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Entries about skylines

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)

we’ve gone floral

I am just so happy that Mr. Sandman came along last night coz I really was in need of a good night’s sleep. It felt so good, I can honestly tell you that. When we wake up, it is almost 8 AM and although we snooze a bit longer, we just can’t stay a whole day in bed. It is our last day here in the Lion City and we definitely want to make the most of it.

But we can’t do that without a good breakfast of course and just like yesterday we opted for the French toast with bananas. Once downstairs, we immediately noticed that all the seats outside were taken by a group of Malaysian people and although this necessarily wouldn’t be such a bad thing, they just sat there and claimed all the seats so that people who wanted to have breakfast, including yours truly, had to go and sit inside in a small room where the air-conditioning is working overtime.

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Not happy about it all, we decided to check-out first so that in the meantime maybe the group would leave, but as soon as we were back, they were still outside … bummer!

As we wanted to say something about it, the friendly receptionist guy of 2 days ago is there again and notices that we wanted to sit outside. He doesn't understand it, but he has a small conversation with the people anyway and moments after he comes back and assures us that there isn't going to be a problem coz it seemed that the group was due to leave anyway. He's a real sweetheart and knows how to spoil his clients with just simple things, that is for sure.

With an empty plate in front of us and some energetic food into our system, there is nothing else left for us to do than to enjoy our last day here in the city. After all, we’ve already checked out half an hour ago.

Today we planned to go and visit the Gardens by the Bay and because it is such a beautiful hot day, we decided to walk all the way towards it.

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Unfortunately today it is not only a hot day, it is a humid one as well and by the time that we reached the Marina Bay area, I felt like I had been swimming with my clothes on. Boy, never in my whole life I had sweat so much as during this walk, but looking at things on the bright side of life, maybe I lost some weight in the process! Wouldn’t that be great!

As we arrived at the Marina Bay area we decided to have one last look at the Merlion, that lion / fishy statue that vomits water … I could say nicer things of course but hey, this is just the truth, who comes up with such things anyway. Although, if I have to be honest, we Belgians aren’t better either coz we have a little boy in the nude that pees water / beer or anything else as long as it is liquid, not something to be proud of I know, so maybe it is better to tell people next time I am a Malaysian, but I don’t think they would buy it! ;)

Anyway, after this quick photo stop, we walked further along the water and about half an hour later (more or less), we finally arrived at our destination, but it wasn’t without a bit of hardship. Just like the subway incident, this time we had to look for the entrance of the gardens as well. It seems that the Singaporean are not going to make things easy for us tourists, but I have to admit, the walkway to the gardens is really beautiful, but beware coz you can’t have fear of heights and I know what I am talking about.

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Our first garden we visited was the Supertree Grove and finding it wasn't all that hard, finding the ticketing office is a bit harder, but than again, 2 people sitting under an umbrella can hardly be called an office can it?

At this garden you also can’t have fear of heights, but since I am trying to do something about it, I go along and although I don’t feel all that safe up there, I must admit that the views are really awesome and worth all the trouble.

Once back on "terra firma" we walked a bit around a few gardens and ended up at the 2 domes, but since the weather was still fine, we decided to go and look up the Chinese, Malay and Indian garden and many more of which I already forgot the name of. I must admit that I sometimes expected more flowers but on the other hand, maybe it wasn’t really the season for all these flowers. The hibiscus flowers all over the garden looked fine though and the frangipani made sure the place smelled really, really good.

With all this hot weather, we were more than lucky to find an ice cream vendor and although the flavors sounded all a bit exotic, the rose vanilla was more than delicious and just what I needed with these temperatures.

Sadly enough this didn’t last all that long coz after a few minutes we saw it all change from sunny, into light clouds to even very dark ones, so rain was really coming our way.

This made us think it was the best time to visit the domes after all and as soon as we got our tickets, it started to rain. That is what I call perfect timing!

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We first went to the Cloud Forest of which the key element is the major waterfall and although it is strangely enough very cold inside, I soon forget the cold because of all the strange exotic flowers. It is really a nice dome.

Second one of the day is the Flower Dome, but although they housed magnificent baobab trees, the flowers inside weren’t really all that special and most of them could be found in our country or surrounding ones anyway. I know this sounds a bit selfish coz people from other continents find these kind of flowers maybe just as exciting, but if I have to be honest, I have to admit that I expected more of this dome and in the end I found the 28 Singapore dollar you had to pay for those 2 domes just a bit expensive. Of course I know that they have to water the plants and everything, but this is just my personal opinion.

After getting out of the second dome the weather was still cloudy with a few raindrops and for us this meant it was perfect timing to say goodbye to the gardens and went back on our merit way towards our hotel, but not before we had one last stop in Chinatown to have some lunch. Yesterday we saw a Thai restaurant which we liked very much and upon our arrival they didn’t let us down, the food was really good and with full tummies we just strolled around the market street more to have a look at the different shops and more importantly, to spend our last Singapore dollars. We even had a quick look inside the Sri Mariamman Temple. A few years back we couldn’t because there was a wedding going on, but now we had enough time to wonder around this place. I can highly recommend it coz the colors are so beautiful.

Still craving for some dessert, we spend our very last dollars on a strawberry sundae of Mac Donalds and I have to admit that our last „bucks” were wisely spend coz it was really yummy.

Back at the hotel, we went straight to the swimming pool and made sure our last minutes here in Singapore were well spend. Sadly enough about an hour later, we had to leave the hotel as well and after we changed into another set of clothes, we went back to the reception and asked for a taxi, which arrived a few minutes later.

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Although they warned us that there was lots of traffic, we made it at the airport well in time, so that we could even have an early check-in and which in turn made it able for us to have a closer look at the many shops inside the airport. But like all things, even this came to an end as the time for boarding came closer and closer and our Airbus A330 awaited us for the flight all the way to Brisbane.

With about a 40-minute delay because of the bad weather, we could finally leave Singapore behind us and once airborne, the meal service started. I was’t really in the mood for a hot meal, but dessert isn’t really something I decline often, especially if it is eatable and together with some Australian sparkling wine, I hoped to get some well deserved sleep, but not before watching one more movie. After all I wanted to be very tired.

This time my choice was "Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy", an action movie with strange creatures, lots of witty humor and of course great music. What can I say, I just love the 80’s music and of course, the racoon „Rocket” was great to look at. All in all an entertaining movie.

As soon as the movie ended, there was nothing else for me to do than try to sleep, after all … it has been quite a long, long day and since I was really looking forward to arriving in Brisbane tomorrow morning I just closed my eyes!

Posted by Ils1976 05:44 Archived in Singapore Tagged skylines flowers singapore sightseeing asia Comments (2)

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