One of the many great things about taking lots of photos when one travels is that we get to revisit them when we’re back at work. During our whirlwind tour of Barcelona we were taken on about a two hour or a bit less bus tour of the highlights of the city. The tour itself would likely have been better if it were an open top double-decker type bus and I were riding in the top because taking pictures through bus windows is, well, lame. As the tour started we were told we’d be going to the 1992 Olympic stadium and pool which I found exciting…….until we whizzed by it. My disappointment at flying by the Olympic facilities was abated somewhat when we stopped at a vista point overlooking the city shortly after the Olympic drive by. From this vista we could see pretty much the whole city which is, I guess, why it’s a vista point. The view was great n’ all but as we headed back to the bus I glanced down and saw some cool mosaic. I’ve always had an affinity for mosaic and the effort that goes into creating it; I’ve attempted a few, very few because they take so much work. Anyway I found the mosaic on the ground much more interesting than the view of Barcelona and seeing it caused me to forget the glancing of the stadium. Speaking of the effort it takes to make mosaics I was blown away by the one I saw in the Vatican Museum. I wanted to take more pictures but our tour leader was rapidly fading off in the throng of people at the museum and I had to sprint to catch up; totally worth the photo I snapped.
While the exterior of the Palacio Real was impressive, I enjoyed the interior more but photos inside were not permitted. What amazed me was the amount of decorative detail in each room, I could have spent hours staring at the tapestries woven with gold and silver threads, or the inlaid wood floors, the floor mosaics, and statuary; I could definitely do without the porcelain room, I mean I appreciate the artistry but, um, it seemed like a big bathroom. I suppose lots of money allows one to do silly things with porcelain.
Guadi was simply amazing. To translate his visions into such awesome structures. Yet another place I could’ve spent at least one full day admiring; I’m almost certain I would have gotten lost in the details and been able to ignore the throngs of people. Truly amazing, gorgeous structure.
Upon returning from a trip I’m amazed by 1) how many pictures I took, and 2) the number of said pictures that are similar. I mean really, just how many pictures of streets and alleys do I need?
The antennas caught my eye:
as did the satellite dish:
Avignon/Palace of the Popes
One thing that surprised me about Spain, at least the places we visited, was the amount of graffiti; there was a lot. I’d venture to say there was even more than I’ve seen in Oakland or L.A. I appreciate graffiti as an art form but the amount I saw in Spain was borderline too much. On our walk to the old city center of Florence I came across something a little scary and Santaesque:So I stood next to it.
Wandering around Florence occasionally I’d see posters like this:
Walking to the Palace of the Popes I found Scarface
One last shot of some more conventional graffiti from Madrid:
There were many times on this trip that I wished I was not on a package tour. The tour was good for showing a plethora of amazing places in a short amount of time and for infecting our students with the travel bug, but there were numerous times I wanted to sit, appreciate and absorb where we were. One such place was Park Guell designed by Antoni Guadi. (BTW anyone know how to add umlauts or accent marks to text with WordPress?) I was stunned and amazed that #1 he had the visions for this park in his head and #2 he was able to translate those ideas into a tangible place, a place that ebbed and flowed though the structures themselves did not move. I especially enjoyed the mosaics. I’ve dabbled in mosaic and can appreciate the time and effort put into constructing the ones in the park. I wish we had had more than an hour and a half…..
One of the many things I enjoyed about Spain was the plethora of public spaces. After we checked in to our hotel I went for a short walk before dinner to get the lay of the land. The street our hotel was on intersected with several others near one entrance to a large public park by the Bridge of Toledo that ran along a river. According to our tour guide the park was only recently, within a year or so, completed. (I feel like that last sentence is grammatically bad. Meh, I move on.) Our guide said the mayor of Madrid had decided to move a couple of the major roads underground and reclaim the river for the people of Madrid. I’d say he had a good idea:
After my walk I had dinner, near Labors of Love, and had decided to run along this park the following morning. Mind you we had just arrived in Madrid after a 15 hour or so journey from SFO. I awoke early the next morning to get in my 3 miles, donned my running gear and headed out. Everything started well, it was a lovely morning, the park was beautiful. I passed playgrounds, cafes, playing fields for futbol or whatever and things like this:
Then, less than a mile in I was puffing and wheezing. “WTF?” I thought. “Damn, I must really be jet lagged.” I pressed on pausing several times, something I never do at that distance. Then it dawned on me to check the elevation. Duh. Turns out Madrid is like 2,000 ft above sea level and I’m used to running at 97 ft; I didn’t feel so bad about resting.
Before leaving I took a photo of the entrance to the park that I used near the Piramides tube station and saw that maybe I should have been more wary about running there
Because there were:
One of my goals as a teacher is to help my students embrace their ignorance. Too many of them are afraid to participate in class discussions because they’re worried they’ll be wrong, or worse they feel they don’t know anything. I try to emphasize that not knowing things is okay, it just means there is more stuff to learn! To make them feel better about their own ignorance I teach them about the concept of schema. A person’s schema is everything they have learned over their lifetime. People use this accumulated knowledge, or schema, to make sense of and interpret new situations. Since everyone’s life experiences are different we all have different schemas. I know a LOT about geography and history but much less about science and math. I encourage my students to think of their schema as a library they can reference when trying to understand new things. I demonstrate this concept by having them interpret things like this:
One of the students saw this sign and observed, “Hey, they messed up that sign, one leg is shorter than the other on the people.”
“Well, that’s to indicate they are walking.” I replied.
“No, I think they just messed up the sign.”
“Ok, I’ll buy that, then that means they messed up all of the signs we’ve seen like this in each of the countries we visited.”
This next photo I took over 10 years ago in Spain and show it to my students every year. I ask them to use their schema to tell me what they think it means:
“Illegals running across the border!” Is a typical response I get every year, I’m still not sure how they get that from this. I point out the briefcase held by one of the figures and say it indicates a school crossing.
This year I’ll show them this one which is more clear:
I wonder what my students schema will tell me about this one:
Every year my students complain about our school dress code, so I’m looking forward to showing them this photo from the Pantheon
Travelling through France, Spain and Italy I was struck by the number of signs that had no text, just images or caricatures like the first photo I posted here. I started to wonder why there were no words, then I realized, duh, there’s like a gazillion different languages spoken in Europe, pictures are easier than having every translation on a sign. So if you’re travelling to the Museo de Prado with your dog you’ll know what this means:
Another teaching goal I have is to encourage my students to travel. Many of them are hesitant because they don’t speak another language. I tell them not to worry, with their schema they’ll be just fine. Finding food for example:
A pleasant place to eat….
Or a bathroom…(a little fuzzy, I was in a hurry)
or a place to buy souvenirs…
I’m not sure how well myself or my students could have navigated medieval Carcassone though, even with our schemas. Without a proper frame of reference, this makes no sense:
Here’s a close up, any ideas what this indicated?
One of the things I enjoy most about travelling is reading, or attempting to read signs. I like trying to figure out what the signs are indicating, other times the signs just make me smile either because they are clever, or because reading the signs literally is hillarious. For example, on the way to dinner on our first night in Madrid I saw this restaraunt:
The restaruant is called “Fatigas del Querer”. When I saw the sign I knew enough Spanish to realize the first word meant fatigue and the last word had something to do with desire. So when I got home I went on Google Translator, began typing and had a good laugh. I laughed because as I typed and Google instantly translated I got this:
typed: fatigas, Google: fatigue; I was right!
typed: fatigas del, Google: fatigue of; right again!
typed: fatigas del quer, Google: fatigue of poker; HA!
typed: fatigas del querer, Google: labors of love; Holy cow, conjugation does matter.
I was proud to figure out that this shop had something to do with renting bicycles; the graphic helped 🙂
This one is great because you don’t need to speak a language to know what the place offers:
The incorrect grammar and claim of street cred on this one got me, oh, and the dog bowls, very thoughtful as there were lots of people con perros in Spain:
On the way to the Churh of the Holy Family we passed this:
which made me crave carne asada tacos from Taqueria San Jose by my house. Then I thought, “Wait, what? A taqueria in Spain?”
In Avignon I appreciated the directness of the signage
Not exactly sure what the cow is advertising; does the place cater to, or serve cow? Maybe I should clarify. Does it cater to cows as patrons or serve them as food?
These next two I found clever:
Must be a town with lots of mathemeticians.
Interpreting the sign for this place in English rather than Spanish could steer people away from tasty treats.
I don’t know what it is about doors; but I like them. These were taken in the oldest part of Madrid surrounding Plaza Mayor.