Haven’t done much lately, been a bit unwell and tired and it’s been super wet and cold here so I’ve been particularly lazy. Any way, I have completed processing of my Tasmanian photos and had a couple extras that didn’t find there ways onto flickr, so I thought I’d post them here. Actually, I’ve been in the midst of planning our Japanese break, booking and planning, trying to work out what we can do, what we can fit in, it’s a bit of a headache cos we don’t have much time but there are so many places to see, we’ll just have to focus on a couple key areas and hope that we can pay another visit another time. So both of these photos are HDR shots where I got similar shots and put them on flickr because I thought they were a little more interesting, but then when I look at these it would be a waste not to post them somewhere, especially the one in Mount Field National Park. We’ll see if I have anything else to post in the next month or two of this dark Winter while waiting for the trip to Japan. So desperately waiting for this Winter to end, I’m sick (literally) and tired of the bloody cold, and now I’m too lazy to cycle in the cold :D.
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We went to Hobart over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend last week, we had a rough itinerary planned, we arrived on a Saturday, so the plan was to hit the Salamanca Market in the morning, and then head up to Mount Field National Park in the afternoon to see some waterfalls. Day two was our only full day so we would spend it at Port Arthur Historical Site (about 95km from Hobart), and day three we would drive up to Mount Wellington to get a view of Hobart. We arrived a bit before 9am and got into our rented car and headed for Hobart city centre.
I’m not sure if it was because it was a public holiday weekend, but there was no traffic heading into Hobart, and none really to speak of in town either. We hit the market but didn’t buy anything, it was quite good but souvenirs in Australia are just as tacky as they are anywhere around the world, maybe the local gourmet foods and condiments might have been good to buy, but we decided against it. After that we headed up to Mount Field National Park, mainly to see Russell Falls, but I guess also to see what else was in the national park. About two-thirds of the way there (65km drive) we noticed this most beautiful of hills, it was green with deciduous trees lining half of it, the sun was shining and clouds were hovering, the scenery was fantastic, too bad we couldn’t find anywhere to stop and take a picture. At the park we found a nice 2.5 hour walk around that would take in three waterfalls, Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Lady Barron Falls, as well as some comfortable walking through lush forest.
Russell Falls seemed a bit dry, whereas Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls looked really good to me. After that we headed back to Hobart for dinner, we went to Blue Eyes where we both had fish, which was yummy.
Day two consisted of the 95km drive to Port Arthur, taking in the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen, and the Blowhole, three naturally occurring geological formations of similar descriptions, basically they all were caves that eroded away and now ocean water smashes through into a small enclosed area. They were a little underwhelming to be honest, but perhaps it was low tide, one of them (I think it was Tasman Arch) had a really nice lookout next to it where you could see the pretty coastline with high cliffs. I thought the Tessellated Pavement was quite nice, the weather was quite dreary all day with periods of drizzle and some very short bursts of sunshine.
Port Arthur is obviously a significant historical site but if you know me, you probably know I found it a little boring, nothing especially photogenic there. Again, we went back to Hobart for dinner, this time at the Customs House Hotel, which just seemed like a standard pub in terms of the seafood.
Our final day in which we were to drive up to (the peak of) Mount Wellington, and also have some fresh oysters for lunch at Barilla Oyster Farm, and fit in whatever else we could be bothered doing. First we went to the oyster farm for lunch where we shared a 30 oyster platter which was yummy (except there were too many cooked cheesy oysters and not enough uncooked pear ones). After that we went back to Hobart to pick up a couple things before heading up to Mount Wellington. it was a bit of an overcast day and driving up I don’t think either of us held out much hope for a nice clear view at the top. By about midway the mist started creeping in and by the time we were pretty much at the top it was clear (not!) that the cloud cover was well and truly in and we would not be seeing anything. Visibility was about ten metres and the temperature was about three degrees, we didn’t hang around for long and headed back down and looked for any other lookout points of note, not really finding anything in the grey afternoon. After that we headed back to Barilla Oyster Farm to get some fresh oysters to take back to Melbourne. And that ends our three day trip to Hobart, we fit in quite a bit, saw the main things to see in (and around) Hobart, although we didn’t really wander around the CBD at all (not that there seemed to be much to see from what we saw driving through there), and didn’t stay out at night, neither of us can drink much so not much point by ourselves. I didn’t take any photos of it, but I did notice that there is a lot of road kill on the Tasmanian highways, not just small possums either, I reckon there were just as many wallabies and bigger animals on the side of the road too.
Good thing for me we didn’t hit any, the excess on the car was a whopping $3K. Overall happy with what we did, but we had hoped for a bit better weather (out of pure luck I guess) but it was not to be, it was the start of Winter I guess, amazing scenery down there, similar to New Zealand I would think, on a smaller scale, but would be amazing in any other season although you’d have to deal with a lot more people like me (tourists) then. I was actually surprised, I’d heard a lot about the two-headed Tasmanians expecting to see them around every corner, but in the end I only saw a couple, I guess they’re not as numerous as the sayings say they are.
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So I got back on Monday after a flight delay that left us in Hong Kong and Shanghai for a forgettable day. Apparently Iceland received record snowfalls this Winter, so we didn’t get to see the best of an Icelandic Winter, oh well I was expecting snow any way, and we did get a couple of clear days to see around Reykjavik at least. I wouldn’t exactly call Reykjavik a city, it’s more like a town considering that you can walk from the suburbs to downtown in 25 minutes, but it has all the amenities, didn’t see the night life at all, but that’s not a big deal considering I’m currently sober :D. What I found a little amazing was that even in Patreksfjordur, population about 1000, they have proper 3g coverage and broadband internet, it’s about as remote as you can get in Europe I would think, and yet they pretty much have all the amenities. I did have a pretty scary ferry ride from the Westfjords to Snaefell before driving along some dark and dusty roads back to Reykjavik. I am thinking that I’ll go back in the future, probably in late Spring/early Summer time, although I would like to go again perhaps in the late Autumn/early Winter to give myself another chance to see the northern lights, in a better location with a clearer sky, that would still be ideal.
As for Paris, in the little time I spent there and without actually getting around the downtown area too much and especially not seeing the night life, I could tell that it was a place that I would definitely really like. It’s such a busy place and the people (especially the girls) are very good looking :D, they must be so vain, or just really lucky. There’s no shortage of anything it seems, although the Vietnamese food is certainly not as good as Melbourne from what I tried. The metro system is great, just like the one in Mexico City, and they have use-once tickets as well as the re-usable card, they know what they’re doing. Winter there was not as cold as I expected, there were a couple of cold days right around 1-2 degrees, but then the two days before we left were about 10 degrees and positively balmy! Any way, I bet it’s an especially magnificent city in the warmer weather.
And now the rant, bloody Air France, and bloody QANTAS, I can tell you, I will not be flying Air France again if I can help it, and I won’t be flying QANTAS unless they have super special deals that are so cheap as to be insane not to buy, also I have frequent flyer points that I will need to use rather than waste. Air France got all the passengers on to the plane on time, and then sat there waiting (for half an hour with no information), then drove out to the runway and waited again for half an hour before finally notifying passengers of a maintenance check that needed to be done, then finally after two hours we finally took off. Initially they were telling us on the plane that we would arrive only thirty minutes later than the initial arrival time, so passengers with connecting flights need not worry. After a bit of sleep, and checking the flight route and destination details, it became apparent that we were not going to arrive in time for our flight, and in fact we were arrived exactly two hours late, ten minutes after our particular connecting flight was due to leave, so they made up no time at all. On the plane, the cabin crew told us to go talk to the ground staff for further information, so a bunch of Aussies with connecting flights to Melbourne and Sydney were possibly expecting that we’d walk through and be lead to our boarding gates by someone only to find that our QANTAS flights had already left. So Air France, who were operating a flight for QANTAS from Paris to Hong Kong did not do anything to help those passengers that had connecting flights with QANTAS to get on their flights on time. Instead they provided us with $90HKD worth of food vouchers for the airport and half a night’s stay in the airport hotel. Air France obviously working with their partner airlines only, provided us with airfares to get back to Melbourne, but not until over 24 hours after we were meant to.
So we were stuck boarding a second rate plane with China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai bright and early in the morning and spending the whole day there until a flight in the evening back to Melbourne. OK, China Eastern Airlines didn’t actually seem so bad up until then, apart from the service being a little abrupt. They were running on time and everything, and with a whole day in town we decided to head out to see what Shanghai was about, I didn’t see anything that I would say will warrant a return visit. Any way, our flight was meant to leave Shanghai at 8.15pm, but it was eventually delayed by over and hour and we eventually took off, they also never gave us any indication of how long it would take or what time we would arrive in Melbourne. So QANTAS having bailed on us,is now pretty much on my boycott list, and Air France, I should have known, I guess we’re fortunate to be back in Melbourne in one piece.
But the rant is not over! For some reason, the airport in France (Terminal 2 at least) seem to think that it’s a good idea to only have one person working the departure desks (and arrival desks when we arrived) which makes for a lot of waiting before you can enter or leave the country by plane, get to the airport early! Maybe it has to do with the financial crisis and they are cutting costs. Now rant over, and we can look at some pretty pictures! I will hopefully start posting pictures on flickr this weekend.
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So, another year over, another one just begun, I spent the past four days up in the Westfjords, which were very scenic although I didn’t get to see much of them because of the weather, also I was kind of working. So I was stuck inside most of the time, and didn’t get to go up the mountain roads and get some good views during the day, another time perhaps, the views I’m sure are spectacular. I was staying in Patreksfjordur with a lovely family working on a book about French sailors in Iceland to be published. Anyway, we’ve got three more days here in Reykjavik before heading back to Paris for a day, and then back home, the weather hasn’t been the greatest recently, but it’s Winter so there’s not much you can do. I’m not going to babble on here, just post some pictures of the craziness of Iceland.
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Merry Xmas to everyone out there, hopefully you’ve had or are having a very peaceful time. I’ve had xmas’ away from home before, but this is the first one ever in the northern hemisphere, and I’m pretty far north. It really is Winter here, and a white Xmas as well, a little too white for my liking, it is freezing. It’s snowing, and windy, and very dark as I type this. The snow is deep and it is very cold, but it’s soft at least. The weather is a bit unpredictable and so makes it quite difficult to go out and take some photos after dark, I can’t be sure that it won’t be violently cold and windy. I hope it’s not like that when I go up to the western fjords just after the new year, if it’s just cold that’s one thing, but if it’s snowing and windy that makes it very difficult to get outside to take some photos. Perhaps I may have to settle for taking photos from inside behind windows, that would be a little disappointing, let’s cross that bridge when it comes.
I tried some putrid shark a couple days ago, this is not a delicacy here, it’s a traditional meal from western Iceland that has made its way around the rest of the country. Basically it is smelly, yucky, and burns your mouth, but you may as well try it if you’re here, really, really, awful, the worst thing I have ever eaten in my adult life (and as far as I can remember).
Anyway, here are some fresh pictures for your perusal in snowy Icy Land.
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