Sydney, 7 February 2015: Sunset View from Manly Ferry


Sydney, 6 February 2015: Wylies Bath


Sydney, 5 February 2015: Opera House


Sydney, 4 February 2015: UGG BOOTS!


Blue Mountains, 3 February 2015: Wentworth Falls


Melbourne, 10 January 2015: Graffiti Art


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!

Travelling and Toilets

You surely agree that toilets are a huge issue when travelling! You can never be sure if you find one when you need one, what it looks and smells like and if it is well-equipped or not.

Well, let me tell you this much : NZ is a toilet haven! Every tiny village (and I also mean the ones where you don’t have to slow down to 80 km/h, let alone 50km/h, when driving through) has a public toilet that’s well-signposted, open 24/7, clean, equipped with toilet paper, water and soap and most of them also provide disposable towels!!! What’s more, they even provide public toilets at the starting/ending point and often also along the walking tracks. Some of them might be a little less luxurious, but even most long drops are OK, because of their ventilation systems.

Australia seems to be quite the same. At the Sydney International Airport I even found this: 20150201_210656 It’s a mother and child cabin that contains a normal size toilet for the mother and a smaller size toilet for the child. Wonder if they provide the same at the men’s toilet?!

I seriously wish we had a similar approach to public toilets and they’d  be valued just as much in Germany … Instead, the few free public toilets out there are best avoided and many others are strictly guarded by some unhappy cleaning person that rubs its dirty cloth over the toilet seat and expects me to pay for the service. Admittedly, the job sucks and I would not want to do it myself. But it seems to work well in NZ and I’d happily pay more taxes to contribute to better public toilets at home. 

Rounding up and down – the missing coins in NZD and AUD

I still can’t get used to the fact that rounding up or down is not only common in NZ and in Australia, but a necessity. While Australia lacks 1 and 2 cent coins, NZ further lacks a 5 cent coin. Meaning that all cash transactions have to be rounded up or down. If you pay in cash in an Australian supermarket for a bill of 10,02 AUD it will be rounded down to 10 AUD. If you have to pay 10,03 AUD you’d have to really pay 10,05 AUD. This is due to the withdrawal of the 1 and 2 cent coins in the 1980/90s (and later withdrawal of the NZD 5 cent coin). However, if payment is made by credit card, no rounding is necessary.

I’ve now learned that this practice is called swedish rounding, as it was first  introduced in Sweden following the removal of 1 and 2 öre coins from circulation in 1972. Surprisingly, coins at the denomination of 0,01, 0,02 and 0,05 have been removed in many countries and although I’ve definitely visited some of these I cannot recall it. The Swiss Reserve Bank, for example, removed the 2 Rappen coin in 1978 and the 1 Rappen coin in 2007 (because it cost 11 Rappen to produce it).

I find it strange, though, that shops in NZ and Australia do not simply avoid the need to round up or down by having all prices divisible by 0,05 or 0,10. However,it seems that it works well and that its balanced out.

Chilling out in Byron Bay

Byron Bay is said to have a special vibe. It was originally called “meeting place” (Cavvanbah) in aboriginal language, indicating that it was a place to gather. It is a sacred place to Aboriginals and the spirits are said to proceed from Mt. Wollumbin, an ancient volcano, which erupted 23 million years ago and which can be seen from many points in Byron Bay. It was not an aboriginal settlement, because they believe that the area’s spirit is too strong and therefore people would go crazy if they lived here. That seems to be true, as there are loads of crazy people to be found in Byron Bay! It has been a hippie haven ever since the 70s and I imagine it could be quite similar to Goa… Apart from that there are plenty of surfers (pro’s and wannabes) around. Even though locals keep telling me that I must learn surfing I have yet to try it. But 1) I don’t have enough time and 2) one surfer has been killed and one severely injured as a result of two shark attacs in the past week. I was brave enough to join a sea kayak tour by the local “Go Sea Kayak” company, though. As opposed to NZ the sea was calm and warm. We went along the shoreline to the more secluded bays and saw sea turtles popping up their heads as well as a small group of the resident bottlenose dolphins (including a baby!). THIS truly is a sacred place.