I've mainly lived and worked in NZ and the UK but have had excursions to Utrecht, Madrid and Melbourne and plenty of shorter trips.
+01/11/2012Two months in Oz
Lived in Melbourne with my little sister and her boyfriend for a couple of months for a change
Had a free week as work was slow so checked out Istanbul, one city I've always wanted to visit because of the iconic views you always of the mosques and just the history of the place
+23/06/2011Midsummers in Finland
Long weekend in Finland in a mates summer cottage
Weekend with workmates to check out Budapest
Catch up with Mikolaj
Stayed in a little Lithgow while waiting for the race
V8s around Mt Panorama
+11/10/2004Brief look at Sydney
On the way back had a few hours to kill at the airport so took the train in to check out the city center and the Opera house
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Can't remember when this was but it was my first trip overseas on a family holiday and was great
Arrived late afternoon to a gloriously sunny day, it's amazing how much a difference that makes. Checked into my hostel where I'm staying in a cramped wee room around the block that at least gives me some peace and quite.
I headed down to the river where people were sitting in the sun on the grassy banks or being more energetic, runny and cycling in the setting sun. Very picturesque, quite and laid back enough to give me a very positive first impression.
Grabbed a bite to eat in a small square of restaurants near where I'm staying. Felt a bit touristy but a good place to people watch and read my book.
A late start then I joined a tour out to Auschwitz. It's an interesting trip, though the tour guide lays on so many depressing facts that you get a bit numb to it by the end. Still hard to imagine something so horrific, especially because of the scale which makes it hard to grasp. There are some displays, such as the room full of shawn women's hair that give you a glimpse of it though.
We spent two hours at Auschwitz 1, which was the original camp where the laborers were detained. This is where the main museum is, with the buildings that the prisoners were kept in full of displays about what the camps and the conditions and atrocities they were made to suffer through. This was followed by a one hour trip to Auschwitz 2 which was the largest of the three camps and were most of the victims were killed. The numbers are hard to picture with something like a million people being killed. This camp was essentially designed for that purpose, with the train stopping in the center, the prisoners being offloaded and sent straight to the gas chambers with only a few healthy laborers being diverted if there was need for more at the time.
It's a worthwhile place to visit and a healthy reminder of just how badly things can go if people just stand by and let things go too far.
We returned to Kraków in the early evening to a darkening sky and I found a restaurant near the hostel were I had a pork chop, potatoes and stewed cabbage that was delicious.
+20/6/2016Wieliczka Salt Mines
Wieliczka Salt Mines, Poland
I'd read a brochure about the salt mines so with nothing better to do, and a rainy day on the cards, jumped on the train to Wieliczka to visit the salt mines. As an individual Traveller they add you to a group for a scheduled tour. I was lucky enough that there was only one place left in the tour starting a minute after I got my ticket, so was able to jump the queue and not have to wait half an hour for the next slot.
It was a large group as well, the place seemed pretty popular. They give you a headset so you can hear the guide easily but down in the tunnels this cut out frequently as with 30 people in the group you constantly got out of range. It worked fine in the larger caverns which is were most of the information was imparted any way, so not too much of an issue. I tend to get bored with lectures any way so wasn't too bothered.
You start the trip by descending a large number of steps, going down something like 100 meters. You then proceed through what are fairly spacious tunnels though, being tall, I had to lean down quite a bit to not hit my head while walking. The tunnels were broken up by occasional displays about the salt mining and some larger caverns. The most impressive of these by far was the large cathedral with the salt chandeliers and church carvings. It's a huge chamber carved entirely out of the salt that makes up its walls.
The tour took about two hours and at its deepest point we were apparently 130 meters under ground. You don't have to climb out, indeed can't, as they have lifts to take you back to the surface. I imagine it would be much more fun if you were able to explore these caverns on your own but understand how that wouldn't be practical.
I returned early afternoon to Kraków to what was still unfortunately a bit of a rainy afternoon. The walk from the station to the main square was sunny though, and I was able to get a table under an umbrella easily enough before the rain arrived. I had a traditional Polish soup in rye bread, where the bread served as the actual soup bowl and that tasted delicious. This was followed by a “starter” that was the biggest plate plate of cold meats I've ever come across. I'd thought I was getting a light lunch, soup and a starter but boy was I wrong.
I took a rainy walk up to the castle but didn't feel inspired enough to go in to either it or the cathedral. The rain was getting oppressive at this point so I retired to a small pub for a beer during which time it cleared up. I headed back to the square for some photos, grabbing an ice-cream along the way, before deciding if seen enough and heading for the airport.