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Great Barrier Reef and wonderful Whitsundays

Like the birds fly to warmer parts of the world in the winter, so did I, but I didn’t go there for the heat – but to explore the ocean and the world’s largest living organism; the Great Barrier Reef. The GBR is probably one of the things people have on the bucket list when going Down Under. Another one might be where I went after the GBR; Whitsundays. One of them I liked – and one of them I loved!

I flew to Cairns, the big city up in the north east of Australia and it was a hot experience. Around 40 degrees, very humid and not very windy even though it’s by the ocean. Speaking of the ocean, you could not really take a swim here due to two very deadly creatures, one big and one small, saltwater crocodiles and the box jelly fish. The later actually has the strongest poison on earth and can kill you within just a few minutes. Luckily enough they have a fantastic pool right by the ocean boardwalk in Cairns where you can cool down.

After a day in Cairns I went on one of those boat trips out to the Great Barrier Reef. Charmed by extremely colorful and idyllic pictures I was really excited – and a little nervous for one of my fears: seasickness. Being a wise-guy, I took a double dose of motion sickness pills and thank God for that. I estimate 75 % of the people on the boat threw up. Not mentioned in the brochure. A lot of people had a really hard day just lying vomiting pretty much the entire trip.

Out on the reef we finally could go snorkeling and I also took a 20 min intro dive. The Great Barrier Reef is nice, but not breathtaking. Perhaps you think I’m negative or weird now, but I would say honest. It was a good experience and I recommend doing it, but don’t expect to experience the pictures in the brochures. In my book this is not one of the best places Australia has to offer. Whitsundays though, is a completely other story.

If the pictures of GBR lie a little bit, the pictures of Whitsundays can’t justify it’s beauty. It’s stunning! And it’s not just extremely comfortable to rest your eyes on, but it’s also fantastic to walk the beaches and swim in the ocean there. They say this is the whitest and also the finest sand on earth, and I actually believe it’s true. I find it nice that there are still places like this untouched and clean from pollution. Since it’s a big tourist attraction there are of course some boats with tourists here, but it’s a pretty big area so you could easily find your own kilometer of paradise beach to chill on. Whitsundays was on my bucket list, but not it’s also on my MUST-DO-LIST when in Australia, you won’t regret going here.

After a month in Australia it’s time to leave this nice country. Compared to South and Central-America, this felt like a holiday. Safe, clean, civilized and just a lot of beaches and summer vibes. I only had two days on one month in Australia where I didn’t go swimming in the ocean. Of course very nice, but I like diversity and am right now a little split. I have a flight booked to Manila tomorrow, the capital of Philippines. There I have the choice to either go to one of it’s many beach destinations – or head straight to my next stop for some more diverse activities; Vietnam. Right now it’s 7.30 PM and I will decide this during today’s dinner.

Anyways, Australia delivered as always and I will definitely come back here. For visiting, it’s a lovely country with plenty of things and places to go – the only problem is probably that it’s so big and that there are so many places to go. Having been here 4 times now I feel I’ve got to taste a lot of it and I suggest you should to.

Cheers Australia, this is not a good bye, it’s a see you again. Hello Asia and new adventures!

Road tripping stunning Sydney to boring Brisbane

They say it’s not the destination but the journey along the way that matters – and it couldn’t be more true than this time, when I drove from Sydney to Brisbane. From one of the world’s most wonderful cities to one of the most boring I’ve visited. Luckily enough, there were many nice stops (and people) along the way.

Imagine you had a MAJOR hungover on Sunday and for me that means I’m still pretty “tired” on Monday morning. To then pick up a rental car at 07.30 AM (traffic rush hour) in the city centre of Sydney (5 million people) and drive on the left side of the road – without a GPS – was a hectic start on a long drive. Anyways, stressing up never helps no matter what you do. I knew one thing: I’m going north! So I just followed my intention and drove across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and from then it was smooth.

First stop was in Newcastle where I met up with a lovely couple I met in El Salvador and then traveled with through Guatemala and Belize. We had some great times then – and now. It was really nice to finally meet som familiar faces again and also to meet up with people from my travels. Often people just talk the talk and doesn’t walk the walk – but both parts did this time, which meant I could finally taste a real Australian barbecue on the beach. Many thanks for having me!

I also stopped in Byron Bay and on the Gold Coast. Having been to both places before it was also like meeting a familiar and likeable “face” again. Great places and beaches both of them, so perfect stops for a surf and a chill pill.

Eventually I ended up in Brisbane, visiting and staying at another friend I met on my travels, Brazil to be precise. Funny to meet yet a familiar face and grateful for having my own bedroom for another night (a luxury for a back-packer). Besides this, Brisbane was not my cup of tea at all. I was apparently lucky when I was there, because it was the coldest days of this year’s summer (29-32 degrees C) and pretty humid. Since Brisbane is located inland you don’t get that nice ocean breeze and can’t cool off in the ocean. Just a big bowl placed in a strange place. I mean, why don’t build a city by the coast when it’s just 40 minutes away?

Anyways,  it’s always interesting to visit big cities and even if the destination was not the best I had a great week road tripping. The quote that “it’s not the destination but the journey that matters” is actually comparable to life as well. I mean, we all face the same tragic destination: death. We will probably even see some of our loved ones pass away before it’s our turn and if we are unlucky maybe we don’t have the health on our side the last years. But our journey towards our destination can be very different. Some work all their lives, waiting to get retired (if you even get that old, no guarantee) and plan to live their lives when they are 65. Some follow their passion and live day to day, just enjoying the ride not thinking of tomorrow. No matter which way you go – it’s our own choice. I’ve been working hard and smart throughout the years, but also been traveling, taking breaks and most important followed my dreams. I would say it’s possible to be both long term and short term – you just have to take an active choice and be a little street smart. My theory is that, since I don’t take tomorrow for granted, I want to take many “mini retirements” in my life. This for two reasons:
1. It’s in NO way a guarantee that I will be alive the day I turn 65.
2. I believe life is supposed to be lived while you are young. They say age doesn’t matter, and I agree to a certain point, but at the same time I do believe things are funnier when you are younger. Especially travel, since you grow as a person and meet other people and they are mostly young.

So, if you are feeling that your journey isn’t funny enough, use the next crossroads to change it! I don’t have to worry about crossroads anymore, now I’m flying up north to the humidity, crocodiles and the Great Barrier Reef.

Stunning Sydney

One of my best friends has lived in Sydney for a while and always says: “It’s the best city in the world!” If it’s the best can be discussed – but it’s for sure one of the best. I have been here before, but only for four days which wasn’t really enough to get a grip of it, but it was a teaser that this city has a lot to offer. After almost a month road tripping (New Zealand + The Great Ocean Road) it was about time for a litte break from all the travel and adventure. I was keen on waking up in the same place for a while, and I couldn’t have picked a better place.

So what’s so fantastic about Sydney? Well, the list can be long but I’ll try to pick the important ones:

  • It’s beautiful, very beautiful. Whether you are in the city or along the beaches, it’s a blessing for the eyes. The city centre is (as in every big modern city) full of skyscrapers but with the nearby Sydney Harbour with the bridge and the Opera house makes this downtown special. Day or night – high or low, the views are stunning.
  • The outdoor possibilities are endless. The beaches offers great facilities for loads of activities: swimming, running, biking, working-out, good surf, volleyball or just relax. Even here along the coast is a blessing to rest your eyes on. I stayed the entire time (10 days) on Bondi and did the coastal cliff walk every morning and could to it another 10 mornings without problem.
  • It’s Australia, which means it’s safe (for a big city), laid-back, easy going and friendly. Everywhere you go you see people in flip-flops and salty hair. The lifestyle and the vibe here is just amazing.

After 10 days here my backpacker-batteries are recharged and I’m ready to hit the road again. The break here in Sydney was very well-needed. Even though I love adventure and being on the move a lot, it also drains a little energy always waking up early to drive, take a bus, check in and out of hostels. At the same time I become a little restless staying in one place too long. So now I’m more then ready to hit the road again. After all, this long trip of mine is an adventure – not a holiday.

Next up: road tripping up the east coast to Brisbane. See you, mates!

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