"Please, let this be a normal field trip!"
With these kids....? No way!
As "road scholars", we're trying to learn from the environment, cultures and sites all around us by mixing the good-old-fashioned 3R's (reading, writing and 'rithmetic) with the experiential learning 3R's of research, reconnaissance and reflection.
As I listen to Trish and Isaac practice Arabic greetings in preparation for our travels in Morocco, I thought it might be interesting to list all of the "educational" field trips that we've gone on since we left Ottawa last year.
It is turning out to be a long, and admittedly eclectic list that has the kids (and us!) majoring in geography, social studies, languages, history, archaeology, ecology and the occasional experiments in physics (if you count roller-coasters and hot-air balloon rides). It has also been fun to note where the different cultures and empires that we've seen -- Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, Swahili -- have intersected and influenced each other.
Here is a partial list of the museums, national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and experiences that were just-too-cool-for-school.
As I wrote back in July, we started our road schooling as "Tourists in Our Own Town" by taking advantage of some of Ottawa's world-class museums. But we continued learning as we hit the road in Southern Ontario and Quebec.
- Museum of Science & Technology (before the attack of the mold closed it down)
- Museum of Civilization (before the Conservatives made civilization "history")
- Museum of Nature - a perennial favourite for us;
- Point à Calliere -- Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, with a fascinating exhibit on the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal and à propos exhibition on Marco Polo;
- School House Museum, Deep River (ironically, we ran out of time to visit the Clock Museum)
- Royal Ontario Museum - Toronto - with Tricia's dad
- The Hodgson-Terry House of Wonders - Meaford, Ontario
- HMS Strider's Nautical Adventures, a 3-hour sailboat tour with Captain Suzette & First Mate Brent, Georgian Bay
- Making butter tarts with Grandma and then translating the recipe into French;
- participatory experiments in physics: gravity, momentum, centrifugal force and nausea at Canada's Wonderland
Turkey is deeply-steeped in history -- archaeologists have found signs of human habitation as far back as 12,000 years -- and everywhere you go you are standing on one or more levels of Hittite, Lycian, Greek, Roman, Seljuk, Ottoman, or Turkish ruins and architecture. There are a gazilliion museums and historical sites, of which we visited the following:
- Hagia Sophia Museum (a.k.a. the Aya Sofia), a cathedral turned mosque turned museum;
- Sultanahmet Mosque (a.k.a. the Blue Mosque)
- The Basilica Cistern -- an Ancient Roman water system under the city of Istanbul that helped it withstand sieges;
- Istanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum that had a great exhibit on sounds and sights in Istanbul;
- Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul -- the first home of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire
- Rahmi M Koç Museum of Science & Technology -- a very kid-friendly museum with a hands-on mathematics exhibit and an awesome soap bubble maker;
- The Canakkale Museum, an Archaeological museum with many artifacts from Ancient Troy;
- A guided tour of the Gallapoli War Memorials & Battlefield, where Turkey's eventual first President held off the combined forces of England, France, New Zealand, Australia and Newfoundland.
- Kadifekale (Castle). Izmir, and old Ottoman fort on the top of the hill.
- Greek-Roman Ruins in Izmir (Smyrna),
- Ephesus, the ancient Greek / Roman city made famous in the Book of Acts, and the follow-up hit, the Paul's Letter to the Ephesians;
- Çesme Castle, a Geonese then Ottoman then Crusader castle on the Aegean Sea;
- A private model ship museum in Boranova (no website just yet, it seems).
- A personal visit to one of the Levantine Mansions in Bornova
- Muğla Fethiye Museum, with a great collection of Lycian artefacts
- The Lycian Tombs in Fethiye
- Abandoned village of Karaköy, formerly home to a mixed Muslim and Christian population prior to the population exchanges of the 1920s;
- A day hike along the Lycian Way
- Visits to the Ancient Greek towns of Letoon, Xanthos and Patara
- Knidos -- an ancient Greek, fortified town at the end of the Datça Peninsula
- Hiking in the Ilhara Valley near Cappadocia, the site of hundreds of small churches and monastaries cut into the rock walls of the cliffs.
- Hot-air ballooning at dawn over Cappadocia;
- A pottery-making lesson and a tour of a Turkish carpet factory in Avonos;
- A visit to several Caravanseries (overnight hotels for caravan traders) in the Cappadocia area
- Two underground cities in Cappadocia area: Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, where populations of local Christians hid from invading armies for up to 6 months ;
- The Zelve and Goreme Open Air Museums in Cappadocia
- Two weeks volunteering on an organic farm (mostly en français) near Antalya;
- Antalya Museum of Archaeology
- Kaleiçi, the Old City of Antalya
- A visit to the Safehaman Hammam, a 13th-Century Turkish bath in Antalya.
Because the people of Tanzania tended to build with biodegradable materials (e.g. wood, mud, thatch), there is comparatively less "built-history" to see. As well, post-independence Tanzania has not had the resources to document its history and culture to the extent that you see other places. But still, it was very interesting to learn more about the culture, development issues and of course, the ecology of the area:
- Stonetown, the old city of Zanzibar, made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
- Ismilia Stone Age Site, near Iringa, with flint tools from a long, long, time ago...
- The National Museum of Tanzania, Dar-es-Salaam;
- The Village Museum, Dar-es-Salaam, with examples of traditional housing found throughout the country;
- Vipaji Foundation Art Gallery, Dar es Salaam, a gallery set up by our friend, Jean Pruitt.
- The Sultan's Palace Museum, Stonetown, Zanzibar.
- Cultural Heritage, a gallery of pan-African and Tanzanian art in Arusha
- Going on wildlife safaris in:
- Ruaha National Park, now the largest national park in Africa...
- Serengeti National Park, where they shot the Lion King movie....
- Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Okay, it's imperial and largely built with stolen loot from the New World, but during our brief visit to two cities in Spain, we saw a fascinating mix of Moorish, Andalusian, Spanish and modern architecture and history. Barcelona also seems to have a museum on every block, and i hope that we can return there to see a few more. But so far, we've seen:
- Museu del Pardo, Madrid, Spain's largest museum and home to Goya, El Greco and other Spanish masters;
- Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's Moderniste masterpiece of a basilica;
- Cathedral de Barcelona, a Gothic church with flying buttresses and soaring vaults;
- Picasso Museum, which houses many of his earlier works -- the later paintings and sculpture are in Paris, I understand;
- the 1 Dia / 1 Foto exhibit 365 photos of life in Barcelona in 2014 at the Centra de la creativitat, Arts Santa Mònica;
- the Museu de les Cultures de Mon, a kind of old-school anthropological museum;
- the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, another massive collection of Spanish and Western European art;
- the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, which included a huge Spanish galley;
- the Museum of History of Barcelona for an overview of the development of the city from a small, Roman village to a city of 1.6 million;
- the Caixaforum, where we saw an exhibit celebrating 25 years of Pixar animation;
- the Museum of Design where we saw a temporary exhibit of 99 Projects for the Real World.
- Palau de la Música Catalana Barcelona -- where Zoe and Dwayne saw a performance of Bizet's Carmen
- Camp Nou Stadium to see FC Barcelona play Levante UD
To Be Continued
So, that's a summary of some of what we saw and did during our first seven months of this year-long trip. And best of all, we've still got five more months to see some more cool places in Morocco, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Spain. So please be sure to check back in a few months for Episode 3....