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Campervan Diaries- Part 3

rain

Day 7- Another rainy morning in Byron Bay, not a beach day! It’s Sunday and we get word that there is a craft market inland about an hour, so we jump into the neighbor’s car after breakfast and sped through the narrow windy mountains hugging the coastline. Scattered rainclouds would open for 20 seconds as they passed overhead drenching the car and making all of the bush sparkle. We finally got to the market in The Channon, and due to the pouring rain from the previous night, they had just cancelled it, too many people getting stuck in the mud in the parking. Some stalls still remained, tents staked into the soaked muddy ground. We did have some great veggie Mexican food, better than I would expect to find in the middle of nowhere. This is an interesting area, and one female dressmaker at the hippie fair kept me occupied while Flavia tried on dresses by telling me the history of the area. Apparently, this area had been an oasis of cheap land and easy going living for hippies all over Australia and the rest of the world. This all started after a very repressive 50’s gave way to a liberal 60’s, so yes, we are kind of in the Berkeley of Australia. We leave the market and head to a waterfall around a few twists and turns, and are amazed to find a 100 meter waterfall completely saturated with all of the rain. We decide to take a small walk to the base of the falls, only a 2 hour hike. This would have been fine except that all of us were in flip flops, and no one had any kind of gear for doing a walk. About 20 minutes into the hike someone noticed a small leech crawling up their leg, and we jump around checking our feet and legs for leeches, a la “Stand by Me”! For the next two hours we slipped and slid through leech country armed with some donated salt (to get them to release their bite) in our hands and completely soaked clothing. The end of the hike was amazing, the power of this 100 meter drop created a hurricane force wind and spray. Back at the camper park after a thorough leech check, we had a seafood dinner, hung out with our neighbors and went to sleep. What a day!

Day 8- We will stay in Byron Bay for a few more days, who knows. Today started off with a bit of a shock. We walked about one mile down Clark’s Beach to find our friends. When we got to the absolute farthest point from Campee, the clouds opened for what may have been the biggest downpour in a few days. We huddled under a cluster of trees and got drenched as the rain poured for what seemed like an hour. We are finally able to emerge as the sun began to peak through the clouds. Flavia and I have been discussing a lot what we should do, because there is a Cyclone off the coast to the north, so we are going to have to alter our plans for where we should go right now. We spent a few hours uploading the video about Campee (this was a pain in the ass to get online, so please watch it!). As we packed back into Campee and drove off, Flavia grabbed me and shouted “Look who it is!” There was Winni, our friend from Fiji, who had just arrived in Byron for two days. We spent the evening playing dice with Winnie and his friends, our German girls (who arrived the previous day), and a local wedding planner, who was exactly like you would think he would be.

Day 9- Change of plans, this was the first night without rain and the morning is clear and hot, we’ll stay in Byron day at least one more day! We rush through breakfast and zoom to the Main Beach to get as much sun as possible. Others show up throughout the day and we get a great day on the beach before the clouds start to roll in the early afternoon. Flavia and I change and head inland to Nimbin, a notorious hippie town nearby. This place was a trip, kind just one random block of hippie clothing stores, one bar, one café, and a hemp museum. We hung out for a bit then I drove back to town, by the way, I am fine in the manual car by now, thoroughly enjoying this cruise through the beautiful green hills lined with sugar cane, forest, and macadamia nut plantations. We plan to head north tomorrow to Noosa Heads, but who knows what will happen with us!

Posted by JonathanU 12:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Campee Video

Posted by flaviaU 21:40 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Campervan Diaries Part 2

overcast

Day 4 (continued)- We left Taree with ominous clouds overhead. Rain was still in the forecast up and down the coast. Being in the rain with a campervan severely limits how much you can do! We drove up the coast for a few more hours, lush green bush making way for farmland, bogs, banana trees, and sugar cane. The further north we drive the more tropical things become. We drove into Crowdy Head National Park to check out a camper site. Flavia and I have been dying to see some wildlife. As we turned the corner to enter the camp we saw about 15 kangaroos interspersed throughout the campsite, some hopping around, others eating and pooping (at the same time), and some just keeping a mindful eye on us. We took photos and spotted one kangaroo with a baby in its pouch, sticking its head out to nibble on grass as mom carried her around. It kept raining though and this camp was a bit primitive, with nothing nearby, and no real reason to stay, so we kept heading north, hoping to beat the clouds that flew by overhead. More up the coast, this is turning into a full day of driving! We finally made it to Diamond Head by the early evening. We had to stay there, as there is nothing else nearby. Marion is excited because this is one of the best surf spots in Australia. She took her board and went out in the rain, we huddled inside Campee drinking beer, then cooked dinner and went to sleep.

Day 5- Another rainy day, although the weather forecast looks good to the north, so we hit the road just after breakfast with no real stopping point in mind. The German girls stayed at Crescent Head to surf and we decide to move on. We went through Coffs Harbour just before lunch. This is a sad city, it seems that the more north we go, the less prosperity we see. In the big cities, nothing seems too new, and in the small towns, plants are closed, businesses are boarded up, and more and more houses are abandoned. We don’t like Coffs Harbour so we buy groceries, eat a quick lunch and continue north, stopping at Emerald beach for a few minutes when we see the sun peak through the clouds. Then it’s gone again, we pack up and head off. We are really enjoying having the camper, we feel we have so much freedom to pick and choose exactly what we want to do. Our Ipod adaptor that plays through the radio was a great investment, it’s nice to listen to music as the hours pass by. Further north the highway heads inland, and we cross over so many rivers, all swollen and brown from the last few days of rain. The sugar plantations line the highways deflect a bit of the constant wind that blows Campee from side to side on the road as Flavia peers at the Atlas trying to find a place for us to stay for the night. We cut off the highway again for Yamba, another disappointment as this is more of a fishing spot for tourists than a place to hold us down for a few days. Back on the road, up the coast, we decide that Byron bay is a can’t miss, it’s known as the hotspot for backpackers in Australia. We are not disappointed. The place is crammed with campers, we can’t believe it, this is truly the Mecca for campervans that are parked up and down the street, in every parking lot, and set up in every caravan park. We find a camper park that has room, set up camp, cook dinner and head out with a couple next to us in a Hippie Camper, he is from Switzerland and she is Czech, but the speak German together. We find a great bar that has lots of open space and people watch and drink Victoria Bitter, chatting with locals and travelers, telling tales about the trip up here, and recommending place down the coast and getting recommendations from people who have come south. We head back to camp around 1 am and get a good night’s sleep.

Day 6- Up early, there are so many crazy sounding birds in here. Overhead, flocks of colorful sparrows squeak and squeal and the Kookabura caws sounding half like a monkey, and half like a crying child. We like Byron bay, so we are going to stay a few days here, give Campee (and Jonathan) a rest from the road and we head to the beach with the couple from the previous night, Guido and Andrea, and another German couple, Bene and Anya. We are now outnumbered by German speaking people so we only get limited conversation, although they are considerate, I can’t blame them for speaking German. The beach is beautiful, and we spend the whole day relaxing, and we are glad to see the rain clouds only to the north. I borrow a boogie board but I am kind of curious about renting a long board and giving surfing a try. It seems that the water is full of people who are trying surfing for the first time. After a hot day, we go back to camp and I head to the Supermarket with the two couples to buy dinner, we are going to do a BBQ for the six of us. We sip Mojitos and beers while I grill steak, Kangaroo, corn and mushrooms and we dine. It has been a long day and as we ponder our next move it starts to rain. There is a rough curfew of courtesy in camperparks, but the real party killer is the rain. There is no more laughter and clinking bottles after it starts to rain, just the slamming of van doors and the then the night noises. The night here is amazing, although not quiet at all. Once the rain starts the van turns into the world’s largest drum set. The top of the van is rounded and has two small metal vents on the roof, and every drop produces a unique tone, the larger drops from the leaves overhead make a deep beat, and the drizzle makes a nice symbol nice. Overhead we hear and see huge bats, hunting for birds as the night goes one. Hearing a bat catch a small bird is a remarkable sound, the shriek of the bat locating the prey, followed by the sparrow’s squeak, that begins to gargle a bit as the bat pulls the last few seconds of life from the bird before enjoying the meal. I have earplugs and I know they will help me sleep, but I would rather stay up all night listening to this amazing symphony.

Posted by JonathanU 20:59 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

G'day mate!


View RTW - 2010 on flaviaU's travel map.

Degustamos vários vinhos em Hunter Valley, todo mundo que trabalha naquela região é muito simpático, nos trataram muito bem, ate agora todos os australianos que encontramos no caminho foram muito bacanas, não tem medo de conhecer gente nova e fazer amizade.

Partimos de Hunter Valley em busca do sol e das praias do litoral oeste da Austrália, também conhecido como o litoral do surf. A primeira parada foi um lugar mágico chamado Seal Rocks, localizado em uma reserva ecológica, nos encontramos esse lugar meio sem querer, pegamos uma estradinha no meio do nada e quando chegamos no final do caminho descobrimos o paraíso, um dos lugares mais lindos que eu já vi, um sossego só, deserta mesmo, uma praia mais linda que a outra. Havia somente um lugar pra acampar e alguns mochileiros acampando, foi lá que fizemos a nossa primeira amizade, duas meninas Alemãs, que moram na Espanha e estão viajando pela Austrália por 2 meses, a Monica e a Marion, a Monica é mais reservada, como quase todos os Alemães, mas bem simpática, já a Marion é uma surfista, super agitada e de bem com a vida. Passamos 4 dias viajando com elas pelas praias, e a Marion sempre procurando os picos de surf. Meu aniversario foi dia 10 e passamos a noite celebrando com um jantar de camarão e curry preparado pelo chef Jonathan e regado a vinho branco, as meninas foram uma ótima compania, muitas risadas e muitos copos de rum com coca-cola.

A chuva veio em nossa direção, partimos em direção a uma outra reserva ecológica – Crowdy Bay e la tivemos a promessa de ver cangurus e coalas, assim que chegamos na praia, um grupo de cangurus veio nos dar as boas vindas, eu o Jonathan abrimos um sorriso imenso e começamos a tirar fotos, de repente aparece o bebe e a mamãe canguru, ele dentro do bolso dela, muito lindo, fascinante. Seguimos viagem, depois de 2 dias de muita chuva e vento, trancados na campervan e tentando nos manter ocupados, finalmente encontramos o sol de novo, nos despedimos das alemãs e partimos para o norte, em direção a Byron Bay, conhecido pelas praias e surf e também pela cultura e a grande quantidade de gente bonita, com muitos bares e lojas, muito parecido com o sul de de Floripa, Guarda do Embau e Praia do Rosa.

Não poderia deixar de mencionar que o Jonathan já esta dirigindo bem, não deixou o carro morrer nenhuma vez depois de ter dirigido o dia todo, tudo é muito longe aqui, já dirigimos 1000 Km em 5 dias!

Bom, agora eu vou indo pra aproveitar o sol, nunca se sabe quando ele vai desparecer de novo...

Posted by flaviaU 20:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Campervan Diaries

Part 1

Campervan Diaries (Part 1)
Day 1- Picked up the Campervan in Sydney, took about five minutes to get her in first gear, but then finally made it out of the parking lot. It was a nightmare to get out of the city in morning rush hour but we managed with only on argument, and stalling her only a few times, but I did manage to stay in my lane the whole time. Once we finally made it out of the city, we drove up the coast a bit until we made it to the Hunter Valley, a wine region known for its Semillon and other whites. Wine tasting was very fun, the wine was decent, and we met up with Kate’s friend, who is a winemaker and showed us the best spots to taste in the area, and the best thing is all tastings are free. We stopped for the night in Singleton, a not so nice town, and spent our first night, in a not so nice trailer park! The campervan, who we named Campee, is a wonderful addition to the trip. She is small but packed with all sorts of useful items. She has a small kitchen, with a sink, stove, mini-fridge, and microwave, and then the seating area in the back folds out into a surprisingly roomy bed (video to be posted later this week). We have folding chairs and a table to set up shop for dinner outside. After a nice curry dinner made in the van we settled in for a good night of sleep, it was a long day. Oh yah, Flavia accidentally erased all of the pictures from Sydney, but more on that to come on day 2!
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Day 2- We were up early, as I think we will be everyday in the Campee. We set out after breakfast for a few tastings, I spit so I could drive, then we got on the road back to the coast, stopping in East Maitland at a camera shop to get our photos restored. We spent two hours or so at the E. Maitland mall which was straight out of the suburbs of the US, overweight white people who stared at us like we have the plague, ps as of yet we are plague free, and found a money saving tip, that there is free WiFi at every McDonald’s in Australia. The photo restoration project was a success, and we set out back on the Pacific Hwy, heading north. We decided at the spur of the moment to take a turn and head to the coast, just to check it out. We made it to Seal Rocks and met two German girls with a campervan deciding whether to stop for the night or not. It was four in the afternoon so I made the executive decision to stay and get a bit of sun on a misty beach lined with thick brush and sand so fine that it squeaks when you walk on it. I went for a nice swim and a jog, and then we sat until the sun ducked behind the clouds and we cooked cheeseburgers and stir-fried veggies on the barbie, had some Cuban rum that we picked up at duty-free and tucked in for a good night of sleep.

Day 3- Up early again, on the road following the German girls, up the coast, not sure where to stop. We bypassed the cities of Forster and Tancurry and finally stopped at an empty trailer park in Red Heads. We set up camp and relaxed on an enormous and vacant beach with a nice breeze cooling the scorching sun. I played in the big waves with Marion, then swam down the beach for a half hour or so. Flavia yelled at me for walking around in my Speedo, although I think I look FABULOUS! We went for a swim in the pool, then I made Shrimp on the barbie for Flavia’s birthday and we ate with the Monica and Marion (the Germans) and then hung out till the rain drove us into Campee for the night. It absolutely poured all night, which is very loud inside of the camper, but we still got some sleep. I woke up every hour or so when the rain really poured, I probably should have put in some earplugs.

Day 4 (the current day)- So far I haven’t stalled Campee once, and she is very happy about that, and so am I. It’s grey today, and we have stopped in Taree at a McDonald’s to update the blog and check some emails while waiting for the weather to change. I think we are off to a wildlife refuge to hopefully see some Kangaroos and Koalas, haven’t seen any yet. We are still with the German girls, we’ll see how long we travel together, so far it looks like our routes are pretty much the same. I’ll write more in a few days.

Posted by JonathanU 09:51 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Australia

Chegamos na Australia, voamos da Nova Zelândia em um Airbus A 380, um avião enorme, com dois andares e capacidade para quase 600 pessoas! Tinha até câmera para assistir a decolagem e o pouso do avião, o Jonathan parecia uma criança, apertou todos os botões possíveis do avião, os homens e seus brinquedos.
Nossa primeira parada foi Sydney, onde ficamos hospedados na casa dos pais de uma amiga do Jonathan, que apareceu de surpresa no aeroporto pra nos buscar. Ela havia dito que não poderia estar em Sydney por causa do trabalho, já que ela é uma enóloga e esta sempre ocupada viajando pelo mundo, o nome dela é Kate, 29 anos e com uma carreira muito bem sucedida, casada com um piloto de helicóptero. A casa onde os pais dela moram é maravilhosa, no topo de umas pedras de frente para uma lagoa, com vários 4 andares e uma adega gigante,que fez os olhos do Jonathan brilharem, os pais dela são muito generosos, nos acabamos nos hospedando na casa deles por 4 dias e não faltou vinho pra gente beber.

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Sydney é uma cidade muito bonita, mesmo debaixo de chuva, passeamos pela cidade, andamos pela Darling Harbour, Harbour Bridge e a Opera House, parando no jardim botânico pra dar uma descansada. De lá fomos encontrar o pai da Kate no seu escritório, que estava localizado no topo do prédio mais alto do centro de Sydney, com uma vista maravilhosa, com uma vista daquelas, não da pra não gostar de trabalhar. No outro dia fez sol e passamos o dia na famosa Bondi Beach, cheio de gente bonita, me lembra de Ipanema no Rio, mas um pouco menor e mais charmosa.

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Bom, foram 4 dias de luxo pra gente, e não é sempre que a gente pode aproveitar essas coisas, porque nas próximas 3 ou 4 semanas as coisas vão mudar um pouquinho, nos alugamos uma campervan ou mini motorhome pra dirigir pela costa oeste da Australia, de Sydney até Cairns, na barreira dos corais. Ontem foi o primeiro dia da aventura, alugamos a nossa casa sobre rodas, demos até um nome pra ela, a “Campi”, e quando eu digo que a aventura começou, eu não estou mentindo, só pra vocês imaginarem, o Jonathan nunca dirigiu um carro manual, sempre teve carro automático e não só isso, ele também quase não tem experiência dirigindo no lado direito, dirigindo uma motorhome no meio da hora do rush em Sydney! Toda vez que a gente parava no sinal eu fechava os olhos, segurava no acento e rezava pro carro não apagar no meio do transito, mas a minha reza não adiantava muito, perdi as contas de quantas vezes a gente interrompeu o transito, se fosse no Brasil, já teriam mandado a gente pra P#@$%. O bom é que o Jonathan é corajoso, muito mais do que eu e também não ta nem ai para o que os outros pensam. Mas as coisas melhoraram quando nos saímos da cidade, ufa!

A primeira parada foi em uma das regiões vinícolas de Sydney, na Hunter Valley, enfim chegamos, sem nenhum arranhão. O planos serão de partir logo e continuar a viagem pelo litoral, pra comemorar o meu aniversário que ta chegando.

Posted by flaviaU 11:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sydney

As we boarded the Airbus A-380 for our short flight from Auckland to Sydney, Flavia joked that this was going to be the highlight of my trip. Now, it wasn’t the highlight, but it certainly was something that I had been looking forward to. First off, the plane is enormous, everything is new and modern, and sitting just over the wing, on the lower deck, I stared out over the arching wing so heavy and long that while on the ground you couldn’t see the end of it. We watched from the camera place on the top of the tail as well as one in the nose as we took off, and when we flew into Sydney over the famous Opera House I watched through the camera by the landing gear to get a better idea of what Sydney was going to look like. We passed through customs without a hitch and were surprised to see my friend Kate waiting for us on the other side. We had planned to stay at her parents’ house for two nights but had thought that she would not have been able to get the time off work. I worked with her at Rosenblum my first harvest, and it has been great to see her here in her hometown.

Her parents live just southwest of the city, an hour by train to Bondi junction train and bus terminal, in a spectacular house looking over a lagoon with tall rocky shores with houses and trees around the edges in the suburb of Lilli Pilli. The houses are all up a bit on the hill, giving the best views, but they also have a pool down by the water’s edge, and a pier for access to the warm ocean water. We are pretty much stuck here, as the offer to stay a few extra days was impossible for us to pass up. Kate’s parents, Lindsay and Susie, are two of the most welcoming people that we have ever met, and we have had tasty meals every night, access to a fully stocked wine cellar, and relaxing evenings on the deck overlooking the water, listening to the trees and discussing everything from wine to politics. So in the end our idea of staying in Bondi was replaced with a few trips into the city to take in the sites.

We have been busy though, seeing what we can and planning for our stay in Australia, where we have 35 days. We did the touristy Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour with what seemed to be a large majority of the senior citizen tourists here, but it was free so we couldn’t complain. However, it did begin to rain the minute we set foot onto the upper deck of the open top double-decker bus which literally dampened the enjoyment of the tour. We saw the normal sites, The Harbor Bridge, the Opera House, and so on, and made the best of the rainy afternoon. We finished the tour at Kate’s father’s office, on the 38th and top floor of a downtown office building looking over the Central Cathedral as well as the Olympic stadiums for a few years past.

Yesterday we spend the afternoon on Bondi Beach with, Pat, a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen since we went to college together in Denver. Bondi was nicer than we expected, the color of the water was beautiful, the weather was warm with a nice breeze, and although a few clouds sat inland, we enjoyed pure sunshine. I was surprised at the lack of locals on the beach there, as it seemed that the contingent of tanning foreigners had pushed out the Aussies to the other beaches in the area. Today we are headed to Cronulla, a beach nearby (surely to be full of Aussies), for brunch and the rest of the day on the beach. We have been truly spoiled during our time here in Sydney, and sitting here in the early morning sun, watching flocks of noisy and colorful birds fly from tree to tree, while the locals fish and wakeboard to enjoy their weekend, I know that this is the purest enjoyment of life. This family has overextended themselves to us and we are very grateful, and can’t wait to make it back here to this beautiful city again.

This country is sure to offer us an exciting and new adventure as we have booked a campervan to drive the 2700 KM route from here to Cairns, up on the Great Barrier Reef, through the tropical and beautiful east coast of Australia. Although the campervan was not cheap, it will be a great way for us to see everything we want to, ensure that we won’t have to stay in any dorms, and for me to cook seafood and all the wonderful treats that we can find along the way. We have three weeks to get the camper to Cairns, first step, figuring out how to drive a manual transmission on the left side of the road!

Posted by JonathanU 07:20 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Out of NZ


Today is our last day in New Zealand. We are boarding a bus shortly that will take us about four hours to the Auckland airport where we have an evening flight to Sydney, to begin our journey up the east coast of Australia. I can say that although we only had two weeks here, I feel that we did get a chance to see a lot of the country. We moved at a pace that would certainly not be agreeable for the entire duration of our trip, but we knew that with such short time here we would have to race around without much down time. The last few days were great though. We both enjoyed Wellington, even though it was very windy and we were dealing with a tsunami warning for the last day that we were there. Speaking of the tsunami, I did hear from my friends in Chile, and everyone seems to be safe, thankfully. We found the city to be very relaxed and full of cafes, while being nestled between mountains and a bay, and although it is the capital of New Zealand, it certainly had the feel of a revolutionary student capital, sort of Berkeleyish. The rugby game was the highlight for me, as we got two great seats and really enjoyed the action of the Wellington Hurricanes versus the Johannesburg Lions in the Super 14 rugby tournament, which comprises the best teams from the Southern Hemisphere. I was surprised to see the amount of NFL gear at the game and in NZ as general, and after speaking to some of the locals, I found that the appeal of American football is quickly growing here.

Our last stop in New Zealand, Rotorua, was a bit different from the other stops in NZ. Although this is a purely tourist town, it wasn’t at all like Queenstown, which has a ton of money, all new tourist infrastructure, and is in general a beautiful town. Rotorua is a bit 70’s and it seems that the tourist money doesn’t exactly stay in this town. The region here is the heart of the Maori culture, and also home to the most amazing geysers and mineral pools that I have ever seen. The colors of the pools, bright green, deep blue and multiple shades of grey in the boiling mud were sensational and we walked around in awe while breathing strictly through our mouth as the smell of Sulphur and rotten eggs was very strong throughout the park. In the afternoon, we went for a beautiful walk along the lake and ended at the Polynesian Spa, where we relaxed in hot water baths overlooking the lake.
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The people here were very friendly, although they swear a ton, even by my standards. The nicest people we found were actually the bus and shuttle drivers who seemed to greatly enjoy their jobs as well as helping tourists. All in all, we didn’t meet too many locals, as we didn’t go out very much, but we did meet some Kiwis in Rotorua who were extremely friendly and I learned on my last night how to make muscles on the barby, and Green Lipped NZ muscles truly are better than the American ones. A few other observations about Kiwis, first, daisy dukes are alive and well here in NZ, rugby shorts for the men, and just very short shorts for the ladies. Also, I don’t understand everything that is said in the Kiwi accent, maybe they just talk fast, or maybe I just need to pay attention a bit better. Finally, what is up with the Kiwis dressing up like fools to go out here? Whether it was a group of girls dressed like angels, or one solitary guy dressing as a ferry, I just didn’t understand what was going on. I asked about it, and was told that people started doing it and then it just spread throughout the culture to just an everyday thing. So that’s it, NZ is done and although we are a bit alarmed at how much we spent, we feel that we really did get a good tour in of the country, and are really falling into the traveling grove, cooking more, packing our bags more quickly, and doing the most for the least amount of money.

Next stop, Sydney!

Posted by JonathanU 15:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Goodbye Kiwis

Depois de degustar os vinhos de Malborough, pegamos um ferry para cruzar da parte sul a parte norte da Nova Zelândia. O ferry saiu de Picton e 3 horas depois chegamos em Wellington, a capital da Nova Zelândia e mais conhecida como “windy Wellington” porque venta muito naquela cidade, eu aprendi a minha lição quando saímos para passear uma manhã e eu resolvi vestir uma saia, ventava tanto que a saia subia ate a minha cabeça, eu não sabia mais se segurava a saia ou se segurava o cabelo, que naquelas horas eu já nem conseguia ver mais nada. Apesar da ventania, Wellington é uma cidade muito cultural, com vários museus e galerias de arte e com um café a cada esquina, todo mundo adora sentar, tomar um cappuccino e comer bolos, tortas, doces...huummm...e como não poderia faltar, nos fomos ver uma partida de Rugby, o esporte mais famoso na Nova Zelândia. O time de Wellington jogou contra um time da Africa do Sul, o Jonathan feliz da vida que conseguiu ver o jogo ao vivo e eu não entendendo nada, como sempre, esse esportes não fazem muito sentido, futebol americano, baseball, cricket, rugby, eles inventam tantas regras que o jogo demora horas e não é emocionante, ai ai, nada como o bom e velho futebol.

Saímos de Wellington e fomos para Rotorua, depois de 8 horas no ônibus chegamos ao nosso destino, Rotorua é a cidade ou área com a maior atividade vulcânica da Nova Zelândia. Antes de chegar na cidade já da pra sentir o cheiro não muito agradável de enxofre. Em Rotorua nós visitamos um dos vários parques vulcânicos da área, eu vi um gêiser explodir pela primeira vez, um jato de água com um monte de pressão, esse gêiser explode todos os dias as 10:15 da manhã, um fenômeno natural fascinante. O parque também tinha várias piscinas naturais, de cores diferentes, todas formadas por vulcanos, piscinas verdes, amarelas, laranjadas, todas elas borbulhando, como se fossem um caldeirão de bruxa, incrível! Rotorua também é famosa pelos spas, todos com águas termais, você paga uma taxa de uso e pode desfrutar de todas as piscinas, cada uma com uma temperatura diferente, um pouquinho de luxo não faz mal a ninguém, não é.
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Duas semanas se passaram e já esta na hora de partir, podemos dizer que conhecemos uma parte desse pais lindo, mas a Nova Zelândia certamente tem mais para oferecer. Mas nós aproveitamos o máximo possível, viajamos de avião, de carro, de ônibus e de ferry, conhecemos as duas ilhas, degustamos os vinhos e provamos a comida, conhecemos nativos e estrangeiros e com certeza teremos boas lembranças dessa terra. Hoje partimos para Sidney, na Austrália, teremos 5 semanas para aproveitar a Austrália, o plano vai ser de alugar um motorhome e dirigir de Sidney até o final da costa oeste, até Cairns. Ate a próxima!

Posted by flaviaU 15:22 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Heading North

sunny

I write right now as we sit on the top deck of the Inter Island ferry that connects the South Island from the North Island of New Zealand. We spent the morning in Picton, where the ferry departed after passing two days in the heart of the Marlborough wine country. We found a wonderful little guesthouse in Blenheim, just south of here, and we relaxed beside a pool and were the only guests at the house. I guess times have changed for me. I’m really starting to see the difference between my last trip and this one, and the thought of being “alone” in a guesthouse on my last trip would have horrified me. Flavia and I are perfect company for each other, and a takeout Indian meal with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was the end to a great day of wine-tasting at the surrounding wineries. We tasted lots of Sauv Blanc, of course, but also a healthy amount of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir, and after visiting 6 wineries, our budget only allowed us to purchase one lonely bottle of Pinot Noir, which is safely stowed away in my backpack. The wine was decent, although I thought that a lot of the Sauv Blanc lacked a bit of acid, which I guess comes from the hot summers days and very chilly nights that they had over the past two years. We did have a great time wine tasting though, setting out our first afternoon on bikes, which is by the way, the first time I have ever seen Flavia on a bike! We had a wonderful lunch although we struggled against the miserable headwind that blew down the highway. Our second day in Blenheim, we took a wine tour with 5 other people and were driven to the nicest local wineries, including one in the Diageo family, Cloudy Bay, although the highlight was the boutique wineries we visited at the end of our day. The area where the wineries are sit in a glacial basin, and are fairly new, with the first winery having opened just about 30 years ago.

It has taken a while to get used to backpacking in a first world country. Before, while in South America, I had no problem eating at high quality restaurants, going out until the wee hours of the morning, and not really worrying about what I was spending each day. Now, things are different. So far in New Zealand, we have only eaten at one restaurant, where two entrees and two beers cost $50, the rest of the time we have just gotten “take away” Chinese, Thai, or Indian, or cooked rice or pasta with a simple sauce and a protein. One thing that we have spent a bit more on recently is accommodation. Sleeping in a dorm is always an option, but we would prefer one smaller than 6 beds, and preferably not in a hostel that advertises itself as a “party” hostel. We have been good though, although in the last two cities we did spoil ourselves with a private bathroom. When I travelled alone all I really cared about was a bed and a bit of security for my gear, but now, especially with all of our toys, we would like a bit of comfort and wi-fi, which is available at most, if not all, hostels and hotels.

I guess finally I can feel a bit of age creeping up on me. We’ve had mostly early nights, and the ones that are late don’t make it much past midnight. I can use the excuse that it’s the $8 beers that keep us close to home, or the long days that we have been having, but so far, the need to go out just really hasn’t come to us. I’m sure things will change once we get to SE Asia, or until I manage to start sleeping past 8am, which is an improvement from 6am, which was my mental alarm every morning while in Fiji. I’ve also started this trip with a bit of back pain, and have naturally ruled out sleeping in a hammock for four months, as I did in South America.

So now we sit, with a quick four hour ferry trip ahead of us. The wind in our faces does a great job cooling the scorching midday sun on the observation deck, and the computer and Iphone pass the time and drown out the myriad of loud accents the echo through the galleys. Our next stop is Wellington, where we will hopefully arrive in time to catch the Super 14 rugby match between Wellington and Johannesburg (South Africa). Our days in New Zealand are numbered, just here for 5 more days before our quick adventure here is up.

Posted by JonathanU 16:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

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