Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Conference Thoughts - part one

Last Wednesday, in the early hours, I set off for Lucca a beautiful medieval town in the heart of Tuscany. It was a slightly complex journey, as I decided to fly from London Stansted, not Bristol, which is closer. This was because it was cheaper, but meant a long coach journey first. I was on my way to the ECArTE Conference This is the European Consortium of Arts Therapies Education, who organise these conferences every two years. This was my first time at one, and I am so glad I went. About 400 delegates from 31 countries attended, all with some interest in the Arts Therapies - practitioners, students, researchers and so on. Fortunately for me the conference language was English - I am full of admiration for people giving papers in a language that is not their mother tongue. I found it hard enough in my own language. It is part of the arrogance of the English, I fear, that we assume that everyone will speak our language. I suppose more people in the world speak English as their second language than any other, but it still impresses and humbles me.
The main venue was the Real Collegio, a 500 year old building around a central courtyard. I, along with about 100 of the delegates, stayed at the Ostello San Frediano a youth hostel with a difference - it's an 18th century library with cool marble floors, high celings and wide staircases! I was sharing a room with 4 other men, in bunk beds, but for less than E20 per night, this was just fine! I tried their breakfast on the first morning, but was disappointed. It was much better to go to a cafe on the Piazza San Frediano, where you could get coffee and pastries for about 2 or 3 euros.
So, after an uneventful journey, including a 30 mile train journey from Pisa airport to Lucca, that only cost E2.50, I arrived and prepared for the first evening...

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