Fiji – The Yasawa Group No. 1

Paradise here we come again!

Due to the many choices (all of them sound great) planning the Fiji trip was a lot of work. Even after Eva decided to limit the trip to the Yasawas 20 islands and around 30 resorts the choice was hard. But after 7 month of travelling we are well trained travel agents: it took one long and exhausting night of planning only 3 days before the departure to get everything booked. The 11 nights in Fiji were allocated to 6 different islands and our transport was booked in advance.

The first island was Beachcomber island, which is supposed to be THE party place. However, during our stay it was very quiet. After having only 4 hours of sleep on the night-flight we didn’t mind this at all. The island is one of the smallest in the group it only takes 10 minutes to walk around it. It’s a picture-postcard island at its best.

The next island further north was Wayasewa, also known as Wayalailai. The island is dominated by a huge volcanic rock which towers over the beach and the resort below. The sunrise hike to the top took us an hour but the reward was a beautiful view over the Yasawas. That included the neighboring island where the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks was shot. At the moment Fiji has a rough drought period therefore some islands have only limited water supply and we could only take a quick shower when the tide was high. But that doesn’t really matter in Paradise 😉

First sight of Beachcomber Island01_Beachcomber_01

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Australia – Mother of all perfect countries!

I arrived earlier than Eva did – at 6 am. So it was not until 12 pm that we could finally leave the airport and step into our favorite country. Being back was an amazing feeling: sunshine, friendly people and a beautiful country. Our host awaited us in his apartment (AirBnB), his wife – Nara – was still working. Carl is from Norway but migrated 12 years ago. If he hadn’t told us, we’d never guessed that he is no true Aussie. Entering their apartment we immediately felt at home. Their apartment is a cozy, warm place with a lot of charm.

After we did all the unpacking and so on we started exploring the city. Melbourne is comparably big to German city, it has 4.3 Mill. inhabitants and is rapidly growing (unlike German cities). It was very easy to find our way around because of the organized tram and bus system as well as a language that we could finally understand again. The CBD was even more built up than we expected it to be, with a remarkable amount of sky scrapers forming the skyline of the city. Still, Melbourne does not feel too dense. Also, the amount of different languages being heard in the streets and the great number of coffee places, bars and restaurants are impressive. There was no holding back – we fell in love with that city J

Over the next few days Mikaela (we met her on our trip through Central America) showed us around the different areas of the city and invited us to a very nice barbecue with her whole family on our last evening. Also that day we met Leon again, who Niels got to know 4 years ago at the AMCIS in Peru.

How could you possibly get into Christmas mood when the outside temperature is around 30 degrees? But anyway, Merry Christmas!Melbourne_11

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Queenstown – Fav City in NZ

It might be the nicest city in NZ,m but I had my worst hostel experience ever! Niels dropped off the campervan while I stayed on the horse farm. Therefore, I had to use public transport from Te Anau to Queenstown. It is a very scenic drive, especially when Lake Wakatipu comes up.

Queenstown is a little town situated by the lake and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It is definitely has some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. The city has many restaurants, laid-back cafés and fancy bars. It’s a pity that I only have 15 days in Queenstown. You could easily spend 4 days checking out some nice walks, restaurants cafés with their great selection of coffees, cakes and biscuits. The city is also famous for its many adventure activities like bungee-jumping, skydiving, skiing and much more. Therefore the city attracts many young people who are seeking adventure, and know how to party.

The time passed by very quickly whilst visiting a few cafés, exploring the city center, having the famous Fergburger (gourmet hamburger) and going for some beautiful walks along the lakeside.

Hoping it would be much quieter, I chose a 4-bed female dorm. But sharing a room with 3 young girls is not always a good idea. The first night the girls came back making a lot of noise. But that wasn’t not enough. The next night I was woken up because of weird movements and noises on the bed above mine. It took me a while before I understood what was going on above me (it seems a male was invited into the female dorm). A few hours later the two other girls came back (at least they were alone) and, without any consideration, they switched on the lights and packed their stuff. Without a lot of sleep I got up early and left for the airport.

This experience taught me a lesson and the next time in Queenstown, it will be a private accommodation 😉

Scenic drive and Lake WakatipuQueenstown 02

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Special Mission: “PhD Defense”

Most important and foremost: Yeeees – it – is – done! I am proud and relieved to say: all went very well – magna cum laude! For the last 4 years I have been a PhD student. All of you know about the ups and also quite a lot of downs I had during these years. After handing in my thesis in the beginning of February I finally had to hold my defense on the 12th of November 2014.

My professor called me home on short notice – only 2 weeks before the actual defense. As you can imagine, cheap flights were long gone by that time and flying home from Queenstown, New Zealand to Hamburg, Germany is not exactly what one would call a short distance flight. In my case it took 34 hrs not including the 1 ½ drive in the morning, camper van return, check-in, etc.. But well, the 14 hrs leg from Sydney to Dubai should provide some restful sleep. I am pretty sure it would have done its job, if those two little kids (~1 year and 5 years) with their juice head father, and “Cindy from Mazan” mother were not on the flight! Flight length: 14 hrs, Screaming time: 13 hrs 59 mins.

As compensation for the first part of my expedition, the flight back to Melbourne was very cinematic. 5 movies and 3 episodes of “two and a half men” made me forget all the trouble and stress of the past week.

In writing this I’d like to thank everyone who supported me during the last few years.

Special thanks fly out to:

  • Martin – Most probably the person I learned most from in my whole working life + without Martin I might still be writing my thesis, thank you so much!
  • Martina – She has three children, still she always managed to help me. She had the energy to explain, advise and support me where ever she could.
  • Marcus – First, second and third level technical support – not a problem! Printing PhD thesis – yes he can! Psychological support (in form of beer) – he loves to help!
  • Nico – Not only A3S is still haunting him in his dreams.
  • Raghav and Klaus – My English left and still leaves room for improvement. Raghav and Klaus converted “denglish” into “English”….
  • My Family (Eva, Parents) – thanks that you still talk to me 😉

Eva´s Horse Farm Experience

Why isn’t life always as easy as getting a job on a horse farm in NZ… On our way to Milford sound Niels spotted a cowboy at a petrol station. He made me ask the cowboy, if he needs help with his horses. For obviously reasons he was very confused and told me to call him the next day. But I never did so. Instead we drove by the horse farm the next day. Andy – the cowboy – offered Eva a job straight away. Now I was the one being confused. I asked him if he doesn’t want to know about my horse riding skills, experiences and so on, but he only answered “No, you told me you can ride horses”.

Two days later Niels dropped me off at the horse farm, not without checking-out the place first. I got her own room and started working the same day. I got introduced to the horses and the daily work, which was split-up between Emma, Andy (see section people) and me. A usual day on the horse farm was as follows: breakfast sometime between 6:30 and 8:30, feeding the chicken, ducks and horses, getting the horses ready for the trek and taking the tourist for a beautiful 2 hours ride. The surrounding landscape is picturesque. On the top of the hill you have an amazing view over lake Te Anau with its snow-capped mountains. After coming-back we had lunch and got the horses ready for the next trek. Furthermore, we did farm work like draining, grooming and training the horses. Luckily, it wasn’t high season yet, hence the average amount of horse treks were only 1-2 a day which left us with enough time to do other stuff. I also learned how to ride a quad-bike because Emma and Andy are starting a second business with the quads. Most evenings ended by watching “Lonesome Dove”, a western series of the 80´s.

The 9 days on the horse farm passed by way to quick! I could have spent more time with Emma, Andy, and the horses but I was also looking forward to meet my awesome Dr. MueWi in Melbourne.

@ Andy and Emma: Thank you so much for the great time, you made a dream come true. Every time in future when I use one of your tips and tricks regarding Natural Horsemanship I will think of you guys!!!

Amazing views of the surrounding mountains while horseridingSouth Island Horsefarm 12 Continue reading

The Fjordland National Park

If you are in New Zealand you have to pay a visit to the Fjordland National Park. Next to the Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park it was a highlight while staying in New Zealand. The drive starts in the nicely situated town Te Anau which is surrounded by mountains. From there it took us around two hours to drive all the way to our campground at Milford, where we met our favorite Finnish family again. The drive up north itself is already one of its kind. Endless numbers of look-outs with spectacular views made us forget about the windy streets.

The most spectacular stops were “The Chasm”, which is a waterfall running through a deep canyon. The mirror lakes, which perfectly reflect the surrounding snow covered mountains. And last but not least a place in the middle of a great meadow where we had a nice view into the canyon towards Milford Sound.

On our way back we stopped at the Divide for a 2 hours walk to the Key Summit, which offered spectacular 360 ° views of the Fjordlands.

@ Peppi: Thanks for the sunniesSouth Island Milford 25

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