Friday, June 27, 2008

Traveling Man (and Woman)

And children. Our next day included leaving our hotel Tuscany Inn and going back on the road. This time, our last stop would be Rome, the Eternal City.

On our way, we stopped in a couple of different places.

First was the town of Siena. I think even Hubs likes this place. He's not a fan of touristy places, but Siena is so beautiful it's hard to resist.

We walked a lot (more steps!!!) to the Duomo there. Most Italian towns have a Duomo. They are all of varying size, depending on how large the town is. Since it was Sunday, we couldn't get into that one. Imagine, they were having Mass. Actually using the church! So we ended up with a little more free time to walk around and shop. Even the teenage boys found stuff they wanted. And there's a big square in Siena, where they have horse races every year. It's really cool. (I know the grammar there was bad, sorry)
Nice, yes? Our next stop was Ostia Antica.

Little history lesson. Ostia was built at the mouth of the Tiber River by the emperor Nero. Why? Rome was having trouble getting trade, because some of the larger boats could not navigate up the river. So Nero filled in some marshland, and voila! Port city to the capitol of the world!
There are so, so many ruins there. Our guide was very knowledgeable, but he talked really quickly. The kids could not keep up. So, after about 2 minutes, they just tuned out. They did sort of pretend to pay attention, but mostly they just talked amongst themselves. Elena (our travel guru) gave them a stern talking to on the bus. In their defense, they had been on a bus all afternoon. And been to many other places. I guess they were just on overload that day. Teenagers!
We did get to see some baths, complete with mosaics of Neptune on the floors. We also go to go to the theater and the Forum. I wish we could have spent more time there, but I know the children were eager to get going. Sometimes, riding in a bus can really tire you out. Bye Ostia!
In the here and now, I am finally finished with my presentation. Now all I have to do is copy a handout and map, and do the thing! Yay! I have a nifty little powerpoint that I will use for my official project. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint, I will not really have access to a computer/projector for my actual presentation. I will be on-site at the House of Menander in Pompeii. That's the day before my birthday!
Anyway, I'm having fun here in Baltimore. It seems to be a nice place. Warm, sunny. I'm about tired of dining hall food, though. Sheesh!
And I miss my boys something fierce! Wish I could get home to visit them tomorrow. Too far.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Up, Up, and Away!

The next day of our whirlwind trip to Italy as leaders of a group of middle school students. How's that? I talked to my man tonight. He wants to know why there aren't more pictures of him. Well, I don't know. So i will attempt to include more pictures of my man. He's awfully good-looking. I hope everyone enjoys looking at him.

And no, that's not me. It's one of the other chaperones. But I thought it was a cute picture. We were having too much fun!

That leads me to the day in question. Florence. We spent the whole day there. Our first stop was the Accademia, which is a HUGE museum. Now, I'm not normally a museum person. I will be the first to admit that. But this place is pretty freakin' aweseme. There are lots of great statues (which we didn't get to see). And one of them, um, is the David. You know, the big one. By Michaelangelo. Large, naked guy. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures AT ALL in there. So I have nothing. You can look for a picture of it on the web. I'm sure there are some out there. I have one of the imitation 'David' which is in a piazza in another part of Florence:

Evidently the original David used to stand in this piazza. But I guess people kept trying to mess it up, so they moved it into the Accademia. The picture above is just a fake one. This piazza actually has a whole gallery of statues. It is right near the Uffizzi Gallery (spelling?). There are lots of cool statues! I highly recommend seeing this area.

Later that day, we went over to the Duomo. If you didn't know, the Duomo is the main church in a town. It usually has a big dome and is very important. The one in Florence is particularly important. There are lots of famous people buried there. It is quite neat looking on the outside. It's like striped, a couple of different colors.

One of the coolest parts of the day was after lunch. We had some time to kill before our cooking lesson. We had 3 choices: climb the cuppola of the Duomo, climb the belltower, tour the Bapistry. Unfortunately, there was only time for one. I "chose" to climb the Duomo. I don't remember the exact number of stairs, but it was a fairly large number. The kids that made the trek thought it was pretty cool. It was a hard climb, I won't deny it. I huffed, and I puffed, but I made it. And the view!
Aren't we cute? We were so excited to make it to the top!

After that, we had our cooking lesson. We went to the Koine Cafe. The ladies who run the place taught the kids how to make pesto sauce, tomato sauce, and a mushroom sauce. Then they made pasta. From scratch. And rolled it out. And cut it. We had linguine and bow tie (they call it butterfly). It was great!
Ahhhhh! The finished product. Looks good, no?

After dinner, we went on to our hotel. The kids were a little hyped up, but overall okay. It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the Water and In the Fields

So, on Day Two of the student trip, we went to Venice. I have had a special request from my mom to include lots of pictures. She's never been, and might not make it there anytime soon, but she does ask a lot of questions. I also took lots of pictures so that I could explain it better to Cheese. He really doesn't get the whole "city on the water" thing. Which is pretty crazy to explain to a 5-year-old. So, without futher ado, here are some pictures of Venezia:These are just generic Venice pictures. In fact, I think I took them on the water bus over. Yes, there is a bus, on the water, that goes from the mainland to the islands. Did you know that Venezia was actually built on over 200 individual islands? And that there are lots of natural sandbars that provided protection? I am just full of useful information!

These are pictures from the Palazzo Ducale, otherwise known as the Doge's Palace. This is real 24-karat gold leaf!
Shiny! Pretty! Wish I could have climbed up there to "borrow" some!

Lucky us. We even got to ride a gondola. It was fun! I had not been on one before, so that was a special treat.
And, yes. Hubs got to ride too!
We also went to a glass-blowing factory, which was cool. We watched a guy make a vase in less than 4 minutes! Honest. There was barely time to get a camera out, which is why there are no pictures of that. By the time I got it out and turned on, he was almost done. In my defense, no one else got pictures either. Guess we're just slow.

Day Three: To Modena and Fiesole. In Modena, we got to see how balsamic vinegar is made. We even got to taste several varieties, and learned all about the local history. Only certain b.v. is allowed to be called authentic. And it has to be aged at least 25 years! Wow! It was pretty cool. They let it ferment in black barrels, the oldest of which was from 1860.
Honestly? Not a big fan. However, I have started using oil and vinegar on my salads. No more dressings for me! Well, at least until I get home.

After Modena, we went to Fiesole. One of the highlights of the trip for me. I had never been there, and it was really, wicked cool! Fiesole was originally an Etruscan town. Those were the people who lived up north from the Romans. The Romans borrowed (stole) a lot of religion and stuff from them. Then they conquered them. The Romans conquered the Etruscans, like they did nearly everyone else. Anyway, Fiesole has some neat ruins. A theater, a temple, some baths. Totally neat! (I know, I'm a nerd. Deal.)
This last picture is of the cold water pool. The calidum et tepidarium were up the hill a bit, closer to the furnace. Makes sense, since you'd want the water to be hot and warm. Smart guys, those Romans!
Okay, almost halfway done. I'll work some more tomorrow night, maybe. And definitely I'll finish this weekend. Just in time to update from this second trip! I'm still in Baltimore. We're translating like there's no tomorrow. Now I understand why my students panic whenever I hand them translation. After all this time, I've forgotten how it works!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Ideas

Well, I had this whole plan that I was going to be updating my blog with all my fun adventures. Then, turns out, I didn't have Internet access the entire first trip to Italy. Of course. I took TONS of pictures, but didn't get to post any of them. I will try to get those up. Well, some of them.

I really had a great time. I think Hubs did too, even if he did complain about some of the parents. We got to see some really great places.

The first day, once we arrrived, was mostly on a bus. We flew into Bologna (not pronounced Baloney) and got on a bus to Verona. In Verona, there is a totally cool arena. An amphitheater, like the Colosseum, only in better shape. They were actually getting it ready for opera season, and there were stage props and stuff for Aida.

Pretty cool, huh? Then we stopped for some gelato. I did not partake. That day.

Then it was off to Juliet's house. You know, like Romeo and Juliet. Her:

Anyway, we know she probably wasn't a real person, but still. Shakespeare wrote a whole story about her and Romeo, and now Verona has this statue of her. If you notice, her chest area is a slightly different color than the rest of her. That's because the rumor is: if you go up to her, and rub/touch where her heart is, you'll be lucky in love. Well, I did that in college when I was there last, and I got Hubs. Obviously, the luck worked!

After that, we hopped back on the bus and drove the rest of the way to our hotel. It was nice. We were just the right combination of tired and worn out. I slept deeply and well.

More on the rest of the trip later. Right now, I've got to do some research for the second trip!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leaving On a Jet Plane

In about an hour, we will leave to drive down to Atlanta. There, we will meet my dad and stepmom who will be watching the boys while we're away. Then, off to the airport to meet all the children and parents who have entrusted their younguns to me. We fly out tonight just before 9:00. We fly into Paris in the morning, then off to Bologna. We're scheduled to arrive at 2:30 local time in the afternoon.

I am so excited! This time tomorrow, we'll be almost there! Right now, I have to go call the banks and credit companies to let them know I'll be abroad. So they don't block my account or anything.

I'll be checking in, hopefully with pictures. What an awesome day!

Oh, and happy anniversary to me and Hubs. It's eight years today!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Craziness I tell you

I must have lost my mind. I actually volunteered to be the head Latin person for the district while T is on maternity leave next year. What was I thinking? That means that I'll be the go-to person for all 6 of the Latin teachers in the district. I'll be in charge of the paperwork, the meetings, the curriculum, the in-services, everything. Yikes! Well, it's only one year. Then T will be back. She'd better come back.

I leave for Italy in 6 days. Am I ready? Well, I thought so. It's the biggest trip yet, 30 people! 17 kids ranging in age from 9 to 14. 13 adults. (I'm counting Hubs as an adult, even though he won't admit to actually being one.) What am I thinking? I'm thinking that I love it over there. That it is worth any price just to see the land again. To feel the ruins under my hands. To smell the lush fields and taste that gelato. We're going to Venice this time. When I think about the last time I was there.... it was a different time. I was so young then. Only 21! There will be no wandering around the various bridges this time. It will only be a day. Wish we could stay there longer. And Verona. And Florence! Maybe we can take a look at those leather markets again. I need a new belt, since the ones I bought back in college will NOT fit me anymore. That was a while ago.

Anyway, just waiting now. Hubs is on his way home with his parents. They want to see the kids and take us all out to dinner. Sweet! I was looking forward to a simple pizza at home, but whatever. They're paying. I'm tired, as I often am when Hubs is gone. I can't sleep without him here. I think that I finally turned off the light last night around 1:15. And then got up at 6:00. I've averaged about 5 hours of sleep a night while he's been gone. And my nose is all stuffy. (by dose is all tuffy.) That's not exactly a recipe for a reunion: Hubs' parents, me tired, me not feel good. Should be a fun evening.

D's Wings, huh? Great. I hope the kids behave!

BTW, I will have use of the school laptop this summer. I hope to be able to update this blog on a regular basis. Well, not during the first trip, probably. Hubs won't let me, I'm sure. But during the long trip, when I'm on my own. I'll write it for him, and the kids. They can keep up with me while I'm gone. I'm a genius! After all, this blog IS called My Summer Vacation. It's almost 2 years old now. Who knew?