Kakadu National Park, AustraliaKakadu National Park, Australia

All around Darwin: Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks

It has been a while since the last posting…but – other that expected – getting free internet in Australia and New Zealand is much more difficult than in South America…

After nearly one week throughout Queensland including Daintree National Park and another visit to the Great Barrier Reef it was time to switch locations again…and how do you do this best in a country where there’s thousands of kilometres between major cities? Right, simply take a plane from A to B – and be prepared, that people you will meet more in our local buses rather than in a plane will do the same: “Cheers mate!”

Apropos “mates”: We’re still travelling together with my dad Peter and my sister Kirsten

After some initial trouble getting an acceptable rental car – thanks to our “friends” from Hertz, which still haven’t been able to sort things out in their system – we easily found a nice hotel to stay.

Next morning it was time for our Northern Territory adventure: Well equipped with tips from Iris’ dad, we opted for an early start to the Kakadu National Park *yawn*

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Low Island, Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaLow Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Port Douglas: An old rainforest and sea turtles!

On the first day together with Kirsten and Peter we took it easy. First todo was relaxing at the 4 mile beach and trying to get a coconut down from the tree. Well, we haven’t been successful…

After that, we went to the Mossman Gorge, where we got a first impression what the Daintree National Park is like and Thorsten lost his sunglases in the river…

On the way back we found several mango trees with ready to eat mangos just lying next to them. Of course, the car stopped (I was driving) and all (except Thorsten who does not like them) were collecting like crazy. Yummy!! Thorsten got something else instead…

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Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaGreat Barrier Reef, Australia

Carins: Bamboo, Diving and a Reef Shark

There are many things to do in Cairns, so we didn’t get bored at all! First we got an extremely blue rental car *blush* – the first time to rent a car on our trip. Throwing the backpacks in the trunk was somehow strange (I felt as being a “Spießer”*smiley winking*. Nevertheless, it was very comfortable after the first tensional 5 minutes (didn’t drive for 3,5 months and especially not on the wrong side of the road…*smiley winking*.

The first day in Cairns was a bit wet (the shower did not provide as much water as the rain outside) – really no chance for bush fires at all…

We did a nice trip to the botanical garden of Cairns, very interesting for people with a “green thumb” as Germans would say. Even for me (no “green thumb”*smiley winking* it was interesting, there are so many different kind of palm tress (even after one month on different islands I didn’t know that there is such a variety) and at least 10 different types of bamboo, e.g. black giant bamboo, Buddha bamboo (not as slim as the other ones)…

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Port Vila, VanuatuPort Vila, Vanuatu

Vanuatu – or “Wer eine Reise macht kann was erleben…” continued

Well, after our arrival we had a look around in the city but – honestly – the city is nothing special.

It was Saturday and suddenly around lunch time, most of the shops closed. Well, siesta, we thought. But: No, not siesta, they would reopen on Monday.

Thorsten became a bit hectic and searched around, because he needed “something” for my birthday the next day, e.g. a bottle of sparkling wine for 12 o’clock. We went in each and every still open shop and finally found a huge supermarket, open 7 days a week. Perfect, we thought.

But there were big signs at the alcohol corner: “Closed from Saturday 12 o’clock till Monday 7.30am.” WHAT???

Ok, in Germany you can buy alcohol everywhere at any time and you can drink your beer on the street. We know it’s different in New York or Boston: The consumption of alcohol on the street is forbidden, therefore on the Christmas Market (the call it Holiday Market) “Kinderpunsch” (Hot wine with tea instead of wine) is served. No, I am not kidding! And we learned, that in Australia and New Zealand alcohol has to be sold in special bottle shops – fair enough, however you get a wine or a beer there any time. Restaurants need a licence to sell alcohol, if they don’t have one, there is a sign BYO, yes, bring your own (bottle of wine). Finally, the UK with it’s last round is famous, of course. And in Morocco, especially in rural areas you might end up in villages without any shop or restaurant selling wine or beer (not even Äppler, gell Pete), due to it’s nature as a Muslim country.

However, we did not expect something like this in Vanuatu… Everyone seems to go to bed really early anyway and the city is dead at 10.30pm – bars are not really an option either *shocked*

Fazit: No “Reinfeiern” for my birthday this year! And next time we will rather explore the Cook Islands and some more islands in French Polynesia!

Wanna hear some more stories about Vanuatu? Be prepared for a looooooong evening session when we’re back in Germany

Port Vila, VanuatuPort Vila, Vanuatu

Vanuatu – or “Wer eine Reise macht kann was erleben…”

…at least that’s what an old German saying tells us – and it’s true, especially if you wanted to do something “special” and visit Vanuatu

According to various sources Vanuatu should be, what everybody considers “paradise” – not yet overflown by tourists, comparable cheap, sunny, friendly people all over the place, smiling all day long, …we could continue for some more time, but…

Back to the German saying mentioned above: You already have a vague idea, what this is heading to? Right…but let’s go through the topics one by one – in German, we found a word beginning with “Un” for each of them:

“Unverschämt teuer” – Lets just remember, that Vanuatu is a third-world-country and only every 7th person has something you would define as a job… The prices in the supermarkets and on the normal communal market on the street struck us like lightning: 1,40 EUR for 1 liter of milk, 1,50 EUR for a small can of really cheap beer (kind of “Öttinger-Pilsner”*smiley winking*, at least 14 EUR *smiley exclamation mark* for a main course in a restaurant (meat, pizza, what so ever), cheapest accommodation we could find 30 EUR per night

“Unfreundlich” – We read a lot of articles about Vanuatu and its famous number 1 rating in a survey looking for the happiest people in the world… But nobody was laughing and/or looking happy at all in Port Vila. Maybe we just got a wrong start there, as we found some more “happy” people away from the capital later on…

“Unwillig” – Nobody seemed to be willing to do anything at all…only if one of these annoying and disturbing tourists was pushing you can be sure some effort is done to get rid of you…

“Unfähig” – And even if you do try to push people and make sure that you get what you want, it still doesn’t always work…after one week discussion about flight dates, tours and hotels they messed up with the final confirmation and we could not go to Tanna or any other island as planned…

“Ungeziefer” – We couldn’t avoid it any longer….even after surviving South America without any major incidents (let’s forget about this small cockroach invasion in the jungle). Disaster stroke with a flea plague here…you’re reading correctly: Fleas!!!

Well, not everything was bad and we really tried to make to best out of it by searching for the nice spots with nice people…which worked out in a way

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Brisbane, AustraliaBrisbane, Australia

Die australische Tierwelt

Nein, es ist kein Witz, unsere erste “Amtshandlung” in Australien war der Besuch eines Streichelzoos. Auch wenn dem Zoologen die Haare zu Berge stehen (keine artgerechte Tierhaltung) und böse Zungen behaupten, ein Streichelzoo sei nur etwas für kleine Kinder – eins sei gesagt: es war ein riesen Spaß und neben kleinen australischen Kindern waren nicht-australische ausgewachsene Touristen die hauptsächlichen Gäste…

Aber schaut selbst! Erst mal zu den Känguruhs:

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Huahine, French PolynesiaHuahine, French Polynesia

Next island – Huahine, the tropical garden island in paradis

Well, we thought, Bora Bora might be hard to beat… but in a way I liked Huahine even better. Of course, the scenery is more spectacular on Bora Bora (if there are no clouds to see both peaks…*smiley winking*, but Huahine is much less touristy (means also you have to speak French!), people are extremely friendly and give the visitors a really warm welcome and the whole island is like a tropical garden.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast of a French family. We had the whole guest house for us alone – it was situated in a beautiful garden, with two huge but friendly dogs… the family stayed in the house next to it, but came over from time to time to have a chat. Yes, in French. Tough time but great to rehearse for me. And other than very often in France: extremely patient when it took a while to explain what I wanted to say and happy that I made the effort to speak French (yes, they do speak 3-4 words of English…*smiley winking*. I think, if I need to polish my French skills one day, I will do it either at Huahine or in Marokko, depending on my budget

Continue reading Next island – Huahine, the tropical garden island in paradis

Bora Bora, French PolynesiaBora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora – what it is all about

Even if the weather was not perfect, we don’t wanna hide the “best available” view onto the lagoon from the airplane *smiley laughing*

Well, ok…two of these shots are “comercial” pictures found view Google Picture Search – guess which ones *smiley winking*

But anyway, this really was a glimpse of paradise *smiley smiling*

Bora Bora, French PolynesiaBora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora – where is the second peak?

“This is it, this is the one. The arrival by plane says it all. From above, the promise of a wonderland is instantly made good: glinting turquoise sea and dazzlingly white sandy stretches of beach.” (Lonely Planet about Bora Bora)

And yes, this is right. Unfortunately, there were some clouds when we landed, however, the water is turquoise and so clear, that you don’t really need snorkeling equipment to see the fish…

On Bora Bora, we had our most expensive accommodation on the trip so far – but it was really nice and special…

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Moorea, French PolynesiaMoorea, French Polynesia

“Preisschock” or our arrival in paradise = French Polynesia

Coming from 3 months South America it was clear, that prices are a bit higher in French Polynesia, but checking for some hostels/hotels on the islands revealed, that it’s much worse…the offer of a bed in a 7-bed-dorm for 21 EUR *smiley exclamation mark* per person was the cheapest option we found Other available options started around 130 EUR *smiley exclamation mark* per night/room *smiley annoyed* Luckily some last minute cancellation secured us a room in the Fare Suisse in Papeete for 50 EUR for both of us including airport transfers

Our late-night landing in paradise (Faaa International Airport Papeete / Tahiti) was therefore a little bit more relaxed that thought before – our Swiss host Beni picked us up as promised and brought us to his really nice hostel in Papeete.

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