Dienstag, 26. Juli 2016

Top things to do in Queensland and other random stuff

So, in a couple of hours I`ll make my way to the airport to fly back home to Germany after a full-on month in Queensland.
To keep you going until my next post, here are some tips for your trip to Queensland.

1. Daintree Dreaming Tour (from Cairns and Port Arthur)
2. Visit Mount Tamborine  in the hinterland of  Gold Coast
3. Visit QAG - Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, with its lovely inside waterfeatures and garden

4. Take the free ferry City Hopper to experience Brisbane from the river.
5. Do some serious people watching over coffee/breakfast in one of the coffeeshops in the lobby of an office block in the CBD.
6. Find a Yoga studio and join a class.

Wonky Heidi does AirBnB

I only discovered AirBnB for me a year ago. And now, on my last night in Australia, looking back on  five AirBnB`s and five hosts, I`m ready to  draw up a summary.

I found it a mixed experience, actually only every other stay was great. What you have to consider is, that the hosts are normal people, not trained in hotel business, they might have bad days or you might just not get on. On the other hand, they get paid for having you as a guest so I really wish they would give their home a good clean before you arrive.

AirBnB is brilliant for city trips with a friend, when you don`t want to share a hotel room. With enough patience and luck you can find awesome apartments in the center of the city for the same price (or even less) as a hotel  and get a living room and kitchen as well.

Or if you are travelling on your own you can find a room in a Million $ apartment with a great host at a great location for the price of a dingy 2 star hotel.

So here`s how to do it:

1. Always read the reviews of former guests carefully.
2. Communicate with the host about musts/must-nots. In my case, pets are a no-go due to my allergies and I like to double-check.
3. Always get clear instructions on how to find the place and exchange phone numbers in advance.
4. Don`t expect too much. Not all hosts are charming and welcoming, some are just weird as f*** and in it for the money!
5. Not all great hosts know how to clean.
6. Write an honest review for the sake of the next guest.


Sonntag, 24. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidi in Surfers Paradise

Originally I had planned to go to Byron Bay but due to a festival it was booked out. Checking the map I decided I liked the sound of Coolangatta and its location not far from my next stop, Burleigh Heads.

Coolangatta turned out to be very boring but it suited me fine for my time wasting quest. I walked the beach, hunted for cafes and places to have dinner, went to the cinema and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

I`m not a big fan of zoos and animals in captivity but sanctary has a different ring to it. And to my surprise I got to see a Cassowary!

 I first learned about these nearly extinct animals in a tv documentary before I arrived in Australia and then on the Daintree Dreaming Tour. They are indispensable for the rainforest because they eat the fruits of the trees and distribute the seeds miles away to grow into new trees. I also loved the fruit.

I nearly got caught in a Kangaroo stampede. Quite scary!

So after two very quiet days in Coolangatta it was time for me to leave to check-out the delights of Currumbin Valley, Burleigh Heads, Surfers Paradise and Tambourine Mountain.
I was very lucky to have two lovely, personal tour guides, K and G, to show me around.

I especially enjoyed to see the hinterland with its trees and waterfalls. Tambourine Mountain is amazingly beautiful and the views are breathtaking!!

Freitag, 22. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidi wastes time

During the last three weeks I have been actively wasting time. I didn`t make plans for every single day of the trip on purpose. I desperately needed some time-out and was hoping to be inspired on-site.

So, I`ve been using the slowest possible form of transport: the ferry, retraced my steps again and again in Brisbane, because I liked the area.
I had countless cappucinos while contemplating stuff or spent time writing or sketching. I walked the beach for miles.

I went to the cinema three times to pass the time and enjoyed myself!

At first, I felt bad about this. Shouldn`t I be doing something worthwhile and amazing on this special trip??
But who can take four weeks of 24/7 awesomeness and adventures? I blame Facebook. We feel the pressure  to constantly experience great things.

But now I have come to the conclusion, that time spent with myself is always well spent and certainly not wasted!!!

Montag, 18. Juli 2016

Back in Brisbane

On Sunday I returned from Noosa to Brisbane, this time staying in a luxury appartment at Kangaroo Point, near the river.

 Not 5 minutes walk to the Dockside Pier, where the free City Hopper Ferry leaves. I can`t believe my luck. Free ferry rides every 30 minutes. Granted, it`s not the fastest mode of transport but it suits me just fine. And luckily I`m good with river ferries.

I take it in the mornings, during the day and in the evening, drinking in the twinkling city lights, the illuminated bridges and the marvellous skyline.

It makes me feel like NYC (not that I`ve ever been) without the crime.

Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidi in rainy Noosa

From Brisbane I took the Greyhound Bus to Noosa. To me Noosa is a quirky mix of posh Bavarian lake town Starnberg and cute sea side village St. Ives.

It has lot`s of designer shops and touristy surf shops. The trees flanking the High Street are wrapped with strings of fairy lights.

Two weeks into my trip I finally took my first Australian Yoga class and it was totally worth it. I felt so blissed out afterwards. But contrary to my big-mouth announcements I probably won`t take surfing lessons. I`m just too much of a chicken! I watch the surfers here and feel no inclination at all to join them.

I did walk along the National Park Coastal Path though.

It gives spectacular views of the coast and I encountered many adult men running along the path in wet-suits carrying surfboards in hot pursuit of the next big wave!

Sonntag, 10. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidi on Green Island

When I booked it, the Green Island Trip seemed like a good idea, a great compromise on the whole Great Barrier Reef dilemma. Because that`s what you do, when you come to Cairns, you go to see the GBR.
For me ist was just a waste of good dollars. I should have known as I`m neither a good sailor nor a beach person but there you go.

The tour package consisted of the 45 minute cruise to/from the island, snorkeling gear or a 25-minute Glass-bottom-boat trip and use of the islands miniscule pool.
I had chosen the boat trip not knowing that once I got of that bloody catamaran I wouldn`t be able to face another trip unless I had to (for like getting of that Island again).

So I made my way to the beach, hired a sun lounger and parasol and was instantly bored. I got out my maganzine and book only to realize that my waterbottle had leaked and probably destroyed my mobile (it is currently sitting in a tub of rice, deciding if it will come back to life). My camera seems to be fine and thankfully I had decided against bringing the iPad to the beach.

I spent about 3 hours on the beach, watching Chinese tourists struggling into wet full-body swim suits, gearing up for snorkeling and watching the waves.

Then I walked around the island in 25 leisurely minutes, decided against visiting Cassius, the largest crocodile in captivity, bought myself some ice cream and sat around waiting to board the vessel back.

The second catamaran was much smaller and the only free seat left was on deck. Lucky for me as it turned out. I didn`t feel half as sick as on the way over, even though the crossing was much choppier.
Must have been the fresh air.

Nevertheless I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be back on dry land. I felt stupid all day long for booking that trip, instead I should have made the most of it. As Susan Sarandon said: Embrace mistakes  - mistakes are where you learn everything!

PS: I only realized, that I sketched the guy in that picture while waiting to board the boat that morning.

Samstag, 9. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidi does Daintree Dreaming

Yesterday I was able to join the incredible Daintree Dreaming Day Tour. I was met by Bridget, the guide from Adventure North Australia, at 7:45 am and we made our way up north in a small bus.
I was the only pick-up from Cairns so I got my very own private introduction into the days itinerary.
We picked up 16 more guests on the way, of all ages and of several nationalities.

Palm Cove

Our first stop of the day was at the Mossman Gorge Center in the Daintree National Park, where we were welcomed with a traditional smoking ceremony. It was held by a member of the local Kuku Yalanji people and is used to cleanse and to ward off bad spirits. Together with the facepaint it was to protect us on our way through the land of the Kuku Yalanji.
I found the ceremony very moving and secretly hope that the effect will last much longer!

We then were guided through the rainforest by Bridget who told us lots about the flora and fauna and customs and traditions of the indigenous people.

My personal highlight was the swim in the Mossman Gorge river. I had seen so many photos of it on Instagram that I knew I couldn`t let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass, no matter how cold it was.
And it was very cold, yet kinda refreshing too. It wasn`t as serene as shown on Instagram but swimming in the ice-cold crystal clear water in the middle of the oldest rainforest of the world, was truly magical.

After lunch at the Café of the Mossman Gorge Center we went for a walk through a tidal lagoon to do some  crab hunting. Needless to say that I didn`t even set eyes on one of the beasties but I did spear some wicked leaves. We waded through mudflats for about two hours and luckily my fellow hunters were more successful as we had been promised a feast. We were invited to our hunter guides family home for a home cooked meal of crab and damper.

Afterwards Bridget delivered us safely home, tiered-out by long walks and sunshine, brimful with new experiences and memories! 

Dienstag, 5. Juli 2016

The big wonky down-under Adventure: Brisbane rocks

After 5 days in Brisbane, on my way to Cairns, I have to say, my expectations have been exceeded. Okay, so I didn´t expect much because not even the Australians seem to like it much.
It´s not as cool as Melbourne (think Berlin) or not as flash as Sydney (think London).
I only came here because the lovely Lady A lives here and it seemed a good base to explore Queensland from.
My first solo outing took me across the Kurilpa Bridge to the South Bank. Similar to Londons South Bank it´s a cultural hub of Art galleries and museums and of course a giant wheel.

I was enchanted by the stark architecture of the State Library and the amazing view  across the Brisbane CBD skyline on the other side of the river.

Amidst the wonders of modern architecture you find a surprising about of greenery. Palm trees flank glassy  office towers, huge native trees greet you outside art galleries and a kilometre-long walk-way gives shade with vibrant bougainvillea flowers.
Infront of a small plaza is a public, free man-made  swimmingpool with toilets, lockers and lifeguards. What an oasis but alas I wasn´t brave enough to give it a try. It´s winter after all.

Sonntag, 3. Juli 2016

Wonky Heidis Handy Hints for long-haul flights

So, I have arrived! After two days of travelling I arrived in Brisbane. Here come a few hints for fellow travellers:

1. Don`t skimp on tickets. If you spend that long in a flying tin can at least the food and service should be excellent.

2. Try to arrive in the  late afternoon or evening. Depending on the airport, the queues at immigration/passport control will be ok.

3. Get an electronic passport which allowes you to go through the automatic passport control. Saves soo much time!

4. Re-hydrate: Always ask for seconds when they hand out thimbles of drinks. Makes you feel better and you will have to get up for regular trips to the bathroom. Which will help prevent thrombosis.

5. Avoid caffein and alcohol at high altidude.

6. Nap whenever you can.

7. Never and I repeat never travel without earplugs!

8. Choose your seat asap according to your requirements. Mine is to be able to get up whenever I want to. Unfortunately you can`t take amazing pictures from the aisle seat.