I am grateful for honesty above all else; I am grateful for all that I am learning about myself and the world through this journey of healing; I am grateful that I will be traveling abroad again this summer with students- WWII AND THE WESTERN FRONT. #gratitude #3things #choosejoy
I am about two months from leading my fifth student tour abroad. This time…10 days in Italy! For each trip I like to make my own smash book to record all of the wonderful moments of our journey.
For those of you that don’t know about the smash book – read this.
June 24, 2016
Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland
June 20, 2015 – Day 5 of the Britannia with Education First Tours.
Blarney Castle: The grounds were gorgeous and green and views from the top, well, gorgeous.
We climbed to the top of the castle and had to lie down and hang out backwards over an opening with quite a drop. For this gal terrified of heights – the climb alone could have prevented the experience, but I prevailed. Then this nonsense. I did it, though – and that would be another item to mark off of the bucket list.
The day was warm and sunny as we strolled through the park. Of course, the best part of the day was that I got to share it with my son… Too much? Yea – that was rather corny – or was it Blarney?
As the day ended and we rode the bus to our next destination, I gathered all of the maps and brochures and my colored pens and recorded the event in my trip SMASH Book.
Off to the Rock of Cashel!
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June 24,2016 After the long day of the June heat of Avignon, France we journeyed to the ancient Roman Aqueduct – The Pont du Gard.
A large portion of the group joined the locals down at the river and took a little dip in the cold water of the Gardon River.
I wish we had known that to walk across the top of the structure a reservation must be made. Still – a lovely treat on a long journey across France.
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As I prepare for for my trip this summer with students I am continuing my tradition of keeping a smash book throughout the journey. I can’t wait to fill it!!
We are traveling with Education First Tours (EF Tours) and will be visiting Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal on a 16 day trip. I have the largest group yet, at 27 travelers. I encourage them to write about their experiences while we are traveling and I model this with my smash book. Writing down the little jokes and other things that make you laugh; exploring your feelings as you are far from home in a new culture, recording your memories for years to come…these are the things I tell my students when they ask “what should I write about?”
I love to grab my phone and go out for an early morning run while on tour with my students. Unfortunately, exhaustion tends to take over and the rest becomes more important as we move through our 14 hour days of walking and sight-seeing while traveling abroad.
Still, when I am able to do this I am able to see a few things that I would have otherwise missed. Plus, running through town can really give you a sense of what it is like. I mean, you are on foot and don’t have the protection of a vehicle or a large group. You smell smells and hear sounds that you would otherwise miss – things that really add to the ambiance of a town. If it feels unsafe – you usually know it right away. Still, I would never run where I thought I might be unsafe. We always discuss the area with our tour consultant and folks at the hotel to ensure our safety – and I would never run alone.
While in Killarney, our first stop on the Britannia with EF Tours, my travel buddy and I went out for a short run – about 2 miles. We went away from town in the opposite direction from which we arrived. It did not disappoint. Our first lesson was to run on the correct side of the path. We were running on the right and the running path/bike path follows the rules of the road. We ran into only one person before we realized our error and began keeping to the left.
First, we saw a flock of sheep in a field with a lovely backdrop. OUR FIRST FLOCK!!!
We ran to a bridge as saw this lovely view.
We went out a mile and then backtracked. There was a lovely gentleman selling strawberries near this bridge and he gave us a taste. They were fresh and yummy.
Our tour bus never did make it this way. I feel like I won a special prize when I get to experience these places with a short run. Stinky clothes remain the problem. I can put them in ziplock baggies with dryer sheets, but they really need a washing machine!
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Read about more group travel trip here.
Read about my first marathon here.
Rome, Italy: Picture this – a 10 year old American boy running full speed down the cobblestone street – arms spread out and waving in the air – excitedly and repeatedly screaming at the top of his lungs “This is my liiiifffffe!”, “This is my liiiifffffe!”
I wish I would have snapped a photo of this little boy. Happiness consumed him until he actually burst and could no longer contain himself. Pure joy. And pure energy. After we witnessed this, my travel buddy and I decided to strike this pose whenever we were feeling overcome with that joy of realizing how amazing it is that we can visit and experience such beautiful places.
Travel with us through this blog! So far, you can climb to the top of Mt. Vesuvuius, visit the ruins of Pompeii, or spend a day in England visiting Stonehenge, Abbey Road and the home of Sherlock Holmes. I lead student tours through Europe – follow me to see where we go next!
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Italy remains one of my favorite destinations. After our journey to the top of Mt. Vesuvius, we took an expertly guided tour of the ruins of Pompeii. Mt. Vesuvius destroyed this ancient Roman town in 79 AD, but the ash, evidently, preserved quite a bit of it. There are lots of photos and I only saw, probably, a quarter of the town. All of my information comes from our tour guide. So, if there are any historians out there that think I have it wrong, please let me know. I am a tourist, not a historian. Please enjoy my photos and the mini amateur tour through the ruins.
Before we entered the walls of the city, we viewed the mass graves in what would have been right outside the city walls.
We first entered the Gladiator training grounds – a big courtyard, basically. The trees are magnificent.
Then we made our way to the amphitheater. You can see the courtyard we just left in the background – and look at those mountains – wow!
So, then we started walking through the ancient streets. We were told that the giant stones in the middle of the road were for pedestrians to be able to cross without stepping into the sewage that flowed in the street. Each of those gates represent a different shop. This was the market street, evidently.
This is a wood burning pizza oven – ha! Seriously, it was said to be a bakery. They thought this because the fireplace was so much larger than that in the home areas.
Random street of Pompeii.
Me and my best travel buddy, Kelly. We make a great team. She makes laugh and laugh – we have so much fun together. We are standing outside the infamous Pompeii brothel. The middle school group that walked through with us could not quite handle the artwork on the walls.
So, this is the brothel. Do you see the upside down cross?
As we made our way from the brothel to the city square the tour guide pointed out the map on the ground carved into the stone. It points to the brothel so that those visiting the city for the first time know where to go. The brothel does, in fact, have artwork that survived on its walls, as well. Images of people, men and women, in various sexual positions cover the walls of the brothel. Our guide explained that a customer would simply point to the desired position. Bed pictured below.
Another random street. We are on our way to the city square. We just left the brothel.
You can’t really make out the walls, exactly, but this street was “apartments”.
An example of the residential fireplace.
The courtyard of the gladiator school. This area was one of the best preserved. The photo below was the ornate, arched ceiling. The photo does not do it justice. The colors and the artistry took my breath away.
This was displayed within the walls of the gladiator school. I am not sure why he was separated from the rest of the artifacts that I posted below. This was just mesmerizing. The thought of all of those people being buried so quickly in the ash that they were frozen and then preserved. Amazing.
So, a regular ally leading to a beautiful courtyard. These small private courtyards were blocked off and we could not see them up close. They were off of private residences.
The next several photos are of the many artifacts recovered from the ash.
Lots of vases and urns. The plastic crates in the background unfortunately detract from the collection. Did you see the dog in the glass box? I think that was a dog…I never did get a definitive answer.
If you saw my Mt. Vesuvius post, then this photo may look familiar. That’s it in the background – the devastating volcano that covered this city in ash.
More images of the city square.
Some of those last pictures really show the beauty of the area. So that’s it. My trip through the ruins of Pompeii. A very hot day that ended with overpriced frozen lemonade and a stroll through the vendors outside the gates. Oh – and we saw a demonstration of cameos being made from shells – then we went for the lemonade. They were beautiful, but not for me.
If you have not seen my Mt. Vesuvius post you can find it in this link to the top of the volcano.
Thanks for reading my post and traveling with me! Be sure to follow me on fields of poppies to see where we go next!!
Mt. Vesuvius is the one of the most dangerous and most closely monitored active volcanoes in the world – according to our awesomely amazing guide – ANNA. It stands 1293 meters and was last active in 1944 during WWII – at which point the area was evacuated. I mention the war, because I remember something about an airbase there at this time losing lots of planes to the heat and the ash. Again – tour guide, ANNA.
Our group took a special journey to the top of the volcano. We walked through gravel to the top until we peered over the edge into the crater. The trail goes around the top of the opening, but did not go the distance due to our schedule. The stairs in the featured photo led to the other side of the crater.
As we traveled from Rome to the Naples Region and Mt. Vesuvius we saw the Italian country side from the bus window.
From the window of the bus on the way to the drop off point. I love the tree on the right, giving the photo depth. Anyway – this is the port of Naples.
As we drove up part of Mt. Vesuvius, the roads were very winding and narrow. Sometimes I did not quite know how the bus driver did it. Pure luck, because the rode was not wide enough for one tour bus, let alone, a second bus coming down the hill. The photos above, again, were from the bus window. The buildings and life surrounding this potential firestorm are amazing.
We arrive to the point where we could get out and walk the rest of the way. Lots of souvenirs made from the lava rocks from the volcano. The girls above are in their this is my life pose. And so…the climb begins….
They do offer tour guides at the site. We were held up a bit, actually, because they would not let our tour guide lead the group – we had to hire theirs. Honestly, we did not even want a guide, but we were required to have one. She was kind of awful. So boring. Too quiet, she seemed like maybe she, herself, had looked at this crater one too many times. Eventually, we trailed off and kind of left her. I am sure we missed out on history of the hill this way, but I could not help it. There is nothing worse than a boring tour guide when in the presence of such amazing history and beauty.
And so, we make it to the top.
Looking to the left….(above)
And looking to the right….Naples, Italy…then zoomed in. Literally felt like we were on top of the world. Breathtaking views, beautiful wind, and the excitement of knowing the thing could erupt at any moment (not really, but I’m just sayin’)
Also at the top of Mt. Vesuvius…
Remnants of a once functioning cable car ride to the top of the volcano. The guide did not seem to know anything about the history of that or why they removed it. I would imagine, perhaps, it is a gruesome, tragic tale better forgotten. I rode on one of these in Chattanooga, TN once. ONCE.
Another little visitor on the top of the volcano…I caught him mid color change.
Beautiful flowers in the harshest of conditions…in gravel and stone…with such a backdrop!
Views of the inside of the crater wall. The steam coming out of the holes in the ground tell us that this is, indeed, an active volcano.
This is the view from our lunch spot, half way back down the mountain. The Island of Capri is in the distance…going there tomorrow.
After our climb and a little lunch, a guided tour of Pompeii awaits us. The mountain in the distance is Mt. Vesuvius. If only all of those pesky people were not in the photo!
Both locations – worth every penny. If you are in the area and have the strength, I totally recommend the climb to the top. I will always remember that view with the wind in my hair and the sun in my face. Also in fields of poppies – check out the post about Pompeii.
Thanks for reading my post and traveling with me! Be sure to follow me on fields of poppies to see where we go next!!