Freitag, 5. Dezember 2014

New Zealand

12.11.2014 - 02.12.2014

On the 12th of November I eventually left my beloved Australia to go to its little sister, New Zealand. I felt like since I probably won’t be that close to NZ again within the next couple months, why not just go and check out what it has to offer.

After a relatively short flight from Sydney, I arrived in Christchurch on the late night of the 12th/early morning of the 13th of November, and decided to crash at the airport to save money and the transfers to the hostel and back. At 9:45am the Stray bus picked me up to get to my first stop of my three-week-trip.
My route looked a little something like this, with my first stop being Kaikoura.

 In Kaikoura we had the chance to experience wild dolphins by either watching them from a boat, or even swimming with them. I went with the latter, and did not regret the decision, even though that meant getting up at 4:45AM (!!!) and jumping into the ice cold sea. We were extremely lucky to have about 100 dolphins around us. You must keep in mind that the dolphins are wild and not trained at all!
Here’s just a small impression of how amazing this tour was, though I thought it was a bit pricey.

 Wellington's Cuba Street - one of my favorite places in NZ.
 The following pictures are a compilation of some of my favorite shots. These two were taken in a small surfer town called Raglan, on the North island.

 We stopped at a place called Lake Aniwhenua overnight and got to experience some Maori tradition. It started with a Maori hangi, food cooked in earth, and was followed by other traditions, such as bracelet weaving, bread making, and eel fishing.

 Boiling mud baths close to Rotorua. You can’t really stand close to them for longer than a couple minutes, or you will puke due to the smell.

 At the Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro, we hiked up the Top of the World for a total of 4-5 hours to get a view like this.

These Shamels (sheep+camel) are bred in Whakahoro.

Wifi in New Zealand is rare, and if you find any you will hardly find it for free.

SKYDIVE IN ABEL TASMAN! Pretty amazing experience and an indescribable feeling to jump out of a plane from 13.000ft/4km. BEFORE picture with my favorite Dutchies, who also attempted the skydive...

AFTER picture...

Queenstown was a bit of an adventure. This town offers anything you can think of to give you the ultimate adrenaline kick. I watched a friend drop down the canyonswing (for free, since he won it….lucky maaan) but didn’t dare to attempt it myself. We also got to try the world’s best burger (according to CNN), the Fergburger. Personally, I still prefer In-N-Out.

Lastly, I did my New Zealand trip through Stray travel, but would not recommend traveling through Stray. On one of my first bus trips the bus driver made a mistake and no-showed me, even though I had been on the bus all along. I then got kicked off the bus at the next station, in Raglan, and thus missed Waitomo, my highlight of the North island. When I called the office right after the incident, they did not only tell me it was pretty much my fault for miscommunicating with the driver, but did not offer me a reimbursement of any kind, until after my 5th e-mail, to which they replied to offer me $100NZD, which is still only a fraction of the $799NZD I paid for the bus pass. If you are going to NZ, I’d really recommend to just take the public buses, or the Intercity or Naked bus, that is not guided, but way cheaper, and in my opinion, way more organized. Furthermore, while we were on the Stray bus, we were once offered shots, if we wrote a positive review about Stray on (something like Tripadvisor), with the best review getting an upgrade to a double room at one of the stops. The driver said that they had received a negative review that day and pretty much needed to conceal it - In my opinion not the best and most genuine way to handle negative reviews.

Montag, 24. November 2014

Impressions of Melbourne & Great Ocean Road

15.10.2014 - 04.11.2014

On the 14th of October I took a night bus from Sydney to Melbourne, thinking I had saved a lot of money (which I hadn't), and believing I would get enough space in order to actually sleep. Oh, how wrong I was. I didn't sleep for a second, due to the bus driver looking like he was about to doze off any moment, so that I felt like I needed to keep an eye on him constantly. In the morning, around 7am, we finally arrived at Melbourne's Southerncross station. After crashing at a nearby hostel for a couple of hours, Aurelia, a high school acquaintance, picked me up and let me stay with her and her boyfriend and flatmates for a couple of days. I was sick for the whole first week in Melbourne and felt really bad for being a burden, but Aurelia made me feel welcome and cooked amazing veggie soup and chicken and other great stuff for me, so that I would feel better. THANKS SOOOO MUCH!!!
It's always cool being able to stay with someone that you've only been acquainted with, but get to know better after a simple thing as a really random message on facebook.

Whenever anyone speaks about Melbourne, you will notice a sparkle in their eyes accompanied by the sentence "Melbourne is so much better than Sydney". Or you will hear the less popular version, "Sydney is so much better than Melbourne". I can't remember ever meeting a person that loved both cities, and I'll have to say that I belong to the latter unpopular group of people. When I hadn't been to Melbourne yet, I thought it would become my city, and when I got there, I somehow didn't feel that instant connection. However, it definitely has its charm. Especially Fitzroy, one of the very hipster parts of town, where you will find millions of different vegan/raw/organic/altogether cafés one every corner of Smith Street and Brunswick Street. My inner hipster loved it, though.
I really couldn't find that many pictures of Melbourne itself, but I hope this little impression will do. I'll try to find more pictures in the next couple of days.

 Queen Victoria Market


I took a day trip along the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles and back (and everything inbetween), and loved it. The weather was just beautiful, and the water crystal clear. I spontaneously decided to get on my first helicopter ride above the 12 Apostles right before sunset, and it was breathtaking! I've seen many, many beautiful sunsets, but the one at this spot is probably my favorite.

Samstag, 15. November 2014

Sydney + Blue Mountains

04.10.2014 - 14.04.2014
& 04.11.2014 - 12.11.2014

This city.... I can't describe how deeply I've fallen in love with it. Unlike Brisbane or any other city, I felt an immediate connection. Just by walking down Pitt Street, through Hyde Park and the Royal Botanical Gardens, all the way to the Opera house in the sunniest spring weather, I knew that this was my city.

 I saw this cute, elderly couple sitting on a bench in the Botanical Gardens, watching a wedding party being set up in front of them, and couldn't resist snapping a shot.

 Darlingharbour and the parks surrounding the area are probably some of the best spots to spend a slow, relaxed afternoon reading a book while sipping a freshly squeezed juice.

The fascinating view from the Blue Bar/Shangri-La.

BONDI BEACH. My heart belongs to this place. Even though, at times, it is overly crowded, I would still move there in a heartbeat.

A house in Katoomba, on the way to the Blue Mountains.
 The three sisters.
 The rails of Scenic World's steepest railway in the world.

I can't point out exactly what it is about this city that I love so much. I guess it is just the atmosphere, the good weather (compared to Melbourne), the beaches, and especially the choices you have! You can have all of it if you want - you can stay in a concrete jungle, or get to the beach within 30 minutes, and even go on a day trip to hike the nearby mountains if you feel like it. SYDNEY, you will have me back someday.