DAYS 3 – 5: GOOD DAYS IN SHINJUKU

Our days in Akihabara were intense but short. For the following eleven days we had booked an apartment in Shinjuku, close to the Gyoen Park. This part of Shinjuku is a little bit quieter and not as crowded as the streets surrounding the station.

On our first night we met an old friend of us, who we had last seen 8 years ago. Time goes by so quickly…. We had some beers in a pub in Shibuya and then he took us across the famous crossing to a sushi place, where you order the sushi via iPad and after a few minutes it’s delivered to you automatically. Continue reading “DAYS 3 – 5: GOOD DAYS IN SHINJUKU”

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DAYS 1 – 2: AKIHABARA/SHIMBASHI

Staying in Akihabara and having our first contact with Tokyo here is overwhelming: Akihabara is the electronic and games district of this immense city and therefor everything is colorful, noisy, jarring and fancy. Neon lights, video screens, shops enlighted in all colors to attract customers, music everywhere (in the shops, at stands of special products) and people outside the shops speaking through a loudspeaker to get attention for their products. The shops we were passing by were filled with electronics, pc games, mangas, technical equipment, mobile phones, pachinko halls (a kind of entertainment we didn’t understand), UFO catchers, etc. Every shop was so heavy packed with stuff that our eyes and brains didn’t know where to look or what to think. So adrenalin took over and we fell into a state of excitement we hadn’t encountered before. We jumped from store to store, from gadget to gadget, laughing, squeaking and being astonished. Continue reading “DAYS 1 – 2: AKIHABARA/SHIMBASHI”

IN 80 DAYS THROUGH JAPAN

Actually we are in Japan for 79 days. And subtracting the days of arrival and leaving it’s „only“ 77 days we’ll spend here. But that are almost 80 days and our plan is to travel from Tokyo to Okinawa, it’s merely through all of Japan. We skip Hokkaido – it’s too cold – and Fukushima. We really wanted to go there, see the abandoned towns and find out how returned people live. But it is difficult: you need permissions which we can’t get and we don’t know anyone from that region we could ask for help. But nevertheless the parts we want to visit have a lot to offer: Traditions, Culture, temples and food. A country so rich of everything, it amazes us at every corner.

We start in Tokyo where we probably will see the famous cherry blossom. It’s predicted to be early this year, so we might be lucky to visit the famous Ueno Park for the blossom. Close to Tokyo is THE mountain: Fuji. When I visited Japan in 2008 I wasn’t able to see Mount Fuji, because it hid behind clouds. Maybe we’ll be lucky this year.

Where we’re going to go after Tokyo isn’t decided yet. Maybe Nagano or Nagoya. But then we’ll follow the route to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okinawa and whatever is in-between or beyond. The last two weeks are planned to be spend in Nara, where we’ll meet Torbens Sojutsu-Trainer and they are going to train with their teacher.

Months full of adventures are awaiting us: The Japanese are so different and so similar to us in the same time, we hardly speak the language but are learning constantly and not to mention the rules of behavior we try to learn as best as possible. But all of that is a wonderful experience we are so happy to make. So let’s find out, what will happen!

LAST DAYS OF AUSTRALIA

Visiting Australia was a childhood dream of Tina. Seeing Kangaroos and Koalas, learning about the culture of the Aborigines and seeing the red sand which Australia is so famous for. Despite experiencing her dream the both of us felt as if our time in Australia was coming to an end. Australia is a fantastic and vast country which we’re happy to have visited. The people are kind and the animals here are (from our perspective) super strange and interesting. We only had seen a tiny bit of this continent and there is still so much to explore. We missed the Uluru and the outback. We haven’t seen the northern tropical parts or crocodiles. The cities of Perth and Cairns hadn’t had the chance to experience us. And we didn’t see the Great Barrier Reef.

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FRASER ISLAND

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and there are a lot of tours one can book on Fraser Island. We decided for a guided one-day tour in a four-wheel-drive. The tour included the guide, ferry and national park fee as well as lunch and pickup. When we got picked up we realized that we wrongly assumed “four-wheel-drive” is some puny pickup semi-truck or such. Actually the “four-wheel-drive” looked like the lovechild of a full-blown truck and a bus, with some offroad magic sprinkled in. A huge monster of a bus with seating for 40 people and as offroad capable as any buggy. Our guide Cameron was a local who did the tour for ten years and had a lot to tell about the island.
The first highlight was the ferry with which the bus was set over to the island (when we first saw the bus we asked ourself if the bus will drive through the water while having low tide maybe). On the ferry were warning signs for estuary crocodiles, which we hadn’t seen so far (lucky us…). After the ferry the bus drove with  the maximum allowed 80km/h over the sandy beach to our first stop, the morning tea at the Eurong Beach Resort. Actually, writing about it: 80km/h does not sound that fast. But in a bus on a beach this speed already translates into pretty violent jumps for the passengers. Driving on the beach with maximum speed in a bus is an experience for itself, but we also overtook basically every car we saw. Also we drove through really steep and narrow rain forests with the bus. But the bumpy forest road was worth it: We arrived at the Lake Mackenzie. We were given plenty of time to swim in the clear water and even a short rain shower did not mar our good mood. Replenished and wet we climbed back into the bus and were driven to the Resort where we had our lunch. The second part of the trip again involved bumpy forest roads but now we were used to it. We stopped at a former logging camp which was the start of short bushwalk. Our guide showed us a crystal clear creek and some plants unique to this area. From the bushwalk we drove back to the beach where we saw the shipwreck of the SS Maheno as well as a holy place for the Aborigines, the Pinnacle Colored Sands.
When we returned from the Sands we were offered the chance to do a scenic flight over Fraser Island in a Chessna plane. As I never did that before I seized the opportunity flew 15 minutes over the island. When the plane landed I rejoined Tina at the Eli Creek where we chilled for a while which would have been more relaxing if there hadn’t been several other tourists also making a pause at the Creek.
The crocodiles we have been warned of before didn’t show up. Also the (in)famous Fraser Island Dingo was nowhere to be seen (which is probably good, as there are warning signs of “Dingos WILL steal your baby” and “Dingos hunt in packs” literally everywhere). The only sign of dangerous animals we have seen were small holes which our guide identified as “Funnel-Web Spider” holes.
The day on Fraser Island ended almost the same way as it began: A bus full of tourists driving with 80km/h over the beach. But this time everyone was so knackered that the whole bus was quiet.

WATERFALLS AND BEACHLIFE

As we had to return our car (we called it Uma – Japanese for horse) in Brisbane we drove further north to reach it. On our way we stayed a night in Nambooca Heads. This small city has both: hills and beach. Our motel was located on one side of the hill so we had a good view over the city. Asked for a restaurant recommendation our motel manager recommended the V-Wall Restaurant near the breakwater of the city. The restaurant had really good fresh fish and a direct line of sight onto the waterways surrounding Nambooca Heads. But actually not the water but the breakwater is mentioned in travel guides. The breakwater consists of big natural stones, which are painted by tourists and locals and show greetings, condolences and farewells.

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SYDNEY, NEWCASTLE AND FRIENDS

Before we got to Australia, I had two particular images of Australia in my head: The first being the vast outback with the Ulluru in the background and kangaroos jumping through the desert. The second image I had was the Sydney Opera House. Although we didn’t see the desert and the Uluru, we saw the Opera House.
We arrived at our accommodation in Sydney Balmain and were greeted by our host. We had a nice big room with our own deck and a stunning view over the city. The house, the room is located in, was occupied by three friends living there together. All of them were super friendly and we had good inspirational talks with them. We even were invited to a breakfast with friends of them! In retrospect this was probably the best airBnB accommodation we ever had.

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MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY

After our fantastic time in Melbourne and our experiences on the Great Ocean Road we started our road trip to the east coast.
We tried to keep to the coast as much as possible on our trip as we love the sea. Our first stop on our tour was the town of Lakes Entrance. As the name suggests, this town lies at the entrance of a system of lakes. When we drove in the town we had a stunning view from the top of the surrounding hills. Allegedly there live estuary dolphins in the lake but we didn’t see them.

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GREAT OCEAN ROAD

The plan for Australia was to travel along the east coast starting south in Melbourne up to Brisbane and maybe flying to Cairns. But at first we wanted to drive along the Great Ocean Road, which starts southwest of Melbourne. We rented a car (Hyundai Accent), named it Uma (japanese for horse) and hit the road (Jack).

The Great Ocean Road starts right after Torquay – where we spent a night in a campground-cabin for 200$ (!!!!) and called it a lesson learned for late arrival – and follows winding roads along the coast or through the hinterland to Allansford. We didn’t drive all 243 km and made it just to the Twelve Apostels. I always wanted to see these rock formations of lime stone, but when we arrived there late that afternoon there were still hundreds of tourist and three helicopters taking of every five minutes to fly people along the coastline. It was so crowded that it was hard to take a photo without people. The noise of the talking tourists and the roaring helicopters in the air were so annoying that we didn’t want to spend more time than needed. We saw the the Apostels, took a few photos and headed back to our car. There was no special atmosphere and so the Apostels were just rocks in the water. Continue reading “GREAT OCEAN ROAD”

MELBOURNE

Australia – Land of my childhood dreams! I wanted to visit this continent since I was two years old. Back then I wanted to have a kangaroo and jump with it through the australian bush. This childish dream faded, but still, the fascination for this country remained and you can imagine how enthusiastic I was when we landed in Melbourne. I got even more excited when we saw our first kangaroos on the way from the airport to the city. A moment that filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears of happiness.

We arrived in Melbourne on a lovely evening. After two months of traveling in a Campervan and sharing the bathroom with many other women I was looking forward to a real bed and bathroom privacy. Also was I longing for a vibrant global city with all it’s amenities. New Zealand was amazing, but two months of nature had made me wanting to be a city girl again. Continue reading “MELBOURNE”