Goodness, Gracious, Great Wall of China – Nicole Philipp

We came.  We saw.  We climbed the Great Wall.  And let me tell you, they don’t call it the Great Wall for nothing.  More on that later.

First, we should discuss the Forbidden City.  Quick history lesson:  the Forbidden City was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  This 7.8 million square foot area is literally from where the entire country was run for nearly 5 centuries.  The name comes from the fact that no one could enter or exit the city without the emperor’s permission.  Overall, the city housed 24 emperors, ending with the last emperor of China, Puyi, in 1912 (although Puyi continued to live on the property until 1924).

To say the Forbidden City is magnificent is a complete understatement.  Everything from the ceilings of the various buildings to the drainage system is amazing.  The picture below is just one of the ornate ceilings.  The dome is completely covered in brightly painted tiles depicting dragons, phoenixes and wildlife.

We then met up with a larger group of musicians and staff for an hour bus ride to the Great Wall.  Personally, every picture I’ve seen of people on the Great Wall is beautiful.  The photos are full of happy people smiling away while standing on top of one of the world’s most amazing wonders.  I now know why they’re smiling – they’ve finished the climb.  The wall is a marvel, built over a number of centuries and spanning 4,000 miles.  The climb begins with a very steep “staircase.”  (By very steep, I seriously mean steep)  Once you reach the top, however, the view is worth being out of breath.

This is the view from the top of the section I climbed.

Below is photo I took after we had made our descent.  Yes, those are all stairs.  (The picture isn’t very crisp due to the haziness of the day)

Tomorrow, the Orchestra will rehearse and perform the first concert on the tour.  The program includes Rouse’s Rapture, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.  I cannot wait to see the inside of The Egg.  More pictures to come!

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May 13