Just some stuff I want to share with you

Monthly archives for April, 2009

Let’s look at if from another angle.

Clare McEwan (the organizer of the Air Safari) had a suggestion for my days in Sydney: take the ferry Manly and have a look around. And since he’s been around this place more then I have, I will follow up on his recommendation. So here we go to find the Ferry. It’s an interesting concept: this boat never turns around; it just uses the other propeller I guess.

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A 30 minute journey results in this:

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And then you end up in Manly. And this place has a beach, the so called Manly Beach (although they have a good sense of humor, they are not very creative over here). It’s quite busy on the beach already when I arrive. A lot of parents with their children (it’s school holiday in this state).

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There’s also quite a bit of surfing going on here. But before you can ride the waves you will have to learn how to stand up on your board. Here’s a small group getting their instructions on the basics. Lie down, peddle, push up and then jump into the standing up position.

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Yeah right… Most of them couldn’t even do so while they were on the beach.

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That’s going to be a lot of fun when they get into the wet.

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Well if you practice enough, you might end up with this group and do like they do…

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It’s not only surfing, swimming or getting a tan, there’s also some quite fanatic beach volley ball game going on here.

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So what’s more in Manly? Well, shops of course! Everything you need when going to the beach (or pretending you are going to the beach).

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After all that excitement it was time to catch the ferry back to “my harbor”; Circular Quay.

The next thing on my list today: I want to get on the Sydney Tower (www.sydneytower.com.au). When I got to the tower it was extremely busy. It looked like they just dumped 10 busloads of Asians here… But then I got my tickets and up we go. Ten people in a small elevator up to the observation deck. It only takes about 40 seconds, but since you can’t see a thing while you’re in the elevator, it’s not a very pleasant ride. After that, this is what you get:

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As you can see, it was already getting dark. Therefore I decided to stay here until the sun had set and try to take some night shots as well.

During my stay, there was a helicopter constantly circling around the tower. At some point it hovered very close to it as well. He for sure did not meet the minimum distance requirements that I need to take into account when flying…

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It’s difficult to take nice shots at night. You can’t bring tripods up here, there’s too much light inside from the coffee corner and shops and about a million people are here and making all sorts of marks on the windows.

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After enjoying the views it was time for the next event I booked: the OzTrek ride. Well what can I say about that? It’s good fun, but it’s not worth what I paid for it… Perhaps there were just too many Chinese/Japanese around.

That was the fun for today. Clare was right: it’s nice to visit Manly. And if you can: visit this tower. The views are just fantastic.

The Ferry to Manly:

Friday 18 April 2009

So what does this town have to offer?

Yesterday when I walked back from Thrifty to my hotel I found the places I showed in my previous post. Today I want to look at things more closely. No big plans just walking around and see what’s here. Let’s start by looking out of my hotel room window:

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Then let’s move on to this big bridge that’s on the other side of the hotel. Before climbing start walking up it. Here’s an impression on what’s out there:

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Then I started to look up. Hmm that’s high and there’s not a lot to hold on to. I watched a group of climbers going up and then I saw some of them turning around. And you know what: that did it… I am not going to climb this thing. I don’t have the guts to do so! Well that’s one thing of my “to do” list then.

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Let’s move on. Here’s an impression of “The Rocks” and the harbor. As you can see everything is very close together. Ideal for a tourist like me: I don’t want to walk too far…

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Next to the harbor is the Royal Botanic Garden and in that area you will also find this:

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I just walked around this place for a few hours. It’s very relaxing and there are a lot of people around. It’s school holiday in this state and then there are all these tourists as well.

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There were also a lot of joggers running in this park. It must be one of their preferred places to go to since I saw dozens of them.

I already mentioned the Australian sense of humor. Here’s another example:

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After all that walking it was time to see the Opera House. There are several tours of this place and I did the “essential tour”. Very interesting! And there’s another plus to these tours: you are not allowed to take pictures from the inside of the building… But here are a few from the outside.

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After all that walking around and seeing things it was getting dark again. It’s been a nice day, but now it’s time for a drink and it’s time to put my feet up.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Sydney here I am!

Today I will need to hand in my car and I will have to walk again…

The day started with a visit to one of the supposedly biggest shopping malls in this country: the Westfield in Parramatta. After that it was time to find my hotel for the next few days. And that wasn’t so easy. My Tom Tom brought me to every place of the last 10 days, but today he wasn’t my mate. In town he lost track over and over again and there are so many one way streets here, I really could do with some good directions.

But after some rerouting I got to the hotel, unloaded my bags and then the next challenge: how to get to Thrifty? They are on William Street. Any idea how many William streets there are in Sydney? At least 15! But with the help of the concierge of the hotel I found the right one and then it was the same problem again: one way streets and my Tom Tom got lost every now and then. Eventually we made it and after the handover of the car I was back on my own feet again.

Now it’s time to get back to the hotel. It’s not that far away and the weather is very nice. Since I don’t know the city I just sort of went in the right direction. And on my way I saw these nice things:

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I already read that most of the interesting places of Sydney can be reached on foot. And you know what? I already saw a lot of the well known highlights.

Here’s one:

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And here’s another one:

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And tomorrow I will need to look into the climbing of that bridge. But for now I just want to get back to the hotel, clean up and find something to eat. All that walking makes hungry and it also takes quite a bit of time to get around…

Let’s call it a day. More things to see and do tomorrow.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Leaving the mountains…

Today I want to get closer to Sydney. Tomorrow I will need to hand in my car and I don’t want to spend too much time driving around the centre of this big town. Therefore the schedule of today: find one more interesting place in the mountains and then drive to one of the towns close to Sydney.

The morning started with a friendly discussion with Greg, the owner of the Bethany Manor bed and breakfast. I told him that I wanted to go for one last walk before driving away from the mountains. Well that turned on the tour guide in him… The maps came out and within 10 minutes I had my plan for today. Today I will drive to a very nice lookout that not many people will go to, because it’s not printed in bold and big letters on any map and the road to it is unsealed.

I will drive to the Butterbox Canyon or lookout. It’s about 45 minutes on an unsealed road that goes up and down and has several “challenges” like big holes. It’s a “4 wheel drive preferred” road. Hey, I have a 4 wheel drive… sort of. I have a Mitsubishi Outlander. We can do this.

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After the bumping and turning and escaping from death (the story is slightly dramatized) I ended up at the parking place. From here it’s a 15 minute walk and then you see things like this:

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Greg was right: this is probably the best way to leave a magnificent place like the Blue Mountains: with an overview of everything it has to offer.

Then I had to go back on this fabulous road. Doesn’t look to bad does it? That’s because something can’t be expressed by pictures. You have to be there…

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After this nice walk it was time to find a hotel close to Sydney. This morning I planned to go to Parramatta. It’s about 45 minutes away from the hotel I need to go to tomorrow and the hotel I choose has everything I need today: a guest laundry, a Woolworth across the street, a restaurant and a bed.

After driving for about 30 minutes the scenery changes dramatically. The mountains are gone. The amount of cars increase and within no time I am surrounded by buildings. And then there’s my hotel. Time to prepare my move tomorrow and clean out the car…

I don’t know what happened to my PhotoTrackr today. But for some reason it stopped recording somewhere on my way back from Butterbox canyon. Therefore my track of today is not complete…

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Today I need some shelter.

Yesterday I already planned to go to the Jenolan Caves today. And what a good planning that was… Today is going to be a very wet day. And then it’s not a bad thing to be “inside”.

It’s quite a drive from Katoomba (or Leura to be more precise) to the caves. And on my way I was able to take some nice snapshots of the landscape (and the clouds).

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And then there they are: the caves. They are big, there are a lot of them and it’s going to be a challenge to take pictures… It’s just to dark in there and you will need a far better camera to take really nice pictures here.

I booked two tours: first I will visit the Temple of Baal and after that I will see the Lucas cave. And because I booked two tours, I also got access to the “self guided” Nettle cave. Here’s an impression:

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Then it was time to visit the Temple of Baal. Together with another 20 or so visitors, including some very young children that liked the first 10 seconds, but couldn’t really appreciate the other 90 minutes…
Nevertheless, our tour guide tried to entertain them as much as possible and we had a lovely tour. As stated before, it’s very challenging to take good pictures in these caves. Here are a few that worked out (but they don’t show the real glory of the real thing however):

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They spent a lot of time and effort to create beautiful light effects and music in this cave. If you ever have the option: go and see for yourself.

Then it was time to see Lucas. This is the biggest cave, but far less impressive then the Temple of Baal. I took hardly any pictures of this cave, but here are a few:

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After all these caves, it was time to return to my hotel. And that was not that easy. The rain was far more intense then when I drove up here and the clouds were covering the road I had to go on. It took me far more time to get back then I expected; I just had to drive very slowly in order to stay on the road…

By the time I got back it was already quite late. So after a quick diner it was time to call it a day. Hopefully the weather is better tomorrow, since it will be my last day in this magnificent area.

The track of today:

Monday 13 April 2009