Wednesday, December 8, 2010

As the end draws nearer..

Just a brief update of what I've been doing lately, turning 19, school, playing in the snow, building snowmen, walking outside in -22, buying more 'Swedish' clothing, fika, taking photos, going to see Harry Potter, visiting exchange students (on both coasts), checking out Liseberg at Christmas, going to Trollhättan, going to an ice hockey game, continuing to improve with my Swedish, and my final Rotary presentation about my year... And getting philosophical about my year!

Time keeps passing in the blink of an eye, I don't know how all of a sudden, there's one month left. Departure date keeps drawing nearer and nearer and while I'm definitely excited to get home and see everyone again, the reality of it is, I will no longer be an exchange student. I will have been an exchange student. No longer in a foreign place becoming home, a strange language becoming familiar, a group of people in the same boat from all of over the place becoming best friends.. The year of an exchange student is incredible, everything is an adventure, as soon as you think that everything is normal, there's another trip, another weekend, another day at school, realizing that you are in fact 17000km away from home, and that this is still all NEW.
All of the adventures from this year have been amazing, and all though the year is almost over, I hope the adventures don't end, I think my year as an exchange student has begun to prepare me for life, university next year, and everything else that's going to come afterwards.

The thing I think I'm going to miss about this country is how incredibly beautiful it is! Especially with all of the snow.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

District conference and other stuff.

Life here is really settled, I've got a routine with mostly school, gym, Swedish lessons, fika and movies. It's pretty good really. With my final quarterly report done and dusted for Rotary in New Zealand, and the date for my final presentation for Rotary here in Sweden it's really hitting me how soon my departure date is which is incredibly scary. Don't get me wrong, it will be great to see everyone again, but this home and family feels like mine, it's getting harder and harder to remember what it's like living at home.

So amongst the normality of my Swedish life there are the Rotary weekends! This past weekend was the District Conference for district 2410 which has some of Sweden and also includes Latvia. We got to go down to Öland bright and early on Saturday morning to the hotel where the conference was held. After dropping our stuff off the exchange students headed off for our first activity, GOLF. We were all thinking, what the heck are Rotary doing making us go play golf! But after an hour or so of hitting some balls on the driving range and a bit of putting I think we all had a great time. Then was back to the hotel to organize our presentation for the rotarians later in the afternoon; which after a bit of stressing actually went really well. Some of the boys started out by singing a Swedish song, followed by a skit showing our expectations of Sweden including, tall blonde people who party all the time. Then we showed a bit of what school is like, with people walking in late, eating, txting, leaving when they want and casually a bit of music too. We also did one of the midsommar dances. I think the rotarians were pretty impressed and certainly got a laugh out of it. Then was back to our accomodation (some cabins at a campground whilst the rotarians got a hotel!) to get ready for the dinner. So with us all donning our blazers we headed back to the hotel for the formal dinner for the weekend.

At the medieval chapel on Öland
After a long night we got taken back to the hotel at around 10am and our choices of activities were either swimming at the hotel, or just sitting and chatting. But one of the girls, Mariah knew someone who wanted to go and explore a little bit so myself, Mariah (from Canada) and Ally (from USA) headed off to see some of the tourist spots on Öland. Including, a ruin from a Medieval chapel from the 12th century, an old village, and the royals old palace. So we adventured for a few hours before getting lunch at the hotel with everyone, and then it was back to Linköping after yet another great rotary weekend.

Some one notable event since the District Conference have been that at school for the week before Halloween we had people dressing up, scaring people, giving out candy, costume competition, just to name a little bit. So for a country that doesn't really do anything for Halloween (e.g. no trick-or-treating) it was pretty cool!

Leaving Göteborg
Church in Aalborg
So the past week has been Höst Lov (Autumn Holiday), so my host mum decided to take me and my host brother down to Aalborg, Denmark for a few days to see her mum, and her sister, amongst other things. After almost not being able to go after having managed to catch the fever that my little host niece and nephew had we headed to Göteborg to catch the ferry to Fredrikshavn on Monday. Tuesday I spent chilling in town with my host brother Nikolaj and then we met up with his friend Søren who was on exchange with Nikolaj in Mexico and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with him. Wednesday was relaxed, did a bit of shopping, and then had dinner with my host mums sister and her husband which was really nice! Then we just came back today. 

It's crazy to think that it's now November, so I unbelievably have two months left here in Sweden. Which I'm definitely going to make the most of, and hopefully it's going to start snowing soon so I can enjoy that as much as I can before heading back into Summer in NZ :P

Well that's it from an almost nineteen year old (?!)
Love Alex.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

a necessary update.

I really would like to know why the closer you are to something time seems to pass by faster and faster? And also, please tell me how it's October already?

So going back to just over 3 weeks ago, I was packing to go on a holiday, not just any holiday, I was going to meet my parents at Stockholm airport. That was probably the strangest feeling I've had in a long time! Amongst the excitement is the anxiety of seeing some people that you love, but haven't seen in person for around 8 months. After my most anxious train ride of the year so far, I picked up my exhausted parents from the airport and was finally able to impress people of my knowledge of how stuff works in Sweden!
Our trip was a hectic two weeks of seeing the sites of Scandinavia, visiting our old exchange students we've hosted and family in London, but really fun! We started in Stockholm for 3 days, seeing Gamla Stan, the Vasa Museum, Skansen, doing a boat tour and we managed to fit in a little bit of shopping of course.
Then we flew over to Finland for dinner to visit Anu who lived with us in 2007 when she was in NZ on exchange, to see a little bit of her town Tampere and to have dinner with her and her mum.
Next up was my town (Linköping) for 3 days to show the parents where I've been living so far this year! I took them to Gamla Linköping, the Cathedral, Tannfors Slussar, my school, and pretty much tried to show them as much of what life is like here as I could. We also had dinner with my current and previous host families.
Then was down to Copenhagen for 2 days to see some more of the Scandinavian sites including another boat tour, climbing up the tower in the town hall, and just in general walking the streets.
Next up on our trip was Brussels to visit Lucie our exchange student from 2006. We looked around the centre of town, seeing the town hall (and the rest of the main square), the old stock exchange building, the cathedral and of course, Manneken Pis. Not to mention eating a nice lunch with traditional food and the best food they have to offer; WAFFLES.
Lastly came London to visit my cousin Michelle and her family. In our 3 days we managed to include trips to St. Pauls, the Museum of London, the London Eye, visiting some of Mum's old work colleagues, and a 3 year old's birthday party!
Sadly my two weeks with Mum and Dad had to leave, saying goodbye at Heathrow with them flying off to Canada and then me heading back 'home' to Sweden.

Me and Crystal at the zoo
A week later and it was time to finally meet all the newbies! We had an exchange students weekend in Norrköping to get to know each other and plan our performance/presentation for the district conference at the end of the month. Not only did we do that but we got to go to Kolmården (the zoo!) and to the visualization centre which basically has a massive dome theatre and we got to watch this 3D film about 'sea monsters' from before the Jurassic period, which although sounds lame, was actually pretty cool. It was great to meet up with all the new exchange students in my district and am definitely looking forward to hanging out with them some more over the next few months.

Much love from Sweden,
Alex <3

Monday, September 6, 2010

more time passes

I feel like time is flying now. Every week or so I take a look back and go, what the heck, it feels like I arrived here only a month or so ago (except the language skills haha), but it's been 7 and a half months. I'm now trying to get my head around the fact that in 5 days time I will getting on a train to Arlanda airport in Stockholm to pick up my parents to spend 2 weeks together. At the beginning of the year when I was thinking, wow it's going to be ages until my parents come, I didn't realise how incredibly quick time would pass.

With school having started again, I'm now into a regular pattern again, with school, the gym, homework, struggling my way through the Swedish language and a good amount of movie watching with my host family. For my individual choice subject at school I get to do fashion, so it's great having a super chilled class on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons!

Me and Mona my old host mum, cray-fishing
Last Friday after school my old host family took myself, David, Maud, Theresa and Theresa's friend Kajsa out to a lake north of Norrköping to do some cray-fishing! The evening was so much fun. Once we got out there, we had a snack, then went out in the boats to drop the cages. After a casual exploration of a random island, we headed back to have some hanburgers and just chill until it got dark enough for us to go out and pick up the cages again. We managed to get about 90-100 all up, but the crayfish aren't what you think, they are only about 10cm long max, so they're super small. But so good!
Saturday was super chilled, and I hung out with David and Maud. We went to Inception, which was incredibly good! Anyone who hasn't seen it yet totally needs to go and see it.

So this week it's back to school before heading off on a 2 week holiday with mum and dad. And really, I'm insanely excited for their visit! Not only to see them, but we're visiting our old exchange students Anu and Lucie and then my cousin Michelle and her family in London! So I'm definitely getting around some more of Europe. Really looking forward to it, and hopefully being able to show off some Swedish skills ;)

Lots of love,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

school times again.

Erik Grönwall, Swedish Idol
winner from 2009
After just over two months of Summer holidays, it was time to head back to school. And really, I was pretty excited! Time to see everyone again, get re immersed in the language and all that jazz. The first week back was really chilled, only a few classes and mostly we got to take part in 'Nollning'. Having the privilege of being the oldest kids at school my class along with all the other 3rd grade classes got given a 1st grade class to help 'introduce' into the school life. And may I say, I really wish NZ had as awesome school traditions as Sweden has! With this class we got to make them play games, do stupid stuff and pretty much control them for the first week. This included taping them into pairs for a day, making them get on the ground whenever we blew a whistle, and run up and down 4 flights of stairs shouting. All of the classes had a tabloid sports type competition on the Wednesday and then a song competition on Friday, my class of nollers came third overall which was pretty sweet really! 

On Friday Tash arrived from Gällivare to spend the weekend with me. Friday was the RixFm festival in my town. So we got to see a whole lot of pretty good Swedish musicians for free in one of the gardens in town. These musicians included my favourite Manboy singer ;) and the 2009 Swedish idol winner. It was a really sweet night chilling, listening to good music, and taking some sweet photos! 
The rest of the weekend was just spent chilling and catching up, and also myself bailing off my bike whilst biking into town on the Saturday leaving my self crippled for the week ;) 

After saying goodbye to Tash on Sunday I picked up the train tickets for my parents visit in two weeks! Pretty excited really, not only to see them, but to go travelling again, and also catch up with two exchange students that we've had staying with us at home and then my cousin and her family. 

The next Monday I actually started back at school, with all of my classes etc. This semester I have really sweet classes, a good timetable and good teachers. And as the week went on I kinda discovered that my Swedish has really improved over Summer. I can keep up with most of my classes, and even do the work! Haha. Kinda think it may be useful to get up a decent work habit for university next year. 
Wednesday I met the two newbies in my town, Theresa and Maud, from Germany and then France. It's fun having two new exchange students, taking the tally of students in Linköping up to 4! Pretty sweet really. Me and David (my fellow oldie, although he is younger than the other two!) took them out for fika, make sure they get introduced into the Swedish tradition well and truly early on in the year ;) 

Me and Kiara, Euro tour.
(I've totally got no recent
photos of me for you)

I've been able to enjoy some more nice weather again today, and some shopping in town, and I'm realising I'm turning more and more Swedish every day with the clothing choices. Haha. Oh well, it's enjoyable, and to be honest, they have pretty sweet styles.

Well, that's the beginning of school over, two more weeks of exchange down and written onto this blog of mine. Only 19 weeks left of Scandinavian air. Now that's weird. 

Love, Alex. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

and so the summer continued..

After an insane 17 days on Euro tour it was time to head back to Linköping and enjoy the rest of the Swedish summer. The day I got back Evan had his leaving party that night, so despite being ridiculously tired I went to that and then went home for an insanely awesome nights sleep. Then we headed out to the summer house for the week to enjoy the nice weather while it lasted.
Unfortunately, it didn't last too long so within a week I was back home and had the insane mission of packing up all of my stuff for the final move! So just over a week after being back in Sweden after the best experience of my life, I was off to begin another one with my final host family for the last 6 or so months of my exchange. And just in case you were thinking that all of my stuff may have decreased significantly in the last 3 and a half months since the last months, you certainly don't know me well enough! Haha, at this rate I'm going to be struggling to get back home! But I'm sure I will deal with that problem when I have too ;) 

The weather has been fairly crap since I've moved, but I've managed to do a lot of chilling, reading, watching movies and the occasional work on my Swedish. The rest of my holidays have included missions out to IKEA with my host sister and her two young kids (secretly, IKEA is one of my favourite places in Sweden, and probably one of the things I'm going to miss when I get home :P). Going to a Lars Winnerbäck concert with my host parents. He's a Swedish musician who actually comes from my town, he's really good (: And then on Saturday along with almost the whole of my host family (all 9 of them :O including the two kids), we went on a 60km bike ride along the Göta Canal to a town called Borensberg. 

I tend to spend my time entertaining myself with the 1 year old boy and 3 year old girl that are living at the house at the moment, my host sisters kids. Finding myself often jumping on the trampoline, playing Barbie, watching Pippy Longstockings or Disney movies and making Barbie castles. It's definitely a good way to keep entertained! Hahah. 

Enjoying taking ridiculous photo's with Isabella my 3 year old host niece
Well, school's starting again next Monday after having just had 2 months of Summer holidays. I'm looking forward to the first week back, known to the Swede's as Nollning or orientation. Where each 3rd grade class get's a 1st grade class to kinda introduce to the school, play various pranks on, and all that sorta stuff! And then actually getting back into school for the second half of my year, maybe I will do some work this half of the year ;) Or maybe not. 


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

EURO TOUR!! this may just be the longest blog ever ;)

1st July 2010 Malmö to Berlin
Alex D and I on the ferry
So the first day of Euro tour. 68 exchange students, from 9 different countries, along with 4 Rotary chaperones, 1 tour guide and 1 awesome bus driver set off from Malmö, headed for Berlin, Germany. We spent 9 hours in the bus; were in 3 different countries and there was a heck load of talking, if not shouting, going on.  We were in the bus from Malmö to a small port in Denmark where we caught the ferry across to Germany, and then from there to Berlin.  Apart from the general excitement of the first day of a 17 day Euro tour, there wasn’t much else that happened, except of course, being pulled over by German police just as we were heading into Berlin. After half an hour of sitting in the top level of the bus, looking down at the creepy cops, one of which was sitting in his van, behind curtains and randomly staring at us, until he noticed that we saw him too. Casual. Hahah. Eventually we got to our first accommodation for the tour, the Amstel Hostel. A pretty sweet youth hostel. But really, didn’t get me to have my hopes up for the rest of the tour if we were going to be staying in places like that the whole time!  On the way to dinner we checked out some of the sights that Berlin had to offer, the parliament building, holocaust memorial, the TV tower and more. That night we went to a small restaurant close to the TV tower and ate a traditional German dinner, with Bratwurst and sauerkraut followed by some apple strudel for dessert. After dinner we just chilled at the hostel for the end of our first day of Euro tour.

2nd July 2010 Berlin
After signing the Berlin Wall
Time to be tourists. Our day started with a bus tour stopping off at famous points around the city. We started off visiting Checkpoint Charlie; the best known crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin at the time of the Berlin Wall. After time to check out all the information around the checkpoint we hopped back on the bus and headed onto our next stop; the Berlin Wall. It was amazing. The artwork that they’ve got there is fantastic, and it was so weird thinking that although not so much of it remains, this actually went through the whole of Berlin, separating it into East and West.  We got time to check out the wall, and then of course, sign it! Hahah. So for the time being, my name’s on the Berlin Wall. After this we then headed to a museum and memorial site for those who died trying to cross the wall. Then, we got driven into the centre of town and then told that we had to be back at the hostel for dinner at 7pm. SWEET. Free time in Berlin. First thing, we did, lunch! And us being us, headed to KFC, for the first time in almost 6 months. Was pretty good, but not as good as it is at home! Hahah. A big group of us just stayed around the area they dropped us off in, checking out the local mall. Then we hit up an Irish pub to watch the soccer, Brazil vs Holland! Was a sweet game, watching with all the Brazilian exchange students, and with all the locals supporting Holland. Epic. After this we successfully navigated the German metro system back to the hostel. Then we had some dinner, schnitzel, haha, and then I chilled at the hostel to watch the Ghana vs Uruguay game. Berlin was ridiculously hot and humid, call for dehydration, not fun really! But all in all, a pretty nice city. 

3rd July 2010 

Berlin to Cracow
Kiara and I at dinner
So we had a ridiculously early wakeup call this morning, 6AM! Hating. But totally needed to get used to it, every travel day was 6AM. Not fun. So we headed off from Berlin, on a 600km journey to Cracow. The first half of the bus trip, nearly everyone spent sleeping. We stopped at a petrol station for some lunch, and man was it creepy. Haha. So many weird Polish truck drivers, giving us all dirty stares.  Once we were back on the road we got to watch Schindler’s List, it was really good to get a background on what we were going to see the next day in Cracow.  Once we got to our hotel, we got to chill for a bit before dinner. The hotel was SO NICE. Definitely my favourite of them all. We went into town for dinner at a Jewish restaurant, where we had a traditional meal accompanied by some traditional music. The music was kind of strange but also really good at the same time. Haha. We all had a relatively early night because the chaperones asked us to not go into town. 

4th July 2010 Cracow
The four Alex's near the castle
We spent the morning on a bus tour of Cracow, going through the different areas of the town.  Then we had a walking tour of the city as well, mainly focused on the old town, seeing the castle and things like that! We also got shown some of the areas where they shot Schindler’s List. The castle was one of the few things that didn’t get ruined by the German’s in World War 2 because they took control of it. The architecture around the castle was beautiful and amazing to see. The tour led us down from the castle towards the main town square, and the church. Here we got to see the bugle player, this was used as an alarm system for fires etc, now they have someone play the same tune on the hour every day, pretty much just for tourists. After that, we had free time for the middle of the day. Heather, Evan, Crystal and I went out exploring the city. Walking around the huge town square, finding another small castle, and then a HUGE shopping centre, with over 300 shops. It was so weird being back in a mall, after 6 months with a mall only having about 20 shops.  In this time we also got to discover how cheap Poland is! So ridiculous. Then we all met up again, and then went out to Auschwitz. This was probably one of the most interesting and emotional experiences I have ever had. It’s something that I’m glad I’ve done, but I don’t want to go back there.  After this we headed back to the hotel for dinner, and then had the evening to do what we pleased, a group of us just chilled in one of the rooms, listening to good old 90’s music and watching hilarious youtube videos. Another good day. 

5th July 2010 Cracow to Prague
Again with the 6AM wake up. No fun. It was sad to be leaving the nice hotel, but super exciting to be hitting up Prague. So much sleeping was done on the bus. We just chilled for the day in the bus, only stopping to get lunch at a small restaurant along the way. Once we arrived at the hotel, which was not only big, was insanely huge, with over 1000 rooms, we all got to chill and explore until dinner at the hotel. At dinner, there was some traditional Czech dancing, which was really good, and all of the dancers were under 15. We weren’t allowed out, so everyone just had a chill evening at the hotel, chatting and having a sweet time. 

6th July 2010 Prague
The kiwi's, Fuzz, Me, Stevie and Serena
In Prague we had a walking tour of the city, and we had a local tour guide who was really cute. Haha. She was young and super enthusiastic about things. At the beginning of the tour it was raining, and little did we know that this was just a little bit of what was to come later on. We started our tour at the old libraries and monastery, from here we could look out over the town. From here we walked down to the castle and the castle town, then through to the little town and old town. On our way we saw the large church which was beautiful. All of the architecture of Prague was amazing. It’s weird thinking that a lot of it was being built around the time that the Maori were first settling NZ. We saw the John Lennon Peace Wall which was made after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Another place for me to make my mark on (: We then passed a bridge, which newlywed couples put a lock on and throw away the key to symbolize their love. Just after this there was a wall, that had marks of the flooding in Prague, the most recent being 2002. Then we came to the Charles Bridge, the most famous bridge in Prague going over the Vltava River. Here was pretty much the end of our tour, not before we had time to check out the insane storm clouds coming towards us and keep walking as quickly as possible to find some cover. So yeah, whilst in Prague there was one insane thunder storm lasting about 20 minutes. We pretty much chilled under some cover waiting for the rain to ease off before getting taken to what would become our meeting place later on in the afternoon. So off we went to explore Prague for the rest of the afternoon. A group of us went off in search of the mall, and once found hunted out some lunch. That night we went out on a boat for dinner, so nice! The weather was beautiful, the food was good and the company even better, not to mention the excitement for the evening’s main event. So our chaperones being as awesome as they were, took us to the famous 5 story night club in Prague! And some of them even accompanied us for the night’s partying, which was pretty epic, and am pretty sure everyone had a mean night. 

7th July 2010 Prague to Zell Am See, via Salzburg

Sitting by the statue of Mozart in Salzburg
After what was a pretty big night, everyone was super quite on the bus ride, and slept for the first few hours. After a quick lunch stop at a restaurant for lunch we were back on the bus, and on the way to Salzburg, and the movie for this part of the journey, of course, the Sound of Music. Amazing. Hahah. Not to mention the fact that most people sung along. When we were about half way through the movie we arrived at our stop for the afternoon; the beautiful town of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and setting for the Sound of Music. So whilst in Salzburg, I saw Mozart’s birth house, got an amazing ice cream, and walked down by the Salzach River enjoying the amazing weather. After our quick stop here, we continued our drive down to Zell Am See, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Alps the entire way. After the bus ride we had a pretty enjoyable dinner at the hotel and then just relaxed for the evening, trying to prepare for the next day’s HIKE!

8th July 2010 Zell Am See
So, the day for the hike had arrived! The hike was a mission to say the least, but the breathtaking views and hilarity of filming people singing the Sound of Music certainly made it easier. We walked for around 6/7 hours, and got to approximately 1600m above sea level. The weather was amazing, super sunny, and nicely warm. It wasn’t until we got back down to the town that we realised just how warm it really was! So we all just walked straight down to the lake and jumped in. Super refreshing. Then we headed to the pool area beside the lake that we had free passes to from the hike guides. We chilled, and soaked up the sun, relaxing on the water trampoline until it was time to head back to the hotel for our dinner. After dinner a small group of us decided to head back down to the lake where we went for a night swim which was really nice! Then I headed back up to the hotel, knackered as anything, and decided that as it was pretty much half way through, it might be a good idea to try and sort out all of my stuff that I had managed to accumulate already!

9th July 2010 Zell Am See to Lido Di Jesolo
Walking down to the water. 
The beautiful scenery on the bus rides continued as we headed out of Austria and into Italy, ready to have a few days of relaxation on the beach. As we travelled we saw the thermometer on the bus slowly getting higher and higher.. So that when we stopped for lunch at a random petrol station it was 34 degrees! Slightly ridiculous.  Then we got back on the road and arrived at our destination around 3pm.. Perfect time for everyone to just get settled and head to the beach! It was amazing to finally get to swim at a sandy beach with warm water! Nearly everyone spent a couple of hours down at the beach before heading back to the hotel for dinner; which was only about a 2 minute walk from the beach! After a really good dinner, the chaperones told us our curfew, and usually we were dreading what they would say and hoped that it would be decent, but that night, they decided they would be super nice to us (: We totally had an 8am curfew! So with that the chaperones left us to do whatever we wanted for the evening, not to mention the entire next day and following morning. It was so good to have freedom. So the evening consisted of chilling on the beach, hitting up some clubs with nearly all of the exchange students, eating some amazing pizza at ridiculous times, having an evening swim, getting in way too late, but still on curfew, and some consuming way too much alcohol. So much fun in one evening!

10th July 2010 Lido Di Jesolo
Chill times at the beach. Totally what was needed. I finally got to have a sleep in as well, so good! So I spent the day mostly at the beach, occasionally coming back up to the hotel pool for a bit. For the evening a small group of us went to a pretty nice restaurant on the main street and of course, everyone ordered pizza. Then we headed down to the beach to watch the Germany vs. Uruguay soccer game, for 3rd place. The atmosphere was awesome, and the game was pretty entertaining too! Afterwards we went out onto one of the jetty’s and just had a pretty chill evening (:

11th July 2010 Lido Di Jesolo and Venice
Getting artsy in Venice
Enjoyed a sweet sleep in again, took my time getting ready for the day, and then went out with a few others to grab a slice of pizza and some ice cream for lunch! Oh what typical Italian tourists we are! :P So we all met up at the hotel after lunch, and saw the chaperones for the first time in a day and a half. Then we headed off to the ferry to go to Venice. After arriving in Venice, we were overwhelmed by the insane amount of tourists and insane heat! Then we got to go on a gondola ride (: It was really cool, we tried and failed to get our gondolier to sing! Hahah. But we made up for it by singing ourselves. Terribly, but oh well, it was still fun. The gondola’s was definitely an amazing way to see the city. I was amazed at how the city is still there after so many years of flooding for all the buildings on the canals! Afterwards we got some free time so we got to explore the city. In my opinion, Venice is indeed beautiful, but I think it’s extremely hyped up to be amazing but I don’t think it’s everything you expect. Behind the amazing architecture and beautiful churches, there are dirty alleyways, a whole lot of cheap tourist shops and people trying to get your money in any way possible. Despite this I still had an amazing time, and saw many famous sights, Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge and Santa Maria della Salute (a basilica) just to name a few. After a few hours in Venice, we headed back to the ferry and got back to Lido. Once back a group of us headed out to a restaurant for dinner, and of course made sure it was one that had tv’s showing that world cup final! After a quick dinner we made it down to the beach to watch the rest of the soccer, before celebrating the Spanish victory.

12th July 2010 Lido Di Jesolo to Macon
Today was the longest bus ride ever! 11 hours. The day was spent movie watching, including Moulin Rouge and Marie Antoinette, occasionally stopping for food, and as per usual on the bus, an insane amount of sleep and then gossip. After finally arriving at our lovely hotel just casually by the motorway, we finally got some dinner, and the evening to relax, some more. Hahah. I spent the evening with Kiara, Tash and Emile chilling on chat roulette :P That certainly provided some great entertainment for the evening! The day was fairly boring and uneventful really, but one thing that was amazing, was the scenery! As we were going from Italy into France the small towns on the hills were beautiful. 

13th July 2010 Macon to Paris!
Me and Evan at the Eiffel Tower
The ever awaited journey to Paris. The day started out well, with the French breakfast certainly being up to everyone’s ‘high’ standards, hahaha, but actually, it was so good, chocolate croissants! Nom nom nom. Movie for the day, Amelie. After a not so long day on the bus, we got into Paris at around 3:30pm and got some free time before dinner. A group of us went out to ‘explore’ the area we were staying in, which was in the outskirts of the town, relatively close to Mont Martre. Then for a nice dinner at the hotel before heading out on our first bus tour of the city! Driving up to the Arc De Triomphe, then heading down the Champs Elysees, towards to Eiffel Tower, up to the viewing platform, where we got 5 minutes for an insane amount of photos (: Then we were left to do as we pleased for the evening. A group of us headed over to Bastille to check out the free concert that was happening as it was Bastille Day the following day. So after the concert, we all thought we would hit up the metro, so that we could be good and get back by curfew! Little did we know, they thought it would be good to close the metro for half an hour because of the mass amounts of people around Bastille. Much panic, and about half an hour later, we managed to get ourselves onto the right train home, in time for curfew, and ready to explore Paris on our own tomorrow.

14th July 2010 Paris – Bastille Day
Me and Ian at the Arc De Triomphe
Paris on Bastille Day, pretty sweet to be honest. Got up at a reasonable time despite the fact we didn’t need to! But who wants to waste any time in Paris? We headed into town to see if we could catch some of the Bastille Day parade down the Champs Elysees. Upon arrival, we realised that thousands of others had had the same idea as us, so we decided to be sneaky and hit up the Eiffel Tower while everyone else was checking out the parade! As we walked over, we took the street closures as an opportunity to take photos standing in the middle of the street, and then photos with the good old Eiffel Tower in the background. One of the passing by policemen decided it would be fun to join in? Casual much. Le Tour Eiffel! (: Beautiful. And this time, I walked up too! SO MANY STAIRS, flippin insane, but totally worth it, we got rained on but enjoyed the view all the same. Next stop, Notre Dame. As we were in the metro though, the weather decided it would go from decidedly average to absolute crap! We sent Bryce out in search of some umbrellas, and he came back looking like we had just been for a swim. So we ran into the closest restaurant and decided that even if it was expensive we should just eat there anyway. After a lovely, although expensive lunch, we missioned it back out into the rain and into Notre Dame, and may I say it is the most touristy Cathedral ever, and it’s sad. They could at least have the shops outside! It was just as beautiful as I remembered though.  The weather decided that it would be fun to clear up, so after a quick tourist shop visit we headed on to the Louvre. Didn’t make it inside but took plenty of photos outside. Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a nice dinner out. After dinner most people decided to head out for a drink, but me, Kiara and Ian decided it would be better to hit up the Arc De Triomphe, and then walk over to the Eiffel Tower so we could get good spots to see the Bastille Day fireworks! They were amazing. The fireworks lasted for half an hour! And we certainly made the right decision for our evening after hearing so many other people’s disasters for the evening. 

15th July 2010 Paris

The Eiffel Tower jump photo!
The morning started off with a bus tour of the city. Beginning with the obligatory stop at the Eiffel Tower to get photos, including a video of me, Tash and Kiara doing the Hoedown Throwdown ;) A billion photos later we headed on through the town, towards the Luxembourg Gardens, the Roman Baths, Pantheon, the on to Notre Dame, past the Opera House and then we were dropped off outside Galleria La Fayette to have the afternoon to ourselves. Kiara, Emile and I decided to mission it to find somewhere nice for lunch, and we found an awesome Chinese restaurant down a side street. Then we decided to head off and explore the city. We headed to the Louvre, again to just take photos etc, we walked towards Place De La Concorde, passing the column that Napoleon erected at Place Vendome. We caught the metro towards Mont Martre to check out Sacre Coeur. After walking up an insane amount of steps we got another amazing view of Paris, and an amazing church. Then it was time to get ready for a lovely dinner out (: After dinner we spent the evening partying it up, partially at the hotel, and then under the Eiffel Tower. Amazing. 

16th July 2010 Paris to Remschied (Germany) via Brussels
The Alex's at the final dinner
More bus time. More sleep on a bus. Definitely fell into a pattern (: We arrived in Brussels around lunch time and were left at the main square with the instructions, Mannekin Pis is to your left, and you have 2 hours. So we were left to admire the town hall, the King’s old castle, see the tiny thing that is Mannekin Pis, and of course, eat some waffles! We were in Belgium so of course, we had to! After the allocated two hours. We were back on the road, heading towards a small German town that was to be the last hotel of the tour. THE LAST NIGHT. So it was the last night of Euro tour. Pretty much couldn’t believe how quickly it came! We enjoyed a lovely last dinner at our hotel, accompanied by videos and photos of the tour. Then we had a little awards ceremony! Hahah. Much too funny! This was followed by a last night party with some ‘chips and cordial’ haha, no seriously :P People had flags to get each other to sign so we could have some memories and everyone had an enjoyable last night, accompanied with the usual macca’s run! Hahah, gotta love having a McDonalds next to the hotel!
The last views of Denmark,
and the rest of Europe

17th July 2010 Remschied to Malmö
And so it was over. The last day consisted of a whole lot of sleeping, a whole lot of disbelief that it was over! We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant in Germany, before making it to our ferry to get into Denmark, and then continued into Sweden. When we got back everyone finally realised that this was it. People were being picked up by host parents, or leaving on trains, and for the oldies, it was that we would see them, and they would see each other. Mostly everyone was just ridiculously upset that it was over.

Euro tour was the best 17 days of my life. Everyone became like family, with the bus being our home. We visited the most amazing cities around Europe, shared smiles, laughter and tears, and not to mention covered 5700km. I don’t think over such a short period of time a more ridiculous amount of personal jokes have been created! I will never forget, the epic jibbings, ‘in the butt’, fist pumping like a champ, ride sally ride, have you got some chocolate?! All of these things bring back so many memories. Rotary Europe Ramble Tour 2010 was AMAZING.