Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Trip Date: April 2002

I know it might seem strange that I am starting my outdoor blog with a post about an overseas trip, but there's a couple of reasons for that.  The first reason is that I had already planned to include some of my international travel on this blog, and since this was my first major trip, I needed to have it on here.  Secondly, I wanted to keep my blog in  chronological order starting with the earliest adventures and since this was over ten years ago now I needed to get it out of the way!  Don't worry, we'll get to the outdoor stuff soon enough!

In high school we were presented with the possibility of going on an overseas trip as part of a global learning experience.  The ten-day trip was happening over the spring break in 2002, my Grade 12 year.  At first I wasn't really interested in going.  The thought of travelling that far did not appeal to me at the time and, on top of that, very few of my closest friends were going, but my parents, who had traveled internationally before, insisted it would be a great experience.  Am I ever glad that I listened to them that time!  Not counting the USA, this was my first international trip, and definitely my first overseas.  After a lot of fundraising, thanks again to my parents for always helping out, I finally had enough money saved to go.  

Kurtis, Me, and Mike in the Regina airport
Some of our group waiting to board the plane
Devon, Jen, and Christine in the Winnipeg airport during one of our layovers
   Copenhagen, Denmark

The first country on our tour was Denmark.  Officially known as the Kingdom of Denmark, it is located in northern Europe and is part of the European Union.  We would be spending all of our time in the capital city of Copenhagen, which is also the largest city in the country.  Denmark has a population of about 5.6 million people, while Copenhagen has just over half a million inhabitants.  The official language is Danish and the country has an area of 42,915 square-kilometres.  Denmark also has two autonomous constituent countries in the north Atlantic Ocean; Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  
Denmark (small), Faroe Islands (circled), and Greenland (large)
Ansgar Hotel in Copenhagen
The girls from Bus #1
The boys from Bus #1
One of the first places we visited was Kronborg Castle, located in the town of Helsingør, which is northeast of Copenhagen.  The castle's history dates back to the 1420's when it was a fortress built by Danish king, Eric of Pomerania.  Between 1574 and 1585 Frederick II, another King of Denmark, rebuilt the fortress to a magnificent castle.  The castle was opened to the public in 1938 and in 2000 was added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list, due to its importance as a Renaissance castle in northern Europe.  

Kronborg Castle
One of the towers
This tower has a clock
The castle's dungeon
The seawall that wraps around the castle
 Fredensborg Palace is the Danish royal family's spring and autumn residence.  It is located on the eastern shore of Lake Esrum in the town of Fredensborg.  Construction on the palace started in 1720 and wasn't completed until 1753.  It is the most used of the royal family's residences.  

Fredensborg Palace
The palace gardens
A group of us in the gardens
The entire group on the back steps of the palace
Frederik's Church or more commonly known as the Marble Church in Copenhagen
Rundetårn, or the Round Tower, was built as an astronomical observatory
The Little Mermaid Statue.  It has become a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913.
The Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal, and entertainment district
Amalienborg Palace is the winter home of the Danish royal family.  Amalienborg is a series of four different palaces within one complex.  Construction started in 1750 and was completed in 1760.  

Amalienborg Palace
The palace is guarded day and night by the Royal Life Guards
Mimicking the guards
He was a good sport about everything!
Chris and one of the guards
Amaliehaven is a garden located between the palace and the waterfront and was a gift to the citizens of Copenhagen
The ship that would take us from Denmark to Norway
Trekroner Sea Fort sits at the entrance of the Copenhagen harbour
   Oslo, Norway

Like Denmark, Norway is officially known as the Kingdom of Norway and is located in northern Europe.  Unlike Denmark, Norway is not part of the European Union.  Norway has just over 5 million people and its capital city, Oslo, has just under 625,000 people.  The official language is Norwegian and the country is 385,186 square-kilometres.  We were only in Oslo for one night so, unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of the city.  
Anker Hotel in Oslo
Oslo's City Hall
The Viking Ship Museum in Bygdøy, a peninsula in Oslo.  This is the Oseberg Viking Ship.  
One of many sculptures in Frogner Park as part of the Vigeland Sculpture Arrangment that resides there
Vigeland's "Angry Boy" statue
It looks like Devon found himself a hot date!
   Stockholm, Sweden

 After Oslo our next stop was in Stockholm, Sweden.  Just like the previous two countries, Sweden is also officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden.  It is also in northern Europe and is part of the European Union.  The official language is Swedish and with an area of 450,295 square-kilometres is the third largest country, by size, in the European Union.  Sweden has a population of about 9.5 million and the capital city of Stockholm has about 872,000 people.  
Sweden (dark green) as part of the European Union (light green)
The Welcome Hotel in Stockholm
Nordic Museum
Stockholm's City Hall
The golden room in City Hall features 18 million gold mosaic tiles
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Swedish Monarch.  Construction started in 1697 and wasn't completed until 1760.  
Järnpojken, or the Iron Boy, is one of the smallest statues in Stockholm and was built in 1967
Stockholm's coastline
The coastline around Stockholm
The ship that would take us from Sweden to Finland
    Helsinki, Finland

Our last destination was Helsinki, Finland.  Officially known as the Republic of Finland, it is situated in northern Europe and is part of the European Union.  The official languages are Finnish and Swedish and the country comprises 338,424 square-kilometres of land.  There is approximately 5.4 million people living in Finland and the capital city of Helsinki has just over 605,000 inhabitants.  
Finland (dark green) as part of the European Union (light green)
Helsinki's coastline as seen from our ship
The Ava Hotel in Helsinki
Czarina's Stone is a large monument in the centre of Market Square and was erected in 1835
The Helsinki Cathedral stands above Senate Square and was built in 1852
WKC on the steps to the cathedral
The Sibelius Monument is a tribute to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.  The monument was unveiled in 1967.
Temppeliaukio Church, or Church of the Rock, is a Lutheran church excavated and built directly out of solid rock
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is built on six different islands
One of the cannons at the site
Vesikko Submarine docked on one of the islands
Karin and Yorick our tour guides for the previous ten days
On the way home we had a one-night layover in Paris.  Since we arrived later in the evening we didn't get to see much of the city, but we did go on a driving tour and were able to stop at the Eiffel Tower for a few photos.  

Me with the Eiffel Tower
Devon, Dana, Christine, and I at the top of the Eiffel Tower
As you can see the ten-day trip was pretty full-on.  We were exhausted at the end of each day and we'd seen as much as possible in the time we had.  I had an absolutely amazing time on the trip and was looking forward to returning to Europe at some point in the future.  I am so happy I went on this trip instead of opting out like I had originally intended to do!

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