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Dan and I just returned from our duo's debut European tour - 18 shows, 6 rental cars, 9 flights, and 6 countries in 4 weeks! Does it sound like we're counting?! It was a whirlwind for sure, but we had a great time minus a few misadventures. We'll detail some highlights a little later on.

First though, we're looking ahead to concerts and tours coming up soon, including concerts in California later in the month and on the Central East Coast and in Manitoba in November and December respectively. We hope to see you there!

Ok, now back to Europe! We started in Iceland, which really stole our hearts and imaginations. We could easily devote an entire newsletter to telling you all about the fun we had. Here are some highlights in picture form, including meeting some Icelandic horses, tasting traditional rye bread baked for 24 hours under molten mud, hiking through "Game of Thrones" style landscapes (that was a bit of a cold, epic adventure...!), and just the peaceful, yet wild countryside. We soaked up some hot springs and can't wait to return!

Then the tour dates started kicking in as we traveled through Ireland, France, and Germany, performing almost every night along the way at many house concerts and a handful of venues. Hospitality was top notch and we appreciated the tradition of looooong applauses and encores (interestingly, the French now call it "bis"!). We especially enjoying busking in Galway, seeing the Cliff's of "more hair" and jamming with a young group of musicians on the Dingle peninsula on Ireland's west coast, for better or worse the crazy, romantic Paris, and the countryside of France, including the Château de Chambord (we might as well have been in a Masterpiece Theater movie). Also, we were amazed to see the tidy organization of speeds on the Autobahn in Germany (Darwin's theory at work perhaps!?). No one camping out in the fast lane there! Laurel got up to 160kph, but we easily saw people going by at 220!

Next, we visited Denmark, which we easily could have stayed in for another few days...or weeks...or years. I enjoyed getting to see where my father's side of the family had originated from, and everyone we met was so kind and generous. Our shows were well attended and we left a lot of CDs behind for the Danes to enjoy. Our sightseeing highlights were the Frederiksborg Castle and Dryehaven park, where we came across a Red Deer with gigantic antlers! We didn't want to risk getting close enough to him to get a good photo.

Finally, we flew over to the UK for a string a dates, and particularly enjoyed seeing Yorkshire, Wales, and spending some time in Liverpool. Between the gorgeous countryside, friendly hosts, visiting the childhood homes of all the Beatles, being asked to perform live on the BBC in Liverpool, and getting to meet and play a show with Elfin Bow, one of our new favorite UK artists, our road weary spirits found renewal each day.

We're back in our little cabin in California now and are thankful that ourselves and our instruments came back intact, but look forward to returning to Europe in the future. On a final note, I'm wondering if I can get some kind of expert driving status stamp on my drivers license for tackling the roads in all these countries! Other than the Autobahn, between the ubiquitous roundabouts, sometimes driving on the right, and sometimes the left..., driving (and trying to find parking) in Paris and London (not recommended!), and some incredibly narrow roads in Ireland where a head on collision seemed imminent, I was on the verge of a panic attack a few times, but came through with flying colors. Dan also gets high marks for deciphering the GPS navigation suggestions and rerouting us many times on the fly!

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Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

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Photography by Michelle Magdalena
Skype: laurelthomsen

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