID testing to return to the US ahead of time!
- Busses and Ferries wait for nobody! DO NOT BE LATE!
PLEASE read this entire document carefully, as it will answer many of your future questions!
Munich to Rovinj
If you are flying from the States into Munich airport you will probably arrive at Terminal two, which is the perfect spot to catch the bus to Erding. Once you clear passport control and baggage claim, you’ll exit through customs (you don’t have anything to declare, use the green lane) and turn right.
In all likelihood, there will be somebody waiting for you right outside the arrivals door next to the Starbucks, though even if that’s not the case, this is a very easy airport to navigate. As you exit the secure area you will see a long hall with a cute Germany bakery (Jay’s recommendation for coffee and breakfast) on your left and a Starbucks (Sarah’s recommendation if you want like 5 shots of espresso) on your right. Just past the Starbucks is a store called The Travelers Electronics Company. This is the perfect place to pick up a power adapter if you forgot to buy one or European SIM chip for your phone if you aren’t using your carrier’s international plan. You can only use a European SIM chip if you have a device that is unlocked, ‘Cell Phones’ below. There is also a currency exchange down this corridor, but it is generally better and cheaper to use an ATM to pull local currency rather than exchanging dollars for Euros, see ‘currency’ below.
Just in case you arrive and you’re feeling lost, here are three important phone numbers that also work on WhatsApp:
- Sarah: +1-302-897-2509
- Jay: +1-301-821-6800
- PDH: +1-302-544-2678
To get to the bus to Erding, keep following this corridor and exit the building through the doors at the end where the bus terminal is. Cross over to the first island (ahead and slightly to the right of the exit doors) and find the stop for the 512 Bus to Erding. Buy your ticket using the MVV-app (see “important info and links” page) and check the timetable in the app to see when the next bus is coming. Because Erding is the last stop, the bus will say ‘Erding’ on it. Hop on, show them your electronic ticket, and wait until the end of the line, about a 35min ride! (In the worst case, you can buy a paper ticket from the bus drive about about 4€, but if you do it on the app, you don’t have to worry about speaking in German!)
Erding is a small town with about 3 blocks of ‘downtown’ area. It is very intuitive to navigate and our hotel (Kastanienhof) is very easy to find. You can literally see it from the bus and train station, it is right across the street. Check out the morning market if it is open, super cute. Jay or Sarah will be leading a trip to Dachau (also outside of Munich) from Erding on Saturday for people who are interested but might need some help navigating. Pro-Tip: Don’t nap for the first couple days and keep yourself awake until 9pm or 10pm. Power through the first couple days and it makes the jet-lag so much easier. (And, if you go to the Therme, it SERIOUSLY helps with the jet-lag!)
Wow, this place is great! There is something for everyone and it feels just like a water park (but relaxing instead of energizing) in the U.S.! It is perfect to rejuvenate after the long flight, the water slides are better than anything in Delaware, tons of included spa amenities (saunas, mineral baths, face-mask station, etc) and about 6 different restaurants to eat and drink with friends. The swim-up bar will change your life!
It’s not cheap! You can choose to pay by the hour, (See pricelist here) or purchase a pass for the full day, but you’ll likely be surprised that even three or four hours won’t seem like enough time.
If you don’t bring your own supplies, which take up quite a bit of space in your suitcase, towel rental is a must, and robe rental is pretty great. You ask for both when you get your entrance ticket. For both it costs 10 Euros with a 45 Euro deposit which will be returned to you when you return the robe and towel. Bring your own cheap flip-flops, barefoot and sneakers are both bad options and they don’t rent flip-flops. When you enter, you will be given a wrist band with a chip in it. This wrist band will be how you pay for food and drink and move from zone to zone. You’ll settle up the charges on the wrist band when you exit the Therme.
There are 3 zones at the Therme. You can choose which zones to include in your ticket. and also choose how many hours you want to stay.
- Zone 1: Tropical Spa and Waterpark – Pretty much like an American Water Park.
- Zone 2: Vitality Oasis – 16+ to enter, much more calm, highly recommend!
- Zone 3: Spa Area and Oasis – 16+, good Saunas here, bathing suits are not allowed – though most people are covered with a towel or bathrobe if not in a sauna or the pool. (Click here if you’d like to read PDH’s insights about the German sauna tradition and why you might to check it out for yourself.)
Want to know more about how to “do the therme like a German? Check out the detailed insider’s guide from PDH
Munich is a large city so if you are not an experienced traveler, stay with a buddy as the downtown area is quite crowded. The main square is called Marienplatz which has Munich’s famous clocktower. At 11am, 12pm, and 5pm, the glockenspiel will play and the mechanical marionettes will move and dance. Jay liked the show, Sarah was meh on it. Dr. Head was at the whiskey shop down the street… (Which is a world class whiskey shop, but the way! -pdh) Be sure to check out the market a block or two from Marienplatz, it is a wonderland of colors and smells and perfect to pick up a loaf of bread and wheel of cheese for lunch. If you want to go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, get off the beaten path. Prices and kitch are doubled on Marienplatz. Once you get two or three blocks away from the square you’ll find a bunch of biergartens and restaurants, try the Schnitzel, Wurst, or Pork in Gravy with Kraut, they are German specialties. (Wiener Schnitzel and sauerkraut are acquired tastes. Jay’s your go-to guy on that one!!)
Salzburg is a smallish city in the foothills of the Austrian alps. We only have a 3 hour stop here so plan accordingly to get back to the bus on time. There are several beautiful churches including Salzburger Dom, (Mozart’s first church: 5€ entrance fee). The Festung is the fortress dating back to the romans. Its a very steep walk up the hill with a 10€ entrance fee, or you can take the Funicular train up for an additional 3€. The train is totally worth it on a hot day. There is an excellent walking/shopping street that snakes through the area with local and international brands. In all likelihood, Jay will lead a group to the fortress, and Sarah will lead a group to the Sound of Music hotspots. You can join a group, or your own way, but if you miss the bus, it’s a long and daunting walk over the Alps to Croatia. (Just ask the von Trapps!)
Salzburg is also where much of The Sound of Music was filmed. Be sure to check out Mirabell Gardens, the fountain next to Salzburger Dom (Salzburg Cathedral), and the bicycle bridge! There are plenty of lovely places to grab lunch as well. Again, this all factors into the 3 hour allotted time, but you can easily check out a few of the Sound of Music stops on your way to a place to grab food!
This is a quick 1-hour stretch and bathroom break at a scenic lake perched amongst the alps. There will be a restaurant to grab a quick drink (Sarah recommends the fresh-squeezed (unsweetened!) lemonade, Jay recommends the Radler a German mix of lemonade and beer) and take in the stunning views of the lake, castle, and church island.
Rovinj is maybe the most beautiful little coastal town on the planet. It consists of the old town which was built on a one-hill-island that has since been connected to the mainland, the new town which is on the coast, and several islands some of which have hotels or resorts. The old town is a maze of walking streets with shops and restaurants all leading up to the church on the hill. The new town is a little more touristy with more shopping and a grocery store. Our rehearsal room is right on the water between the old town and new town in amongst even more restaurants and cafes.
The only way to get to our hotel is by ferry. (WEEK TWO people, Hotel Istra and Hotel Katarina are on islands; Hotel Eden is on the mainland. WEEK ONE: We’re all at Hotel Istra – on an island.) The ferry leaves the hotel port every hour on the hour from 6am-12am. There are two stops in Rovinj, port Deflin (in the new town) and port Adriatic (in the old town). The ferry will stop at both of these ports every trip but not always in the same order depending on the tides. Each of the ports is about a 10 min walk to the rehearsal room, the faster port is whichever one the ferry stops at first! The ferry returns to the hotel every hour on the :30 from 6:30am-12:30am. It will stop at both ports on the way back with the order of stops also depending on the tides. Best to get to any of the ports 5 minutes before the scheduled departure. Jay and Sarah both recommend not missing the last ferry back to the hotel at night! PLEASE. DO. NOT. MISS. THE. FERRY. WHEN. IT. TAKES. ITS. LAST. RUN. OF. THE. NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NOTE FROM PDH: There are no youth hostels in Rovinj, and the next closest town is about an hour away. There are a couple other hotels in the city that might have a vacancy, but rooms will likely start at about $600 a night (!!!!!!) as there are no budget lodging options. Most of the bars close around midnight and it’s not really a nightclub kind of place, but even the most adventurous venue will lock the doors at 2:00 am, and then you’re stuck until ferry service resumes at 6:00 am the next morning. Travel is mostly about the great stories you get to tell after you’re home, but you should give careful consideration as to whether you want your story to include sleeping under a tree in Eastern Europe. There are water taxis that run to the hotels, but the locals tell me that those guys go home to sleep before midnight as well. e.g. Not a viable backup plan.
Our rehearsal space is a local community center and arts space called the MMC. It is right in downtown Rovinj directly on the harbor. It is a 5 minute walk from the either one of the ferry boat ports. It’s a lovely space with hardwood floors and excellent acoustics. Almost a destination in itself.
We are really lucky to be singing in the Church of St. Euphemia, the stunning church at the top of the hill in the center of Rovinj. The acoustic is perfect for a choir of this size, you’ll love singing there. There is not a green room at the church so plan to arrive in your performance attire. The church is about a 15 or 20 minute, fairly steep walk up from the water. There are a bunch of ways to get there, just keep walking up-hill and you’ll be there eventually.
Concert attire will be all black with a splash of (Blue Hen) blue. This should be a blue accent like a light scarf, necktie, or belt. Please remember that the performance venue is a Catholic church and we want to be respectful. A little more conservative with minimal skin showing would be appropriate. To counter that, the church does not have A.C. and will likely be warm so dress in light fabrics. We wouldn’t recommend blazers, shawls, or sweaters, but a blue tie (long or bow) is always a nice touch.
All sheet music and MP3s have been uploaded to a google drive (linked below). If you are using digital copies of the music, please download your scores ahead of time.
If you are using physical copies of the music, you should have received an incomplete packet in the mail OR picked up your incomplete packet from Amy E. DuPont. You will also need to print some scores to complete your packet. Scores you will need to print are in the public domain or those we received via e-download. All scores (whether you need to print them or not!) are listed in the rep lists by week, also linked below.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be nowhere to print scores once you’ve arrived in Croatia. Make sure you print before you go.
You should plan to bring all of the standard rehearsal and performance supplies with you as they will be more difficult to find in Rovinj. Make sure you have a water bottle (empty it before going through security at the airport!), a few pencils, all of your sheet music (or tablet with music downloaded), a tuning fork, and a black folder.
Collaboration with Marco Garbini
We are very lucky to be collaborating with a local Italian community choir, Marco Garbini, for our Saturday concert. They will sing a short set of traditional Italian music on the concert and we will join forces for them to close out the concert with two joint numbers, an Italian standard and Hogan’s Hear My Prayer. We will also participate in a rehearsal with them on Friday evening.
To promote our concert, we will do a couple of short pop-up performances in the busier parts of Rovinj during the dinner hour on both Friday and before the concert on Saturday. The idea is that we find a square, sing one or two songs from the folder, hand out flyers advertising our concert, and then move on to the next little square. Very informal, just follow the crowd and sing on the downbeat!
Euros are accepted in Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, Kuna is the currency used in Croatia. The best way to get local currency (Euro or Kuna) is to use an ATM connected to a local bank branch or post office. Don’t go to a US bank ahead of your departure, they will charge you an arm and a leg to get European currency. Don’t go to a money exchange with cash in the airport once you land, they also charge conversion fees. It’s best to go to an ATM connected to a local bank branch or post office (during business hours) so if the machine swallows your card, there will be a human there who will be able to help.
Once you find an ATM, make a simple withdrawal transaction. The only additional step is that you will be asked if you want to run the transaction in USDollars or in Local currency. Run the transaction in local currency! You will be charged a service fee, but not a conversion fee so it is cheaper. In general, you want to make fewer transactions in general, because you will be charged a service fee no matter what. Try to gauge how much money you are going to spend and take out no more or less than that amount!
- If you spend 100€ it will cost you about $107 USD
- If you spend 100 HRK (kuna) it will cost you about $15 USD
The weather in Rovinj will be hot and sunny with some chance of rain storms to blow through in the afternoons. Light and airy clothing is highly recommended. Shorts, skirts, sundresses, T-shirts, bathing suits are all acceptable attire for pretty much everywhere in Rovinj. Rovinj has a ton of little shops with great beachwear that can be bargained down to pretty reasonable prices too. A few key items that you don’t want to do without:
- CONCERT ATTIRE!!!!!!! See the above section!
- European POWER ADAPTERS – Germany, Austria, and Croatia all use the same adapters.
- Bring LIGHT FABRIC-ed clothes, like cotton and linen blends–preferably ones that don’t wrinkle too easily! It’s warm and breezy there, so light fabrics are preferable!
- Bring a little WINDBREAKER or WARM LAYER. One that folds into a little pouch is great!
- Bring a little UMBRELLA or RAINJACKET too!
- A waterproof simple light BACKPACK/DRAWSTRING that either works as a carry-on bag OR you can put into your checked bag is great for when you’re out and about!
- Comfortable, lightweight WALKING SHOES. Sneakers are great
- A couple of BATHING SUIT, there are lots of pools and beaches.
- water shoes/flip flops
- Bring a TOWEL and bathrobe/cover-up of some sort!
- SUNGLASSES!!!! It’s sunny!
- SUNSCREEN. You can probably get some in Croatia, but easier to bring in your checked bag if you check one.
- Your own SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER. Most hotels only have a 3-in-1 (my hair was suffering a little!!! – Sarah)
- REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE. Tapwater is safe to drink!!
- Liquid IV – (this was helpful when I got off the plane and felt as dehydrated as SpongeBob in that one episode – Sarah)
Before you leave for the trip you will want to check with your carrier about their international plan options. Cell service and data connection is good throughout Europe but it can cost an arm and a leg if you aren’t careful and don’t plan ahead. Some carriers charge by the day, some have a monthly plan, others charge by the MB of data or number of minutes used. Some carriers will automatically sign you up for their (expensive) roaming plans if you don’t sort it out ahead of time. If you have an unlocked phone that will accept a SIM chip, you can buy a temporary European SIM in the Munich airport. There are a ton of different plans at different price points that mix and match the number of texts, minutes of calls, and MB of data that you have. If you go the the SIM route, the store clerk can help you set up your phone too.
Here are a few apps we found super helpful. Be sure to download content where possible so they work offline.
- XE – Will convert between USDollar, Euro, and Kuna so you don’t have to math!
- Google Translate – Download German and Croatian so it works offline!
- Google Maps – Download Munich, Salzburg, and Rovinj so it works offline!
- MVV-App – Ticketing and map for Munich public transport.
- WhatsApp – Like Zoom but you keep your phone number and can call internationally using Wifi or data instead of international minutes.
- Your airline apps – ALL of them! (Be sure to check codeshare flights operating the actual flight. (e.g. British Airways connecting to American Airlines)
- Add these phone numbers in whatsapp:
- Sarah Wojcik: +1 302-897-2509
- Jay Besch: +1 301-821-6800
- Paul Head: +1 302-544-2678
Eating in Rovinj
There are tons of food options in all parts of Rovinj for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, ranging from sandwich places to sidewalk cafés that mainly feature fresh seafood and Italian cuisine. (Lots of pizza and pasta!) You can have a really nice lunch or dinner for about $25-$35 US, including wine or beer. There is also small grocery store (‘TOMMY’) with a nice deli and bakery 3min from the MMC to pick up groceries if you prefer.
Please avoid getting ‘hangry’ during rehearsals! We will have breaks, but not ones long enough to go out and grab food at a resturant. Bring some snacks with you!
Some things to keep in mind
- Remember that you are a guest in a foreign country, please be respectful of others out in public, especially when traveling in a crowd. Be mindful of your surroundings and the noise level of your group.
- At our hotels, be respectful of folks in neighboring rooms to you! Including if you are using your balcony late at night–folks often keep the doors open at nighttime. Keep it down!
AS OF 06/12/22 COVID TESTING IS NO LONGER REQUIRED TO RETURN TO THE U.S.!!!
We will leave the information below just in case there is a future change.
As of this writing*, you will need a COVID test, administered by a medical professional, one calendar day before your international flight in order to return to the United States. This ‘official’ COVID test can either be an E-med test (pre-ordered in the US, carried to Europe, and self-administered with a medical professional on video chat), OR a standard COVID test taken in nearly all European Airports. More information on COVID testing at various European airports can be found in the ‘important links’ document. Do your research and plan ahead (unless you are taking the week 1 bus to Zagreb, then see below).
*Rumors are circulating that this restriction may be dropped, but until further notice, this regulation remains in place for all foreign travel.
You are also responsible for bringing 3-4 of your own at-home tests so that you can test yourself in the 5-day run-up to your departure. The logic to this is that if you are going to test positive, it is better to know about it earlier than the day before your departure so you are stuck quarantining in Rovinj as opposed to in an airport someplace! PLEASE use these self-tests and inform us ASAP if you test positive in Croatia.
IF YOU HAVE RECENTLY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID, you may have an exception to all of the above. Current policy allows you to present a positive COVID test no more than 90 days old along with a doctor’s indication you have fully recovered. Check with the CDC for more recent policies.
The ferry to Venice leaves Rovinj at 6am on Sunday morning, the day after our concert. Because you’ll need to be there around 5:30am to get checked-in, we will be chartering an early morning water taxi to get folks and their luggage from Hotel Istra to the ferry dock. You MUST let Sarah and/or Jay know that you want to be on that water taxi ASAP!!! The ferry stops in Poreč (where border officials will board the boat and check your passport) before crossing the Adriatic to Venice. The whole trip takes about 3 hours. We recommend sitting on the right side of the ferry for an incredible view of Venice on the way into the port.
The bus for Zagreb will leave Rovinj on Sunday morning from port Delfin. Its about a 3 hour drive but the bus will be stopping in Rijeka for lunch. After lunch, the bus will proceed directly to Zagreb airport for COVID testing, then on to the hotel where we have you booked for one night. You will spend the night at the Sheraton in downtown Zagreb. Uber or a taxi is the best way to get from the hotel to the airport, the hotel can help you with bookings, there is no hotel-provided airport shuttle.