A Travellerspoint blog

5 weeks of traveling has finally come to an end!


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Although I tried a couple of times, I didn’t manage to sleep well during the flight. This of course isn’t such a big wonder, cramped seats will do that to you and I can’t help but miss the spacious seats of a Qantas flight. British Airways sucks if you ask me!

I tried to fall asleep a couple of times, but in the end I just gave up hope and I resorted to watching movies till we landed in Heathrow. The first one that I watched was “Hotel Transylvania”, but I was a bit disappointed by my initial choice. Because I wanted to watch another cartoon, I ended up choosing a Pixar production called “Up”, which surprisingly enough was more to my liking. I really liked to movie and the story it tells.

As soon as this movie ended, we’ve got an announcement that we were almost in Heathrow and I was just so happy to get out of this damn plane and hoped to stretch my legs for a bit.

We haven’t had a decent breakfast since yesterday, so our first priority was to look for something to eat. After walking for a few minutes, we found the perfect spot at Giraffe. It has an African feel to it and quickly enough we found a nice enough seat. There were just so many choices but in the end I went for the stacked Blueberry & Banana pancakes with maple syrup and Tania’s choice of the day were scrambled eggs on toasted rye bread with cherry tomatoes.

It all looked so yummy and needless to say, together with a few cups of tea it went down in a jiffy.

We still had some time left to do a bit of window shopping before we had to go back to our gate to board our last plane of this trip towards Brussels.

And about an hour later it actually happened … 5 weeks of travelling had finally come to an end and the only thing left for us to do was to reunite with our wonderful family and drive back home.

Posted by Ils1976 00:45 Archived in England Tagged home airport friends family plane europe movies Comments (8)

Singapore in a nutshell


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We wanted to get as much out of one day in Singapore as we possible could, so this meant of course that we couldn’t sleep in.

I set our alarm clock a few hours ago, but this time around it wasn’t that small obnoxious thing that woke me up. I don’t know for how long actually, but there was a noise that was bugging me. It sounded like something was nibbling on a piece of paper, but I didn’t know if it was for real or it was all in my head. Have I finally gone crazy???

Not certain what to do, Tania made the decision for me by turning on the light. At that moment I was looking at our desk / cupboard because I figured out that the noise was coming from that direction. As soon as we had light, I saw something small and grey running for its life towards the curtains. What the heck!?

Getting a closer look at the desk, I noticed that something took a few bites out of my cereal bar, which I left there just a few hours ago. Okay, I have to admit, this wasn’t a smart move of yours truly, but it never crossed my mind that there was a 3rd roommate!

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The only conclusion we both could give was … better a mouse than a freaking cockroach!

Although I had a good night’s rest, it wasn’t the same for my roommate (and I am not talking about the fury one!!!). Tania slept right under the AC and during the few hours that we could have had some sleep, it turned into a real fridge, which isn’t good of course. Hopefully she gets some sleep during our long flight home this evening.

Because we are limited with time, we managed to get dressed in no time and the only thing on our minds right now besides doing lots of sightseeing is food. Being home based in Chinatown is excellent for the first thing, but not for the second as we both aren’t big fans of hot food in the morning.

As soon as we stepped outside, the humidity hits me and I am not liking it. While Tania is making a few pictures of the hotel, I am trying to sweat as little as possible. Blimey, this is really difficult for me!

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Outside, there are a few Chinese food stalls, but the smell isn’t really helping so, we walk onwards, leaving Temple Street and try to look for the first sightseeing of the day, this being the Sri Mariamman Temple.  It takes a few minutes to figure out our street map, but once we get the hang of it, we manage to find in no time Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple and I immediately fell “in love” with the vibrant colours. There’s already lots of activity at the entrance tower and it looks like there is going to be a wedding later this afternoon. Although we are invited to have a closer look, we politely reject the offer. After all, there’s still so much to discover and so little time.

We walk into Pagoda Street which looks very abandoned at this early hour. There are many shops, but sadly enough they are all closed and we agree to owe it to ourselves to come back later this evening, knowing that it is going to be more “alive” then!

Still looking for a place to eat, we cross lots of streets and even have a stop at Telok Ayer Park with its lovely statues, but still see nothing to our satisfaction. After wandering around the neighborhood for a while, we arrive in what looks like a financial district area and when we finally have given up hope of ever finding something, we manage to see a Starbucks.

This time around we don’t have to think twice about the whole thing and take this opportunity with both hands. It takes a while to get our order placed, but after a lot of sign language we each end up with a yummy juice and cream cheese bagel. There is a God! :)

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Now that our stomachs are happy, we are planning to see as much of the city as we possibly can. Our initial thought was to take a hop on / hop off bus but till now, we haven’t seen much of those. We know they have to be around here somewhere because we saw that on the internet, but for some reason we can’t seem to spot them.

Instead of waiting at the same place and secretly hoping that one of them comes along, we decide to walk towards the nearest sightseeing in the neighborhood.

Upon our arrival at the Thian Hock Keng Temple, we notice a few people walking around, but unfortunately no busses. We look for a sign of the hop on / hop off bus, but once again we get disappointed, there’s just nothing there. How strange ???

Now that we are at the Temple of Heavenly Happiness, we might as well have a closer look at it and although I already saw many temples in the past, this one is nice as well. We have a quick look at the different offering shrines and then the search for the hop on / hop off bus is back on!

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I figured we might have a better chance of finding one when we get to the Merlion. This statue of a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, is used as a mascot and national personification of the city of Singapore. The fish body represents Singapore’s past when it was only a fishing village and the lion head represents Singapore’s original name being “Lion City” … Asian people, they are so creative … me like! :)

Along the way, the traffic gets busier and busier and when we are almost at the Marina Bay, we notice one of the busses … see, we were right. We asked a few people “on route” if they knew a bus stop and they all looked at us as if we were crazy … this proofs it. We aren’t insane, there is a hop on / hop off bus. We just have to find the nearest bus stop and we are on our way! How difficult can that be!?

Our best bet is still the Merlion and as we are walking towards it, using a pedestrian zone along the waterfront area, it gave us also a better look at all the futuristic buildings on the other side of the river.

Just moments later we arrive at this famous statue and while Tania gets something to drink, I have a closer look at the miniature Merlion, while sweating like crazy. I read somewhere that the humidity is about 85 % in this country … now that is something insane!!!

It looks like this statue is the number one sightseeing attraction, we are definitely not alone here and as soon as we made a few pictures and tried out our jump moves, we were back on duty in finding a local bus stop.

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We went back and forth along the Esplanade Drive and call us (indeed) crazy, but we didn’t find one single bus stop. How weird???

It looks like this is going to be our number one obsession of the day and we decide to go and have one more look at the Singapore Flyer. We both agreed, if we can’t find it there, we aren’t going to find it anywhere else.

It’s quite a walk and this insane humidity isn’t helping either, but when we suddenly see one  of the busses again, it kind of gives us wings and in no time we arrive at this giant attraction.

Believe it or not … we are looking for those damn busses all morning long and at noon we finally figured out that these things start and end here at the world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer.

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Unfortunately we can’t seem to find one single driver, maybe they are all on their lunch break and instead of wasting more precise time, we are going to find out how things are with my fear of heights in this 165 meters tall Ferris Wheel.

Getting a ticket is easy and we quickly manage to take several escalators without queuing at all. Inside there’s a small exhibition, but we wisely decide to skip this and prolong our way towards the entrance of the capsules. We don’t have to wait in line all that long, after all, the capsules are really big and can take on lots of people.

I am really not all that nervous, but when it’s our turn to get into one of the capsules, we are “lucky” enough to end up with an obnoxious family as well. Their children run around like crazy and even knocking (or should I say banging) on windows looks like a national sport. It seems that not only on the streets, but even inside this capsule with good AC, I am breaking a sweat.

I enjoy most of the views from my safe seat in the middle of the capsule and once in a while I dare to have a closer look from the window, but I must say … I would feel better at ease when some parents do their actual job and look after their children. But that’s just me thinking out loud of course!

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After this “experience”, we both got a bit hungry, but once again it looked like a giant ordeal to find something suitable to eat. Besides strange Asian dishes, there was also the choice of fast food. Because we didn’t want to jump into the deep and try some of the local delicacies, we ended up at Subway. We both ordered a small piece of bread with a soft drink and although I expected the worst, it was eatable.

Just before we went to have a bite to eat, we bought ourselves a ticket to the hop on / hop off bus and a little after 1 PM we were able to catch a ride on the green route of the Funvee City Hopper.

At long last we are on our way!!!!

It’s quite nice to just sit, relax and enjoy the views from up above the open air double-decker. The first thing we see again is the Merlion and with it, its futuristic buildings across the water and than it is of again towards Chinatown. It looks like we only saw a little bit of the area and there was no chance that we could have walked all of this on foot.

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Our first real stop is at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and although it is near to impossible to have a complete idea of the beauty of this garden, we do manage to walk through a few paths all the way up to the National Orchid Garden. Instead of buying an entrance ticket for the garden, we chose to spend our money on an ice cream … we are so transparent, aren’t we!? :)

With this cold delight in our hands, we walked all the way back to the entrance of the Nassim Gate, just to arrive a few minutes early before we could catch our next Funvee Hopper back towards the Singapore Flyer.

We hoped to catch another bus, the Sentosa Hopper (red route), on its next trip. As we are looking at the different time schedules, we noticed that there is about half an hour of waiting between both busses. Instead of sweating like a horse at the base of this big Ferris Wheel, we decided to go and have a closer look at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. We wanted to go all the way up to the observation deck, but unfortunately it was closed.

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There was still some time left to have a quick look inside the hotel. It looks futuristic from the outside, but inside it is just the same. Such luxury!!!
I guess it’s a bit more expensive than our “romantic” hotel with 3rd roommate back in Chinatown! :)

Because we only had time for a quick glance, we hurried back towards the starting point of the Sentosa hopper. I expected lots of scenic buildings along the way, but it looked like I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of taking the local streets, the bus drove straight to the highway and the only thing we saw of Sentosa was the underground parking lot. Oh well, there is always next time of course!

Instead of going all the way back to the Singapore Flyer, we decided to get out of the bus at Orchard Road, the main shopping street of Singapore. To me it looked like the best decision of the moment. Ever since we took off from our starting point, our driver drove like a mad man and I never for one moment thought I was going to be car sick … I was wrong!

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Glad to be out of the bus, we started to walk towards the Raffles hotel. We had such a wonderful holiday, so why not end it in style!

But before we did that, we first decided to grab a bite to eat and we ended up at a small Mexican place with friendly staff and delicious quesadillas.

Once outside again, it looked very dark and just one moment later we had to undergo a heavy rain shower. Luckily we were smart enough to bring an umbrella with us, otherwise we certainly became soaking wet.

The Raffles hotel and more specific, the Long Bar, were just minutes away. This was kind of a good thing, but once at the spot, it was harder to find a seat. The outside porch was out of the question because of the bad weather and once inside, we soon noticed that we weren’t the only ones. But it helps to persevere and after a few seconds we were already able to find two seats at the bar itself. Talking about the best place in the room!

We were advised by friends of Tania to come here and enjoy the best thing that Singapore has to offer … the Singapore Sling!

Although it is a bit expensive for a cocktail, I must say that it is worth every penny and the surrounding isn’t that bad either. We couldn’t have come up with a better way to end our holiday than with such a delicious liquid.

We only had time for one Sling and as soon as we were outside again, it looked like the cocktail did his job correctly. Both a bit wobbly on our legs (luckily we ate something, otherwise it would have been a total disaster!) and with a big smile on our faces, we walked all the way back to Chinatown.

It looked like we were flying instead of walking. We made some good time and decided to have one more look at the Pagoda Street and its night market. This was the opportunity to get rid of our last dollars and in the meantime we had an excellent excuse to buy some cheap souvenirs.

Once back at our hotel, we changed into warmer cloths, asked the receptionist to call for a taxi and the only thing left for us to do is sit and wait till it arrived.

It took a while to tell you the truth and I thought it would never come, but luckily for us it was already late in the evening, so we didn’t have to be afraid of getting stuck into a traffic jam. I was happy that we managed to arrive at the international airport just in time.

After we checked in, the only thing left for us to do, was board our plane back to grey and cloudy Europe.

Posted by Ils1976 00:16 Archived in Singapore Tagged bridges art buildings singapore walk city sightseeing sights asia viewpoint Comments (2)

Final hours in Terra Australis


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Oh My God, the day has finally arrived! The one thing we both dreaded the most, but here it is, there’s not much we can do about it, so we are going to make sure this final day is definitely going to be a memorable one.

We quickly have breakfast and after checking the entire room for the last time, we are of to the reception area. Check out is going swiftly and when all of our stuff is safe at the luggage room, we are good to go and enjoy our last hours in this amazing city.

The first thing we do is go and have one more look at the Botanical Gardens and more specific Mrs. Macquaries Point. We are still trying to get that one special picture, so this is our last chance.

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Instead of taking the metro station, we decide to walk all the way to the Gardens. After a few days of being in this city, we learned that it is faster and because it is our last day, we are even brave enough to wonder off from our usual routine. Normally we use the elevator situated halfway Bourke Street, but today we walk all the way down the street and end up at Lincoln Cress, where we face a giant staircase. Amazingly enough we make good time and to our surprise we are already halfway Mrs. Macquaries Road.

Our first award of the day is getting to be up close and personal with a few Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. It looks like they are looking for food and they turn out the be excellent models.

But sadly enough we have to go and after this short intermezzo we head onwards to the viewing point. We take a few pictures of both “icons” and from here we walk alongside Farmer Cove all the way to the Opera House. We still need  that jump picture and now is a good time as any to have it. It is now or never! :)

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Arriving at Circular Quay, we take the metro station all the way up to Town Hall. We still have some tickets for the Wildlife Sydney Zoo and since we only have half a day to spend here in the city, it’s kind of an excellent ending after weeks and weeks of seeing beautiful things. In a way we hope to see all the animals we missed out on during our road trip.

When we arrive at the entrance, we are amazed that there is no queue and for just one minute I am even tempted with the idea that it is closed, but no, after we undergo the obligatory “photo session” we can go right ahead.

Our first “zone” turns out to be the Butterfly Tropics, where we can have a closer look at the Green Tree Python. We are supposed to be in the neighbourhood of the Tasmanian Devil as well, but for some reason we can’t find his den. We read on one of the many screens that there is an encounter later this morning and we don’t wanna miss out on that so instead of searching for something we can’t seem to find we pursue our way towards Gum Tree Valley and look right into the cute eyes of a local koala, no matter how you look at it, they are cute without any doubt! This one is even active and walks around, something we haven’t seen much over the last couple of weeks.

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Next up is the Wallaby Cliffs Habitat and here we see all sorts of kangaroos and wallabies, one of them being the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby and this time around it is a bit easier to take pictures!

There should be a wombat around here somewhere as well, but just like the Tasmanian Devil, we don’t seem to locate this notorious animal. How is this possible. We look for it high and low, but can’t find it. What’s going on here???

Instead of worrying too much, we pass by the Daintree Rainforest section and once more come close to the Southern Cassowary. Taking pictures of it isn’t easy, it still looks dangerous even if it is sitting behind a glass window.

Next up is the Kangaroo Walk-about and this is kind of a neat “attraction”. You can walk up close to most kangaroos and wallabies and they even have kookaburras and an emu with little chicks in the vicinity.

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Because we are a bit pressed in time, we just walk by it all and end up at Kakadu Gorge, where we meet Rex, the saltwater crocodile which is over 5 meters long. That is one big croc!

All of a sudden we hear the announcement that the encounter with the Tasmanian Devil is within a few minutes. We don’t want to miss out on that, so we just went all the way back to the sign of the devil and guess what, it was there all along, we just didn’t notice it.

We were quite early, just a handful of people were waiting and I guess we were in luck, because devils turn out to be shy creatures, but there it was, it looked so cute, but your brain says otherwise of course and in such a short time we try to take as many pictures as we possibly can.

When the keeper of Oreo and Big John (cool names don’t you think!!!) arrives, she gives us more information about devils in general as well as DFTD a.k.a. Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This contagious cancer spreads between devils when they bite each other during fights over food or when meeting to mate. The scientists estimate that the entire wild population will be extinct within 25 years. This is just terrible, but luckily nowadays they breed devils in captivity so that the population wouldn’t go extinct. This can only be seen as a good thing!

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After this little encounter, we go back towards the Wallaby Cliffs Habitat where earlier on we noticed that other infamous creature, the echidna. It was lying flat on his face (I even got the impression it was drunk !?), but now it is running around. Stupidly enough it always takes the same route. I guess he wants to escape, but it isn’t working, the wall is just too high and the neighbouring wallabies aren’t helping either.

Now the only thing we still have to find is that damn wombat. There should be a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat around, but we can’t find it. We look for it everywhere but nope .. he is nowhere to be find. All of a sudden I hear a kid yelling he found a wombat and I secretly follow him and there he is, we’ve found Sherman!

But just like the echidna in the beginning, he is sound asleep. He must feel quite at ease lying in such a position. We keep on gazing at Sherman in the hope that he quickly wakes up, but nope. It is a funny sight and the only thing we miss is the sound of him snoring! :)

We can’t stay here forever, so we prolong our way passing the Daintree Rainforest, the Kangaroo Walk-about and the Kakadu Gorge habitat again and end up in the Nightfall habitat. Here you have a chance to see all the night creatures of Australia such as the ghost bat and the greater Bilby. They all look very amazing if you can spot them, but pictures are all out of the question, they are just too fast or it is just too dark, not an ideal situation!

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Next up is the bugs garden where you can find all kinds of creepy crawlers such as the Funnel-web Spider and many more creepy things. Not my cup of tea really and within minutes I am out of there!

We have a quick look here and end up at the Koala Encounter habitat. Here we notice a few cute koalas and there is a possibility to have your picture taken with such a cutie, but unlike Queensland, you can’t hold a koala. They just take a picture with you alongside a koala bear. Not that interesting if you ask me, and although we wanted to have a second chance in having a picture taken with a koala, we wisely give it a miss. It is not worth your money!

Because we get a bit hungry, we trap ourselves once again in buying another hotdog. It seems we didn’t learn our lesson a few days ago, but that happens when you are hungry and you have a small selection of food. At least we have something in our stomach because we need to move on. There is still much to do and so little time.

We pass the exit area and have a quick glance at the pictures they took of us early in the morning, but they look so awful that we don’t even have to think twice about NOT buying it.

Now that we are outside again, we are tempted to have one last look at Paddy’s Market. We still want to go and buy some “last-minute” souvenirs. We know what we want and like a couple of tornados we go through the market.

With all the souvenirs in a few bags we head back towards Circular Quay to have one last glance at the opera and the bridge and because we still have a little bit of time left, Tania wants to go back to Mrs. Macquaries Chair to have one last chance for her perfect picture. We have to make a run for it, but we manage to arrive at the viewing point and there it is, Tania finally has her wish, if there ever was a more perfect time, this is it! We take a few pictures and than we make another run for it. This time around back to our hotel.

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We need to look for a taxi, because we can’t keep up with the running mode we are in right now. We are getting tired and our souvenirs aren’t working with us. Luckily when we arrive at the Art Gallery NSW situated halfway Mrs. Macquaries Road, we notice a few taxis and within a few minutes we manage to hold one and it takes just another few minutes to arrive back at the hotel all sweaty and sticky.

Once back inside the hotel, we immediately have access to the luggage room and very quickly we changed into another set of clothes, tried to stuff our souvenirs as good as it gets inside our luggage and off we went again, this time towards the airport.

We didn’t have to wait long for our metro and even at Central Station we had to wait for a couple of minutes before we could catch our connection to the airport, talking about a smooth journey. In a way I am sad. Now that we are almost at the airport, it finally hits me that it is truly over and just in a couple of days we are back in snowy / rainy Belgium.

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Upon our arrival at the airport, everything once again goes very smoothly and within no time we are searching for something to eat, after all, the only thing we had today was a lousy hotdog. We spot a nice Italian place and the choices on the menu look excellent, so we decide to give it a try. It takes them a while to get our order, but in the end we manage to get our food and it smells delicious, needless to say, it is delicious.

Because we had to wait quite a long time to get our dinner, there wasn’t much time left for anything else. We had a quick glance at some of the souvenir shops and then it was already time to board the plane.

As soon as we were airborne, we both decided to watch as many movies as possible, after all, the whole idea was to stay awake all through the flight in order to get more adjusted to the different time zones.

I started with “Hope Springs”, which was kind of entertaining, followed by “Crazy Heart”. This time around I got the taste of country again so I looked up an oldie which I love very much and before I knew it, I was watching “Walk the Line” again. There wasn’t even time for a fourth movie because we were almost at our destination. Time had passed by very quickly, but I was glad to be almost in Singapore because I was getting really tired, after all to us it was already after midnight.

Having a hard time keeping my eyes open, Tania makes use of the free WI-FI to skype home and when we are almost at the conveyor belt, I notice our bags and make a run for it. Everything seems to go really fast here, that or we were with too little people on the plane.

Before we could look for a taxi, we had to undergo one more baggage control and than it was just a matter of getting the hell out of this place. I was ready to lay my eyes to rest.

I must say that it didn’t really hit me that we were in another country, I was completely knackered. But as we were driving towards Chinatown, our home base for the night, I suddenly noticed all the strange and tall buildings and I felt like being landed in a complete different world. Those futuristic looking buildings are really beautiful during night time. It looks like something from outer space, unbelievable!

When we arrive at our cosy looking hotel smack in the middle of Chinatown, we have to wait for a couple of minutes before the owner (or one of them) arrives, although it is late at night, he still smiles and gives us a warm welcome. Luckily it doesn’t take long to fill in the necessary paperwork and within seconds we receive our key to a top floor room. There isn’t an elevator on the premises, so as good as we can, we manage to get all of our stuff upstairs.

The room itself is very tiny with two single beds and a small bathroom, but I am just too tired to notice it all. I quickly take a much needed shower and then I can finally close my eyes!

Posted by Ils1976 11:56 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes bridges buildings people planes flowers native airport city friends sights asia oceania Comments (4)

Daytrip to the Blue Mountains


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When I woke up this morning I suddenly realized that our “adventure” here in Australia is almost over. Tomorrow we are already flying to another place. 5 weeks of traveling has gone by so quickly, but we still have 2 more days, so we better make the most of it.

Today we are going to visit the Blue Mountains, something I am looking forward to for quite some time now. I have read so much about it and I am a bit curious if it’s all true.

We quickly have breakfast and it is already a little after 7 AM when we arrive at our pick up point, which is the Holiday Inn hotel just across the street of ours. Talking about the best spot ever!

It seemed like we were the only ones there, but after a few minutes of waiting, Tania went for a closer look and found our bus waiting a few meters before the hotel.

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We jumped inside and I was glad to see that the bus wasn’t even half full. Talking about a good sign, because we expected lots and lots of people. Our driver and guide for the day was still a bit busy with doing all the paperwork for the people who were already on the bus and after a few minutes, he turned to the both of us and said good morning with a big smile!

He quickly explained that he wanted our phone number for emergency reasons. Today was going to be a very busy day at the mountains and he wanted to have a backup when people for one reason or another get separated from the rest of the group. Quick thinking I must say and an excellent idea, but there goes my hope for having a relaxing day at the mountains!

As soon as we gave him all the needed information, a few others stepped on the bus as well, they also filled in the paperwork and then our guide announced that we still had to pick up a few others. We were going to have a “full house” today.

When the last passengers were on the bus, Lars introduced himself properly. He gave us a little explanation about himself and his life and it felt so good to have once again someone talkative and motivated.

From Kings Cross we drove out of the centre of Sydney, passing the site of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I thought we were going to have a photo opportunity here because I saw lots of small busses already being parked, but we just made a quick tour around the place and then we drove onwards in the direction of the mountains. Maybe this was for the best as well, because the weather wasn’t all that good to tell you the truth. It started to rain a bit. Needless to say, I was glad to be still inside and hoped that things would clear up as soon as we arrived at our destination. Fingers crossed!

Our first real break was alongside the banks of the Nepean River about an hour and a half later and Lars made use of the opportunity to collect money for the different rides of “Scenic World” .

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This place is located at the edge of the small town of Katoomba, smack in the middle of what is called Australia’s World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains area. WOW, I am even impressed when I read these words! Tell me the truth, who doesn’t like the sound of that!

I don’t know if you can call this a theme park, but the main idea is that you have the possibility to take a few “scenic” rides and while you have kind of an adrenaline rush, you’ll get an amazing view of the entire area at the same time.

When booking this tour with Oz Trails about a month before our big trip started, we had the intention of walking all the way down into the valley, but unfortunately we don’t have enough time to do that, so instead we go for all the three rides. We came here to soak up all the beauty around us, so what better way to do that!

Lars mentioned earlier on that today was one of the busiest days of the year and he wasn’t wrong. Upon our arrival at the scenic skyway, we immediately noticed the long queue, but there was no way out of it … we had to wait, just like all the other tourists. Luckily for us, Lars joined us for a while and talked about lots of interesting things like bush fires and so on. This made the time go faster. When we were almost at the entrance of the cable car, we said “adieu” to Lars. He was going to drive our bus to the other side of the valley, together with the people who hadn’t signed up for the rides.

We were the first ones to get into the cable car and looked for a great spot to see the infamous “three sisters”. Lars already told us to look out for the mountains as well as the Katoomba Falls. But once inside, we noticed it was the one or the other. We both chose the mountains and what a sight it was. Magnificent is the only word I can think of. This ride alone is worth it all. Never thought of saying something like this, especially when you have to consider hanging 270 meters above ground in nothing else but a metal box? Scary thought, not!?

The ride itself is very short and just moments after, we arrive at the Scenic World Top Station. It all goes very fast now. Lars is waiting for us at the exit and after a quick toilet stop, he guides us to the next ride, making sure that everyone is keeping up. Luckily he is very tall so following him isn’t that big of a problem.

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Our next ride is the Scenic Cableway which leads us straight to the Jamison Valley. It is said to be the steepest one there is in the entire Southern Hemisphere and the descent alone is about 510 meters. It sounds all so exhilarating!

We have to wait in line for a while, but that isn’t too bad, because from here we have an awesome view on the three sisters. I just can’t get enough of the scenery. It truly is very beautiful!

While “diving” into the valley, we catch a glimpse of the Katoomba Falls, but just like all the other waterfalls we saw lately, it is very dry. The scenery is still very beautiful though, we even see Mount Solitary in the far distance and it is fun watching the forest coming closer and closer as we make our descent.

It takes a few seconds to get out of the cable car, but when the group is back together, we get a minute to soak up all the beauty that is around us.

We’ve already seen a few rainforests, so for me and Tania it isn’t something entirely new, but the others surely need that minute to get used to the idea of standing in the middle of a tropical rainforest. Lars takes us all on a small walk and talks intensively about all the trees and plants that surrounds us, one moment Tania even spotted a black bird. How the heck did she saw that in such a dense forest … good eyes if you tell me! :)

The walk itself isn’t that long and after about half an hour, maybe a little bit longer (who’s checking time ??? ), we arrive at the Scenic Railway. Once again we have to wait in line, but the views are still amazing, so who cares!

This last ride is kind of exhilarating not only because it is a 310 meter descent, but also because of the inclination. This is about 52 degrees, talking about something insane! But unfortunately we aren’t coming down with it, we are pulled up … it still is fun, but I am sure that going down would have been more “thrilling”!

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Once back on top again we go in search of the rest of our group, which isn’t that easy because there is a big crowd and I am just so happy we came early. As soon as Lars arrives again with the bus, we are all good to go.

Our next stop is just half an hour later in the small town of Leura. Because we don’t have so much time to linger along, Lars quickly drives us through the main street while he gives all kinds of tips / information on where to find what kind of food. This is such a good idea. It gives all of us exactly the idea what we wanna try out and in the mean time it is supposed to make sure we all get served quicker. Or at least that is the whole idea. Me and Tania weren’t really in the mood to have an extensive meal. We found a cosy little café which had a deal on pumpkin soup. One of my favorite dishes!

While Tania is securing a seat outside on the “patio”, I am going inside to place the order. But it takes just soooooo damn long, it is more than obvious that the staff isn’t really up to serving so many tourists. After what looked forever, I finally get my order taken. As long as it took to order the food, waiting for it is even worse! But when we finally had given up hope, the smell of pumpkin is all around us, and what a delight. It was hot, it was more than yummy to say the least! :)

To our surprise, we still had some time left to check out the main street and when we passed the local bakery, we couldn’t help but go inside. It all looked so delicious and because we both have a sweet tooth, we left the place with some yummy treats.

But sadly enough it is already time again to leave and luckily everyone is on time, such a relief after our last trip.

Next up in our program are another set of falls. This time around we are going to visit the Wenthworth Falls. We don’t have such a long bus ride ahead of us, because the falls are situated just outside Leura.

The walk down towards the Princess Rock Lookout and the falls isn’t that difficult, it’s just one big, in an unique kind of way, handmade stair with lots and lots of steps. The view of the falls is quite impressive, but yet again, there seems to be a water problem. Oh well, we are slightly getting used to it by now.

Before we head back to the city, we first have a small “detour” at Flat Rock. We are supposed to have a great view at the King’s Tableland, but when we arrive, there is nothing there but a dense fog. Lars quickly explains the meaning of the place, which is a sacred one for the local aboriginal community and after taking a few funny pictures we are out of there. When we are almost at the bus it even starts to rain, such a pity, but I am already glad that we had such fine weather at the Blue Mountains, it certainly made my day! And everything they wrote about the mountains is true, it certainly is a place well worth visiting!

When we drive back towards Sydney, we do this in style. It turns out that Lars has the same taste in music like I do and while Willie Nelson is singing “on the road again”, I get such a good vibe about the whole place and area, it doesn’t even bother me that it’s raining outside. But of course that’s easy to say when you are sitting inside in a warm bus! :)

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Instead of driving the whole way back into the city centre, Lars is dropping us off at a ferry crossing closely situated near the city. With this “cruise” we get the opportunity of entering the city from a totally different angel. We are going to end our day at the Harbour Bridge and I am already looking forward to seeing the bridge from the water.

But first we have to say goodbye to our wonderful driver and guide Lars. He is such a nice person and after he makes sure that we are all safe and sound on the ferry, we wave goodbye and we go onwards to other and new adventures.

We are lucky to find a nice enough seat on deck, away from the cold wind but unfortunately the weather hasn’t changed much since we left Flat Rock. It still looks grey outside and the wind seems stronger now that we are on the water.

Instead of going straight to Circular Quay, we first make a stop at Darling Harbour and after we give way to a giant cruise ship, we are on our way again towards the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, where we arrived about half an hour later.

Now that we are in the vicinity, we take our chance to have a closer look at the Opera House, but with the sun gone, the tiles (if you can call it that???) aren’t as shiny as we saw them a few days ago. We have a quick look inside, and as tempting as the champagne looks like, it is better to have a full dinner than just one glass of liquid.

We still want to have an evening look at the Tower Eye, so instead of wasting our time in search of food, we end up at a small Italian looking place near the waterfront.

From here it is just a small walk to the tower and the best thing is, we made it in time! :)

Once inside, we follow a path which gives more information about the tower and end up at a theatre where we get a 4D movie with lots of icons of Australia and Sydney to be more precise.

Surprisingly enough we still need to take another elevator before we can “enjoy” the many views on the city. Once we get out of the elevator, we suddenly notice that the long queue we survived wasn’t the only one. The observation deck was just filled with people. It was just too crazy for words and I quickly lost hope of seeing a thing let alone take a picture. Talking about bad timing! Instead of coming at night, we should have come in daytime. Oh well, nothing we can do about it now.

After we’ve seen it all, we wait in line to get back down. How many people are up here!? It seems to take hours, but after waiting such a long time, we do get the award of getting down.

We skip the souvenir shop since we had a look at it yesterday and instead of walking to our hotel, we take the metro.

When we arrive back in Kings Cross, we have the dreadful task of reorganising all of our stuff and than it is of to bed. We only have one more day tomorrow and with so many plans, we need a few hours of sleep.

Posted by Ils1976 22:49 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes mountains trees boats rainforest road_trip native shopping walk city friends sightseeing trail group oceania viewpoint ferry_crossing grey_weather Comments (2)

A sunny start into the new year!

I am so thankful that I set my alarm clock this morning because I think I would otherwise have overslept and that’s not the intention we had in mind on the 1st day of the new year.

Today we were going to meet our friend Ewa again. She lives here in Sydney and on Christmas eve we made some plans of spending the morning together at Bondi Beach. At that time it sounded like lots of fun and to tell you the truth, it still does! :)

We agreed to meet up at the reception area around 10 AM and we managed to get there on time as was Ewa. After saying our mutual best wishes for the new year, we were good to go.

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First we had to take the metro to Bondi Junction and from there we took the bus all the way to the beach. I presumed we were the only once out here and that it was going to be a harsh task finding a spot that would be open, but once we were on the main street, we immediately found out that there were enough restaurants and cafes open for duty and we were definitely not alone here. So unlike Belgium! I am really loving it.

The sun is shining and we manage to score ourselves a table outside in some kind of Greek thingy and together with Ewa I opt for the Greek breakfast, which wasn’t excellent, but on the other hand, it wasn’t too bad either. Tania was smart enough to play it safe and went for the scrambled eggs.

When our stomachs were filled, we strolled along the shopping street for a while and tried to score some typical souvenirs like a Bondi beach towel, which actually came in handy for our visit to the beach.

After changing into the right “gear”, we found ourselves a nice spot to relax for a while. Tania and Ewa were the first once to go into the water and after a while even I joint Ewa into the water. It was just too freaking hot for lying on a beach a whole day long. The temperature of the water was nice in the beginning, but after a while I got cold and jumping into the many big waves wasn’t helping either. There was nothing more to do for me than to go back to the beach and soak up the warmth once again.

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When we were all dried up, we decided to go for the cliff top coastal walk, which leaves from Bondi Beach all the way up to Coogee. It is about a 6 km walk with many scenic views of the coastline, but at this time of the day it’s incredibly hot as well and the sun is burning merciless on our skin. Luckily we stop once in a while to rest and admire the scenery as well as to stock up on water. I am so thankful that there are lots of facilities with free drinking water … God bless Australia! :)

It was already way in the afternoon when we arrived in Coogee. The three of us were a bit dehydrated and we tried to look for a place to have a drink and something to eat at the same time. This wasn’t easy, but in the end we did manage to score a table.

Everything looks so much better when you have something yummy to eat and drink, but I must admit that I was still a little bit tired after such a strenuous walk … I think the heat has finally got to me, but I am not complaining because back home everyone is preparing themselves for all the snow that is predicted … so in a way we are the lucky ones!

There isn’t so much to see at this beach town, so we decide to take the first bus back to the city and about an hour later we are back in the CBD, the place where our friend Ewa lives.

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Instead of going back home, she decides to walk with us all the way to the Botanical Gardens. Tania still wants to have a picture of the bridge and opera and now that the weather is at its best, we owe it to ourselves to go and have a look.

It is a sad goodbye when we arrive at the Victoria Lodge Gate, but I am sure we are going to meet Ewa again, one day or another! She can count on that! :)

After walking downwards to the Farm Cove, we notice that city workers are still busy with breaking down the construction of New Year’s. There is no way we are able to reach Mrs. Macquaries Point. Bummer! We were counting on that actually, but hey … the weather is still fine, so the Botanical Gardens gets all our attention. It actually is a beautiful garden with lots of different plants and wildlife. A few days ago we saw a lizard and today it seems like all the birds have come to one place. There are lots of cockatoos flying around, local pigeons and smaller birds, but my favourite is still the rainbow lorikeet. Such beautiful birds, their colors are magnificent to say the least!

It’s already getting dark when we hit back in the direction of our hotel. We haven’t seen much of the neighbourhood we are staying at and tonight we sort of want to change that.  We first go back to our room to freshen up a bit and than the search for food is on! Tania is in need of boiled or mashed potatoes and it doesn’t seem such a bad idea to me as well. After weeks of getting nothing else but French fries (or chips as our Aussie friends like to call it) or rice, we are in need of something different.

It seems that Kings Cross has numerous pubs and bars with great deals and just around the corner we notice a superb one : steak and mash for $ 10. Talking about something send from heaven. It seems he sometimes does listen to our prayers!?! :)

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It wasn’t the most perfect steak, but hey … when you are hungry, you never complain and because we still had some room left for dessert, we decided to cross the street and ended up at a small “creperie”. It is owned by Chinese people and although it seems like an odd match, we gave the lemon crepes a try and boy it was tasty. Thumbs up if you ask me!

With our tummies filled, we head back towards the CBD. We still have tickets to visit the Sydney Tower Eye and tonight is as good as another. We arrived pretty late though and missed out on the last admission which was at 9.30 PM. That’s not so good of course, but we still have a chance tomorrow night so I am not going to panic yet. I am sure we are going to make it … planning is the key! :)

Luckily it’s not too chilly outside, so the walk towards the metro station is quite nice. We even have a chance to see the enormous Christmas tree by night. After a full photo session of this beautiful tree, we are as good as ready to go back to the hotel.

And no sooner as we arrive at our room, we hit the sack because tomorrow we have yet another interesting program.

Posted by Ils1976 07:08 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes beaches sea food shopping city friends sightseeing cliff sights viewpoint Comments (2)

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