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!
I’m currently chilling in Oslo airport on the way to New York (from Athens). This is just a quick connect the dots post between Post Tour and Athens. There should hopefully be a ridiculously pretty Greece post coming out soon, once I un-blow my mind enough to be able to write about it (or at least narrow down from the 300ish photos that passed the first edit).
At about the half way point I’d strategically planned a nice low key portion of the trip. First a week staying on in Switzerland with a friend, followed up by a weekend at my grandparents in Skipton (UK).
Given the views were this:
So it’s fair to say it was a pretty good way to recover.
Switzerland had it’s fair share of epic mountain hikes, and a day of canyoning to offset the restlessness from relaxation/catch-up-on-sleep-and-washing days. I even managed to sneak in some brownie baking, and a cheeky run.
Skipton, on the other hand, was a slightly more laid back affair, mostly spent ambling around town and catching up with my grandparents for the first time in a lot of year. I did still manage to make it as far as the Gordale Scar, and had a great picnic with Jaime and one of her Moot people on the Yorkshire Dales.
It’s been three weeks today since I landed in Iceland. In those three weeks I’ve climbed mountains, seen glaciers, and tasted wild Icelandic berries. I’ve learnt so many new things (at least five of which I might remember) including how to tie a friendship knot (again), a traditional Lebanese dance, and the correct pronunciation of Kristínartindar. I’ve had a quiet dance party #10pmnoisecurfew, and some not so quiet parties. I’ve attended a Youth Forum at the site of the worlds oldest parliament, and a traditional Aussie knighting on top of a mountain. I’ve met so many amazing new people (at least five of whom I realistically plan on keeping in touch with). I’ve had what feels like an endless string of intense emotional and spiritual moments, and in that way that only a camp can cause I’ve added people to my definition of family after only a “short” time.
What I’m trying to say is, this post (if I do it any justice at all) might be a little on the long side. But don’t worry, there’ll be lots of pretty pictures to look at too.
Also, if you click on the photos there’s info in some of (but not all of) the captions.
The Beginning – Reykjavik
We got into Reykjavik in the afternoon and made it through the airport without major incident, and only a wee bit of foreshadowing around lost bags. After a bus trip to down and finding our accommodation (at a school) we caught up with some other kiwis for a bite to eat, and some low key complaining about Nordic prices. Before long it was time to head to sleep, because some of us had a big day RIDING ICELANDIC HORSES!!! the next day.
With the abundance of spare time we had in Reykjavik (aka all of 36 hours) we’d booked in for a tour riding Icelandic horses to some hot springs. I’d only been on a horse a couple times before and never for so long, and Icelandic horses have a middle speed called a tölt which is meant to be the smoothest ride on a horse, so it was a bit of a change of pace (har har). Despite the pretty average weather, and difficulty getting the horses to actually tölt we all had a pretty amazing time. The hot springs were a welcome break in the middle, and the fog added to the scenery (or something like that).
Horse riding took pretty much the whole day, so afterwards we whisked ourselves away to the NZ Contingent pre Moot dinner. This was the first (and last?) time we had the whole (shhhhh) contingent together and it was authentic Icelandic food in tapas style. We started with puffin and finished off with skyr mousse with a whole range of Icelandic delicacies in between. Everyone was left pretty satisfied, both by the food and having so many friendly faces together. Again we called it a pretty early night, because we had to be up the next morning at stupid o’clock to drop our bags off for the transport to the opening ceremony.
The Middle – Skaftafell
After an early start and being maybe the last person onto the bus (still had at least 15s to spare) I made it to opening. All the kiwis quickly (hah) got together to sort out some contingent stuff before heading off to drop our bags and meet our patrols. The arena for opening was packed full of people, but I eventually tracked down my patrol (ten people) and tribe (four patrols plus an adviser). The opening was the usual fare, some speeches, some performances, some not being able to feel my legs from sitting too long, and then we were onto the bus with our tribe to Skaftafell, our expedition centre. It was a 5 hours bus drive most of the way across Iceland, but boy was it worth it. For the next four nights we were camped between three glaciers, surrounded by mountains and disgustingly good views. Here’s some pictures.
Looking down at our campsite
The view from my tent
And sunset from the tent
Each day at Skaftafell we were off doing all sorts of activities with our patrols, before coming back together as a tribe for dinner and (usually) for evening hangouts. The first day was a big a hike, heading up Kristínartindar (pronounced Christina tinder) there were views of mountains, and glaciers, and waterfalls, and glacier waterfalls the whole way up. The weather was perfect, with almost no wind until the top (where there was a lot more than no wind). Our spirits were so high after summiting that we decided to take the long way back for a bit more pretty to look at.
Took my second to last bag of pineapple lumps to the top
You can drink pretty much any running water in Iceland without any treatment!
You can’t see the wind (why I’m holding my scarf) but you can see the impressive amount of dirt I got on my legs.
The next day had a nice chill start doing not yoga in front of not a glacier (there were some program changes due to the weather getting a bit dodgy). Before heading off on a hike through one of the glacier runoffs to an waterfall. We were motoring a wee bit way faster than the other patrols, so stopped for a bit to fly a kite, and then a bit longer to go for a swim above the waterfall. There was a bit of climbing and then we headed up river through fairly freezing water to find the most gorgeous little pool with a cave and a river. It’s been a trip full of highlights, but exploring up a river in Iceland with my (amazing) patrol was definitely a major one.
Early in the hike looking at where we were heading.
Q: How many Rovers does it take to fly a kite? A: More than 10…
Looking back at where we were the day before
On the right is the canyon we followed upstream
Found a cute little seating area just off the track on the way back
Our last activity day at Skaftafell was our “relaxed” day, we cooked some traditional Icelandic camp food in the morning. Then snuck in a cheeky hike to a nearby glacier, as we had some time to kill before our afternoon trip to Jökulsárlón a glacier lagoon. The lagoon continues the Icelandic trend of being ridiculously good looking, and in what seemed like no time at all we were on the way back to site for one last Skaftafell wide evening of celebration.
There was so much salmon that we couldn’t even finish it all
The nearest glacier to our site, just 30ish mins away
Iceland just kept being pretty
Look at this beautiful scenery
The glacier lagoon was pretty breathtaking
Got to get that selfie angle right
Got to get that bridge angle right
Phase two of Moot was back near Reykjavik at Úlfljótsvatn, the world’s northern most scout centre. We arrived in the late afternoon, managed to scrounge some space for our tents and figure out the “supermarket” tribe food system (we realised pretty early we had way too many “Moot bucks” to really need to worry about budget), and then it was time for opening. Scoutafell (my tribe) showed up in full force, chanting the Moot song, and it was incredible to see so many Rovers from all over the world in one place. I managed to catch up with a friend from my World Jamboree 10 years ago, and started seeing familiar kiwi faces around the place (fluro orange hoods stood out pretty well).
The first day of phase two was International Day, where all the countries were encourage to dress up in their national style, and there was food, and dancing, and singing, and all sorts of cultural experiences on offer from the different countries. In the afternoon there was the semi traditional rugby match between the Brits and the Aussies. NZ showed up in force to cheer on our second national team (anyone playing against Australia) and the Brits came out victorious with only heaps of injuries on both sides (turns out amateur rugby is even more dangerous than pro rugby).
The next day was the first of three activity days. I’d been lucky enough to be selected for the Youth Forum, so was instead on an early bus to Alþingi, the site of the worlds oldest parliament. Once there we were divided into small groups, each tasked with looking into how WOSM (The World Organization of the Scout Movement) should support one or two of the UN’s sustainable development goals #SDGs. My group had a really interesting discussion around Gender Equality and Reducing Inequalities, as well as chatting with the other groups about their SDGs during our breaks. In the afternoon everyone came together at Þingvellir to pass on all of our discussions. Because of the incredibly varied backgrounds present there was some really intense discussion around some of the issues, and unfortunately we had time limitation so couldn’t get super into detail. But it well and truly sparked my interest in the WOSM approach to the SDGs, which will hopefully be built on at the Youth Forum and Global Conference (happening now). After getting back to site I headed to the Rainbow Cafe (which is a super cool thing to exist and really ought to be at NZ events) for a Queer Quiz, which my team dominated. Mostly not thanks to me, so let’s call it a team effort…
I was back with my tribe doing activities the next day and had a day full of inflatables, crate stacking, table climbing, cooking Icelandic leaf bread and singing around an indoor (in-tent) fire pit. After giving up on the not so amazing party in the “Fire and Ice” tent (same DJ+same playlist three nights in a row) I was made aware that there was a campfire hidden around the corner. I stayed up past sunrise there having chats and singing with some amazing people which was a really chill way to spend my last Moot night.
After grabbing nowhere near enough sleep, and hearing not amazing things from my tribe I decided to skip our last days morning activity and instead hang out at my tribe’s site, signing scarves and generally making the most of our last bit of time together. All too soon it was time for closing ceremony, and then packing up and saying see-you-laters (notably not goodbyes). Most of the tribe was going to be at the unofficial after party that evening, which softened the blow, but it was still incredibly emotional to see our family slowly leaving, especially being one of the last ones to leave. After most had left I snuck in a cheeky climb of the mountain next to site, before it was my turn to hop on a bus back towards town with the rest of the kiwis.
The after party was pretty good, but due to the nature of it took a bit away from the goodbyes. Still, it was nice to have one last night with (most of) Scoutafell present before placing myself in the hands of the Aussie post tour. The first post Moot day was a free day in Reykjavik, after a lazy day I headed into town in the evening an managed to catch up with some old and new friends from Moot. I even got a taste of home when the pub we ended up in had a folk jam session going on. In the morning the five kiwis on flight D were surrounded by Aussies and rushing through airports to finally get to Zurich. Without our bags. Apparently the hold on our flight was too full for about 30 Rover’s bags to make it on board. After a decent delay while trying to sort this out at the airport we made it very late to our accommodation, where pretty much everyone scoffed down some food before promptly heading to bed.
First non camp dinner in ages
Reykjavik has a room size map of Iceland, this is where my expedition was
Tired Aussies (before flying even started)
Very brief stopover in London
Waiting at the lost bag helpdesk
We had a full day in Zurich, and most the Kiwis hopped on a historic walking tour of the city, before exploring a bit further on our own. We found a recycled bakery, that takes unsold food from other bakeries and cafes and sells it the next day at discounted rates, which is such a great way to minimise food waste (and get cheap quality food). Zurich was such a gorgeous city, with some beautiful old buildings (which I’m an absolute sucker for) framed by the water of the river and lake.
Don’t lick the waterfall….
In the evening we headed back to town and after dinner a few of us wandered around marvelling at the night lights and how walkable everything was. It was around 2 when we finally made it back to the hostel, but seeing such an amazing city at night was totally worth it to be a little tired (especially with a cruisy train trip the next day).
And then we were on a train to Post Tour proper. I quickly came to appreciate how small and manageable the NZ contingent was (vs the hundreds of Aussies with us), and how self sufficient every kiwi was. We had a brief stopover in Bern, where we wandered through another gorgeous old town to see the bear pits, before carrying on to Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC).
Tired and/or hungover Rovers waiting for the train
Bern. Tram lines and narrow alleys make my heart flutter
And fountains, fountains all over the place.
I really like taking photos of people taking photos…
These dogs were all over the place in Bern, all decorated differently
I don’t know these people, but they were blocking my shot so I figured I’d make the most of it.
I’d been to KISC once before, about 15 years ago when travelling with my family. My memories of the place aren’t particularly vivid, but I had this weird experience of seeing places and suddenly having the memories fill the gaps.
Once at KISC a lot of what was happening was photo worthy, so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the captions for this last part of Moot and Moot by-products.
Found a bit of peace near my campsite.
KISC looked super pretty at night too. On the last night the whole Chalet (building in the photo) was lit up.
We’d pre-selected our Post Tour activities, my first was a two day hike/workshop.
The first day we hiked up past this amazing lake (that’s one of the wikipedia “lake” photos)
And then up past “social media rock”
and up some more. There was a lot of up hiking. About 1000m vertical gain over 12km of walking.
And some really cool trails.
To get to this glacier (which had an amazing hut with food for sale and free wifi, which is a thing in all of Switzerland, next to it)
The view from the hut was alright.
Anyway, the reason we were there (on day one) was for a glacier rescue workshop.
Which was really cool, we roped up and hiked up the glacier to a crevasse. Then we took turns being lowered down and rescuing.
The view from in the crevasse was really cool. These photos don’t really do it justice.
I was super worried about dropping my phone, but managed to get one selfie that wasn’t terrible….
After the glacier workshop we headed back to the hut, where we caught this amazing sunset.
The next day the forecast went from amazing and sunny to a little bit really stormy, so we had an early start to get some ICE CLIMBING(!!) in.
It was really cool, and we got to try it a few times, with different levels of difficulty (aka one axe not two, different types of axe)
The great thing about the weather changing was this super vivid rainbow over the lake. That I didn’t quite get a good photo of in time.
But just trust me, it looked amazing. You really had to be there.
We made pretty good time on the walk down, though it swung from cold and raining to hot and sunny a few times.
The next day I was off to Interlaken for white water rafting, which was really cool (though a little short)
I didn’t fork out the heaps of money for the photos, so all I have is this shot of the post rafting beer.
And ofc a post rafting selfie.
In the arvo we went for a wander around Interlaken. The weather, which was meant to be terrible held out really well for us.
Then on the train trip back I had about half an hour in Spiez to go explore
I nearly missed the train to get these photos.
But you know. Pretty.
Switzerland has been really consistently beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, Norway and Iceland were amazing for the scenery, but Switzerland has a totally different feel with all the cool wooden buildings thrown into the mix.
The next few days almost all the activities were rained off, so there was a lot of hanging around KISC, and a Kiwi catch up night at one of our friend’s flats. (KISC staff are volunteers from all over the world, and one of my friends is one of those volunteers)
There was also a bit of wandering through town.
And around the campsite, to this kinda weird sculpture area.
And a decent amount of marvelling at how epic everything looks when surrounded by mist and mountains (or just mountains)
The last night at KISC was the International Campfire, everyone got together and put on skits and songs and generally had a pretty sweet time.
And then just like Moot, Post Tour was over. I was sticking around in Kandersteg for a few more days, but pretty much everyone else was heading off. We had a last (long) night, which may have included an elaborate plan to relocate a campfire. And then a very long morning of see-you-laters as people slowly packed up and left. It was less sad than Moot, what with everyone being Kiwis and Aussies so a bit more accessible, but it’s always hard to see everyone heading off in their own directions. Even if your direction is just more ridiculously amazing adventures. But more on that later.
Present/future Tom here: As you may’ve noticed it’s been a wee while since I’ve managed to get an update out. Internet on the Topdeck tour continued to be dodgy, and I’ve been super busy since then with Moot and Moot by-products. I’m now in Zurich (without my bag, but that’s a story for later) and still busy, but at least have half an hour to sit down with some internet and get a bit of photo uploading done. Now back to the past/present.
We left Norway and headed South into Finland, the second half of the trip had more concentrated driving days, without anywhere super exciting to stop. The focus was mostly on making progress towards Helsinki and Tallinn. There was still pretty scenery, but it wasn’t as ridiculously stunning as Norway. This, combined with long days on the coach, led to people getting a little stir crazy. Fortunately at every site we stayed there was a chance to sneak off and find somewhere peaceful.
The last couple days of the trip things got exciting again. Helsinki was an incredibly walkable city, and after a brief coach/walking tour we had plenty of time to wander around through the markets (where we spotted heaps of Aussies) and town. We even stumbled onto an exhibition all about and sex and identity. It sometimes almost always pays to wander down the cool looking alleyways.
For the evening in Helsinki the whole tour headed out to a bar. It was a nice reminder that I can enjoy clubbing under the right circumstances/with the right people, even when not drinking. Helsinki looked gorgeous at night, especially on the walk back as the sun was just starting to rise.
Our final day of the tour was over in Tallinn in Estonia. Just a short ferry from Helsinki then we were free to explore (or recover) before a walking tour into old town and dinner. Dinner was near the centre of old town, and included a swordfight as mid meal entertainment. Tallinn’s a lovely little city, and was an absolute highlight, especially as I had very few expectations going in.
After dinner it was on to bars and more clubbing, there was a really cool science themed bar that served all the drinks in test tubes and had interactive lights under the tables. and out tour leader got us into the VIP section at a club. Again the night was capped off with a wander through town back to the hostel.
And then all of a sudden it was over. It was an incredible two weeks, seeing some ridiculously good looking scenery in Norway, capped off with two gorgeous cities, all while hanging out with some of my favourite people and getting surprisingly close to new friends. Packing up and heading out from the hostel was a pretty emotional experience, especially as half the tour was carrying on still. But it was on to the next adventure in Iceland!
Fair warning, there’s one or two panoramas in the photos below… As always check out the captions for an update on what I’ve been up to (and maybe some info about the photos).
We’re now on day 9 of our Topdeck tour, our last full day in Norway, and boy has Norway put it on. My friend Caitlin has written a really good post here weighing up the merits of package tours vs DIY travel, and so far for me prepackaged has been ticking all the right boxes. I’m super glad to not have to think about the plan for each day, but more importantly to not have to drive. The scenery we’ve been passing through is absolutely incredible and my eyes have often been fixed out the windows.
Next up is Finland, and hopefully somewhere to actually upload this post…
The first two nights of our Topdeck tour were spent in Oslo at a campsite only a short walk away from this absolutely gorgeous lake.
After starting to get to know everyone on day 0 (we were joining a coach part way) the tour kicked off for us with a day in Oslo, first stop was a sculpture park that explored the human form.
There were a lot of really interesting sculptures…
Looking back at the park.
Looking back at the park.
Keeping on the ship theme we stopped at the Fram Polar museum, lots of info about the first Antarctic expeditions meant I ran out of time to read all the signs and see all the things =(
After lunch we were set loose to explore town, this was one (allegedly of several) mini public art setups highlighting how public space could be better used.
The inside of the Town Hall was fairly amazing, cool art all over the walls, including some surprisingly surrealist portraits of royalty #zombieking
There was a whole corridor displaying official gifts that had been given to either Oslo or Norway. Lots of fancy metal and glassware, and plaques and shields, and then these two little fullahs.
The Oslo opera house is possibly my favourite building I’ve seen. The roof is walk-able and open to the public at all hours, and the whole building is designed to look like an iceberg, with the people on it as penguins.
The view from the top of the opera house. There were a crazy amount of cranes in Oslo. with 10-15 of them outside the right of this shot.
Walking up to the Palace. Super stoked to be travelling with these two.
Day 2 we were on the move, this was a quick snack in Lillehammer on the way to…..
…the bobsled track!
It was summer, so no real bobsledding, instead we got to go wheel-bobbing. Just over a minute to get down the track pulling up to 3.5gs!
Our bus is pretty photogenic. Maybe Topdeck will start paying me to take photos for them.
This was a cute little church we stopped at. We didn’t go inside but the grounds were adorable. Pretty good view too.
This was our campsite near Trollstigen (Troll’s Pass). There’s a bunch of reasons for the grass on the roofs (super common in Norway) including insulation and sound proofing, but my favourite is that it helps increase happiness in the population because it looks cool.
We had a couple nights in Trollstigen, with a day trip out to see the iconic road and Geirangerfjord. The weather wasn’t particularly playing ball (this became a bit of a thing in Norway).
Fog rolled in pretty soon after we got there. So instead of view photos, I got some nice not a view photos.
There was a stupid amount of pretty to look at. The coach shifted between shocked silence and oohing and aaahing, pretty much no-one knew where to look. Photos really don’t do it justice.
But I’m going to post them anyway. Looking down at Geirangerfjord.
Absolutely gorgeous (scenery).
Pretty much couldn’t stop grinning for the main ferry ride. So much pretty to look at. Waterfalls and mountains all over the place. And the low cloud sitting on the hills just added to the atmosphere.
There were a lot of comments being made on the similarity to NZ, I think the biggest difference is how steep the hills are and the solid rock they’re often made of.
There’s a casual massive waterfall running through this tiny town.
More water and rocks.
Definitely helps to be travelling with other people who are just as excited to be in freaking Norway!
Can I have a Topdeck job now please?
Campsite had a fire bucket. We couldn’t not.
This is Jeff Plank.
Which day are we on? This was a free library in Trondheim.
Just across the road from a little bar, that had blankets for the outside seats. Which we needed when it suddenly started pouring #goodtimeforabeer
Most the places we went in Norway had different manhole covers. I’m pretty sure this one in Trondheim is the only one I remembered to take a photo of.
Stumbled across a photoshoot in Hell.
View from one of the campsites we were staying at. The owner forced us all to play petanque for two hours in the rain. 1/5.
Ancient carvings. This was by far the clearest of the four we “saw”.
If you look just to the right of the left-hand water, below the main crack, and squint you might see a bear…
Found a couple cool forest trails on the way back.
It’s pretty great travelling with this dork.
Caught a boat out to see a glacier. The scenery on the way was incredible. As was par for the course in Norway, lots of water and rocks and mountains.
Pretty great travelling with this dork too.
I strayed a wee bit from the track on the way up to the glacier. I kept seeing hills and wanting to know what the view was like from on them.
The climb was always worth it.
Some of the others from our Topdeck group.
Slightly sad to see the 1976 marker for the glacier edge.
This was more of a mountain than a hill climb. 100% worth.
Coming down was way harder than going up. Lots of water around so it was pretty slippery.
Low cloud is still just adding to the mood.
One of our group had an injury on the way out, so Caitlin and I stuck around to help her out.
The boat did not wait for us… fortunately there was another one not too much later (and our amazing friends left us chocolate and a note).
The weather started having the odd clear moment. This is midnight at one of our campsites #midnightsun
Another photo with water in it. In my defence there’s a lot of it in Norway.
The view everyone was looking at. Can you blame us…
Went the Polar Park, saw lots of animals. Didn’t take many photos but saw this wolf just chilling as I was about to leave.
We heard there’s usually a really good view from here.
On the way to Nordkapp, the northern most point in Europe to see the midnight sun. Cairns were all over the place at a lot of the tourist spots.
Almost the midnight sun. We were super worried about the weather on the drive up, but it turned out amazing.
About to watch the panorama film for Nordkapp.
Which showed people sitting on top of the globe. And there were no signs saying not to so I had to give it a shot. We later ended up with about 15 people in the globe.
The midnight sun.
This was such an intense and spiritual experience. Partially the lack of sleep, partially the amazing people I was with, partially the Valhalla we’d found at the bottle shop, and partially the absolutely incredible surroundings.
Had to take some slightly posed photos too.
And then some very posed photos #majesticasfuck
Damn. That photography skill.
To cap off an amazing night, we stopped and saw reindeer up close and personal on the way back to site. Nordkapp is definitely going to stick with me.
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)
I missed my connection in Oslo, which was a little bit stressful having not slept for about 24 hours. But after sorting out another flight and a hotel and sleeping for about 12 hours I went for a wander, and found this lovely lake.
See, isn’t it pretty.
At the lake was a bunch of body weight exercise setups. I tried out all of them ofc.
After checking out I managed to get onto an earlier flight that was supposed to be fully booked. This was the sky leaving Oslo…
…and this was the sky coming in to Bodø.
This is the main stage area at Nord. Norwegians are super into their pioneering (aka building stuff out of poles and ropes). This is not a great example of that, but still looks pretty cool.
This is also not a great example of pioneering. It fell over multiple times and nearly broken someone.
This is slightly better pioneering, hopefully I remember to take photos of the really impressive ones.
Streetsweeping the driveway during a camp with 9000 people is a little bit of an exercise in futility.
Yesterday/today we went for our Rover Hike “totally mild”.
There was a lot of pretty things on the way, like this.
And I guess this lot
I think I took about 100 photos of various views along the way. Lots of mountains in the distance that don’t show up too well on camera.
We had to climb up the steep hill on the left. We assumed this was the “totally” part of “totally mild”
This is the view from where we camped.
More camping shots
And an artsy shot of the sign marking the site
It was fricking cold, so we all squeezed into one tent for dinner.
And more camping shots. Such a cool place to overnight.
More pretty views.
The last/first bit of the hike was pretty exposed, but the first/last bit was a lovely shelterred valley. And the rain even decided to go away.
Fuck we’re gorgeous.
More blue sky, pretty much the first I’d seen since getting here
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
“The plan then, is to have a decent amount of empty space in my 60L pack.” – A younger and naiver me.
I am officially packed and ready to go! Clifford (my big red van) is loaded up. My two rooms (#justleakyroofthings) are emptied and vacuumed. Flatmates have been farewelled and food mostly polished off. Now I’ve just got to pass the time until there’s any point whatsoever in even thinking about heading to the airport.
My bag weighed in at 23kg exactly. I’ve got a 20kg limit for some of the later flights, but I’m taking a 2kg laptop to Vancouver (first stop) for a friend, so I’ve only got to find a kilo somewhere, and absolute worst case I can devour some of the 1.2kgs of pineapple lumps I’ve packed. I eventually decided to take my scout blanket with me. I’m not super worried about the hassle of carrying it, but there’s no way it fits in my baggage allowance unless you count it as clothing (I totally do). I’m pretty much just hoping airlines don’t care too much about carry on as long as it looks vaguely reasonable.
Packing everything I’m not taking into Clifford was a bit less of an issue, I’d already dropped my desk and chair at work, which took me from probably being able to fit to having plenty of space.
It’s now less than a week until I head off on my adventure. I’ve stopped sleeping quite as well as I used to. That’s totally normal right?
I keep needing to check dates and getting frustrated I don’t have my itinerary in one place (I mostly blame this on travelling with multiple groups of people) so I’ve decided that right here is the perfect place to store that info in a nice simplified form. As an added bonus it means that you, yes you dear reader, can see where I’m going to be and, if you’re going to be in the same place, you can (and should) fire me a message so we can catch up.
The last month has seen some world politics driven changes and I’m now down to nine countries over three months. Hopefully that’s the last changes that’ll need to be made and the plan below will mostly reflect reality. Hopefully…
Anyway, here’s the abbreviated list of where Tom is going to be and when. If our paths are crossing let me know.
June 27: Pack, move out of flat and then LEAVE NZ! 27-30: Vancouver, Canada July 1-8: Bodø, Norway. At Nord, the Norwegian Jamboree
9-23: Topdeck tour from Oslo. Up through Norway and down through Finland to Tallinn, Estonia
23-4: Reykjavik, Iceland. Mostly spent at World Moot August
4-5: Zurich, Switzerland. With Aussie Post Tour
6-18: Kandersteg, Switzerland. With the Aussie post tour then potentially heading off exploring other places before flying out of Geneva
18-21: Skipton, England
21-27: Athens, Greece
27-1: New York and Washington D.C, USA. Couple days in each most likely September 1-2: Edmonton, Canada
3-9: Road trip from Calgary to Vancouver via Drumheller, Jasper and Banff
10-11: Seattle, USA
11-23: Road trip from San Francisco to LA via Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Phoenix
25: Home? Find a new place to live…