Quiet days in Adelaide

It’s not a very impressive city, not in the way that makes me take a lot of photos at least, but me and Lauren had a good time here nevertheless. Sunday night we went out to dinner with Mike and Lulu from the tour, because they both left on another tour to Alice Springs early the next morning. Monday we went to a shopping mall to buy some gloves and hats for the cold desert nights around Uluru and then checked out the pretty little seaside town of Glenelg.

I also had to organize my trip down the west coast, which proved much more difficult than expected because Greyhound runs only irregularly, much to my dismay. I’ll have to spend a couple of nights on the bus and only managed to fit in two stops (3 nights each, in Broome and Monkey Mia respectively). But at least those two stops I’m really looking forward to.

Tuesday we wanted to go to a Wildlife Park, but the weather was less than ideal, so we checked out the Central Market instead and then visited the historical Ayers Mansion, which was very interesting. In the evening we went to see the new Batman movie in the theatre – Lauren loathed it, I quite enjoyed it, and we both thought Heath Ledger was brilliant in his last role. Afterwards goodbye drinks at a pub, and early this morning Lauren left on another Oz Experience tour to Alice Springs. I’ll hopefully be meeting her and a couple of others when I’m up in Darwin.

This morning I’m packing my things for the 25 hours on the Ghan train to Alice Springs, which I’m quite looking forward to. As always, all photos can be found here on Flickr.

Adelaide Adelaide Adelaide Adelaide

Melbourne – Adelaide

Arrived in Adelaide in one piece last night, after a packed 3 days with Oz Experience. It was a blast, not just because of the stunning landscapes of the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians, but also because we were an awesome group of people – 13 altogether, plus our guide Kate. We all got on like a house on fire, which made it all that much better.

But first I need to recap the last days in Melbourne: I spent some more time exploring the city, including the Botanical Gardens, the Queen Victoria Market and the Shrine of Remembrance (war memorial). I also took a tour of a lovely historical home, Como House, and looked at an impressive Art Deco exhibition at the National Museum.

Then the tour: The first day we drove along the Great Ocean Road to the famous 12 Apostles. On the way we saw wild koalas, cockatoos and parrots, took a walk among the tree tops at Otway (nothing for people with vertigo) and generally got to know each other. In the hostel in tiny little Princetown we met a tour going the other way (Adelaide – Melbourne), including a Swiss girl from the Valais (yay for Swiss German! *g*). The second day we left the coast (lots of wind and rain – and rainbows!) and drove to the Grampians, where we did a hike in the Wonderland, which was great but incredibly windy. That night we stayed at the best hostel EVER, in Halls Gap. The third day consisted of another hike (or rather, mountain climb, as we had to go on hands and knees for most of it) up Hollow Mountain and then a long drive to Adelaide, leaving Victoria behind for South Australia. We saw emus, wallabies, kangaroos (including albino ones) – and naked men… *g*

In Adelaide a bunch of us (Lauren, Layla, Mike and I) ended up at the YHA and we met up with a few others for dinner that night. Us three girls then proceeded to buy matching t-shirts to commemorate the tour and the almost-loss of four backpacks when Kate forgot to close the trailer!

Today we had to say goodbye to Layla and then Lauren and I met up with Tom, Sonja’s husband from Melbourne, in town for business, and we went to the Botanical Gardens and the South Australia Museum. We also bumped into three people from the tour – Alan & Jane from Scotland and Kim from Korea, and tonight we’ll meet up with our French girl Lucile for dinner. Altogether I’m having a simply marvelous time! Stay tuned for more exciting adventures, and in the meantime enjoy the photos on my Flickr

Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Melbourne - Adelaide Adelaide

Goodbye Melbourne

Photos and details on what I’ve been doing the past couple of days will have to wait, because the bus tour to Adelaide will leave tomorrow morning at 6.30am from the town centre, so I should get packed and go to bed. But I’ve had a really good time here, thanks to Sonja and her family, and I’m sad to leave, although I’m looking forward to seeing the famous Great Ocean Road.

First stop in Australia: Melbourne

I finally arrived on Saturday, after Rathy was nice enough to bring me to the airport at 4 in the morning. My friend Sonja came to pick me up, and since then I’ve been staying with her and her lovely family in a suburb of Melbourne, full with cute little Victorian worker’s cottages. Their house, for example, is only one room wide, built a little like a train. Sonja and her husband Tom both speak German, so we get to have secret conversations in front of the two boys (Sean and Yannik) a lot. *g*

I’ve also been exploring the city a bit, walking around the CBD (Central Business District), which is full of beautiful old buildings in between modern skyscrapers. There’s also trams going everywhere, so I feel right at home. πŸ™‚ Another thing I like about Melbourne are the many, many parks – when they planned the city in the mid-1800s, they sure did a good job.

There are also some nice museums – on Sunday, when the weather was bad, we went to the Melbourne Museum, and yesterday I spent some time at the State Library, looking at a beautiful exhibition of old books. The family also took me to Williamstown on the sea, where I got a lovely look at the Melbourne skyline.

Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne

The new Flickr album can be found here. Now I have two more days here, which I intend to put to good use.

Last night at the flat

So my time here is officially almost over. Here’s my last week in Wellington:

– Saturday: Dinner with friends at Southern Cross, then out to a bar and dancing.
– Sunday: Last time at church.
– Monday: Saying goodbye to Adeline and an evening at Strawberry Fare with my friends from church.
– Tuesday: Miriam and Charlotte come to Wellington and I give them a tour of Wellington.
– Wednesday: Birthday lunch for Jessica. Getting stuff done like waiting for the courier and closing my bank account.
– Thursday: Visit to Te Papa Tongarewa museum. The evening is spent hanging out with Jessica, Rathy, Michelle, Supriya and Celia, eating takeout and watching TV.

Goodbye Wellington Goodbye Wellington Goodbye Wellington Goodbye Wellington Goodbye Wellington
As always, all photos can be found here in my Flickr album. For Australia I’ll start a new one.

Tomorrow Rathy will take me to the airport at 4am, because my plane leaves for Melbourne at 6am. I seriously can’t really believe that I won’t be coming back here, not for a long time at least. But here’s the itinerary for Australia so far:

July 25-30: Melbourne, staying with my friend Sonja
July 31-August 2: bus tour to Adelaide
Aug 3-5: Adelaide
Aug 6-7: Ghan train to Alice Springs
Aug 8-10: tour to see Uluru/Ayers Rock
Aug 11-13: Ghan train to Darwin
Aug 14-24: travel down the west coast by Greyhound
Aug 25-September 1: Perth, staying with my friend Nancy
September 2: flying to Singapore, where I’ll stay with my friend Amy
September 6: arriving in Zurich

Kia ora from Aotearoa – I’ll talk to you from the land of kangaroos, folks! πŸ™‚

Edit: My flight was canceled because of the strong wind and rain we’ve been having here. I was told to call tomorrow about a later flight, but in any case I’m booked for Saturday.

Last day…

Everything’s packed and I gave my keys to Meredith. Not as many boxes as I’d feared, but oh, it was hard! Trying to get excited about going down South tomorrow, but not quite there yet. I’m more thrilled about my Australia trip at the moment:

Staying with a friend in Melbourne, then a three-day tour along the famous Ocean Road to Adelaide. From there I’ll take the Ghan train to Alice Springs and go see Uluru, before taking the train all the way up to Darwin. Then down the west coast to Perth by Greyhound bus. In Perth I’ll again be staying with a friend before flying to Singapore on September 2.

Tonight Rathy, Jessica, Michelle and I will go out to dinner, the last one as official flatmates. Right now I’m watching a DVD while eating a golden kiwi fruit and the last two precious Basler LΓ€ckerli.

Last day

Next update will be from Christchurch, probably.

It’s official

I’ve paid the first half of my plane ticket, so I now have a schedule for leaving New Zealand. Needless to say I’m not happy about it. πŸ™

But here are the dates:
June 19: last exam
visit Denise, pack and ship all my stuff
June 28: Meredith moves into my room
travel the South Island, spend a couple of days saying goodbye to Wellington
July 25: Wellington – Melbourne
travel Melbourne – Adelaide – Alice Springs – Uluru – Perth
Sept 2: Perth – Singapore
break up the long flight by visiting Amy
Sept 5: Singapore – London – Zurich

I’ll arrive in Zurich on Sept 6 at noon. It’s a Saturday, so hopefully my whole family can come and pick me up.

Back home

Got back in one piece – but let me tell you, Australia really is pretty far away… There are definitely more fun things than spending almost 30 hours on planes and in airports! *g*

Another thing to remember is NOT TO PLAY WITH YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA WHEN TIRED!!! Because if you do that, you might just delete every single pictures you've taken in two months… πŸ™ Luckily I have all my New Zealand pictures backed up in New Plymouth, and Denise and Ross are going to burn them on a CD and send them to me – but the pics I took in two weeks Australia are. All. Gone. Which sucks. But luckily you can't erase memories, no matter how much you play with your digital camera… *g*

Now I'm trying to get settled in again. Got my uni schedule sorted (uni starts again on October 20), organized all emails I got (turns out the forwarding didn't work with shirasade@just-in-dreams.com), watched the extra material on “The Two Towers” (how much do I love Lord of the Rings?), and got some updating done on my websites. I'm almost ready to start normal life again – although I'd prefer to do that in a warmer climate… *g* I've been traveling through all four seasons in two months – summer in Switzerland, winter in New Zealand, spring and summer in Australia, and back to fall in Switzerland (cold and grey).

I'll be sure to share pics with you asap – I've already bought additional webspace on chocolate dream… Thanks to my own stupidity you'll have to wait a while, though. My apologies.

Thanks to all of you who wrote me emails or comments, or just thought of me – I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you! *hugs*

Sydney airport: some things I forgot to mention

Like the first time I was in Sydney (on my way to Auckland two months ago), I'm taking advantage of the free internet provided – hard to believe that I got a spot at one of the three terminals without waiting… Anyway, in my ramblings about travellers cheques and airline luggage restrictions some things I wanted to share totally slipped my mind.

First of all, what I've done today, in addition to posting books (which seems to be part of all my trips – I am obviously completely incapable of leaving books behind *g*), I also made a trip to the famous Bondi beach. Today the weather was much better than yesterday, although still cool, so I didn't stay too long on the beach – but it's nice there, almost mediterrenian, and I always enjoy watching people surf (even yesterday at Manly quite a lot of guys were out in the water). After that I took the train back to the city and visited the glasshouses in the Botanical Gardens, which had still been closed yesterday morning (a drawback of being up and about at 8am…), something I always enjoy. Then I went and bought a CD I had been unable to find back at home or online – the soundtrack of “One Night the Moon”, an Australian musical we showed at our film festival this spring. I also made myself comfortable on a nice couch in the biggest Dymock's bookstore and finished reading “The Hours”, started in a Borders in Auckland two months ago… Naughty me – reading and not buying (for a change…)! πŸ™‚

Another thing I can't believe I forgot to mention is what happened yesterday, when Naomi and I were in the elevator down to the lobby, on our way to the cinema (to watch “Pirates of the Caribbean” – the second viewing for both of us). The doors opened on first floor, and a girl came in, looking awfully familiar… We just stared at each other for a bit, before she asked (in English) where I was from, sounding incredulous. It was a fellow Medias student – we used to have some classes together. And where do we meet again, of all places? In an elevator in Sydney…

This story takes over first place in my hitlist of funny meetings, hands down! LOL We stood in the lobby for a while, chatting in Swiss German about uni life and next semester's classes, still a bit wide-eyed and unbelieving at the whole thing. I'm still having trouble believing it, actually. *g*

During this trip I haven't collected quite as many email addies as usually, but once more I've met quite a number of interesting people and had fun watching the weird habits of the human species… For example the driver of the airport shuttle, who knew exactly which lights stayed red for a while, and always had a book on the wheel, starting to read even before the bus had stopped completely. That must have been a REALLY good book! πŸ™‚
Or my bunkmate, who I never really met, because he came in when I was already deep asleep, and I left in the morning long before he got up. So last night at the bar I saw this guy that looked kind of familiar – and Naomi introduced me to the guy who'd been sleeping above me for the last three nights… He was very interested in Howie, my purple teddy bear. LOL

I have lots of stories to tell, but as always there's never time to share them all. And it's probably not very interesting for you anyway. Therefore I'm shutting up now! *g* Talk to yous when I'm back home… *hugs*

Sydney: the very last day…

Quite a lot has happened since my last update – I really should write here every day to share all the small things that I've seen and done… But since that's impossible, here's another overview – the last one from this trip, because I'm flying home tonight. πŸ™

The trip to Sydney went well – I spent another night in Brisbane, where I picked up my small suitcase (filled with books and other stuff I picked up during the last two months – mostly heavy… *g*), then I caught a train to Sydney, which was nice. I just like trains better than buses, it's so much more relaxed.
I wasn't so thrilled about the hostel I'd booked in Sydney's city center (a huge complex called 'Wake Up!', with a name as a party hostel, which is not exactly my thing when traveling by myself), but despite my misgivings I enjoyed my stay there. Luckily my room mates (both guys and girls) managed to stumble into the room in the wee hours of the morning more or less quietly – or maybe I've just developed the ability to sleep through anything… *g*
My days in Sydney were pretty long, because my body just never bothered switching from New Zealand time, which is two hours later, causing me to wake up around 6am. Accordingly I was normally the first one asleep, except for last night, when I went to the movies with one of my room mates (Naomi, from England) and then to the hostel bar for a cheap (and yucky) cocktail and a bit of dancing.

I spent Saturday walking around the city center, admiring the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, in lovely sunshine. This gave rise to some false hopes, so that I was not quite prepared for the grayness and rain that accompanied my Sunday daytrip to the Blue Mountains as part of a tour. But it was nice nonetheless, and I specially enjoyed walking down about 880 steps through the rainforest with awesome views. (Good thing, too, that there was the world steepest railway going back up! LOL)
Monday the weather was similarly dreary, which kind of spoiled my plan to go to Manly Beach and do part of the 10km hike along the coast. Instead I spend a couple of hours walking around the Botanical Gardens, waiting for the Australia Museum to open. That proved to be very interesting, with a good exhibition about the Aborigines, so I was occupied for several hours. After that I took the ferry over to Manly, where an international Jazz festival consoled me for missing out on the hiking. I ended up walking only a bit along the beach, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

Today I waited around the hostel for a bit before checking out, because I had discovered that my luggage weighed too much for the regulations of Emirates Air. I had to send off 5kg of books, which of course cost me quite a bit – but not as much as paying for overweight would have. I'm seriously considering flying over the US next time even if it costs more, because then I'd be allowed to take up to 70kg check-in and 10kg handluggage (instead of measly 20 + 7kg on flights over Asia). Oh well, that's how we learn – by paying… *g*

Same goes for traveller's cheques – that form of travel money has obviously outlived its usefulness, what with ATMs all over the place. I've lost quite a bit exchanging Australian Dollar cheques into New Zealand Dollars, plus the exchange rate has changed in favor of the Swiss Franc in the last two months – so next time I think I'll just take my bank card and withdraw money directly (plus of course using my trusted MasterCard).

But enough of boring “Advice for Travellers”… I've been going just a bit mad here in Sydney buying souvenirs for family and friends (I promised several people bday pressies from down under, after all) – and at the moment I'm wearing a brand new t-shirt saying “Downunder – Australia”. Well, a girl has to indulge herself from time to time, after all! LOL

Another thing that has amused me is that I've been taken for a Sydneysider several times, with tourists asking me for directions. A couple of times I was even able to point them in the right direction… or not. *g*

Okay, time to get back to the hostel and pick up my luggage. I'll be home tomorrow afternoon (Swiss time) – we'll see how I'll cope with the massive time difference and all the things I'll have to do in the next two weeks before uni starts… Right now I'm kind of looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, but I'm also a bit sad because Marrie had to cancel her planned visit with me. And I had so many plans already of traveling Switzerland with her… Oh well, next time!

Sending all of you big hugs from Australia for the last time – hope you haven't forgotten me while I was gone! πŸ™‚