Australia Blog Part 1 - OZ I am back
After almost heading to the wrong airport in Tokyo, I eventually ended up at the right airport Haneda, three hours prior to the flight. Once the check in counter opened, the lady wanted to weigh my carry on luggage and she said it's 10 kg's but I am only allowed 5. Never have I ever heard of that, usually it's 7-10! My Ipad and a book weigh that much! So that was the first issue. So I had to check in my carry on, good thing I am always carrying a big plastic bag in case of stuff like this or if in general my luggage is too heavy. It's a trick I taught myself, they never care about plastic bags because they think you bought things at the airport. After the one year in Australia, I had so much stuff that I was travelling with 5 extra plastic bags.
Then she wanted to see my Australia visa, which I showed to her. She read the letter of approval like ten times and was still confused (don't exactly know why), then she took off to ask her supervisor, this person then asked her boss, that woman then called around (still don't know why) and twenty minutes later she said I am allowed to fly (what else!? I have a valid visa!!!). During that time every other passenger was checked in and because the online check in didn't work (surprise), all the aisle and window seats were taken! Thank you very much, now I am stuck in the middle for like 14 hours! Lesson learned, don't fly China Southern! Shortly after take off, the entertainment system broke down and all the entertainment I had were clouds and the Chinese guy sitting beside me that didn't wanna use a kleenex to blow his nose and every 20 seconds I had to hear this disgusting sound (yes I was counting)!!!
I had to transfer in Guangzhou, China and the following flight was completely booked and I was supposed to sit in between two really big blokes, I couldn't even sit up straight or move my arm. I told the flight attendant some story that I couldn't sit there because I had a knee injury. She said the only seat available is in premium economy and I would have to pay the upgrade. Didn't even think about it twice because it was a nine hour flight and overnight. It was worth every penny, I had so much leg room and slept like a baby. Let's talk about the food though, worst airplane food ever! Dinner and breakfast both looked like plastic and tasted like plastic.
My friend Teresa came to pick me up from the airport in Brisbane and when she heard I was flying China Southern, she asked, if they are even safe. I told her to watch the news before making the trip to the airport lol
Brisbane from above
Hope Island, Queensland
What's the story with Australia and why do I call it my second home? Well exactly 10 years ago I was living and working in Australia and had the time of my life. I met great people and most of them I still keep in touch with. Two of them were Walt and Teresa, I lived with them for 6 months and was working for their catering business in Brisbane. The other 6 months I was traveling and working in other places. This is my fourth time in Australia and I will always return and if I could live anywhere else, it would be here.
I had booked a rental car because just like in Canada or the States, you can't get anywhere without a car. It doesn't take me long to get used to driving on the left, but I sometimes struggle at traffic circles and intersections.
My home for the next couple of weeks is in Hope Island, that's a laid-back gated community on the Gold Coast where residents ride around with their golf buggies and you can watch kangaroos in your backyard.
Places here have dreamy names like Paradise Point, Sanctuary Cove, Runaway Bay, Surfers Paradise etc.
a warm welcome
surf competition Coolangatta
when parking lots look like this❤️
my home for a few weeks or maybe years — at Hope Island Resort - Stillwater Apartments
Sanctuary Cove, Queensland
So the first couple of days I myself was riding around with the golf buggy accompanied by some friends and a cute little dog named Daisy. Then my friend Julie whom I met on the Alaska cruise in May came to visit me all the way from Adelaide. She was staying at the Intercontinental in Sanctuary Cove and because that place looked stunning, I booked one night as an early christmas present to myself. So the ladies and I were drinking coconuts and wine at the pool all day and the next day we went on a roadtrip to Byron Bay. I was actually looking for Liam Hemsworth because he is always there for christmas, but turns out he got married to Miley Cyrus and had no time to meet with me. I love Byron Bay, the coastal surf culture with a bohemian/hippie flair, just very relaxed.
my friend Julie came all the way from Adelaide to visit me
favorite thing to do? This!
Frangipani my favorite flower
Byron Bay, Queensland
Byron Bay beach
Byron Bay lighthouse
drinking coconuts what else
it's beach time
surfing Santa, taking a break before christmas
Julie's first time in Byron and she is loving it!
Surfers Paradise, Queensland
Today I had a busy day haha, went outlet shopping in Harbour Town and after 5 hours I almost had a heat stroke and probably no money left so I went to the movies. And afterwards had a walk on Surfers Paradise Beach, there was a choir singing christmas carols which was beautiful.
outlet shopping in Harbour Town
If you have the intention of coming to Australia, I recommend you buying a SIM card, either with Optus or Telstra. Don't buy it at the supermarket though, it takes forever to activate. Go into a Optus/Telstra shop, they will activate it immediately and it's ready to use. I paid $30 and got 12 gb data and unlimited texts and calls. It's just very convenient for directions, tripadvisor (restaurants) and googling things. However there are free offline navigation apps like navmii Australia, which is great.
And here are a few fun facts about Australia:
1. Australia was the second country in the world to allow women to vote (New Zealand was the first).
2. Australia's first police force was made up of the most well-behaved convicts.
3. If you visited one new beach in Australia per day, it would take you 27 years to see them all.
4. The Great Barrier Reef is the planet's largest living structure.
5. The Box jellyfish has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.
Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
After that adventure I went on a two-day getaway with someone who always agrees with me and shares the same interests: MYSELF. So I drove 2.5 hours up north to the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I've always wanted to come back to Noosa because I have fond memories of that place. It is probably more upscale than Byron Bay with the boutiques and the many wine bars, but even though it was the beginning of the christmas holidays for the Australian's, the beach wasn't crowded at all.
Noosa is actually the place where I learned surfing, or should I say I've tried to learn. It looks so easy when Mick Fanning surfs these monster waves (when he is not busy fighting off sharks), but man it's hard! When u are a beginner all you do is paddle paddle paddle until your arms fall off and you haven't even caught one wave yet.
So one activity I actually really like doing and don't suck at (I reckon because it's easy) is standup paddleboarding. So I hired a pink board (what else) and paddled up and down the river. You could say downstream is easier, yes it is. After that I felt full of energy so I got myself a body board and tested that for an hour. Of course always with enough sunscreen on to avoid any skin cell trauma but still get a tan lol
When I walked back to the hotel from the beach I saw this weird looking creature, a mix between a snake and a lizzard, never seen it before. Makes me believe in Yeti and the Loch Ness monster a little bit more...
just bought this house with monopoly money, see ya
SUP one of my favorite things to do! And how much do I love this board
what a beautiful way to get married!
Hope Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
Australia Blog Part 2 - Christmas with the kangaroos and koalas
Teresa's neighbours Rod and Roz invited me to a boat party for their anniversary and all I had to contribute was a fruit platter. Boats, jetskis anything on the water, you name it, I love it! And I used to work for a catering business, so a fruit platter is a piece of cake or in this case a piece of fruit.
I would've been happy with a small or even midsize boat, but when I walked to the harbour I couldn't believe the size of the catamaran. In addition everything was custom built for the owner who's 203 cm tall! Invited were other neighbors and friends and as it turned out four tv show producers, who were producing big brother, the apprentice, dancing with the stars etc. I don't watch many Australian TV shows but as a series junkie I am definitely interested in the behind the scenes and the path of becoming a producer. I might become one too (in my dreams at least).
The five hour boat tour started from Hope Harbour and we went along the Coomera river towards Surfers Paradise and the open water. It was amazing, the real estates we saw along the way, million dollar homes. But because I didn't win the 70 million jackpot that was up for grabs in Switzerland just now, I can erase that off my shopping list. With the money I am spending on traveling I can be lucky to buy a doll house. But when the dolphin surfed the wave of our catamaran, it was a great way to show how materialistic things don't matter much and that you can't buy happiness.
We jumped from about 4 meters into the water, the current so strong, you had to hold onto the rope of the anchor or you would've drifted into the ocean and into the sharks territory (how dramatic). These hours out on the water were a day full of joy. But I guess spending a day with people from the TV industry makes me wanna tell this story like it's a movie. But if you are expecting me to tell you that when I jumped into the water the catamaran sailed away and left me behind, I have to disappoint you. That Open Water movie was very disturbing though!
nice day to be on the water
you are rich when u got a yacht but freaking loaded when there's a chopper on it! I have no clue how they land that thing...
Surfers Paradise skyline
these two are probably contemplating an attack plan
on the Sanctuary Cove golf course
on the Sanctuary Cove golf course
when the wave hits you right in the face
For Christmas I wanted to go back to my friends place because nobody should be alone for christmas (and yet millions of people are...) On the way back, there was an accident on the highway and all the cars in front of me slammed on their breaks and so did I just in time. When I looked in the mirror though, I saw this black Jeep coming with full speed and I thought now something bad is going to happen and there is nothing I can do about it. Before he crashed into the back of my car he turned his steering wheel around and landed on the side of the road. So lucky! I am really glad I don't have to spend christmas at the hospital and nobody got hurt.
On Christmas Eve I prepared a traditional Swiss Fondue Chinoise, it's hot pot with stock and you cook your meat, shrimp etc. in it and dip it with different sauces. The neighbors Roz and Rod were impressed and thought it was delicious.
my Christmas Eve — at Hope Island Resort - Stillwater Apartments
I always knew Santa is real
Fondue Chinoise for X-Mas Eve
Christmas breakfast of champions
some would call this inappropriate for an adult lol — at Hope Island Resort - Stillwater Apartments
some would call this inappropriate — at Hope Island Resort - Stillwater Apartments
When I woke up on Christmas Day it was raining, I was bummed out because if I can't have snow I want the sun to shine at least. But we thought let's have some fun in the rain, so we got dressed in christmas outfits, put on the Mariah Carey christmas playlist and were riding with the golf buggy through the puddles. When the sun comes back out the whole neighborhood is gonna be by the pool, palm trees decorated pretending to be christmas trees, this is christmas in Australia.
I wanna wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I hope you are enjoying the time with ur families and loved ones and the few days off work. May your holidays be filled with laughter, love and joy and don't forget Santa loves you...
Skydiving Cleveland, Queensland
Australia Blog Part 3 - Freefall from 15'000 feet
If you had asked me a year ago, would you ever go skydiving, I would've said hell no! I don't even go on rollercoasters anymore, I told myself it's an age thing, but who am I kidding I am 32 years old and not 84!
Anyway I still felt tempted and I reflected on it and came to the conclusion: if you don't do it now, you'll never do it! And this is the absolute perfect place to go skydiving with the ocean and the beach. I don't know why the thought of water calms me more than mountains because if you crash into the water from that height, it's hard as concrete and the result is the same lol
So I booked it and it was quite cheap compared to other countries ($180 plus the video/photo package) and I was like yeah I am going skydiving, no big deal! And then one day it hit me, I realized I was actually gonna jump out of a plane, I freaked out!
d my friend Teresa who's really supportive (NOT) told me that I am going skyDYING and that I'll end up as a pancake and they are gonna have to scratch me of the ground. She was going on about it (dark humour) and how she is gonna sell my stuff on ebay bla bla bla and of course that scared me even more. But in life it's all about conquering your fears and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (at least that's what Kelly Clarkson is saying) bla bla bla, so there I was in a car with Teresa, Rod and Roz on the way to Redcliffe.
I wanted to get good footage myself, so I had one go pro on a wrist mount and one on a chest harness. But they said I can't take any with me, due to strict regulations. Bummer!
my friend Teresa left me this encouraging message this morning before the jump
There were seven people in my group and none of them were even scared or nervous and I was pretty relaxed myself because of that...until we got on the plane and reached the altitude for the jump. My tandem partner Dave told me that we were third in line and to get ready when the light suddenly turned from red to green, it all happened so fast! The first tandem was out! FUCK!! No way to go back now! What goes up must go down lol. Then the second tandem jumped and I thought well we are gonna take it easy, sit on the exit for a while and then jump, but hell no, Dave yelled move forward and pushed me out of the plane! And like a rocket we were speeding towards the ground from 15'000 feet with 220 km/h and the 50 seconds freefall felt like eternity. It was weird, in a way I felt sick and regreted it, in another way it was so much fun! 50 seconds of pure adrenaline. Once the parachute opened everything was quiet and I was calm and actually really enjoying it and taking in the stunning view. The anxiety, the fear, all swept away.
Not so much laughing anymore
screaming my lungs out
Freefall from 15'000 feet at 220 km/h for 50 seconds
The whole thing took about 6-8 minutes and as soon as we got closer to the beach I saw my friends waving at us. The landing in the sand was actually quite soft. When I stood up I felt revived, full of energy and I thought, I wanna do it again. On the one hour drive back to the Gold Coast we did some carpool karaoke to recover from the excitement.
not scared anymore, just taking in the view
Peel Island, Queensland
For the next day I had planned something more relaxing, a boat trip from Cleveland to Peel Island. I actually was browsing through Groupon Australia a couple of months ago, saw that and booked it for $37. Half day on the catamaran incl. lunch. Once on the island we went for a walk to an old prison and a shipwreck. Peel Island is a National Park, so it's not inhabited. They offered us standup paddleboarding, wakesurfing and I used the seadoo for quite some time, it's an underwater vehicle and mostly used for scuba diving. I had my snorkel gear on and was exploring the underwater world while getting a tan.
sunset in Cleveland
Hope Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
Today Walt (Teresa's husband) got back from work, he's a chef at the mines and works 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. So we had a BBQ by the pool, his sons with teir families came and the pink flamingo I bought as a reward for surviving skydiving, enjoyed its time in the water alot!
fun day at the pool with my adopted family
Noooo don't leave me alone with her! — at Hope Island Resort - Stillwater Apartments
The flying dog
Tomorrow I'll have to say goodbye to my Australian family, Queensland and the Gold Coast, I am heading down to Sydney for NYE...
Tip of the day: the pre-installed maps app on the iphone also works offline. All you need to do is connect it to the internet to start the route, turn off the WIFI and it will take you to your destination. Provided that you don't take any wrong turns and it has to recalculate. Other than that I recommend using Navmii Australia, free navigation app.
goodbye Gold Coast
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia Blog Part 4 - Starting the New Year in Sydney
I had calculated enough time to get to the Gold Coast Airport but there was an accident on the highway and I was stuck in traffic for almost one hour! I started to panick a little bit because I had to fill up the rental car with gas, return it, take the shuttle to the airport and still make it on time. When I arrived in Coolangatta I only had one hour left till departure. So I just returned the rental car, gave the guy 10 bucks for fuel, which he didn't like at first, but I smiled at him and told him it would be his first good deed in the new year and it worked.
Turned out I my suitcase was overweight by 10 kg (christmas shopping) so I filled up a bag, wrapped my jacket around it (lowcost airlines are really strict) and off I was flying to Sydney. It's a good omen to start 2017 with this much luck.
Once landed in Sydney, my friend Ian came to pick me up. Debbie and I met him and his girlfriend Kylie two years ago at a NYE party and we kept in touch because they are really nice. They live in a suburb of Sydney called Ashfield with their dog Bella that they had rescued only 4 weeks ago and adopted since. I love dogs, the bigger the better (sorry Daisy I still love you though). We had drinks and dinner at a really cool brewery, which is dog friendly. So you can drink your beer while your dog plays with other dogs.
I love Sydney alot! So I had my four days here all planned out...On my first day I met up with a Swiss friend, we went to Paddie's market, had lunch in Chinatown, hopped on the bus to Bondi Beach, walked the coastal walk, a hike from Bondi to Bronte Beach. It's one of Sydney's most popular walks with it's sweeping views of the spectacular costline. When we got back to Bondi Beach, they were filming Bondi Rescue, which I had watched before. Of course I had a little swim, but the water was cold compared to the Gold Coast even though the air temperature was 38 degrees. Have I mentioned before that I love the heat, yeah 38 is a little hot maybe, but 30 degrees, just bloody perfect! Temperature wise I definitely live in the wrong country.
famous pool @ Bondi Beach
filming Bondi Rescue
It was December 31 and we were invited to the same NYE party that I attended two years ago. Klaus a friend of Kylie's has this penthouse in the Rocks overlooking the harbour and the Opera House, so the perfect spot to watch the fireworks. I was more than happy to go there because 1.5 million people are watching the fireworks around the harbour and some of them camp out up to 36 hours to get a good spot. Turns out it was a white party and you don't bring many white clothes when you travel. So Lindsey (a gay friend) was not impressed with my white billabong t-shirt so he got this painter's overall, cut the arms and legs of and made me wear that! I thought I looked super butch, but to shut him up I wore it anyway lol. Klaus went all out with his party, he had a blue light, party lights, glowing spray paint and a DJ for the whole night.
The fireworks were spectacular, there is one at 9 p.m. (for the kids) and the big one at midnight of course. The whole spectacle costs the city $ 7 million but they make $ 130 million in revenue (mostly from tourism). At 1 a.m. I walked around the harbour, the crowd was impressing, I had never seen as many people in one place before. Security was very tight, all the roads were blocked off, so nothing like in Nice or Berlin could happen and there were thousands of police officers on duty.
Sydney NYE fireworks
Happy New Year
1.5 million people watching the fireworks around the harbour
Sydney Harbour Bridge by night
NYE private white party
When you come to Sydney, you will most definitely be using public transport (trains, buses, ferries), don't be buying single tickets, that's much more expensive. Get a $ 20 opal card from any newsagency and top it up as you go. Just don't forget to tap on and off when you get on the bus. And what's super cool, that I didn't know before, every Sunday it's only $ 2.50 for all day wherever you go. I can't believe I only find this out now after coming here for years...
Enjoying my last day in Sydney — at Opera Bar
Even though I went to bed at 3.30 a.m. I got up at 8.30 to go to Manly. When I woke up, Kylie and Ian just got home lol. Some might call me crazy, I call it devotion because Manly is my absolute favorite place in Sydney and I wanna make the most of the time left in Australia. Manly the birthplace of Australian surfing with it's pretty vistas and laid back vibe is only half an hour by ferry ride from Circular Quay. Because it was New Years Day Manly Beach was too crowded for my taste, so I walked along the coast to Shelly Beach, climbed up a few rocks to find the perfect resting spot for the day to snooze and swim.
the Opera House, me and one million other people
On my last day, they took me to Cockatoo island where you have a great view of the Sydney skyline, explore the old shipyard and prison cells and we ended the afternoon with a drink in the bar in front of the Opera House.
my friends Kylie & Ian
I kept my promise
After my three weeks in Australia, it was already time to leave. I don't call my two month journey an around the world trip, it's more a circle Pacific. And my third and second last stop Australia has been nothing but good to me (as always), I've done so many exciting things in the short amount of time. I am sad to leave my friends behind... Teresa and Walter after 11 years you have become my family and we have so much fun together (all I need to say is boom), thank you for letting me crash in paradise everytime, Daisy you became my best dog friend, we were riding that golf buggy like we own it, you scared of my driving and me having a blast chasing kangaroos on the golf course and racing through puddles, Roz and Rod you were great fun too, we spent almost everyday together in the pool and I appreciate you making a major production out of my skydive. Julie thank you for coming to visit me all the way from Adelaide, you are a true friend and the 3 days we had together at the Gold Coast and Byron Bay were awesome, also good to see the whole family Ben, Bethany, Raffi the man, Oli, Amber and the girls. And last but not least Kylie and Ian, thanks for having me and spending NYE together, see you all next time!
The last stop before I go home is Bangkok, it was supposed to be Hanoi, but I just didn't wanna go back to that city, it stresses me out. Now you're thinking, what you find Bangkok more relaxing than Hanoi? The answer is yes. Less motorcycles, you don't have to worry about getting run over, no nonstop honking and because it's my 5th time in B-Town, I know exactly what I wanna see and do. So I had booked a cheap ticket from Singapore to Bangkok, but I had to convince the Singapore Airlines staff to check my bags only through to Singapore and not all the way to Hanoi. Usually the airlines don't like doing that, but I had a great story that worked and am now on my way to Bangkok...
When I got back to Switzerland it was -10 degrees celcius and I already had a cold. Welcome back to reality :-)
During my travel I've used any mode of transport there is: car, train, busses, big and small planes, metro, golf buggy, boats, ferries, taxi, uber...but what I only realized when I got back that I had 17 flights in two months! I Pilots fly less than that and make money doing it. Seems crazy, but I love it! And two days later I flew to Slovenia for work!