The Magical Island

Friday, 20 February. This is my third day on Moorea, the cute heart-like shaped island next door to Tahiti, French Polynesia. The first two days I felt virtually brain dead because of the heat. I still suffer a bit, especially now, at 3pm, when the sun is unbearable and there is no wind to cool me down, let alone water (it is bathtub warm). Don’t get me wrong, this place is beautiful! The volcanic mountains that soar behind me, covered by deep green rainforest. The turquoise blue water that I’m looking at right now, the waves breaking on the reef at the horizon. The tranquillity. The smell of trees and fresh fruits. However, all I can think of right now is an ice bucket and how much I’d like to empty it over my head… Look at the “Feel” section: Screenshot_2015-02-21-10-57-37-1

One hour later: I think I’ll have a cold beer now…

Three hours later: It is cooling down, sort of…

So what have I been doing so far? I’ve done some serious hanging out. I don’t mean reading a book or anything. I mean SERIOUS hanging out, doing nothing, thinking of nothing, waiting for the day to pass by. I flew in from Auckland – I stayed there just for the night (thinking how much I’d loved to stay in NZ). I probably was a bit wistful. I left Auckland on Wednesday morning, 18 February. Now here’s the weird thing: I landed 4h later at Papeete airport, Tahiti, on Tuesday, 17 February. Crossing the date line really is bizarre. I still can’t get the days straight. It was pouring with rain when we left the plane over the gangway. After all, it’s still rainy season. But the rain vanished as soon as it came and it hasn’t been raining ever since the first day. Europeans get their own line through the passport control and no stamp in their passport. Feels strange to sort of entering the EU so far from home (technically, French Polynesia does not belong to the EU, but its citizens are French, so it is EUish).

I caught the 5pm ferry to Moorea, Tahiti’s “little sister” and am now staying at a Family B&B, meaning that the guesthouse is on the same ground and next door to the owners family and his brothers family. Even though  M. , a Canadian guy staying here, and me crave for spending some time in an airconditioned room at one of the beautiful (but very pricy) resorts once in a while, I am glad to stay where the real people are and to get a glimpse of how they live (surfing at the reef is a very important part – apparently there are some of the worlds best waves breaking along the reefs surrounding the islands).

Yesterday afternoon I took a bike ride along the road. The newer parts even have a bikeline, but the crappy parts have no tarmac and countless potnoles.20150219_17350920150219_17190120150219_174517 The people are incredibly friendly. They remind me of the Malawians in that they waved at me, shouting a happy “Bonjour” along my way.

This morning we did a 4×4 tour with the owner around the island:


The water is not as turquoise where I am staying, because there is no sand, but at least we can see the sunset from here.20150220_183053

Tonight, we’ve had fresh Mahi Mahi from the local fish market (actually its just a small shop) for dinner. Luckily M. rented a Vespa – it is quite far and there is virtually no public transport.

DELICIOUS! 20150220_19453120150220_200039

Brisbane – the joy and pleasure of being with friends

I had the pleasure of meeting up with friends in Brisbane. Esther and Cass are actually friends of my childhood friend Henny and I met them at her wedding in Germany in June last year. I was lucky enough to be placed at the same table. It was a marvellous eve that involved lots of laughter! Half-jokingly, half serious I said I might becoming to Brisbane this year. Back then my Sabbatical was not fixed, yet a route already formed in my mind.

I do meet a lot of people on the road and I  enjoy that a lot. But to meet these two, their families and neighbours was special to me. It’s so good to be taken care of, sometimes! Thanks to Esther I spent six days at the beautiful, cozy and airy granny flat of her neighbour Linda  (and family) in Paddington… furnished with a huge bed, ensuite bath (with a rain shower!) and a kitchen – in short : PRIVACY! Those of you who’ve travelled like I do probably know how good that feels once in a while! But to top that I  was welcome at Esther’s all the time, getting to know her family and indulge in great food, especially at the sunday BBQ 🙂 20150215_15031220150215_150330

While I explored the Brisbane CBD by myself (partly accompanied by P. :-)), Cass took me to the New Farm neighbourhood for a beer at the local bowling club (as it turns out bowling on the green is a popular sport…) and an iced coffee at the powerhouse, both with pretty views of the river. Later that day we enjoyed the view from Mt. Coot-tha 20150214_171612 and a spicy japanese noodle soup in St. Lucia – hot, but yummi! I really appreciate the BYO culture, but the poor young japanese thought we wanted to drink all the alcohol we had just bought at the next door bottle shop (two bottles of sparkling wine, one bottle of red wine and six beers). Hilarious.

We spent a lovely morning at Lone Pine, watching the cutest coalas and kangaroos, dingos, wombats, birds…20150217_09553620150217_095658IMG_20150217_101617290IMG_20150217_121851343_HDR.

Thanks so much, gals, hope to be back!

Yum Cha

Sydney has the biggest chinatown of Australia, which boasts of Chinese restaurants, especially “yum cha’s”. Yum cha is a southern Chinese style morning or afternoon tea, which involves drinking chinese tea and eating dim sums (steamed, fried or baked sweets), which are wheeled around in heated trolleys to pick from. The main street through chinatown felt like a tourist trap, with “schleppers” trying to decoy passers-by into their restaurants. I remembered having read an article on M. Winnemuths Blog about a yum cha restaurant in Sydney. Funnily enough the said restaurant was in the building complex around the corner where I had just purchased my birthday dress. “The Eight” on the third floor of the market city complex was just what I wanted: chinese customers only (besides me), friendly staff and loads of dim sums to choose from. Of course I picked far too many (about 1/3 went into a doggybag), but it was just too tempting! Big thanks to my dad who taught me how to eat with chop sticks when I was a kid! With all the staff staring at me (will she make it?) it made me feel much more comfortable,  besides being able to actually eat what I had been served 😉 …

20150204_143535Unfortunately chinese new year will only start in mid February and I’ll miss out on the big celebrations in sydney. 20150204_15084020150204_150353

Here is what the chinese horoscope says for those born in the year of the dragon for the upcoming year of the sheep: “Might we suggest a pause for a refresh? Here’s some good news: In a Sheep year, it’s okay to pamper yourself. Take some time off. Do what you have to do.” Now that’s reassuring :-)!

Wanaka, West Coast, Wanderlust, Wine & Whales

Now that I actally have access to free, unlimited and reliable wifi, I’ll give you a wrap up of the two wonderful past weeks in NZ.

Wanaka was a very relaxed place with many Kiwis spending their vacation there. Our hostel is my no. 1 for this journey: the Wanaka Bakpaka has recently been refurbished, offers great views of the lake and has a good vibe.








Unfortunately I did not meet the owners of the Rippon Valley vineyard – certainly a great place to live, with great views of the lake and delicious wines…


On our way to Franz Josef we must have past over 20 one lane bridges, indicating how few the traffic is on the west coast! The sea is amazing and just behind throne huge mountains covered by rain forest!DSC_0399DSC_0403 And at the top, Franz Josef glacier disgorges… but much of the glacier has melted and those of you who’ve already been there would be shocked as to how much has gone. If you want to walk onto the glacier you now need to take a helicopter, a rather costly affair! The day we spent at Franz Josef was the only rainy day we had in three weeks (and we were the only ones geared up with rain jackets and rain trousers while walking up to the bottom of the glacier, where the clouds and the rain prevented a proper look at it). DSC_0416DSC_0419Luckily, it was much better at 7.30 the next morning and we could actually see the glacier!





Hokitika was a pleasant stop to satisfy our daily 11 am hunger. We had the most delicious raspberry chocolate muffin at the “fire brigade” along with the daily flat white and long black!




The YHA Westport could have been my first choice if it weren’t for the bunch of teenagers (17-19 year old germans and brits are hard to take, especially in the morning)… but the room with ensuite bath on the first floor was lovely. DSC_0486DSC_0490And the walk along the coastline was beautiful: DSC_0508 DSC_0496Wanderlust enthraled us again in Abel Tasman and the Marlborough Sounds. With the southeaster blowing like mad the kayak trip in Abel Tasman was far mode adventurous than expected. It was nothing like a leasure paddle and it was a bit of a challenge to cut across the waves from onetahuti beach (“now paddle as hard as you can…”, our guide told us). Once we were further out we fought our way along tonga island (saw some seal mums and their little ones) and moskito bay to bark bay for lunch. Since the waves constantly poured over us there was no way I was going to take out my camera! We decided to walk the second part on the abel tasman coast trackDSC_0530DSC_0528DSC_0527DSC_0531 and had a very pleasant overnight stay at the aquapackers houseboat in anchorage bayDSC_0563, walking back to marahau the next morning.DSC_0565




After a pleasant stay in Nelson, where we enjoyed some good food, town flair and listened to passer-by playing the piano on the pavement, another two days of walking on the queen charlotte track with stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds and a hilarious evening with three Kiwi ladies at Furneaux lodge followed:





We chilled in Picton, playing an appallingly round of minigolf (does that ring a bell, V.?), 20150128_114021

and sipping some wine at several of the wineries around Blenheim.

20150128_151123The Kaikoura coast was all about animals: seals playing in pools




Albatrosses, DSC_0782


A large (18m – as large as the boat!) Sperm whale DSC_0766DSC_0773DSC_0778




and a crowd of playful dusky dolphins. DSC_0793DSC_0804DSC_0812




A marvellous three weeks, thank you Iris!!! (Eeeexcellent!)




Hokey Pokey and Sea Salt Caramel

…are two of the most popular ice cream flavours in Wanaka and of course I had to have them! Hokey pokey (Vanilla with toffee) is the most popular ice cream, but sea salted caramel is definitely my new favourite. It’s salty, yet sweet. You’ve got to try this!