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

 

Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN

It wouldn't be Denmark without LEGO :)

It wouldn’t be Denmark without LEGO 🙂

Copenhagen was a very interesting citytrip, because I didn’t have any expectations, nor did I really had prepared myself well for this trip. It was one of these Capital cities in Europe that I wanted to visit someday but never exactly knew when time would bring me there.
Copenhagen is a very easy to walk city, with the plan that I grabbed at the Copenhagen centre railway station I had enough. I stayed at the Best Western Hotel close to the Tivoli Amusement park and the Radhuspladsen (The City Hall Square).

The City Hall

The City Hall

Inside City Hall

Inside City Hall Danish Flags

H.C. Andersen Statue

H.C. Andersen Statue

The first day I have done the free walking tour, it started at 11am, it’s a 3 hour tour, you can leave anytime you want, you don’t have to stay untill the end, but I did since I had a good guide and afterwards I already knew some of the great spots without having to use my map anymore.
Some of the places I have visited were Nyhavn,Rosenborhg Castle, The Round Tower,The Freetown of Christiania and ofcourse the most famous symbol of Copenhagen, the Statue of the Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid is a story for children by Hans Christian Anderson who also has a statue of himself just next to the City Hall. He wrote so many children stories, to name some :  The Princess and the pea and his famous one The Ugly duckling.
The Little Mermaid is not a big statue but just like the Manneken Piss in Brussels its world-famous and that’s why people want to see it.
I liked walking around the Rosenborg Castle which is in the middle of a nice Royal park belonging to the Danish Royal collection, just like the Royal Palaces at Amalienborg.
Close to the Rosenborg Castle, just a few streets away, you can find the Round Tower which is now an observation tower for a great view over the city.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Royal Palace Amalienborg

Royal Palace Amalienborg

Rosenborg Park

Rosenborg Park

Rosenborg Park Statue

Rosenborg Park Statue

The Round Tower

The Round Tower

inside the Roudn tower , that's how it goes up, no stairs, just climbing a wall

Inside the Round tower , that’s how it goes up, no stairs, just climbing a wall

View on Copenhagen from the roof of the Round Tower

View on Copenhagen shopping street  from the roof of the Round Tower

View on Copenhagen from the roof of the Round Tower

View on Copenhagen from the roof of the Round Tower

From Castle Island where the Christiansborg Castle stands and the stock exchange building I crossed the Knippelsbro bridge to another part of the city “Christianshavn where the Our saviors church stands with its amazing tower. It’s the church with the nicest tower hard to miss. Just 1 block further lays the freetown of Christiania which is an old hippy town , a self-declared republic, they sell weed here and since that is illegal you can’t take pictures, only a few at the entrance of this Freetown. Some nice graffiti is what I saw,  to bad that I have been constantly watched by some weirdos who wondered what the hell I lost over there and maybe waiting for me to break the rules of not taking pictures, to smash my camera to the ground like they did with some American tourists in the past (source tripadvisor).To be honest it’s not that special and to call this a country you must be really screwed up in your head. Been there done that, not much else to say about this place.

Crossing the Bridge into Christianshavn

Crossing the Bridge into Christianshavn

The Our Saviour Church in Christianshavn

The Our Savior Church in Christianshavn

This is the Christiania Flag Red with 3 yellow dots, only someone who must have smoked allot of weed could have invented this flag.

This is the Christiania Flag Red with 3 yellow dots, only someone who must have smoked a lot of weed could have invented this flag.

Some of the graffiti

Some of the graffiti

The 3rd and last night in Copenhagen I went to the Tivoli Amusement park, it was closed the first days but has been re-opened for the Christmas period. I was lucky it opened just the evening before I had to leave. Because it was the opening of the parks Winter season the place was crowded, people everywhere but it’s a must do when you are here, since it’s the second oldest theme park in the world (1843) and the most visited one in Scandinavia.
This park was also an inspiration to Walt Disney. He visited the park in the early 50’ies and a few years later in 1955 he opened his first Disneypark in Anaheim California ‘Disneyland’.
The oldest theme park in the world is Dyrehavsbakken (1583) about 10km north of Copenhagen near Klampenborg. Looks as the Danes were the founders of the theme parks something I didn’t know before going to Denmark.

Tivoli

Tivoli

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Penjikent to Dushanbe

PENJIKENT

From Istaravshan I continued my journey in Tajikistan to the very far west of the country to Penjikent passing the Anzob pass, mountains so high and valleys so deep made it a scary ride, but the most scaring part was to cross the 5km long tunnel of death, the tunnel is not completely finished, the cause are the many construction problems during the years.
it’s dark inside like in every tunnel but with dark I mean really dark no light at all, only the lights from the cars in front of you or coming from the opposite direction, there are no lights on the side like in most tunnels, holes in the ground, flooded with water makes it even more hard to drive normally. It was a crazy experience. Because of the narrow tunnels and no ventilation system there is the danger to suffocate, when your car breaks down carbon monoxide poisoning can happen and it already brought deaths with it in the past.
Happy to made it out of this tunnel. It wasn’t really worth it to come to this part of Tadjikistan cause in Penjikent there is not much to see, I have been in one little museum where there were no other visitors but me and my Tajik guide who was with me the whole trip, the most interesting historical pieces found in this area are to be seen in the big national museum of Tadjikistan in the capital city Dushanbe.

Mosaic fresco's Penjikent

Mosaic fresco’s Penjikent

Approaching the "Tunnel of Death"

Approaching the “Tunnel of Death”

Inside the dark tunnel

Inside the dark tunnel

Penjikent

Penjikent

Somoni statue Penjikent

Somoni statue Penjikent

Statue of a local Tadjik women pilot of the USSR army who died in the 2nd World War

Statue of a local Tadjik women pilot of the USSR army who died in the 2nd World War

Dushanbe would be my next Tadjik city to visit and the end of my trip in this country, but before that, I visited the Iskanderkul Lake on my way to Dushanbe.
It’s a Lake surrounded by the Fann Mountains in a triangle shape and nowadays a natural reserve with water meadows and forests.
Iskander means Alexander and Kul means Lake in Tajik, referring to Alexander the Great, once the ruler of a big empire where Tadjikistan was part of.

Iskanderkul Reserve

Iskanderkul Reserve

Iskanderkul Lake

Iskanderkul Lake

Fann Mountains

Fann Mountains

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Dilovar Homestay near Iskanderkul

Dilovar Homestay near Iskanderkul in a Mountainous village

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Finally Dushanbe

Dushanbe is a big city and after a journey through the mountain areas it was nice to take a rest in a city and just chill. I went to the national museum of Tadjikistan, it was a saturday and very crowded with students and schoolchildren visiting the big museum with 3 levels. It was funny to see some Tajiks taking the escalators to another level, some have never been on an escalator and were scared to go first, it was a real adventure for some, cute to watch those Tadjiks having all the fun and time of their life for something this simple.
The museum is a must when you’re in Dushanbe.

Tadjikistan flag

Tadjikistan flag

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

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Monument with on top the Tadjikistan national emblem

Somoni monument

Somoni monument

Rudaki Monument

Rudaki Monument

"The National Museum of Tadjikistan"

“The National Museum of Tadjikistan”

Park with paddle boats just outside the National Musem

Park with paddle boats just outside the National Museum

 

Hissar

Some 15 km out of the city I visited the Hissar fortress which was being renovated to make it look better for tourists and also here there was a bus with students visiting the fortress just when I was about to leave.
Here I saw more locals visiting the sightseeing places then it was the case in Khujand, but I think it had a lot to do with it being a weekend here in Dushanbe.
Just like in Khujand there is a big statue of Ismael Somoni, only this one is in the centre of the City near the Rudaki park and the Presidential palace.

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Sangin Mosque seen from the Hissar fortress

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Locals visiting the place

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Lake Titicaca

One of the places I absolutely enjoyed in Peru was Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world (3800m) surrounded by the mountains of the Andes forming a natural border between Peru and Bolivia. I left the town of Puno and visited the Uros Islands on the lake, one of the many floating islands made by reeds, the houses by the Uros people who live on these Islands are also made of reeds just like their little boats.
On Island Taquile another Island not made of reeds this time, I had lunch and some time to hike around the Island and climb to the top, chewing on coca leaves to cope with the high altitude. Very nice Island with amazing views from all different angles and specially when reaching the top to have a 360 view. That’s when you realize how big this lake is.

Lake Titicaca floating Islands

Lake Titicaca floating Islands

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nice lookout tower in the form of a fish, all made of reeds

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Here I am on a typical Uros Island

Here I am on a typical Uros Island

let's have a look what's cooking

let’s have a look what’s cooking

lookout Tower

lookout Tower

view from Uros lookout tower

view from Uros lookout tower

House of reeds

House of reeds

Inside of the house

Inside of the house

Local selling her handicrafts to the tourists

Local selling her handicrafts to the tourists

nice boat of reeds bringing me from one floating island to the other

nice boat of reeds bringing me from one floating island to the other

enjoying a Peruvian Cusquena beer on the roof of the motorboat taking me to the Taquile Island.

Enjoying a Peruvian Cusquena beer on the roof of the motorboat taking me to the Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Taquile Island

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On top of some building from where I could see the mountains in Bolivia

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