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"You have ze smallest room in Rotorua"

RTW - New Zealand, North Island

sunny 23 °C
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After spending some time with my family in the south, I flew up to Auckland to spend a few days exploring Māori and geothermal activity. #GeographyYAY

Mount Eden

Mount Eden

Flying up in the morning I spent the afternoon of the first day on the North Island seeing Auckland - starting with the port area, before making my way over to the Domain, where the Auckland War Memorial Museum was located, and then over to Mount Eden - a dormant volcano that has the highest point in, and gives the best free 360˚ view of Auckland - one thing I really noticed being how much hillier Auckland was compared to Christchurch!

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum


Sky Tower

Sky Tower

The following morning I took a coach over to Rotorua - home to the most geothermal and Māori activity accessible. Arriving in blissful sunshine I checked into my hotel, where I was told by a German that I had "ze smallest room in Rotorua", which was in fact no larger than a walk-in wardrobe...not that it mattered, as I was there just one night and it was perfectly comfortable!

Māori Culture

Māori Culture

After treating myself to another piercing to mark the halfway mark of my trip, I went off to explore the local area and seeing my first open hot springs that were only 212˚C, and getting lovely whiffs of Sulphur, I eventually ended up at the supermarket where I decided to cook my own food - in the end I opted for Schnitzel and pasta, whilst wearing a Berlin T-Shirt and surrounded by Germans...just like old times!

Te Puia Geyser

Te Puia Geyser

The following day I went off to Te Puia - the home of the Māori Geothermal activity in Rotorua, where I got to experience Geysers, Mudpools, Māori culture, and see a Kiwi bird - ticking off nearly all of my checklist for the country, and well worth the entrance fee.

Mud Pools

Mud Pools

I then took an afternoon coach back to Auckland, and spent my last night in the city before flying off to destination number 8 - Fiji!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged culture history city hill geothermal maori rtw geography Comments (0)

"Can I take a picture with you?"

RTW - Macau

all seasons in one day 27 °C
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On my first full day the weather in Hong Kong was torrential...getting absolutely drenched after a few minutes, despite all my waterproofs on, but this didn't matter so much as I walked a short distance to the ferry terminal, where I would take a ferry over to the Portuguese version of Hong Kong - Macau.

The territory was handed back over to China in 1999 and unlike Hong Kong is very very small (around half the size of San Marino, compared to HK's half the size of Luxembourg), and actually makes more money in gambling than Las Vegas.

Senado Square

Senado Square

Luckily the weather in Macau was much nicer, although it did make the first half of the hour long ferry journey pretty bumpy. I then spent about 5 hours walking around the territory, starting with the newer developed areas where some of the casinos are, before walking around some of the more Chinese areas and seeing Senado Square.

Ruins of St. Paul's

Ruins of St. Paul's

I then finished my tour of the city with it's landmark - the ruins of St. Paul's - a former cathedral that was mostly destroyed by a fire after a typhoon in 1835, with only the front façade remaining. It was here that the bizarre moment of my trip occurred, when after being asked by a group of what looked like Chinese to take a group photo for them, I was asked if they could take a photo with me...

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Macau Tagged history tourists rtw colony Comments (0)

"I like your T-Shirt!"

RTW - Tokyo

sunny 32 °C
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Having left Dubai at a disgustingly early 2:50am (and being told by the air hostess that she loved my T-Shirt, not realising it was actually dedicated to Copenhagen, despite the red blob looking rather like the Japanese flag), I was flown over Afghanistan and the Himalayas and then China and Korea before touching down in Japan in the early evening.

By the time I worked out and bought all the transport cards for the entirety of my trip and made it to my hotel it was already 9pm...and so finally making it to bed was a relief, and I treated myself to an extra long lie in, getting up at around 2pm, after the maid had already called. However this was to be one of the many appreciations for the Japanese I was to encounter...the maid had left me all the essentials for night (sheets, toiletries, dressing gown) just outside my door without disturbing me! So lovely of her!

I then took the metro to do a bit of sightseeing that and I once again witnessed some of the Japanese behaviour, this time in terms of personal space - when a train is half full, Japanese people will automatically space themselves so that their is a single seat between each other. However when the train is more busy this becomes more difficult, and so if there are 3 people sitting next to each other (where there will be a visible gap between them) and the person on the end gets up to the leave the train, almost instantaneously, the middle passenger will move to the edge...such a funny thing to see!

Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa Shrine

I then arrived at my first sight, the Asakusa Shrine, a short distance away from the Tokyo Skytree - and the two could not be more different! One being a historical place of worship, and the other a modern commercial tower! This was then followed by a visit across town to the Shibuya Crossing, the busiest crossing in the world where people cross in any direction, fun to people watch!

Tokyo Metropolitan Towers

Tokyo Metropolitan Towers

On the second day I realised how warm it was in the city..despite being 10 degrees colder than Dubai, it was still over 30! More refreshing, but still pretty humid. I had first visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Towers, where free views of the city are available, and then gone through the park areas to see more Shines.

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine

After this, I finished up at the Tokyo Tower, before eating and then going back to the Asakusa Shine to see it in darkness.

Asakusa

Asakusa


Edo Castle

Edo Castle

On my final full day I saw the very heart of the city, including the Imperial Palace grounds, which I had booked in advance and were free. For my final night I had decided to spend it in a capsule bed, which was also offered by my hotel and was only one step up from a dorm room. However being Japan, there is so much respect for others and I had an easy nights sleep before making my way to the airport for my onward flight.

Capsule Bed

Capsule Bed

The hotel I stayed in I can easily say is the best hotel ever, being so cheap, in a great location as well as friendly and helpful staff and very modern and clean - although this could easily sum up Japan in general! The small bit I have seen has been so wonderful that it makes me want to visit again, and I would recommend it to all of you!

Next stop: Hong Kong!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Japan Tagged technology tower culture history palace city shrine rtw Comments (0)

Graz

Central Europe - Graz

sunny 26 °C
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Making it into Austria we were immediately hit by modernity...electronic updated travel information and electronic doors! Once we made it to Graz early than expected we decided to visit the local shopping centre, rather than cramming it into the plan for the next day - however we didn't realise that actually we arrived on a Bank Holiday, and so it was shut...

Uhrturm

Uhrturm

Scrapping that plan, the following day we started with visiting the house in Graz where my great grandmother lived, before climbing the Schloßberg and viewing the symbol of the city - the Uhrturm, and then making our way down into the market place. Being a small city we then had ample time to visit the shopping centre where we ate the classic Schnitzel, topping up our culinary delights after the Paprika Chicken in Hungary!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Austria Tagged history city hill homeland Comments (0)

The Balaton

Central Europe - Balaton

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

The second part of the trip involved visiting Lake Balaton in the west of Hungary. We stayed in the resort town of Keszthely, where there was a lovely beach into the shallow lake which was rather refreshing after the hot weather of recent. This was also the first place I had ever been where my German was actually required to get around - despite having lived in Germany for a year!

On the following day we took the trip to Sümeg, the village where my grandad lived until he escaped Hungary in 1956, and where the majority of the rest of his family still live.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Despite speaking no Hungarian, and most of them speaking no English, we were warmly welcomed and had a thoroughly enjoyable day getting to know them and visiting Sümeg Castle.

Sümeg Castle

Sümeg Castle


Lake Hévíz

Lake Hévíz

The following day we visited the spa town of Hévíz just up the road from Keszthely where the thermal lake had waters of 30˚C+, something I had yet to experience. The sun also left its mark on me that day, allowing me to sport a lovely sunburn for the next week. On our final day we relaxed a little as our next day involved a 5-leg travel into Austria and spent the day at the market hunting for Noodle scrapers!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged beach history family castle homeland Comments (0)

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