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!
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.