On the bus

Good Morning, Everyone,

Bonjour! Buongiorno! 

Heading to Italy!  So exciting. 

Let’s go  back to yesterday.  We have such FILLED days I actually have to sit here and think about what we did!  

Started the day with a wonderful breakfast.  If you ever come to Europe and want a relatively inexpensive accomodation and great breakfast check out the NOVOTEL chain.  Let’s see if I can list all that was available: chocolate bread, eggs, crepe like pancakes, four different cereals, chocolate bread, meats, cheeses, apricots, apples, bananas, prunes (!), breads, hard rolls, nutella, fruit preserves, chocolate bread, wonderful coffee, fruit juices, milk (it tastes better over here, too!) butter (the best!), and CHOCOLATE BREAD. I try to go around to all of our tables and make sure they try it here.  It really is unlike anything I have had in the States.  Everyone loves breakfast!  

We then boarded the bus for a beautiful drive to EZE.  Google image EZE.  It looks just like the pictures.  A great HIKE up the hill and then dozens of little alley ways filled with beautiful flowers and of course souvenirs.  My mission was to find a “toilette” and in this very swank tourist destination you just didn’t see signs.  I came upon a Relais-Chateau hotel, went into the lobby and acted interested in the property and asked for a brochure and then asked to use their facilities.  I can tell you it was the nicest one ever!  :)  I heard the name Jack Nicholson a couple of times and assumed he was there.  It really was a BEAUTIFUL location.  Mission accomplished and then headed up to see how far I could make it before having to be at the bus by 11:15.  Came upon a beautiful courtyard outside of the chapel.  Waiting for a bit, little by little our kids began  to arrive.  I have learned on these SCSS trips, if you find a location that looks good to sing in, just do it and then ask forgiveness, if necessary. :)  We went into the chapel in single file, circled the pews and sang a little Palestrina.  There were a few tourists in there when we walked in and as we began to sing, more entered.  Remember this fact:  TWO LADIES FROM ENGLAND happened to be there and just loved us.  We walked out into the courtyard and then sang our spiritual.  AWESOME!  Some of our members had already made it to the bus and could hear us singing above and were frustrated that they weren’t with us!  Sounded like angels, I was told!  

Everyone back on the bus…..well almost.  Where we were dropped off was not where the buses were now parked.  Caro led us to them but unfortunately, four of our adults went back to the original drop off location.  STAY WITH ME HERE…..!  I always send Victor Harris out to round up our lost sheep.  Heck, he’s the youngest and probably in the best shape.  Out he went and sure enough made it back.  Picture a parking lot with 20 chartered buses.  Lots of chaos.  Bus 2 was in front of Bus 1 on the street, lots of traffic, lots of honking cars to get going.  Our bus driver stopped on the street, opened the door, our “sheep” hopped on board and Caro yelled to Victor to hop on our bus.  He chose not to and instead go back to BUS 2.  Bus 2 wasn’t there!  Bus 2 (in front of us) thought we had him, we thought he ran to Bus 2.  Off we went.  We drove up the hill to a beautiful hillside restaurant overlooking the azure coastline.  GORGEOUS!  The restaurant was set up just for us!  Charlie Dewey brought in Victor’s backpack……NO VICTOR!  To make a VERY LONG STORY SHORT, Victor was left behind!   He had no wallet, no money, no itinerary.  He did have his cell phone, but alas, no service!   Caro and the owner of the restaurant went back down the hill and up again to Eze to find him.  Our second tour guide, Christina, was in constant phone communicaiton with Caro.  All the while, 109 people (well 108) were being served a delicious meal of mashed potates, sauteed vegetables and FRENCH CHICKEN!  :)  DELICIOUS!  However, still NO Victor.  In my gut, I knew he would make it back to Nice as he knew that we were headed to the Cathedral to drop our performance attire.  He’s a very resourceful individual!  REMEMBER THE ENGLISH LADIES?????  Lo and behold, Victor ran into them after he discovered he was abandoned!  :) They went with him on the public bus back to Nice, they gave him 10Euros so that he could eat lunch and then they came to our concert last night!  WHAT A LESSON:  There are GREAT PEOPLE everywhere!   May we always remember this and pay it forward.  Victor made it back to the church by 1:00 p.m. all the while we were still up the mountain looking for him.  We made it back down around 3:30.  In my gut I just knew he would  be there.  When we arrived I’m scanning the crowd for my scrawny friend and did not see him.  I had to take the kids into the cathedral for rehearsal and to drop our attire.  About 10-20 minutes later I hear a loud cheering……HE WAS BACK!!!!!!!!!   Couldn’t wait for the story!!!!!!!!   All is well.  Lots of lessons learned!  

FREE TIME!  Students stayed with chaperones and had until 6:45 p.m. to eat and explore!  You should have seen the water.  See pic. I feel very fortunate in having been to many places in this world but have NEVER seen water like this !  ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!  Electric blue then turquoise then royal blue.  GORGEOUS!  Headed for gelato at the supposed number one gelato place in Nice.  VERY CROWDED but beautiful town square.  You must try the fruit flavored gelatos.  Melon….Lemon!  DELICIOUS!  But Italy…..that is where we will more than likely have gelato multiple times a day!  

Back to the Cathedral for rehearsal.  THIS WAS THE MOMENT!  We sang the first phrase of Palestrina, I cut them off and let it ring and ring and ring.  You should have seen their faces.  You have to know that there are two places at Sycamore JH that have any form of resonance.  One of those places is the auditorium lobby and the other one is the mini front entrance where the pig is.  Last night I told them this was nothing like the pig!  They sounded incredible.  Once finished with rehearsal I sent the boys back to change thinking they wouldn’t be that long.  WRONG!   Got them out of there and gave girls about 10 minutes.   We got it done.  

We had a crowd of about 100 plus all of our chaperones.  Such a recptive audience.  You could feel the warmth and love for singing from all.  They applauded voraciously and gave us a standing ovation.  PRICELESS!  Our program last night was all of the sacred literature and  You Raise Me Up, Homeward Bound, and Let There Be Peace on Earth.  The professionalism and quality was wonderful.  I could have not been more pleased.  Once the concert was over, I encouraged our students to go and mingle with the audience members.  This is always so well received by both our students and the audience.  

Packed up all of our “stuff”  and headed to the hotel.  We got there around 10:30 p.m and had a 6:00 a.m. wake up call.  Power nap!  You must know that the staff chaperones (Kreiner, Harris, Alexander, Pittman and Thio) always have a meeting in the lobby.  Last night’s was a bit abbreviated….LONG DAY.  TIRED!  But we always manage to laugh.  

I’ve been typing since we got on the bus.  Again, my apologies for the brevity and sporadic info.  If you have never been on one of our SCSS trips, you truly have no idea the incredible pace that we keep!  :)  I just wish EU buses had wifi!   Going through passport control into Italy.  It seems that some countries still require passport inspections.  We passed out passports when we left the hotel and will promptly re-collect once we are in the country.  

No worries moms and dads!  All is good.  Our drs and nurse Bartlett are so caring and on top of things.  I would strongly recommend traveling with these people.  THE BEST!  

Just crossed the border into Italy.  Passport control coming up.  Signing off for a bit.  Maybe there will be wifi there!  HA!  

Passport control not an issues at all.  Caro now has them all back in her posession.  Feel better. 

GOOGLE IMAGE the city VENTIMIGLIA.  OH MY GOSH!  I’m feeling a little Neil and Linda trip!  Have I mentioned to you how much fun it is to travel with 100 people?  I’m not kidding.  Think about it…..always someone different to talk to you at breakfast!

Signing off!!  Have to look out the window  at the Mediterranean as long as I can.  

Back on the bus.  Headed to Santa Margarita Ligure for an extended lunch stop.   Once again, Caro provides the itinerary and I focus on the performance sites.  I knew we were headed there but had no idea how beautiful this place was.  I have heard several of the girls say things like I’m coming back here for my honeymoon.  uh oh.  sorry guys!   

Found a littple park/town square right along the water front that just happened to have built in risers out of concerte just for us! :) We are in our blue shirts today and congregated at 1:15.  Got in three rows and began to sing to the crowd.  Initially we were going to find an electical outlet for the piano at the carousel.  too bad for us…closded.  I kept telling our group that we had to be flexible and so we were.  We sang a 20 minute program of acappella music and it was wonderful!  WONDERFUL!  And we had some special guests in the audience all the way from Brussels and Cinncinnati!  SETSER’s!    BBeautiful music in a beautiful place with beautiful people.  

gelato before getting on the bus.  DId you know that if you get coconut and chocolate it taste just like a mounds bar!  

You ought to hear how quiet it is on this bus right now! Silent! 




  1. Mrs Gartner, thank you so much for the wonderfully detailed and entertaining update! While reading it I had laughter and tears and goosebumps!
    I just talked with Maggie and she is truly having the time of her life. What a gift you are giving them, thank you!!!! Can’t wait to read your next update.
    Also, I know Maggie felt very poorly (I believe yesterday??) and she was well looked after. We are so appreciative!!!!

  2. Loving every minute of this…like a great novel. Thank you so much.
    Signed, Jealous Grandparent

  3. Glad Mr.Harris made it back safely. That was a remarkable story and truly illustrates the goodness of people and the universal power of music. I have followed you every step of the way and am so proud of the wonderful individuals who make up the SCSS Choir!