First thoughts

Hervorgehoben

Hi there, Allegra, Grüezi

So, it took me a while to start a blog, though the idea has been in my mind for a long time. It just didn’t want to come out. But new year, new plans, new ideas… right?!? So, I think today or tonight as it is in New Zealand, where I am currently, is the right time. Anyway, welcome to my new blog. The plan is to write about my travelling, some anecdotes and adventures. I seem to attract adventures, sometimes good, sometimes less good, but untill now all went out well, so… will keep hoping. And have something to write about that way. Anyway, hope you enjoy reading. Will also let some German or Rumantsch words „slip“ into my contributions, as that is a part of me, respectively a part of my life. My mother tongue is rumantsch, the 4th language of Switzerland, and English. It is always a bit complicated to explain people where I am from. I was born in New Zealand, yes, have a New Zealand passport, but grew up in Switzerland, so also have a Swiss passport, happy with both until now. 🙂 Live in Switzerland and plan to have my base there, as it is handy for travelling and also has a high life standard. And it is actually a beautiful country! But there are many beautiful and/or interesting countries, that is why I like to travel! So, let’s get started.

Safe and sound to Milford Sound

So, after Dunedin I had planned to continue up to Milford Sound, as that had been on my „bucket list“ for a long time and I hadn’t managed to visit it before. I met another backpacker (well I wasn’t really a traditional backpacker, had a suitcase etc.) and managed to meet him at the Museum in Dunedin (also a place I can recommend). After a few phone calls and finally finding each other off we went… all around the South Island, down through the Catlins National Park – what a wonderful area! I made a note for myself to come again and visit that part of New Zealand more intensely. Somehow I had the feeling I had to rush or carry on… be it the money, be it the time to go back home… actually I had no obligations, but as it is, you get used to things and don’t realize your freedom. Thinking about it now… what memories! How much fun I had! But I did appreciate and enjoy it, that for sure! And I can recommend anyone to do that while travelling.. actually also during daily life! There are always cool and nice and/or fun things to enjoy!

Anway. We went to Milford Sounds, my backpack driver dropped me off at a campground in Te Anau where I managed to book a small cabin room. It was wonderful, near the lake. I met some Germans, but after talking to them briefly I didn’t have much more contact with them, though they seemed ok and an interesting group with a big van.

In the evening I wandered around the town a bit, went to a restaurant and enjoyed a live concert, had a drink or two. Holiday mode. But I knew I had to get up quite early the next morning to catch the bus to Milford Sounds. I was staying in Te Anau, a place nearby, quite touristy, but during my time there weren’t too many people, so just right for me.

Weatherwise I was also really lucky. On our way to Milford Sound we stopped at a place where the Lord of the Rings was filmed and there we also saw a rainbow! Plus driving up the mountain road we got to see some cheeky keas. The birds who are not afraid of humans and cars, rather the other way round. Steal stuff and break rubber, tyres of cars and vans. Tourists pay attention to these clever and cheeky birds!

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A bit further on we did another short stop at the Mirror Lake and I managed to take some nice photos. Though I think I am not that bad with photos, an Asian man wanted to help me and give me some tips on how to take a photo. I obeyed him just to make him happy. 🙂

Then finally we arrived to the boat and the special tour could begin! It was really special, floating over the lake, seeing all the waterfalls and special reflections. I kept a lookout for dolphins but unfortunately didn’t sight any. Oh well. I knew they were somewhere there. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to see certain things, enjoy what you actually do get to see. And take photos for the memory! I still enjoy viewing all my photos… and yes, there are dozens… but I simply couldn’t decide which ones to delete or didn’t take the time to sort them out. Good idea is to do that immediately, while you’re still on the spot. Though then you don’t see the photo in full size and full resolution. Just a small tip. 🙂

And another advice: even though a place might be touristy, it is usually touristy for a reason. Just find a good time or way to go, some places are really worthwile the „hassle“. And Milford Sound is definitvely worth any hassle. Though I have to say the trip and meeting, watching people was part of the fun for me! But take good  nerves with you! At the lakeside there were probably hundreds and hundreds of people, also groups waiting for their turn. So be patient and calm.

So a few impressions to end that dreamy dream day. Dream fulfilled!

 

Done with Dunedin

So after my adventure at the Moeraki Boulders I didn’t want to risk too much anymore for a while at least. But I did want to see the steepest street of the world (competing with Florida I guess and some undefined streets in Switzerland ;)). So off I went on a short bus ride to see and climb that cool road.

I kept looking out for signs which made it obvious the streets were going to be steep. But it was quite a surprise when I got out at the respective bus stop. (And hey, I didn’t have any issues with the bus or stops this time). After a bit of walking around I found the sign saying „Baldwin Street – World’s steepest street“. Before (or was it after my trip?) I had a small discussion with my brother and his girlfriend as they had been in Florida and visited the steepest street there… maybe it was a question of the definition, road or street? If you know the answer, let me know. Anyway, at the bottom the street didn’t look too bad and I was feeling a bit silly having taken my walking shoes. But well, always useful, no? So up I strutted slowly and enjoying the changing views. Also stopping to take photos and asking others to take one or two photos of me (I was travelling alone).


After a while the street got steeper and steeper and with that also more and more people seemed to appear. As it was quite late in the day most people were already rushing down again and I was looking forward to be at the top alone. It wasn’t quite so, but there was enough space, also to take photos without people, just had to wait a few minutes. So here some impressions:

 

Actually, once I reached the top I saw a car driving around, it was a strong car I guess, but I was very impressed how it managed to drive up and around seemingly effortlessly. But I was proud to have managed the street in a relatively short time so I had enough time to get back „home“ to my host on time.

At the bus stop I helped some visitors who had been on a cruise and seemed to have no idea where they were. So I directed them to the right bus to get back into the city, as I wasn’t in a rush and still wanted to discover the surroundings a bit. This is also a bit of a tip, don’t just visit the „highlight“ of the area, also be curious and wander around, in all directions and take notice of what you can see and smell. Of course only if you have enough time or are ok with walking back all the way. 🙂

After this small adventure, stepping up the steep street, I was done with Dunedin,  I was ready to carry on with my journey through New Zealand. So I got in contact with a guy who was backpacking (through a Facebook group) and managed to arrange a ride with him up to the Milford Sound. Respectively to a camp nearby. Dunedin leaves great memories to me, I really liked it a lot and can recommend the place on the South Island to anyone, as it has a lot to offer, nature, culture and also walking grounds.

 

Cool links

 

 

Hey, I decided to share some links in one place. That would be here, as I am still a beginner with blogging, I think. With time I will probably figure out other ways, but for the time being you will find some – hopefully helpful – links here. They will have the themes travel, culture, language, but also health and happiness, as that is very important for and during travel, I think. 🙂 So, have fun, enjoy, be adventurous and just explore!

Travel

A cool page to follow and tips and ideas for trips and travels.

Here some links to find cheap flights (still have to discover a way to earn from there. :))

http://www.skyscanner.ch

Finding places to stay:

http://www.booking.com

http://www.couchsurfing.com (free accommodation)

Bus to travel with in New Zealand

http://www.intercity.co.nz

Intercity bus in New Zealand

Trains and public transport in Switzerland: http://www.sbb.ch

Travelling in Grisons (Graubünden, Switzerland): http://www.rhb.ch and http://www.postauto.ch

Culture/Language

Learn Rumantsch or at least find some words (4th national language of Switzerland beside German, French and Italian).

http://www.udg.ch (vallader in the lower Engadine, Puter in the Upper Engadine, translated from German).

http://www.pledarigrond.ch

Health

Tapping for all kinds of things. I think Bard does it in a very cool and quiet, relaxed manner, easy to copy. Here I am an affiliate, but I only recommend it as I think it is helpful.

The list will grow with time, but I only want to share links I actually use and think are useful. So be patient please.

Please feel free to share more interesting, helpful and cool links regarding the topics, travel and health with me. I will do my best to approve good ones and avoid spam.

Thanks and have fun! 

Mystical Moeraki Boulders

During my time in Dunedin I wanted to seize the opportunity to see the famous Moeraki Boulders. I had heard and seen a lot of them, just not live, somehow I had never made it. So I was really excited when I realized I could visit them on a day trip. So I booked the bus from somewhere in Dunedin and then again back. In Dunedin I had some time so I went to the lovely garden. Then suddenly I noticed I wasn’t so sure where the bus stop was. So I asked the kind lady of the garden centre. She helped me to call the bus centre or driver and somehow I managed to be picked up somewhere on the street. I suppose it was the right bus stop, not sure. So off we went, on an adventurous trip. After a while we reached my place of desire. No beach in sight, but I was sure I was at the right place.

So I started walking the only road that was not a kind of highway. After about an hour I came to a hilltop. Wonderful view over the sea or better-said ocean… infinite water! And.. yes, in the distance the Moeraki Boulders! So I knew it would still be a bit till I reached them, but I was nearby! Enjoying the sun and realxing a bit and my small picnic I figured out what I would do with the rest of the day. Not that much would be left, in the end I had to catch the bus back to Dunedin.

So, off I stomped, towards the Moeraki Boulders. The walk along the beach, on the sand, was wonderful and full of amazing nature. I was even expecting to see a whale, it was so mystical and magical there and so peaceful. That didn’t happen, but I saw funny figures in the sand, manmade.

After taking some photos and walking, I don’t know how many felt kilometres, the Moeraki Boulderst started to turn up in front of my nose! I couldn’t believe it at first… so exciting! Maybe it sounds a bit weird to be so excited about some rocks with a kind of hole in it, but if you have been there you might understand and otherwise I can highly recommend to go there, even if it might be a bit touristy… long not as much as the Hot Water Beach!

Well, I was there in the afternoon so that might have had a small effect. But still… just wonderful. There you can just walk around, enjoy, take some photos, ask others to take photos of you… read, relax, enjoy the peace. There is a restaurant though it was closed when I was there.

Time to go back. I calculated about an hour.. and well, again, I wasn’t quite sure where the bus would pick me up. So I called respectively tried calling. Then I decided I would walk back to where the driver had dropped me off in the morning. I can’t recall the exact situation, but somewhere along the way or before I started walking I met a guy on a kind of small tractor or squad. He greeted me nicely, but didn’t offer to take me with him or anything. Fine. On I went. Then I reached the small town of Moeraki village where I found a cool restaurant, full of wood, so rather a tavern.

I had some small snacks. Then I asked the bartender how long it took to get to the bus stop… he said about half an hour or something like that… but then.. he asked one of his clients if he could drive me.. and… it was the guy with the squad from before! He very kindly offered to take me, so while I was still eating my chips we were off towards the main road. Unfortunately, I still didn’t know the exact place of my bus stop so more calls had to be done. I waited alongside the road, and finally the bus driver came and stopped for me. He said he had tried to call me and was expecting me at another place… oops. Oh well, main thing it worked out. 🙂 So, after an adventurous day and lots of fun at the sea with some rocks, I managed to get „home“ to Dunedin. What a day!

 

First domestic flight

Well, after a few weeks of babysitting, exploring the North and hanging around I decided it was time to go on. So doing some research and following my wishlist for destinations I booked my first domestic flight for Dunedin. Flying was the cheapest way to travle at that time! I was recommended some sites, like Skyscanner and Mix & Match. I had never been to Dunedin and simply wanted to explore the city and surroundings, as I had also heard it had a beautiful countryside. (Like basically everywhere in New Zealand). So, off I went. As far as I remember, the journey to Auckland went fine. I was really excited about my first domestic flight I can remember, even though I flew with big companies I don’t know how many times. It was funny to be able to step in and out of the airport even just shortly before boarding, anyway I thought so. I was probably walking around and sitting down with a wide grin on my face and people were maybe wondering what I thought was so funny. I really had to do my best not to dance around the airport and be checked for drugs or something. Anyway, boarding time came, and I was really served kindly in the plane, got cookies and coffee. It was towards evening.

 

 

Nice memories of my first domestic flight – ever!

Anyway, when I finally arrived in Dunedin I didn’t really think about how to get into the city centre. I imagined it would be no problem. So first things first. Got my bags, went to the toilet. Did hear a message from the loudspeaker but didn’t worry too much. But when I came out of the toilet I did realize they had said something about the last bus leaving or the airport closing… so… after discovering that was actually the case, closed airport, at 8 pm (!) and no more public busses, I wondered how I could get into the city. I did find a taxi and negotiated the price, as I didn’t have too much money left. Luckily he agreed to take me to a hostel for a reasonable price. It took quite a while and I hoped the hostel or backpacker’s would still be open. It seemed, as the students were out of town, nothing was going on. Luckily I found a nice backpackers with interesting people, the Geeky Gecko Backpackers. Though I was probably one of the oldest there, I was the last to go to bed! Interesting! I had actually tried to contact a couchsurfer, but as I was arriving „late“ she cancelled the date and postponed it to the other day. Fortunately I could go and stay with her for a few days after and I had a wonderful time! We saw the albatrosses flying right over our heads, and then I did an excursion to the gardens and also to the Otago Peninsula where I saw sealions and little blue eyed penguins with the tour. It was amazing! Even just the „still“ nature itself, trees and landscape were wonderful! You could see the wind from the Antarctic had an effect on it. Just unbelievable… well, nature! We also passed an owl, black swans etc. Unfortunatley no dolphins or whales. But that would have been too much of the good, I guess.

So, I can definitely recommend a visit to Dunedin, best stay there a couple of days or a week or even longer if you have the time! And enjoy and explore, appreciate the nature! I also did a wildlife tour which is really cool as you get some background knowledge.

 

 

Hello Halloween

So, in Switzerland Halloween isn’t such a big thing, or at least it wasn’t until recently and even now it is more copying what is happening in other countries than anything else. So for us Swiss it is special to celebrate such a day. I wasn’t really aware of it though, but as I was living in a family with two young kids it was an issue to talk about of course. So I also bought some treats for the little ones, which had to be hidden. Little ones managed to put up a chair and get the sweets above the fridge anyway! Well well. 🙂 Remembering similar stories of myself and photos… 😉 On Halloween the kids got dressed up and we walked around the small place outside of town, hoping to get some sweets for the little ones. I asked what they would do if the grown ups wanted to see a trick… Little Oscar showed a kind of dance, so I thought they’d be safe. Lucky for them they always received treats. „Our“ house was decorated with balloons and we put some sweets in the letterbox and told the neighbors that. So it was a fun day, but also calm, nothing spectacular happeing for the big children, at least compared to the US and what I remember from then (a good twenty years back now). Main thing the kids had fun and my tip have some sweets ready for Halloween. And it is actually a bit of a special experience at the seaside.

Halloween and autumn time in Switzerland. Photos of New Zealand Halloween to follow if I find them… :0