Written on 1st September 2006

G’Day mates :-) ,

I am writing to you again, this time from New Zealand. We moved a bit on the east last Wednesday but I will start from the beginning.

I wrote about Sydney and Opera House last time. We went to Bondi Beach by train and bus the next day and swam there in quite cold water but in huge waves. I could even surf without any board, just had to swim up and catch a wave. Once I went for about 20 metres on a big wave. Then we walked along the coast on cliffs and back home.

On Monday (the previous one) we took part in a group tour to Blue Mountains. These Mountains are blue because of eucalypt trees that grow up all over mountains. Their oil creates a mist and that creates the blue effect. It is the same like with sky. We went by a small bus and the driver took us to many lookouts (viewpoints). We saw waterfalls, Australia’s Grand Canyon and also went on the steepest railway in the world. The inclination was 51 degree. When we sat down, I was wondering why we almost lied but when it moved, I got it. It went quite fast. Down there we had a walk through a rainforest where my friend and I were "hunted" by our guide because we were too slow and wanted to see everything. We also went to the Sydney Olympic City. There is lots of stadium and even houses for accomodation on one place. It is huge and empty at the moment. We got back to Sydney by a ferry and saw whole city in the night from Parramatta river.

The last day in Sydney we spent by visiting the maritime museum where we could enter an old destroyer and a submarine from the World War II. The submarine was quite small and I asked an old mariner how they lived there. He told me that if you once lived in submarine, you can sleep everywhere. True. Then in the evening we went to Canberra by bus.

Originally I wanted to explore Canberra first, then to hire a car second day and went to Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) but I got a crazy idea (which my friend did not like :-) ) in a bus. I thought up that we could hire a bike in a hostel and go to CDSCC by bike. It was supposed to be just 40km one way. Unfortunatelly we got lost on the way there (did not take any map) and arrived to CDSCC from the other side after we went at least 50km. It was worth of it. We heard a very good lecture for small children (there was a school trip that we joined :-) ) about the centre, Mars, Space and about sending of probes to Mars and we also saw the latest picture from those probes. It was cool because children had lots of funny questions, i.e. if there has been anyone from Jamaica in the Space :-) . The guide tried to interest children and adviced them to become astronauts. He said that when the first man had landed on Mars, it would be good if he was Australian. He did not want to hear again something like "a small step for a man but a big leap for mankind" but "G’day Mates!" instead :-) . He also said that the famous video from Moon with Neil Armstrong was received here in that centre. They had got some trouble in USA and they got the pictrures upside down. So Neil had to wait for a while hanging on a ladder until the Australian centre was able to see Moon and received pictures.

Luckily we did not have any problem on the way back to Canberra, we did not get lost this time. The road was quite hilly and my friend walked up almost every hill. I made a fun of him that it was like on New Zeland only rain was missing :-) . He hated me for that. If we had gone the same way to CDSCC, I might have given up as well. We arrived back to hostel quite tired but we did not get any sore muscles the next day.

We wanted to explore Canberra the next day and then go to Melbourne in the night but it was raining all day and unfortunatelly public transport did not work that day. Drivers were on strike. So we changed our plan, jumped on a bus in the afternoon, say goodbye to Canberra and left to Melbourne.

We spent last weekend just by walking around city and because we were a bit tired of museums we relaxed a lot. First day we went to the highest building in the city (again supposed to be the highest building in the southern hemisphere) and look down around the city. Nothing special, no special building to see. Then we left to Federation Square, which is a square full of modern art buildings. No building is rectangular there. We got a unique program for the evening. We went to see a footie (Aussie Rules football match). It was organised by our hostel and we watched a video about rules first. It is something between Gaelic football and rugby, hard to explain rules because I had not got them either :-) . The most important thing was, however, that our team won. After that I went with a few friends from the hostel to a night club where there was no entrance fee and drinks were for free from 11pm till 1am. I got a bit drunk in two hours and when they wanted me to pay for drinks, I just left home (music was crap anyway).

We went to see Old Melbourne Goal last Sunday, but it was not so good exposition. I have seen much better in Ireland. They had just boards with description of life of some prisoners there. The most famous was some guy called Ned who was something like Jessie James. He got a gang and used a special metal armour. Finally he was shot to his leg and hang up.

Last Monday we hired a car for two days with my friend and went to the Great Ocean Road. We had been thinking about this or Philip Island, which is famous for seeing little penguins at dusk, but the Ocen Road won. The first day we went to a beach where the biggest surfers competition takes part every Easter, saw a few waterfalls and lookouts and went through the Great Ocen Road. Nice view from there and we got a good weather too. We also went to see a lighthouse on Cape Otway and whole area and met a guy that showed us a place with Koalas on the way back. Koalas were on every tree here and my friend took loads of pictures of them. It was also different to see hinterland here. Everything was green and more similar to Ireland than to dry Australia how we saw it on the north.

We slept in a "hostel" where we were alone with my friend and I succeded in closing door of a bathroom in that way that I could not open it again. I had to get out of there through a window :-) . The next day we went to see lots of rock formations like London Bridge, twelve apostoles, Blow Hole etc. Hard to describe, that must be seen on pictures (and we got about 300 of them). Then we went to see a big waterfalls and after that we went on the top of a dormant volcano called Red Rock to see sunset. Unfortunatelly it was cloudy and we saw nothing. I always fell asleap on the way and my friend laughed at me all the time :-) .

Next day (last Wednesday) we flew over to New Zealand to Auckland and spent whole Thursday by relaxing and reading guides (I had not read anything about New Zealand and only knew that they have got ten times more sheep than people :-) ), planning our cycling trip and looking for a bike rental company. Originally we wanted to head off on Friday but we were told in the rental company that they need a day to prepare our bikes. So we had to move our leave to Saturday. The first stop will be near Hot Springs because we want to get warmed up a bit.

Today we went to explore Auckland then and again from the top. They have got a tall building called Sky Tower but we did not want to spend money for it. Instead we walked to the highest volcano (Auckland is built on a volcano area) in Auckland, Mount Eden. It was a hill with 50 metres deep crater and a beautiful lookout all over the city. In the evening we got finally our bikes and left our backpacks in the rental company together with swimsuits and souveniers :-) . Tomorrow we are heading off then.

At the moment we are in a time zone UTC+12, that means 10 hours ahead compared to Czech Republic and 11 hours compared to Ireland. I also got a new phone number +64210574246. It was fun to choose a SIM card because there is just one operator here and it has got just one offer. A shop assistent laughed at me and wondered why I had chosen just that tariff (quite expensive by the way) :-D .

Anyway, I had run out of all my money, which I saved for whole trip, after two months but I have been saved by my best roommate Palko (he must have slept when I was telling him that because he could not remember ;-) ).

Please feel free to forward this to anyone who I forgot to send it to.

Pavel (Inža)

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