Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Thursday, August 4, 2011

France Trip Chronicles - Part II in Beaune!

Friday, 7/22/11

Goodbye, Paris (sad face)! This morning, we successfully road the metro followed by two trains to Beaune, a 22,000 person town in Bourgogne known for its famous wine cellars and wine making. We checked into our hotel, the Abbaye de Maizieres, an abbey built in the twelth century with 13 refurbished, modern rooms. Our ceiling is SO high too! We took our daily siesta, changed, and started exploring the charming town.

First stop - Basilique Collegiale Notre Dame, built from the 11-15th centuries in Roman and Gothic styles. The medieval tapestries inside, especially those depicting the Virgin Mary, were quite lovely. Next stop - the Hotel-Dieu des Hospises de Beaune, built in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin and used as a hospital for the poor until 1971. It is a stunning Gothic hospital building topped by famous turrets and pitched rooftops with muticolored tiles. I especially enjoyed the 18th century pharmacy, where the nuns on duty made their own medicines and stored them in the cabinets along the walls. Very cool!

Now quite thirsty, we drank a delicious glass of white wine each at a local wine shop, where the employee spoke to us for awhile about Bourgogne wines. He, of course, also speaks fluent Italian, French, and German (He is German himself). We then enjoyed a very pleasant dinner at a local restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine. I ordered the steak hauche with French fries (which seem to come with everything here!), bread, and crepes with Nutella for dessert (My fave, as you know!) with wine. I certainly will gain weight on this trip! Hehe. Our waitress was especially friendly, putting and keeping us in a good mood once we were b back at the hotel.

Our fave guilty TV pleasure in France? Got To Dance, of course, which is actually a British program. The book on my Kindle I currently cannot put down? Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner.

Saturday, 7/23/11

Since I did not get much of a restful sleep last night, my wonderful husband went out to buy breakfast and brought it back to me in bed -- water, pain de chocolat, breakfast meat (Better than I thought!), Nutella, and yogurt. What a guy!

Soon afterwards, to the expansive toon open-air market we went, which spans blocks and sells everything from flowers and fruits to stylish clothes, meats, soaps, and truffles. I indulged in buying 5 soaps, and Greg gave into a personal favorite: tasty, spicy Beaune mustard. Poor Greg hit his head hard on the low entrance to our hotel when dropping something off, so much so that two locals helped him up (He had fallen and seen stars!) and the hotel owner asked if he needed an ambulance. Luckily, he is now OK, but I felt horribly!

Greg nearly had a heart attack when buying stamps for our 27 postcards to be mailed (24.50 Euros!) but felt better once we had water and sat reading in the town square a bit. Then it was off to the first of three wineries for the day -- Patriarche Pere et Files. These cellars are the largest in Burgundy and lived with 5 million bottles of wine. WOW. Truly incredible. We explored the oldest wine cellar, Beaune Villages, dating from 1904, and sampled 13 wines. We read more in the square, waited (once again) for the rain to die down, and headed to my favorite destination of the day, Marche aux Vins, where we sampled an impressive 15 wines in the cadle-lit former Eglise des Corddiers and its cellars. To do so, we used a taste vin, much like an oversized wide-mouthed, deep spoon to drink from. We loved wandering through the dark, eerie, wine-lined hallways, with the oldest (that we saw, at least) all dusty and dating back to 1956. Several others are not available to drink until the next generation -- 2020, 2050, and even 2094, one hundred years after the bottle was filled. Incredible!

Along with a quirky Japanese businessman, a girl from Istanbul, a Yale architecture graduate student, and an English-speaking guide, we journeyed on a two-hour plus wine tour, whcih we trekked to in miserable downpour to the Tourist Office. Once dry, we boarded the mini bus and traveled North to several villages and vineyards, most notably the Grand Cru, where the best, most expensive French wines are made. We stopped at a neat winery on the way back to Beaune, where we sampled seven delicious wines. It was particularly interesting trying two wines from the same grapes grown in different area regions. They tasted remarkably different!

Back in Beaune, we settled on a local place for dinner, where my beef bourignon was tasty but everything else was annoyingly disappointing -- no bread, no water, bad, neglectful service, and the longest wait ever for the cheque. Unacceptable! We made up for it by enjoying coffee, hot chocolate, and crepes at a nearby cafe. What a great, full day in Beaune!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our exciting day of biking over 30 kilometers across Burgundy begins! After renting our bikes from an adorable, disabled man, we headed off to the streets and bike trail to the following:

1. Pommard -- We walked around this super tiny (but cute!) village. Too many cars to formally stop!

2. Volnay -- Here we stopped at a local winery owned by a wonderfully kind and helpful woman named Evelina, with a hilariously sultry English accent. She gave us a private tour of her cellars, which had dusty, cobweb-filled wine bottles dating back to 1865 (!!). She is a 14th generation descendant of this winery, which is surprisingly considered "new" to the Burgundy region. Wow! She claimed to not speak English well, explaining that she only had to use it one week per year -- when she tended this winery owned by her uncle and gave tours to people like us. :)

Joined by an annoying couple from Washington state and their ambiguous male relative from Chicago, we also did a wine tasting with Evelina. I could hardly stop myself from cracking up with the absurd nodding noises the woman made (Think Oooohm, hmmmm, yeah) or the absurd questions she or the other man would ask Evelina. Clueless but hilarious!

In the main abbey of Volnay, villagers found ruins from an attack by the Saracens in 762 AD, which Greg found especially cool. At the Marche aux Vines, they unearthed a sixth century Mesegovian sarcaphogus. Oh, Greg and his history lessons!

3. Mersault - This village has 14 different chateaus, where we had a nice cellar tour and wine tasting with a sixth or seventh generation male descendant on his day off. We learned that the only difference from vineyard to vineyard is the soil conditions -- the weather, grapes, and everything else is the same. The grapes at higher elevation get more sunlight and therefore have higher quality. In addition, minerals and soil wash down the slope, making the wines taste differently. If you have more rocks in the soil, the wine tastes more minerally; more clay equals a fuller taste. Red wines tend to be grown more in clay. The main difference in how a wine tastes year to year is the weather because the grapes, soil, and location all remain the same.

4. Puliguy-Motrauchet - Our final stop was here, where we enjoyed some great food (and REAL beeg bourignon!) outside with a cute Jack Russell Terrier creatively named Jack watching us (and waiting for food to drop). My Italian salad featured an awesome giant ball of mozzerella cheese, which I did not react to (I am lactose intolerant, unfortunately). Yay!

Once we biked back into Beaune, we stopped at the recommended final winery, where we tasted countless (nine!) wines and champagne under the expert tutelage and commentary of the owner, a charming Frenchman who worked as a chef in DC before we were born. He lovingly refers to his wine as his "babies" and wants to find only the right homes for each of them. He enraptured us so much that he helped us call the bike rental shop owner to inform him of our tardiness. Luckily, we made it back to his shop across town in record time to find him amused and very accepting of our apologies. Phew! Silly Americans!

We stopped back at our room for a few hours of rest. My newest book obsession -- A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. We then headed to a reliable cafe for coffee and dessert, plus an awesome conversation on philosophy and education thesis topics! What a day! Our poor butts are still sore from the bikes and Greg's still may be for a few days. Poor guy!

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