Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Last Week in London

AHHH it's been so long since my last post, but I have been incredibly busy with the start of my final school year!

The last two weeks of my exchange consisted of one last week at the efterskole, and one week with the other 15 SISEP Scouts in the spectacular city of London.

My final week at the efterskole went by like a breeze, with school, friends, walking at 6am, etc. and when Friday came i couldn't believe it was my last day there.
On my final day at the school we awoke to a blanket of snow covering the ground, and it was still snowing. It snowed quite heavily for the rest of the day, ceasing for about two hours before I caught the bus all the way back to Copenhagen, just enough time to have a snowball fight! And then take a huge group photo.
And that was that, we headed off back to Copenhagen with just a few minutes after saying our final goodbyes to our teachers and friends.

My final day with my host family was spent in the tourist town of Malmö, Sweden. We arrived around midday, and spent the afternoon walking down the main street exploring the shops, and of course the tourist shops seemed to stock an absurd amount of moose memorabilia (I'm not complaining though, they are my favourite animal).
We then headed back to Copenhagen for a lovely dinner out in the city.

That was the end of my exchange in Denmark and just 12 hours later we would be in London.

When we arrived at Heathrow airport we were met by two scouts and two leaders who took us on our first trip on the underground. We sat on the train for about an hour or so before getting off at Gloucester Road Station and heading up to Baden-Powell House, our home for the next five days.
We were met there by our leader Matt and we all sat down for a meeting before heading out for an Italian dinner, and a frozen yoghurt for desert.

Today was our first proper day in London, and it was pretty awesome. We started the day bright and early, heading off to Churchill's war rooms, which provided a very interesting look into England's history.
We then went for a walk, attempting to get onto Downing Street, and looking at Buckingham Palace from afar, before heading over to Big Ben to take a tour of Parliament House. The tour was very interesting and great to have the opportunity to view some of the magnificent rooms that most members of the public would never have the opportunity to see.
We then split into smaller groups and went in our own directions exploring London. I even got to meet YouTube star Alex Day on the subway, which was extremely exciting ( I then vowed that I would meet someone famous every day, however that plan didn't quite work out).
We then headed to Piccadilly Circus, Oxford and Bond Street to do a bit of shopping. Our first stop was naturally the four floored chocolate filled haven of the M'n'M shop - complete with giant statues and walls filled with M'n'Ms sorted by colour and flavour. It was then time to head into the amazing toy shop Hamleys.
Next we explored the extremely long streets of Oxford and Bond, before sitting down to enjoy a nice warm hot chocolate.
After meeting up with everyone we headed to Nandos for dinner, and after deciding we were all far too tired for ice skating, headed back to the hostel for a onesie party, and lots of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Our first stop for today was The Crystal, and innovation centre for maintaining a sustainable future. It was extremely interesting to see the effects that we are currently having on our environment, and what we can do to change that.
We then walked over to the Emirates airline cable cars, that took us over the Thames River. The views were spectacular and we even got to see the sun!!! It was definitely the perfect day for a trip in the cable car.
Next stop was a quick look around the O2, before heading to Green Market for lunch, and eating the best pie I have ever tasted, complete with mash and gravy.
Our afternoon was spent at a couple of the cliche tourist locations, the Tower Bridge and Crown Jewels, which were of course spectacular. And the Tower Bridge was absolutely magnificent, though sadly we didn't get to see it open up but of course got a lot of awesome photos. Though we weren't allowed to take any of the Crown Jewels.
For our evening activity we split up into three groups, one heading to a comedy show, another to Wicked the musical, and finally my group heading to the theatre production of Les Mes.
And it was so worth it. The production was spectacular for the use of stage to costumes to actors to props, I couldn't believe we got to see it.
The show finished rather late so we headed straight back to the hostel to get as much sleep before our early morning start the next day.

Today was definitely our earliest of mornings, yet my favourite activity, as we had to get all the way by bus and train to the Harry Potter exhibition by 10 in the morning. When we arrived I could hardly contain my excitement. We were greeted by three of the magical chess pieces at the entrance, and when we got inside we were met by Harry's cupboard under the stairs.
Throughout the entire tour I was filled with awe and excitement, I mean these were the actual props and sets!
When we got to the outdoor section we even got to try butterbeer, which was delicious, and of course had a photo moment outside Privet Drive, and with the Weasley's flying car. When we had almost reached the end of the tour we were met by the most spectacular of sights, a massive model of Hogwarts castle and grounds, that was most certainly the most spectacular part of the tour! And then it was time to say goodbye to the magical world of Harry Potter and head back into London.
For our afternoon activity we once again split up into smaller groups to head off in our separate ways. We decided to head over to the Sherlock Holmes museum in Baker Street. When we arrived in Baker Street our eyes were met by an array of Sherlock themed cafes lining Baker Street before the amazing sight of 221B Baker Street.
The entire apartment was set up like the books suggested, and the rooms were filled with wax figures, and props replicating Sherlock and Johns' adventures.
And I even got to sit on Sherlocks toilet (not in weird way... See the photos).
After the Sherlock museum we met up with everyone else and headed out to Chinese for dinner before our Jack the Ripper tour.
Now you may be thinking, that's a strange tour to go on, but it was absolutely amazing, we got to see a whole other part of London that we never would have seen, and it was a great history lesson on London that promised the excitement of a murderous tale.

On Thursday our morning began with a walk up the 311 steps of monument, that provided a wondrous 360 degree view of London city (we could even see where the helicopter had recently crashed). The sights were breathtaking in the early morning mist.
Next stop was Floor 6, the top floor of a shopping complex right in front of St Paul's Cathedral. We were so close to the cathedral itself that we could really take in the true beauty of the building. This proved a great place for a lot of group photo moments before we headed off on our street art tour.
The street art tour followed a similar route to the Jack the Ripper tour through East London. The tour was excellent and we got to learn about London while exploring the ever changing culture. My favourites were the amazing work from street artists such as Banksy, Stik, and Invader.
We then once again split up into groups, three of us decided we wanted to head over to the Doctor Who store in one of the more outer parts of London.
The store was one of the most spectacular places I had ever been (for a Doctor Who fan such as myself) and the museum was just as spectacular, they even had one of the original props from Torchwood, which they let me touch... And they had an old counter top that had been signed by some of the cast and crew of the Doctor Who series.
After we finally got back from our expedition we headed to Greenwich for dinner, and to have a look around. We walked under the Thames, and headed up the massive hill and over to a park to attempt to take some photos with London City behind us - which failed immensley.
That evening we headed out to dinner before heading to a comedy club, which was a lot fun. That was the end of our activities in London - a very jam packed 3 days. We then headed back to Baden-Powell House to spend a very late night/ early morning packing for the trip home the following day.

After waking early we finished packing our bags and cleaning our rooms, putting our bags in the storage room, and just getting ready to leave. The whole morning was spent doing this before we split up and headed out into London for any final sight seeing we wanted to fit in.
As we were right across the road from the natural history museum we decided to take a stroll past and take a look at the shops on the street. It had also decided to snow for the first time this season in London, which made for a very picturesque scene. We found ourselves at Harrods, however after looking around for a bit, we decided that our ski jackets weren't quite the appropriate attire and headed to take a last look around the shops.
We then met up with the rest of the group outside the hostel to take the traditional photo of attempting to fit everyone in the two phone boxes. Being the largest SISEP group yet with 16 of us we did struggle, however we were rather successful in our endeavour as the photo shows
And that was it, our week in London was coming to a close as we grabbed our things, and said our goodbyes to the brave Matt who had looked after us for the past 5 days, and headed off to the airport.
While we were traveling to the airport the snow picked up, and the threat of a snow storm loomed over our heads luckily though we arrived at the airport safely and after a 2 hour delay boarded our plane, to then have to wait another hour while they cleared the snow off the runway before we took off, Singapore bound.

Nearly 14 hours later we reached Singapore airport, and prepared to say our final goodbyes to our 15 new scout friends before finally making the final flight home.
At the airport we were met by family's, and of course Scott, our coordinator, and after a long two days of traveling we were ready for a nice long rest.

Thankyou so much to everyone who made my exchange possible, fellow Venturers, leaders, parents, friends, family, my host family, and host school, and of courses the amazing Queensland coordinators.
And also a big thank you to everyone who has read my blog!

The Photo Gallery
(Sorry the photos are not imbedded in my millions of words of text, but I am posting from my iPad and it won't let me, but they are all in order)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Vikings and bookshops

So the final week of the Christmas holdays went very fast, and was full of adventure.

Our first outing of the week was into the city to visit the Rundetaarn (round tower) and the stunning art gallery.
We started the day rather late, walking down multiple side streets searching for the tower. We even managed to find an amazing bookshop and a delicious bakery on the way.

Looking down one of the brightly coloured side streets.  

The amazing sci-fi book shop we found. 

mmm. Cinnamon rolls from the bakery. 

Then we saw Rundetaarn (the round tower) towering above the rest of the city buildings. We joined the queue to get in, and began our ascent up the steep path to the observatory.
The tower was built in the 1600's by King Christian IV. It was originally built as an observatory, and is one of the oldest in the world.
Instead of a staircase the path to the top consists of one long ramp. This was made so that the king would not have to walk up, but be driven by a horse drawn carriage.

The tower from the outside. 

The view from inside. (note the ramp)

The view from about half way up. 

Carvings on the windows date back into the 1800s (this one is from the year 1900)

The view from the top of the ramp. 

When we reached the end of the ramp, we took a small flight of stairs up to the observatory. When we reached the top we were met by a beautiful sight. The sun was slowly setting over the horizon and an orange light danced across the city. 
The view form the top of the round tower was spectacular, we could see the whole city form up there, and it made for some great photo moments! 

The sun silhouetting the city. 

The city view from the observatory. 

The city view from the observatory. 

Me with the city of Copenhagen the background. 

On the Friday evening Nina and myself were invited to attend a Scout meeting at my fellow Queensland SISEP Venturer Zoe's scout group. It was great to be invited to a Scout meeting, as i have not attended one (other than the camp). Since we are at a scout school, we do all of our scouting activities at the school, and do not visit a unit once a week for meetings.

When we arrived I was very pleased to see that quite a few of the SISEP Venturers on exchange in Denmark were there. 
We had a very interesting night. When we arrived we were informed that we would be having crocodile for dinner, thats right crocodile. I am in no way joking! 
It was rather amusing as not one of the Australian scouts had ever eaten crocodile, and of course the Danish scouts had not. 

The first challenge was how to cook it. 
We prepared the crocodile two ways. Both of course over the open fire. We deep fried some smaller pieces of the crocodile, and also cooked some larger pieces in a sauce. 
I was definitely hesitant about trying it, however both Zoe and I attempted it, and it was quite nice... Until we thought about what we were eating. Lets just say we left the crocodile alone after that!

After fulling up on crocodile and tortillas, we all sat around the campfire singing campfire songs, and before we knew it, it was time to go home.

Cooking crocodile meat.

On the morning before we headed back to school (we returned on Sunday evening) we decided to take a trip to the viking ship museum in Roskilde.
The museum was created when five viking ships were found at Skuldel. It was originally opened in 1960 to showcase the five ships, however now a boatyard and activity centre can also be found. The museum also hosts smaller more temporary exhibits.

Viking war ship. 

The Viking Runes.

Viking ship. 

Viking ship.

Doning the Viking attire. 

A Viking ship.

So once again I must leave you for the life of the scout after school, so until next time...