After arriving we found our way to hostel we booked in the city center. Since we wanted to go to the Sydney’s marathon the next day, which started early morning, we didn’t have time to stay at Veronika’s relatives in the suburbs. Since we arrived too early we left our backpacks at hostel and left to explore the city. We visited a market, where a lot of Asians were selling all kings of cheap stuff. We bought some souvenirs and gifts here, some were actually made in Australia and had certificate (if it wasn’t counterfeit).
For lunch we decided to visit famous Sydney’s fish market, which had really great reviews. The fish marked looked really good, there were tons of fresh food raw and cooked. Sadly everything was very expensive, in the end we decided to grab a 2 person’s plate with various sea fruits, which was about 50$. It was pretty disgusting, so I would say if you aren’t prepared to spend more than 200$ on lobster don’t go to the fish market.
After the lunch we walked around the city some more. I really liked the dead end streets with circular ending so you can turn your car around. We also saw some old building in the city center alongside high modern skyscrapers.
In the evening Veronika’s cousin brought us the rest of the suitcases that we have left at their place so we finally checked in at the hostel. After a short shower in the most disgusting bathroom I ever was in (the water was leaking from the ceiling) we were ready to explore the city a bit more. We took another hike through the Royal botanical gardens, from where there is a great view of the opera and Harbour bridge. We sat there and watched the sunset, together with around 50 tourists.
After the sunset we had to go back to our hotel to get some much needed sleep. Next morning we had to wake up really early to get to the marathon. Veronika had decided to participate, so we took metro under the bridge to the other side where the start was. There was great view of the opera from this side.
The rout went over the bridge and then around the city center. I walked over the bridge and took couple of more photos.
After the run we took couple more photos and then sadly had to head back to our hotel to prepare for our departure in a couple of hours.
Sadly we lost almost 2 days of exploring the city with flight cancellation, still we had about 4 days of exploring the city which was enough to get the first impression. It is a nice city to visit, from all the cities however I preferred Melbourne but most of all I loved our trip in the Queensland, there is so much to see and so much to do there compared to the rest of the country.
Sadly this was the end of our great trip to Australia. I definitely loved every day of it and would love to return. I’m a bit sorry I didn’t know about working holiday before (now I’m almost too old for it), it would be an interesting experience living in New Zealand or Australia for a year. Anyway at 3 PM we boarded our plane and left Australia. After gruelling 23 hours we touched down in Venice.
I have finished my work on Friday evening. It was very interesting and informative conference but very tiring at the same time. Next year Sweden, hopefully! 🙂
In the evening Veronika and I decided to go see a rugby game on an enormous stadium near our hotel. I have never been in a stadium that big, it can accept 55.000 people, but during our visit “only” 48.000 people were present. The game on the other hand was interesting, I guess it would be more fun if we actually new the rules. It seems like some kind of mix between football and baseball.
On Saturday we spent whole day on the Ocean Road and in the evening we had to prepare for our departure. I was pleasantly surprised by the city and it’s citizens. Everyone was incredibly nice to us, the city is relatively clean for it’s size and the architecture in the city center is nice. I still haven’t gotten used to the left side driving yet, but hopefully will soon, we are planning to rent a car later on our trip.
We left for the airport on Sunday 7 AM and arrived in Sydney at noon.
Veronika has some relatives living in Suburbs of Sydney so we are staying at theirs place. The city is enormouse, it took us over 3h to drive from the airport to their house, and we never left the city.
Yesterday we took an opportunity to explore the city, but more on this later as we are already at tge airport again, preparing to go to Cairns in the north for almost 17 days. This time we are traveling extremely light, only 2 backpacks 6kg each. Hopefully we wont freeze up there since we didn’t have space for warm cOpera and Opera and bridve
Friday was our last (full) day in Hong Kong. We woke up early (at around 9 AM :D), there was still thousands of things we wanted to see and do. When we arrived to the main island it was already around 11AM so we decided to go and try a Korean cuisine. We arrived to the restaurant just before lunch rush hour so we could actually get the seats without waiting.
Again in this restaurant we cooked our own food. I just love this concept, too bad we don’t have it in Slovenia! We were seated at the table with “hot stone” burner in the middle, got some vegetables to put on and then meat and seafood as we ate. The food was really really good (maybe because we made it? =) ). I especially liked the meats with good spices and side dishes.
After we ate we had another check box to tick from our TODO list; ride in a tram. While this looked interesting at first we soon regretted it. The tram was really narrow, almost half the width of a normal bus and as this is Hong Kong – full of people, we were packed in it as sardines. After short ride with the tram we transferred to a bus and drove about half an hour to the edge of the Hong Kong (country/region) to visit a nice sandy beach.
The beach was quite big, with yellow sand, it looked nice, though no-one was swimming. I’m not sure how clean the water is. There were also a lot of walking paths further down the coastline that ended at a small altar.
Soon after we returned back to the city, we had one big thing left to do. And when I say big I mean high. We wanted to go to a restaurant at the top of the tallest building in Hong Kong – 480m high with a restaurant in the highest – 118th floor. The restaurant at the top was really fancy and we stood out but the view was worth it. We were so high up you could barely see cars below yet alone people. And the buildings that looked super high before (30+ floors) looked like normal houses from up there.
The building also has an observatory on 100th floor, but it’s not worth visiting. You have to pay around 15€ for a ticket to go there, or you can just go to a restaurant in 118th floor, buy a drink for 15€ and have an even better view.
At 7PM we descended the tower and went to a restaurant, where we met with Jean and Leff. The restaurant was really full of people and it was an interesting design. It was more like a market (indoor) surrounded by different “food stands”, but the waiters brought food to your table. The food was again more traditional Hong Kong’s food.
This was our last night in Hong Kong. Later that night we returned back to our island to prepare for departure on Saturday evening, but before we left Hong Kong we had one last thing to do. Again all of us met; Veronika, Jean, Maggie, Leff, Allen and I, for one last meal. We went with traditional Hong Kong theme again, with lots of steamed dumplings which are so good.
After the lunch the rain started to pour – the first time while we were visiting. We said goodbye to Leff and Allend and went to the airport, where we said or goodbyes too Jean and Maggie who were traveling to Korea.
But before we left we just had to have another scare. Our flight was delayed for about 2 hours, so we only had 30mins left for layover in Beijing. There were actually people waiting for us in the airport in Beijing and took us pass the security too speed up the boarding.
I’m still wondering how Swedes always manage to fully book their trains. I mean we were traveling on January 1st from 8 PM to 9 AM next morning and the train didn’t have a free sit. I’m saying this because (again) we got seats with table, which wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t people sitting on the opposite end. It’s impossible to fall asleep less than a meter away from a complete stranger, at least for me. So I spent most of the 13h ride awake, watching movies on computer. Thank god each sit was equipped with electricity socket.
We arrived to Stockholm main train station at around 9 AM next morning. Luckily we quickly found or way to the hotel, which was situated maybe 10m away of train station’s entrance in the very centre of Stockholm.
Despite official hours for check-in started in the afternoon, hotel staff was very friendly and allowed us to check-in right there in the morning. In retrospect I wish they hadn’t. Instead of a room with great view over the city, we got a room in 6th, floor with great view of office building, next to the hotel. They probably would have given us room with better view, if we asked, but I was so tired back then my brain only wanted something to sleep in.
After few hours of sleep, on bed that felt like sleeping on a cloud, we were ready to go explore the city. Firstly we went on a guided tour of the old city (the oldest island). We saw royal palace, parliament … and learned some history of Stockholm and how it became to be what it is today.
After the tour we explored the modern city centre. Predictably the whole city was still decorated from Christmas, so there were lights and ornaments everywhere. Streets were clean, there were lots of people, thousands of shops, I swear on one street there were 6 H&M shops, 10m from each other.
The sightseeing soon turned into hunting for food. We haven’t eaten anything since lunch in Luleå so we were starving. One might think it would be easy to find a place to eat in a city like Stockholm. Well yea, if you’re millionaire. All the restaurants were fully booked or prices way over our budget. To top it off in the whole city (extended) centre, we couldn’t find not one super-market like store. After hours of searching we gave up and settled for Max – Swedish McDonalds, although I think it’s better than latter.
After this we made our way to hotel to a warm shower and cosy bed. I think I slept for over 14 hours that day, finally woken up by Veronika nagging to go to the breakfast. Hah breakfast … I remember laughing how expensive it was (15€/person), when we booked hotel. But now it didn’t feel that expensive, at least compared to the rest of Stockholm.
The breakfast was a buffet, I don’t remember ever seeing so much different food in one place. There must have been 10 kinds of bread, thousands of salamis, hams, cheeses, even one really really smelly cheese which almost made me puke when I tried it. Really I don’t know if I ever ate something so disgusting, it smelled like feet and tasted like… old socks. There were a lot of sweets (pastry), homemade marmalades, honey, cereal, fruits… There were even different kind of sausages (although Swedish sausages all suck :P) and lots more. For beverages they had about 10 different kinds of tea, coffees, freshly squeezed fruit juices etc.
The weirdest thing about all this was as it was buffet you went there and took whatever you wanted on your plate. But as soon as you ate or drank something a waiter almost ran to your table to take your plate/glass to make room for new one. I’m not sure why they did this, I think one day I drank 5 glasses of juice, and each time from a new glass.
All in all breakfast was great and almost worth the money. Veronika and I both got so full we couldn’t move, but somehow managed to venture into the town again. This time we went to see change of guards at the palace, and then walked to the island with ZOO and Vasa museum (one of the most famous museums in Sweden). For some reason everything (in Sweden?) closes really early in the afternoon so despite walking for hours to get there we didn’t have time to visit anything. We returned back to the centre.
In the evening we went to the cinema to see the Hobbit. I wanted to see how HFR movie looks like and just so I can see a cinema that’s not Kolosej in Ljubljana. As everything in Sweden, we paid around 25€/person per ticket + 5€ for 3D glasses. The cinema room was nice and cosy, it looked new and pristine, no torn sits or anything. At the beginning of the movie hostess came and spoke something in Swedish, I’m actually intrigued on what she was saying. All in all I think the movie was great. The picture was bright and sharp, probably because of HFR and the story was what I expected.
After the movie ended we slowly left the theatre but not before doing something that my friends today teas me every time I talk about Sweden. Paying 5€ for glasses I thought (and still do) that I bought them and not just borrowed them, so I just took them. Not only that, I saw other people leaving them on some trash-bin so I took two more from there. Just to make sure, I can faster earn their value back here in Slovenia. =)4
After the movie, Max burger followed and then hotel. Despite having bad view, hotel room was amazing. It was big, bright and modern. Weirdly the most astonishing thing for me was the bathroom. Shower alone must have been 6 square meters. Not only that, whole bathroom had floor heating, so your feet didn’t got cold when walking barefoot through it. We also got those hotel shampoos, conditioners etc… And they smelled amazing, I can still remember the faint lime and lavender smell if I close my eyes, and in case I ever forget it I have 3 bottles of it at home (what did you expect from me =) ). Main room consisted of one big and cosy bed, office table, TV, AC, minibar… The most amazing thing here, was the lighting. Swedes really know how to light up the place, probably because they live half of the year in dark. We had numerous lights of all shapes and colours to create romantic ambient, which would probably go great with the view over the city.
On Saturday we got up early and walked to the other side of the city to visit ZOO and Vasa museum.
Zoo was OK, although so far our ZOO Ljubljana is the best one I’ve seen. In the ZOO they had mostly Nordic animals that have natural habitat in Sweden. I finally had a chance to see a moose up and close. I already said how big it is and that was when I saw it from afar. Sadly I couldn’t get close enough to touch it, which was one of my main goals of what TODO in Sweden. In the ZOO we also saw (I think it’s called) sea cow. It’s the fattest thing I ever saw, that moves. It’s so funny how it looks like a barrel with a head and it looks so friendly with those big puppy eyes. This one just came up close to me and stared at me for minutes as in give me some food please.
After the ZOO we went to see Vasa museum. This is a museum build around an old ship. The story goes that Swedes made a ship which sunk on its maiden voyage, just after living harbour (boy they must have been a great shipbuilders =) ). Anyway few years ago they found the ship, which was surprisingly intact, which is even more amazing if you know that it’s made of wood and it’s around 200 years old. If I remember correctly for some reason there are no certain kind of bacteria in the water that would digest wood.
After they found the ship they then lifted it out of water and build a museum around it, so now you’re able to walk around this enormous ship, and learn about it. Sadly it’s not permitted to go on-board.
After the museum it was evening already so we went to the Max one last time. This was it, my last day in Sweden. Next morning we only had time to eat breakfast, pack up and board the bus to the airport. Shortly after I was sitting on plane counting down my last minutes of this great adventure…
Tuesday 31.12.2013, my last day in Luleå.
Toward evening we prepared some food and headed to other building where majority of students who were staying here over holidays gathered. Again there was lots of food from all over the world, tons of people who I never saw before, or at least talked with them.
Toward 11PM we left apartment and took bus downtown. It was around -7 outside and snowing quite strongly. Yet to my surprise there were really a lot of (young) people (girls) dressed in miniskirts, wearing high heels. I don’t know how they weren’t cold or how their feet didn’t froze, since there was at least 5cm of fresh snow on the ground.
There was no stage or band in city centre as usually in Slovenia. Instead of this there were 3 stalls selling some drinks and sweets and that was it. After following crowd few meters we found a place where they were going to shoot fireworks from. Guess where? From the middle of harbour on almost half a meter of frozen sea.
A lot of people gathered to watch fireworks. Although you could tell you’re not in Slovenia since everyone made sure to have enough personal space around them.
We soon found a nice place to view fireworks from. Just at the edge of pier looking directly onto the sea. After counting backwards from 10 to 0 fireworks started at midnight sharp.
Fireworks were amazing. They were big, colourful and close, I even got hit by shrapnel which somehow made it underneath my shirt. All in all it was amazing.
After it Veronika and I decided to go home alone, since we had a busy day in front of us. We went by foot, my last hike here in Luleå. We had a plan to go over the frozen lake, snow was falling really hard by now, a great last memory to have!
After waking up following morning we ate something and began to clean apartment. When we were done it was already time to go. We said goodbye to our friends and were off on bus. It was sad, driving by the lakes and paths I’ve grown so used to in the last half a year. By the time we came to the rail station I already started to miss this place…