A Travellerspoint blog

December 2010

Christmas in Ireland

snow -2 °C

I've been back in Dublin for five days now - it feels weird posting a blog entry in Ireland. I have to say I'm really happy to be home. Christmas just isn't the same otherwise. Getting back from Sydney was a long journey though - 8 hours to Singapore, 2 hour wait there, 11 hours to Frankfurt, 5 hour wait there and finally a 2 hour flight to Dublin.

Holidays Highlights (So Far)
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5: Byron Bay
4: Singapore
3: Whitsundays
2: Sydney
1: Frasier Island

I've enjoyed catching up with my family and friends over the past few days. I'm home for three weeks before I fly to Bangkok on January 7th. I'll spend 2 months travelling across South East Asia, covering Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos with Carly. We're hoping to make a visit to Hong Kong and Macau all going well. Following that I'll spend 1 more week in Sydney, 3 in New Zealand, 2 in Fiji and 1 in LA/San Diego. I'll be home then at the end of April. It all seems like a long way away but I know it will fly.

Next blog update will be in the second week of January from Thailand. For now, Happy Christmas everyone and here are some pics from home...

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Posted by mattld 08:50 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Leaving Oz

sunny 27 °C

I feel sad writing this last blog entry from my Oz experience. It's 11.10am in the morning and I'm all packed and ready to leave for the airport. I've mixed feeling really. I'm sad that the last two and half months have gone by so quickly. I've met some fantastic people and experienced so many new things. However I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone back in Ireland for Christmas. I'll have one more week in Sydney in March so that makes it a lot easier to be leaving.

The past few days have been spent meeting up with friends - some from Sydney and some from my East Coast travels. Yesterday I finally got to do the Sydney Art Gallery and Botanic Gardens, two things I had intended to do before I flew to Cairns but wasn't able to due to the weather. Speaking of which, the sun has continued on and it's been a great way to finish off my Australian holiday. Had the lashing rain from Surfers/Brisbane continued it would have been a bit of a downer.

I'll have one final blog update when I'm back in Dublin with a top 5 list of my Ozi highlights. Here are some pics from the past few days:

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Posted by mattld 16:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Byron Bay

sunny 27 °C

The contrast between Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise could not have been greater. Goodbye to the lashing rain, high rise buildings and general tackiness. Hello to lots of sun, a small beach town and a general chilled out atmosphere. Love it. I couldn't believe my luck with the weather the past three days, it has been beautiful.

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On Wednesday I checked into my hostel and headed straight to the beach. The thrill of having sun again, how I have missed you (I'll enjoy it now before the snow back in Ireland). That evening I met up with the Danes and Swedes from Fraser. Together with two new additions we enjoyed a long evening of goon and drinking games. The 'everyone get to the chopper!' game was resurrected and it was a drunken fun evening that ended in one of the newbies collapsing, getting sick everywhere and having to be carried home to his hostel where the only choice was to put him to sleep on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. It would have been rude not to get it on camera.

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Thursday morning resulted in a very bad hangover but after some food I was back down to the beach for a spot of sunbathing and a dip in the ocean. The water here is really warm so I was loving it. Unfortunately after about 15 minutes my arm suddenly began to sting. Feck, a jellyfish?! No it was a long blue thing attached to my right arm and I didn't have a clue what it was. But it hurt badly. I pulled it off and quickly got out of the water and over to the lifeguard. Turns out I got stung by a Blue Bottle Fish along with 100 other people that day! Thanks for warning us Mr. Lifeguard, nice! I spent the next hour in agony with an ice bag and eventually under a hot shower as that works best. It has put me right off going back in the ocean. Thank god it wasn't a Jelly Fish.

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Once I was feeling better I took a stroll through the town and ended up in Wicked Travel and booked myself on a sky dive for the following day. I have been thinking about this on and off the past few years but never went through with it. However when in Rome! The Visa was put through and there was no going back. Shitting it already! That night I took it easy as I didn't want to be hungover on the big day.

Friday and it was sky dive time. I was standing outside my hostel at 1.30pm ready for pick-up. Only ten minutes later nobody had showed. A quick phone call later and I was told due to high wind it was being delayed until 3.30pm. Annoyance! I really wanted to get it over and done with. 2 Hours later and another call to tell me it was being delayed until 5.30pm. And then finally by 5pm I was told it was cancelled and I would get a full refund. Noooo! Although I was dreading it I had psyched myself up and just wanted to do it. Unfortunately as this was my last day here my next opportunity won't be until New Zealand in March.

Instead I took a walk with a few of the guys up to the Lighthouse - a 2.5 hour round trip walk. Bit of exercise and some great views on the way.

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By 9pm I was ready for my Greyhound bus - it was a rough night and definitely not as comfortable as the last overnight bus I had taken. 2 hours late and completely packed, we were assigned seating for the first time. Unfortunately I was put on the aisle next to a large Dutch guy and although I had two sleeping tablets to take, I woke up constantly throughout the night as the bus kept stopping for people to hop on/off. I arrived in Sydney at 12pm today so it was straight to the hostel for a few hours kip. I'm feeling refreshed and ready for a good night out.

Posted by mattld 22:51 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Surfers Paradise

sunny 28 °C

I arrived in Surfers Paradise on Saturday afternoon. I had heard more negativity about this particular location than anywhere else on my East Coast travels. Most people I spoke to didn’t enjoy their experience and recommended as little time as possible. Unfortunately with 3 big theme parks I couldn’t resist and had to book myself in for a few nights. I expected the worst and thankfully it wasn’t all that bad at all. Yes there are sky high apartment blocks that remind you of the ‘2 Key’ apartments from Gran Canaria. The city centre is packed full of restaurants, bars and clubs – for a moment you could almost think you’re back in Lanzerote on a cheap packaged holiday deal with Budget Travel. In comparison to all the previous places I have been to, this was my least favourite destination.

On my first evening I decided to try out a pub crawl organised by my hostel. You pay 30 dollars, get taken to 4 clubs and get 4 free drinks. It was like being back in college. Only I didn’t know anyone. The night was alright – I met a few people and had a few laughs but as there was over 50 from my hostel alone not to mention a number of others in the local area joining in. I was missing my group from the Whitsundays and Fraser. You were very much a number being ushered in and out and each club as quickly as possible. I decided to call it a night just before the last place as I had an early start the next morning.

The weather forecasted when I arrived in Surfers could not have been any worse – torrential rain for the following week. Why did I have to get the Wet Season year? I wasn’t going to let rain stop me so on Sunday morning, out I went in the lashing rain to Seaworld, my first park. I had to laugh walking to the bus stop - only I would be determined enough to do a theme park in the lashing rain. It wasn’t long before I got myself a poncho and a golf umbrella – despite looking incredibly silly, I would have been lost without them. Visiting a theme park in the rain is not very fun – but hey I had little choice so I made the most of it. This Seaworld was nowhere as good as the one in Orlando. It was a lot smaller but had the usual mix of marine wildlife and a couple of average rollercoasters thrown in as well. The only highlight for me was the Dolphin show – it was brilliant. I love Dolphins! That evening I went to see the new Narnia film – I shouldn’t have bothered it was the worst one so far. But I was expecting that as I’ve read the books. Oh well. On a sidenote, it is so humid here - because of the rainfall and clouds everywhere it is boiling hot in my hostel room so it's windows open and the fan on at all times. No air conditioning unfortunately!

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Monday morning and it was time for Dreamworld – I woke up to more torrential rain! I headed out anyway and met up with Christian and Anne, a Danish couple from my Fraser Island trip. It was nice to see some friendly faces again. The park itself was another let down – not a lot of brilliant rides but we still had fun. The highlights for me were The Claw (a swinging pendulum), Alien vs. Predator (think Q-Zar in an Alien/Predator setting, it was really cool) and the Big Drop (the highest I have ever been on, it was freaking scary!). What looked like the best ride i.e. Tower of Terror II was closed due to the rain – booo. That evening we had dinner at Hard Rock Café where I tried guacamole for the first time – yep I’ve never had it before as I thought it looked like baby poo! I really liked it. After dinner I persuaded the Danes to come to Dracula’s House of Terror (a walk through horror attraction) as I didn’t want to do it on my own. This was a lot of fun and we got a few good scares along the way.

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Tuesday morning and my last full day here – the final park left to visit i.e. Warner Brothers Movie World! This was by far the best park of the three and had some great rides e.g. Superman Returns, Lethal Weapon and Batman - quality. The weather also cleared for the day so I didn’t have to walk around in my ridiculous looking poncho, hurray! That evening I went to see the new Harry Potter film – I’m not a big fan but it was the best of the lot by a mile, far darker than any of the others and a lot more action. I've just arrived in Byron Bay this afternoon, my second last stop. The sun is beaming down and I've run into the two Swedish lads from my Fraser jeep group - I just hope the good weather lasts.

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Posted by mattld 20:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Brisbane

overcast 22 °C

FYI for those of you reading this is a double entry update - I had intended to post my Fraser blog a few days ago but haven't had the chance so instead of one big huge post I've broken it up into two. Scroll down below this post if you want to read up on Fraser Island.

The bus journey from Hervey Bay to Brisbane was about 5 hours - I'm getting used to travelling by bus now and I have to say it's a lot more enjoyable than a plane journey. It's cool just plugging in the iPod, chilling out and taking in the scenary on the journey. Every bus so far has played films too which also helps the time pass quickly. I arrived into Brisbane at about 2pm to torrential rain! After 3 really good days of weather it was a bit of a shame but I didn't mind too much as it's humid. It was strange coming back into a city after two weeks of small beach towns and islands. I was jut getting used to the quieter life.

One of my good friends Tracy lives here - I worked with her at Hunter Marshal and then at Adecco for about two years. She invited me to stay at her apartment so I cancelled my hostel and met up with her that evening. It's great seeing old friends again. That evening we got a Dominos pizza and had a good catch up before an early night as we were both knackered.

On Thursday I was up early for a City tour I had booked the night before. It was good one too at about three hours where you were brought around all the key highlights and given all the history. The city itself is the third largest in Australia at about 2 million people and you can tell they take a lot of pride in it. It has a very English feel to it due to many of the older buildings and architecture. Australia was originally a prison/convict country and many were brought to Brisbane by the British. That afternoon I took a wander around South Bank - an amazing area with an outdoor pool/beach lagoon, a large ferris wheel, plenty of cultural activites, Chinese gardens, a small make shift rainforest and shops/restaurants.

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I visited two art galleries and the city mueseum for a bit of culture. The modern art gallery was hilarious, some of the stuff is just plain weird i.e. a room with 16 seperate screens all lined up filled with Michael Jackson obsessives singing every single song from his 1982 Thriller albulm. It was all very much out of tune. The guys on it were camper than Christmas wearing the white glove and the girls had the strange eye thing going on. I couldn't get a photo as it was too dark, shame.

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That evening me and Tracy headed out on the lash - after a spot of dinner we visited a great Irish bar for cheap drinks (4 single vodkas and a mixer for 8 dollars!) and a few hours at a brilliant karaoke bar where you are backed by a live band. I sang Wonderwall, Bittersweet Symphony and then Livin on a Prayer as a duet with Tracy. There was a prize at the end of it and I won. Love it! 50 Dollar voucher thank you very much. It ended with some clubbing and a late return home.

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Hangover.com this morning! I had intended to visit Steve Irwin's zoo but got up too late so today I am just having a wander around the streets and updating the blog and pics etc. As I said in an earlier post I've had my fill of zoos so it wasn't the end of the world. Tracy is on her Christmas night out so I will meet up with her later. Tomorrow I go to Surfers Paradise for four nights - I hear the city is like a cheap Santa Ponza and lots of schoolies but it has four massive Theme Parks so I can't wait! Really excited. It's Wet Season along the coast (the first in 29 years I'm told how typical) so I hope it won't rain too much.

Oh and finally, it couldn't feel less Christmassy here even though the Australians are making an effort. Here's a picture of a a random busker playing Jingle Bells in his flip flops, shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses - I'll never get used to it!

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Posted by mattld 20:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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