A Reporter's Journal From Europe

Mozart Balls are very popular chocolate treats in Salzburg
Mozart Balls are very popular chocolate treats in Salzburg

March 9, 2006

More than 370 East Texans travelling with Tyler Junior College arrived safely in Germany today. After landing at the airport in Frankfurt, the group was greeted by a bus tour company who took them to their hotels in Heidelberg, about an hour away.

The logistics of moving a group this large, so far away is challenging, but our Joe Terrell, who is travelling with them, says, with the exception of a few luggage delays, the operation is running like a well oiled machine. Perhaps the biggest challenge today, is staying awake, so as to avoid jet lag during the rest of their 11 day European tour.

Tomorrow is a busy day for the members of the TJC band, choir and Apache Belles. They will be performing a huge USO-style show for American troops stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base.

Joe and photographer, Jamey Boyum will be there too to capture all the action. Look forward to updates from Joe and Jamie throughout the week. They will be sending video and pictures for all of East Texas to see.

March 10, 2006

Greetings from the Neckar River in Heidelberg, Germany. Today is perhaps the biggest day on tour for these TJC students. Today, we are headed to Ramstein Air Force Base where they will put on the big USO style show for American troops here.

For an hour and a half a standing room only crowd was wowed by the world famous Apache Belles, the band, "Harmony & Understanding," and the jazz band.

The night concluded with a standing ovation, and then something very special. Joel Ward, who attended TJC for two years, never applied for his associates degree, but was able later, to complete his course work. And tonight, he was hand delivered his diploma from Tyler Junior College President, Bill Crowe. Joel was just one of at least four former TJC students in attendance, who now serve our country here at Ramstein Air Force Base.

What a night!

March 13, 2006

We are in Vienna, Austria today where it is cold...really cold. Temperatures are in the low 20s, winds in the high 20s, so it feels like -1 outside. I'm standing outside the famed St. Stephan's Cathedral in the heart of Vienna where Mozart was married. It's also the church where they

held his funeral. The students got a guided tour of this wonderful structure today. You could just see them soaking up the history here.

We continue to enjoy our hotel, the Parkhotel Schonbrunn. It was built in 1907 as a summer home across the street from Schonbrunn Palace. The ballroom where we dine each day is spectacular.

You've got to see it to believe it.

Sunday night, the choir was so inspired by the ballroom surroundings, they decided to put on an impromptu concert for us. It was a wonderful way to end the evening. Tuesday, we head to Salzburg, Austria where the "Sound Of Music" was filmed more than 40 years ago. It's going to be colder than today, but it should be a great experience.

March 14, 2006

Today, we are at the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, dating back to the 16th Century. This is the former home to the Habsburg family. We got to go inside and what we saw was incredibly ornate furnishings, furniture, light fixtures, huge painted portraits of the Habsburg family members.

Some of the Apache Belles on tour with us said they could get used to this kind of living. "Oh, yeah," said TJC student, Mallory Strength. "I come for a little house, so this is big. I liked the bedrooms. I think I'm going to do that when I get home."Yes, the Habsburgs had it good. Personally, I require central air conditioning.

Yesterday, we made the four-hour bus ride to Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart. We got to see the house where he was born. And, of course, "The Sound Of Music" was filmed in Salzburg just more than 40 years ago and that was interesting.

Now, as far as seeing all the landmarks where that served as backdrops for the film, that was a little challenging. Too much snow on the ground! But we all had a good time in Salzburg anyway. Great city with great shopping. The big seller here is something called the Mozart ball. They are round chocolate truffles with several layers of sweet stuff inside, marzipan, chocolate, etc. If you have a loved one over here on the trip, chances are, you'll get a Mozart ball or two, or three.


March 15, 2006


We are almost at the end of our European tour and there have been many

highlights.  But today this group may have topped them all. The TJC Choir

got the extremely rare chance to perform with the famed Vienna Boys' Choir. 

Now, here's the bad news.  The Boys' Choir is covered by a very strict

copyright restriction, that prohibits anyone recording the boys or any part

of their performance.  We did, however, convince the group's leaders to let

us record the TJC-only portion of the concert before the two groups combined

for four very unforgettable songs.


The acoustics in the church, just a short walk from the boarding school the

boys attend, were phenomenal. They sounded great in there, especially when

their voices, young and a little older combined.  Not only did the

performance result in several standing ovations, there were lots of

tears...tears of pride.


Two tour guides who have worked the Vienna area for decades told me, they've

never seen the Vienna Boys' Choir accommodate a group like they did today. 

Even a half a world away, we were all proud of East Texas today.