A Travellerspoint blog

Homeward Bound

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IMG_2506.jpgIt was time to leave Croatia on the 6th July and we made our way to Zadar airport which has got to be the most quietest airport we have ever been to. There was only 4 flights leaving Zadar on this day and after arriving there 8 hours before our departure we obviously were able to get the best seats in the airport. The flight was thankfully on time although i wouldnt have expected anything less from Ryan Air as they like to boast about their time keeping. Our destination a couple of hours later was Charleroi Airport south of Brussels and we made our way to the nearest hotel. Then after a late night, trying to plan our next move, and a very early morning we decided to head for our final international stop at Juno And Chris's (Ali's mum and husband) in Normandy.
We could have easily made our way more slowly to Normandy and spent more time in Belguim and France but the lack of funds and the sad realisation that our trip was nearly over we took a train from Charlerloi and 4 changes later we reached central Paris and after a baguette and a coffee we purchased train tickets to Vire in Normandy. We had a sweaty and crushing time on the Paris metro system and of course having our backpacks on made things very awkward. We then needed to make a mad dash to our train platform which was typically the furthest away and with 2 minutes to spare we collasped into our seats. Four hours later and we were being welcomed at Vire train station by Juno & Chris and with a 30 minutes drive from there we arrived at our last destination, la Bazoge, Normandy. Their home is stunning, in a spectacular location, rural and very peaceful and we enjoyed our stay in France with them although being forced to paint the outside of the house was a little extreme!!
So July 16th had arrived and we were ready to make our way home by ferry to Portsmouth then onto home sweet home Liberty Hall Road, Addlestone.
Overall we loved our trip across South Africa, Australia, Thailand, India, Italy, Croatia, Belguim and France and it really was a trip of a lifetime, one that we doubt we will ever get chance to do again but one that has given us loads of memories to last a lifetime. We both ended up having different favourite places but agreed on the highlights of each individual country and I think that i have see enough coastline and seas to last me a lifetime and Ali says she never wants to see or touch a backpack again!
Thanks to everyone who has posted their comments on our blog and the rest who read our updates, hope they weren't too boring!!

Posted by alineal 11:51 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

The Croatian Coast

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IMG_2159.jpgInto the last 4 weeks of our 6 month trip and we cant believe we are nearing the end. The money we set aside for our trip is shrinking rapidly and we were wondering if it was going to last us. So now we are leaving Dubrovnik to make our way up the Croatian coast which we have decided to do because it is such a relaxed and beautiful place to be. On the 18th June we arrived in Podstrana, a little town about 10km south of Split. Nothing of any interest here, just a nice beach again and it also broke up our journey and gave us a chance to find some accomodation in Split. The weather was not our friend this time however, so we moved into Croatias most popular city Split on the 20th June. We stayed in private accomodation this time which meant we shared all the houses facilities with the owners apart from the bedroom obviously. This was a little strange for us because whenever you returned after being out all day it felt like you were intruding in someones house, but apart from having to put up with the families noisy kids it was generally very comfortable.
Split is very similar to Dubrovnik with its gated and walled city centres but with a less touristy feel about it. Outside the walled centre however the streets were filled with the usual street traders and pavement restaurants. 3 nights in Split and although we could have easily stayed longer we took a bus to Zadar on the 23st June.
The public transport in Croatia is all very good if not a little limited, it seemed bus/coach travel is the easiest and most economical way to get around. Trains are common in central and northern Croatia and ferries are a good option if you have the money and would like to hop up the Adriatic coast.
We stayed at one of the few YHA hostels in Croatia in an area around 7km north of Zadar and spent 3 days doing not alot again although an 8 hour boat trip and a visit to a salt lake did fill one day. The beach and the crystal clear seas nearby were a big pull for us as the heat and temperature were starting to rise again. We left the Zadar area and made a short hop to a town called Nin on the 26th June, famous supposedly for its beautiful beaches. We did not book accomodation and arrived hoping to be offered some when we got off the bus, of course nothing this time typically, so we walked to the nearest house that offered accomodation and blagged our way into a 3 double bedroomed apartment with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and balcony, all for less than a tenner each. We had played on the fact that we had been travelling for 5 months and had very little money left and found the elderly owners luckily were sympathetic to us, we just had to stand there and listen to their life history for the priviledge of their generous hospitality. No surprise then that we stayed 10 nights and became a home from home almost.

Posted by alineal 09:21 Archived in Croatia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Europe, but who knows where!

sunny 30 °C
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19062010195.jpgWe left for Rome on the 9th of June looking forward to the next leg of our trip and for our visit to Rome we picked up a couple of extras to accompany us. We were told on many occaisions that Rome was a fantastic city and after fighting the by now usual squabble of taxi drivers wanting to take us to our destination we made it to our accommodation and the patiently waiting owner Franco. We were reasonably close to the centre in a massive appartment block near the train termini with a conviently located ice cream factory directly opposite. There is plenty of transport to get you around Rome but the city is not so big that you can walk leisurely around the main sights. The buildings are definately the stand out feature in Rome, they are all so big although not ugly and the historical buildings such as the Coloseum and Vatican are fascinating because of their history. We blitzed the main attractions in 2 days but were unable to go into the Vatican due to the huge queue. It was a 3 hour queue in 30 degrees of heat and this time of year its the same every day. It was disappointing but we agreed it would have to be a trip for another time. So for our final two days we struggled to find something to do but then just strolling, eating and drinking seemed to fill the days adeqately.
We said goodbye to Sam and Hannah on the 14th and took the Eurostar to Bari where we then boarded the Azzuraline ferry to Dubrovnik. An overnight ferry that took 9 hours where we woke to the Croatian coastline bathed in sunshine and were even treated to a show from some dolphins as we neared our destination.
Croatia seemed comfortable from the start and although there were the obligatory touts waiting for us at the ferry terminal they were happy to accept our first answer of no thankyou to their offers of accommodation etc and were never pushy. Croatian people are friendly and were always happy to help when we looked unsure where to go. Guesthouse Mary on the Lapad Peninsula was our accommodation and although perched high on top of a hill the views were spectacular which the same could not be said of some of the sights on the beach as here is where we have seen the ultimate in male swimwear. Speedo's seem to be the thing to wear in Europe especially with the older man and quite often as i have been told by Ali not very flattering either. We do not have anything against those men who have confidence in their own ability!! but the bright pink speedo's this time was perhaps a step to far but hillarious for all those brave enough to stare. The beach itself although pebbled was nice and the whole area seemed unspoilt by tourism and would be interesting to see what happens here in years to come. The likes of Spain, Portugal etc will now be scrubbed of our sun and beach destinations in favour of more authentic Croatian style.
An evening trip around the Old Dubrovnik town on our final night ensured a return would be guarenteed.
P.s And for Bill and Linda this time no mention of money!

Posted by alineal 08:10 Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

India OMG!

sunny 40 °C
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431.jpgOur flight left Bangkok on time and headed to our first stop, on our way to New Delhi, in Calcutta.
Oh My God! India. Dont know where to start really, from start to finish i can only describe as a rollercoaster travelling at twice the speed it should do!
Calcutta airport was steaming hot at 42 degrees when we stepped off the plane at 7pm in the evening. We have flown so many times since we left England and covered so much distance without any sign of a delay, however we needed to get from Calcutta to New Dehli (just a 2 hour flight) but were delayed 2 hours in a smelly, dirty, sweaty airport. We arrived in New Dehli at around midnight to a cool 35 degrees and rushed to our hotel to find some air conditioning.
Our stay in India was only going to be a short one so our main objective was to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. We organised this the next day and headed to Agra on the 2nd June. What a journey and what an experience. Pick up was at 8am by a local driver and he skillfully picked his way through the New Dehli morning traffic which consisted of tired looking rickshaws, beaten up taxis, many dented cars, bicycles with square wheels, carts being pulled by cows and so much rubble from abandoned road works. It was also made harder and scarier by vehicles including lorries travelling directly towards you on the wrong side of the road. Anything goes in India it seems there is no such thing as the right of way, drivers make turns without looking, traffic lights are ignored, cars parked randomly, motorbikes pushing broken down cars and lorries with overloaded and bulging goods. We made it to Agra after 4 hours on the road amazingly in one piece and enjoyed a few hours at the Taj Mahal.
Once inside the gates of the Taj Mahal the tranquil atmosphere could not have been more different to what we had just experienced getting there. Time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the marbled mosque, however the heat of the day was extreme to say the least and at 45 degrees you could have fried an egg on my head. It was shoes off to make our way inside but the floor was so hot we found ourselves leaping to and from shaded areas to avoid burning our feet. Inside was cooler, surprisingly small but very ornate although generally bland in colour. We became a popular tourist attractions ourselves with the locals, who wanted to have photos taken with us as a momento of their trip.
The trip back was no less entertaining, it just took a couple of hours longer and with us both drained from absorbing the constant horn tooting that comes with a road trip in India were ready for a good nights rest.
3rd June was time to move on to our eagerly awaited overnight train experience from New Dehli to Mumbai which was due for departure at 4.30pm. After having to make our way across the New Dehli train tracks to reach our platform we stood patiently for a couple of hours waiting for our train to arrive. We had to endure constant leering and uncomfortable staring which we thought we might have got used to by now in India and on top of that the constant stench of poo lying on the tracks being warmed gently by the hot sun. The train left on time and we were in settled in with refreshments and snacks and later with a 4 course meal.
Not the best nights sleep was had and we pulled in to Mumbai station around 8am then haggled a taxi to get us to the airport for our flight to the UK. No delays again here and we were back in the UK and at the Ramada Hotel at Heathrow by 7pm.
We stayed at the Ramada for 5 nights where we enjoyed a full schedule, meeting with friends and family and catching up on gossip.

Posted by alineal 01:14 Archived in India Comments (3)

Time for a rest!

semi-overcast 35 °C
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354.jpgWe arrived back in Bangkok on the 24th May after another overnighter on the train from Chiang Mai. It took a long 16 hours to do the 800km, perhaps the driver stops the train whilst everyone is sleeping and gets a few hours kip for himself! The train never seems to get fully going, the stops are frequent at stations and there a lot of bridges with not enough track for 2 trains to pass. So in and out of Bangkok very quickly again, in fact a quick dash to another platform and we are on our way to Ban Krut south of Prachuap Khiri Khan. We had by now decided that our thailand stop was going to be a lazy one. We tried to get motivated on many occasions to spend days out but the heat and humidity forced us just to laze by the sea and a cool pool with drinks served at the wave of a hand. In fact for 4 days we had the run of the whole Na Na Chart Resort which was actually classed as a YHA but nothing like what we had been used to in Australia.
So with a 20 yard walk from our bungalow to the beach and pool with not another person in sight apart from a handful of staff, we baked under the sun.
We hired a scooter for the day for only 5 pound, where true to form I nearly had us both off on a sharp bend at night. I put it down to a poorly lit road with no markings, Ali of course blamed me entirely! We hadn't expected to visit another temple as we had seen so many but the one that was perched high on a hill, which we could clearly see from our beach, and was shining gold and red seemed to attractive to miss. We were not disappointed as it was probably the most unusually coloured and polished temple we had seen in Thailand.
So the usual weekend in flux of Thai's began on the evening of the 27th with a steady stream arriving until late Saturday afternoon. They certainly liven the place up, wading into the sea fully clothed, ordering and eating masses of food and singing karaoke til all hours and when they all left on Sunday morning our little piece of paradise was restored if only for a short time as we would leave by train for Bangkok for the final time on the 30th May. We slowly pulled into Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok on the morning of the 31st , had to put up with seats as there were no beds left which made for an uncomfortable night although at again only 5 pound each we couldn't really complain. Taxi straight to the airport for our flight to India.
Overall Thailand has been a much much more different adventure than South Africa or Oz. Such a friendly and helpful nation of people is such a big positive for this country, however for us let down so many times buy over the top pushy touts and the sellers who see you coming and immediately double the price. A great experience though.
Sorry no pics til we get home.
. .

Posted by alineal 23:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Avoiding trouble

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243.jpgWe decided to move on from Koh Samet after 5 of the laziest days just staring at clear blue seas and white sand, remembering that there was a whole lot more that Thailand had to offer. On the 13th May we made it to Rayong without the dramas and stress of the previous journey and then decided to break our journey back to Bangkok with a 3 night stay at the Rayong Beach Hotel where we managed to haggle a great deal on a double room with AC, en-suite bathroom, balcony and Tv. We haven't really ever haggled prices before but now it seems that is doesn't matter what it is or what it costs we just half it and see what price we get to from there! Its a bit of a pain when it takes 10 minutes to get a couple of quid off but it now seems to be about the challenge and is also a bit of fun. There was nothing at Rayong and the beach was covered in rubbish most of the time, not very pleasant, it was only that we got a bit of luxury for peanuts we stayed there. Caught the bus back to Bangkok Eastern Bus station on Sunday 16th and hopped straight into a taxi to get to the train station. We obviously were aware of the trouble in Bangkok and asked the taxi driver to give the area of the disturbances a wide berth. However, he hadn't seemed to understand our request and drove right past the burning and smoldering tyres and listening to gun shots cracking around the city. We obviously made it to Hua Lamphong train station and after a few hours of people watching we left Bangkok on the overnight train to Chiang Mai. After a reasonably comfortable 12 hour journey we arrived at Chiang Mai train station early on the 17th May to an ambush of taxi drivers all wanting our business. We felt famous for a moment as they all gathered around us wanting to take us to our destination while the Thai passengers had to wait patiently until we had negotiated a good price. Still so hot and sticky but gradually getting used to it, we arrived at the Chiang Mai Yha where the staff we so friendly and helpful they couldn't seem to do enough for you, perhaps they could smell our money! A visit to what was described to us as the best tourist attraction in Chiang Mai the next day. Not one of the many stunning and colourful Buddhist temples that are hidden in the old town but the Night Bazaar!!! A market that sprawls through roads and side streets with sellers that use many different tactics and offer special prices to make you part with your money. We did take in some of the temples, including the Wat Dio Suthep with its 300 steps, which were strikingly colourful but all to similar to us although undoubtedly more meaningful to Thai people. We also squeezed in a 2 day trek into the mountains to the north of Chiang Mai, taking in many waterfalls, scenery, a night at a tribal jungle village, an elephant ride and finally a bamboo rafting experience. Chiang Mai is a must for visitors to Thailand even more so with the trouble in Bangkok . There is always something to see and do even if you are constantly guarding against getting ripped off but then your not getting ripped off too much when you have converted back to pounds. 6 nights in Chiang Mai and we are off down south on the 23rd May for our final week in Thailand. Not sure where yet though!!!

Posted by alineal 18:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Thailand. Hot hot hot

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216.jpgWe got to Bangkok airport at 11.30pm on the 6th May but some French airline had parked in the Qantus flights spot, so we had to wait on the plane for half and hour until they sorted something. Unknown to us it was not such a bad thing with the air con full blast, because as soon as they opened the doors it hit us. Heat!!! Lots of it in fact, not just heat but humidity and it was unbearable. I dont think we wanted to get into an air conditioned hotel room so badly. Luckily it was only 10 mins from the airport and was reasonably tidy.
We had thought of only staying in Bangkok for a couple of nights so worked out our next stop. We had no plan and had not done much research so we based our decisions on what we had been told. We squeezed in a visit to the Grand Palace and the Sleeping Budha in the centre of Bangkok. Although the Palace and surroundings were spectacular it was far too hot and claustraphobic for us.
Next day, 8th May, was the most chaotic collection of journeys we have ever been on. We had decided to travel to a place called Ban Phe on the Eastern Gulf coast although we never actually ended up there. An easy 7am start to avoid some heat, although still 27degrees by then, by taxi to the eastern bus station. Hair raising journey that should have taken 1 hour but took 35 mins where the driver certainly used all of the road available to him. Everywhere you go seems to be infested with touts wanting your money and the bus station was no exception. We wanted a bus to Ban Phe but was told it was going to be an hours wait and would cost 146 tbt ( 3 pound). However we were advised to take a taxi to get there quicker and more comfortabler for 2500tbt (50 pound). It was a no brainer really and we eventually got our message across. However, and this is what the Thais seem to do very well, when we turned the offer of a taxi down and walked away the same man said we could get a bus in 5 mins to Rayong ( a town next to Ban Phe) and then a short taxi ride to Ban Phe. Total cost 5.50 pounds. Quite stressed by now but on our way. There did not seem to be much in Ban Phe when we arrived so looked into going to an island called Koh Samet. A simple half hour ferry ride was going to get us there although still no idea of where we was going to stay. It was that simple. There seemed like hundeds of boats, ferries, speed boats and even rowing boats. But which one should we take? At this time we are a bit dubious about asking someone so as not to get ripped off but there is not other way because virtually everthing is written in Thai. We eventually decided on a boat and a time and was told to wait until someone came to get us. We were not convinced that someone would and at the ferry departure time we headed off in search of it. We ended up at the end of the pier where no one seemed to know what our ticket was for. Then suddenly the woman who sold us our tickets showed up with someone else on scooters. We were in the wrong place and had to be driven by scooters with our backpacks on our backs to the ferry. A pleasent ferry ride, only really because there was a cool breeze and we arrived in Koh Samet. That brief pleasure turned into more stress when we saw a jungle of green taxis, or what we would call converted pick up trucks with two benches facing each other, parked at all angles and jostling for position. Who was going to take us to our accommodation, nobody seemed to know! After 10 mins we thought we heard someone say our accommodation name so we jumped on and took our chances. Still incredibly hot and with no sign of a tar mac road the 10 min journey was very rural. So after 7 hours of pure heat and stress we made it to our bungalow accommodation, and the high light of the day, it only cost 4 pound a night each. An amazing days travelling and all we could do was dump our bags and make the long 2 min walk to the beach and sea!! The thought of all that hassle travelling back off the island i think has kept us here for 5 days in total and the stress of having to relive the journey from hell again may mean you may not hear from us for a couple of weeks now.

Posted by alineal 05:43 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Road trip & Final Days

sunny 23 °C
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So our journey back down the east coast of oz from Cairns to Sydney lasted 6 days and consisted of the following:

Date: Weds 21st April,
Trip: Cairns to Ayr
Distance: 450Km
Highlights: Overnight at rest area and parked next to sprinkler heads woken by campervan being sprayed at 2.30am

Date: Thurs 22nd April,
Trip: Ayr to Raglan
Distance: 708Km
Highlight: Over night at BP station. First experience of showering at a petrol station.

Date: Fri 23rd April,
Trip: Raglan to Noosa Heads
Distance: 505km
Highlight: Found 5 cents in a garage forecourt! As good as its gets today , boring drive!

Date: Sat 24th April
Trip: Noosa Heads to Yamba
Distance: 440km
Highlight: Picking our way through Brisbane city centre just to avoid a $3 Toll Road.

Date Sun 25th April
Trip: Yamba to Wyong
Distance: 597km
Highlight: Seagull pooing in the camper van at Coffs Harbour.

Date Mon 26th April
Trip: Wyong to Sydney
Distance:118km
Highlight: That we only had 118km left to drive!

So now both sick of driving we arrived in Sydney looking forward to seeing the cities famous sights. Our accommodation at the YHA is the cheapest you would find in Sydney Harbour 15 pounds per person per night and was a bargain with unobstructed views, from the roof top terrace, of the bridge and the opera house.
We got straight down to business, dumped our bags and headed off for a tour around the stunning looking Sydney Opera House. We heard some very interesting background on how the opera house came together, the cost and the time it took to build.
Day 2 was an exhilarating ride on a jet boat around Sydney Harbour. We had done one of these in Bournemouth a few years ago but both agreed it was a slightly different experience because of where it was.
Day 3 was a free bus ride through the city to Paddy's market. The best location to stock up on mobile phone covers, Eminem T shirts, dodgy Diggery Doos and over 100 stalls specializing in mostly tack!!!! The afternoon we embarked on a one hour cruise around the many bays, beaches and islands that make up the outrageously good looking Sydney Harbour.
Day 4 April 29th. Back to Ali's uncle and aunties house for one night then the next day set off on the 4 hour scenic train ride to the Blue Mountains at Katoomba west of Sydney.
The town of Katoomba, perched on the edge of the Blue mountains was compact and very hippie, even more so then Bellingen was. Men in skirts, religious orders and groovy music filled Katoomba and Aboriginals playing their Diggery doos echoing round the mountains. We did a few of the many walks to view waterfalls and used the red double decker bus to hop on and off when we were tired of walking. The scenic cable way, sky-way and railway should have been spectacular but again the misty gray weather put paid to the views. That all filled our 3 days in the Blue Mountains and so glided our way back down to Sydney via the train on the 3rd May to finish our Oz trip at Cyril and Diana's hostel. There must be something about this hostel as it is one we keep returning to often!!!!
We had one final chance of a day out somewhere as well as getting prepared for Thailand so we decided to head to Manly which mainly has a reputation for its young and trendy backpacking scene and beach life. After soaking up the atmosphere and a visit to their version of Ocean World, we took the leisurely Manly ferry back across the Sydney Harbour. It was a good way to end our Oz experience with one final close up look at the Opera house and bridge. For us Sydney has to be one of our most favorite cities. It is an amazing experience and you could easily indulge yourself daily on its glitzy sights and active inner city suburbs, although it would take a lifetime to do this.
Our flight to Thailand is at 5pm on today the 6th May and with everything packed and ready we head off into the slightly unknown as far the current climate of unrest goes.Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

Posted by alineal 18:17 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

Brisbane onwards

rain 27 °C
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Brisbane by Day!

Brisbane by Day!

8th April arrived at Brisbane after a 2 hour coach delay where we were sat waiting at the coach stop in sweltering heat again. Left my phone on the coach so there was a big panic to track down but managed to get it back. Phew!!!
Did not see too much of Brisbane, just 2 nights here so not much to say this time.
Left Brisbane on sat 10th to head up the sunshine coast to Maroochadore with one main task in mind that was to get to Australia zoo as cheaply as possible. Everyone had raved about how good it is although most people believe that the aussies have gone a little overboard on the Steve Irwin memorial things, with streets, highways and many other tributes to him. Upgraded here to a double room which was a nice surprise although sharing this room with cockroaches, mossies and green fly was not what we were after. So the zoo was very good, in fact nothing like a typical zoo. Animals roam in semi natural habitats, many of which you can walk through. For example the grey and red roos that are so used to people now they accept food and dont mind being stroked and photoed with. Other high lights were the slightly cheesy crocoseum although just knowing all the crocs have been rescued seems to cloud over the cheese.
On to Airlie beach on Tuesday 13th April and the start of the great barrier reef for us. We travelled over night this time on the greyhound, just a little 17 hour trip. We wanted to try something different as well as saving a night accommodation. So arrived on Wednesday morning at our YHA hostel where another upgrade on our room was offered and gratefully accepted. A bit of a party town by all accounts but being the so called gateway to the Whitsunday islands we felt we could not miss this stop. We embarked on the mandatory cruise the next day on a sailing catamaran that took us to a snorkel sight then on to the famous Whitehaven beach with morning and afternoon tea and a good BBQ lunch. This packed day was 8am till 5pm, howeer the weather was a little unpredictable but did not dampen our enjoyment. Our final day at Airlie beach was a wash out so books, games, eating and drinking filled the day.
Saturday 17th and on to Magnetic Island. Just a 20 min ferry from Townsvile where we were dropped by the greyhound coach. Smart liottle island with just 16km of road and just one but service, but loads to do and see. However due to the weather again we only did the 'see' bit. There were scooters, mokes and horse back rides to get round the islands many bays, but the wet and windy weather made it pointless to spend the money on. Also a great area to snorkel the reef but again was thwarted by the weather. So had a frustrating 3 nights on Maggie island and left for a hopefully sunnier Cairns on 20th April.
Damn weather!!!!!!!!!!!! We thought Oz was supposed to be always sunny with drought problems everywhere, typically not the case now and the out look for the next week was not good either. So we got up on wednesday 21st and started to plan our trip back to Sydney.
That did not take too long!!!!! We took another relocation vehicle, this time a 4 berth camper van and headed back to Sydney straight away. It was too good a deal to miss and we did not want to hang around in Cairns waiting for the weather to improve plus there are still things we want to see and do in and around Sydney, so we set off on the 3000km+ road trip back to Sydney. Long long roads and many stops later we decided after 3 days we needed a shower, clean up and change of scenery so booked into a YHA at Noosa Heads for a little taste of luxury.

Posted by alineal 01:16 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Bellingen to Murwillumbah!

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Arrived in the interesting town of Bellingen on the 28th March. A town on the edge of the rain forest that has so many friendly people that seem to be so many years behind most places. We camped this time, however by the end of our 3 nights we had been bitten so many times by mosquittos and sucked by leaches that it was a little annoying as the site for this YHA was stunning. It poured with rain the first night so by the morning we and the tent were soaked through but was thankful the next day was warm and dry. The 7 pound Tescos tent we have found is great in the dry but does not like too much rain. Visited Dorrigo National Park with its rain forest and water falls which were stunning. It was originally going to cost us 20 pound each to do this tour but again we managed to sweet talk a nice lady from the information centre to drive us the 60km round trip. She was more then happy to help us and was a great guide for the day.
We moved to Ballina on the 2nd April, this time looking forward to our bunk beds which would not normally be a priority but a comfy mattress after camping is a real pleasure. Good facilities again and we are getting more adventurous with cooking curries and meals with veg and potatoes are becoming more common now. We were both amazed recently that we had resisted McDonalds, KFC and fast food joints so far on our trip to SA and OZ. It would be so easy as there are so many and the food is cheap although not very filling and healthy. A 10km bike ride (sore bums again) was the high light of a reasonably dull town. We rode to the Tea Tree Plantation which perhaps some of the more older readers of this blog might recognise the name. Basically oils taken from the Tea Tree plant are used for healing and medicinal purposes and are sold (expensively) world wide but more common in OZ so we splashed out on some tooth picks at 50p for a box of 100!! So continued on our ride around Ballinas rivers, lakes and coastal paths in a loop which was typically spectacular. Coul not leave Ballina on the day we wanted because the Greyhound coach was full due to the Easter holidays and has made travelling on a little difficult, however left Ballina on 6th April to go to Murwillumbah. Good luck trying to say this one!!!!!!!
Arrived at Murwillumbah YHA after seeing the hostel from across the river but unable to get to it without walking 200m the other way then a walk back for another 400m. Was not too bad but carrying 14kg of bag weight, a small ruck sack and a food bag in 28 degrees of heat was back breaking although give me a golf bag to carry all day then i would not proberbly moan!! Hostell seemed to be stuck in the past. Everything wooden with bright reds, greens and blue painting, all the pictures on the walls were all from the 80's and the most tatty looking plastic seating and deck chairs. However it was distinctly different to most places we have stayed with great views over the river. 2 nights in Murwillumbah and did not do anything more exciting than go to an art museam although the playing cards and the reading books are getting good use.

Posted by alineal 19:16 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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