January: Warsaw, Poland
The annual conference is in January, and though it is cold, the conference is so much fun and the people there are so great, that I am pulled out of my January funk. There is just something unique about middle school teachers (we are demented...??) that makes it so extra fun when there are hundreds of us all together. I also say that my job is like being a professional camp counselor and it is so much fun to meet so many others who share my passion. We had such a great weekend of learning and laughing. I even met a guy who was my brother's camp counselor in the mid-1990's at YMCA Camp Tockwogh in Maryland! Y-Camp and international school world is small so when you combine them---really small!
February: Brussels, Belgium &
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Joy is also an educator and so I jumped at the chance to get to the sunshine-y desert and visit her! Carly and I flew the oh-so-delightful Air Emirates from Düsseldorf where they get a cocktail in your hand within minutes of sitting down...IN COACH! We spent a few days at the beach. And by beach, I mean a beach WITH A WAITER. Not too shabby. We paid to go the beach club at the Sheraton so that there would be chairs, etc. and learned that there were two happy hours per day at that beach. Carly was so much fun to travel with and we laughed so hard!
On the days that Joy didn't have to work, she drove us all over the place to see the sights. Well, sort of. I should say "SEE" the sights because there was a major sandstorm while we were there. That was an interesting weather phenomenon that I had yet to experience. It was like a blizzard, but made your eyes and ears itch, where the roads weren't slippery.
March/April: Italian Road Trip & Heathrow Airport
We were very lucky with weather in Venice as it was cool and sunny for our gondola ride, piazza coffee drinking, and mosquito bite scratching. I was shocked but already in March, the mosquitoes were quite bad. I, of course, as usual, got the most bites. I cannot even imagine how it would be there in the summer.
Getting to the island part of Venice from the airport is done in a swanky, wooden boat that seriously made me feel like a Kennedy. Of course, we could have taken the boat-bus but that takes like almost two hours We did, however, take the boat bus all up and down the canals. It is seriously just like a regular bus with stops along the sides of the canal...except it is a boat. It was very fun for a few days but I don't think I could deal with that on a long-term basis. Also, there is no green space and hardly any plant life because there is just no space. That honestly felt a bit weird after a few days. I was like I NEED A PARK!
Fortunately our next stop had plenty of green space. I had to lead a workshop at the International School of Modena for a few days in the middle of our trip so we headed to Modena which where balsamic vinegar is made. Any bottle of balsamic you see will say "Modena" on it. The school was outside of the city by about 20 minutes so we got to have some real Italian countryside. This was definitely the flat, agricultural area of Italy and it is also known for Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, and other Italian deliciousness. While I was in the workshop (earning the money to actually be on the trip!), the other girls toured the Ferrari factory, ate yummy gelato, and saw the sites.
We drove to small towns and had some long lunches full of delicious food. We spent one day in Florence, a few hours in Pisa (that's all you need) and many hours just driving around seeing cute towns like Arezzo & Panzano. I think it would be nice to go back when it is warmer as most of the places to stay have a pool. It was still quite cold for most of the days that we were there- late March. I would go back in the summer, for sure.
But all of the religious art at the Uffizi Gallery is a bit much for me. I did, however, enjoy the Medusa you see in the photo. That's a religious figure I can get behind (but not in front of, because I'd be turned to stone!)! I'm hilarious.
This spring has been a hard-working one. I have had 8 total days of workshops on top of my normal job. I don't have any more for the year and am glad about that because I am leading a few days worth of them in my own school. Plus, I'll be starting graduate school again in June to start working on my principal's license and so I think I will need to devote the majority of my work-related headspace to that!