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13.02.2020 Sydney sightseeing. It was around midnight and after a six-hour journey that our intercity coach entered an urban area and eventually crossed a steel bridge. When, down below, we suddenly caught sight of the world-famous sails of the illuminated Opera House, we knew we had reached Sydney, and were just travelling across equally iconic Harbour Bridge. Of course we were quite eager to go and explore the city the next day – however, all those plans were upset by the weather. It had been raining again and again since Friday, but on Sunday, it was coming down in sheets all day, supposedly unlike anything Sydney had seen in 30 years. We stayed in our hostel for most of the day and only ventured out in the evening for some groceries, still in the pouring rain, wading through ankle-high puddles and past overflowing drains. Thankfully, the sky had cleared up the next day and so we could set out for three days of sightseeing. It was great to see the Opera House and other monuments from close up and stroll through the parks and different quarters, some historic, some very modern. Our personal highlights were the large model of the city displayed at Customs House, the refreshing water park in Darling Quarter, a guided tour through the indigenous art section in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a shipwreck walk, as well as a visit to the area that hosted and still commemorates the Olympic Summer Games in 2000. It was fun to look for famous names at the medallist memorial; and we also had our little moment of triumph as part of the winning team at our hostel's quiz night – cheers to our three teammates from England! Going places in Sydney is very easy as there is a dense network of tram, train, bus and ferry lines, and instead of buying tickets, passengers can simply tap on and off with their credit cards. Also, transport will never cost more than about ten euros a day, and on Sundays the cap is as low as two euros. One more reason why this afternoon, we are going to embark on a little side trip and travel to the Blue Mountains by train. #scoutbound #austalia #sydney #harbourbridge #opera #sydneyoperahouse #sydneyolympicpark #artgallerynsw #shipwreck #brickpit

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08.02.2020 Thank God, it's raining. Rainy days in Australia! What a change after two weeks of sunshine, straw hats, sweat and swimwear. And what bad luck for Port Macquarie, a town we got to know in mostly wet and dreary weather, as if it were not already difficult enough for a little place like this to stand out against other destinations on our way, such as Brisbane and Sydney. But for several reasons, we had a fabulous time there. One reason was the sociable and chatty atmosphere at the little hostel where we stayed – and apart from the friendly staff, it was maybe also the rain outside that created a sense of community within. However, the weather still allowed for an exploration of the town's most important attractions: We followed the scenic coastal walk along Port Mac's nine beaches and up to the little lighthouse, and visited the local koala hospital. Although it is no longer legal to hunt them for their fur, koalas are on the verge of becoming an endangered species due to deforestation, fires, motor vehicle accidents, dog bites and contagious disease. These days the number of patients at this specialised clinic is at an all-time high because of this summer's extreme bushfires, which are still not fully contained but will hopefully be easier to battle now that it is raining. And finally, we had the chance to meet the Venturers of the local Sea Scout group, who invited us to join them for a scavenger hunt and see their scout hall and boat shed. And the next day, their leader Daniel and his wife went out of their way and showed us the green surroundings of the town by car. Admittedly, the view from North Brother Mountain would have been a lot better in dry weather, but it was most fascinating to see Daniel's workplace: a tiny rural primary school with 26 students, two classrooms, a vegetable garden, animals like pigs and chicken, as well as a 3D printer! #scoutbound #austalia #australien #scouts #seascouts #dpsg #portmacquarie #coastalwalk #lighthouse #koala #koalahospital #school #oldschool #toocoolforschool

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04.02.2020 Seaside fun and surfing. Beautiful long beaches, surfing hotspots, unique wildlife and nature, sunshine all day long: These are some of the things that come to our mind when thinking about Australia. So after visiting Brisbane we happily moved on from the bustling big city life to the airier seaside, with nice beaches and the opportunity to give surfing a go. On our way south we hopped off the bus in a place called Surfers Paradise and stayed in Mermaid Beach with Vivian and Roberto, a Brasilian couple who moved there for work just one year ago. We relaxed some days at the beach, strolled through the night market, went for sunset runs and had a Brasilian barbecue, called churasco, with our temporary flatmates. We did not try surfing, however, until we arrived in Byron Bay, where we have now been for the past four days. Byron Bay has numerous beaches, some with bigger waves and others with moderate and rather predictable waves that are perfect for the first surf lessons. So we enjoyed learning, and we really liked the vibe of Byron Bay in general. It is a typical surfers' town with a lot of buskers, art shops, yoga schools, 'green' shops, outdoor markets, cafes, bars, places to chill out, and of course beaches. At one of them we had an awesome silent disco evening, dancing in the sand and the ocean under a sky of stars. Today is the first day of rain since we arrived in Austalia, but the poor weather makes leaving Byron Bay a little bit easier. Tomorrow we are going to take the bus to Port Macquarie, probably our last stop before Sydney, always keeping our eyes open for more of the things we associate with Australia. #scoutbound #australia #australien #surfersparadise #goldcoast #mermaidbeach #miamimarketta #byronbay #surfing #lighthouse #busker #poolboy

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26.01.2020 Australia Day.  On our last day of sailing, Panta's captain Micha dropped us off in a remote bay on Tawharanui Peninsula. We made our way across rocks and private property to a small road and then embarked on a short hitchhiking adventure, destination Auckland. Luckily, friendly and helpful Kiwis are never hard to find, so about two hours and three rides later we reached the city and stayed there for one last night in New Zealand.  Catching a flight out of the country at this point felt very odd and way too early. However, our three-month visitor visas were about to expire, so we had to leave, and having travelled all the way to the other side of the planet, we thought we might as well visit Australia for about a month, and then go back. Our arrival in Brisbane coincided with Australia Day, so we were greeted by jolly Aussies in fancy hats and shirts, by street parties, live music and fireworks. The highlight of the Story Bridge street party was a series of cockroach races, where people gathered to bet on which (real, living) cockroaches would be the fastest ones to crawl from centre to edge in some sort of circular boxing ring. However, while attendees were busy coming up with hilarious names for the tiny athletes and at best enjoying a brief moment of glory on the winners' podium, other Australians did not feel like celebrating at all: Indigenous Australians took to the streets in several cities to voice their concerns about Australia Day. The birth of today's nation, marked by the arrival of British colonists in 1788, can only be called a glorious thing from a non-native point of view, and so 26th January is alternatively referred to as Invasion Day. Colonisation marked a decisive turning point in both New Zealand and Australian history, and we are eager to learn more about how things evolved and are dealt with in Oz today. #scoutbound #austalia #australien #brisbane #australiaday #invasionday #storybridgehotel #bagpipes #storybridge #cockroach #cockroachraces #cockroachrace #fireworks #southbank #scouts #scoutplace #dpsg

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22.01.2020 Bye-bye boat life. Our two weeks aboard Carola have come to an end, and we will definitely miss our fellow crew members and the awesome times we had with the gang. Thanks to Jo, our marvellous captain, who is an excellent teacher that soon trusted her crew enough to let us do most of the steering, trimming and tacking during the day. And on top of this, she treated us to freshly baked bread rolls now and then, and played the violin for us! When sailing, there was always time to read and chat, play games and take naps, and in the mornings and evenings we could relax in the hammock, go for walks, runs and swims, or give the paddleboard a go. Grocery shopping was always something out of the ordinary, as we did not do it often and stocked up for many days at a time, taking heaps of provisions back to the boat in our inflatable dinghy. In Marsden Cove marina, we gave our floating home a thorough cleaning, installed a bigger front sail and wind cups, completed a couple of other maintenance jobs and also did some laundry, with our clothes drying on long lines on deck. We used the marina's shower facilities and even decided to give some crew members a new haircut, making both Carola and everyone aboard sparkling clean from keel to mast. Yesterday we vacated our berth bed on Carola for new crew, Maude and Silvain from Switzerland. We are now staying with Micha on Pantagruel, enjoying two extra days on sea, and more wildlife encounters: This morning, on our way to Kawau Island, we came across a large school of dolphins! It was simply breathtaking to see these beautiful animals jump around and swim with our boat for at least an hour. And during a walk on Kawau we spotted wallabies, hopping through the bush as if to foreshadow our next adventure: a short side trip to Australia! #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #yacht #pantagruel #carola #dolphins #kawau #crew #dpsg

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19.01.2020 Nature by boat. Travelling on sailing yacht Carola gives us the chance to enjoy a bit of New Zealand's coast and its unique wildlife from the sea. As we sail, we encounter plenty of seabirds, fish and jellyfish, and we are constantly looking out for penguins, dolphins and whales. On a day of little wind and high waves, Pantagruel's captain Micha invited all of us to join him and his crew on a day trip to Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. These rocky islands are covered in thick green woods and have been declared a bird sanctuary, so people are not allowed to set foot there. It was a lot of fun to dive and snorkel there and explore the islands' rugged shores and water-filled caves with our dinghies. On our way back to the mainland, we finally spotted something bigger than a kingfish or a seagull: a shark, right next to our boat! A few days later we anchored in a bay outside Marsden Cove marina and went for a hike around the cape. The footpath we followed is part of the Te Araroa trail spanning the entire country from north to south. Our walk took us through the bush, along a rocky hillcrest, up to giddy heights offering stunning views across the peninsula and the ocean, and then down to a picture-perfect beach. We went for a very refreshing swim in the waves and relaxed in a warm, salty puddle the retreating tide must have created there. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #yacht #pantagruel #carola #dinghy #teararoa #oceanbeach #snorkeling #hiking #cave #crew #beach #jellyfish #poorknights #dpsg

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13.01.2020 Sailing in the Bay of Islands. Only five days ago we did not know more than a couple of words of sailing vocabulary in German, and none in English, but yesterday we were already part of the crew of Sailing Yacht Pantagruel in the Russell Tall Ship Regatta. Pantagruel is a 100-year-old boat, built in Hamburg, and owned by Micha. It was confiscated during WW2 to serve as a training boat for the Hitler Youth, after the war it went to Poland as a training boat and 23 years ago it came back to Germany. Last year Micha and Joanna crossed the Atlantic and Pacific to take Pantagruel to New Zealand. Thanks to Micha for the invitation to come aboard for the Regatta. Our temporary home is Carola, Jo's own boat, a little 12.6-meter one-mast yacht that sleeps up to six people. The day we joined her, right after the Jamboree, Captain Jo picked up an entirely new crew. So now there are Maike from Germany, Marc from Spain, Andrea from Italy, the two of us and of course Jo from Great Britain. Some of us already have sailing experience, and through Jo's brilliant teaching we quickly learn about hoisting and trimming the sails, manoeuvring the boat and navigation. In the first few days we already got to know our co-sailors pretty well and had a lot of fun, for example at the yacht club party after the regatta, which included a hangi, where food is cooked in the ground in traditional Maori manner, and live music. We are going to enjoy ten more days of life on sea with our crew, cruising around the Bay of Islands and then heading south along the east coast near Whangarei. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #bayofislands #russell #yacht #tallship #hangi #pantagruel #dpsg

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07.01.2019 Impressions from Jamboree. Yesterday evening we represented Germany at the closing ceremony, and today we are leaving the big scout camp with lots of new ideas and great memories. Our job with the food distribution team was good fun, and when we were not at the warehouse, we walked around the site and tried to take in as many impressions as possible. We had a look at activity bases, the welfare tent and creation stations. We attended the international evening stage show and were amazed by dances from Pacific Island Nations. In big marquees we learned about camp cuisine, the pedagogical programme of Scouts New Zealand, the national scouting museum and the badge trade business, which Kiwi scouts are totally crazy about. For this Jamboree, there were about 250 different troop badges, day badges, activity badges and more to collect and swap, and so the streets between subcamps could get very busy with kids looking at what others had to offer and negotiating good deals. Walking around the individual camps was probably the most interesting thing to us, as we could spot many clever things like bike-powered washing machines, camp kitchens in trailers, or really creative (and often illuminated) camp gates, and of course have nice chats. Among the lovely people we met were Shannon, a Wellington leader who went to the post office there and collected a parcel for us, Duncan, who agreed to take most of our camping gear to Christchurch and store it for a while, and Bruce, who taught us how to handle a digger and is now giving us a ride to Auckland. Shouts to all (tired but happy) Jamboree attendees out there, and especially to the scouts helping us and our gear go places! #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #jamboree #dpsg #mystery2020 #scouts #nz22 #scoutsnz #mystery #camp #washingmachine #zipline

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02.01.2020 4500 scouts.  We are starting off the new decade at the National Scout Jamboree, a big 10-day camp for 10- to 14-year-olds. Counting all Scouts, their troop leaders, older scouts helping out, international guests and staff, we are about 4500 people here at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton airport. We learned about the event right after arriving in New Zealand, thought this could be an awesome experience, and decided to get a job and participate as staff rather than mere visitors from overseas. So now we are part of the catering team and spend much of our time at the food hub. This is where food is distributed to all kids and leaders, following a clear-cut plan. They camp in about 80 groups of up to 40 people, and twice a day each group sends a few kids and adults to our warehouse, where they fill their trolleys with everything they need to feed their troops. We are really intrigued to learn about the logistics behind the scenes of such a big camp, and apart from doing warehouse duty, we are busy getting to know new people from New Zealand, Australia, Oceania and other places, learning about how scouting is done at the other end of the world, and testing the fun activities the kids are offered here. On New Years Eve, we had a bit of team shenanigans with hockey in our food warehouse, and then went to the central Jamboree party for music, dancing and the countdown. Now we can say that we were among the very first people to welcome 2020, here in the first time zone, 12 hours ahead of Germany. Happy New Year! #scoutbound #newzealand #nz #neuseeland #jamboree #mystery #mystery2020 #mystery2019 #scoutsnz #nz22 #warmshowers #dpsg #scouts

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25.12.2019 Christmas with friends. Our plans for Christmas developed quite spontaneously, and were mostly influenced by the bigger master plan we are following right now: Travelling up north to attend a scout camp near Hamilton.  In our transfer car, we left Christchurch and first drove to Kaikoura, a peninsula on the east coast that is well worth visiting for its landscape, wildlife and vegetation. We went for a very windy walk around the tip and were impressed by the austere but beautiful rocky beach, parts of which only surfaced in a 2016 earthquake, and seal colonies in very close proximity to the footpath. The next day was mostly filled by the ferry journey back to the North Island, and after a night on its west coast we drove further north, as we had arranged a Christmas reunion: On a remote campsite just outside Tongariro National Park we met up with Nicole, a friend and fellow scout leader from our hometown, and her travel companion Nadja. Together they are touring around the country in their green campervan. They brought two more German girls, Jule and Katharina, so we were six people to do the spectacular Tongariro Crossing hike together on 23rd December. What a breathtaking and fun experience! On Christmas Eve, it was just Nici, Nadja and the two of us, and we went on a nice short walk along Lake Taupo before having a cosy and yummy evening meal with German Christmas cake and mulled wine. We loved it, although this was not exactly in line with the Kiwi way of celebrating Christmas, which is more about barbecues, trips to the beach and other kinds of summer fun on 25th. In the end, however, it all comes down to having a good time with family and friends, no matter which end of the world. #scoutbound #neuseeland #nz #newzealand #tongariro #tongarirocrossing #kaikoura #christmas #friends #wine #departmentofconservation #seals #camping #laketaupo #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg

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