A Travellerspoint blog

Sydney - Australia

overcast 26 °C
View 3M - Footprints in the Sand on ansaevy's travel map.

What a relief to arrive in this beautiful city after the "rock" experience. Some great impressions we collected from Sydney:

The food

Sydney has a big Asian population so the variety of Asian food offered is huge. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Malaysian,... You can go for the cheap take-away or dine in a nice fancy restaurant, depending on the money you want to spent. Beware, Sydney is not cheap, so we found the Asian take-away a welcome alternative.
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The water & The Bridge

Darling Harbour is just beautiful as is the rest of the harbour. Numerous bars and restaurants can be found along the side. There are several spots where you can take the ferry to cross the Sydney harbour, giving you the best view of the Sydney harbour bridge. We decided not to do the walk on the bridge. Although most Australians say it is the best thing you can do in Sydney, the price they charge is crazy and our experience learnt us that Australians have the habit of overstating things and making them look better than they actually are. So missed out on this one and we can't tell you whether the view is really that "spectacular".
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Sydney opera house

Of course you can't leave Sydney without doing a tour of the world famous opera house. Outside architecture we found impressive. The design is unique and given the fact that it was a nightmare to build, the result is there. Inside however, we was a bit disappointed. We've seen more beautiful opera houses and theaters. But the tour is interesting because it gives you the history behind the construction (problems) of the building.
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Bondi Beach & surfin dudes

This is one of the great things about Sydney. It's beaches. 15 minutes outside the big city you can find Bondi beach. Near the beach no big appartment buildings but small shops, bars and places to eat. What I liked about it is that it had the atmosphere of a small beach town. Of course, the surfers are nice to watch too :) Who doesn't want to be a cool surfer dude, hey? So Ansa took off to hire a surf board. It can't be that difficult, he said. After two hours of struggling to get into the deeper water and trying to lie down on his surf board, he abanded the ocean...for the day.

The next day we were picked up by a guy with a hangover and a van in a very bad state, driving to a remote beach only accessible by 4x4. We had a one day surfing course.
Man, it's hard! Even though the waves were not that big, it's is hard work to get into the deeper water. Once you are there you get on your surf board to find your sweet spot. When you see the wave coming, you paddle as hard as you can to get the right speed (after one hour in the water your arms get pretty tired). Then the wave reaches you and this is the moment where you stand up on your board and keep your balance! When you can't keep your balance, you drink a lot of salt water and you start again. And again. But it's all worth it when you surf that wave till you reach the beach. Yes!

The next two days we could hardly get out of bed cause our bodies were aching so much. We are getting old!

New Years Eve (NYE)

We saw the fireworks! Thank God for that. After four hours of queing we managed to get into the park that is supposed to offer the best view on the fireworks. However, there were 20,000 people with the same aspirations so finding a good spot to sit was not easy. Thanks to a german couple (Mark & Sandra) that we met in Cairns, bumped into in Ayers' rock and bumped into again in the 20,000 people crowd (do the statistics), we got smuggled into the VIP section and had a splendid view of the fireworks. The 10 minutes long fireworks. Imagine we would have got on a boat for 500 dollars per person...
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Blue Mountains

We spent one day in the blue mountains, about two hours from Sydney by train. Here we were fortunate enough to see the sunset, it was not raining! Beautiful view, but a bit overstated by the Australians... One day in the mountains was sufficient for us.
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Posted by ansaevy 28.12.2008 23:14 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Ayres' Rock - Australia

rain 25 °C
View 3M - Footprints in the Sand on ansaevy's travel map.

The Rock

Indeed, it's a rock. A big, huge rock in the middle of the desert. It's supposed to be famous for it's changing colours during the day, especially during sunrise and sunset. So, of course we wanted to see this magic place. Especially to the aboriginals it has a mystical meaning.

Did you know that in the desert it could rain? Well, it does. Not very often but when we were there, it rained for two days... making our sunrise tour not very interesting. The rock did not change colour. There was no wildlife to be seen, no aboriginals to be seen and accomodation was horrible. The resort has a monopoly so prices are high, very high, and quality low. If you ever to go to Ayres' Rock, don't stay in the outback pioneer cause you will share your showers and toilet with lots of bugs.

So Ayers' Rock was a bit disappointing for us because of the bad weather and the bad accomodation. Bad luck I guess?

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Posted by ansaevy 28.12.2008 23:13 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cairns - Australia

semi-overcast 28 °C
View 3M - Footprints in the Sand on ansaevy's travel map.

After Auckland our next destination was Cairns, pronounced as "Cans", Australia, via Brisbaine. At check-in it appeared that Qantas Airlines was not really organised.

At the checking in in Auckland we were told twice to go via immigrations in Brisbaine, collect our bags and check in for Cairns. This was not so easy when we got there with only one hour to spare.....
First we cleared immigrations, went to find that only one bag had arrived and the other was lost... after 40 minutes looking for the bag we found out that they gave us the wrong information. We did not need to collect our bags or clear immigrations. We should have just transited to our next flight. Now only 15 minutes before the flight to cans we found a brother to help us. Thank god!!
He called to hold the plane, we walked us through security, were they took all our liquids over 100ml, costing us over 30 euros then moving us to the plane.

Open Water Diving Course
As soon as we arrived in Cairns, we tried to book up an open water course for me. Apparently Scuba diving gets more popular as the first company we tried (Pro-Dive) was fully booked for the time we were in the city. Fortunately, we found another one (Deep Sea Divers) where I could start immediately. Professional company offering a 5 day course of which 2 days training in the pool, 2 days open sea training and 1 day fun diving. I must admit, It was all work and no play. Doing your open water in warm water and with the sun on your fins, its a hard life. On top, the equipment is heavy and the under water breathing is quite an adjustment. Most of the time, I did not know where I was in the water ( under water coordination = very hard!!), I was locating my buddy and I was looking at my gauge or oxygen meter. But once you are at ease with that, it is truly an amazing experience. I'm ready to start the real Scuba diving now.

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Quad biking
Whilst Evy was doing her Open water I descided to go quad biking on my own. Little did I know that I would meet the brothers from hell. 2 brothers that have been quad biking all their crazy lifes. I was told it was a scenic ride... this was far from the truth. Let put it this way.... I was very lucky to be alive!!

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Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is north of Cairns, and the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the reef. Watch out for the wild life on the roads!
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To spice it up, we did a night walk in the rain forest. We thought we were out for a quick evening walk but our guide thought differently of that. He insisted on showing us the many smaller and bigger creature that come out at night in the forest. After a three hour tour I had seen enough and was thursty as hell. However, at night finding a bottle of water in the middle of f**king nowhere is a challenge. After another half an hour walk we managed to reach civilisation and found a bar that was still open. Thank God! Water never tasted so good.

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Posted by ansaevy 25.12.2008 02:37 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

New Zealand North Island

semi-overcast 17 °C
View 3M - Footprints in the Sand on ansaevy's travel map.

The Ferry took us to the North Island, via Picton, a village with a picturest harbour surrounded by the mountains. Beautifull.
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However, our first day on the North Island turned out to be less beautifull...our campervan went boom boom no zoom...broke down in a small town a couple of hours from Wellington, on the motorway blocking one lane out of two. People were so nice to tell us that we couldn't park there. Like we had a choice!
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Five hours later we were back on the road, with a new campervan. A little behind schedule, we put our foot down so we could reach Lake Taupo before night fall.

Rafting - Grade V
The next day we got picked up by a hyper-active hippie with dreads. He spoke around 45 minutes non-stop before getting to the rafting location. He made me nervous! Was this nutter going to guide us down the river? I HOPE NOT!!

After a quick safety chat and a handout of the equipment we head off to the river. Before getting on the boat we did a Maori prayer so that our broken bones and our lifeless souls would go to a safe place in case something would happen. You should know that a Grade V river is the most difficult rafting possible. This river consists of three waterfalls, two of two meters and one of seven. Hence, the prayer.

Maori History
After surviving the rafting experience, we decided to learn a little bit more about the Maori culture and the famous Haka. A Haka is a war dance, made famous by the New Zealand rugby players before starting a game.
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Our trip in New Zealand was definitely too short! Although the weather is similar to Belgium, it's a beautifull country. We know that we will want to come back as spend a lot more time here.

Posted by ansaevy 17.12.2008 17:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

New Zealand South Island

rain 15 °C
View 3M - Footprints in the Sand on ansaevy's travel map.

Well now we are in New Zealand, in the south Island after we paid extra for 2 flights, from Auckland. It was hightly recommended that we travelled by camper van back up to Auckland as this was the way to experience New Zealand. I for one have never done camping or been in a camper van. The nearest I got to camping was having a chat with a friend.

Evy on the other hand is a die hard camper....

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Christchurch

After a day in Christchurch we arrange to collect a van. Its pretty difficult to pick the right one. Others we had met chose a camper to their budget. Well, we were going to pick a camper that meets my comfort levels. So we took a camper that has a 2 ring cooker with grill, shower, toilet and a double bed. Disco ball was optional!!

Before picking up the camper Van we took a day out in Christchurch. Its a sleepy town but beautiful. We took in the walk around the city and went and had a look at the Christchurch Arts Museum.
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Fox Glacier

Wow..... 800 meters above sea level was the Fox Glacier, 5 miles of Ice river, 2 miles wide, moving at about 1 to 4 metres a day. We took a Heli trek in the morning. We were not sure it will happen due to bad weather. Today we were lucky... the trip was on! Later due to bad weather all other trips were cancelled for the day.
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Hot springs

On the way to Kaikoura we stopped at a hot spring. It didn't look all that but we took a chance. We took a option for a private spa room ;-). The water was very warm, around 45 oC, with black algy. It did not look very nice but it felt good!
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Whale watch

The weather was not that great but we had 3 sightings of a whale. Followed by a group of Dusky Dolphins. We were out to sea for about 3 hours and the sea was pretty choppy. We took sea sickness pills to help. We were lucky, others on the trip did not and it got a little messy :-(
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Posted by ansaevy 11.12.2008 23:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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