The day began with a little check in with folks to talk about how things are going. We shared ideas about how to connect with local people more. One suggestion was to pull children aside because they are often able to speak English (it is taught in most schools) and they can translate with parents. It was a good day to just check in with people about dealing with typical travel stresses and remaining flexible.
Our tour guide gave us some history of the area, noting that Slovenia is bordered by Italy, Austria and Hungary and became its own country in 1991. There is a large Austrian influence on food, language and music.
In Lake Bled there is an island with a church on it. Rowboats took us over in groups of about 20. The boats have been built and rowed by members of one family for generations. The chorus sang inside the church which led to one of the magical moments of this tour.
As the choir sang, I turned around and noticed a woman with tears streaming down her face. This of course made me also feel teary. She was recording the music. She put her camera down and I reached for her hand, not knowing if she spoke English and just said, “Keep recording. You will be happy.” She understood and replied, “Oh it is too much emotion!” She of course kept recording and as they sang To My Old Brown Earth, a Pete Seeger song, she and I looked at each other as they sang the line ‘…and now I’m yours and you are also mine’, the tears were flowing for both of us. After the concert, we hugged one another and then exchanged information. I told her about the Chorus and the mission of spreading peace and connection through music. It turns out she is a teacher of teachers from Ireland and she squeezed my hand and asked me to tell the Chorus that they touched her heart. It was just one of those tremendously powerful moments that is what the tour is all about! Magical!
When we left the Island, we drove a ways and then stopped for dinner at the Asvenik Museum of accordion music. Lots of interesting information, including this bit: they have amazing costumes and were told that the men’s costume costs $2500 and the women’s $3000!
At the restaurant, next door to the museum, we were greeted with plum brandy, a now understood welcoming custom with entertainment by a polka group. The music was really fun and we had another great experience.