We started off our first day in Venice with a Cicchetti and Wine Tour through Urban Adventures (book your own tour and save 10%). I had a hard time pronouncing cicchetti. It helped me to say "baby chick"-etti. Now, the hubs and I are so not tour people. We prefer free-range traveling. However, this tour had great reviews and we wanted a special way to treat my mother-in-law for her birthday and this fit the bill: food, wine, culture. So at 11:30 AM we met our guide, Elisabetta, and a small group of fellow travelers to eat like the locals. It was wonderful! Cicchetti are basically Venetician tapas, often consumed standing up in the streets with a generous glass of wine. Here's our favorites from the tour and other yummy things:

All' Arco

Mushroom. Truffle. Cheese. We went back and ate more.

Cantina do Mori

Baccala on toast. Actually delicious! I now crave it. It's odd. Cantina do Mori is the oldest operating bar in Venice (started in 1462!)

In addition to the tour cicchetti, we made a bonus visit to "Da Luca E Fred" courtesy of our good friends here in TX, the Fiore's. I've heard their baby octopus is to die for but unfortunately, they didn't have that on the menu when we visited. Next time!

This last one is not cicchetti really but pasta to-go. What an amazing concept. At "Bigoi" they have homemade pasta at the ready. You choose your sauce and within 2 minutes you're enjoying a bowl of pasta better than anything you'd get in the states.

We were introduced to another concept while on the tour. In Venice (and I imagine throughout Italy), there is a wonderful thing called "vino sfuso" or "bulk wine" and similar to how we fill up a growler of beer in the States, you can bring in your bottle of choice and fill up on some fresh and extraordinarily cheap wine. Upon discovering this, we found it our duty to find and test multiple spots offering vino sfuso. They are hard to find but we found a few with a lot of googling and a little luck.

Here's a map with their approximate locations:

Our favorite spot to enjoy our vino was in Cannaregio. We stumbled upon this strip on a Sunday evening and it was bustling! We came back multiple times, found ourselves a stoop, and relaxed on the water.

​I'm on vacation right now; our first stop was through Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. I'll get to bragging about the beer and revelry another time but first, a story. As we were eating breakfast the first morning, I saw a bunch of young children building a garden in the courtyard of our hotel.

My first reaction was "look! A school is helping the community and that's wonderful - think of what they are learning and how much fun they are having!" The woman sitting at the table next to us had a much different reaction. She was a fellow American judging by her accent and former educator or administrator judging by the discussion. Here was her table conversation (paraphrased but quite close):

Husband (looking outside at the adorable children) : "Remember when you used to chase all the kids around in school?"

Wife: "yes - we would never do that in our schools...too much liability."

Husband nods in agreement.

This is a huge issue!! While yes there is increased liability when you give children tools but many schools throughout the US has overcome this. It pains me that the first reaction of a former educator is not one of interest or excitement but instead one of worry and immediately going to the barriers of making such exciting learning a reality.

I stepped outside to learn more about the project and ended up chatting with Phillip Baum-Wittke, the representative from myclimate who facilitated the excursion. Apparently, myclimate (de.myclimate.org/education) has many initiatives related to combating climate change, one of them being partnering with hotels and schools to provide hands-on climate education opportunities for students.

The project took just one day and looks great!

Finished Product!!

What a great first day of vacation. Let's just hope the women's attitude next to me was not indicative of the country at large and we see more of this stuff in our neck of the woods.

During my trip to Seattle I took a stroll through the University of Washington campus. Two of the buildings I visited were libraries with vastly different designs and respective purposes. The first is the Allen Library first floor commons, designed by DLR Group, which consists of mobile furniture, bright colors, and embedded technology. It is clearly a place for flexibility and collaboration. The other space was the Suzzallo Library Reading Room. Self-described by the University as "Hogwarts meets Silence" it's cathedral-like designs encourages deep-thinking, independent study, and is simply regal. Both indicate evolving needs in libraries today - more space for collaborative learning while maintaining and embracing space for focus.

Neither space needs signage to communicate their intended purpose. Their juxtaposition is a perfect example of how design impacts how we behave.

Here are some other photos from the UW library tour:

About Me

My name is Raechel (with an "e"). I help design schools for a living and travel whenever I can (well - used to and pining to start that again!). I started this website as I combined these two favorite things in Melbourne, Australia as a Post-Graduate Fulbright Scholar. I am continuing it now after finishing a PhD in Education and still designing schools. I will chronicle research and schools I love, sharing the exciting things happening and providing lessons learned from my research on how to align your practices and your spaces to achieve your teaching and learning goals.


Feel free to contact me at: schooldesignresearch@gmail.com

Thanks for visiting!


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