Hey kids! It’s been over a month since we left for our trip to Italy, so I thought I’d take some time to reflect back on our adventure. First off, it’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. Where has all the time gone? Well I guess one answer is that we were gallivanting around the Motherland for part of that. Hold on, Motherland? Ya, I was born in Canada, but my mom and dad were “off the boat” if you will from Italy. So, it is kinda the Motherland. Anyway, I digress.
I’m usually I’m a lot quicker to write this reflection, but I’ve had a hectic few weeks since we’ve returned. Oh ya, and I got an extra special welcome back present…Covid. It laid me up for a bit, and unfortunately I’m still not back to 100% yet. You win some and you lose some, right?
In any case, it is good to be back, but I certainly do miss being in Italy. It was a great break from the routine and being able to travel was fantastic. I really missed doing these tours and giving the students the opportunity to experience the history and culture of another place in the world. They are still talking about the amazing time they had and how life changing it was.
I have had several people ask me what was my favourite part of the trip and/or what was my favourite place to visit. That is such a difficult question. Most of the time I fumble through a response and struggle to find an answer. There were so many great places and moments. Rome was great to see again, though very busy. I was really struck by the Vatican, especially St. Peter’s Basilica, as I honestly do not remember it being so magnificent; the design and architecture is truly unbelievable.
Most of the students agreed with me that they enjoyed the areas outside of Rome more than Rome itself. I think it was all the craziness. I know for myself I was really impressed with places like San Marino. I knew that it was an independent country, but I did not know that most of it was situated on the top of a mountain with some pretty impressive engineering. Places like Rimini, Bologna and Florence had some really impressive history to them which I did appreciate. I guess the best of part of the trip was (and always is), enjoying the reaction of the students, which I already mentioned. I do these trips for them, maybe a little for me too, but mostly for them and seeing them have an amazing time leaves the greatest mark.
So we have our next trip lined up already and it has just been approved by the board. The plan is to return to Northern Europe in 2025, embarking on a (very similar) tour we did back in 2014. Called “Canada’s Battlefields,” it will take us to Amsterdam, the Scheldt area of Belgium, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Normandy and Paris. It will have a very different feel that this past trip to Italy, focussing a lot more in Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World War. Although I have to been to some of these places numerous times, there is always something new to see or learn in the process. Hopefully it will be as great as this past trip.
On a more local note, one of the things I am very thankful for is that fact that we have now pushed our way into spring, but since there’s still a bit of snow on the ground, you wouldn’t totally know it. March was below normal in terms of temperature and it has left us a bit behind of where we should be. However, some pretty spectacular temperatures in the last few days (like +20C at times) have melted a lot of snow (as you can see in the photos below taken 5 days apart). It is supposed to drop to below normal for the next few days, but hopefully that won’t impede things too much.
With the arrival of spring I am looking forward to the return of hiking season. It been a long haul since I was last out in October, so it will be nice to get out on to the railway again. Because I have been over the entire line, my focus is now redoing certain areas, especially ones that were done in the summer as spring and fall are more conducive to these types of explorations (the leaves tend to hide things quite well). My agenda isn’t super action packed, but there are enough hikes to fill the month of May for now.
Anyway, I better move along. I’m not sure when I’ll be back with more musings, but hopefully it won’t be too long. Until then…