Daytrip from Sliema to Gozo & Comino Islands

Just a cross the street of my hotel “The Sliema Marina” where I was staying I saw these boats leaving everyday with tourists to Valletta or to Gozo and Comino Island bringing them back in the evening when it was already dark. Around 6 or 7 pm. Since I have been in Malta in november this means it’s already dark around 5 pm in this time of the year. To complete my Malta trip I had to visit those Islands even if it would be for a short time and just to go out there and see something.
The next day I bought my ticket at a small ticket boot, there are many companies who try to sell you tickets for the boat and busses and the good thing is since tourist season is over in October the prices in november are much cheaper, more discounts are being given and the drinks at the bar like beer and soft drinks were free, real open bar. The weather is still ok, not so hot, however sometimes in november you can have heavy rains and winds but since Malta is an island it quickly goes away. I was lucky this time, no rain like I experienced in Batumi (Georgia) and Kotor (Montenegro).

Boat trip to Gozo and Comino from Sliema

Hotel Sliema Marina

upper deck of the bus touring Gozo

Gozo countryside

Cittadella Fortress in Victoria

John Paul II statue inner court of the Cittadella

The boat heads first for the biggest Island of the two which is Gozo, there all the people get of the boat and hop in to a bus, so did, I sat in the upper deck of the bus, it’s the same kind of busses like the hop on hop off busses, but from another company. The place you go see is the Cittadella fortress in the Victoria the capital of Gozo. In the Cittadella there are several museums, there is a cathedral with in front a statue of Pope John Paul II and a restaurant.

Cathedral of the Cittadella

walking the Cittadella walls

 

After spending an hour there, it was back to the bus and then back to the boat again to set for Comino the smallest Island. In the summertime Comino is popular for watersports, no people live there is what I’ve been told and I can imagine cause all you see are rocks, cliffs and caves. We got out at the Blue lagoon, a spot were you can take a plunge in the mighty blue water. I didn’t go for a dive as I found it to windy. I did a little walk to get a little idea about the island but basically I felt like it was more of stepping foot on it and that’s it. I think in full summer it must be nice to come here for the whole day and swim and dive from the cliffs in to the water.

Comino Island

Blue Lagoon

Elephant rock

It was a nice day out and since this was my last full day in Malta it was better for me to go on this day trip to see a glimpse of the other two Islands then to spend my day walking around Valletta again or to go shopping in Sliema.

evening falls on our way back

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SMOM The country with no land

The only country recognised by the United Nations that has no land is located in Fort St Angelo in Birgu on the Island of Malta.
If you have not heard about this before, then its nothing to feel embarrassed of as I also didn’t knew about its existence untill a friend of mine Jonny backpacked it.
The name of the country is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or  “The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta” and it has its own flag and as mentioned already its recognised internationally by more than 100 other countries in the world. St. John was the leader of the Order more on this person can be found on google and wikipedia (link)

Fort St Angelo

First you enter Fort St Angelo which belongs to Malta you buy the entrance ticket at the reception desk and although the Fort brochure says you need to pre-book a visit to the upper part of the fort, it wasn’t a problem for me to visit this place. I just told the man at the reception that a friend of mine visited it a month earlier and that he recommended it to me and that I was interested in seeing the upper part of the Fort which is a new Country.
The upper part of Fort St Angelo is where the Order or country is situated. It’s private property and closed by a gate with above the gate the emblem of the Order.
I got a guided tour which is the only way to enter this private area of the fort. The guide opened the gate and I left Malta to enter into a new country SMOM = Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It was almost a 2 hour tour with a lot of history and interesting information about the place. Funny that there are 2 countries in one Fortress.

 

The emblem of SMOM above the entrance gate

me in front of the entrance gate ready to enter a new country

with my guide at the Magisterial Palace

The Magisterial Palace , residence of the Knight

a look inside the Knights home

One of the private rooms of the Knight had a balcony with a great view over Valletta at the other side of Birgu

So what’s there to see on the upper level ?

The magisterial Palace the home for the only resident Knight on the Island of this Order with the St Anne’s Chapel and the adjoining terraces.
This part of the Fort is a 99-year-old lease that they have which was given to them in 1998 after an absence of 200 years. In a treaty signed by Malta and SMOM.

the terrace or courtyard

chilling area

St Anne’s Chapel

Inside St Anne’s Chapel

In Front of the St Anne’s Chapel there is a statue of St. John and 2 flag poles, one with the flag of Smom and the other with the Maltese flag

The Military Order of Malta has 2 lands that they own, first one is the one I visited which is the upper part of Fort St Angelo in Malta. The other one is in Rome, that’s where the Order has it’s capital. This is the address : Palazzo Malta Via dei Condotti 68, Rome, Italy
I have been in Rome several times a few years back and never knew I was so close to this address where the Order has its government with library. It’s close to the Spanish steps at the Piazza di Spagna.

If you want to know more about the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (aka SMOM) go check their Wikipedia page (link click here)

 

 

Malta

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Malta a stone in water was what I heard someone once say, and yes its little Island but not as little as Easter Island. Malta got 3 Islands the Island of Malta itself, Gozo and Comino. I visited all of them although it was not planned to do so cause my time there was limited. I started in La Valletta the capital while staying in Sliema. This town is at the opposite side of Valletta and there are boats and bus tours you can take from there to Valletta and the rest of Malta.

View on the Sliema bay

boat connecting Sliema and Valletta

Going to Malta :

I booked a flight to Malta through Ryanair, an airlines that I used quit a lot over the years as they mostly have the cheapest prices for travel in Europe. Ryanair however had some problems lately with most of their flights because pilots had to take their vacation days before the end of the year 2017 and so there was a shortage of pilots and as a result of this, flights got cancelled or schedules got changed. My flight was supposed to fly out of Brussels in the late afternoon, till Ryanair decided to reschedule my flight into the early morning, for me it was a problem and because the new departure time was changed 8 hours earlier then my original flight and they offered me a full refund, which I accepted. So was my travel plan to go to Malta falling apart (?) well to my own surprise no it wasn’t I found a flight on the same day with Air Malta in the afternoon just like I wanted my flight to be in the first place and a cheaper than Ryanair.

Ryanair return ticket from Brussels was 95 EUR
Air Malta was 80 EUR
Not a big difference but I was surprised that Air Malta was cheaper and this for a non early flight. Everybody who travels regularly knows that morning flights and evening flights are the cheapest compared to a midday flight, well not this time thanks to Air Malta.

La Valletta :

The capital is worth a citytrip, it’s not that big, you can easily do it in one day.

Few interesting spots to see are Fort St Elmo, St John’s Co Cathedral, St. George’s Square, St Paul Cathedral,…

La Valletta with the Basilica Our Lady of Mt Carmel and the St Paul Anglican Cathedral

Maltese flags in front of the city walls of Valletta on a roundabound

The old city walls

Parliament a modern building in front of the old city centre

Auberge de Castille

St George Square

The Malta siege Memorial with Bell

Other places I have seen by taking a hop on hop off bus (has been a while since I have taking one of the busses) were : Marsaxlokk, Mosta and Mdina.

Mosta Fort with dome

Mdina

Marsaxlokk

Typically Colored wooden Maltese fisherman’s boats in Marsaxlokk

The Land of Fire

My next trip brought me back to the Caucasus, after being in Georgia and Abkhazia (still part of Georgia) 3 years back, it was time to visit the region again by going to the land of Fire aka Azerbaijan. It was a short trip this time to its capital Baku which in Azeri language means the city of winds cause there is wind everyday, although it’s pretty alright for me coming from Belgium where it’s wind and rain for most of the year.
Baku is laying at the Caspian sea, no wonder there is wind but it’s good cause it can be pretty hot out here. 24 degrees Celsius in October not bad at all and the sun was more than welcome for me.

Flame Towers seen from Maiden Tower

Why is it called the land of fire ?
Because the people who used to live here before the Islam and Soviet times where Zoroastrians, Zoroastrianism was a type of religion that had influences from the old Persian empire and the ancient Indian Hindu time. Zoroastrians were worshipping fire and near Baku I visited their fire temple of Atashgah.

What did I do in Baku ?

I visited the old town as well as the modern part of the city with the Flame Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Center by architect Zaha Hadid.

Heydar Aliyev Center (Museum)

Inside Museum

Very modern

Another modern building near the Caspian Sea is the Carpet museum.

Carpet museum, building is a giant rolled up carpet

In the old town I visited mosques, caravanserai, Maiden Tower from which you have a view over the city of Baku, The palace of Shirvanshahs and more.

Maiden Tower

Maiden Tower from the other side of the street

Palace of the Shirvanshahs

Inside the Juma Mosque

War Memorial for the victims of the Soviet attack in 1990 and the Karabakh war with Armenia of 1994.

Eternal Flame @ the War Memorial monument

The War Memorial is on Martyrs Lane which is up hill and from here you got a superb view over the City and its Caspian sea bay

 

Places visited outside Baku but near the capital on a half day trip were : Atashgah, burning mountain Yanartag and the Ramana Castle.
The tour companies in Baku also offer day trips to Qobustan park with its petroglyphs and the mud volcanos. I didn’t do the last one since I have seen petroglyphs in Kyrgyzstan and mud volcanos in Yellowstone or something very similar to it.
I personally was not interested in stones and mud, but if it’s your thing then go and book this tour when you are in Baku

Atashgah Fire temple of the Zoroastrians

Inside Fire Temple

Ramana Castle

Burning mountain – Yanartag

Because of the gas in the surface this mountain is burning for 5000 years, something else then Darvaza in Turkmenistan which is burning since  1971

Outside Baku, Azerbaijan is different , landscape, roads , houses it all changes and it seems there is a big gap between those who live their lives in the great capital city and those who live in the countryside.
I saw oil fields and the impact the black gold has on the environment and found this more interesting to see all these oil derricks going up and down pumping it up out of the oil wells, then a park with petroglyphs on stones.

oil derrick working

more of them pumping oil

oil field and the impact on the environment

countryside

Houses in the countryside, just a few km from Baku

 

 

 

Sankt-Petersburg Russia’s Pride

The City of Peter The Great !

I came to St. Petersburg by high-speed train “Sapsan” from Moscow, only 4 hours to the City that lays at the Finish Gulf. I didn’t bring the hot Moscow weather with me cause in Sankt-Peter there were moments with a lot of rain and besides the touristic sites I wasn’t in the mood to explore the city more on my own. Sometimes the sun came out peeking and that was usually when I wanted to take picture of something that it stopped raining for a moment, call it crazy luck.
Sankt-Peter as the Russian call the city, is the pride of Russia, it has so much to offer for tourists, that you need several days to see everything.
Despite the rain it’s a city with a nice vibe, nice European style streets and houses to walk by, many ways to get around by tram, bus and metro.

Peter The Great

Places that I visited were the Blue & white Smolny Complex with its cloister and Cathedral build for Elizabeth Peter The Great’s Daughter who became a nun.
Peter & Paul Fortress by the Neva River that was built on a small Island to protect the city from Swedish invasion. It also served as a prison and nowadays it’s a museum with a Cathedral that you can visit. This Cathedral with its bell tower contains a big carillon that was a gift from the city of Mechelen in Flanders (Belgium) for Peter the Great, it contains 51 bells. It was Peters idea to bring back the musical revival in his city.

Smolny Complex

Cathedral

Peter & Paul Fortress

The Alexander Nevsky monastery with its cemetery where historically famous Russians like Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky are buried.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral which is the biggest Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Sankt-Peterburg and it really stands out with its doors of bronze and its golden dome, you can see it from different parts of the city.
The interior is also stunning and makes your mouth fall open. From all parts of Russia multicolored granites and marbles were gathered to compose the internal features such as columns, pilasters, floors.
At Palace Square I visited the Hermitage with the Diamant room which unfortunately was not allowed to take photos of.

Alexander Nevsky Monastery, view from my Hotel

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

Palace Square

Hermitage

Inside the Hermitage

Throne room

25km outside of the City I visited Peterhof, the Palace of Peter The Great at the Finish Gulf. This residence has magnificent rooms, in different styles, it gives you an idea about how life was for the rulers of Russia. Golden statues and fountains of the Grand Cascade in the garden makes this place look unique.

Peterhof

Grand Cascade with its golden statues

the sea channel in back of me

Another Palace about 35km away from Sankt-Petersburg is the Catharina Palace or Pushkin Palace. It used to be Katherina’s summer palace with its famous Amber room (no pictures allowed, but you can find them on google anyway) and the ball room.
I liked walking around here and see this for myself and I must say Russians can be proud of Sankt-Petersburg and their palaces.

Pushkin Palace

Pol the Great

The Ball room with gold on the sidings and a the biggest ceiling painting I ‘ve ever seen

room with Flemish and Dutch paintings

lunch room

at the Gardens park

 

 

Visiting the Biggest Country on Earth

A Country that’s almost on the news everyday and I haven’t been there yet ? I’m talking about Russia.
The biggest country on earth, historically a lot in common with Europe and partly being part of the old continent and also of Asia.
Wonder how life is there, how Russians are. Since this is my first visit to Russia I decided to do a classic trip visiting its capital Moscow and Sankt-Petersburg.

Kremlin

Starting in Moscow.

One of the biggest cities in the world, a lot of traffic, took me 1 hour to get from the airport to the city centre and its only 30km !
I saw big expensive cars, but also old lada’s, yes they are still present which is nice, it gives you a feeling for Russia, you realizing you really are in a post-sovjet country. On some buildings still the hammer and sickle is showing and the red star.

What is there to see ?

There is a lot to see in Moscow, everywhere you go you see nice buildings in different styles, but since my visit was only 2 days, I did the classic touristic sites such as : The Red Square (which was half closed because they were preparing for some military festivity), off course the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin with the Tsar-bell and Tsar-cannon and its many cathedrals and churches with golden domes.

On my way to the Red Square

The gate through which I entered the Red Square

preparations for celebrating the Russian army – Red Square

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Tsar-cannon

Tsar-Bell

Cathedrals and churches behind the Kremlin walls

However the first place I went to see was the Novodevichy Convent aka New Maidens’ Monastery a Unesco site surrounded by a park behind big walls with twelve towers. The most famous building at the convent is “the Cathedral of our lady of Smolensk” which was under construction so I didn’t get to see that. To be honest all the cathedrals in Russia are nice but they all look a bit the same to me, it’s the little towers and the golden domes that make them all look beautiful and spectacular looking in the distance. When you drive into the city you see them domes standing out from these Orthodox Cathedrals and churches it has something special.

Novodevichy Convent

One of the towers of the Novodevichy convent in my back

Next stop was the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour situated on the northern bank of the Moskva River, on the backside of the cathedral there is a bridge over the river from which you have a view on a big statue of Peter the Great standing in the river on one side and a view over the Kremlin on the other side of that bridge.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Statue of Peter The Great in the Moskva River

Then I made my way towards the red square, where there is a big mall next to it, the GUM department store, there I had lunch in a Russian restaurant on the top floor, really good and not expensive at all, besides tourist a lot of locals were als eating there, can’t remember the name of the restaurant but there are many places to eat, besides restaurants, there are shops and even a movieteatr.

GUM Department store

A nice place to see Moscow is at Vorobyovy gory (Sparrow hill) from here you can see a great panoramic view over Russia’s Capital city, its adjacent to the Moscow state University which is just another bombastic building, real piece of architecture.
It’s easy to get there by metro, you step out at Vorobyovy station and from there you just walk to the observation point up hill.

Moscow State University

Panorama of Moscow with the Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the Opening Match and Final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Vendors selling Russian suvenirs, the Matroshka’s

Russian hats

Putin shirts

Going down the Metro

Speaking about metro, the one of Moscow is worth a visit many stations are well decorated, with sculptures, glass work, statuettes, mosaics on walls and ceilings. It’s really an underground palace, if only the metro in Brussels could be like that.

look at the ceilings in the metro, decorated with Mosaics

Walls are also decorated with Mosaics

“Mir” which means peace

Hammer and Sickle, the symbol of the Soviet Union

Metro station decorated with glasswork on the walls

 

 

Statuettes as decoration

   

 

 

 

Brisbane & Lone Pine Sanctuary

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What everybody want’s to see when visiting Australia are the typical Australian animals that you can only find Down Under. You can catch them in the wild, but even better is to see them more up close or to even hold them in your hands. If you would like to have the experience of holding a Koala in your hands, head to Brisbane’s Lone Pine Sanctuary.
It’s the oldest and largest Koala park since 1927. There are also other animals which you can have an encounter with, feed and pat the Walibi’s and kangaroo’s. In the cafeteria next to the kangaroo reserve you can buy food for the kangaroo’s. Also if you had your picture taken with a Koala, the photo will be on display in the cafeteria, ready to take your souvenir home.

Lone Pine

Lone Pine Sanctuary

The picture with the Koala is not included in your park entrance ticket, but to me it was worth the extra money. I might never see a koala from this close again. Afterall the highlight for me was to have my picture taken with one of these adorable Koalas, the symbol of Australia just like the kangaroo.
The platypus, Dingo, Tasmanian devil and many different birds and snakes are also represented in Lone Pine.

Holding the Koala

kangaroo selfie

Tasmanian devil

Platypus (in my language it’s Vogelbekdier)

Platypus swimming, it moves incredibly quick

Platypus diving

When I left the park, i had to wait for my bus, there is a bus stop in front of the entrance with a terrace and seating area. You can grab a coffee, charge your mobile for free and use the free wifi. There is also fast and free wifi throughout the whole park, so as soon as you got your picture taken with the Koala you can put it online on your instagram 🙂

Chillin out with the kangaroo

Feeding area

Feeding the kangaroos

Brisbane as a city was also a nice surprise, easy to walk around, the city centre is not that big, but I liked it more than Melbourne in a way. Nice skyline by the Brisbane river and for those who talk about a great vibe, well Brisbane has it. In the city there is a free-swimming pool that locals and tourists can use and a nice rainforest experience were you can walk through a mini jungle. Brisbane was a nice and surprising worth to stay a couple of days.

Brisbane

Brisbane skyline

Brisbane River

Victoria Bridge Abutment

Melbourne vs Sydney & The Great Ocean Road

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Melbourne

Ok Melbourne, straight forward you didn’t impress me much.
I don’t understand what all the fuzz is about between Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, so maybe it’s a good thing Canberra got the title of being capital city of Australia, although I don’t know much about Canberra since I haven’t been visiting the city and when I talked to other people locals and tourist they all told me there is nothing interesting to see.
Alright who cares, maybe Melbourne will be nice right, nope forget it, it’s overrated or maybe its me who don’t get easily impressed by another big city.

Melbourne

I started with the free walking tour, just like I did in Sydney to get first impressions and to revisit the parts of the city that I like the most later on. The tour starts at the State library of Victoria at Swanston street. Before the tour started I went inside to see the interior, it’s amazing, with a great view from level 4. I was surprised how quiet it was in the reading room and in the computer room, so many people and such a silence makes it a good place for reading and studying. There are also exhibitions rooms with free art galleries.

State Library of Victoria

View from 4th floor

During the tour I saw old buildings mostly churches, not so old as those in Europe but still nice ones and old enough for Australia I guess, a prison with a nice story, but then again I visited Alcatraz so nothing is going to beat that, however the guide did his best to promote his city, to tell about the different buildings, good commentary added with some knowhow about the past and recent history. Overall the tour was good, but nothing really did stand out to me.
In the tour we make a stop at Hosier lane suppose to be great for its street art and graffiti, really haven’t seen much art or great graffiti , it was disappointing. Later on my Australia trip I was surprised to find the best street art to be in Brisbane. It’s not the most important thing to see in a city, cause street art and graffiti no matter how great some of it can be, a few months later that great wall graffiti that you took a picture off most likely will be gone, covered by some other graffiti, so what’s the point anyway.

The most interesting building that I saw in Melbourne wasn’t even on the free walking tour since it was to far from city centre, so went to see the Shrine of remembrance myself.
When you enter the monument there is a museum about all the wars that Australian soldiers got involved in.

Shrine of Remembrance

 

The Great Ocean Road

The other best thing you can do from Melbourne is to do the Great Ocean road tour and that’s for me personally the only reason why I would recommend someone to go to Melbourne to start from there your Ocean road trip. It can also be done from Adelaide in the opposite direction.

Entrance of the Great Ocean Road

South Pacific Ocean

Before I continue about the Ocean road let me just say this, the arguments from people who like Melbourne more than Sydney are from me as a European tourist completely hard to understand.

The Melbourne vs Sydney thing 

The locals prefer Melbourne because of the good vibe, the food, restaurants, bars etc,… Then some of the backpackers are just like parrots and instead of thinking things through a bit they just copy the same arguments as the locals do.
Locals always see it different from tourists, well mostly;
First of all, there is good food, restaurants and bars in Sydney aswell. When I had a talk with two French girls their arguments were great coffee shops and vibe. I told them you have this in Paris too, why you come to Australia ? You come to Australia for this really, to taste the coffee ? Maybe you should book a flight to Colombia or Costa Rica if you want good coffee.
I don’t even know why I waste my time talking to stupid people. Since when does coffee or vibe make a city better than the other ?
Sydney has the Harbour bridge, the Opera House and great views.
Melbourne doesn’t has the views, they might have good restaurants, but so does Brisbane Every Aussie should be proud of a city like Sydney instead of looking down on it favoring Melbourne because of food and coffee seriously. To those parrot backpackers repeating whatever they have heard without any knowledge or valuable arguments, go home and pour yourself another cup of coffee, may i suggest Colombian probably won’t disappoint you.
Anyone from Melbourne reading this, don’t be angry cause Melbourne is a nice city but it’s not a “must visit place” when coming to Australia. If it wasn’t for the Ocean road I would have skipped it from my itinerary.

Apostle 13 🙂

Back to the Ocean Road

The highlight of the tour is the 12 Apostles, the rock formations at Victoria’s coastline that rise from the ocean. Wind and water from the ocean eroded the limestone cliffs to this spectacular formations. Another nice place on the westside of the 12 Apostles is the Loch Ard Gorge, cliffs with blowholes and narrow openings to the sea. Also the London bridge which used to be a double stone arch connecting the land untill the sea made it colapse. Till this day only one arch remains.

12 Apostles

Loch ard Gorge

London Bridge

 

Australia my 7th Continent

Sydney

Most people visit Antarctica as their 7th continent, for me since I’ve been to Antarctica last december (2016) Australia was the last continent and my 7th continent to visit.
After long flight from Brussels to Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur I finally got in Sydney where I would begin my Australian journey.
On my Australian trip I planned a visit to Sydney,Melbourne and Brisbane aswell as Uluru and the great Ocean road, all on my itinerary.
How was my experience in Sydney well it’s surely one of the nicest cities I’ve been to.
Sydney has the views, from the Harbor Bridge over the bay with the Opera House at the opposite site, it’s the photo image of Sydney you see on every postcard but to see it for yourself with your own eyes it makes it even more beautiful.

Sydney Harbour seen from the Harbor Bridge

Walking on the Harbor Bridge

It’s also a very busy city for the locals, Australians in Sydney you see them in the morning and evening when they go to work or come back from it. during the day you see most tourists and immigrants who run their little businesses. Mostly of them are Asians and they got their own restaurants, bars, massage rooms (Thai massage) etc,…

What to do ?

You can visit the Opera House if you are interested in seeing an empty room and a stage, nothing for me as I have been visiting the Music Hall in New York years ago and it also didn’t live up to the expectations. The MTV Music Video Awards were held there and that’s why I wanted to see it and booked a tour of about 2 hours but it was disappointing so I promised to myself never to tour Music halls or Opera buildings again, I don’t find it interesting. The opera house is nice from the outside and I prefer to enjoy to view of it from different angles when I’m outside, then to check out the empty hall inside. Seen pictures on the internet about it and it didn’t convince me to pay the entrance for that. I’m not saying it’s not nice inside from what I’ve seen on google images, but just not worth for me personally to buy a ticket for.
Same thing with the Harbor Bridge, it’s a nice bridge and in Sydney they are proud of it, and how it’s been made. One local guide who I had been going on tour with to the Blue Mountains had allot to say about the history of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and about the possibility to climb it.

Opera House

It’s a nice huge bridge to climb and you have various climbs you can do, depending when you want to go in the early morning or the late afternoon. Prices differ from how long you want to go. Climbs of 1,5 hour or 3 hours.
I personally found it to expensive and also the fact that you can’t bring your camera or smartphone to take pictures is lame. They take pictures for you but then they off course sell it and for the high price that you pay to climb that bridge they could have include the pictures of the experience in the price. So I think they like to rip you off as much as they can for this experience.
Also they make you wear a ridiculous blue suit, why ? I don’t know cause I once saw a Touristic program on tv about bridge climbing in Germany. The bridge was over a highway and you had the nice view of the highway and the natural environment behind it. No crazy suits, smartphones and cameras allowed, so yeah why are there so many rules here, it beats me.

Under the Sydney Harbor Bridge

In general compared to Europe no matter what excursion you want to do in Australia, its expensive cause even day trips that I did to the Blue mountains and the Ocean road later on from Melbourne weren’t very budget friendly. Again in Europe you would never pay this much for day trips. I won’t be comparing prices here , since there are many agencies and many similar tours you can book, but when you do a little research on the internet you will see the difference if you look for daytours from Melbourne or Sydney or let’s say from Barcelona or Athens.
Australia is expensive and it reminds me of Argentina which for backpackers isn’t the most budget friendly place either. Ask backpackers who travel around South America and they will tell you. Trust me, believe me it’s true 🙂

The first thing you can do in Sydney to get to know the city a bit is to go on a free walking tour. They start at on one of the most important streets of Sydney which is St. George street between Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral.

St Andrew’s Cathedral

If you have never on a free City tour before then I explain it :
You turn up at the starting place of the tour (info can be found on http://www.imfree.com.au/sydney/ ) your local guide in green t-shirt will tell you about the city during this 3 hour walk. There is one at 10.30 am and another at 2.30 pm. You can leave the tour at anytime you want and since it’s a free tour you don’t have to pay, but you can give the guide a small tip at the end of the tour to show how much this tour was worth for you. Most people do give something for the effort the guide did to tell you a bit more about his or her city.
I took the morning tour which is the same as the one in the afternoon, I preferred to go in the morning so then in the afternoon I could go and explore the highlights of the tour again by myself.

The Sydney Tower with its 309m over the Business district is the highest construction in Sydney from which you can have a magnificent view over the City

Another place that I visited which was not on the tour was the Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park. This monument is a tribute to remember all the Australian soldiers who died and served their country in the many wars all over the world.

Anzac War Memorial

Bullets in Hyde Park

 

Uluru The Outback in Central Australia

The real Australian experience is when you go visit the Outback in Central Australia and it’s most famous rock the Uluru (also called Ayers rock). Uluru is the name that should be used as this is sacred to the Aboriginals, the indigenous people of Australia.
In this Area there are other rock formations like “Kata Tjuta” and Mount Conner.

Uluru

I was here on a 4 day camp trip with a group of people from all kind of nationalities and had a good time.  From preparing your own food, to go out, find and collect wood to start the fire at night when we go sleep in our swags around the campfire under the stars, it makes the outback experience complete. You might hear some Dingo’s at night 🙂
During the day hiking and exploring the beauty of nature here is the best you can do and let it all sink in. I went on this trip with Mulgas Adventure Travel so go and check out their webpage for a great Outback experience. During the many hikes the guide tells you a little about the history of the place, its indigenous people and about the fauna and flora.

group picture

around the campfire

Dingo tracks at campsite

Hiking around Uluru

Uluru rock paintings

Kata Tjuta aka Olgas

Hiking Kata Tjuta

Having a drink with Kata Tjuta Olgas in back of me

Mount Conner

 

I didn’t visit Mount Conner, I saw it from a distance, just like Uluru it stands out alone in the middle of a flat area. Instead I visited Kings Canyon that was on the itinerary.
At Kings Canyon, you can do the Canyon rim walk, descending the stair case through the garden of Eden to have a break at Kings Creek.

Kings Canyon

Heart attack hill

descending Kings Canyon

Garden of Eden

Kings Creek

great autumn colours