freycinet national park [australia #9]

as soon as we landed in, we hopped into the car and started our road trip.

we drove in the north-east direction, towards the freycinet national park, which occupies most of the freycinet peninsula and looks out to the tasman sea. this national park is also home of one of the world’s most beautiful beach – wineglass bay, as well as dramatic pink granite peaks, secluded bays and rich wildlife.

while driving towards the freycinet peninsula, we were stopping quite often – sometimes it was simply to take pictures of a beautiful scenery, but also to have a lunch. fortunately, just like in the other parts of australia, there are lots of barbecue spots in tassie.. they are free to use and since the electricity switches off every 10 minutes or so, you don’t need to worry about forgetting to switch it off.. you only need to clean it up afterwards and, of course, to get your supplies – we opted for kangaroo steaks & salmon.. okay, we had some vegetables too..

finally, in the late afternoon we arrived to the freycinet national park. we got the camping spot, set up our tent & then went for a walk along the beach. even though it was quite windy, we stayed there for a long time. these sights were keeping us forget the cold.

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tomorrow morning we decided to go for one of 60 great short walks in tasmania, namely: wineglass bay and hazards beach circuit.

oh, but before starting our hike, we had to say hello to our little friend: the wallaby! it was one of many wallabies we encountered in tasmania, but the only one we took a picture of. they were usually too quick for us.

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and then we set off..

before getting to the wineglass beach itself, we discovered plenty of little bays, whose waters were even bluer in person and whose white sand was actually made of decomposed shells..

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as you may have noticed, even the sky tends to be more beautiful in tasmania..

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after a walk along the wineglass bay, we started climbing towards the wineglass bay lookout, to get the proper view of it.

and here it is.. unfortunately, by the time we got to he lookout, the weather had already changed (apparently, there is a saying in tasmania “if it’s raining, come back in five minutes” – that’s how frequent the weather changes are).

nevertheless, the view was still spectacular, don’t you think?

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even though this was our first stop in tasmania, we immediately understood that this is truly the island of wonders..

to be continued..

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tasmania – explore the possibilities [australia #8]

“how beautiful is the whole region, for form, and grouping, and opulence, and freshness of foliage, and variety of color, and grace and shapeliness of the hills, the capes, the promontories; and then, the splendor of the sunlight, the dim rich distances, the charm of the winter glimpses!”

such were the comments in mark twain’s travel diary when he visited tasmania in the 1890s. even though my visit happened 120 years later, i would have written something of that sort.

tasmania.. the smallest and remotest of all australia’s states was a highlight of our trip down under. even now, when we talk about it, the words simply fail us.

during our week-long journey across tasmania, we got to see its pristine beauty.. in the following posts i will get into details of our road-trip, but here’s a sneak peek into it.

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it is true what they say, tasmania really gets to you.

the great ocean road [australia #6]

after the first couple of days spent in melbourne, it was the time for a road trip – towards west. of course, i am talking about the famous great ocean road.

the great ocean road is a stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of australia and the essential part of the state of victoria. it was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during world war I and it is the world’s largest war memorial. this 243 kilometers long road hides several prominent landmarks of australia, such as the twelve apostles, loch ard gorge and london arch, but also passing through the great otway national park (which will be the subject of a separate post).

our trip lasted for three days, during which we saw a lot of stunning views, went camping, fought very strong wind and, of course, took a loot of pictures!

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several things stuck us immediately: the wild beauty of australia (which we would experience even further in tasmania), the shape of the southern coast of australia and the cleanliness of air and water which may only be encountered in wild and remote places (and in australia, there are plenty of such places).

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we encountered a lot of people during this road-trip and even more animals! unfortunately a lot of them were lying dead on the side of the road, even though the warning signs were quite everywhere. but it was quite interesting how free these animals were. the first night we were staying at the rather shady camp, somewhere close to apollo bay. that camp left a lot to be desired, but it gave us quite an experience.. in the morning, our first sight was this:

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the second day was completely dedicated to otway (my next post!), but on the third day & after a long drive, we have finally arrived to the twelve apostles.
even though there are only seven of them left now (the last “apostle” collapsed only in 2012.), they are quite a sight! only when seeing these formations, one understands the true power of the southern ocean. oh, it was very windy (and crowded!), but we were so happy to see the twelve apostles soaked in sunlight.

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only a few minutes drive from the twelve apostles is another important sight of the great ocean road – loch ard gorge, named after a shipwreck of a sailing ship called loch ard, which departed from london on 1 march 1878 and was about to arrive to melbourne after nearly three months. only two people survived..

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our last stop on the great ocean road was london arch, formerly known as london bridge, because of its similarity to the actual london bridge – until 15 january 1990, when the middle part of the “bridge” collapsed out of a sudden. two tourists were left on the part which remained (and is now knon as london arch) and were eventually rescued by helicopter. the failure of the second arch is foreseen in the near future, so i guess we were quite lucky to take this picture!

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on the third day we headed back to melbourne. it was quite a long drive, which gave us plenty of time to discuss what we saw on our trip. aside from the above-mentioned sights, we were both amazed by the ever changing weather and strong wind, which followed us since the beginning of our trip. we loved seeing all those friendly people (even if the great ocean road is much more touristy than we have imagined). but the most amazing feelings we got from this trip is the force of the mighty ocean, which changed the scenery of this region. and which keeps on changing it every day.

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i hope we’ll have the chance to visit the great ocean road once again. and i hope to find it altered. for the better, of course.

marvelous melbourne [australia #4]

on the second leg of our journey, we visited melbourne – the second largest city in australia and the capital of state of victoria. marvelous melbourne, as it is commonly referred to, is famed for its victorian architecture, breathtaking gardens & parks and lovely pedestrian lanes. it is often considered the culture capital of australia.

melbourne is also known to be the food & coffee capital of australia. all kinds of biological / gluten free / vegetarian & vegan meals may be found here. melbournians get their goods & fresh produce at queen victoria market, one of the city’s best hang around spots.

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we went to queen victoria market several times, since we were staying in the neighborhood. it felt great to stroll around while buying exotic fruits (and eating it right away!). also, dianne, our hostess in melbourne, informed us that during the summer months every wednesday there is a night market, where you may buy your dinner at the stalls offering street food from across the globe, while enjoying live music.. of course, we went there & had a great time!

unlike sydney (one simply has to compare these two cities), melbourne doesn’t have a splendid harbor. on the other hand, it’s got the yarra river, dividing the city in north & south melbourne. we took a walk down the southern bank of the yarra river on our first day in melbourne, arriving all the way to docklands. we got to admire the fantastic architecture & enjoy the company of dressed-up melbournians!

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while walking down the southern bank of the yarra river, we noticed a colorful building on the northern bank, which was definitely dating from the victorian era. that building is flinders street station, the central train station of melbourne, its most famous landmarks and one of the city’s favorite meeting points. generations of melburnians were meeting at the station’s steps or as it is more commonly known “under the clocks”.

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in the vicinity of flinders street station is the federation square, one of the newest open spaces, it opened only in 2002. it soon became one of the most frequented spots in melbourne, as it hosts more than 2000 events every year. when we were in melbourne, there were big screens showing the cricket match between austrlia and india (apparently, melbourne is also the cricket capital of australia) and a lot of people were watching the match (while sunbathing in comfy chairs). we even tried to understand the rules of the game, but when our friend told us that the match can last up to five days, we kind of lost interest.

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in the introduction of this post, i said that melbourne is known for its parks & gardens, the most famous being the royal botanic gardens. these internationally renowned botanical gardens were established in 1852, on the south bank of the yarra river, where once used to be a swam on the edge of the city. the gardens follow the english garden design and include a mixture of native and non-native vegetation, hosting over ten thousand floral species.

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a lot of people asked us which one did we like better, sydney or melbourne. when we first arrived to melbourne, we immediately said we liked it more than sydney, since there were a lot of coffee houses & all kinds of restaurants, the architecture was truly amazing and people were so relaxed. on the other hand, sydney’s got its splendid harbor, as well as several beaches close by. also, when we came back to sydney at the end of our travels, we discovered some areas, which were as relaxed as the ones we encountered in melbourne!

so what i say now is that we liked them both so much. they are both very beautiful cities and they got to us in a different way. in our view, one of them has to exist in order to keep reminding the other one that it can do better.

so, what happened? [australia#1]

even though we came back from australia three weeks ago, i still haven’t found a way to define my feelings about this trip.

before our departure i wrote a short entry where i gave you a sneak peek into our trip. i also made a promise (well, maybe i didn’t make it official, but at least to myself) that i would write a couple of posts from there. we all know that didn’t happen. our trip was simply too busy and i didn’t find the time (or the place) to write something.

so, what happened?
our holiday was proceeding fabulously – we loved both sydney and melbourne, in fact – we couldn’t decide which one we liked better. the blue mountains and the great ocean road were slightly disappointing – only for the amount of people we encountered there, but other than that – those sights are really something. and tasmania.. oh, tasmania! we couldn’t get enough of it! the sands of fraycinet peninsula and bay of fires were as impressive as the rocks of cradle mountain. and hobart, the capital of tasmania and the second settlement in australia, shouldn’t be missed either.

however, on the 4th of january at about 4am – our dream holiday had turned into a nightmare. our most valuable belongings (read: our documents, photo camera, telephones, and many more) were stolen while we were staying at the camp “cairns holiday park”. so, our last week was dedicated to these activities: compiling police reports, getting in touch with our embassy in australia so we could come back to europe & of course organizing the trip to canberra (where bosnian embassy is based). we even forgot about the great barrier reef, which was the reason we came to cairns in the first place. i have to say that our friend sajid helped us a lot by letting us stay at his place in canberra, as did sandy & craig, a lovely couple whom we met at the camp the night our stuff was stolen.

once we had got everything settled, we realized it was our last night in sydney, and in australia too. so we went down to sydney harbor, to take one more look at it. while we were admiring the views, a very nice girl took a photo of us. and she was so sweet to email it to us right away.

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this post pretty much sums up our trip. there were some truly amazing moments, as well as a couple of very sad & frustrating ones. however, i will try to recapture all of those nice memories we have and write them down here, on my blog. as much as i can remember, of course.

as for the other ones.. i’ll try not to think about them any more.

australia – not a moment too soon!

oh, december is finally here! – those were my exact thoughts several days ago when i realized that the time for a big trip has come. it’s been more than a year since we started planning this trip – and i cannot believe that in a couple of days we’ll be flying off to the land down under.

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so, how did we get here..

it all started last year when our friends went for a 7-month trip to south america. we started talking how great it would be if we could go for a bit longer trip.. and somewhere as exciting as south america. just for fun, we started discussing the places where we would like to go. my top two were australia & south africa, while tarik talked about canada & australia. since it was in both the lists, we figured it would be australia. as simple as that..

then, of course, we had to figure when to go to there & for how long we can stay. okay, anything less than a month is definitely not worth it, for many reasons.. where do you want me to start – the price of tickets, the distance, or the size of a country.. and when would we want to go – well, in december. we already have plenty of holidays.. and it’s summer there!

so, we started preparing for our trip..
first, we opened a savings account and made a plan to put a certain amount of money every month, so that we don’t come back without a penny!

then, we purchased several guide books & downloaded a couple of documentaries so that we can decide where to go. well, australia is quite big and very soon it became clear to us that we’ll not be able to see all of it and that we would have to narrow it down to several points of interests.

i would like to recommend the documentaries we watched; the first one was “australia with simon reeve”, where we got to see his trip starting from the “red centre”, i.e. the ayers rock, continuing through the northern territories and the great barrier reef, and ending the journey in sydney and melbourne.

the other documentary i really liked was the one prepared by the coast team & neil oliver – “coast australia”. the team visited all the coastal regions of australia: the kimberley, coral coast, victoria, sydney region and of course, tasmania.

and finally, we made a plan: we’ll visit the east coast of australia, the cities of sydney and melbourne, go for a ride on the great ocean road, experience tasmanian wilderness, dive in the waters of the great barrier reef, hike in the blue mountains.. and finally, we’ll spend the new year’s eve looking at the fireworks in sydney.

so, yes.. that’s what we’ll do.. God willing, of course.

(rainy) venice and its lagoon, no. 394 / moment of happiness #2

venice and its lagoon have been on the unesco heritage site list since 1987. criteria behind its nomination are many, the most important one being the fact that it is a unique artistic achievement. the city is laid out onto 118 small islands and seems to float on the water’s surface. furthermore, the entire city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as titian, tintoretto, veronese and many others. the city itself also symbolizes the struggle of its people against the elements of nature.

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i have visited venice several times and on different occasions, the last time was last saturday with my husband. having bought our tickets well in advance, we had no other choice than to “enjoy” venice under the heavy rain. we sure did our best – during the massive showers we went for lunch, for a coffee, and so on. however, our feet were still wet all day.

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i have to admit, i was not a huge fan of venice at first. in my view, it was too crowded and too touristy, especially if you went to piazza san marco and ponte rialto. this time though, we decided to take some of the back routes, carefully avoiding people (the rain helped with that, as well!) and finally managed to see venice the way it was supposed to be seen: unique, artistic, but also decadent.

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the above picture shows a view of the santa maria della salute from the ponte dell’accademia. after enjoying the view, we crossed the bridge and went to the island of santa maria della salute to get a closer view.

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we spent the remaining part of the afternoon on that island, walking around and enjoying the views of the islands of san giorgio maggiore and la giudecca, as well as the company of very few people who decided to follow the same route. we also took a few pictures of some of the details we had found in this part of town.

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we truly enjoyed ourselves.
even though it was raining almost all day long, and we missed the train on the way back (so we had to spend another hour at the train station), it was really one of those days we will remember for a long time. the following photo shows the most sincere smiles we are able to give.

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short escape in istria

even though the summer is about to end, i still haven’t gone in proper vacation. aside from short visit to my homeland last week (which i will share with you later on), i’ve managed to organize only a long weekend in istria. i don’t know if i can call it “summer vacation” since we have been there before summer officially started, in june.

it was a mini road trip, we managed to see the towns of poreč, rovinj and pula. we loved them all! many others were left unexplored (such as pazin, opatija, etc), but we decided to leave them for the next trip – oh yes, we’re definitely coming back!

our first stop was poreč – a 2000 years old town and a site of 6th century euphrasian basilica, a unesco world heritage site. we managed to see the basilica only at night (hence, no photos!), since we were on the beach during the day.

rovinj, the second town we visited, was the one we liked the most and where we stayed the longest. we even sacrificed a bit of our beach time to take a walk and climb all the way to saint euphemia’s basilica.

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rovinj at sunset

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rovinj – view from the northern harbor

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details from rovinj

after leaving rovinj, we headed south towards the town of pula, the largest in istria county. while driving, we enjoyed some of the typical istrian scenery.

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istrian scenery

pula is the largest city in istria and is situated at the southern tip of the peninsula. it has been istria’s administrative centre since ancient roman times. even its most famous landmark, pula arena, dates from this period.

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pula arena

last, but not the least, this trip was very special for me for one more reason – it was my very first camping experience! even though i was quite a skeptic, it went amazingly well and i cannot wait for my next camping trip!

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ps. most of the photos were taken by tarik. these photos are usually kept in our private collection, but i thought they are too beautiful not to be published. what do you think?

longing for summer

even though this winter was not as cold as the last ones (and not to mention winters of my childhood), last night i caught myself looking at pictures taken last summer and (secretly) planning where to go this summer.

last summer we went to island of vis, an island in adriatic sea, one of the farthest from croatian coast. the island was closed for tourists untill the 1990-ies, since it was used for military purposes, as a naval base.

the island’s two largest settlements are the town of vis, on the eastern side of the island, and komiža, on its western coast. we were in the second.

we were eager to go to the tiny island of biševo, which is just in front of komiža, and visit its famous blue cave. we spent the day in the beach of stiniva, one of the landmarks of croatian coast and definitely island’s most famous spot. and, of course, we enjoyed komiža.

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biševo & blue cave

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stiniva cove

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beaches on vis

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