Friday, April 10, 2009

I am my own Flat Stanley

You remember the story of Flat Stanley, don't you? He was the fictional boy who was flattened by a bulletin board and became only half an inch thick. He was able to go on all kinds of adventures and be mailed around the world. Flat Stanley has become something of a sensation amongst elementary school teachers; they take a paper doll version of him on vacation, mail him to relatives and send him places with their students. Everywhere Flat Stanley goes, he is photographed in front of well-known sites and monuments.

On my recent trip, I decided to be my own Flat Stanley, having my picture taken at various places around Italy, Switzerland and France. Have a look...

Here I am with my colleague, a colleague's wife and our tour guide by the hotel in Rome. Notice the palm trees... beautiful!

We went to the Spanish Steps in the heart of old Roma.

I saw the Roman Forum.

The whole group was photographed at Capitol Square.

I touched the foot of San Pietro (St. Peter) at the Vatican.
At St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.
Here I am with my two colleagues, Erminia and Pamela, at Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Summer residence).

In front of the Cathedral of St. Francis in Assisi.

At the town square in Siena, where they hold the famous horse races.

Ready to go into the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

This was an absolute dream come true! I studied art history in university and Botticelli's Birth of Venus has always been my favourite Renaissance painting. We weren't really supposed to take pictures in there, but I couldn't led this event go unrecorded. If it looks like I'm crying in this picture, it's because I was - totally overcome with joy!

A cheesy tourist photo taken in Pisa. Love it!

With my beautiful student Chelsey on the boat ride into Venice. Isn't she a sweetie!

Posing on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. The rain couldn't dampen my spirits.

Hanging out with the group at the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Our last stop in Italy - Verona. Notice the pizza box? I had to have it one more time before we left the country. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop for gelato because we were too busy seeing Juliet's balcony and statue, and shopping. Always shopping...

Saying good-bye to our wonderful Italian bus driver, Giovanni, in Thonon-les-Bains, France. European rules dictate that you must have a domestic bus driver. We loved Giovanni, and he was so sad to leave us!

In front of the lake in Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It is so clean and orderly ~ it really appeals to my A-type personality. Plus, it's the seat of many of the UN's agencies and I have always wanted a job with the United Nations. If only I were 20 years younger (or single and childless), I'd be making plans to move there.

At a rest stop in France. This is when it hit me, "Oh my God! I'm finally in France!" It has been #1 on my Places to Visit List for decades.

We went to the Palace of Versailles so the kids could see what all the fuss was about during the French Revolution.

Can you believe it? I'm at the Eiffel Tower!!!!!

Well, one picture isn't enough. Here I am with my wonderful colleague and trip room-mate, Erminia (a bona-fide Italian gal). We had the best time together and she taught me loads of Italian words and helped me remember my French verbs!

With Venus de Milo at the Louvre. She may be a symbol of beauty, but at least I have all my body parts. haha.

And with the headless, winged Nike, also at the Louvre.

In front of Liberty Leading the People, another of my favourite paintings from my art history studies.

The whole group in front of the Louvre pyramid.

On the steps leading up to the Cathedral of Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre. We climbed all those steps twice.

We went back to the Eiffel Tower the next day to see if we could go up. There were thousands of people and the wait would have been 3-4 hours, so it was a no-go. The kids were disappointed (as was I) but it was fun to hang around and take photos. Everyone was taking the "artsy" pictures of the tower from underneath and at angles. I am posing here with my lovely colleague and our fantastic Austrian tour guide, Barbara. She was so much fun!

The trip supervisors (me, Erminia, Pamela and Roman) at the Eiffel Tower. I told you one picture of the Eiffel Tower wasn't enough.

Our farewell dinner was held at a Fondue restaurant. Believe it or not, this place is extremely popular among Parisians and tourists alike. Their claim to fame is that they serve all the drinks in baby bottles. The food was mediocre, the restaurant was small, hot and crowded, and the service was... well... dismal. Yet, there was a line-up outside. Hmmm. After the meal, we took a boat ride down the Seine River to see the sights all lit up. The Eiffel Tower puts on a great light show every hour.

When we returned to the hotel the last night, it started to rain. Paris was crying because we had to leave the next day. I was crying, too (I seem to have shed quite a few tears on this trip, but mostly they were happy tears). We are pictured here after presenting Barbara with her gift of thanks.

On the way home, we had a layover in Montreal. We took the opportunity to phone our families to let them know we would be arriving soon.
I hope you enjoyed my Flat Stanley European Tour. I'm starting to think this was more of a Where's Waldo exercise; considering that in most of the pictures I'm wearing my black and white coat, I'm fairly easy to spot. These aren't the only places, we visited of course. In fact I'm sure that somewhere there are pictures of me at the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Versailles gardens, on the boat on the Seine River, etc. But I think you've probably had enough for one go.
I've got lots more photos to share with you; I promise to pace myself, though. .
Have a great Easter Weekend!


Pat said...

I loved the photos and was glad for that jacket of yours...there were only 2 photos in which I wasn't sure where you were. Thanks for taking the time to show these to us...I know it's a time-consuming process to put the pictures here. AND...they were all "clickable" this time!! YAY! (You look as young as the students, too, I must say!)

Quilter Going Bananas said...

Thanks for sharing all the great pics! No doubt you have great memories of your trip :^)

Welcome home!

LillySue said...

Wow~ What a trip of a lifetime!! You look so happy in all the photos. I would have totally cried at the Venus painting too, hehe! Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers for my brother and his family. I appreciate it so much!
Blessings~ LillySue

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing your trip - the photos were great...I know you must have a zillion memories. I think it was awesome that you were able to see those paintings in person...and that you were touched to tears. That says a lot about how special this was for you.

Thimbleanna said...

Hahaha -- you're so cute -- and funny! How very exciting -- you must have been running non-stop to see so many sights. Thanks for sharing all your pictures -- and humor!
Have a Happy Easter!

goldenbird said...

Welcome back! Loved looking at your pictures, especially the one of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower with your arms wide open. You look so happy. It must have been amazing to see the art you studied in school. Can't wait to read more stories and see more pics.