July 1st - 22nd 2016
Friday, July 1st
Here we go again. This time is for a long and special trip. Australia is calling. To make sure the start is comfortable I leave for Copenhagen one day early. Train leaves Aarhus at 1.15. It’s so slow. I spend the night at CabInn in Ørestad. Dinner at a local shopping mall. Football on the TV.
Saturday, July 2nd
Now we are getting serious. To the airport – check in – and at 3 pm I leave for Dubai on Emirates huge Airbus 380. 6 hours later, it’s touchdown in Dubai. It’s midnight down there.
Sunday, July 3rd
3 hours of waiting in Dubai, before my next stint on the Superjumbo to Perth. Nice with a little relaxation – and I’m able to follow the Quarterfinal Germany vs. Italy from a bar. At 3 am, it’s take-off for Perth. Nice flight – good service. A movie from the excellent entertainment-system and some hours of sleep. It’s a 10 hour flight so it’s pretty long. We arrive in Perth at 6 pm. Then through immigration and customs before I head for at taxi for Miss Maud Hotel in Downtown Perth. Cosy little hotel and room 237 is excellent. A shower does me good, before heading out for dinner at a local bar. Tour de France is on the TV this night, before going to bed.
Monday, July 4th
First day in Perth. Lovely start with a great breaky at the hotel restaurant. Then out to take a look at this place. I’m on the other side of the globe, so it’s winter and a little cold. Nothing I can’t handle though. I like it like this. A little windy – and no clouds – perfect for a walk. There is not that many tourist-attractions in Perth, but I start with the biggest one – Kings Park. It’s a huge park near Perth Downtown. I take in part of the park, take a bushwalk, go to the top of a lookout tower, find some nice birds I have never seen before, cross a hanging bridge – sponsored by the local lottery – with thanks to the losers, great views of Downtown Perth and a nice café. 3-4 hours have gone, before going back home – with a sandwich for lunch.
Trip no. 2 is not a huge sight. However, I have found it on Tripadvisor. Out in the middle of Swan River there’s a small island – Heirisson Island. I get there by a long walk along Swan River, then crossing a bridge. There’s a little colony of kangaroos living on the island. They are very tourist-friendly. You can stand just next to them while they eat and they make good photo opportunities. So I get a bunch of kangaroo photos before heading home along the river in the sunset. Back in downtown, it’s dinner at a Chinese restaurant – cheap and mediocre. Finally, some rest at the hotel.
Tuesday, July 5th
Another great breaky at the hotel restaurant, which doubles as one of Perth’s nicer restaurants at other times. First thing this morning I head over to the railway station to pick up a train to Fremantle – or Freo – as they call it in this country of strange abbreviations. The train ride out there is about 30 minutes, to Perth’ nice and tourist friendly harbour city.
First stop in Freo is the local prison. It is not a prison anymore, but a tourist attraction. They have a nice tour. You get to see the cells, kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor facilities etc. etc. The guide is telling funny and interesting stories along the way. We end up in the Hangmans Room, for special bad criminals. The last one to hang was Eric Cooke in 1964.
Then on for a walk in the nice little towncentre. Next stop Is Western Australia Maritime Museum. It’s a very modern building, with lots of boats inside. Among them Australia II that won Americas Cup as first non US-boat. The fish’n’chips in the café can not be recommended. Then on to the nice areas around the Freo Harbour, before going back to the train station and heading home for Perth.
Rest of the day is relaxing. Dinner is at my Chinese spot. Perth is busy during daytime, but in the evening, all locals have returned to the suburbs leaving the city center for the tourists.
Wednesday, July 6th
I get up early – 6.30 am – after a miserable night of sleep. I thought I was over my jetlag. I wasn’t. Early breakfast and then down to Barrack Jetty where I buy a ticket for Rotto – aka Rottnest Island. Boat is leaving at 8.30 and the trip out there takes 2 hours, mainly because of the speed limit on Swan River.
On Rottnest Island, I buy a ticket for the local hop-on hop-off bus. It seems more like an old school bus but is fine for the purpose. There are plenty of hop-off opportunities, but I stick to 2 giving me plenty of time at the locations. First one is Wadjemup Lighthouse. It’s a fine lighthouse and great views in all directions.
After one hour here I hop-on again to take the bus to Eagle Bay. Another fine viewing spot across the water, with seals playing down there and a local lizard King’s Skink to be seen as well. And all over you find the cute Quakkas. Something between a rat and a kangaroo, but looking so nice and funny and very tourist friendly. They stick to all busstops en route to have there picture taken and to beg for food from the tourists. And they seem to live a happy life. Weather is perfect for the trip. 18 degrees, a few shadows and light wind.
I end up at the small settlement where I started. Just in time for a pretty nice fish’n’chips before boarding the boat back to Perth at 4.25. I spend the return trip outdoors on the deck. The trip up Swan River in the sunset is 110 % fantastic.
Tired but happy and bringing a pizza back home I return to room 237 at 8 pm.
Thursday, July 7th
Another early day. I get up at 6.15 – but thankfully you can get your breaky early as well – at 6.45. So I am ready to be picked up for my bus tour at 7.20. It’s a day trip with Adams Tours to Pinnacles. The trip has 2 purposes. First to get to see places that I couldn’t see otherwise – and secondly to confirm me in that such tours are crap.
First stop is Caversham Wildlife Park. You get a superfast tour where you can have your photo taken with a wombat, cuddle a koala and feed a kangaroo. The 2 first activities are disgusting – plain and simple cruelty to animals. Just to clarify – I didn’t get my picture taken with an almost dead wombat and I didn’t cuddle the sleeping or doped koala.
Next stop is Lancelin. There are some huge dunes here, and it’s fun to go on a special bus around the dunes. Then another 100 km. north to Lobster Shack in Cervantes. Late lunch. Lobster for those who wants. You get to see the production area. It’s pretty interesting, but I’m so hungry that I get through it as fast as possible to get something to eat. You have to prioritize.
Final stop is the main purpose for the trip – Pinnacles. That is some strange stone-formations in the middle of the desert. They look spectacular.
Finally back to Perth. We are back home at 7.30. Pizza from Pizzahut next to the Hotel and relaxing at my room. You can choose from Aussie Rules Football or Tour de France on the TV.
Friday, July 8th
Travelling this time of year you can expect rainy days. And the weather forecast says rain today. But it’s ok from the morning – nothing serious.
My first stop today is called Perth Mint. They started to make coins here back in 1899, a few years later than gold was found in Kalgoorlie. They melted the gold to gold bars and coins, which was used as money. They don’t really do that kind of stuff anymore. These days they only make coins for special occasions, and it’s all done at a factory at the outskirts of Perth. So the old Perth Mint is more or less a tourist thing, but a nice one. There’s a small museum, a tour and of course a shop. The tour is exciting. You get to see a lot of coins, hear a lot of gold digger stories and finally you get to see how they make a real gold bar. I thought there was a lottery at the end, but unfortunately not. But nevertheless a fine little museum.
Then I continue through Perth CBD. There are quite a lot of skyscrapers build with steel and glass. But here and there you find evidence that Perth started up as a gold old western town, with mining activities. About 2 mio. people live here these days. I continue my walk down the little harbour in the center. There I take a small boat across Swan River to South Perth. Lunch is at a mall on the other side. Finally, I head back by foot along the river, watching the black swans Perth are famous for, crossing the Narrows Bridge to the north side, and back to the hotel.
In the evening, it really starts to rain. I stay in my room watching Aussie Rules Football between Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans. Swans wins and go top of the table. In a week, I will be watching them live.
Saturday, July 9th
Time for a little different tourist thing. A day at the races is not mentioned in any guidebook, but have proved fun before. So this afternoon I pick up the train and then bus for Belmont Park, where they have races each Wednesday and Saturday during winter. Things like that is very coordinated between race-tracks so gamblers have a race to bet on each 4th minute all over Australia. They start at Belmont at 12.38 and I stay there until 5th race at 15.10. I try a little gambling, but not very successful. Only exception is 3rd race where my horse Social Unique is a winner to odds 4. But gambling is not the main thing here. That is people watching. You wind country folks, scumbags and high society people mixed at a racecourse. Of course the high society people has there own space – don’t mix to much. In the afternoon it starts to rain heavy, but this time I’m wise when going home. I use my win from race 3 to get a taxi – forgetting about the losses - and making sure I don’t get to wet going back to my hotel.
The rain continues for the rest of the day. It’s windy as well. So – I hang out in room 237 – reading and picking up dinner at Pizzahut just next door. This is my last day in Perth. A nice place with very friendly people.
Sunday, July 10th
End of Perth, and now to something completely different. At 8 am I head out for Perth East Station for a train-ride of a lifetime. It’s called Indian Pacific and runs all the way to Sydney. It’s a 3 day trip. I travel on what they call Gold Single, so I have my own micro-apartment all the way. It’s more or less a seat, converted into a bed at night and in my own very small room. That’s where I start this trip. At 10 – precisely on time – the train leaves, and then I spend the rest of the day just looking out the window at the spectacular scenery passing by. I do a little reading as well, and see one of the movies that I have brought on my Ipad, knowing that I have a lot of time just sitting here. There’s no wi-fi so you are out of reach for the rest of the world – which is pretty nice for a change. Lunch at noon in the fine restaurant-car. The trip is all-inclusive, the food is way above my normal standard, and the trip has cost me an arm and a leg. Dinner is also in the restaurant, shortly after I have witnessed one of the most dramatic sunsets I have ever seen. While we are having dinner my chair has been turned into a bed. But it’s too early to go to bed, and at 9 we arrive at the old golddigger-town of Kalgoorlie. There’s a 2 hour tour around town, including the major sight called The Super Pit, an enormous goldmine. 600 meters – down in the mine – you can see them on machines that on top looks enormous, but down there looks like some Lego-thing or so. Around midnight we are back on the train – and time to sleep to the rhythm – ga da gung, ga da gung.
Monday, July 11th
Second day on the fabulous Indian Pacific. It’s mainly old people on board, so things are very comfy. First breaky – bacon and eggs and that sort of things. At 10 am we arrive in Cook a desolated town in the middle of the Nullarbor Desert. Only 4 people live here. We don’t see any of them, but it’s a nice – but too short – stop.
Then we continue across the desert. Great views from compartment B7. Then lunch. 3 course lunch of course. Nothing less. I get to try Emu, Crocodile and Kangaroo – small slices – or roadkill as another one on the train calls it. We continue across the desert. I just sit and stare, sleep a little, read a little, watch a movie on my Ipad – very lazy form of travel this thing. Then it’s dinner-time. 3 courses. Kingfish is the local thing this time. Have a chat with Peter, a retired butcher from Canberra. Most people on board are either Australians or from New Zealand. Back to the compartment, where they have put the bed up. Very lazy form of travel. But I do have to brush my teeth myself.
Tuesday, July 12th
Things are still very relaxing. In the morning, we reach Adelaide. The train is regrouped and we are now going in the other direction. New passengers board for Sydney. Out through Borossa Valley with lots of vineyards. Much greener here. Then lunch. 3 courses again. More people now, so it’s more busy in the restaurant. Then towards Broken Hill. Desert again. Just sit there looking out on the scenery. We are running late so the planned tour in Broken Hill is cancelled. Would like to have seen the hotel where I stayed back in 1998 – and payed them the money that I owe them. But that will be another time. Late dinner at 8.30. 3 courses. Accompanied by a friendly biker-couple from New Zealand and an extrovert asshole from Australia. As usual the food is fantastic. Way above my normal standard. Last night in me bed. Things are rocking and rolling on this stint. The tracks are old and worn.
Wednesday, July 13th
Wake-up call at 7 am. Then breaky in the restaurant. A couple from New Zealand represents the elder-group this morning. In the morning we pass through Blue Mountains, before hitting the suburbs of Sydney and finally Sydney Central Station. The lazy life on Gold Class has ended.
A taxi to my hotel – Russell Hotel in The Rocks. It’s an old hotel with a nice pub in the ground floor. That makes good sense, as my room is not ready yet. Burger and a beer before getting my room 29. Then time for a shower. Facilities here are better than on the train – despite Gold Class.
At 3 I’m ready to take my first look at Sydney. I have to get out to see the city before it gets too dark. That happens at 5.30. A classic walk not far away from the hotel. Under Sydney Harbour Bridge, through The Rocks. This used to be the sleazy area in Sydney. It’s not anymore. Now it’s café’s art-studios, advertising agencies etc. etc. Man cozy enough though. Then to Sydney Observatory. Fine views from here. Circular Quay with the green boats and finally the Sydney pride – The Opera House. Finally back to the hotel. It’s a nice place. They knock on the door, and before I have a chance to open 2 small pieces of chocolate arrives underneath it. I am going to like this place.
Later I head over to Circular Quay to get a burger. I just as well get used to that life on first class has ended.
Thursday, July 14th
I start the day with a perversity. A visit to the local Zoo – a thing I do quite often. The one in Sydney is called Taronga Zoo, and I was here on my first visit to Sydney some 18 years ago. I cross the harbour on one of the green boats, before heading up to the entrance. It’s a very nice zoo, with lots of animals – especially Australian animals – and nice views across Sydney. To many children though. I spend a few hours out here, before heading back .
Then lunch and a break at the hotel. A short walk in the local hood in the afternoon as well.
In the evening it sporting time. That’s my debut – as a spectator – to Aussie Rules Football. It’s all happening at Sydney Cricket Ground. It’s a top match between Sydney Swans and Hawthorne Hawks. A crowd of 42.000 people. And it’s great fun. The game is exiting, and the crowd enthusiastic. Especially as they get more and more to drink. But all fun – no bullshit on the terraces. Behind me is a couple – she is a Hawks fan – he is a Swans fan. Just to make sure, they remind the people around that they actually love each other. Next to me is a granny-type, that goes absolute berserk as Hawks scores the winning goal shortly before the end of the game. 75-70 is the end-result. But all agree that it was a great match. Then bus back to Circular Quay when I finally find it.
Friday, July 15th
Lovely winter weather in Sydney. Clear blue skies and 15-18 degrees. Like a decent summer day in Denmark. Time to go out and use my new Opal card – the local Travel card. First trip is 9.37 to Cockatoo Island. This is not on the top 10 list of local sights, but one of the places I like very much. The island is located in the middle of Sydney Harbour, and as I arrive a representative of the tourist office greets me. She gives me a map and tells me about the place –and Sydney in general. Cockatoo is a fascinating place. There used to be a wharf out here, and many factories supporting the wharf. In addition, there used to be a place for ship construction, a prison and a tiny little town.
Now it’s all desolated but in pretty fine shape and you can just walk around and take in the place – and use all the great photo opportunities around. There’s also a fine view across Sydney and Sydney Harbour – and a nice little café. So things can’t get much more perfect. At 1 I have seen it all, and return back to Circular Quay.
When the weather is like today, there is no time to waste. So I jump on the ferry to Manly. Half an hour later I arrive in the suburb of Manly. Manly in itself is a little bit of a tourist hole, so I take bus no. 135 to an old Quarantine Station outside Manly. In the old days a lot of ships arrived in Sydney, and if there were contagious disease on board the passengers were sent to Quarantine Station. You would stay here – on first, second or third class dependent on your class on the ship, making sure that no sick people would arrive in Sydney. There’s a fine little museum about the place and a fine view of Manly Bay. The whole area is now a hotel, but you are allowed to get in a see the thing. I even got a lift on the hotel bus. When it’s all done I walk uphill again, catching bus 135 back to the Manly Ferry. There I board the ferry. The travel is now free, because you pay max 15 $ each day on your Opal Card. A fine offer for a serious tourist. The ferry trip back to Circular Quay is fantastic. The sun is setting over Sydney Harbour Bridge, making the light spectacular. Unfortunately, the batteries on my good camera has died, and I have to settle with pictures from my IPhone. I am back at the hotel at 6.30 with a burger – ready to relax.
Saturday, July 16th
First – breaky down in the pub. Nice place for this. Then out looking. Nice weather again today. I little cloudy, but no rain and ok temperatures. First a local train to Erskineville. Then a walk to Newtown. This is a “hip” neighborhood in Sydney. Lots of cafes, pubs etc. This morning they are busy serving breaky for all the locals and morning shopping has just begun at Kings Street. I head down into the alleys. Old houses – a little rundown here and there. This is old working class area. I find the old Camperdown Cemetery. It’s very old with tombstones that are leaning and worn. A nice and charming place. And a nice find, since it’s not mentioned as a major Sydney sight. Back to Newtown Station and back to Central.
From here I continue my walk through Downtown. First through Chinatown. Perfect place for lunch. I find a restaurant with locals – so you know it’s good and cheap. Then on to Shopping Sydney. Not my kind of place, unless there is a mall like the old Queen Victoria Building from 1898. Then it’s ok. Through shopping streets to Hyde Park. Very nice with trees and fountains. On the other side is St. Marys Cathedral. Then to Sydney’s huge Botanical Garden. Locals and tourist are out walking or just relaxing at café’s, sitting on benches or lying on the lawns. I walk to the end of the park. It’s called Mrs. Macquaries Point. Fine view of Sydney Harbour. I follow the bay to the Opera house. Lots of people here. But very few looking at the fine building. Most look at their Smartphones. They play PokemonGo, and this is a nice spot for catching. Spooky. Back to the hotel after this long walk.
The rest of the day is for relaxing. There are not many decent fast-food and take-away joints in the hood, so it’s another burger from Hungry Jacks at Circular Quay. I’m still not impressed. But fortunately 2 pieces of chocolate has arrived.
Sunday, July 17th
A pretty lazy Sunday. Late breaky at the pub. Out into the streets at 11 am. I take the train to Kings Cross. That’s where William and Victoria Streets crosses. Someone should have told that Victoria was a queen – not a king. The area is known for drug dealers and hookers. But they seem to have the morning off. I walk down Darlinghurst Road and follow the route from page 139 in my Lonely Planet Guide. I end up down at Elizabeth Bay. Nice place to sit down on a bench with a “flat white” (coffee that is – no cocaine here). Then through Potts Point. This is not a place for the poor people. Then down to Wooloomooloo. A good call in Scrabble. There’s a pier with a fancy hotel and expensive restaurants. Then there is the famous Harry’s Café de Wheels selling pies. I get a Tiger-pie. I pie with meat, mash, green peas and brown sauce. Disgusting? – yes – but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Nice views of the bay and of the city from here. Then up to Botanical Garden and through the city center to my hotel.
Evening walk in The Rocks – my local hood. I have gone tired of burgers and fast-food, so I head for a decent restaurant. You can sit outdoors – very nice. I order a John Dory fillet, not knowing it’s a fish. Very delicious though. And huge. And lot’s of fries –and an enormous salad. More than I can handle, but the waiter tells me that no one can. Then back to the hotel.
Monday, July 18th
Another busy tourist-day in Australia. That means up at 6 am, and therefore no breaky in the bar. In to Central Station and then the 6.52 train to Katoomba in Blue Mountains. It’s close to 9 am as I arrive. Sunshine and no clouds should make for a good day to see Blue Mountains. I get a ticket to Blue Mountains Explorer a local hop-on hop-off thing going to the best views and sights. And then there are time for breaky at a local café.
The bus leaves at 9.45. First stop is Scenic World. This is the “adventure-department” in Blue Mountains. That means a ride with Scenic Skyway across the deep hole in the ground, then a trip on Scenic Railway down to the bottom, a small but scenic walk down there, and then a trip up again on the Scenic Cableway. It’s all very scenic – and impressive.
Then on to Echo Point with views of Three Sisters. This is where all tourist come to have their picture taken. Some don’t get any further. I do, and my buspass take me to Narrow Neck – a view – and then to Leura Cascade, where there’s a nice downhill walk through the “jungle” along a small waterfall. As usual – when there is a walk down – then there’s a walk uphill going back. I always seem to forget. Then on to Gordon Falls. Views are just as nice as at Echo Point, but we are only 3 tourists. Me and a set of Chinese. Finally I head into the small town of Leura, picking up a late lunch. Down to Leura Station – with a bookshelf for book-exchange in the waiting-room – where I board the train back to Sydney. I am back 12 hours after I started.
Dinner is in my local hood before the traditional evening relax in room 29.
Tuesday, July 19th
Another fine day of sunshine in Sydney. Temperatures close to 22 degrees. I get up late, but no problem as breaky closes at 9.30. Then another look at Sydney. First the nicest building in Sydney. That’s not the Opera House but Sydney Harbour Bridge – also known as The Coathanger. You can cross the bridge on top of the structure – but why bother, as there’s also a normal footpath in the more normal level of the bridge. I find that a simpler solution. Bridge is fine, walk is nice and views are great across Sydney Harbour, Opera House and Downtown. When I reach the other side I walk back – simple as that.
Afternoon is Whale Watching time. Captain Cook Cruises has a Whale Watching Cruise. We leave at 1.30. We go through the harbour and into open sea. Humpback whales are travelling north this time of year. We get to see a lot of them. Mainly in the distance, but some close by as well. We see them slap their tail and blow their noses. There are passing here en route from Antarctic to Fiji, Cook Island, Solomon Islands. I would love to follow them all the way, but that’s not possible. Instead, we return to Circular Quay at 4 after a very fine trip.
Dinner is at my Italian restaurant in The Rocks. They make a fine pizza.
Wednesday, July 20th
Welcome to International umbrella-day. It’s raining cats and dogs today. Don’t go anywhere without your umbrella. This means that I don’t go very far today. After breaky a couple of hours relaxing on the hotel. Then a small walk into Sydney downtown – or CBD – as they like to call it. I check out the city museum. It’s located where the first Government Building was built around 1877 when the British colonized Australia. They sent a bunch of convicts to steal the country from the aboriginals. Then through some shopping-streets. They have a fine little feature at the malls. Some kind of machine is placed at the entrance. You put down your umbrella, and when you take it up it’s all covered in plastic, so you don’t wet the fine floors in the shops. Then I head back to the Hotel for another break. Dinner is at a pizzaria at Circular Quay. Then more relaxing, a little reading in the fine sitting room at the hotel before bedtime. Sometimes vacation can get lazy.
Then another success of the day. I did complain to the people running the Ocean Pacific trip due to many of the tours were cancelled or shortened. I just got a note that they will give me a refund of 185 $. Fair enough.
Thursday, July 21st
Final day in Sydney. I take the boat to Watsons Bay, out where Sydney Harbour turns into ocean. Weather is ok – but not spectacular. Overcast but no rain. First, I walk to see an old lighthouse called Hornsby Lighthouse. Fine little fella – in red and white stripes. Then lunch at Watsons Bay. One of the more famous restaurants – Doyles – is here. However, they have a take away joint as well, so I get my fish’n’chips there instead of the fancy restaurant. The bay is at the harbour-side, but it’s a short walk to Gap Bluff on the ocean side. Here waves are more serious. I sit down to take a look, and reflect a little of this fine trip this has been.
At 3 I head back to Circular Quay. Time for my last “flat white” in the pub at the hotel, and a final look at the lovely harbour and Opera House, before getting my bags and heading to the airport. That is by local train, which is both cheaper and faster than taxi. Fast and efficient check-in and security. That leaves me with some waiting time before my Superjumbo takes off for Dubai at 9.10.
Friday, July 22nd.
14 hours of flight – that’s nasty. My earphones only work on one ear, the food is mediocre, I have a bad seat, I can’t sleep and the flight is too long. In Dubai there is 2½ hour for my Copenhagen flight. Then another 7 hours of flying – but this feels nicer. I get to see 2 movies – one about Hank Williams and one about Jesse Owens. In Copenhagen, it’s chaos at passport-control and luggage delivery. They are obviously not used to so many people on one flight. But finally I can continue by train from Copenhagen at 15.25 – arriving Aarhus at 19.00. Now it’s time for about 48 hours of sleep.