Archive | April, 2011

El viaje del fin del curso

7 Apr

As if to confirm any doubts that I had about having the best job (and possibly the best school), my instituto paid for me to take a week-long tour of Italy. The only catch? I had to bring along 55 students between the ages of 17 and 18. But I did have some reinforcements in the form of three other teachers and one of their wives. Piece of cake, right? I certainly wasn’t about to turn down a free trip to Italy!

Despite a little bit of culture shock, spending a week without really speaking English, getting most of my sleep on a bus, and loosing a few students and a little bit of my patience, I have no complaints. And now I am officially in love with Italy. Here’s a quick recap of the trip: (keep in mind we were were only in Italy for 5 days and the rest of the time we spent on a cruise ship crossing the Mediterranean.)

Stop 1: Livorno

Livorno was little more than the port city in which we docked the first night. We even spent the night sleeping on the boat. But we did get off the boat to do a quick night tour of the city and have our first meal in Italy — at a McDonald’s (of all places!).

Stop 2: Pisa

Famous for its torre inclinada we spent a few hours in Pisa in order to get the classic tourist shot, enjoy the beautiful weather and check out all of the tourist shops. Then it was back to the bus to drive across the country for our next destination.

Stop 3: Padua

Padua, which is only about an hour from Venice, was our first authentic taste of Italy. After touring around with our group of 60 people, we finally found a restaurant big enough to seat all of us and we all decided on pizza. After the meal, we moved on to the La Basílica de San Antonio de Padua, for a tour of church. We watched as the sun set on Prato della Valle and then it was back to the bus and off to the first night in the hotel.

Stop 4: Venice

By far one of my favorite days of the trip, our time spent in Venice was beautiful – not to mention that it smelled great! (Apparently there are times of the year when the city smells due to all the canals.)

While in Venice, we wandered around the narrow streets,  where getting lost is given. Although I’m a bit of a freak  when it comes to directions, I didn’t mind loosing myself  in  the beautiful scenery. I checked another goal off my bucket  list by riding a gondola through the canals (so much more  authentic than riding one in Las Vegas) and we spent a lot of time in the Piazza  San Marco, which is home to the church and right alongside the water.

In a last  effort to enjoy all there that Venice has to offer, we headed out in search of the Ponte di Rialto, which is the oldest bridge in Venice. It crosses over the Canal Grande – the main canal in Venice.

Now, what was my favorite part about Venice? No cars! There are water taxis, water busses – even water ambulances – but not a car in sight!

Alright, I think that’s enough recapping for one day. Stops 5, 6 and 7 to come later!

My Lesson of the Day: There is no such thing as a free trip to Italy. Looking after 55 teenagers is tougher than it sounds!