A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

a sad goodbye


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Our last day here in Sydney was another early one, which obviously wasn’t that big of a surprise. We still wanted to go for one last morning run and since we were leaving late in the afternoon, it was better to get up early and enjoy the magnificent views of the early sunshine at the harbour for one last time and still have lots of time to do other stuff.

Although we left the hotel for a run at the same hour as a few days ago, there were more people up and about, but I guess that had something to do with the beginning of the week, after all, it was already tuesday. Some peole still needed to go to work!

When on holiday, you easily forget which day it is, so sometimes it is lucky that we have a bit of media with us that can tell us the exact date and day, otherwise I would be completely clueless about everything.

Once again we had a nice run and while I was waiting for Tania to come back, I suddenly realized that I loved Sydney so much that I wouldn’t mind one bit staying here for the rest of my life. Of course, when you visit a country during a holiday you can see only the beauty but still, even with daily hassle, I wouldn’t mind living here, so maybe I should apply for a green card, wouldn’t that be a nice idea!?

Wishful thinking I suppose and as soon as I met up with Tania after her run, we walked into "the Rocks" to have some breakfast at a cool looking bakery which sells whole meal scones and together with a self-made lemon ice tea, it is a nice enough start of the day. Bring it on I would say, but not without a shower first!

Being here in Sydney, we had a goal of all the things we wanted to do during our 4 days stay and the last one on the list was visiting the Imax theatre. Although they predicted rain and thunderstorms, it was still a very hot morning and it is actually a bit of a shame to spend time inside a theatre with such lovely weather outside, but if we wanted to see it, this was as good as time ever.

The movie which was on display at that particular moment was called „the hidden universe" and although it was interesting to learn more about stars and planets, I must admit that by the end of the 45 minutes during movie, I almost fell asleep. This had nothing to do with it being a bad movie, I guess I suddenly got so tired of doing so many exciting things over the last couple of days that my body just needed some more rest, either that or the fact of being in a dark room had something to do with it!

By the time we got outside again it was really hot and since we’ve got one ice cream free when you buy one, we decided to go and get one, we love freebies, or almost freebies that is!!!

After one last walk through Darling Harbour and China Town, we slowly made our way back to our hotel, making sure we passed along many shopping streets and souvenir shops to spend our last foreign currency and with tears in our eyes, about a few hours later we had to say goodbye to our beloved Sydney and were on our way towards the airport for our flight towards Melbourne.

Checking-in and getting through customs was really a breeze as was boarding the plane, but than again, it was only a 1 hour 35 minutes flight. Before you knew it, we were already landing again. Somehow I wish that all the flights were like this one, but I guess that would be just too easy.

As we arrived in Melbourne we still had lots of time on our hands and the first thing we did was grabbing something to eat. After walking for a while that seemed harder than we initially thought because due to our late arrival into the airport and in the end we just went for a small margarita pizza close to our gate.

We still had a couple of hours to kill, but since the shops were all closing or already closed, the only thing we could do was updating our blog a litlle as well as walking through the same gate a couple of times. Back and forth, back and forth ... till we got tired of it!

Since that wasn’t so appealing coz I guess we looked a bit like a few caged animals in a zoo, we went for the next best thing, which were basically the massage seats near our gate.

With still some small change in our pockets, we gave it a go and to my surprise it was really good as well. Too good maybe because after sitting there for a while I suddenly got so tired that I just fell asleep. I was just so damn tired but then again, it was already after midnight and we still had a few hours to go before our flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Posted by Ils1976 05:43 Archived in Australia Tagged airport city friends plane movies oceania Comments (2)

animal day

Another early rise and shine in sunny Sydney awaited us and today was a day I was really looking forward to coz we were going to the zoo. Not that I love zoo’s in particular, I prefer to see an animal in it’s natural habitat, but if there isn’t any other option, a zoo will have to do. Throughout the many places I have travelled, I saw a few zoological gardens and many of them aren’t that well maintained. I am afraid to say that even in my home country we could sometimes do better, but I know that this one is one of the „better” zoo’s or so they say. I will have to find that out for myself of course!

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The walk to the circular quay isn’t that far, only about 10 minutes and I am amazed to notice how well located our hotel is. We don’t even have to use the train, everything is within walking distance and that is just the way we like it.

Upon our arrival, we just walked to the ferry boats and booked a ticket through Captain Cook cruises, since they do a deal with a crossing, the cable car and the entrance for the zoo and before we even realize it, we are on the boat and on our way to spot some Australian natives.

The crossing didn’t take that long and when we arrived at the other side about 15 minutes later, we even had to wait because the cable car was still closed. Normally it should have been open but although they didn’t mention of any problems, I guess someone must have overslept. Something like this can happen of course and by the time we took a few scenery pictures we could go up the mountain and had a beautiful view overlooking the zoo from above.

Although it was a hot morning, there were already lots of people up and about, it looked like we weren’t going to be alone and when we went through the gate and saw the map of the zoo, we immediately noticed that we have to hurry if we wanted to see everything.

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Since we were mainly interested in the native animals, that was going to be our main objective of the day and about 3 minutes walking into the park the most cute animal of them all awaited us, the koala. It was still early in the morning and they were sleeping, but still, looking at that cute little fury animal, it made my day!

The funny thing about it is, that although very crowded there was one dad saying to his 3 year old child : „look honey, that’s a koala, the same like the one we have in our back yard!”. It was just so crazy hearing these words, it was like they were talking about a cat or a dog, but I guess when you live here in such a big country where those animals or so common, it feels like a cat or dog to Australians.

After waving goodbye to his cutie, we visited the night life creatures and next on were the African ones, but since there were some road works, we had to go back almost to the beginning and from there we tried the Orang Utang forest walk, which to our surprise, only houses plants. There wasn’t an animal to be seen. This was quite a pity since this is my favorite animal of the whole wide world, but hey, hopefully in a few years time I will be able to see them in their natural habitat and that would be more than amazing as well.

Leaving the jungle, it was already time to have some lunch and than we went on our way to see the rest of the Australians, but like most of the animals they were either not to be seen or sleeping (probably because of the extremely hot weather).

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We tried to spot a wombat and searched for it, for almost half an hour, but he was no were to be found. Last time when we were in Australia we only saw a sleeping wombat, but now he was just totally gone, he knows how to hide himself, that’s for sure. On the other hand, we saw lots and lots of Echidna’s and they are so funny to watch, they really look like oversized drunken hedgehogs. I just love the way they move!

Time is flying when you are trying to find all the natives and like most animals they also love to sleep or hide in the shade, I guess that a warm day isn’t exactly the right moment to visit a zoo, but we had a bit of a time issue, so there wasn’t any way around it.

At 2 PM we were near the seals and watched a show, which was quite entertaining and informative at the same time. I must say that they really know how to handle there native talks and shows coz an hour later we also went for the bird show and this one in particularly is very interesting. There are just so many birds and to be honest, so many different species I wasn’t really aware of and it made me look at birds in a totally different way.

Sadly enough we had to go after the show was over coz we needed to get the 3.45 PM hop on hop off ferry back to the city centre coz this evening we had a dinner date with Ewa, a girl who we met a few years back on our trip through Oz and kept in touch with ever since.

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By the time that we arrived back at the hotel, got a quick shower and another change of clothes, she was already awaiting us in the lobby waiting to get a few friendly hugs from 2 crazy Belgians.

It was so nice seeing her again and it felt like it was only yesterday that we were on the same trip together. I guess when you have that feeling, it means that they are true friends coz it doesn’t happen that very often. I myself, only have this feeling with a handful of people and I guess that they know who they are when they should happen to read this blog.

Ewa took the both of us to Darling Harbour to have dinner at the waterfront and she choose a very nice place where we had some yummy kangaroo steak with kumara mash and some greens. All in all a good choice and afterwards, we even closed the perfect dinner with a vanilla crème brûlée. Even late at night it was still nice and warm for a nice walk back to the hotel and although it was short, I enjoyed every minute of it and I sincerely hope to see my dear friend again within the next couple of years, as long as there is hope, there is life … isn’t it!?

When we arrived back in our room again about 10 PM the dreadful task awaited us of repacking all of our stuff. We had been neglecting it over the past couple of days, but since we are leaving this beautiful country early in the afternoon, there just isn’t escaping it anymore, so before I closed my eyes I made sure that everything was packed and I didn’t forget nothing.

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Posted by Ils1976 05:29 Archived in Australia Tagged skylines people birds boats walk city friends sights reptiles mammals oceania Comments (2)

a day filled with extremes


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It was freaking early when our alarm clock went of, but there was just no way around it. We still needed to go for our start to run lesson and since our day was already filled with lots and lots of things to do, the only option left for us was an early rise and shine!

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The sun was already shining when we left our hotel and it seemed that by the time we arrived at Circular Quay, we weren’t the only once out there. Although it was relatively quite, still a few people were up and about doing the same thing like us, running or in my case jogging. I guess, the locals love their morning run as well, but can you blame them, the view is just too amazing.

Filled with lots of energy, we quickly showered and had a bite to eat and than it was off for another thrilling adventure!

Yesterday evening, quite pretty late actually, we booked the bridge climb. We were amazed to notice that there were still places available but now that there was an opportunity, we grabbed it with both hands. Our climb was going to be at 9.05, but we needed to be a bit earlier and so by the time it was a quarter to 8, we stepped through the front door. Are we good or are we good.

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I must admit that I was a bit nervous because of my fear of heights, but during this trip I already had done so many crazy things, that I am starting to get used to it. I am amazed actually of all the things that I have done so far and although I am still terrified of standing on a roof terrace of a tall building, it was really strange that bungee jumping was so much fun, so secretly I hoped that I would get the same feeling again.

After we’ve got some safety instructions and got into our gear, we walked to another room where we could practice the stairs of the bridge and so far so good. My fear wasn't that high, but we were still in the building, so I hoped it would stay in the building as well.

Our guide for the next 3.5 hours is Shannon and although she only works in the weekends, she is loads of fun and seems really interested in the wellbeing of our entire group, As we walked to the first pylon, the real deal was going to happen anytime soon and to be honest, I got more nervous as well, but by the time we actually left the pylon and where just underneath the bridge, it all went away. When I had a look at the scenery around me, I was really surprised to be in such a beautiful surrounding. I tried not to look down because than I probably wanted to go back, but as long as I looked on eye level, all was well.

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We got so much detailed information of the bridge itself from Shannon and although we walked very slow and had lots of stops on the way, it never felt boring for one minute. On every stop you had an amazing view, so what was not to like.

Exact 3.5. hours later we were back on ground level again and after choosing some of the pictures we had on the bridge, we walked out, ready for another fun thing to do here in this crazy city.

While we were up on the bridge, we saw a few people waving at us from the first pylon and we wondered how the view would be from up there, so as soon as we were back on the ground, we hurried back to the first pylon and had a look ourselves. By the time we arrived there, I must admit that the view wasn’t that bad, but the one on the bridge was way better and I am just so glad we got to do this, even if it was very expensive.

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Back on the ground from the first pylon, we hurried back to our hotel to drop off our goodies from the bridge climb and than it was off to Darling Harbour and more in particular Paddy’s market. We still needed to buy some souvenirs for the home front and although we set a time limit of roughly 2 hours, it was way later when we finally came out again but with our bags filled with souvenirs.

As we walked out of the market, dark clouds were hovering over the city and in a way we were glad to have bought a souvenir umbrella coz by the looks of it, it could seem that we were going to need it any minute.

Not that we were looking forward to it coz we also wanted to go for another 4 kilometer walk towards an ice cream parlor which according to the Belgian newspaper from a few months back supposedly has the best ice cream of the entire world.Now that we were in the city, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, now can we!?

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The walk wasn’t all that hard, but finding the place was a bit more difficult coz we didn’t really got a precise map, only a street address, but that is all we needed thanks to google and a bit of smart thinking.

We arrived at the scene in the rain almost an hour later. Rain or no rain, we were going to have our ice cream and it seemed that we weren’t the only once. There was just a tiny table left in the back, but that is all we needed and as soon as we got settled, it was time for choosing the flavors. I must admit that this was the harsh part, coz there were just so many yummy looking flavors and in the end I went for lime (my all-time favorite), black currant and passion fruit. It was just to die for, the ice cream was more than yummy and by the time we finished ours, me and Tania looked at each other and thought just the same thing, we wanted to have seconds. I know it is a bit over the top, but we walked for 4 kilometers and had not eaten much today so, another ice cream it is!

Another round, another flavor and besides lime, this time I went for the bloodorange. Yummy as always, but after finishing this one, I was really stuffed so round 3 had to wait for another time. Maybe in the near future, you’ll never know!

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With eating all this ice cream, I was surprised we could even walk so far, but we did and a little over an hour or even less, we were back in the centre of Sydney again. I know it is more logic to have dinner first and than dessert, but the both of us really wanted to do something crazy so instead we just had our dessert first and now that we were back in the city the search was on for some dinner, which we easily found at a small Thai place. Instead of going for the noodles all the time I wanted to do something crazy and went for the curry instead but that was my biggest mistake ever. My god, this was just sooooooo unbelievable spicy that I almost drank 2 liters of water and still my mouth was on fire. Serves me right for not choosing noodles I guess???

By the time we were back in our hotel, it was yet again pretty late and needless to say we weren’t going to sleep before midnight but a little after we did. I was completely knackered after such an exciting day and tomorrow another one awaited us.

Posted by Ils1976 04:54 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes bridges buildings skylines people sky adventure walk city friends sightseeing adrenaline oceania viewpoint fear_of_heights Comments (2)

soaking up the sun


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A good night’s sleep is actually the only thing a person really needs and I was happy to have just that. Due to the fact that our room wasn’t available anymore last night, we got a complimentary breakfast. Okay, I have to admit, we had to ask for it, but on the other hand, they could have declined it, luckily they didn’t, so this meant that this morning we were going to have a luxurious breakfast.

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There were just so many choices of hot and cold dishes, that it was difficult to decide what to eat first but since we had a long day ahead of us, we made sure we had enough food into our system. It was already after 10 AM when we left our hotel and went to the waterfront to have a look at the famous bridge and of course that other major sight in Sydney, the infamous Opera house. It is not the first time of course that we have seen these buildings, but seeing them is believing and when we gazed upon them, we knew we were back in our beloved Sydney.

Since the weather was so nice, we just walked for a while into the botanical gardens and than it was time to really soak up the sun and what better way to do that than at the beach, Bondi here we come!

Getting there was a totally different story. There were some major track works so instead of taking the subway train all the way to Bondi Junction, we had to get off at an earlier station, where we had to catch a bus. Luckily the walk towards the bus wasn’t that far and we even had a bit of time to spare before we could jump on the express bus towards Bondi Junction. Not that we were complaining, this only meant that we could soak up some more sun. It really is amazing that after almost 3 weeks of mostly bad weather, a bit of sunshine made all the difference.

As we arrived in Bondi Junction, we had to transfer on to another bus and although we didn’t had to wait long, by the time it arrived, it was already fully packed. It seemed that we weren’t the only once wanting to go to the beach and who can blame us all, the weather was just simply put … amazing!

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The ride from Junction to the beach wasn’t that far and as soon as we got off, we were a bit distracted by the many shops just like a couple of years ago when we visited this place, but as soon as we were finished shopping and had a bite to eat, we could go and find ourselves a nice spot on the beach, which knowing us, didn’t take that long. It was an absolute bliss lying there in the sand and since it was so hot, it was nice that there was a cool wind blowing as well. I quickly closed my eyes and enjoyed this little moment of pure bliss. I’ve said it already a couple of times, but life really can be beautiful sometimes, especially when you are on holiday and don’t need to worry about anything but yourself. Is this selfish I wonder, but on the other hand I don’t care that much coz in the back of my mind I am saying to myself that I deserve this after so many months of hard working.

It was almost 6 PM when we called it a „day” coz the wind was blowing more stronger now and since most of the people were leaving, it was as good as time ever to do the same. In a way it was the right moment as well because just next to us there was a group of young English guys who got hassled by 2 girls from I don’t know where.

Although they seemed to have a strong accent, I guess they were locals, but they were just so waisted and did just about anything to score a drink from these guys. And I literally mean evertything!!! At a certain point one of them was completely naked and some people around us started to get really offended and who can blame them, that’s just not normal behavior on a family beach. Sitting so close to them, I could even hear one of the girls telling that they would do anything and they wouldn’t have to pay, so I was starting to think that I got a clue what their actual job was. When one of the two actually showed the moves, I was sure of it, well, if you come to think about it, it is never boring when you are at Bondi beach!!

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On our way back to the bus stop, we decided to go for a quick dinner as well. It was going to take a while to get back to the centre of Sydney with all the track works, so by the time that we were going to arrive, it was going to be pretty late.

Like most of all our dinners, we wanted something really quick and not to greasy so once again this meant one thing and one thing alone … noodles! It seemed that this dish besides the Indian cuisine is really our favorite on this trip coz we were eating it on a daily basis. Maybe we should think about going to Asia or India on our next adventure!

As we were almost back into the centre, we got off in the neighborhood of Martins place and although it was already late, we still wanted to check out Darling Harbour. On our previous trip, we never went there during the evening, so we didn’t really see it with all the lights, but when we arrived at the spot, we were surprised to see lots and lots of people. What the heck was going on here???

Walking further and further towards the Imax theatre, I just had to ask, it was just too crazy seeing all these people sitting on the ground and waiting for something to happen and only 5 minutes later we got our answer. There was going to be a christmas fireworks at 9 PM. How sweet was that! Once again we were in luck, we only had to wait less than half an hour and of course we waited to see what that was all about.

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In Belgium they don’t have such fireworks for Christmas, so this was a totally new experience for us, but seeing all the typical colors of christmas in the sky together with some christmas music, it really came to my mind to have a little chat with our mayor. Maybe they could do something like this as well. The fireworks were really nice and the atmosphere was amazing. With a big smile on our faces and singing the song of Rudolph the red nose reindeer, we slowly walked back to our hotel, where we still needed to get the key of our new room.

By the time we were back in our room and finally went for sleep it was already after midnight and it was as good as time ever coz tomorrow another adventurous activity awaited us.

Posted by Ils1976 02:53 Archived in Australia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches bridges buildings skylines water walk city friends sightseeing oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

a glowing in the dark experience


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Making sure that we weren’t going to miss our bus to the caves, the two of us set our alarm clock yesterday evening, since we already had to leave at 7 AM, but hearing the noise of one alarm clock is worse, but the noise of two, that’s just insane! One thing is for sure, we were quite awake!

We quickly got dressed and ate some instant porridge with a cup of tea and than we were on the move towards the ferry building so that we could catch the 7.20 bus from Naked Bus all the way to Waitomo. Upon our arrival, we noticed that there were three buses in total, but with a bit of asking around we were on the right one in no time and we even got a nice enough view coz we were in the first row. Talking about a great deal.

Exactly at 7.20 AM our driver left Auckland behind and it was a good 2 hours drive towards Hamilton where we had a 15 minute break and about another hour and a half later, we arrived at the small town of Waitomo. Most of the people got out here, so it seemed that me and Tania weren’t the only ones who wanted to see the famous glow worms.

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Since we were still a bit early to go on our tour, we wanted to get something warm to drink and although the town isn’t that big, we eventually found a nice enough cafe where they served an excellent cup of tea and they even had a yummie pineapple and cheese toast. I have to admit it was but a quick bite, but we needed to get a little bit more food in our system before our tubing through the caves.

As soon as it was time for our tour to the caves, we walked down the street towards Caveworld, where we booked the whole „water tube adventure”. It seemed we were the first once to arrive at the „scene”, but a short while after even 3 girls from the UK and a couple from Germany arrived as well and together we would form a group for the next 2 hours.

Our guide arrived a few minutes later and as soon as he introduced himself we could all leave in the van towards the spot where we could change into our swimmers and where we got our wetsuit. It wasn’t that long of a drive, about a minute later we arrived already and the two of us were wondering why we drove all the way while we could easily had walked, but hey, when in Rome!?

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Getting in our swimmers wasn’t that big of a problem, but as soon as the wetsuits were handed out, that was quite another ordeal. The one I got seemed just too small, Tania on the other hand had a different problem. Hers was just too big, but it seemed that not all sizes were available, so we just had to go with the flow. Easier said than done and although most of our group already had their wetsuit on, mine wasn’t moving anywhere, my god, who on earth invented this shit!?

With a little male help from our guide, eventually I even got suited up so to speak and after even getting my boots on, there was a quick explanation of the lights on the helmet and off we went, after a few group shots that is.

The drive towards the cave wasn’t all that long, but a bumpy one and I was glad I had my helmet on coz more than once I said hello to the window of the van. My God, I just hope that I survive this thing!

As soon as we arrived at our cave, we all got our „tube” and after crossing a meadow, we finally arrived in some kind of forest and to be honest, I expected a hobbit to pop out any minute. It was really fairy-like. Without even knowing it or should I say realizing it, we entered the entrance of our cave. On came the lights and as we walked a little further into the cave we suddenly had to put off our lights and than the most amazing thing happened, we saw our first glow worms!

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To say it in the words of a kiwi, that’s mint bro!!!! (I don’t know if this is written correctly though ????)

Our guide gave us an explanation about the life of a glow worm and I have to admit, it doesn’t sound that appealing when you know it is actually pooh of a worm that makes the glowing effect, but nevertheless, it is quite nice to look at.

From here we walked further into the cave and got the see even more glowworms and a few minutes later it was even time to try our tube … OMG, the water was just freezing and went through our wetsuits like nothing, but hey, that’s part of the adventure I suppose. As soon as we walked for a bit, it was time to test our tube and with our heads pointed to the ceiling while gently floating, we saw another bunch of glowworms, that's what you call an experience. I know it is but a stupid comparison, but it looked like thousands of stars in the sky on a very dark night. Like I told you, no comparison, but that’s how it looked like.

After floating for a while and even crawling between some zip lines, we arrived at our first waterfall where we had to jump backwards into the depth, oh well, it was but a few meters and thanks to the tube we landed safely on our butts, but on the other hand, we were soaking wet as well. The word "freezing" popped up in my head more than once!!

Going deeper into the cave, we once again made kind of a snake and floated a bit more, but this time we went with the flow, much nicer when you come to think about it, I like to see what’s coming, but that’s just me! :)

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A few meters further up, we arrived at the second waterfall which was about 7 meters high and although our guide made the appearance we had to jump off it, when we finally arrived, it turned out it was just one gigantic slide. Man, I really loved this, but once again, in the end you were soaking wet and the water wasn’t exactly warm.

We weren’t that far removed from the end of the tunnel and although we had lots of fun slithering through the water, jumping of waterfalls and that sort of things, in a way I was also glad to be out of the water again, because I was frozen as hell.

The walk back towards the van wasn’t that long and walking once again through the forest, I am sure I saw something moving between all the ferns, so maybe there was a hobbit somewhere. Anyway, I was glad to be back at the beginning and after a warm shower and a cup of hot coco I felt like a human again.

Since we still had lots of time to kill till we could take the bus back to Auckland, we first looked up another cave, but not wanted to sit in a boat and pay a lot of money for seeing another group of glowworms for just 15 minutes, however amazing they are, we decided to go for a walk instead. There weren’t that many trails, but one trail in particular, the Waitomo Walkway, went up to some kind of lookout and since it was only an half hour walk, we even could have some lunch afterwards as well and this time we went for a wrap with fries, one word only : delicious!

We stayed at the porch of the cafe till it was time for us the leave, I was a bit tired and closed my eyes while enjoying the rayes of sun on my back and head while Tania updated her latest blog and checked out more things on the internet and believe it or not, before I even realised it, it was time to leave already.

Just as punctual as it was this morning, our Naked bus arrived right on time and although I tried to stay awake this time and gazed at the beautiful sceneries, I couldn’t but help to doze off from time to time. I am bad when it comes to traveling with a bus, I can’t help it, but I constantly fall asleep.

It was already 9.30 PM when we finally arrived back in Auckland and we still needed to look for something to eat. It was dark outside and just by looking at the different streets, we quickly noticed that there weren’t lots of options, so instead we went for the quickest one and went to a local supermarket and bought ourselves some noodles which you can make in a microwave oven. I don’t know if this actually is healthy, but going to the Golden Arches isn’t as well so, we took our chances.

Dinner wasn’t too big of a success, like we expected in the first place, but I was just too tired to think about that and after a quick shower, it was time for once again a well deserved nap, after all we are on our holiday, we can relax!

Posted by Ils1976 11:42 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes people animals adventure tour group oceania Comments (4)

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