Thursday, January 10, 2013

In which The Year Gets Going. . . . and Plans are Made . . .

This is how muddled I am with first-week-back busy-ness: I was debating whether I could get away with just putting up a photo today, especially since it's "Wordless Wednesday."

And then some part of my brain did some calculations and informed the other parts that today is, in fact, Thursday. So . . .

Part of the scrambling might be a result of the snow attack that disrupted my first meeting with a 1st-year class on Tuesday (I would have had to pull all the blinds shut to keep their attention, every one of them wondering if the buses would still be running to our stretched-all-the-way-up-a-rather-steep-hill campus or whether their rookie driving skils and their student-budget, worn-out tires were up to the task of navigating the steeply curving parking-lot lanes).  It snowed heavily enough that campus had to be closed, a wet snow that soaked through the light leather (heeled!) ankle boots I'd worn that morning, no credible snow warning in the forecast. By late evening, pelting rain began washing all the snow away, a task it accomplished by morning, but still, it's disconcerting to have a serious reminder of winter hurled at you the second day of classes. . .

I have to say, though, that even as I struggle a bit to re-establish a working rhythm, to get the sense of the dynamics I'll be able to establish in each classroom, to generate interest and enough trust for lively discussions, I'm quite excited about both the material I'm teaching this term and about the mix of students I'm getting to know. Yes, I'm spending hours going through research materials to put lectures together, and yes, my brain's aching a bit at the effort of connecting student name to student face (I always memorize all their names, my goal to do that by Week 3 -- this term I have only 3 small classes, so there will only be about 50 names, not too bad at all). But overall, I'm feeling quite keen about the weeks ahead.

And speaking of what's ahead . . . .
 As I promised, back here, that I would, I give you
Revelation #1, our travel plans for this spring/summer:
We'll be flying to Paris, spending a few days there before heading to  . . . . drumroll, please. . . .

BARCELONA!
We're excited at getting to know a new-to-us city about which we've heard so much. We made a very brief but lovely foray into Spain last year with our visit to San Sebastian, and we're keen to learn much more about its people, art, architecture, and food. I've booked a room in a reasonably-priced, well-reviewed hotel, and I'm taking notes as I get a chance to browse guidebooks and websites -- a treasured part of the whole travel experience. I welcome any recommendations you might have.

We'll be taking the train from Paris to Barcelona, and then the train to Bordeaux where we'll rent "our" little house again for a few weeks, using it as a base for exploring the surrounding area. Then one last week during which I'll be doing something I'm quite excited about, but which I think I'll tell you about in another post . . . I can tell you that it will allow me to further explore/develop an activity I took up last year for the first time AND that it will take us to rural France for a week before we return to Paris for a few days, and then home.

So. From Wordless Wednesday, I've arrived at photo-less Thursday. Time to suit up for my morning run, which reminds me that, yes, I have one or two more goals for the year that I haven't yet shared. Soon. . . .
Meanwhile, your comments on this grab-bag of a post are, as always, very welcome. . . .

27 comments:

  1. My daughter went to Barcelona in September - she loved it. Your work cadence sounds perfect.

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    1. Good to know your daughter liked Barcelona. So far, I've only heard good things.

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  2. Have to admit - I did know this (Twitter's good that way! :-)) You know my parents LOVE San Sebastian. Can't wait to read about these adventures...

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    1. I do know that about your parents -- I know you'd love it as well, given your foodie predilections. . .

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  3. Sounds wonderful and bravo for being so organised. I'd love to see more of Spain than our glimpse of the south, and Paris- sigh. My current year plans stop mid March - there's just to much up in the air to plan any further.

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    1. Eventually, I'd like to get inland in Spain as well (we have done, but only in a night train crossing it en route to Portugal . . .As for your plans, I'd say you've got so much going on that 3 months at a time is probably enough!

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  4. Of course I already know of your Barcelona plans, but that doesn't mean I'm not still excited about them. I was hoping that by now my husband would have found employment and that we might be able to afford for him to come to Europe for a week or so this summer as well to do some traveling around after I've done my research. Unfortunately, that won't be happening this year, but we are looking forward to Vancouver travel plans in May!

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    1. That must be tough, not being able to share Spain, etc. with your husband when you're getting to spend so much time there for research. I hope that figures in the not-too-distant future.

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  5. how wonderfull .. time in barcelona .. i hear it's a very splendid place to be .. good for you and pater ..
    i'm waiting to hear what your rural activity might be .. ;-) ..

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    1. Thanks, Jane. We've heard good things about it as well. As for the rural activity, perhaps you've already guessed . . .

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  6. Hi Mater - I let out a loud 'yay!' when I read that you are going to Barcelona! It's a beautiful city with lots to see. We've been twice - the first time for a week, we were in a small apartment hotel on the edge of town. The second time was for our cruise - we were able to spend a day on either side, staying at the chic & basic hotel near Las Ramblas. That was perfect for the short time we were there. I'm looking forward to reading about your trip!

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    1. Love the enthusiasm, Patricia -- I'm encouraged that Barcelona brings out such positive memories!

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  7. Hooray! I've heard Barcelona is a wonderful place to visit. All the Gaudi architecture, the paseos, the beach! Lovely to anticipate. I hope you'll continue to sketch your trip as you did last year.

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    1. I've heard so much about the Gaudi and really look forward to deciding for myself what I think of all that architectural exuberance. Sweet of you to say something so positive about my sketching -- I do hope to continue with it . . .

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  8. Oh fantastic! I will guess the activity is art-related... and eagerly await more details.

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    1. You're good at guessing -- details following soon . . .

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  9. Barcelona - how fabulous! My brother went there last year and loved it. Sounds like a great trip you have planned.

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    1. We're excited about it, for sure! If your brother has any "can't miss" suggestions, please pass them along.

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  10. What a wonderful plan you've made. It has been many years since I was in Barcelona, but I remember a wonderfully crumbling Belle Epoque hotel over looking a square not far from the cathedral - and a demonstration that turned into a near-riot. We watched from our window until the hotel owner came up and asked us to please move away to safety and closed the shutters.
    I heard that the college was closed due to the weather up your way. What are you teaching this year? Do tell!

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  11. We watched a riot from the window of a hotel/hostel in Montreal, once -- I can imagine it would be even more exciting in Spain, from a Belle Epoque hotel. a superlative travel memory!
    Yes, we were shut down, indeed -- we're sprawled up a hill and conditions get messy quite quickly.
    I'll try to post on what I'm teaching this term v. soon. Thanks for the interest!

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  12. Belatedly emerging from exhaustion fog of multi-layered challenges to say, yay! Barcelona! For us in UK this is a quick restorative trip we have made often with kidlets in tow. For us the 'post empty nest' phase (man years ahead) will hopefully include trips to Canada, funny how one's geographic home locus shifts the definition of 'ordinary' and 'exotic' around.
    Hester

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    1. Yes, it's interesting to think of my home as being exotic to anyone . . . I'm always very envious of you rather tightly clustered folk across the Atlantic -- so many fabulous, significantly different places within a 40-minute flight. . .

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  13. We've heard so many good things about Spain. Our next door neighbors having a daughter living there, and a very close friend of mine took an extended trip there Fall 2012. Her photos looked gorgeous.

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  14. Barcelona is a wonderful and very stylish city. It's a great city to go walking to feel part of it.
    As well as Gaudis work, places not to miss include the Roman village excavated under Placa del Rei, the Picasso Museum (mostly his earlier and less well known works) housed in a 14th century palace, also the Miro Museum in a modern building up in the hills with wonderful views of the city below. The roof of the Santa Caterina Market is stunning and the arrangement of produce a visual delight.
    If there is time for shopping some Spanish brands as well as the ubiquitous Zara are Desingual, Mango and Massimo Dutti. For shoes, Camper and Hispanitas. Small shops selling wonderful modern jewellery made me wish for an unlimited budget. Even when you are not buying, beautiful window arrangements of everything from clothing to cheese make window shopping a pleasure.
    There are many excellent eating places. On a warm night a great place to people watch is an outside table at the restaurant on the edge of Cathedral Square. They serve a constantly changing array of tapas from a long marble bar, each morsel skewered to a slice of bread with a wooden cocktail stick. When you are ready to pay, the waiter counts up the sticks to calculate your bill.
    We fell in love with Spain and especially Barcelona when we spent a month there in 2010. I suspect you will too.
    Lilibet

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    1. Lilibet, thank you so much for being so generous in your comment -- I'm going to cut-and-paste all of your recommendations into the file I've started for the Barcelona portion of our travels. I know of the Gaudi, of course, and the Miro is a museum I've wanted to see since visiting a few significant exhibitions of his work a couple of years ago, but the other sites are ones I hadn't yet heard of (research still in very early stages). I suspect we'll find that 6 days isn't enough, but I hope we'll make a good dent in our lists. . . A whole month in Spain must have been quite wonderful!

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  15. You will also need to plan a little trip out from Barcelona up to Figueras to the Salvador Dali museum -its a must and to Cadaques on the coast! Also dont miss the Antoni Tàpies museum and gallery.
    He is Catalunya's most famous contemporary artist.

    Great plans - you will have a fabulous time there...plan to buy boots....amazing.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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