Japan – Part 3 (Hiroshima – Tokyo)

11th day:

I was super excited to arrive in Tokyo from Naoshima island as I had insisted to go in this region (Alex wasn’t really keen for it as beginning of July there had been huge floods and lots of people dead in this region). But the region doesn’t necessarily mean the city itself and we were very happy to discover what this town of difficult history had to offer…

Right after arriving, we went to eat the spetiality of Hiroshima at the Hassei restaurant : the Okonomiyaki – a type of crepe filled with cabbage, omelette and all type of see food or meat with a special sweet sauce. We were in front of the chef and it was delicious and fun to see although a little bit warm next to the grill… I couldn’t finish my portion as it was a huge one…

The following day (12th day), we woke up early and headed towards the Peace Memorial Museum talking about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs…

It was good – although painful – to discover this side of history. Learning about the facts first and then going to the other floor to learn about the victims and the after effects of this terrible weapon… Looking at the individual stories (marbles – billes in French) belonging to a young boy that had melted away during the radiations and which were kept as memory for his Mum. Or the story of Sakura who contracted leukaemia a few years later and died 10 years after the disaster (Alex bought his beautiful story).

It was a difficult but needed moment.

After this terrible story, Japan seen to have lost a little of his memory as it is using most of his energy from nuclear and has got the second most catastrophic disaster (after Tchernobyl) with the Fukushima disaster in 2011 after the big tsunami… it is apparently still reopening other nuclear reactors without really looking for other cleaner solutions – surely because of the huge lobby of petrol and nuclear industries…

We then went to visit the different monuments for the victims and left right away to Miyajima island with a boat waiting for us next to the Peace memorial (I wouldn’t recommend to take this one as it is not part of the Japan rail pass and cost around 2500 yen, but it was fun and shorter to go to the island).

Arrived on the island, we were welcomed by cute dears and then went to eat oysters which is another famous speciality of the region.

We ate at the Yakigakino-hayashi restaurant and tasted four types of oysters – raw, cooked, grilled and fried. My favourite was still the raw one but it is worth trying all different types once!

We headed then towards the beautiful and famous Tori of Miyajima which feet are submerged by water depending on the low or hide tide and took various pictures of it.

The heat was such that we decided to rest a little at a Cafe that served delicious coffee.

When we left to go take the teleferic in order to go up the mountain at 5pm, it was already closed…

So we wandered a little in the forest and went back to Hiroshima by taking the ferry and train (free with the JR pass) after trying to snake a dear with us on the ferry (she was very interested by my ice cream…).

Back in Hiroshima, we right away went to a little restaurant (the Oyster Conclave) next to the river and next to our APA hotel (which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but it was nicely centred) – where we ate other delicious oysters again. A Japanese business man sat next to us at some point and I was really happy to chat with him (Alex first asked me not to bother him too much) but then after the first uncomfortable contact for him little unused to talk with other people like that, he went super chatty and offered us some other oyster tempura which he said were the best of the restaurant. He gave us his business card – which is a very common and appreciated ritual in Japan – and later I sent him a nice email thanking him again for our discussion allowing us to understand a little more about Japanese culture and cuisine.

After a little onsen at the hotel, we went to sleep and woke up for a day of travel towards Hakuba to meet Alex’s friend – Simon and Geraldine.

Day 13:

After waking up and taking a nice breakfast at Star* cafe (I have to admit I feel a little guilty for enjoying going there, but I haven’t been able to get used to the salty breakfast yet), we took the Shinkansen and 4 other buses and trains towards Hakuba (next to the Japanese Alpes) where we arrived about 7 hours later.

With Google maps, there isn’t any easier way to travel as it does all your itinerary in about 5 seconds…

Arrived in Hakuba, Alex’s friends Simon and Geraldine were waiting for us with their van.

We headed directly to an Yzakaya (meaning literally a tavern) where you can drink and accompany those with lots of tapas.

It was fun to get to know each other this way. Simon ordered a Russian roulette which consists in five balls of fish or meat in which only one is stuffed with lots of wasabi or hot sauce. Well Simon got the hot ball which made everyone laugh a lot and made him have a somehow disturbed night! ūüėõ

We got back then to Kodama lodge which is a beautiful place where Simon and Geraldine receive guests mostly during winter as just behind their lodge, there is one of the best powder (snow) you can think of on earth… The forest behind their lodge is called the Paradise Forest. We saw a few videos of ski and snowboeard and I understood why it is called it this way.

Their lodge is a beautiful place with a mix of traditional Japanese style (rooms with tatamis and futons) and European style. The space is fabulous and I can imagine how people must enjoy the after ski time in the beautiful and spacious dining and chilling rooms.

So Alex and I had a Japanese traditional room which made us very happy! We spent a very good night and woke up the following day with a delicious breakfast to get strength before the big 6 hours hike we were about to climb in the mountains a few kilometres away from the lodge.

It was the strangest walk in the mountains I’ve ever done. Japanese Alpes are just as beautiful as the Swiss mountains, but as there’s a lot of vegetation, there isn’t as much paths to climb (there was actually one only to arrive to the Karamatsudake mount which was our destination).

So here is how it went. We parked the car and walked to the teleferic where we would take 3 of them to arrive to the start of the treak. The station looked like a Swiss village. However the teleferic were a little different from what we knew in Siwtzerland as our legs were brushing past the vegetation under our feet (which meant we didn’t go high at all – which was explained by our friend Geraldine to be because of Japanese fear of height…). Very funny and interesting experience.

After having arrived at the top, we could see a line of people heading towards the top of the mountains all lining up in a very organised way.

They were all covered from top to bottom, not showing up one once of skin fearing the burns of the sun or just the darkening of the skin. It was as if we were in another world, with ourselves wearing small shirts and t-shirts (they must have as well thought that we were a little crazy)…

We walked a lot, first to a beautiful lake reflecting the mountains (about 45 min walk) and then to the the top (about 2h30).

There was a cabin at the top which could host about 1000 people. I wouldn’t want to sleep there although I know Japanese people are very respectful and clean…

We enjoyed the view and had a bite before going back down.

Walking back to the bottom, it was much less crowded and we met a few Japanese people among which 2 ladies that didn’t bear other people talking. It was very funny to see this lady’s behaviour getting crazy while trying to avoid us (when we really weren’t loud at all – at least not more than the other Japanese walking up…).

Back in Kodama, Geraldine and Simon had prepared a beautiful BBQ with all kind of things to grill and the most delicious rice salad we ever had (we learnt the rice was theirs and was cultivated a few kilometres away).

We then realised that we were the 4th of August and that this year the 4-5-6 were shooting starts nights. We saw plenty of them!

The following day (14th), we woke up a little later and after taking a nice breakfast, we headed towards the rice fields from which came the delicious rice during the BBQ.

We then went to a machine which separated the rice cover or skin from the rice itself to gather it in a bag. Super interesting process!!!

We then walked walked a few meters toward the river where we spent the following hour bathing and enjoying the fresh temperature of the river.

We then went to a beautiful lake in a National protected parc where we ate a ball made of rice paste filled with pumpkin.

We then left for a bath in a natural onsen, but it was unfortunately full of huge stinging flies as they were looking for some humidity (there had been a draught for a few days). As soon as we finished bathing we left in order not to get stung too much.

We went back to the lodge and I got a Japanese style massage while Alex went for a little run.

Alex and I then prepared delicious pasta with tomato sauce with salad on the side. We spent again a really good time together !

Day 15: after waking up by the sound of cow bells (yes there are cows there too) we woke up for our last morning with our friends enjoying the last conversations, feeling lots of emotions and most of all feeling very grateful of the privileged time spent together. Two Swiss couples barely knowing each other 3 days before and being able to share such amazing time and moments… Thank you guys for everything! Those 3 days will surely be one of the highlights of our trip.

After saying bye to our friends at Hakuba station, we took the bus to head towards Tokyo where we would spend our two last nights in Japan in the quarter of Akasaka at the Felice Hotel (nice and comfortable in a nice area).

We first went for some shopping as all museums and monuments were about to close and gathered our time in Shinjuku. I brought Alex in a maid cafe which is a place where girls are dressed with tiny skirts and are serving guys in a very kawai (cute – and sexy here) way… weird but funny. Mostly weird to watch the man in charge of the cafe at one of the corners…

Shopping wasn’t that satisfying in the end… lots of stuff… too much stuff… the highest level of consumerism that I’ve ever seen… Alex a d I got sick of it and went back in our place where we found the best sushi restaurant where I tried delicious sea urchin for the first time.

Day 16:

We woke up early to go visit the National museum where we could get a better idea of Japan history and culture. Beautiful museum.

We headed then towards the quarter of Asakusa as Alex wanted to buy a professional knife and this is the place to buy such items.

The very interesting thing was this guy calculating with this ancient calculator…

A few streets away we fell on Asakusa market which we felt very grateful to see as it was full of nice food and beautiful stuff.

We ate a delicious meal there in a peaceful restaurant with nice classical music and headed towards the museum of Emerging science and Innovation. I really wanted to get a feel of famous Japanese technology discovering android robots that gave you a kind of creepy feeling…

In General, we got the feeling that Japanese people are aware of climate change and how our single planet is starting to not be enough for all of us. Rather that focusing on making people feel responsible for how their behaviour affect the planet, they focus on what technology can be discovered and developed to counteract the problem… this is also what we felt during the trip not only in the museum even more with all the plastic bags used on tremendous amount for absolutely no reason (packing grosseres with 3-4 plastic bags).

I’d love discussing this aspect with Japanese people although it wasn’t very easy…

We went then for some food and manga shopping before trying to enter to the Miro museum which is an art and technological museum but got refused. You must take your ticket online in advance to be sure to enter the museum which we didn’t know… the whole place where we found ourselves next to both museums was a kind of artificial island with lots of references to Paris, NY and Rome (Tokyo tower seen from there that looks like the Eiffel tower, the statue of Liberty, malls where take streets and fountains were created in the Italian style). There was also a car exhibition we fell on with interesting shapes.

We got back to our hotel and had a Corean diner with meat which wasn’t so yummy…

Last day: we headed towards a big library where Alex found other good manga. We didn’t have much time to visit other places so we decided to go back our hotel and eat a last Japanese meal – sashimi on rice bowls. I realised that the best fish we had eaten was at the fish market in Tokyo (see one of the first images of Japan part 1).

We took the train after having bought a few sake bottles and headed back to the airport where our plane decided to leave a little earlier to avoid de typhoon heading right over us… It was beautiful to see it from above when we finally passed it with the plane.

We felt very grateful to have had the privilege to discover such a beautiful country so far away… Japanese people have usually no more that a week vacation and one or two nearly choked up when learning we were taking three weeks …

A big thank you to my partner in crime Alex which made this trip unforgettable ‚̧! Merci Mon amour!

To other beautiful trips and times together!

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Japan – Part 2 (Kyoto to Naoshima)

28.07 – 08.08.18

We left the beautiful Mount Fuji region with its five surrounding beautiful lakes taking a direct bus to Tokyo (about 2h30) where we slept a bit. Arrived at the Tokyo station, we took the Shinkansen train (like the TGV, going to a speed up to 270-300 km per hour) with its long thin nose like a kingfisher slitting the air at a very fast speed (a type of biomimicry which is science imitating nature). This took us 2h45 to go from Tokyo to Kyoto (450 km) where we would spend our 3 following nights.

Before entering the train, we bought two bento (a Japanese meal set in a box) to eat in the train. Very fun!

When we arrived in Kyoto at 4pm the weather was good and we decided after having put our stuff into our hotel (the Mitsui Garden Hotel next to the Gion quarter) to go for a little visit at the Nishiki market.

We didn’t know where to look as there was so much stuff to discover and try!!!

All types of different sweets, seafood on chopsticks, macha ice creams, etc… very exhilarating!

We went for a walk then in the Gion quarter where Geisha (which are not prostitutes as western people often think) and maiko (Geisha apprentices) live and make shows. It is about 300 dollars to watch such shows and it’s offer businessmen or tourists that go see those shows. It was enough for us to see the show in a French documentary (Echappee belle) as we want to spear our money for other stuff.

We then wandered in the Maruyama park visiting lots of temples before the sunset as well as beautiful little streets.

We went back to Gion and ate at a sushi train restaurant (Shojiro Shijo restaurant) There was a big line but it was worth the wait!

Then onsen at the hotel and went for a sleep. However at 3h30 am we heard a big alarm with a robotic female voice that was warning people on the street about the typhoon with winds going up to 180 km/h. It woke us up and freaked me out a lot as I usually have recurrent dreams about tornadoes chasing me and avoiding me at the last minute.

This artificial woman voice scared me a lot and made me feel like I was in another nightmare…

The following day, (eighth day – and it seemed like 2 weeks already), we didn’t really see any sign of typhoon. Actually, it turned a little seeker fortunately and downgraded to a tropical storm… fortunately for Japan who had experienced a deadly typhoon 2 weeks before and a heat wave just after that killed lots of people…

So we woke up at 9:30 am to go visit the beautiful Nijo castle and got a little rain on the way. But after having taken a little breakfast, it was again sunny and we were able to visit the castle while taking pictures peacefully.

We ate a few sushis in a supermarket that were quite good and left for the imperial palace 20 minutes away. It ended up to be more like 45 minutes away and the visit was nothing extraordinary besides the beautiful gardens.

We then took 2 trains to go to Fushimi Inari Taisha which is a Shinto shrine from 700 AD made of hundreds of traditional red gates going up to the Inari summit.

A little touristic but it was worth the visit as we both found it really beautiful and mesmerizing to go through those gates.

We unfortunately didn’t have the time to go up the mountain (I would recommend 2 hours to do so), because we had an appointment for a tea ceremony at 5:50pm sharp (Japanese punctuality is very strict).

The ceremony was happening in the Gion quarter. We had made the reservation in the morning but I would recommend to do it the day before to be sure to get a seat (email: info@teaceremonyen.com – 2500 yen per person – 22CHF).

We were the first people to arrive which was a really good thing as we were considered this way the main guests which had the privilege to be served the tea made by the hostess, while the 8 other people were only watching.

The ceremony was beautiful, very calm and meditative. First, a man explained us all the utensils use and then an adorable woman showed us the tea ceremony. We were all very quiet looking at this beautiful moment. She then made Alex taste the tea which he also gave to me and then she started to talk to us and explain us a little more about it. We then were able to make our own tea (macha tea which are leaves that are grinded to make a green powder).

Very fun and interesting experience which allowed us to interact with Japanese people a little – as they often talk a very scarce English.

We then walked a little in Gion quarter, and to our surprise next to the Gion corner (where you can see shows with Geishas) we saw one geisha walk quickly into a restaurant. It is super rare to see them as they often rush either in a car or a restaurant but never walk on the street. Alex and I were super excited !

We went then to eat at an excellent restaurant we fell on (Gion Kappa restaurant) with grilled food which was excellent ! The lady in front of us impressed us a lot as she was very perfectionist and meticulous in addition to be the only woman working there. She also put a stick into alive fish which felt quiet weird to see… not possible to have fresher fish than that… We had a very nice Australian couple next to us which entertained us very much too.

Ninth day:

We woke up early to eat at the hotel buffet which was made of only salty food (hard for Me, but Alex love it).

We left then to Arashiyama bamboo Grove which is one hour east of Kyoto.

The town is quite touristic but cute. However the bamboo Grove much too crowded…

After having bought some nice macha tea, we went to visit the golden temple or the Kinkakuji temple. Really crowded too, but worth seeing it just to shot a picture or two.

We then met a couple of French people we had met the day before to go to Kyoto station to go to Nara see the deers (so excited by that!!!).

We ate a few sushis at the station and took the Nara line for an hour before arriving to our destination.

Having arrived there, we walked 30 minutes until we saw our first deers!!! There are all free to walk everywhere on the streets where car drive and are considered sacred (they used to kill people in 1600 if they would hurt or kill them…).

After taking a few pictures with them and laughing at the tourists giving food to the deers and getting chased by them, we went into the Todai-ji temple with its massive Buddha inside!!! Had we arrived 30 seconds later, we would have missed it…

We went back then to Kyoto after that Alex won a little stuffed dog at a game machine (first shot) and ate a few dumplings before going to sleep.

Tenth day:

We woke up a little later and after a little breakfast we left for Osaka. It was a little mistake from our part to go there as there wasn’t anything really to discover in one hour and a half (besides maybe it’s castle that we missed). Bad choices happen to in a trip and after 1h30 of wandering in the heat between the buildings, we left to the island of Naoshima which cannot be reached at any time as the last ferry is around 6pm.

We arrived on the island at around 6pm and after leaving our suitcases in the hotel, Alex went for a run and I went with a bicycle to discover the island. By chance, Alex and I met at the same time while we fell on a huge pumpkin which is the piece of art of this island.

Originally, Naoshima had nothing in particular. But since Yayoi Kusama an artist decorated this island with her pieces of art, the island became quiet famous.

Later, we took our bikes and went back to the shore where the pumpkin was. Next to it was a very good gastronomic restaurant (l’√©toile de la mer) and as there wasn’t a lot of choices in the region nothing else actually) we decided treat ourself a little and enjoyed the delicious dished displayed in the menu. Great moment !

The following day (day 11), we took our bike again to visit the Bennette museum with other nice pieces of art.

We crossed then the island to visit other pieces of art and discover the area. The beaches were nice but there are apparently lots of telly fish in Japan so one needs a to be careful (I actually saw one while walking on the beach).

We then took the ferry back to the land and headed toward Hiroshima where we would spend 2 nights and visit its museums as well as the island of Miyajima.

Japon – Part 1 (Tokyo – Mount Fuji)

22/07 – 08/08/18

What better cultural shift to go immerse yourself into Japanese culture…

Here we are for a three weeks visit of Japan, full of excitement like two little children.

After a three hours stop to Abu Dhabi and 15 hours of flight, we finally arrived to Narita airport where we got our Japan rail pass that we had ordered in Switzerland a month before and a SIM card with unlimited internet. We were set!

After 1h30 train trip, we arrived in Tokyo (Shinjuku stop) and took the E metro to the APA Hotel and Resort.

We were exhausted but mostly starving. We went to the first Japanese restaurant a few meters away and ate our first Japanese dishes! Delicious!

Second day:

After having slept 11 hours and woken up at 11am, we left for Shibuya beautiful and fancy food market to have our first salty breakfast. Everything was a new discovery. We could have spent hours in there observing all the food without having a clue of what the ingredients were… you need to take your chance and try so better not to have any allergies or other restrictions :P.

I had first a good banana juice followed by a form of salmon sushi bowl with a raw egg and rice pasta with shrimps on the side. Delicious but hard to swallow salty food for breakfast…

We then headed to Shibuya famous crossing street after taking a picture of the Achiko dog statue who waited for his master at the train station every day even after his master died (watch the beautiful movie Achiko with Hugh Grant).

Shibuya street is impressive to watch as people cross the street after having waited for the cars parade to stop. It is mostly impressive to watch from the Starbucks above the street.

We then wandered the shopping streets and stopped into a photo booth to take kawaii pictures (cute in Japanese which is a concept in itself with Hello Kitty etc.).

We fell on a Uniqlo shop (which we got introduced to by a good friend in NYC) and got crazy in it (I actually did, Alex was more reasonable :P).

We then headed to the Meiji Jingu temple but got lost in the garden and just missed it as it was closing.

We decided then to wander in the Harajuku quarter with its beautiful and cute streets while drinking a bubble tea (drink with tapioca balls).

But just before we fell on a cat bar which was one of the most interesting experience we had! You pay 200 yen (1.50 CHF) every 10 minutes and 350 for tea and then you can let as much cats as you wish. You have some cats dressed in Kimono and others that are short legged, all different and cute. But they all don’t really care about you… the funny part was when they got their food at 7:30 pm, all aligned in a very disciplined way.

We left Harajuku quarter for Kabukicho (Shinjuku quarter) where we fell on a super cute street with lots of minuscule restaurants making fish and meat BBQ. We ate very good food and drank nice bear and sake.

We then wandered a little in the street of golden gai before finally going back to our hotel where we had our first onsen (hot bath where you spend time – naked – before showering yourself). Japanese people are very clean so you clean yourself each time before entering the bath otherwise people would tell you to do so.

Third day, we put our alarm at 7:30am even if we had gone to sleep at 3:30am…

We left for the fish market (Tsukiji Market) and had our breakfast there eating rice, fresh sashimi and sushi… a little weird actually for me to have this kind of breakfast even if it was very fresh and good!

Here is a lady making fresh tuna rolls with the head of the tuna she uses for her rolls below her.

Fruit seem very precious and rare… They are very expensive and are each packed in individual plastic boxe…

After having seen the inside of the fish market open to tourist from 11am to 12pm we then headed to Ginza quarter which is described as the Champ Elysee of Tokyo.

We entered a building full of electronic brands and new technological stuff such as this car and this cute little dog robot:

We then went to the floor above and after 1 hour, we left with a brand new Sony alpha 6000 camera for myself!!!

The ladies were very nice and offered me the cover to put all my new material! I was so happy and started to use it directly!

After all those emotions we were very hungry and went to eat a delicious tempura meal next door (first picture seen here taken with my camera !).

We then took the train and went to the beautiful Ueno garden which is where I actually started to really fall in love with my camera…

After all those beautiful emotions put into picture (I’m still so excited about this new mean of expression), we were again quiet hungry and went for our first Kobe beef diner (called wagyu in Japanese) which was beyond our expectations!!!

We then went back to our hotel, had another onsen and fell asleep till 9:30 (we had put our alarm at 7:45 but were unable to wake up)…

Fourth day:

We left for Kamakura, an hour away from Tokyo to visit our first temples after having put our suitcases in baggage lockers at the train station.

The first temple – Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gŇę – was beautiful but very crowded and I didn’t feel comfortable although I enjoyed taking a few nice pictures.

We went up to visit a much quieter and smaller temple – Ennoji temple – which was a mix between Buddhist and Taoist religions.

The third temple – Kenchoji – was an amazing surprise. I had never seen such a beauty! Built about 1000 years ago, the temples were all made in wood and were surrounded by trees that were about 750 years old…. unbelievable… one could feel the deepness and the beautiful energy full of awe that was existing there.

We wanted to see the Big Buddha – Kotoku-In – but it was already closed…

We are learning that to see such religious or spiritual edifices we need to go a little earlier as those are often closed early (5-6pm).

We then left to see the sea a few minutes away, nothing spectacular with the weather we had and left to Hakone after 1h30 of train and bus (thank you Google maps for the amazingly precise itinerary that made us catch all the connections with amazing perfection – thanks to the Japanese too who are as accurate as Swiss people…).

Our first Ryokan is very cute and has a small onsen (hot bath) that is like a private one as not a lot of people seem to be staying here. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese room with futons and a table nothing more really. Our bathroom is outside and it is common to take the bath together with other same sexe people at the onsen (all naked – bathing suit prohibited).

Very interesting experience and Alex and I are getting used to wearing kimonos and are starting to really like it !

Fifth day:

We went to visit Hakone shrine next to a beautiful lake where you can see mount Fuji when the weather is cloudless (which wasn’t the case this day). We enjoyed however the view and taking a few pictures.

We then went to a very nice cafe with lots of charm (box cafe) to read a little and ate at an Italian restaurant 20 meters away which was to our grand surprise quiet good after having tried the pizza and pasta!

The waiter who was from Maldives saw that I had a peach (a huge one – and first fruit I had bought in Japan) that I had put outside of my bag on the table. He asked me whether he could look at my peach as there were dots made by the sun which meant that it was a good quality of peach. He said had worked for years in the fruit industry in Japan and could answer all my questions regarding the curious world of fruit here. Why are they all perfect and so expensive at the same time? He said that they don’t want to sell imperfect fruit because they would have to lower the salaries. The other imperfect fruit are either throwed away or used for other stuff like juices or cut in small pieces to be put in plastic bags. He said that kids don’t know how to cut fruits anymore as they always buy them cut in plastic bags… very strange to me who’s a fruit lover…

We then left to the Tanzen baths (onsen) with beautiful natural sources and spent the rest of the afternoon there. Women and men always separated and naked. There is no shame of showing one’s naked body which I like a lot about Japanese culture.

We went to Hakone then to visit a bit and eat at a Japanese restaurant where a TV screen showed a sumo fight. Interesting but too loud while eating.

Sixth day:

We woke up at 7am to take 4 buses to arrive to lake Kawaguchiko which is one of the 5 lakes where you can see the beautiful mount Fuji. It took us 3-4 hours after having missed the connection of our 2nd bus when it usually takes no more than 1h30 by car…

However, when we arrived to our second Ryokan next to the lake, we were very delighted to discover our beautiful surroundings and to realize our room had it’s view on Mount Fuji!!!

The people of the hotel were adorable and told us we could use their bikes for free. To our big surprise, there was no locker on the bikes meaning that we could leave them without any worry. Japanese people trust other people a lot and it is very rare to hear any story about stealing anything. Everything’s seems very safe and it’s very nice while travelling.

After having left our suitcases in our room, we went by bike to eat at a delicious Japanese restaurant. On our way we could admire the beautiful Mount Fuji.

Having finished our lunch we took back our bike and left for a gorgeous bike tour around the lake, which to me was one of the highlights of the trip. We took lots of beautiful pictures, spent time at a beautiful cafe in a garden with beautiful jazz music and the view on mount Fuji which showed us for the first time its tip. We could also imagine the even greater beauty of this place with all the cherry trees around in blossom.

We continued our tour to stop at a few other view spots and fell on a cute little coffee shop with a man grinding its coffee with a small engine while listening to beautiful classical music. Very enchanting place and we were glad to exchange a a few words with this man who spoke English quiet well.

It seems that Japanese people love jazz and Classical music. After reading on Wikipedia, I learnt that it is in the second half of the 19th century that they started to incorporate western music such as Classical music into their own culture which became inherent to it.

After coming back to our hotel, we put our jogging clothes and went for a run in the other direction of the lake. The sun was setting down and we could admire beautiful colours as well as the Mount Fuji which was completely clear this time.

Back to our hotel, we took a bath and shower in the onsen and went to an Italian restaurant which we discovered during our run. It was held by a Japanese man who liked jazz music (which attracted me to this place) and who made delicious Italian food (we took spaghetthi alla vongole). It was too expensive for what it was but we spent a wonderful time with this man who was ready to welcome us even at 10pm (we came at 9pm).

He taught us a lot about Japanese culture, how they are very altruistic, caring a lot for others and knowing that this philosophy will bring them good in return. The opposite of Chinese culture he said who is rather more selfish… well I need to discover that some other time by myself but it is true that Japanese behaviour is irreprochable while it cannot be said the same for Chinese tourrists…

What was also impressive is that Japanese people only have 2 weeks of vacations during the year (like people in the states) and are very hard workers. This man lives 1h30 away from his restaurant and is used stay to sleep at this restaurant while his wife is also staying alone at their home…

After having said goodbye to our private chef and his cute little dog we went back to our ryokan for another short night sleep as we had to travel 6 hours to Kyoto the following day by bus and train while praying that the expected Typhon would not fall too hard on us…

Next episode in the following post…

Prague

Here we go for a 4 days weekend with my mum in Prague from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th of February.

Here is our beautiful room in the 5 stars Occidental Prague Wilson hotel.

After settling a bit, we went for a good lunch at Como restaurant just a few meters away from our hotel situated on the Vaclavské street (similar to the Champ Elysés in Paris).

We got surprised at the common use of marihuana in all kind of sweets in all little stores.

And went for a tour in the old town visiting the beautiful and diverse architectures from different times.

Here I am eating a chimney cake 

The astronomical clock was in reparation, but here it is in chocolate!

A few puppets.

Charles Bridge

 

A few birds…

John Lennon’s wall

At 7pm we went for Don Giovanni Opera in the Estates Theatre. I had booked the two last tickets early in the morning while being in the train for Geneva Airport and when the lady asked us for our tickets, she told us that our site were the ones where Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were sitting 5 years ago to listen to the same opera…

The Opera was spectacular! Beautiful and funny at the same time. We felt really lucky to have found those two last sits!

Second day:

After a very restful night, we went to the Jewish quarter to visit the 5 synagogues and the old Jewish cemetery.

Maisel synagogue:

Jewish cemetery

Klaus synagogue 

Pinkas synagogue with on the wall written all the names  of the Czech victims during world war two.

After having visited those 3 synagogues and the Jewish cemetery, we went for lunch not far away and fell on La Veranda, very good restaurant with healthy organic products from the South with a really nice decor and atmosphere. 

I took the sea bass and my mum the mushroom risotto.

We then visited the Spanish synagogue where they often give opera such as the Bolero from Ravel.

After having visited a last synagogue (the new-old synagogue), we left for Charles Bridge to take a small boat bringing us on the Vltava (the Prague river) and on little canals. We got interesting information on the monuments surrounding the river as well as on the Charles Bridge. For example, there was a flood in 2002 that rose the water level of 7 meters higher than usual… There also used to be a Statue of Stallin that they exploded after the new governor decided that it was not appropriate anymore to have him as a monument…

After the cruise we met a pink pigeon (???)

We then went to visit the Prague castle on the hill surrounding the town.

We fell on the golden lane, very cute street in the middle of the castle area with very cute houses made of different colours and multiple craft art shops. 

While being overwhelmed by tourists, we decided to enter a very small puppet shop held by an adorable lady. I always wanted to know more about those puppets that we often see in Prague and she explained us about it more, introducing us to the most famous puppets loved by children and adults.

She was the first person that genuinely explained us something that she seemed to really be passionate about. We were very delighted to have met her.

After having left the castle and joined the swans near the river, we left to go see the dancing building.

We ended the visits by going to the Jewish Friday night office at the old-new synagogue. We were quite lucky to attend it as after jumping in a bus (without having the time to take a ticket…) we arrived there 10 minutes later to receive some (usual) interrogations by the security guard to finally attend the 5 or 10 last minute of service… right on time. 

It was beautiful to see the synagogue alive this way not just from a tourist perspective.

We finally went to eat at a good Italian restaurant “the Gamberorosso” with no special atmosphere, but very good pasta and pizza.

Third day: 

We went to the concentration camp of Terezin, 45 minutes away from Prague by bus taking the busline company.

We arrived and fell on the cemetery where jews and political prisoners from the Czech republic were buried after having been tortured and killed in the small fortress of Terezin (the concentration camp).

We wanted to go visit the Jewish ghetto but because there only was one bus every two hours, we left back to Prague. We however had a very profound experience which we will be difficult to forget.

We arrived to the main station and fell on the last synagogue we had not seen yet, the Jerusalem synagogue with its beautiful colours.

After having tasted a dish at Zdenek bar (fancy seafood restaurant that was not amazing) we went for another Trdelnik (chimney bread) to go to an exhibition of Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.

We then went for another tour in the old town before finishing the night at the Yami sushi restaurant. It was freezing cold outside (-6 without he wind effect) and arrived at the restaurant, they sat us outside even though we had  reservation ūüėā…

The sushi were good but maybe a little too big…

Australia 

From Monday December 19th to January 13th, my sweetheart Alex and I are traveling through Eastern Australia.

This morning, I landed at the airport of Melbourne and waited 2 hours for Alex to arrive. We headed then to the Botanic garden which was our first encounter with Australia fauna and flora.

We headed to the neighbourhood of Fotzer were we ate some tapas and had nice discussions with Melbourne people.

Tomorrow is the start of the great ocean road trip!!!

First day, we took our wicked camper van and drove to Torquay the start of the great ocean road. We had a walk there and a drink next to the sea and went to Bells Beach were lots of surfers go to surf.

Alex was very excited about it; the flies even more as you can see behind his jacket (Australian flies are really nothing annoying compared to Swiss ones):

Our first night in a nearby camping was fun although not the most comfortable. Here is a little picture of our first camper diner with our red van behind:

The following day, we went to the same surfer spot and Alex went for a 2 hours surf after having hired some gear. It was fun seeing him surf for the first time and shooting a few pictures of him with his camera.

After having lunched at a very good and healthy burger restaurant, we left for the Torquay info center to get more details abour the region. It happens to be a very rich place with lots of walking trails, waterfalls, animals including lots of birds to see. There is also a surf museum that we decided to go visit at the end of our great ocean road trip.

We then went for some bathing suit shopping and left to Anglesea for a little walk next to a beautiful lake behind the beach.

The wind is this region is so strong that it is just preferable sometimes to avoid walking next to the sea, but rather a little more inside the lands.

We then left to find our next camping spot in Lorne and found cacato√®s and an other cute animal with spines (like a porcupine but with a long cute nose) Crossing the road… I had never seen cacato√®s freely into nature. We saw them again in our camping spot with lots of other beautiful and colourful birds.

The following day, we left to visit the Erskine Falls. Amazing first time into the Australian forest with its beautiful high eucalyptus and firn trees (pictures by Alex with his recently discovered ghost effect).

We went then for another walk a little longer to watch another cascade but ended up taking the wrong way. It wasn’t a problem as this walk was also very beautiful. Just before entering it though, we saw lots of beautiful birds and as I wanted to go pee in the bush, I saw a black snake that left right away… good reminder that it is Australia and not New Zealand anymore! and that it is better to go to a real bathroom if you ever need to pee…

Another beautiful ghost effect picture by Alex:

We left then to Kennett river to watch the wild koalas that enjoy eating eucalyptus leaves above a beautiful camping with lots and lots of beautiful birds!! It was definitely one of our highlights in our great ocean road trip. Here are two beautiful koala pictures done with Alex’s new acquired zoom:

This camping was twice the price of other camping places so we took the road to find another one that was much more reasonable and with a beautiful view on the river with also lots of good looking birds and cows.

The next day, we went to Cape Otway Lighthouse at one of the tip of the South Australian coast, reminding me of the lighthouse seen at the tip of the New Zealand North coast!

It was worth the visit. However, we were a bit disappointed about the Aboriginal Hut which was guided by an Australian guy who did not seem to know much… I hope to fall on a more authentic aboriginal place and to be able to know more about this precious culture…

We then left to walk a last time in another beautiful forest with huge fallen trees and interesting moss on trees, were glow worms can be seen at night (which we didn’t see).

Pic from my love:

The last stop was the most breathtaking and also most expected one for Alex (not for me as I had decided to let myself surprise and not learn too much about the sites we were about to discover).

This most famous site of the great ocean road is as you might have heard, the 12 apostles which apostles only exist 9 of them as the 3 others have been completely eroded and fallen into the sea.
I was surprised at how many tourists (not to talk about how many flies) were there. I soon understood why though when we got to the first most famous site.

The following stops on the coast were to my sense as breathtaking as the first one. I’ll let you judge by yourself. There are about a dozen stops with beautiful views of the apostles. However, we stopped at about 5 or 6 as we needed to go back to Melbourne the following morning. Those were nevertheless enough to fill our eyes and head of marvellous memories.

Here is Alex making friends again with the countless flies:

As we left the great ocean road, our van was running out of gas. We had seen a few gas stations on Google map, but the two next on the road were closed… Plus I needed to go to the bathroom badly. Three boys were playing next to the second closed gas station and asked us whether we needed a hand. They told us were the next gas station was as well as the closest bathroom without problem. Those three boys were adorable and we felt very grateful to have met them on our way.

After finally having found gas, we settled ourselves in a camping up a hill that surrounded beautiful lakes. We had diner in front of a peaceful field with other cows watching us.

“Petits pois aux oeufs” dish – second chapter:

We then left early the following morning to drop off our wicked camper van in Melbourne closing at 12 pm as it was already December 24th (Australian celebrate Christmas the night of the 25th though).

We had some sushi in Melbourne and got back to our Airbnb to take a shower and go celebrate Chrismaka  (Christmas and the first day of Hanouka) in the delicious restaurant Cumulus Inc recommended by Lonely planet. On the way to the city, we missed the stop and had to wait and hour to take the train back to were we wanted. Fortunately enough, we arrived without knowing 4 minutes before the restaurant closed the orders! We also went out of the metro station falling on a beautiful sunset!

At the Cumulus Inc, we took the surprise menu and were not disappointed at all about it! Quite on the contrary!!! Here is what the menu looked liked:

Absolutely delicious from start to end!

We then left for a few drinks – hugos and Mojitos with funny barmen – along the Yarra river having a really good time. We still had to put an end to it as our flight the following morning to the Whitsundays islands was at 8:45 am.

We did not sleep much and we’re quite tired when we arrived on the Hamilton Islands. But when we got out of the plane, we were on another planet, another paradise on earth…

We visited the island taking the free buses available and went for an amazing swim on the turquoise water beach of the Hamilton Island were rays and turtles can be observed while snorkeling.

One of the only restautants available on the island was a Christmas buffet of 120.- dollars which seemed quite good but not in the budget we had planned for an average lunch. So we went for a fish and chips which was great too and left at 5pm by boat to Airlie beach.

Here are two pictures of two Italian tourists which “followed us” from the airport to Airlie beach and who had quiet interesting haircut we thought.

Airlie beach would be our home based for the 4 next nights including  a 2 days cruise in the Whitsundays islands.

We are currently staying at Bush Village Resort which is a nice and quite place. I consider us very lucky to have found this place quite last minute as everything is completely booked at this period of the year…

Tomorrow is chill day. In other words: doing NOTHING! Cannot wait haha!

We are however so grateful for having the luxury to visit such heavenly places! Thank you!!!

Our chilling day was fabulous. We went to town to check in for our cruise of the following day and had a big shrimp snack in front of the turquoise colored sea. I also took a few pictures of flowers that were stunning I thought.

We then took the bus to the supermarket next to our hotel (the bush village cabin) and made ourselves a huge late brunch at 3pm. Delicious spinach and mushrooms scramble eggs with a spinach, tomato and cucumber salad. We then relaxed on the hammocks of the swimming pool, reading and looking at the beautiful parrots, eagle and other birds flying around.

We left then for a beautiful run along the beach and were surprised at how early the sun sets in here compared to the south of Australia. It was good to eat well, do some exercice, yoga and meditation after such an intense week of travelling.

Coming back for our run we made ourselves another delicious meal with huge shrimps as well as smaller ones with a sauté of zucchini and eggplant.

We were not really hungry to be honest but the shrimps let themselves eat very easily. We fell asleep rather quickly as we were pretty tired from this day of “doing nothing” to get plenty of energy before our 2 days cruise starting at 8am.

In the morning, we ate a good breakfast made of porridge, banana, grains and other dry fruit while admiring a couple of adorable colibris that were making their nest on the hanging wire in front of our room. we decided to enjoy the moment fully rather than go take the camera and alter this magic moment.

We then left our suitcases at the reception and arrived on time to meet our group for the 2 following days. Fortunately, the cruise we had reserved was composed of people more or less our age, including lots of couples. This to say that it was not a crowd of teenagers who only wanted to party and drink, which was a huge relief (when we were in the process of booking the cruise, the only one I had found available was a cruise called “Spank me”… thanks to Alex who searched a little more, we found this cruise which was exactly what we needed).

The Siska sailing boat was beautiful and made up of a team of three people, Jamie being the fun guy of the team constantly making jokes and being very interesting. We were 24 people in total and it was I think the right number to not feel too crowded.

We left then for the Hayman island (Blue Pearl Bay) to do some scuba diving in the coral reef which was our first accounter with this breathtaking under water world. Beautiful parrots fish, corals of yellow and orange colours, gorgeous big purple shells which looked like a huge mouth that would close up when you would come closer.

The only downsize was to realize that even after being very careful at not touching the coral or disturbing the marine life, an unvolontary movement of a fin would make you cut a piece of coral which could have taken many years to grow… I am sad to admit this happened to me (as well as to our guide I saw). As beautiful as it was, there were also large zones of dead corals that looked like a cemetery… Lot is being done to protect this stunning wonder of the oceans. But higher temperature due to global warming and the increase level of CO2 are unfortunately slowly destroying this beautiful place… (not to talk about many Chinese tourists who think they can freely walk on corals when wearing fins and damaging those as a consequence).

We then left to Hook island (in Cave Cone) to go snorkeling again. Not having fins this time, I again accidentally hit the coral which this time did not break but made a big rash on the top of my foot which is now slowly healing. It didn’t prevent me though from enjoying this beautiful place, letting curious colourful fish play around myself or watching a majestic see turtle swim calmly.

We headed then to Hook passage to put the anchor at the end to spend the night there. On the way, Alex and I laid in the two hammocks to read which with the high waves made it very difficult to stay stable. It became very funny at some point as the  hammocks were dangerously pushing us towards the sea. We had a huge laugh thinking about falling. The situation was just very funny.

We had a spaghetti diner which we had to eat inside as the rain was starting to pour quiet strongly. Even when there wasn’t any rain, trying to eat your salad with such a strong wind was useless as everything would fly away…

We had a double bed just below a window and were excited to have some fresh air as having 24 people sleeping inside a small sailing boat in not necessarily the most refreshing thing… However, the rain made it a little more difficult to open the window. This, adding the wonderful noise (not to say smell) of the bathroom next to our bed made our night a very interesting experience…

We were happy to have chosen a one night cruise and not a two nights one…

The following day, instead of leaving at 8am as Jamie had said, we left at 7am to avoid another huge cloud coming with rain… it was a really good move! we headed to one of the most beautiful heavenly spot on the planet which is called Whitehaven beach with 98,9 % of silicate, which means a white sand beach with turquoise water everywhere.

It was a very touristy place, but as we came pretty early, there were a bit less people on the site. We first stopped in  small beach to cross the island inside the forest which led to a viewpoint with a breathtaking view on the beautiful Whitehaven beach.

Inside the forest Alex spotted a huge black and yellow spider…

Arriving at the beach, two people from our group who were already in the water told us to come closer to watch beautiful little baby sharks that had been given birth in this calm water.

We stayed there 2,5 hours which was great to get the feel of the place. I forgot to say that to swim in the water of this area of the world, you need to put a wetsuit in order to protect yourself from jellyfish. Those wetsuits also protect you from sunburns.

We were very lucky to have come earlier as 2 hours later, rain started to pour and tourists to leave. We gad taken stunning pictures of this place and left with great memories of it.

We then returned to our beautiful Siska boat which can be seen behind in red,

where we ate our last meal with the group and headed towards Airlie beach. The way back to the beach ¬†was absolutely beautiful and gave lots of room for reflecting about this trip and other things. The sails were set and with the strong winds, the boat was bending very strongly which made us feel very excited and alive. I was also reading the book “Instincts” from Sarah Marquis talking about this Swiss woman walking kms in the desert of West Australia. It was exactly what I needed to read.

Back to town, we said bye to everyone and the amazing crew membres, and headed to our first hotel to take our suitcases, get a shot of Internet that we hadn’t had for 2 days and finally go to our airbnb which would be our last night in this heavily place.

The airbnb was hard to find for the taxi driver, but you can trust Google 100%. Having texted Ouzi our host, that we couldn’t find the place, his adorable daughter came to pick us up. The house, a very simple one enhanced by Ouzi himself was hidden behind a few trees. The place was very charming and it only took minutes to discover that my host and I came from the same background. He invited us for barbecue and invited other guests and friends. It was a lovely night together which was closed by lightning the 5th candle of Hanouka (first hanouka for Alex).

Ouzi made us feel like at home and we were sad to leave so quickly after knowing him and his family for such a short amount of time. It seemed we had known each other for so much longer. I hope to see them in Swizterland sometime…

Ouzi brought us to the airport the following morning with his daughter and the dog Bella. He didn’t want to accept anything in return, which enhanced our feeling of gratitude even more towards this beautiful person. On the way we saw our first kangourous with Alex which is for Ouzi and his daughter similar as seeing a streetcat…

We then left the Proserpine airport to fly to Brisbane which would be our stopover before taking a our next van towards the sunshine and golden coast. After having settled in our ¬†new airbnb we left for the south bank for Indian food at the Panjabi Palace. We then had a nice walk next to the river which led to a beautiful forest walk leading to an open swimming pool similar as one we had seen in Airlie Beach. In my book I am reading about baobabs and how its baby shoots can be dug out of the ground and eaten. I wanted to see those trees so badly but was aware that they only existed in Western Australia, Africa and Madagascar. I had talked Alex about my desire to see those trees and a few minutes later what wasn’t my surprise to see two beautiful baobabs ! I just had a few seconds to observe them as we had to run to take the last train to our place.

The following morning December 30th, we took our hippie camper van (which company I won’t recomend as they try to get any possible peny from you) to head towards the sunshine coast up North of Brisbane. We ended up in Noosa, very busy but nice little town where lots of Australian tourists come to enjoy the sea and the sun. We left our car further away in-between the bay and the sea inside the forest and went for a walk along the sea and downtown. There were nice treks to do in the Noosa national parks that we decided we would do the following day. In the meanwhile, we came back to our car next to which we did a wonderful bbq as in Australian parks (at least from the East coast) very simple ready to use bbqs are provided for people to cook their meal.

We then left to find a place to sleep and as we knew the camping spot were already quiet full, we left for a green area around Noosa. However, as soon as we tried to settle our stuff in the van, I fell on a white spider and we left RIGHT AWAY to find a camping. So we came back to Noosa and fortunately found a camping spot which was supposed to be full. We were very lucky. The sunshine knocked at our windows at 5:30 in the morning and we left ASAP for the same dining spot as the day before to have breakfast with pancakes in front of the bay. Beforehand though, we (maybe I) forgot to close the back door of the van and at the next roundabout we hear a huge noise with a huge honk and next thing we know we see in the mirror that my suitcase and some Alex’s stuff fell off the van. We put ourselves on the side of the road and when we come back, there’s an Australian guy standing next to our stuff on the sidewalk with a huge nice smile, wishing us a happy new year!!!

We were not expecting such reaction at all! Since the start of our trip Australian people were all so friendly!! From the Stuart in the airplane going to the Hamilton Island to the lady selling us shrimps at the supermarket or people at the information centers, Australian seem in general very happy!

We then went for a 3-4 hour trek in the Noosa national park, meeting a koala on the way and a beautiful beach spot where we were nearly the only ones enjoying.

Here is the difference of popularity with Noosa beach.

We came back through the woods which was a great way to discover the flora and fauna of the Sunshine coast region.

See below a goanna Рfamous also in the Disney movie Rescuers Down Under РBernard et Bianca au pays des kangourous in French:

We then left for a 4 star camping (the only camping with spots available in the region – we had however the privilege to have a private bathroom) to spend New Year’s Eve.

We made ourselves a delicious vegetable curry with rice and were too exhausted from the day to go see the fireworks at midnight so we went to bed early. We had the whole following day though wishing happy new year to friends and family members who had new year’s Eve at different times after the Australian East time.

We drove then to the Australian Zoo created by famous Steve Irwin who was an amazing crocodile hunter who died from a stingray attack. It was one of the most amazing zoo we had ever visited! We were able to pet kangaroos and koalas, to see so many other animals exclusive to Australia such as wombats, cassowaries, dingos, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, lots of beautiful birds and many others, as well as others from Asia and Africa.

A cassowary (an endangered species):

Black neck stork:

A cockatoo (cacatoès in French):

A nice little wombat who got his food stollen by the mischievous lizard below.

Here are some Asian animals starting with the lemurs:

A red panda:

The macaw:

A tortoise:

To finish with a few African animals:

 

We spent a wonderful day (one of the warmest – maybe 35 degrees) and ended it up in the swimming pool of our camping site 5 minutes away from the zoo (where we got the last spot!).

The following day, I woke up with my injured foot (from the corals) swollen and I had the feeling it was not going to stop. So we are a very quick breakfast and sped to the closest pharmacy. However, because it was December 2nd which is a national holiday in Australia, we had ¬†go to three different pharmacy before finding one open. They advised us to go see a doctor which I didn’t opposed myself to… (I normally avoid going to doctors as much as possible, but I didn’t have the choice this time as I had no clue how my body could react to a wound made by yellow corals…). To heal my wound I knew the best thing to apply would be honey. I wasn’t sure whether pharmacists would even know about it and was already discouraged from this thought… I was wishing people could advise me wisely taking information from both traditional and classic medicine. The pharmacist advised me lots of different healing creams and antiseptics. When I asked her whether she knew about honey having both those properties, she said of course and gave me a very powerful and known Australian honey called Manuka honey. I was quiet surprised that this product was actually at the counter and it showed on it that university studies had proven its efficiency. I couldn’t ask for better…

There was a hospital next to the pharmacy, so after buying some ice at the closest supermarket, we went to the emergency services, but we’re told the word be no less than 700.- AUD. They redirected us to a smaller medical center were I was able to get some antibiotics prescription. We were set and could finally continue our trip. We left for a camping inside of the lands (which was the only one with available space) and as soon as we arrived, just after having plugged the electricity to the van, a heavy rain started to pour. For information, this part of Australia is referred as as “draught zone”. Everyone was very surprised about this rain, but nature was I’m sure very happy about it. For myself, I had to gather lots of self control as we were stuck in a van with a swollen foot and a terrible need to urinate during the whole night. What gave me some courage though is to relate to Sarah Marquis in her book “Instincts” which talks about this Swiss woman walking alone in the Australian bush and facing unbelievable situations… Trust is the only way out… She helped me to ponder my situation in relation to hers when she had to take antibiotics after having a tremendous pain not knowing what it was in a pitiless desert full of crocodiles…

The following morning, we left for surfer paradise and had a little visit around the place. It was quiet touristy and too much of a town environment for without a great atmosphere.

So we left to Byron Bay which was much more welcoming and decided to stay there two nights.

As we just arrived, I was unable to walk so we drove to the lighthouse which gave a breathtaking view on the Pacific ocean as well as from the most Eastern point of Australia.

Lots of surfers could be seen from afar, which made Alex very excited as he was dying to surf again.

Our camping site for the two following nights was one of the best one we went to. Lots of birds and nature around us and people from our age (in the gold coast – compared to the sunshine coast where we were in Byron Bay, there is an older population or families with young kids).

In the first morning, we went for an hour walk in a handcraft market next to the beach which was very pleasant to visit. We then left to spend lunch and beginning of afternoon in the shade of the trees next to the swimming pool as my foot did not allow me to walk too far yet.

We then went to the Beach (the Pass) which is a breathtaking place where slow and super long waves are breaking. A good swim with saltwater was perfect to help heal my foot.

 

We had  then an amazing bbq with lots of delicious shrimps which made people from the camping quite jealous!

The following morning, we went for breakfast in another market, a food one this time which products were also very good and healthy. I had an amazing cereal fruit bowl with dragon fruit frozen juice and Alex a delicious burger.

We met a guy from the Ecole H√īteli√®re de Lausanne who had decided to begin¬†a new life in Byron Bay starting with his partner a business of delicious healthy vegetable wraps called¬†Mumma Raw¬†that I greatly recommend.

As we finished our breakfast and buying a few organic vegetables for our next meals (including a whole bucket of basilica to make pasta al pesto), it started to pour rain. So, we left to take our van and went in a nice little café in the centre of Byron Bay to plan the rest of our trip.

Through a few recommendations of Alex’s friends on where to find the best surf spots, we headed to Lenox head where Alex rented a surf and enjoyed¬†a few waves.

The waves were not at their best, but we still had a good time. We then left to Coffs Harbour, which was midway before a few other interesting surf spots. There were rabbits and ducks all around the camping which made it very attractive to children and to myself.

As soon as we had finished preparing diner (a nice tomato sauce pasta) we were immediately welcomed by rain which stayed until the following morning.

So instead of eating breakfast under the rain, we decided to go shelter in this lifesaving, very cozy café: The Artisti Café that we both greatly recommend. It was also a relief to be able to spend some time on the internet with a high quality wifi, updating my blog and reconnecting with the world.

We then left in the direction of Old bar, a good surf spot, but stopped at Manning point which is a few kms¬†away from it as it was already getting late and most camping sites close at around 5pm. It was an interesting camping as everybody knew each other and as soon as we arrived everybody came to us asking where we came¬†from and whether we wanted to share a few biers with them. We were not so much in the mood and staying sitted again as we had just arrived in a spot which was surrounded by a bay from one site and the see from the other. So we slipped away and left to the beach were we could later admire the beautiful sky full of stars. We made ourselves another amazing barbecue with lamb and vegetables. The following morning, the rain greeted us again… we made ourselves a delicious breakfast in the sheltered bbq area and left to Old bar.

Unfortunately, there were no interesting waves in Old bar. However, there was a beautiful National park that we went to visit and which was interesting to me especially. Indeed, I was craving to know more about the aboriginal culture from the beginning of our trip and had not found any aboriginal people to talk to yet. We soon realised that in this¬†Nature reserve was allocated a camping that was reserved to aboriginal people only. I found that strange as it felt a bit like a strange separation between aboriginal people and white people. However, I think, if I understood well, as aboriginal people were taken all their land by white people when they came in Australia, as soon as they were given it back in small bits, they made it private to them, as this was so precious to them. So in a sense, I think I can understand why they would like to have such exclusive camping places…

We left for a walk in the Khappinghat national park, also called Saltwater reserve, which was a beautiful walk under the trees. We got lost at some point thinking that the path was a loop, but it was not. We however found a nice goanna that always happen to make us laugh a lot (after having seen the Disney movie Rescuers Down Under).

Here is a grandfather fishing with his two little grandsons.

I was dying of talking to aboriginal people and before we left, I could not resist to have a chat with a father and his family who were about to enter their car in order to know a little more about the story of this camping. The father who was my age told me he had always spent summers in this place with all his family members as far as he could recall. That was all I could get. But just the interaction meant¬†a lot to me…

We then left to Forster (without eating lunch yet). There was nothing too interesting about this town. What was interesting though were the three beaches below Forster: Elizabeth beach, Boomerang beach and Blueys beach as well as Seal Rocks a little further. Alex fell in love with Boomerang beach. So we had to find a surf board… There was none in Boomerang beach and after asking a surf shop (with more surf clothes than surf boards), they told us we would certainly find one back in Forster (20km away). It was a little annoying considering we would have to drive¬†80 kms (2 returns) to get a surf board if we happened to find one in Forster. But we still went to Forster as we did not have any clue about where¬†to find a surf board elsewhere. Unfortunately, when we arrived there, all the surf shops had only surf clothes and no surf board to rent… Damnation… So I decided to use all my creative energy to find this board as I got the sense that our trip would not be as fun without it (I knew it was very important for Alex, and I did not want him to be disappointed about it). So I made an extensive search on Google maps finding all the shops or related places which had the keyword surf in it. Lots of them had nothing to do with surfboard, but we still tried calling them. We finally called¬†a guy who had no surf board to rent, but as we asked him whether he knew were we could find one, he gave us a phone number of a guy who lived in Boomerang beach and who could maybe help us… We called this guy and he told Alex he had a surf board to rent him, although it was a beginner one. It was not the time to become picky, we left right away and 20 kms later we were back where we were earlier and finally rented this surf board in a private house with this nice guy with two big handsome dogs (who helped me get some energy after petting them both).

So after having found the board, we left to find a camping site this time… We found one fortunately easily enough and not too far away from Boomerang beach. But as soon as I came out of the van, I collapsed…

We had a few sardine sandwiches to kill our terrible hunger (or should I say mine) and left right away to Boomerang beach to finally enjoy the beach!!! Here is Alex happy with his surfboard.

Myself just after having found this surf suit to have some private surf lessons with Alex. However, my foot did not allow me to spend too much time learning, but I would love to try it again next time.

Next to where I was sitting, there was a nice lady who was also looking at her boyfriend surfing. Soon after came from nowhere this adorable goat that had taken the woman in the back as her Mom and was following her everywhere. They were feeding it with a baby bottle which was the most adorable thing ever.

Back to our camping spot, Alex made us the most delicious house pesto pasta ever, which the fresh basilica bought in Byron Bay!

The following morning, we left to Seal rocks (with the surf board in case we would found other interesting waves and knowing how this was difficult to find one in the area). It was a beautiful spot with a lighthouse allowing an amazing view.

After having spent a some time taking pictures there and admiring the place, we left for lunch next to a lake where we ate a nice steak with some good salad and tomato from Byron Bay market.

We left then in the direction of Avoca and Copacabana beach, but stayed for our last night in Canton beach, as there were not a lot of camping sites available, which was however very friendly with lots of families. We made our laundry and cooked ourselves a delicious vegetable curry with coconut milk for our last night with our camper van.

We had unfortunately not time to visit Avoca and Copacabana beach as we had to return the car at 4pm and still had a lot to drive. So we left to Manli Beach where we headed directly into the Ocean to resource ourselves after having driven so many kms. We heated then the rest of our food and had a wonderful meal in from of the ocean before rushing to our camping van drop off in Sydney.

If you ever happen to chose a camping van, do not chose hippie camper. They are cheap, they try to get every penny out of you and they are very badly located (plus the vans are very old). So after having driven all day to finally arrive to the drop off spot, we still had 1,5 hour public transport to go to our airbnb in Balmain. When we arrived, we were however rewarded by finding this beautiful room with a beautiful view on Sydney waiting for us!

First thing was to take a shower, change ourselves and go into the beautiful Sydney! We first wondered next to the river in a touristic spot full of restaurants and then left further away to find a calmer place next to the river. Google maps suggested a well rated Japanese sushi restaurant, so we left there to have a good diner. However, the one we had found earlier had I admit to Alex much more charm and next time I’ll keep my phone just closed. Anyway, the sushis were really good apart from the fact that the people kindly made us understand we needed to leave as they were closing… We left into China town and had a bubble tea (bubbles made our of tapioca, which was a first for Alex) and made us very happy. ¬†As it started to rain, we left back to our beautiful airbnb room.

As we only had one full day in Sydney, we planned all the activities we wanted to do very tightly and efficiently so that we could see as much as possible.  I think we probably packed 3 days in 1.

So first thing first, we visited the Sydney tower to have a broader view of the geography of Sydney. We were the first ones so it was nice to not start with not too many people.

We then left to the Harbour of Sydney to take the ferry (which is the price of a public transport trip) and met just before to our great surprise aboriginal people displaying aboriginal arts on the street (music, paintings and crafts). I was so happy to meet this aboriginal old man who was playing music with one of his nephews. He shared with me that he came from the West and had had a lot of problems with alcohol. Thanks to AA, he was able to stop and never started again. Since then, he is working with his family making arts and crafts. I was so delighted to have such a precious interaction…

Here is Alex bargaining the price of half dozen of boomerangs.

We left then to take a¬†ferry which had Alex’s name, and witnessed the most beautiful view we could get on the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We then climbed the bridge and went back to town.

We then visited The Rocks suggested by lonely planet.

We headed then to visit a little bit the Botanic garden to leave then to the Museum of Sydney, passing by some people who were feeding some ibis birds.

The Spider exhibition was really great and we learnt a lot about it, such as the fact that you hardly ever die of a spider bite. The spider below from the exhibition advertisement was I think very similar to the one we had seen the day we tried wild camping (which was on my suitcase….).

The Aboriginal gallery helped us understand finally a little bit more about aboriginal history. For example, I learnt that Australia was the only country that has never signed any treaty with its native population. I learnt as well about the stolen generation which were the children that were stollen from their parents and were told to forget about their past and culture. This had a tremendous impact on the aboriginal people mental and physical health. There was a type of apartheid which was not called as such but which was very similar with aboriginal people not being allowed in white people areas. There was and still is a lot of fights for their rights. It is a very sad situation. In 2008, the government of Australia finally apologised about the stollen generation. There is still a lot of work to do though.

Here is how Australia was divided according to Aboriginal people tribes, before the White people invaded.

 

After the museum, we took a bus for a 40 min drive to Bondi Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches we had seen.

Here is the famous Bondi Iceberg Pool jetting into the Ocean.

We left for a walk to Tamarama just next to Bondi beach.

We then had a swim with the dogs and birds having fun all around. It was a lot of fun.

We finally went back (meeting another adorable sausage baby dog on the way), to head to the performance of The Season Рan aboriginal playwright Рat the Sydney Opera House at 7:30pm.

Just before, we ate some delicious sushis on the Opera stairs.

 

We did not understand everything of the jokes with the Aussie accent, but still enjoyed the play very much. Here is a picture of the Opera House by night.

So you would think that after such a busy day we would go straight to bed… Well, not really. We headed to the well rated and recommended by Lonely Planet restaurant, Ester, where we had our reservation at 9:45pm… We had a lovely time there and hit our bed at around 2am after missing the last bus (who never stopped) and driving home with a uber.

The following morning, we were up again quite early as we had to take the plane to Melbourne! We were very tired, but still very motivated to enjoy our last 2 days in Australia. In the plane, we met a very interesting and smart Australian lady who talked to us about the Australian history, government, Aboriginal people and so many more things. We needed this type of interaction.

As we arrived to our lovely airbnb in Melbourne, we first went to each lunch at Don don restaurant, which is the best Japanese place ever (a huge box or bowl for 9 AUD Р7 CHF).

We then headed to a park with black swans where we just took the time to rest… That was the only activity of the day.

At 6:30 we had made a reservation in a Thai restaurant to meet my friend Peter from my Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) program in Findhorn, Scotland. It was great to catch up together.

The following day, we had planned as well as very busy visit of Melbourne. However, less stressful than in Sydney as everything was pretty much in the same area.

We started to have some breakfast at the Victoria Market with its beautiful fruit stands and great coffee spot (see the waiter flirting with Alex and getting surprised by my camera haha).

We then went to visit the State library of Victoria which is a beautiful library,

and headed then to the Melbourne museum to visit the Aboriginal exhibition, which enhanced our knowledge even more about the Aboriginal people. There were exposed paintings of Aboriginal people who who were imprisoned. The purchase of their art is directly given to them.

We saw also an Imax movie Beautiful Planet which showed the life in and from a space shuttle. Beautiful movie that really impressed us a lot.

We left then for lunch and had some delicious dumplings in a Chinese restaurant in China town and went to find some more bubble tea!

We went then to visit the Fitzroy quarter with its graffiti art,

walked on one of the bridge crossing the Yarra river which had an interesting Immigration exhibition on it,

went for a drink and then for a Cruise on the Yarra river,

to finally come back to Federation Square, which is the most busy spot in Melbourne.

We went home to change ourselves and go to our last diner in Melbourne and Australia in the Japanese restaurant Ginza which made us an incredible and very funny show (if you have the chance to access the video on my instagram account Рas I have trouble downloading it here Рit is worth the look).

We then left this special night in this restaurant after¬†being the last one (again) to leave and after finally knowing by heart the only one song playing during the whole night….

Our flight to Geneva (with two stops in Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam) left at 4:45pm, so we still had time to go find some souvenirs in the shop Something Aussie, which is a great place where to find authentic (as well as less authentic РChinese) Aboriginal art.

Right after that, we left to the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) to watch the  18 min documentary Collision talking about an Aboriginal man who had witnessed an atomic bomb exploding in the desert next to where he was leaving. Bomb which was being blown up by English people to try their killing weapons in an apparently safe environment. The movie was in 360 degrees which was a premiere for both of us! Really cool and interesting experience!!!

We then left to our airbnb to take our suitcases, but stopped next to Don Don to eat a Pho – typical vietnamese soup in a Vietnamese restaurant.

The flight back home was not too hard on us, even though we did not sleep much. Being together made it much easier.

I am so grateful to have been able to do such an amazing trip in Australia (not to talk about New Zealand) and would like to thank Alex, my sweetheart and fantastic partner in crime for having made it be such a blast! To more breathtaking trips together!

Here we are back in the cold and ready for other great adventures together (starting by Switzerland!) ūüėČ

New Zealand 

I here come to New Zealand from the 6th to the 19th for Brad’s wedding my dear friend I met during my Contiki trip in Southern US in July 2009. I would then meet my sweetheart on the 19th in Melbourne for a month trip in Eastern Australia. 

As travel lovers, Brad and I had made the promise that whenever one would get married we would invite each other to our wedding! Promise held! Brad and Emma invited me this beginning of year and with lots of positive thinking, courage and trust, I finally made it to my friend’s beautiful country!!!

After 2 days of travel starting from Geneva – Amsterdam – Abu Dhabi – Melbourne to Auckland, Brad came to pick me up early in the morning of December 8th to go to his home in Matamata. I wasn’t that tired to my surprise…

I met Emma who I liked right away and after a little lunch we went with Brad for an excursion at Blue springs, a natural spot where very clear water flows down a stream.

We then headed back home where we had an amazing chunk of lamb (famous in New Zealand) and I headed right to bed at 7:30 pm as I was completely jetlacked with some 12 hours ahead of Switzerland… it was a fantastic first day!

Second day, I woke up with a beautiful sunrise at my window.

Brad finally showed me his huge chicken farm he had been working for many years! It was very exciting and I got the chance to go inside and see the chicken who were only 8 days old. 

We then headed back home a few hundred meters away and after taking a little suitcase for 2 days we left to meet Brad’s sister. I liked her right away and I had no idea she was going to show me some of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

We first went to see a beautiful cascade

to then drive for about 1,5 hours to the North East coast of New Zealand to visit a place called Cathedral Coves.

We first went to see the beach of Whangamata and headed then to Hot Water Beach were the tide was too high to dig into the sand and enjoy the hitted water. We had then mussels with green shells and had a little walk on the beach before heading to Cathedral Cove.

The pictures will talk by themselves.

I just spent 30 min of writing and nothing got uploaded… Huge frustration…

Well. back from the start…

After that beautiful day, we drove back to Tauranga were the wedding would be.

I got picked up by Emma’s brother in law and headed to their adorable family members in a beautiful airbnb in the hills were we had diner together. I was then brought to spend the night with Brad’s family. The following day, after a little bit of yoga and meditation , we headed for some “shopping” where I finally tasted New Zealand fruit and more especially New Zealand golden kiwis which are delicious!

We then headed to prepare ourselves for the wedding and arrived at the wedding place with lots of rain. Fortunately, the ceremony did not lose an inch of its charm and Emma’s aunt who directed the ceremony had the incredible talent to make us laugh and cry during the 20 minutes it lasted.

Emma and Brad were gorgeous and very moving.

We then headed to the diner place where we had a delicious meal (lactose free for me and my two table neighbours – with whom I got along especially well during the night).

There were then a series of funny and moving speeches from Brad’s and Emma’s bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members. I was very touched to hear my name as they named people who had come from far away for the wedding.

We then left back to the room were we danced our heart out for the rest of the night! 

Here are a few pictures that talk by themselves…

I had a blast and did not feel asleep at all after the two coffee glasses I had taken. the atmosphere was at its best and everybody danced and laughed (not to say drink :P) a lot…

The following day, I woke up quite fresh and after saying bye to Brad’s family, Brad and Emma picked me up to go have brunch in a beautiful place next to Tauranga were we took a few pictures on the beach.

It was a beautiful day. We then headed back home were I offered Brad and Emma’s wedding gifts, typical presents from Switzerland such as Swiss knives and chocolates and we started to plan our 3 following days where Brad and I would do a trek and Emma would join us the 3rd day for other fun activities.

Looking forward to it all!!!

 So this morning, we left at 9am to go to a Maori cultural site – Te Puia, in Rotorua (the native people of New Zealand – which was in a volcanic site with geysers and beautiful nature around. I saw what a kiwi bird was even though I felt a bit sorry for this poor animal to be left by himself in a dark room for tourists to see. 

The Maori culture show made me a little bit uncomfortable as it was nothing but unauthentic, but still it was interesting to get a idea of it.

We then headed to a beautiful other natural volcanic site – Waimangu volcanic valley (which high price really made me upset, as I think it is outrageous to commercialise nature as it is similar to make us pay for air or water… – which I am aware lots of places do). However I forgot about it quickly and we enjoyed a beautiful moment of breathtaking volcanic sites and birds (such as the black Swan on the last picture).

Last but not least, we finished the day in a local spa -the Waikite Valley – with thermal water surrounded by nature. It was a nice moment after all the activities we had done. We met two nice Israeli girls with whom I was able to practice my Hebrew and who had come to New Zealand to work and travel.

We now just packed our stuff to leave at 5h20 in the morning to trek the beautiful Tongariro Alpine Crossing of 19,4 km. (6-9 hours of trek). 

After waking up at 4:20am, we drove 1,5 hour to start our trek at around 7am. We were told that the temperature was up to minus 6 and that we needed very good clothing. Fortunately, I had some good gear but still missed good pants and gloves (we shared Brad’s gloves, one each :P). It was not the prefect preparation but we had enough of everything to keep us going for abour 9 hours as our last bus was at 4:30pm.

Tongariro, for those who know Iceland but have never been to New Zealand, is the Landmanalaugar of Iceland with similar gorgeous volcanic sites. The lunar landscapes as well as the beautiful sulphuric and silicate coloured lakes are just breathtaking. 

The sun was rising when we started our trek behind the Mount Ngauruhoe, the 2291 meter high volcano who erupted last time in 1977.

Lots of people from all over the world were walking as well. It first seemed to me as it seemed an easy trek given the population that was there (lots of Chinese unprepared people that were taking lots of photos)… Brad and I arrived at the Mount Ngauruhoe and had not decided yet whether we wanted to rise it. I was fine with just continuing but Brad was sure at 98% that he wanted to rise it as climbing a mountain was some kind of premiere for him. With such a high pourcentage I just couldn’t refuse.

So we rose this volcano which took us 3 hours in total. It was not easy to say the least, but the view at the top was very rewarding. 

Brad going down the volcano like nothing.


After finishing this hike, we were obviously exhausted but still had a little more than 4 hours of trek to go. So we continued our way rising and going down very windy and cold hills to finally arrive to Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake which were to me one of the most amazing things I have seen.

We left quickly as we were quite tight on time. We then walked down Tauranga for approximately 2,5 hours and the fascinating this about this descent was the changes in vegetation going from toundra like plants to more furnished low vegetation to finish in a jungle at the bottom were after speeding our pace we arrived only 15 min before our bus departure. 

I loved this trek and would recommend it to anyone (without necessarily Mount Ngauruhoe as it is a bit difficult and you get quickly short on time). 

Nine hours back to back in total… I’m happy to go seep now and am not looking forward for the sore muscles tomorrow even though it was totally worth it.

Here is a last beautiful picture of Tongariro and the Mount Ngauruhoe that was taken from the sky by a friend of a painter we met later in Taupo.

Tomorrow is my last full day with Brad and hopefully Emma and it’s gonna be again very rich and interesting in discoveries…

So after waking up and trying to do a little stretching to let go of the terrible sore muscles, we left for merino shopping (very famous wool in NZ). On the way walking to the shop, we found an art gallery with a very nice man Graham Moeller, whose paintings of New Zealand AND Switzerland were breathtaking (cf. the picture of Tongariro from his friend). He advised us to go to the Huka falls and then to the dam a few kilometres above that releases its water every 2 hours. 

We left on the spot for those two beautiful sites.

We then went to Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua which is another gorgeous volcanic area with breathtaking colours. 

Final activity of the day (we were a little worn out, but Brad was nice enough to still go on), we went to the redwoods tree walk (redwood trees are also called sequoia trees). We walked into this beautiful forest for half hour before finally coming back home and have a nice diner out with Emma. 

(Last Photo from Brad)

Tomorrow, I am departing for another adventure in the Bay of Islands for 4 days with Kiwi Experience bus.

Thank you so much Brad and Emma for such a wonderful stay at your place!!!

Love you both very much and looking forward to receiving you soon in Switzerland! ūüíĖ

This morning  (Thursday Dec 15th), we left at 4am with Emma to catch the Kiwi experience bus in Auckland at 7am… not to say how grateful I am towards Emma!

After 5 hours of bus that went quite quickly and a few bus stop including one at a beautiful cascade, we finally arrived at Prihia beach and the Bay of Islands.

I left for a 2 hours walk in the bush next to the bay which felt very relaxing. Lots of different birds and vegetation such as firn and tee trees. The  cascade  (another one) was also beautiful and relaxing as well.

I was very tired and sore from the Tongariro walk and was grateful to have two German women drive me back home…

My room: 8 beds and one bathroom…

Living the backpacker life for real ūüėā

On Friday, to my surprise after having slept super well and deeply, I left to the beach for a little yoga and meditation.

I then went to the pier to take the beautiful catamaran that would take us to the Bay of Islands. We were I believe only about 20 people and I cannot tell you my joy for having changed the first cruise I had taken (supra touristic – the cream of the bay I think it’s called), for this one (Carina). The crew was composed of three women that were really cool and positive.

After not even an hour of sailing, they stopped the catamaran and put the sails and then told us that there were dolphins just a few meters away.

Indeed a few seconds later we saw a dozen of dolphins jumping everywhere with one little baby next to its mom doing funny jumps and showing us his tail while jumping. It was absolutely breathtaking. I was amazed about how New Zealanders are so respectful of marine life (at list this crew). They obviously have guidelines to respect, but still the crew told us that they never pushed the dolphins to do anything, they always let them decide if they want to come and play or follow the boat. We can swim with them in the sea only if they want and do not have a baby to feed every 5 or 10 min.

Again 45 min of work unsaved…

A captive dolphin lives about 15 years while a wild one 70 years according to what they said. Some we saw had 40 years old… The crew said that if we had the opportunity to swim with them, it is up to the dolphins to come and join play with us. They never force them to do anything, which sounds quite respectful and do not follow them too long.

A while later, we arrived to an island to snorkel a little for some of us (including myself).

The water was 17 Celsius degrees which was freezing cold. I was happy though to see a few big fish, a starfish and and ray! After warming myself up, I walked up the hill to see a beautiful view over the bay of islands and our boat.

We then got back back on our boat and had a barbecue with fresh local beef sausage which was quiet good. 

All of a sudden, just after having finished lunch, we saw a shadow in the water. we thought it was other dolphins, but to our huge surprise those were not dolphins but … orcas! chasing the rey I had probably seen an hour ago… it was absolutely breathtaking!!! the crew was just excited as us if not more as orcas are seen only every 5 to 6 weeks! Beatrix one of the crew women who was a little younger than me was as excited as me.

We followed them a little (BTW those orcas are not dangerous) and there were 2 babies with them!!! this was another beautiful surprise…

We finally left to not make them feel harassed and had another 1 or 2 hours sailing back with our beautiful catamaran.

It was a marvelous day and I think the participants and the crew all felt equally blessed and lucky to have seen such beautiful wonder of nature!

I befriended with the girl from the crew Beatrix (from Singapore) who had been working for only 5 days and as I met her twice by surprise during the evening, we went for a drink together whose company felt really nice.

The following day – Saturday – we (some backpacker friends and myself) took the bus to Cape Reinga which is the North tip of New Zealand. Our bus driver was the most hyper person I’ve ever met in my life. He would talk in his headset microphone constantly to only say funny things, giving us also loads of interesting information. To get an idea of his craziness, he would stop the bus on the road, jump out of the car and congratulate a man who was going huge bubbles! To be honest even if it was a little dangerous, it was really hilarious…

We then went straight to the kauri trees which are huge giant trees that can live up to thousands of years.

We then headed to the lighthouse I’m Cape Reinga which is a sacred site to the Maori people and where the tasman see and the Pacific ocean meet.

Then we left for a a little sand surfing in the dunes which was really funny! A man of about 65 years old was also doing very well with the younger people. It was a very fun moment!

We then left to drive on the beach (which was pretty surprising) and went for pipis (shellfish) fishing in the sand. It was so abundant I was amazed at how many there were….

Lots of lamb on the road. Three lambs for 1 new zelander but most is exported. 

Here is my friend Mel who made me two beautiful braides.

I cooked the shellfish the following lunch which were actually really good and had some last time lying down on the beautiful Paihia beach.

I then came back to Auckland and spent the evening and night with Emma and Brad in a very pretty airbnb. We enjoyed our last dine together.

Next day Brad and Emma brought me to the  airport and I left for Melbourne to meet my love with whom I’m gonna spend 1 month travelling in the east coast!!!

Thanks a lot Brad and Emma for everything and hope to see you soon in Swizterland! ūüėô

Iceland

From August 27th to September 3rd, we travelled to Reykjavik.

Here is our Airbnb, very simple, but very close to town and with a very nice lady as a host.

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First culinary experience: puffin and whale… we should have looked a bit better before taking the menu as puffin is a protected species (whale as well internationally, but not protected in Iceland…).

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Next morning, we left for Landmanalaugar, very beautiful place with moonlike landscapes.

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We arrived after several hours of bus drive.

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