Monthly Archives: May 2014

Universal Studios

First thing on our bucket list were the Universal Studios. It was a hot day, but we did pretty good. We expected more stuff about making movies but the main attractions were rides. All of the rides were linked to movies, but still we had expected something different. Overall it was a great day.

Welcome to the US mainland

LAnight

We arrived in LA after sunset and so we had an impressive view over the city with its lights. It is crazy how big the dimensions of this city are – the area is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. Easiest way to imagine this region is this: Take all buildings in Bavaria and put them all next to each other with a park or a lake  here and there and in between place some big freeways with a lot of traffic 24/7.

Eva and I were picked up by Eva´s sister Michaela and her boyfriend Mario. So for the next three weeks we will travel together. The car we have is a midsize SUV and it´s really just big enough for the 4 of us and our stuff.

O’ahu

The last stop of hour islandhopping on the hawaiian Island tour was O’ahu – it is the third largest island group but the most populated one. Honolulu is on that island. We had only 2 days there, and one and a half of this time I was sick. So we could only do a small sightseeing tour. Beside the Valley of Temples we made a stop at the Dole visitor center (totally touristic and a lots of people) and walked a bit on a beach. Even if we wanted to, this beach on this particular side of the Island was not good for swimming – only good for surfing.

So next time we will have accommodation directly in Honolulu to have a look there. But for now we´ve seen a lot. Next stop – LA.

Maui

Next stop after Big Island was Maui. A name that is in line with destinations like Aruba, Fiji, Maledives, Seychelles, etc.. We experienced very fast what the result of such a name is – higher prices and a bigger, really busy airport.

Lucky us that we arrived in the off-season. So we received also a bigger car than the one we booked. It was bigger, but I think it I´ve never drove a car that was ugglier. But it was good to handle and we managed somehow to drive 500 miles on this small Island. The reason for this was that we did a lot of activities this time which were located everywhere on the Island. And also our accomodation wasn´t that great that we felt a need to stay longer there than necessary.

So, what did we do:
– we drove the legendary road to Hana – in high season this road must be a completely jammed with tourists in their rental cars. The road is on the rainy side of Maui, so there is a rainforest. Here and there are nice waterfalls with pools that the People found amazing, specially for swimming. But honestly, after the waterfalls and pools in the Karijini National Park this was a bit lame. I mean water in the rainforest is not that miracle – in a dry prairie it is.
– we drove also to Lahaina, located on the dry side of Maui
– we did some whalewatching; it was quite the end of the season for that, but we were lucky. In the high-season for whale watching it is more like that the ships have troubles to stick to the guidelines to be 100 yards away of a whale because there are so many.
– we did a snorkling trip by ship
– we drove up to Haleakala twice. Once for sunset and once for sunrise.

Hawai’i: Big Island

WILLKOMMEN AUF HAWAI’I

Was wir auch nicht wussten: bei der Aussprache von “Hawai’i” zwischen erstem und zweitem “i” eine kurze Pause einlegen.

Big Island ist die größte Insel des US-Bundesstaats Hawai’i, sicher die abwechslungsreichste und eine, die bisher von den ganz großen Touristenströmen noch eher verschont geblieben ist. Strandhungrige bleiben eher auf O’ahu (Honolulu) oder Maui. Für uns war Big Island absolut beeindruckend!!!

Drei große Highlights gab’s für uns:

1) Unsere Unterkunft: eine über Airbnb gebuchte kleine Hütte, sehr hübsch, relativ neu, mit voll ausgestatteter Küche und kleinem Bad. Und das Beste: mitten im Regenwald gelegen. Die Geräuschkulisse in der Nacht war phänomenal.

2) Volcanoes National Park: auf Big Island liegt einer der aktivsten Vulkane der Welt, in dem auch aktuell Lava an die Erdoberfläche tritt. Zwar kann man derzeit keine frische Lava ins Meer fließen sehen, aber die Aussicht auf den Lavasee im Krater in der Nacht war trotzdem spektakulär. Tagsüber ist die Landschaft, die von erstarrter Lava bedeckt ist, einfach atemberaubend. Und in gewissen Teilen von Big Island müssen die Bewohner jederzeit damit rechnen, dass ihr Haus von Lava überrollt wird.

3) Mauna Kea: auf dem Gipfel dieses als “ruhend” (aber nicht erloschen) eingestuften, 4.205 m hohen Vulkans, befinden sich einige der größten optischen und Radio-Teleskope der Erde, die von verschiedenen Staaten und Organisationen betrieben werden. Auf Grund der Höhe befindet sich der Gipfel fast immer über den Wolken und bietet den Astronomen daher maximale Beobachtungszeiten. Einen Blick in ein solches Observatorium zu werfen war beeindruckend, und vor allem deren Anblick bei Sonnenuntergang!! Mauna Kea ist aber nicht nur für Astronomen interessant, für die Ureinwohner Hawai’is ist er ein heiliger Berg und die Gipfelregion ist als Nationalpark geschützt. Auf den Gipfel zu kommen ist ein Abenteuer: bis zum Besucherzentrum auf 2.800 m kann man auf einer asphaltierten Strasse mit dem Mietauto fahren. Danach darf man nur mehr mit einem Allradfahrzeug weiter, die Mietwagenfirmen verbieten das Befahren der Gipfelstrasse aber komplett, auch für Geländewagen. Wir hatten Glück und konnten mit einem britischen Paar in deren Jeep mitfahren. Wir sind aber leider nicht weit gekommen: auf halber Strecke platzte einer ihrer Reifen (leider vor Ort nicht zu beheben und die Abschleppkosten sind enorm), und wir mussten erneut autostoppen um bis zum Gipfel zu kommen. Es hat sich aber wirklich gelohnt! Vielleicht einer der besten Momente auf unserer Reise bisher!!

Big Island ist einfach GROSSARTIG!!

Unsere letzten Tage in Australien…

Nach unserer Schnorchel-Tour in Coral Bay hatten wir 3 Tage Zeit um wieder Richtung Süden zurück nach Perth zu fahren. Wir legten einen Stopp in “Monkey Mia” ein, einem winzigen Ort und Naturschutzgebiet an der Spitze einer kleinen Halbinsel. Monkey Mia ist berühmt für seine Delphine, die hier schon seit 30 Jahren jeden Vormittag nahe an den Strand ins seichte Wasser kommen um sich ein oder zwei kleine Fische als Snack von den Park-Rangern abzuholen. Sie bekommen nicht mehr, damit sie nicht von den Menschen abhängig werden. Die Delphine kommen wann sie wollen und manchmal kommen sie auch gar nicht – so wie bei uns… 🙁 Zumindest schwammen einige Delphine in Sichtweite vorbei. Als Ausgleich gab’s aber noch Emus und Pelikane aus nächster Nähe zu sehen. Auf dem Rückweg von Monkey Mia hatten wir von einem Aussichtspunkt auf den Klippen einen tollen Blick auf das seichte, klare Wasser der Shark-Bay. Diese Bucht trägt ihren Namen wirklich zu Recht, denn dort herrschte ein reges Treiben: mehrere kleinere Rochen und Riffhaie schwammen gemächlich vorbei. Ein tolles Erlebnis!

Und nach einer letzten Nacht in Perth mussten wir uns auch schon wieder von Australien verabschieden. Mit Zwischenstopp in Sydney ging’s weiter nach Hawaii.

Ningaloo Reef National Park

The Ningaloo Reef is famous for one thing in particular  – here you can go snorkelling with whalesharks. When we heard that we would be there at the right time for doing that, we didn’t hesitate. We booked a Manta Ray snorkelling tour for the 25th and the Whaleshark tour for the 26th. When we arrived at Coral Bay the sky was cloudy and the small village was overcrowded (still Easter Holidays). The next morning it was still cloudy, but the Manta Ray tour started as scheduled. The tour included three snorkelling stops – one with the Manta Rays. As you can see on the pictures, there was a lot to see and it was really impressive for us, as we had never been to a coral reef before. We swam with three impressive Manta Rays (~4 m wingspan) , who were doing loops in the water to graze for plankton, and we saw some more from the boat. It was a real “Wow-Feeling!! But shortly before we arrived at snorkelling spot number three, it started to rain and the wind strengthened up. We started to freeze on the boat, because this boat was not prepared for such a weather. At the beginning no one of the group was keen to go back into the rough water, but since the skipper said we would stay at this place for some more time to wait if the weather gets better,  I said I would go into the water. The funny thing was that the water felt so warm as if jumping into a freshly prepared hot bathing tub. So more people joined me in the water, Eva got in too. Unfortunately the rainfall didn’t stop, but even increased instead, so we arrived completely soaked at our campsite. Luckily the tent stayed dry even after 5h of heavy rain. Rain stopped during nighttime and the sky cleared up. So we could sleep in our tent and we were also optimistic that the whaleshark tour would take place as planned. But unfortunately it rained again the next morning, so the tour was cancelled.

So we have to come back for the whalesharks in a few years…

Karijini National Park – Part 2

We liked the Karijini Park that much that we drove again there next day to visit the gorges we weren´t able to do the day before. Again it was absolutely worth it. Every gorge is so special – and so are the pools there. The gorges of this day were a bit tougher to explore because they were very narrow and sometimes we had to wade through water to reach the pool at the end of the gorge. I mean end of the gorge is not 100% right. End of the area you can access without special equipment and without tour guide.

Karijini National Park

This one was really a highlight on our trip through Western Australia. We drove really, really far (one-way something like 2000km from Perth) to get to this park, but it was worth it. We had a campsite in the town Tom Price, which is about 1h away from the national park. There would have been two campsites at the national park, but they both had only basic facilities (wouldn´t have been that bad) and both were quite exposed to the sun, meaning next to no shadow (that did matter a lot since it had something around 38 degrees during daytime).

So the park faces high temperatures and there is not so much vegetation for shadow – so on the first look it is prairie like we have seen the hundreds of kilometres before. But the Karajini National Park is special because of the gorges where water is running through. At certain areas these rivers change to little lakes and the people call them pools. They call them pools because you can do a short hike and then you can swim there. So 38 degrees at the parking lot, then it gets a bit colder during the hike down to the bottom of the gorge and then it gets very cool as soon as you are in the water. A marvellous experience with a lot of intense colours and drastic changes of the lighting – my camera produced the most time too dark or too bright pictures. At least some of them became reasonable…..

Non-thermal Geysirs

ttttt

On the coast near Carnarvon you can find a nice natural phenomenon. Here the rocks have a lot of holes and when the waves are moving in the right way something like a Geysir can be seen. The rougher the sea the higher the water goes up.

Next to this great place was a sandy beach that was protected by an Island from the rough sea. That was a perfect snorkling spot. And also a perfect spot to have our Easter meal. Of course the food we had wasn´t even near to the tastiness of the stuff we normally eat at Easter, but what can you do – better than nothing.