Archive for February, 2010

26
Feb
10

Oz: Still in Melbourne

We’re still in Melbourne. We haven’t done much since I last wrote, but we have been on the Eureka Skydeck for about $15. It’s a big skyscraper, the tallest in Melbourne, and on the 88th floor is a 360 degree view of Melbourne from above. It’s pretty nice actually, and I do like the city a lot from above. There’s also a part where you can actually go outside (most of the view is behind windows that go from the floor to the ceiling). You could also pay $15 extra to go out on The Edge, which is basically a glass cube attached to the building that also has a glass floor. But I don’t know why you would spend that much money for a glass floor.

Yesterday, we went on a boat ride along the Yarra River, which was quite nice, and we went to the Queen Victoria Market again to look at all the stuff they sell there. Fruits, vegetables, T-Shirts, belt buckles, kangaroo leather… you name it. They did sell some T-Shirts for $5, some were even nice, but since I have to carry everything I buy, I refrained from buying any more clothes. (I should be more like George Clooney’s character in “Up In The Air”, but I don’t like doing laundry and the places I stay at don’t do your laundry for your..)

We spent the evening at the travel agency, trying to get a trip to Tasmania organzied. We were there for probably an hour and a half because they don’t book flights for people, but they let us use their laptop to book a flight. So they looked for a flight for us with Tiger Airways, if that’s what they’re called, and my sister entered all the info and then her credit card was rejected. Which is already what happened with my credit cards when we wanted to book a Tiger flight in Sydney. So the really nice girl there, Ashley, who was very patient and cheerful, even called the Tiger Airways people to see if the credit card gets accepted that way, and after a long and frustrating talk with some Indian guy who hardly understood us and who was hard to understand, her credit cards were rejected again. So we had to book through Jetstar or whatever their name is. And when that was finally done, we booked a tour in Tasmania. It’s a cheap one, but it’s still kind of expensive if you think about it. It’s $520 for 5 days, I think, but that includes accomodation. There goes my money. They say it’s hard to travel through Tasmania by bus because they are expensive, too, so I hope a tour is the right option. Ashley also booked us a hostel (shortly after closing time) and we also want to book a tour for Sunday to see some cool stuff around Melbourne. I forgot all the details but I will let you know where we went when I’m back. ;)

So yeah, after all of this I believe it’s about time we found work. We are thinking about renting a car to see the Great Ocean Road after our return from Tasmania, and after that we will concentrate on earning money for a bit, rather than spending it. :)

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24
Feb
10

Oz: Garbage Truck

This happened outside out window tonight:
Garbage Truck Rollover video

24
Feb
10

Oz: Blue Mountains, Melbourne

It’s been a while since I’ve written and we’ve been busy exploring quite a few things. For one thing, we took a trip to Bondi Beach, which is basically this sandy beach that many surfers and swimmers like to go to. We went on a slightly rainy day, though, so it wasn’t particularly impressive. Also, I’m not a surfer or a swimmer. I was hungry for pizza, but since a regularl pizza Margherita started at maybe 18$, we just had an Oreo McFlurry and had a bigger dinner later. We explored everything, walked around, watched the surfers for a while and then took the bus back.

One day we also went to Featherdale Wildlife Park. For that, you have to take a train from Sydney to Blacktown, which takes maybe an hour but it’s fairly cheap, and then you take a bus directly to Featherdale Park. The park seems a bit more provincial than the Sydney Wildlife World equivalent, but the big advantage is that wallbys hop around free and you can go pet them, and there’s also a koala sitting on a separate tree for visitors to pet him and take photos with him at no extra charge. From what I’ve heard, that’s a big advantage. The koalas are mighty cute, I have to admit. But I also really liked the wombats. Sadly, it appears they bite and so they don’t walk around freely and you can’t just pet them. Other animals they had there were emus, penguins, echidnae, flying foxes, dingoes, cassowary and a lot of birs that were sometimes hard to see through their cages. All in all, I think Featherdale is well worth a visit, if only for getting to cuddle a wallaby.

Also this week we got on a train to Katoomba to see the Blue Mountains, which was nice and gave me a lot of sore muscles. The trainride there takes 2 hours and then you can walk to Echo Point, from where you have a great view over the Blue Mountains (they did seem rather green though) and the Three Sisters, a famous rock formation. There’s also a Giant Stairway with about 900 steps that leads from the very top, past the Three Sisters, down to the bottom of the forest. It’s amazing how tiring it is, even to just go down. Many people go down, look around (there’s not much to see) and turn around and go back up. But we didn’t. We walked along the ground for quite a while and then took a little railway car back up, that goes at a very steep angle. It’s pretty neat and worth the 10$ (well, I certainly preferred it over going all the way back to the Giant Staircase and climbing those 900 steps again). We went past the Katoomba Falls on our way back and then went back to the train station in Katoomba, and I was pretty exhausted when we got there. Two hours back, and then we barely managed to make it to dinner at 8pm. An exhausting but nice trip indeed.

So that’s what we’ve been up to.

Meanwhile we have moved to Melbourne into a hostel that is so loud that we didn’t even hear a truck fall over directly outside of our window. We only woke up wondering about the construction site noise only to find the turned over truck trailer outside. It fell directly on the tram tracks.

Melbourne is not as exciting as Sydney, not as pretty. But we did go to the police museum, which was not only free, but also really cool. Now I know more about Ned Kelly who some think of as a hero when really he was just a rather cruel criminal. And in Melbourne, there is free wifi on Federation Square, that makes me like it more, too. :)

13
Feb
10

Oz: Manly, Royal Gardens, Australian Museum

It seems more people are following my German blog now than my English one, so I will probably predominantly blog in my German blog now. Here’s the address: http://devanna.wordpress.com.

I’m still going to fill you in, though. ;)

In the last few days we went to Manly [wiki], which is this suburb of Sydney that can be reached by a ferry from Circular Quay. There’s a part of it called North Head that is supposed to have a great view, and it does have a great view indeed, but the view is basically from a parking lot. It’s a bit of a disappointment, really, that the whole part doesn’t really seem to be made for your average hiker/tourist but rather for people that came with a car. Here’s where Manly got its name:

“Manly was named by Capt. Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people living there, “their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place”.” [wiki]

Another day we did the free tour through the Royal Botanic Gardens, which was really interesting. The guide, a volunteer, knew something about pretty much every tree and he explained everything about all the different ferns to us and the birds and who planted what tree and such. I really enjoyed it, even though it meant walking through the heat for 1.5 hours.

After that tour, we went to Pancakes On The Rocks, which was recommended to my sister through someone. It’s an interesting restaurant where they sell mostly (but not only) pancakes, and I had The Ultimate, which was two crepes with a cheesecake-like filling:

The Ultimate at Pancakes on the Rocks

The Ultimate at Pancakes on the Rocks

It was very rich, of course, and I’m glad it wasn’t any more than it was or I might’ve had to barf. There’s just so much sweetness a person can take.

Also that day we went to the Sydney Observatory, where we looked at the sun through a telescope. It was basically a red disc with a little bit of activity on one side of it. Also included in the price of $7 was a viewing of a 3D movie about asteroids, which was also pretty neat.

Then yesterday we went to the Queen Victoria Building, which was pretty but the stores were mostly expensive clothing stores. Then we went on to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, which was also nice, but kind of overpriced at $6, as it’s basically just a small park. But it had a waterfall and bamboo and whatnot, and so it was nice as a little oasis in the big city.

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden of Frienship

Then I made my sister go all the way to Star City with me, which is the casino in Sydney, and the walk was long and painful through the heat, only to find that as casinos go, it’s one of the more boring ones. They didn’t have a theme like casinos in Las Vegas do, and nobody brought you free diluted drinks and so basically it was just a bunch of slot machines and some roulette tables and such.

To go back, we used the monorail, which was kind of cool, and I bought two Australia T-shirts for $8 each because apparently my sister brought more t-shirts than me and I don’t want to have to wash my clothes before she does. Not much else happened that day, except that we booked a flight to Melbourne on the 19th. That’s where we want to seriously look for jobs then.

Today was a rainy day that we spent checking out the trains that go to Katoomba/The Blue Mountains, which we then scheduled for Monday, and apart from a stop to Starbucks we only saw the Australian Museum, which had a cool display of all sorts of different skeletons. They also had minerals and Dinosaurs and what not, but the skeletons impressed me most.

Platypus skeleton

Platypus skeleton (click for larger version)

That’s basically all we did in the last few days. Look at my Oz Album at tinypic for some more images and feel free to leave a comment.

09
Feb
10

Oz: Aquarium, Wildlife Park and it’s super hot

I just published a post in my German blog about today with a number of images. So head on over there and look at them.

Yesterday, we went on a boat ride around the harbour, which was really nice, and the commentary that was played during the boat ride basically kept mentioning how expensive all the houses and apartments are that are near the water. I do get that – it is quite a lovely location.

Anyway, today we decided to go to the Sydney Aquarium and we decided to go pay 49.95 AUD for the Double Deal that also lets you see the Wildlife World park.

The aquarium has a platypus, which is pretty awesome. What a funny little animal. They also had all sorts of other animals and underwater tubes to see the fish from. Again, go to my German blog for images. Maybe at some point I will make an album or create a flickr account for all the images, but right now I can’t be bothered…

Wildlife World had a lot of fascinating animals as well, but the koalas and kangaroos were extremely lazy. Here’s a picture of the kangaroos, it looks like a massacre has taken place there. Minus the blood of course.

Kangaroo massacre

Kangaroo massacre

They also had adorable little wombats and wallabies.

After all of that, we went to open a bank account at Westpac, then had an Oreo McFlurry at McDonald’s near King Street. Yum. We sat around in Hyde Park for a bit and returned to the hostel room, in which it was a toasty 34 Celsius. It’s cooled off to 29 now. Time for a shower!

PS: See all images here!

06
Feb
10

Oz: Rain (photo)

Photographic evidence of the rain. The photo was taken out of the window of the Asylum Sydney hostel.

Rain in Sydney

Rain in Sydney (February 6th, 2010)

06
Feb
10

Oz: A long way back to the place where we started from

As I already wrote in my German blog, we have meanwhile reached Sydney. It took us roughly 10 hours to get to Seoul in South Korea, and when we were there, we had a seven hour stop over. We were traveling with Asiana, though, and they gave us a free voucher for a city tour of Seoul, a so-called Transit Tour. So we went on the tour to downtown Seoul where we looked at a palace and a market and had a nice Korean tell us all sorts of interesting facts. For example, in Korea when you are born, they count you as already one year old. Also, Koreans like going to the sauna, they have their New Year’s this year on Valentine’s Day and they are protesting the fact that the government wants to send South Korean soldiers to Afghanistan.

The city tour lasted quite long, what with driving downtown for an hour, and back again. Also, we were dressed for the Australian summer, not for the Korean winter, so we were cold. But it was still a good way to fill the time and for the remaining hour or so that we had to wait for the connect flight, we sat around at the airport, writing emails via their free WiFi.

After 10 more hours on the plane, we finally made it to Sydney – and it was raining like crazy. It still is. We took our heavy backpacks and paid 14$ per person for a shuttle bus to our hostel, and I think the money was well invested. We took a nap when we arrived (we hadn’t slept in 40 hours) but then we got up again so we can sleep tonight.

Our two bed room has a nice view of the Sydney skyline, but today the rain clouds are hanging low and it seems the rain doesn’t have any plans of clearing up. I don’t mind, though. At least it’s not too hot, even though it’s pretty humid. There was a pretty but noisy bird on the roof earlier today but it decided to leave meanwhile. I haven’t heard any other birds since and I’m curious whether it will want to wake us up early tomorrow. We shall see.

For completeness’ sake, let me tell you that the movies we watched on the plane were “Fame”, which was dull, “All About Steve” which was okay but silly and I slept through some parts of it, and “Post Grad” with Alexis Bledel, which was rather stupid. And by the by, the food on the Asiana was surprisingly good. It was rice with beef and rice with noodles and beef on salad and they gave us little manuals on how to eat the food properly.

We’ll soon go to sleep and I hope it won’t be rainy tomorrow!

Here are some photos:
Palace in Seoul
Market in Seoul
View from the hostel window
Australian bird