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First Stop Zurich

My Odyssey begins with trams and snow

snow 2 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

First stop on my trip was Zurich, with predictable Swiss efficiency I passed through the clinically tidy airport in record time and found myself on a double decker train into the centre of the city. On cue it began to snow as soon as I arrived and walked to my hotel only a short distance away.

Double-decker train at Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Double-decker train at Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

My hotel in Zaehringerstrasse is in a quaint part of town with narrow cobbled streets with lots of bars and restaurants, as well as a few establishments of a more dubious nature!

Cobbled Street in Zurich

Cobbled Street in Zurich

Exploring the city in the evening for something to eat and to get my bearings Zurich seems to have a nice unhurried visitor friendly atmosphere.Trams are everywhere, Zurich must have the most comprehensive public transport system in the world and is something the locals are very proud of.

Bahnhofstrasse - the main shopping street in Zurich

Bahnhofstrasse - the main shopping street in Zurich

Spent my first day doing a tour of the City, apart from a Spanish couple everybody else on the coach was Australian with absolutely no connection to each other!

We drove past all the sites (including for my friends in Cheltenham the global headquarters for Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance), the University where Einstein taught as well as walking around the older historic part of town down by where the River Limmat flows into Lake Zurich.

The clock face of St. Peter's Church

The clock face of St. Peter's Church


A shop window that caught my eye in the old part of Zurich

A shop window that caught my eye in the old part of Zurich


Grossmunster, Zurich

Grossmunster, Zurich


River Limmat flowing through the old part of Zurich just before it reaches the lake

River Limmat flowing through the old part of Zurich just before it reaches the lake

Stopping briefly by the harbour we then drove south beside the east shore, passed Tina Turner's House (who is now a Swiss citizen having recently renounced her US citizenship) to take the (surprisingly speedy) ferry across the Lake.

Me beside the Lake in Zurich Harbour

Me beside the Lake in Zurich Harbour


The gates to Tina Turner's House on Lake Zurich

The gates to Tina Turner's House on Lake Zurich


Taking the ferry across Lake Zurich

Taking the ferry across Lake Zurich

The coach then climbed up to the Felsenegg Cableway which took us up to the summit where there where spectacular views of Zurich and the whole lake. Australians seem to have a fascination with snow and snow ball fights ensued as we walked through the woods to a cafe for a warm drink (note to self remember to wear gloves when snowballing!).

Travelling up on the Felsenegg Cableway near Zurich

Travelling up on the Felsenegg Cableway near Zurich


Picture of me on the Felsenegg Summit with a view of Zurich behind me

Picture of me on the Felsenegg Summit with a view of Zurich behind me

On the way back we passed the Lindt Chocolate Factory, birthplace of all those gold wrapped chocolate bunnies so favoured at Easter time.

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged lakes snow trains boat city tour cablecar solo Comments (0)

Onward from Queenstown

Gondola ride up to Bob's Peak, sailing across Lake Wakatipu and then onward to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo

semi-overcast 17 °C
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Queenstown is proud of its "Global Adventure Capital" billing but I did manage to find a couple of less adrenaline fuelled things to do while I was there. For starters there is the 2,395 feet (730 metre) long and 1,590 feet (460 metre) high Gondola ride up to Bob's Peak with terrific views of Queenstown, Lake Watatipu and the surrounding mountains. Needless to say this being New Zealand (and Queenstown especially) you can also skydive and bungy jump (and a lot more besides) but I decided not surprisingly for those who know me to give these a miss!

The Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak at Queenstown

The Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak at Queenstown


View of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the Gondola

View of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the Gondola


Signpost high above Queenstown, London is only 18,946 kilometres (11,772 miles) away!

Signpost high above Queenstown, London is only 18,946 kilometres (11,772 miles) away!


The Gondola back down to Queenstown

The Gondola back down to Queenstown

Skydivers coming into land high above Shotover Street (note the shop names - only in Queenstown!)

Skydivers coming into land high above Shotover Street (note the shop names - only in Queenstown!)

Lake Watatipu at 52 miles (84 kilometres) is the second longest in New Zealand with Queenstown situated on the north shore of a s-bend about half way down its length. In the past the lake was the primary means of transport with 4 steamers plying for trade but today only the TSS Earnslaw (built in Dunedin in 1912 and transported in pieces overland) remains. She sails several times a day loaded with tourists on its popular 7 mile (11 kilometre) trip over to Walter Peak on the south side of the lake.

TSS Earnslaw berthed at its wharf on Queenstown Bay

TSS Earnslaw berthed at its wharf on Queenstown Bay


Queenstown as seen from the TSS Earnslaw

Queenstown as seen from the TSS Earnslaw


TSS Earnslaw at full steam across Lake Watatipu

TSS Earnslaw at full steam across Lake Watatipu


Looking back across Lake Watatipu towards Queenstown from Walter Peak

Looking back across Lake Watatipu towards Queenstown from Walter Peak

Having spent 5 nights in Queenstown it was time to make our way back north towards Christchurch overnighting in Lake Tekapo. Before we got there we passed through Twizel (a "temporary" town built for construction workers in 1968 with diggers on display on the way in - a bit bland!) but then stopped at Lake Pukaki on what turned out to be a perfect weather (and it apparently doesn't happen often) to see Mount Cook. The conditions were so good I tried to sign up for a "Grand Traverse" Flight in a small plane from one coast of South Island to the other over Mount Cook (Maori name is "Aoraki") but unfortunately by the time we reached the airstrip a quite serious weather front had arrived and the flight was called off.

Me with Mount Cook behind me at Lake Pukaki

Me with Mount Cook behind me at Lake Pukaki


Mount Cook

Mount Cook


My MagicBus Crew at Lake Pukaki/Mount Cook

My MagicBus Crew at Lake Pukaki/Mount Cook

We then carried on to Lake Tekapo where we were to stay overnight which like Lake Pukaki also has a milky turquoise colour created by the glacial rock sediment that feeds into both lakes. Here there was the small stone Church of the Good Shepherd built in 1935 which has an awesome view of the lake behind its alter which makes it a very popular (and therefore exceptionally expensive!) venue for weddings. Lake Tekapo is also well known for stargazing from the observatories on top of adjacent Mount John but by then I was feeling too tired and cold for the climb up to the summit.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo


The Church of the Good Shepherd overlooking Lake Tekapo

The Church of the Good Shepherd overlooking Lake Tekapo


The view behind the alter at the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo

The view behind the alter at the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo


The view from my where I did my blogging at Lake Tekapo YHA :-)

The view from my where I did my blogging at Lake Tekapo YHA :-)

The final leg of our trip back to Christchurch was across the endless Plains of Canterbury, the largest expanse of flat lands in New Zealand. Not too much to report here apart from the clever irrigation machinery on wheels that seemed to be ready to walk across nearly every field. Our final stop was at the factory shop at the "Cookie Time" Cookie Factory on the outskirts of Christchurch to try some of their chocolate chip biscuits which seem to have become almost cultural icon in New Zealand since it was opened in 1983.

Irrigation machinery on the Canterbury Plains

Irrigation machinery on the Canterbury Plains


The Cookie Time Factory in Christchurch

The Cookie Time Factory in Christchurch

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains lakes churches food cablecar videos hostelling magic_bus light_aircraft nz_south_island outdoor_pursuits Comments (0)

Day Trip to the Blue Mountains

Visiting the Three Sisters, Scenic World and the Featherdale Wildlife Park

semi-overcast 19 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

The one place outside the city that seems to be on everyone's bucket list when they visit Sydney is the stunning Three Sisters sandstone rock formation in the Blue Mountains about 40 miles (60 kilometres) inland at Katoomba on the Great Western Highway.

The Three Sisters Rock Formation in the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters Rock Formation in the Blue Mountains


Me by the Three Sisters Rock Formation at the Echo Point Lookout

Me by the Three Sisters Rock Formation at the Echo Point Lookout


The Jamison Valley and Blue Mountains

The Jamison Valley and Blue Mountains

According to legend (and immortalised by statues outside neighbouring Scenic World) the three rocks are three sisters from the local Katoomba Tribe who were turned to stone by their tribe's sorcerer to protect them from the unwanted advances of three young men from a neighbouring tribe but that the sorcerer himself was killed in battle before he could turn them back to life again.

Statues of the Sorcerer and the Three Sisters outside Scenic World

Statues of the Sorcerer and the Three Sisters outside Scenic World


Me beside the statue of the Sorcerer outside Scenic World

Me beside the statue of the Sorcerer outside Scenic World

Scenic World itself began life as a coal mine in the 1880s. In 1928 a funicular railway was built to transport miners down the Jamison Valley side to the mine in the rainforest below which turned out to be the steepest passenger railway in the world (52 degrees contained within a total incline distance of 1,316 feet - 415 metres). When the mine closed in 1945 the funicular railway remained as a tourist attraction which became the Scenic World Railway we see today.

The Scenic World Railway about to leave its Top Station for the Rainforest floor

The Scenic World Railway about to leave its Top Station for the Rainforest floor


On our way down to the Rainforest floor aboard the Scenic World Railway

On our way down to the Rainforest floor aboard the Scenic World Railway

Coal Mine entrance on the rainforest floor at Scenic World

Coal Mine entrance on the rainforest floor at Scenic World


The walkway through the Rainforest on the valley floor at Scenic World

The walkway through the Rainforest on the valley floor at Scenic World

Since then the railway has been upgraded (including quite recently in early 2013) and the Scenic Skyway across the valley and Scenic Cableway back up from the rainforest floor added. The Skyway passes across the Katoomba Falls and includes a glass floor that defrosts as you set of so you can look down on the tree tops of the rainforest below.

The Scenic World Skyway making its way across the Rain Forest

The Scenic World Skyway making its way across the Rain Forest


The Katoomba Falls from the Scenic World Skyway

The Katoomba Falls from the Scenic World Skyway


The floor of the Scenic World Skyway defrosts to reveal the Rain Forest beneath us

The floor of the Scenic World Skyway defrosts to reveal the Rain Forest beneath us


Looking back at the Rainforest on the way up to the Top Station on the Scenic World Cableway

Looking back at the Rainforest on the way up to the Top Station on the Scenic World Cableway

On the way back to Sydney we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park, an award winning zoo that opened in 1972 containing the world's largest collection of Australian native animals. Many of them such as Quokkas, Kangaroos, Emus and New Zealand Blue Penguins I had already encountered earlier during my round the world trip.

A pair of Quokkas at Featherdale Wildlife Park

A pair of Quokkas at Featherdale Wildlife Park


An inquisitive Kangaroo at Featherdale Wildlife Park

An inquisitive Kangaroo at Featherdale Wildlife Park


An Emu on the prowl at Featherdale Wildlife Park

An Emu on the prowl at Featherdale Wildlife Park

The Penguin enclosure at Featherdale Wildlife Park

The Penguin enclosure at Featherdale Wildlife Park

However there were plenty of other types of Australian animals at the Wildlife Park I had not yet encountered including the ever adorable Koala, Swamp Wallabies, Dingoes and the Tasmanian Devil (and a lot more besides).

Koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park


Swamp Wallabies at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Swamp Wallabies at Featherdale Wildlife Park


Dingoes at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Dingoes at Featherdale Wildlife Park


Tasmanian Devil running around his enclosure at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Tasmanian Devil running around his enclosure at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Of course this time the animals were up close and personal so you were often also able to pet and feed them; although like my previous encounter with one outside Perth I still did not trust the Emu!

Me with a Koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Me with a Koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park


Me with a friendly Swamp Wallaby at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Me with a friendly Swamp Wallaby at Featherdale Wildlife Park


This Emu was so enthusiastic pecking the food I gave I feared he would get my hand!

This Emu was so enthusiastic pecking the food I gave I feared he would get my hand!

In addition to the native Australian mammals there were also native Australian birds such as Pelicans standing still like statues, brightly coloured Macaws and impressive looking Sea Eagles.

Pelicans at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Pelicans at Featherdale Wildlife Park

A pair of Blue and Yellow Macaws at Featherdale Wildlife Park

A pair of Blue and Yellow Macaws at Featherdale Wildlife Park

White-bellied Sea-eagle eating a fish at Featherdale Wildlife Park

White-bellied Sea-eagle eating a fish at Featherdale Wildlife Park

When we left Featherdale Wildlife Park the Sydney road network was totally gridlocked. To avoid spending the evening stuck in traffic we managed to get on a ferry near the 2000 Olympic Stadium and travelled down the river for a hour and a half to Darling Harbour in the centre of Sydney. As it got dark, the views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour all lit up were amazing.

Approaching the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a ferry at night

Approaching the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a ferry at night


Sydney's Darling Harbour at night

Sydney's Darling Harbour at night

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls mountains bridges trees animals sydney boat harbours tour theme_parks mines cablecar rock_formations videos aborigine solo Comments (0)

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