Europe 2017

We all arrived buzzing for the journey ahead and believe it when I say it was an entertaining journey. After an enjoyable ferry ride and a tiring but beautiful drive to Wiltz Luxembourg, we slept really well before a day of sightseeing with an emotional monument and an eventful time in the stream whilst making a dam. The weather was perfect for a spot of sunbathing! On the way back from the monument we drove underneath an array of umbrellas as well as a selfie with a tank.
Now for the exciting adventure of Kandersteg International Scout Centre; unfortunately, it was raining the whole 3 nights but of course, as explorers, we were determined to go on a mountainside hike. Although it was challenging, the goats and cows whom of which followed us, with bells, made the trip very enjoyable. Gladly lots of us faced their fear of heights, rope bridges, deep water and rocks but all together the experience was one in a lifetime including a lot of teamwork and perseverance. To top up the trip we went on a surprise visit to the chocolate factory, which for all was an experience and a half. We had three freshly made chocolates which we saw being made, as well as the learning the full process of the chocolate manufacturing. We then had lunch by a waterfall which was so gorgeous.

The next day we had a very excited 2 vans to Bergamo, Italy due to the contrast in cold to hot weather, As the British explorers we are, we jumped off the pier into the lake minutes after setting up the tents. Kindly Roberto let us stay right by the lake which was just so special. Whilst our stay in Italy we had dinner in the local pizza and pasta restaurant after we slept cosy with the hot weather, there was a change of plan and we stayed one more night due to everyone enjoying themselves, which was another day of swimming, pedal boats and amazing sunsets and views. we then set off late that night to go to Croatia.

The journey through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia we travelled to Krk, an island in Croatia, with beautiful beaches and so many amazing landscapes everyone was so happy. We had a relaxing evening with a little swim in the sea before bed, whilst preparing for a beach day! The beach day was eventful with the inclusion of an aqua park which for many was a day of teamwork and facing their fears once again! With a little bit of sunbathing and lots of sun cream, of course, we looked very much like tourists.

After a hot adventure in Krk, we head off to Zagreb to see the lakes as well as to meet Filip, the guy who we were staying with, in his garden. Well, Filip was a crazy man, he sang whilst playing the guitar in Croatian and told us stories as well as having a traditional Croatian meal which gave us a little taste of the culture. It was a magical and unforgettable evening. The next day Phillip very kindly took us around Zagreb and gave us a small tour where we asked a lot of questions and went into a lovely cathedral.

The journey to Budapest from Zagreb was an all-round Disney singalong with the cast of all main characters, Seb. Surprisingly He knew so many Disney lyrics we couldn’t count the songs they were endless. We arrived in Budapest with the excitement of the tour of the main city the next day. We had a hot tour of Budapest and the city was amazing, the views and architecture were just spectacular very much like Zagreb. We took a boat ride seeing the Hungarian Parliament and many historical sights, in a gorgeous city with great weather! The evening was topped off with a visit from Rita and her husband and baby; Rita welcomed explorers into the SOS children’s village 4 years ago. They stayed for dinner before the visit to the SOS village the next day.

What an amazing day at the SOS children’s village, they were so welcoming and kind to all guests and it was such an honour to spend a day with them. We as a group helped with some maintenance, for example, clearing weeds around a football pitch. We were greeted with a spontaneous water fight which indeed turned into a war. The village mothers kindly cooked us a traditional Hungarian meal which was so gorgeous, and everyone went back for more. We were also shown around one of the houses and had a short presentation on the history of the village. What an amazing day to spend with such adorably kind children. After a quick stop at a shopping centre, we head off to Austria. We left Budapest, in 42 degrees, which was very uncomfortable for many however the excitement for Austria overcame that feeling.

Once we arrived in Austria there was a change in plan whilst we were having dinner in a futuristic McDonalds which for all was a very good treat. Unfortunately, the campsite we booked shut at 11 pm and there was no way we would make it in time due to the late-night dinner we were having and the campsite not staying by the gate for a little longer.

George painstakingly called up many places to stay until he found a hotel in Linz, Austria called Ibis. We had beds to sleep on and everyone showered which was amazing. We woke up at around 11 am along with fresh pastries which was a huge change for all of us. We had a small tour of Linz which was gorgeous. The city was very vintage and colourful. We also visited a cathedral in which was being renovated however the true beauty was still being captured. Ibis hotel kindly lent us the conference room to have lunch in, which was so generous of them. They also spent time finding us another Ibis hotel on the route through Germany. We booked a hotel in Bonn, Germany. We had a journey of singalongs and sleeping for many. We then went out for dinner in Hamburg, which had the most amazing Pizza ever. Getting back in the van to go to Bonn was filled with very happy, full tired teenagers clearly a result.

We arrived at Ibis Budget late at night, but everyone was comfortable in beds and slept before a long drive the next day. We travelled to Dunkirk to catch an evening ferry. Unfortunately, due to the queues and passport control, 2 vans got through and 1 van was stuck in Dunkirk. We were waiting for another ferry and got to Gilwell park late that night and kindly the other vans set up everything for us at the campsite and food was prepared. After a good night sleep, George planned some archery and a revolving wall activity for the morning and afternoon to finish off such a great trip.

This expedition has been an amazing and unique experience for all, the leaders have been wonderful. Thank you to George especially for organising the whole trip. Everyone had a fantastic time and the whole group would recommend this to anyone in explorers.
What a fabulous trip with such fabulous people.

Thank you again
Harwell ESU