So I should be finishing the last essay of my current unit for my MEd (TESOL) but instead I am going to write a little more about that holiday three years ago… It will only be a brief summary, but will give you a bit of an idea!
We travelled to Geneva next, where we stayed at the YHA. Clean? Yes. Efficient? Yes. Did I feel like I was a naughty kid on a school camp? Yes! Youth hostels are great, but I think I have been a supervising teacher on one too many camps not to get a little freaked out by all the rules! From memory, we spent two nights in Geneva and spent our time touring the United Nations (impressive) and the museum of the International Red Cross (really interesting – see their website here). We wandered along the lake, which was very pleasant, and poked around the city’s shops, as you do! On the morning we were due to leave we had time to visit an exhibition of art by John Howe who was one of the two conceptual artists who worked on the Lord of the Rings films. His work was lovely, and I bought a limited edition print which sadly is still sitting, unframed, on a shelf behind me as I type. One day I will find the money to get my favourite framer in Murray Bridge to frame it for me…
That afternoon we took the train to Milan in Italy. I think this was my favourite train journey of all; the views were spectacular through the alps. We only intended to stay in Milan for one night because we were on route to the Cinque Terre, which became one of my favourite places in Italy (so much so I am going back there this July!). We had been advised (correctly in my opinion) that Vernazza was the loveliest of the villages to stay in. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon with no accommodation booked, hoping that the local internet cafe would come through for us like the one in Croatia and find us a room. The weather was hot so we figured that if the worst came to the worst we could sleep on the beach. Fortunately (particularly in the light of the thunderstorm that hit late that night) the internet cafe proved very helpful and we were sorted out with a lovely apartment – only for the first night, but we could sort out the other two nights later!
The bed in our room was a double made up from two singles, so we dug in and helped our hostess to remake the beds back into the singles. She seemed really chuffed that we were willing to help, taught us how to fold fitted sheets (quite a skill) and said in broke English, “American… very difficult.” I didn’t think helping to remake your own bed was so unusual, but there you go. For the record I have booked a room (I hope) with the same woman for my next holiday in July, which I am really looking forward to!
In the morning we found a little cafe not far from our apartment which sold the most divine pastries, fresh peach juice and fresh strawberry juice for breakfast. It was run by two brothers who wooed us with “Beautiful Australians, you looka justa likea Nicole Kidman. Come and eat in our restaurant!” What’s a girl gunna do? Besides, did I mention how good those pastries were? They turned out to be enormously helpful people too, who found us accommodation for the next two nights.
We spent our time in Vernazza walking between the five villages of the Cinque Terre, swimming in the sea, eating wonderful seafood (I discovered fresh anchovies – yum!) and generally relaxing. It was the last place on our itinerary and we headed back to Milan for our flight home on the Tuesday.
Well that’s it for the summer. The next break was the October half term when I went to Scotland with some friends from Clare. I have to mark midyear exams and write school reports this week, so I am sure I will find time to write that blog!