How did it get to be mid-April already?! Time’s slipping away so quickly. In a month Alex and I will be off to Italy for our vacation trip, and then we’ll be headed back home.
Last week the rain finally eased off, and spring seems to have truly sprung here in Dubrovnik. The temperatures are still in the 60s, but there’s bright sunshine and the scent of blossoms in the air. The outdoor tables at the cafes are starting to fill up with both tourists and locals–and their siren call is making it harder and harder for me to stay properly focused on course prep and grading. On the plus side, staying home to grade means I can sit on my balcony and enjoy the ocean view.
Just as the sun started shining here, though, I hopped on a plane to Bergen, Norway–also known as the rainiest city in Europe. When my flight arrived late Thursday night, it wasn’t raining…it was snowing. (Lightly, and it didn’t stick, but it was still a bit of a shock!) The good news is that the weather was reasonably clear and temperate on Friday and Saturday, and I only saw the infamous rain on Sunday.
My primary reason for going to Bergen was to give a talk on “Playful Pedagogy”–covering both what we’ve done with Just Press Play, and some of the uses of game mechanics in classes. I was invited by Jill Walker, who I’ve known for more than ten years now. I discovered her blog right after I started blogging in the fall of 2012. In 2004 I invited her to be part of a panel on “Weblogs and Cross-Disciplinary Communication” at the Media Ecology Conference, and she and her daughter stayed with me in Rochester. That was the last time I’d seen her in person, but the wonderful thing about social network tools is that we both knew lots about each other’s day-to-day lives, and could skip over the “catching up” and pick up our friendship as though we’d seen each days rather than years ago.
The talk went well, and afterwards Jill suggested that I should consider applying to do a Fulbright at UiB in 2014-15 (I’m already planning to request a sabbatical for that year, though I hadn’t decided on a place.) It’s a tempting offer, because there are so many smart and interesting people in Bergen–not to mention the seductive combination of mountains and oceans. However, the “rainiest city” issue, combined with the very short days up there in the great north, and the surprisingly high cost of living (much more expensive than Dubrovnik), means I need to give it some careful consideration rather than making a quick decision.
That said, Bergen really is a lovely city. I was able to do some wandering around and exploring, both on my own and with Jill (and her adorable kids Benji and Jessie). A highlight was taking the funicular up one of the seven mountains that surround the city, and getting this incredible panoramic view.
I also got a chance to explore the beautiful old wooden section of the city, known as Tyskebryggen.
And because my hotel was very close to it, I spent a good bit of time in the area around this lovely lake in the center of the city.
Speaking of the hotel, the Rica Hotel Bergen has, without a doubt, the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever experienced in a hotel. Highly recommended, even if you’re not staying there!
I got back Sunday night, and have been in catch-up mode since then. I’m behind on grading, and on course prep, and on a million other administrative things from paper reviews to curriculum development to the follow-you-across-the-globe academic politics. But when it feels overwhelming, I step out on my balcony–it’s a pretty potent antidote to self-pity!