No regrets

Matthew O’Reilly’s TED talk makes me ponder as I sit in an apartment in London after another day treading the pavements abroad.

My husband and I planned this overseas trip that is almost coming to an end always with our children front and centre. We wanted them to have opportunities to see other cultures, to live as others live, to gain an understanding of world history and our place in it. There’s little doubt it’s done that, and so much more.

My fondest memories are of the time we have spent as a family. Not just the happy and tranquil moments, but the times when we’ve been squabbling on the streets as we find ourselves aimlessly lost, or the times when we walk through yet another subway station and hit another infernal passage of stairs. The best times have been when my children have put their arms around my shoulder and waist and walked with me down cobbled streets sharing the moment.

I always worry that I work too hard, or commit too much time to others and not the ones closest to me. This trip has been special. I’ve taken myself away from everything that is a distraction and committed to family. I don’t think I’ll be living a life with regrets.

School’s out Friday

I’m laying odds that the people at Head Office of IKEA in Sweden are looking very closely at their Singapore division and wondering what kind of Christmas bonus they can offer them this year. The ‘BookBook’ video, uploaded to YouTube by IKEA Singapore, has racked up over 10 million views in a week  – a pretty clever marketing ploy by anyone’s standards. Send up your product in a parody of an Apple ad and watch it go viral. Just what I need for impetus for my ‘Language of our Times’ class next term, when we begin our Project Based Learning task exploring ‘What makes an idea go viral?’

Speaking of Apple, their latest video, ‘Perspective’, shown at their Keynote launch this week, is another signature Apple piece appealing to their tribe of followers.  Take a look.

Over 600,000 views in three days. Another good one for my students to analyse.

I’m currently in Munich, where I’ve spent the last three days after visiting Italy for a week. In my last post I spoke of my poor footwear choices leading to some pretty difficult days limping through the streets of Florence and Venice. I’m pleased to report Munich has been much kinder on my feet. It’s a very flat terrain here, and we’ve slowed down our pace out of sheer necessity. We were exhausted after the heady pace of four cities in 7 days – Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice. Today, after reading some travel blogs about the best footwear for traipsing through Europe, I purchased some Geox walking shoes that I’m hoping will see me right through the next few days in Frankfurt and Bad Kreuznach and then onto Paris and  London in the coming weeks.

I will try to write here about some of our experiences – we’ve had an amazing time already. Yesterday we visited Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and that experience deserves a post of its own. I’ve read so much about the Holocaust, but nothing really prepares you for walking the grounds and listening to a guide take you through the experiences of the people who were subjected to that cruel fate. It’s an experience everyone should have – as I walked through, it struck me that it is something that could feature as a Google Tour – that way students all over the world could have that experience and hopefully understand why the International Memorial there has the words, ‘Never again’ written in six languages.

Our hectic pace continues tomorrow, My husband and son are off the Bayern Munich vs Stuttgart game in the afternoon, then we board a train for Frankfurt in the evening, arriving there close to midnight and hoping that the accommodation I’ve booked doesn’t fall through!

I hope your weekend sees you finding time to relax and take in some sun. Enjoy whatever comes your way. 🙂

Why shoe choice matters…

I’ve travelled a lot over the past six years, so you think I’d be well prepared in terms of footwear choices for long days of walking around big cities.

Not this time.

Six days in (two of which were confined to the inside of airports and plane interiors) and my feet are letting me down. More to the point, my choice of footwear is letting me down. Rome and Florence, you’ve made a mess of me, and it’s just the start of a month of travel through Europe and London.

I’d post a picture of my feet, but quite honestly, I don’t want to scare you. There are abrasions and potential blisters forming in multiple locations. Yesterday, in a moment of sheer desperation in Pisa, I purchased a pair of sandals similar to Birkenstocks but obviously nowhere near their quality because they’ve just added to the pain. Not only that, they are what I’d classify as beyond ugly.

Did I pack my tried and tested walking shoes that have stood the test of the Great Wall of China and a previous trip to Italy?

No, of course I didn’t. More. fool. me.

Am I taking notice of the gorgeous sights as I limp through the streets of Florence?

No. My eyes gravitate down, looking enviously at the feet of travellers who seem to be gliding through the streets, propelled forward on the soles of shoes that cushion heels and don’t issue shards of pain with every footfall.

Heading to Venice tomorrow. Wish me luck. No doubt I’ll be looking for the perfect shoe, not the Murano glass. Unless of course, some glassblower on the island of Murano has perfected a glass slipper that can guarantee blister free travel through Europe. Then I’d be interested.