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A light filled apartment with city views

Sydney

sunny 30 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

It was late by the time we arrived in Sydney and the airport seemed deserted. With the three hours of time change, we did not feel quite as tired, but sure were exhausted from the travel. At least there was no traffic close to midnight, so the taxi got us to our place in Darlinghurst in just about 20 minutes. Laura, the owner of the Airbnb apartment expected us already and showed us around.
For the six nights in Sydney we wanted to have our own place and Laura’s apartment met all of our requirements. It was very centrally located just off Oxford Street and only five minutes’ walk from the Museum train station. It offered beds for three people, a small kitchen and bathroom, so all we need. The extra bonus was the excellent view from the living room to the city including part of the harbor bridge and St. Mary’s Cathedral. And from two floors up on the roof top terrace, the view was even nicer.

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While Sam and I just enjoyed having our own place, Max was thrilled to finally being able to spread out all of his Lego parts again and spend hours at a time playing.
But obviously, we did not just stay in our apartment. After stocking up our supplies just across the road, a first excursion led us through Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral through the Domain to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a great view point to the harbor, the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. From there we walked to Circular Quay via the Botanical Gardens. Circular Quay looked great in the last light of the day and the gigantic cruise ship ‘Celebrity Solstice’ in the harbor dwarfed the surrounding buildings.

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We took a train to Newtown where we wanted to meet Hamish’s parents for dinner. It had been half a year ago, that we had met Hamish in Los Altos and we had planned all along to also meet his parents when we’d be in Australia. And the timing worked out perfectly: Hamish’s parents were anyhow in Sydney that night as the would be leaving the day after to fly over to the US to stay with him and his family for the next three months.
The streets of Newtown were bustling during the evening rush hour and the atmosphere was quite different and diverse vs. what we knew from the more central parts of Sydney. Also the Italian Bowl Café catered to the local vibe – a fun loud place with great Italian food. And it was so great to see Peter and Dianne again as it must have been a couple of years since we last met them and it’s been 10 years since we had been at their place in Newcastle. And there was so much to catch up – most importantly the devastating cyclone that had caused them having to leave their house for over half a year until it was habitable again.
Eventually, we had to head back home and we all took a bus back into town where we said our good byes. Let’s see when and where we’ll meet next time around…
The next day we had beautiful weather and headed to the zoo. At Circular Quay, this time a Royal Caribbean cruise ship had anchored and we felt tiny in comparison in our ferry boat. The ferry ride itself was already great. From the water we got to see all the classic Sydney sights.

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The Taronga Zoo was great. With its nice location on the hill overlooking the harbor, we got to see most typical Australian animals. Some of them, like the kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums, lizards, emus and many birds we had seen already during the last couple of weeks. But we enjoyed now also seeing wombats, quokkas, echidnas, the wide variety of venomous snakes, spiders, lots of other reptiles, cassowaries, ‘salties’ (saltwater crocodiles) and their freshwater relatives, seals, penguins, platypus and even the Tasmanian devils.

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While we were most interested in seeing the Australian fauna, there were obviously also many other animals around, elephants, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, lemurs, komodo dragons), tortoises and many more. All of this in nicely designed landscapes with seemingly lots of space for the animals, we really enjoyed our stay. And on top, we got to ride the ‘Skyway’ up and down the hill to see everything from above.

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After so much activity and so many animals we had discovered, it was time to catch our ferry back home. Even though we were tired, we could not resist stopping at Circular Quay to watch a couple of aborigines play the digeridoo and dance like a kangaroo or an emu – what a great and fun experience! Eventually, we took the train, stopped at Aldi to do some more shopping and headed up to the roof top terrace of our apartment for a dinner with a spectacular view.

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For Saturday, I had tickets for the Sydney Opera House – a birthday present. While Max and Sam enjoyed a full day of playing Lego, I watched La Bohème by Puccini. And as I had never been inside the Opera House before, I made sure to be there early enough to check out the building and the nice view. It seemed like the building was almost sold out with only few seats with only partial view to the stage remaining. I had opted for the cheapest category with full view of the stage, but still payed less than a quarter of the price of what those people in the first rows had spent for their seats. I truly enjoyed the experience even though I had seen La Bohème already once before when I was still able to benefit of the extremely cheap student tickets in the Munich opera house.

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As it had been a performance at midday, I was back home in the afternoon to relax and cool down again. After all, I had walked the 40 minutes home from the opera house and it had been really hot. A bit later, we headed out again – this time all three of us – to the Domain to see ‘Symphony in the Park’, one of the SydneyFestival events. As we were there early enough, we got an excellent stop in the first third of the gigantic lawn in front of the stage. The Sydney Symphonic Orchestra then treated us to four pieces: ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’ by Adams ‘Sinfonia concertante’ by Mozart, ‘Enigma Variations’ by Elgar and the ‘1812 Overture’ by Tchaikovsky. And best of all: during the last part of the overture, the music was not only enhanced by two big cannons on the stage, but also a firework in the sky above us. Simply magic!

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We walked home and were happy, but also tired and a bit exhausted. That might also be the reason why we had a very relaxed next day with a bit of TV watching. Interestingly enough, we came upon a show by Top Gear’s Richard Hammond (Top Gear) explaining how to build a planet. And in the process of explaining some basic principles, he went to the Meteor Crater in Arizona and showed the stromatolites of Western Australia while we marveled at how much we have learned and seen already on our journey so far.
While Max and I stayed home to relax, Sam headed off to Chinatown trying to find some of the places he often went to while doing his diploma thesis in Canberra ten years earlier. After a big walk around some quarters of the inner city, he headed to a cocktail bar and played a round of pool with some other guests before heading back to our apartment.

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On our last day in Sydney, I made an effort to check in for our flights. Lucky me, that I did so, as I discovered in the process that in order to receive my boarding passes, a member of Air New Zealand has to see our return flights. While I had read about that requirement a couple of months earlier, it was excellent to get a reminder of that rule 23 hours before the flight.
So, I spent some time that morning buying tickets to a destination we are allowed to travel to. This required a bit of more research to find out about the visa requirements of a couple of South-East Asian countries. By the time I knew which flight I wanted to book, at first the Air Asia site gave me some trouble and then I got kicked out. I postponed the purchase of the tickets to later in the day.
As it was a beautiful and hot day, we went to Bondi beach. It was crowded and lots of fun, just to do some people watching. Between the life guards driving around with their buggies, the surfers getting into each others' way, the sun seekers dozing off in the sun and the bathers jumping in the waves, there was always something to observe. And considering the masses of people at the beach, we were happy that we had been traveling in Western Australia with hardly anyone being even at the nicest beaches.

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Back home, I successfully booked our flights – luckily, as otherwise we might have had a big issue with trying to go to New Zealand the next day. We started the evening with the pleasant part, going dinner to a Chinese place next door. And then we had to pack our bags again. After all, our taxi picked us up already at 5:15 to go to the airport.
We go there in merely 20 minutes. We had no issues at all to check in upon presenting the details for our flight out of New Zealand. And we could then comfortable sit in the departure area to watch the sunrise before heading to our gate.

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As we enjoyed the last views of the Sydney Harbor from the sky, it was finally time to wave good bye to Australia. It had been a great time there, but while feeling a bit sorry to leave, we were also excited to discover the beauties of New Zealand.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 12:45 Archived in Australia Tagged park beach chinatown train zoo city cruise garden dinner opera harbor botanic symphony Comments (1)

The very South

The Catlins, Invercargill, Monkey Island

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

After almost two weeks on the East coast of the South Island, we were ready to discover Southland. We did not take the highway, but ventured along the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins. Our first stop was Kaka Point. We admired the fact that the lifesavers were on duty with flags posted along the beach despite the cold and rainy weather. Surprisingly, there was not a single swimmer but two surfers enjoyed their ride in the water.
By the time we reached Nugget Point, luckily the rain had stopped and we were able to take the nice hike to the lighthouse and back. The seals were not only laying lazily at the beach, but some of the also ventured out into the sea and jumped dolphin like in the waves.

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The drive was very nice – sunbathed rolling hills with the ubiquitous sheep dotting the landscape. Due to the heavy wind gusts, we were forced to drive very slowly anyhow and consequently had lots of time to enjoy the scenery.
The hike to the Purakaunui Falls was short but impressive, as it led through a dense rainforest. For the first time, since we arrived two weeks earlier, this felt like classical New Zealand as you would imagine it. The ferns and silver fern trees are just special and in our mind strongly connected with New Zealand.

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We camped in Papatowai close to the estuary. It seemed to be low tide, as it was easily possible to walk all the way to the beach. Even though the water was absolutely clear, it was heavily stained by the tannin from the rainforest.

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The next morning, we realized that the tide was even much lower then as the estuary seemed to be almost completely dry. So we headed off quickly to make sure we arrived in Curio Bay while the tide was still low. We wanted to make sure that the rock platform with the petrified remains of a Jurassic forest was still accessible.

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Once we had excessively explored Curio Bay, we headed over to Porpoise Bay for our lunch break. Even though it is just around the corner, the wide sandy beach there seemed like worlds apart. After a while we realized that there were not only some swimmers and surfers enjoying the surf in the bay, but also a pod of the small (and rare) Hectors Dolphins.

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On our way to Waipapa Lighthouse, we passed Shole Point, the southernmost point on the New Zealand mainland. That made us realize that we were just further south on our planet than we had ever been before. After all, New Zealand is further south than Africa, Australia and Tasmania. With the obvious exception of Antarctica and the islands of the Southern Ocean, one can get further South only in Chile and Argentina. And while we have been to both countries before, we had not gone that far South.

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For the night we stayed at the Lignite Pit Café. Its obvious feature is the former pit of lignite (admittedly we had to look up what that is and found out that it’s just the scientific way of saying ‘brown coal’). For the last couple of years the pit has been transformed by a garden lover into a marvelous place featuring secret places, lookouts, bridges, islands set around the water filled former pit. Both Sam and I agreed that while we loved the place, our mothers with their love of plants and gardening would have probably appreciated it even more.

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The next morning, we enjoyed the heat and the sunshine in the morning. And luckily we did so, as just a bit later when we reached Invercargill it started raining heavily. We used the opportunity to do some shopping, but then quickly headed out of town.
As we passed some stretches of coast line and a lake, we wondered how nice the landscape might look in more favorable weather. But the grey day did not help to set a nice scene. Consequently, we ended up at our free camp at Monkey Island Road without further stops. That left enough time there to keep ourselves busy in the camper (once again congratulating us on renting a camper vs. camping in a tent) by playing Lego, publishing the blog and reading.
In the evening the rain stopped for a short while, just enough to allow us to hike to Monkey Island during low tide. We were treated to the light of a beautiful sunset. Sam used the opportunity to test his photography skills. Eventually it got too dark and we returned to the campervan just in time before it started raining again.

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The next morning it was dry and we used the opportunity to hike along the beach. It was extremely windy, but wild and beautiful.

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Continuing along the coast, we realized that it is probably always so windy there. At least all bushes and trees were clearly oriented towards inland. With those last impressions, it was time to wave good bye to the Southern coast. The almost impenetrable Fjordland Nationalpark was waiting for us.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 17:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged coast beach island garden forest seal lighthouse dolphin fern petrified pit Comments (0)

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