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Mittwoch, 19. April 2017

Maui and The magical underwater world

Tourists, turtles, the fight about shade and happiness of dolphins

We were lured to Hawaiis most popular island by dream beaches, wonders of nature, breath taking sunsets and the powers of volcanos. That it is a surfer's paradise didn't mean anything to us.
After all the stress of the two-day-long journey, we were looking forward to some relaxation.

The waterfront of Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Too many people

The beautiful sunsets from our accommodation - a little
outside of Lahaina

Unfortunately relaxation comes not so easy, when you share the beach with thousands of other people, who fight over the little shade there is. Yes, the beach was a dream - palm trees and black volcano sand is beautiful and yes, the view to the sleeping volcanos inland is indescribable, but if you have to share it with uncountable strangers - it becomes less precious, less impressive, less amazing. The almost lonely moments in our accommodation, where we could look right over the sea to the neighbouring island of Lana'i, were the only ones, where we could truly enjoy the beauty of Maui. We were really glad, that our host only offered 12 rooms. Only a few kilometers away lies Ka'anapaali - and there one tourist bunker after the other is filled with an uncountable amount of rooms and tourists.

The view of the mountains of Maui

The town of Lahaina

The ruins of the "fortress" of Lahaina
The closest town to where we were staying is Lahaina, the tourist centre of West Maui. One souvenir store after the other, world wide known cloth labels, Star Bucks, Restaurants with sea view and in between a few old american houses, two museums,... Lahaina is not that big. The one main tourist road is the only "nice" street and therefore overrun with people. In the evening at every corner a street musician is showing their more or less incredible talent.
Really impressive is the park close to the harbour. One single tree - a Banyan Tree - is occupying the whole place. It looks like there were many trees, but it is just a single one.
At one edge of the park lies an old ruin from the 19th century. It used to be a fort, build in the war between whale hunters and priests (who wanted to forbid girls to enter the ships of the whalers topless).

My first impression of Maui was... I could not decide. On one hand I love the palm trees, the sea, the tourist feeling - on the other, I hate the many people, the crowded beaches, the car fixation (you can't go far by foot or public transportation) and the american supermarkets (everything is full of sugar!)....
With this image you can almost forget the many tourists that
are walking over Maui


The fantastic, marvelous, wonderful underwater world of Hawaii

After our first few disappointing days on Maui, the improvement came with a boat! Although stomach troubles were on there way - before I even entered the boat, on the boat, after leaving the boat, the night before, the night afterwards and the whole next day - this trip was one of my absolute world-trip-highlights!

What a dreaming underwater world

Die tour brought us (unfortunately with 1.5 hours of delay, where we had to wait in the hot sun) to a riff in front of the neighbour island of Lana'i: Ready? Set Snorkel? Dive! A - for me so far - once-in-a-lifetime incredible peaceful and quite world opened up. I am missing the words, so pictures have to do it:



Impressions from snorkeling in Lana'i


Finally the dolphins are jumping

After seeing the fins of dolphins in Australia, we finally discovered a jumping and playing school. Yes, that's the way, I always imagined dolphins!

video


Another tour we did, was whale watching, where we could see some humpback whales. Unfortunately the did only jump far, far away. Close-by we only saw the water fountains, fins and some other whale parts.

With these impressions, we are leaving the "dream island" of Maui and the journey continues. Next stop: New Orleans!

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German.

Montag, 20. März 2017

Sydney

Sydney - A unique and diverse city

Our last stop in Australia before leaving again is Sydney - the city, that should be Australia's capital. The city has some perks, some nice views, some special atmospheres but at the end of the day, it's just a big city.
Our first view at Sydney Harbour and the Opera House

Strolling through the Rocks

The Rocks
Our very first stop in Sydney were the famous "Rocks". This very old part of Sydney turned not just into a lovely picture opportunity but also into a wonderful strolling area full of coffee houses, restaurants, bars, etc.
From the harbour side you also have a good view to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. But well, after spending three days in Sydney, I have to say, that the Rocks are just my favourite spot to chill, go for a walk and enjoy the smalltown-feeling around the old buildings.

Taking tourist pictures

The view of the Opera House from Macquary Lookout
From the Rocks we walked to the two most iconic sights of Sydney: The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. From one you always had the perfect view to the other. After not spending 180 A$ to climb the Harbour Bridge, we just walked over it to enjoy the wind up high and look down on Sydney Harbour.
Our next stop was the Macquarie Lookout. Another nice spot, where you can see - again - the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It seems like the whole city center (at least the harbourside city center) is about finding nice photo opportunities for those two sights.

Another walk through the city

Our last stop of our first day was Darling Harbour, where we sucked up a bit more of Sydney's atmosphere. Also: Hard Rock Café - you guys know, I am a big fan and had to get my glas.

A bit of green

Me - hugging a faun in the Botanical Gardens
Our famous stop in every city: The Botanical Gardens. Sydney's - although highly praised by many of our friends, who have been there - is... on the lower ranking. The Gardens are pretty small and more garden-like - less a jungle like others. Though two things are special in Sydney Botanical Gardens: The beautiful Government House and the very old, very big, very tall trees.

Books and books and books

I just love libraries...
Another one of my "have to see in every city I go to" stops was the State Library of New South Wales. Yes, another library, more books, more exhibitions (this time two photo exhibitions, one about sun bathing, the other about Sydneys Gardens - that was pretty nice).
Funny thing happend there. I asked, if it is possible to go up the gallery, to make pictures of the reading room from above. The guy working there, just laughed: "This building is 70 years old - that's too much for it". 70 years is nothing, but hey, rules are rules.

A church with a magical ceiling

The marvelous St. Mary's cathedral from the inside!
I am always intrigued by religious buildings. People, who worship, tend to make beautiful architecture, no matter what religion. So we had to see the biggest church of Australia and the biggest catholic church of the southern hemisphere: St. Mary's cathedral. This building must be magical. If you walk in, it looks like if you were just walking out. The windows make it seem as if you are standing in the night and the sun, that is shining in, looks like the building is light up inside. The ceiling just vanishes - like a dark night sky. Definitively a Must-See in Sydney.

The most famous beach of the southern hemisphere

Although skeptical, we decided to see the Bondi Beach - A city beach, crowded and touristy and ... actually nothing special. I was skeptical, I still am. Well, not really skeptical: Now, I know, there is nothing special about this beach and I have no idea, why it is famous. I was told, it is more about seeing and being seen. I don't really understand that concept.
Bondi Beach - the most famous beach of the southern hemisphere
I know it doesn't look too crowded but it was a rainy day - not in that moment - but it did rain 10 minutes before the picture
was taken.

A bit of ... different

The hippi-hipster-alternativ show off of Australia - that's Newtown. Well, I have to say, it is mostly fucked up, run down, old but not in a good way. But than... You also have those great vintage shops, those antiquaries, these weird atmosphere about everything is possible, everything is allowed and you can be whoever, you want to be. After strolling through the streets of Newtown for some time, I still have no idea how I feel about it. I guess, everybody has to see for themselves.

The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, picture taken on our way to Manly

Off with the ferries

Me in front of the wonderful view of Sydney from the ferry
Our last sight on our to-do-list was Manly. Less Manly as in the again very touristy and crowded beach and shopping mile, more Manly as in taking the ferry over to it to see the city from another perspective, to enjoy the view of the most famous buildings in Australia from the waterside, taking pictures with the wind in my hair. And yes, it was worth it!


The experience of Adele

I set fire to the rain...
A funny coincidence brought us to Australia in exactly the same time span, where Adele was touring here. So we had no choice! We got tickets and enjoyed this amazing singer. Though I was just a regular fan of Adele - after the concert, she got me hooked! I adore her now! This concert was really a great, great evening, the perfect evening to say good-bye to Sydney.
Although we were one out of almost 100.000 people, put together in trains to go to the Olympic Village - it was worth it!

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German.

All the lights of the 100.000 people listening to Adele sing

Freitag, 17. März 2017

New Zealand - Queenstown and Milford Sound

New Zealand - A beauty in the far south

Queenstown - at 45 degrees latitude - is the most southern stop of my world trip and not to forget an incredible beautiful city. I will never have enough of the picturesque blue water of the Wakatipu lake or the rhythmic sound of breaking waves. Our first little walk in Queenstown made me realize how indescribably beautiful our world can be. I know, I write it way to often, but it just took my breath away.
A panorama of the lovely lake

One gondola ride and a near death experience later

The picturesque view from Queenstown Hill down.
On our second day, we took the gondola up to the Queenstown Hill - just to see and wonder. We didn't have much time, because we booked a bus tour to Glenorchy. With this ride my near death experience started: No matter how many potholes, how steep the road, the foot of the bus driver was glued to the gas pedal. Always. At the same time the wheel was going from one side to another, spinnend full of lust as if there is not a more joyful thing to do - back and forth, quick and slow, from one side of the road to the other. Shaking, dizzy and really sick, we arrived in Glenorchy - happy to have survived the crazy bus driver. And again we were amazed with the breathtaking view on the lake. I have this feeling, I keep writing the same thing over and over, but most of this journey is the fulfillment of my dreams and yes, most of it - to me - is marvelous, wonderful, magnificent, stunning, amazing, beautiful, lovely, fantastic, picturesque, breathtaking, incredible,...


10 hours in a bus and 2 on a boat

A must do on each New Zealand journey! The experience of the south island! Just breathtaking! - That's how many people are describing Milford Sound - a fjord, no not A fjord, THE most known fjord in New Zealand. That's why we booked the tour.
One of the stops of our tour - right before we passed over the New Zealand alps

One of the many lovely waterfalls
And yes, it is a "Fjord" not a "Sound" - a sound is getting its fresh water from a river, a fjord from a glacier. The name confusion started because the first English adventures didn't know the difference and had anyways no word for a fjord - so they called it Milford Sound.
The tour started in Queenstown and was an experience itself. While the sun was rising over the hills of New Zealand, we were sitting in the bus, enjoying the colours. At this point it seemed to become a sunny day - nothing foreshadowed the weather forecast of rain. Only a few clouds were in the sky. But we knew at Milford Sound, there should be rain - and it happened sooner than we thought. Right when we passed the New Zeland alps, the weather changed immensely! This is actually not a surprise. While the east coast gets around 600 mm of rain each year, the west coast gets 6.000 mm! If we trust our bus driver, then Milford Sound gets even more with 8.000 mm a year.
One of the many stunning river views
According to climate, the vegetation changed as well: The dried meadows became cloud forests. The mountain tops were covered in fog, the trees in moss. And from the glaciers, little steams and creeks and rivers were falling down in waterfalls over rocks and dabble over stones in river beds through fairy tale like forests. On our many (way too short) stops, we got to discover a bit of those beautiful natural pools and mystical woods.

Behind the waterfall

Can you spot the seals?
While it was raining as hell, we got on the "Cruise Milford" - the cruise ship, that would take us around the Milford Sound. Although the weather was this bad, the costly tickets were worth every cent. From the rocky walls the waterfalls were dabbling down, seals were relaxing on stones. A once in a lifetime experience was the boot going straight into a waterfall. Although I got wet all over, it was worth it! So worth it!
Summing up, Milford Sound was an impressive experience but I have to say: It was not the best of New Zealand!

And finally: Milford Sound!

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German.

Montag, 13. März 2017

New Zealand - Christchurch/Oxford Area

About Narnia, Maori Traditions, a Dragon and a Waterfall!

Nine days - that's all the time we had to explore the Southern Island of New Zealand. The first few days we spend in the Oxford/Christchurch area with my New Zealand family and explored the breathtaking landscapes, the bright colours and the most amazing natural film sets.

Some pictures don't need description... New Zealand!! Aaargh :)

Christchurch - Rise like a Phoenix


Street art in Christchurch
2007 an earthquake destroyed Christchurch - not just a bit but everything. Since then 10 years have passed and still, you see some ruins, some buildings so new, they shouldn't be in a town center. Where once the market place was, there now is a container town - a market container town and to make it look better: Street art! Sculptures, graffiti, etc. This place is full of life. No matter what had happend, the people make the best out of it and put so much love in their city, that there is so much to see, so much to enjoy, so much to love about Christchurch.

Christchurch has some really nice views.

Castle Hill - The real life Narnia

Father nature shows his true face
The next stop of our journey through New Zealand was the place, where the big battle of Narnia was shot: Castle Hill. Fromm one moment to another, I felt like I was walking through the wardrobe and ended up in this magical place. The rocks stood high in front of us, so high, we felt like they once belonged to a giant's castle, that stood upon a hill to oversee the world until it ends in the middle of the ocean.
Some formations seemed so concrete that some form of human being must have cut it a bit. Or was it father nature to show is true face?
We are standing on top of the ruins from a
ancient giant's castle
The moment we climbed on top of one of the rocks, we felt like standing on the beginning of the whole world. It was not as high as the buildings in Melbourne or the mountains in the back - but the view was so breathtaking that something have to had started here once upon a time...

The real life Narnia

A kea on my shoulder and Maori traditions

There is a kea on my shoulder -
How cool is that?
To see the native animals, that you can barely spot in nature, we went to the Willowbank Wildlife 
Reserve. Lots of eels, birds and pigs (yes, pigs and even a pretty ugly one too) awaited us.
Can you spot the Kiwi?
After strolling around for a while, we got a guided tour to the keas (I have a new best friend again) and kiwis. Kiwis are really impressive birds, they can't fly, are really small, can't run fast and still - survived while many other species went extinct. 
These little fluffy balls are also known to live around 80 years! But in fact at the Wildlife Reserve, they know about a tracked kiwi (living by its own in the big, dangerous world of New Zealand), which is 119 years old and still laying eggs. Isn't that impressive?
After the tour we enjoyed the Ko-Tane show - a Maori show full of old traditions. We did like the music, but really embarrassed ourselves when having to try the traditional dances on our own (at the stage with the other people watching...).
Ko-Tane - a tradition Maori performance
The ending of this lovely day was a Hangi meal - a meal, cooked n the ground. First, you dig a hole, then you put hot stones in, than add the meat, fish and veggies, you want to cook. After you covered everything with leaves and earth, you can wait for a few hours. When you dig the hole back up, the meal is cooked - and actually really delicious. 

Hiking through different forests

My travel teddy loved the
Ryde Falls
Although we only did one small hike in New Zeland, it felt like seeing many different forests. In the beginning of our hiking trail, we saw the black beech trees, then the ferns started and the trunks were covered in moss. In the end, we reached a fairy tale waterfall (the Ryde Falls) with many natural pools - the water was so clear, I would've loved to jump in (no matter how cold) - surrounded by the most green woods, I've ever seen.

Where a dragon meets ... well, us :)

Another little trip was to Ashley Gorge - the place, where Pete's Dragon was shot. Although we didn't know the movie, you can easily imagine a dragon flying through the Gorge, drinking out of the Ashley River and connecting with us here. It just looked like a magical place. And this time, I brought my swim wear and enjoyed a quick (and very cold) swim in the river (my cousins and my travel companion stayed in the water way longer - I have no idea how they survived the biting cold).

The amazing Ashley Gorge

Exploring Oxford

The lovely shops in Oxford :)
For all those days, we lived close by the small town of Oxford, so on our last day, we had to enjoy local art in the museum there, go shopping in those fabulous little shops, that are all decorated with love and walk to the "Historic Site" - an old prison, that did stink so badly, I was reminded, why I don't want to live in earlier times.

Our next stop is Queenstown - the city of extreme sport, hiking and - that's what attracted me - the most beautiful town, lying in between the mountains and the Wakatipu lake.

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German. 

Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2017

Adelaide and Hahndorf

Adelaide - Where is the big city?

The wonderful facade of a sweets shop in Adelaide
Right after we arrived, Adelaide was a big surprise for us: No skyscrapers, no "business-buildings". Everything just looked like Suburbia - even though we were staying directly in the center. Adelaide was the first big city, that was really different, less European, more like you would imagine an Australien Town. Still, our first impression was - in the burning heat without a single breeze - pretty bad. But - As soon as the sun was down and the people of the city found there way into the streets, we fell back in our tourist way, which lets us ride a wave, living in a bubble, totally relaxed and chilled and every house was worth a picture again.


Sweets, everywhere sweets!

Sweets, sweets, lots of sweets
The most impressiv one on our first evening was the sweets shop, we passed by by chance. After seeing the amazing shop windows - it was clear to us, that we have to come back the next day. And they have everything a sweet junkie could wish for: chocolate, lollipops, sweets, ice cream and fudge.

Relaxation at Victoria Square

Victoria Square Well by Night
Right on top of our to-do-list was Victoria Square, the most famous place in Adelaide. Kids were playing in the water fountains, that came rushing up from the ground and the evening atmosphere just gave it this amazing feel of coziness. So cozy, that a pedestrian just took of all his clothes and went for a spring in the well - completely naked.

Looking for breakfast

The very hungry pigs at Rundle Mall
Even back in Melbourne we learned that Australian people are not really breakfast people. Dann before ten everything was closed. Thanks to Tripadviser, we found "Luigi's" - a coffee house with daily changing breakfast menu. Definitively advisable! On our way, we came by Rundle Mall and the there living very hungry, wild pigs (look at the picture for details).
Because both of us aren't city-people, we fled to the parks. Unfortunately in March Festival season is starting, so all parks were closed to make them ready for the music-, streetfood,- and art festivals that will be here right after we will be gone again. We picked the wrong dates.. But... This way there were less people and everything was calm and laid back.
In the end we found our way to the Botanic Gardens, in every city, you have nice shady places in the Botanic Gardens.
Ducks in the Park - Following us because they wanted our
breakfast

Old buildings, churches and the library

Flowers in this heat - who would've
thought
On our way back to the hotel - pretty exhausted already because of the heat - we strolled by the art-mile! From the old university buildings, the Art Gallery of Adelaide to the State Library of South Australia - all buildings were old and in pretty good condition, surrounded by trees, statues and flowers: A dream!

It's the library of Hogwarts!
Despite our tiredness, I just had to see the library - and again, my breath was taken away! I found the library of Hogwarts - or at least the part, that you have to find your way through in the Harry Potter 1 Computer Game, where you have to jump on the book shelves and find your way... Oooops, I get away from the topic... One of the most beautiful libraries of the world (that's what the flyer says). The great thing about the libraries here is, that the books are not unapproachable, there are just there - for you to touch or smell or pet or feel...

Let's go to Germany - it's just a 45 minutes bus ride!

After two days of sight seeing in Adelaide, we had seen everything already, so we decided to take the bus to Hahndorf, one of the oldest villages around in Australia, founded by Germans who fled Germany because of religious persecution. And the area was not just famous for it cuckoo clocks, leather pants and "German stuff" - but also for wine? As an Austrian, I doubt that! The wine beer border runs through Austria. Everything south of it, like France, Italy, Spain, Greece or Portugal are having great wine - everything north of it, like Czechia, Ireland, Denmark, Poland - and also Germany are famous for there beer, not the wine!
Oh beautiful vineyards of South Australia .. 

Book art is the best art :)
Because Hahndorf was mostly full of tourist shops, art shops, cloth shops, German shops and any other kind of shop you can imagine, we hiked out a bit, to see the vineyard scenery. That was really lovely!
Another amazing thing was a tiny tiny exhibition with book art!  I am really unsure what the exhibition was about, but the books with those marvelous paintings in them, were worth a visit. So if you are in the area, go to Hahndorf - it is touristy, it is small, but you have nice exhibition, nice landscape around and also: nice food! Where else can you have pancakes with fresh fruit for lunch? :)

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German.

Freitag, 10. Februar 2017

Melbourne

Standing on top of the world and being astonished by books


The Hellenic Museum
Arriving in Melbourne, we had lots and lots of plans, what we wanted to see - the classic tourist program. But on our first little walk around the city, we saw the advertisement for the "gods, myths and mortals" exhibition in the Hellenic Museum. So we changed our plans - plans are made to be changed.
We were the only guests in the museum and slowly we realised, why. The old vases and clothes and jewelry were very interesting and beautiful but after 30 minutes, we were done, had seen everything and read most of the information.

Using the tram - for free!

A Free Tram Ride :)
To get to know the city a bit better, we decided to use the free tram! Yey, everywhere else, tourists pay more than locals for public transportation. Not here - the tourist tram is free. But - here again - we soon got to know, why. The noise, the tram made, was hurtful in the ears and it did not really go a good route. The speakers were poorly placed, so we didn't hear anything from the tourist information. In the end, we decided, that it was a great idea to have a free tourist tram, but the way, they did it, was unnecessary.

Fleeing from the city

A autumn-looking tree
Since both of us are not really city-people, our first stops in a city are always the parks and gardens. So we went through the Alexandra Gardens, the Victoria Gardens, through King's Domain to the Botanical Gardens - a place, that never disappoints in a city. And again: we were amazed by the plants, the shade (yey, fleeing not just from the city but also from the sun) and not so much by the lakes. Because of the heat they were completely taken over by algae.
The next day, we went for the Fitzroy Gardens to see Cooks Cottage. This was originally the home of James Cook's parents - built in 1755 in Yorkshire. After bringing it to Melbourne piece by piece and reconstructing it, it was opened for tourists in 1934.
Cooks Cottage
On our way to this cottage, we passed by the "conservatory" - a green house full of flowers. Also there was a tree which looked like it was autumn. But when we came closer, it turned out to be little red blossoms. Nature just is marvelous.


Standing on the edge and enjoying the view

For the evening we had something special planned. We got tickets for the Eureka Tower 88. It is the highest building lookout point on the southern hemisphere and "the edge experience" is the only one in the world. With 9 m/s we went up to the skydeck. From there we had an amazing view of the sunset! Then we went into the glass cube, that was pushed out of the building 3 m wide. For a second, our hearts stopped, when the filter of the glasses liftet and we saw, we were standing on nothing but glass - around 300 m above the ground.

The stunning view from the Eureka Tower Skydeck 88


Books and books and books

Those fantastic old books...
Another quick stop was at the State Library of Victoria. Libraries are always a good stop in a city. Normally I just enjoy the piece and quite there, the feeling of a thousand books watching me, while I watch them but this time... I was so astonished, so amazed, so awestruck! There was this big globe gallery - five stories high, where you could look down in the middle to see all those books. And in this gallery was an exhibition "mirror of the world - books and ideas" full of old books, lovely done, inspirational quotes from famous authors, publishers and printers. I had to sit down for a moment, because I was so overwhelmed from this feeling, all those fantastic books, those lovely quotes, those stunning views gave me.

Oh you wonderful globe gallery in the State Library of Victoria

Back to the river

The lovely evening view of Melbourne
The last evening we spent in South Bank, strolling alongside the river, watching street artists play music, draw their pictures, making caricatures, juggling with flaming torches or swallowing swords. This side of the river opens up to a gorgeous view of the city. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Melbourne.

Please, forgive me for all my spelling, grammar and vocabulary mistakes!! My mother tongue is German.