So it’s been a wee while since my last update, mostly because I’ve been busy looking at all sorts of stupidly pretty things and having an absolutely amazing time (with not many breaks). This is also why this post comes to you in the form of captioned photos. Because writing an actual post would be way too hard.
First off though, let me set the scene. We arrived in Athens in the stinking hot late evening. We’d had the amazing offer to stay at a scout hall (yay Moot connections), but didn’t entirely know what sort of hall it would end up being. Our uber wasn’t super sure where it was, so we ended up getting dropped off and having to wander down the block looking for the right place. As we thought we were getting near we heard some chill music playing, and what sounded like a low key party going on outside. We (mostly Caitlin) went up and asked them if they knew where the hall was. Turns out they were scouts from that group who had just got back from a 12 day trip away, and within minutes we’d been shown where to drop our stuff, handed drinks, had pizza ordered, and were invited to join them to chill out and look at photos from their trip (on a casual outdoor tv running a slideshow). Basically Greek hospitality is amazing, and this set a really great tone for the rest of our week in Greece.
Our first morning in Athens we headed out bright and early for a walking tour. It was super cool to see all the ancient ruins just thrown into the middle of the city.
There were also some really pretty newer historical buildings
This place has the head of one of the designers/builders entombed in one of the walls!
And this is the site of the first modern Olympics.
Weirdly taking photos of actual human people aside… there’s a massive hole in the ground between the guard’s legs where they do a foot scuffing thing while marching.
Our walking tour guide was amazing, and about as adorable as this mini church under a skyscraper.
After only a few minutes in the markets I remembered how little I like shopping, especially when barterring
Super weird to see graffiti on things older than my country.
The walking tour had a really nice view to cap things off
Yep. Athens is super pretty.
The whole time we were in Greece the food was absolutely amazing. These Gyros were super cheap and so delicious.
This was around the point of Greece where words stopped working well.
Every time I saw the Acropolis in the background was another wow moment.
It was really weird seeing all this amazing history just cordoned off and sitting there.
During our afternoon siesta we found our first tortoise (of 3 or 4 on the trip)
We got an archaeology pass that got us into all the historical sites in Athens.
The ticket was fantastic, not just because it saved money, but because we ended up going to places we probably wouldn’t’ve bothered with otherwise.
And some of them turned out absolutely amazing.
The Ancient Agora was one of these place, there were massive areas just full of all sorts of old sculptures.
Like seriously, the skill in these sculptures is so amazing.
Also cats. There were lots of cats all over the place, including all the ancient sites.
Another casual pile of ancient carvings etc. These were all over the place.
A lot of the older restoration work had done more harm than good, I wonder why…
The view out over the Ancient Agora to the Acropolis
More amazing Greek food. It was a struggle picking just one place to eat each night.
We had a bit of a wander into the metro station in the mornings.
But once we got there the metro was great, (yay non NZ public transport) and had some really cool sculptures in the stations.
Our second morning in Athens we got up bright and early to beat the crowds to the Acropolis.
I did Classic in High School, and was a little bit really excited about finally making it up here.
I didn’t take a huuuge amount of photos, because there’s heaps of those already
But I tried to get the odd photo with the amazing people I was travelling with in them.
By the time we were leaving the top of the Acropolis for the slopes we were pretty glad we’d got up early.
The crowds were a little ridiculous.
But so many people were just doing the tops and not the slopes, so once we were down we had plenty of time to explore.
Another kitty on ancient stuff.
After an early morning we wanted a relaxing evening, so headed out to the beach before dinner.
Which got us all excited for our trip out to a Greek Island (Serifos) the next day.
Still excited after a 3 hour ferry.
And why wouldn’t we be when the island looks like this.
We even got up early to watch the sunrise. We were camped about 20m from the beach, so crawled back into bed for a few more hours after the sun rise.
Cool art on one of the trees at the campsite
We had a bit over 24 hours on Serifos, and wanted to make the most of it. We were told we shouldn’t miss the old town (up on the hill).
For some reason the bus stop had old printers and fax machines all over the wall. No idea why…
It was super windy when we got there. Which was a welcome relief in the heat (and missing the Wellington wind).
It was your stereotypical Greek Island village, white and blue with narrow walkways.
Basically it was amazing.
And the view
I think I took about a hundred photos in the space of an hour or so.
And that was between long patches of just gawking into the distance.
After all that hard work being amazed it was time for a relaxing swim at our camp’s beach.
And then we were back in Athens for our last day. We stocked up on pastries from the local bakery for our flights to New York
And had a last afternoon checking out the town (via the metro).
Where we ticked off the last of the ancient sites.
Including the museum with the best signage so far, which absolutely was a big deal.
This was in a train station. Yep.
And finally the hall we were staying in while in Athens. This was such a cool space and we’re super grateful to the Scout Group and all the Scouts we met for their amazing hospitality!
Part one here
More photos from Nord below. I’m now a few days into the Topdeck tour of the Scandinavian Peninsula, but wifi for the last few days has been super unreliable. Check out the captions for a bit of info on how the second half of Nord went down.
Nord banner flying on the way to midnight sailing
Pioneering! This was the sign outside of the Rover Cafe
This was the main entrance to the central square. Rumour has it the boat was already floating there and they built the gate around it so it would stop creeping people out.
Every group had built an entrance way, some more elaborate than others. This one ranks somewhere in the middle.
And this is maybe the best? This group was sleeping in their three storey entranceway!
Another angle, this is actually ridiculous.
So as mentioned in the first photo, midnight sailing was a thing,
Scouts from all over Norway had sailed to Nord with “the armada” and we were able to head out on one of the ships to chase the midnight sun.
It was fricking gorgeous (though also rained on and off an was super cold)
I took way too many pictures of perpetual sunset over water. This is only a fraction of them
The miserable weather almost made it cooler #spot the rainbow
There was a decent amount of concern that we wouldn’t actually see the sun.
Midnight was at 01:08 because of reasons, and right on 01:00 the sun peeked out from the clouds, right on the horizon.
Photos don’t really do it justice. But there was a stupid amount of pretty to look at.
The sun, finally showing itself.
Was shivering a little and rather tired by this point.
But it was totally worth it.
Getting lighter as we pulled back in to harbour.
We had to clamber over a couple other ships to get to the dock.
But they made up for it by looking pretty.
We also made time to head down to the aviation museum in Bodø.
After a little bit of a struggle we got a free guided tour in English.
This plane was super happy to see us.
We also got to check out the old control tower.
Cool ticket, still didn’t keep it.
We had arguably the best spot for the Nord closing ceremony. This is looking back at the square, which was pretty busy at pretty much all hours #midnightsun #nocurfew
And this was the view out to the stage and the mountains! Weather was on point.
The twin to where we were watching from.
Some of the lovely Nord people chilling aroun the fire on the final night.
All the badges from Nord! Centre badge is for the camp (half received on registration half on arrival), and challenge/activity badges from during the camp to make up the rays.
And then it was over. (Trondheim station on the way to Oslo)
Vancouver was the first stop on my trip, Cas (one of my best friends who heartlessly abandoned NZ) and Rachel (their Canadian girlfriend) were nice enough to give Jaime and I a place to stay for the few nights we were there.
We just had a couple full days in Vancouver, so only really got into the surface of the city. Cas and their friend Sean gave us a recent(ish) immigrant’s tour of Vancouver on day one, before we headed to the beach to make the most of summer. Vancouver certainly impressed. I’m a bit of a sucker for views of mountains over water which there were plenty of, the public transport blows any in NZ out of the water (though that’s a slightly low bar), the weather was warm and sunny, and the town pretty easily walkable.
Day two we caught a train, a ferry, and some busses to Vancouver Island and again had a lovely sunny day to wander round and explore Victoria. The public transport was (still) amazing ($5 for a day pass for the busses!) Victoria even put on a show on the waterfront with some lovely folk music to make us feel at home (or maybe that was something to do with Canada turning 150..).
Let’s be real though, you’re mostly here to look at pretty things, so here’s some photos:
Canada was getting really into the 150 year celebration thing
Gas powered clock in Gastown
Wood burning art made with a glass lense, so freaking cool
Found a great sushi place
And some great (/ok I guess) poutine
Chinatown in Victoria
This was a super cool hidden alley in Chinatown
North Island’s a lot smaller than I remember
View at Victoria waterfront
Awesome view on the ferry back