Being that I have to return to work tomorrow I thought I’d revisit the pictures from my favorite stop on our journey; Florence. I could’ve easily spent several more days there on my own, but alas, I couldn’t really abandon the students for whom I was partially responsible. The architecture, art, and history of Florence was palpable and pervasive. As with most places we visited there were a lot of people there, but for me at least the energy enshrined in the buildings and statues of Florence masked the throngs of people. I couldn’t believe how many important and noteworthy people in world history had at one time or another lived and/or worked there. It was exciting, as a geography teacher, for me to see the statues of Amerigo Vespucci and Galileo Galilei and moving to see in real life Michelangelo’s work throughout our visit. Many of the statues appeared as if they could step down of their pedestals at any moment. Every opportunity I had to ditch our group, yet keep them in sight, I’d dart off to snap a few pictures. The gallery below includes some of those, I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Posts Tagged With: Italy
Florence and fini…for now
Never Trust your Pisa Picture to Someone Else
When we arrived at Pisa I was excited to take my gratuitous, “Look at me I’m holding up the leaning tower of Pisa!” picture. I had the setting fixed in my head; perspective was everything. I was supposed to appear larger than, or near the same size, as the tower with my hand holding it up. I handed my camera to my friend to take my picture and she said, “No, we need to be closer.”
“But…” Then our tour guide whisked us off somewhere. Shit.
Later on we had some free time and I handed my camera off to another “friend” who took this picture:
Damnit! Not only is the top of the tower chopped off, but I’m miniscule and appear to be merely pointing at the bottom of the tower. “Trust” and “double check” have important new meanings for me.
Anyway, here are some more Pisa pics for you to enjoy:
Streets and Alleys
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
On the day we visited Assisi I was feeling a little under the weather so I only took a few shots. Assisi is a beautiful walled city with lots of narrow streets and passageways to explore and is surrounded by a gorgeous landscape which people associate with this region of Italy.
One of the interior courtyards reminded me of others I had seen like the cathedral in Toldeo. I really enjoy the arches and stonework.
As with many of the centuries old treasures we visited reminders of how far we have progressed (insert sarcasm here) were not hard to find.
This is my favorite shot from that day:
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?
Lost in Translation
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.
Things about Europe, and this trip, that confuse me.
1. Why are the toilets in each country different? More specifically, why do the flush differently?
2. Why does Italy have toilet paper dispensed like tissues and not a roll?
3. Who made the driving rules and why don’t they have more accidents? (Ok, that’s really two questions so…)
5. Why did Pisa smell like piss? (To be fair parts of San Francisco and other famous places do too; I’m just going for the cheap laugh).
6. Why don’t Americans adopt the European attitude and just go out and chill with the neighbors and friends every night? I mean just tonight one of the hotels here had a lobby full of elder people dancing.
7. Why is the McDonalds logo green?
8. Does the Disney store really need to be in Florence, and if so, do Americans need to buy stuff from it? Apparently
Days 6 and 7 have largely been spent on a bus with periodic stops at roadside gas stations/cafeterias. Had we not also been stopping at cool places I might be a little upset; if I could remember the names of the places we visited I’d feel a lot better….I’ll blame it on the bus ride. I’ll fill in the itinerary when I return. Meantime I’ve been snapping lots of pics.
A bridge from the 1st century on the way to Carcassone, or after….you know, the bus thing…
A bell in the cathedral at Carcassone…
…and it’s creepy gargoyle things…
In one of the alleyways I found some signs of home
And some flowers
Almost forgot, we visited a perfume factory that makes and sells its stuff only in France (and online) called
That had this outside
Where I bought some eau de toilette that at the time I thought smelled nice and had a hint of evergreen forest, but am now afraid it might smell like a car Christmas tree air freshener.
Intro: finally able to access reliable WiFi; it’s been a challenge travelling with a tour group. Anyway….
I can’t believe how excited I am to be in Spain. Yesterday we went to the Prado and I made a B-line for “Las Meninas”. The last time I was in Spain over s decade ago I saw that painting fir the first time and was absolutely stunned so I was more than excited to see it again. So excited in fact I was on the verge of tears. Seeing it again was as awesome as I remember.
Exiting the Prado we were greeted by guitar music on the square. The combination of leaving the museum after seeing classic works of art and emerging into Spanish culture with the ambient music had an immediate serene effect, and again I was on the verge of tears; so grateful and appreciative to be here. The Spanish, and I’m sure other European cultures have such a better grasp of community and public space than I feel Americans do. For example our tour guide was sharing that the mayor of Madrid decided to reroute the highway through town underground so they could reclaim the banks of the rover through town. Now there is a 14km park with playgrounds, cafes, and of course plenty of trails and open space for the people to enjoy. A project of that size and scope I think would face stiff obstacles in the U.S. Granted we have a lot of well established public spaces but the creation of new spaces seems lacking. But I digress.
We also managed to squeeze in the Reina Sofia, saw some Dali and Picasso, had some free time in Sol, and Plaza Mayor, then finished the day with a Flamenco show. Not to denigrate the dance, but I has always wondered why so many cultures seem to have stomping dances. Flamenco, traditional Irish dancing, clogging, tap; I just don’t get it though an am fascinated that seemingly different cultures have traditions of stomping rhythmically to music.
Almost forgot, we also visited the Palicio Real. When I visit places of this vintage I am reminded if how young my country is. Not only that but I am also struck by the attention to detail. I I think about the time it took to construct these palaces, castles and cathedrals and wonder if structures of this type could be constructed today. The answer I think is no because of cost, but I also wonder if the answer would be no because we have a short attention span.
Here are a few photos for you to enjoy:
All roads in Spain begin here:
Apparently this is a new trend in Europe (at least a new to me trend):
T- Minus 1 and Some Change
As with anything else, the anticipation of my upcoming journey has been excruciating. I’m pretty sure that this has been one of the longest weeks in history. I’ve spent a good portion of the week, and a few days more, dithering over what clothes to pack, what things to bring on the plane, and making sure I had a power converter, the proper chargers, etc., etc. All of it was really wasted dithering though, because all I really need to do is just throw some crap in a suitcase and just fuckin’ go!