25 September 2007 (South Africa)
Imagine … at this moment it’s Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning we would depart to South Africa to visit my Dad.
And imagine … for the last couple of weeks I’m working my ass off to finish the Apple painting, so it can dry and is ready to ship to an Australian gallery after we return. I only need to paint the tree trunks and the stems of the apples, which is 1 full day of work.
Imagine too … that I have to do 2 laundries before we leave. And that I need to do a minimum amount of house cleaning because one of the neighbours will come to feed our cat. And that I want to shorten the comfortable pants I planned to wear during the trip. And that I urgently need to buy contact lens solution because otherwise I can throw them in the bin tonight.
And imagine that the rest of this afternoon was meant to do the paperwork for buying the house from our neighbour (of which I will write more later).
And then imagine … Frank says: “Oh shit, the tickets are for Tuesday. Instead of Wednesday!”
19 March 2007 (New Zealand)
Because all the highlights of New Zealand are located far away from each other, every tiny collection of rusty old things or every better designed garden, immediately is touted as THE centerpiece of the day in the info-guides.
Sometimes these highlights can be somewhat disappointing for tourists who are used to a much higher degree of amusement. However a few go-getting entrepreneurs are trying to brush this up with Bungee jumping and Zorbas to adrenalinazing the face of New Zealand, you better stay away if you just love the polished perfection of Disney World.
I love Disney at times, but I also appreciate the New Zealander who tries to make something out of nothing, without being bothered by the expectations of the spoiled tourist. Or even don’t have a fainted idea of what those expectations may be.
Above all New Zealand is famous for its breathtaking scenery, but did you know that nature is also quite boring? Magical and incredibly beautiful, but if you are not susceptible to a lot of shades of green, you won’t survive the boredom. Just like that dreadful Lord of the Rings.
Frankly, I find New Zealand personally a great place to live, but for that fairy tale feeling I more need pictures of the Far East. But you better do not live in a fairy tale, because then where do you have to go on vacation?
Together with Frank’s parents we slowly have been driven to Wellington in our car. Wellington is located at the lower tip of the North Island. After 1 week Frank and I went back to Whakatane by plane and the parents booked the ferry to explore the South Island.
But now, what were the highlights of our little trip?
The first stop was the Waitomo Caves, or the glow-worm caves. You can see the glow worms hanging on the slimy ceilings of the caves, while you are sitting in a boat sailing through small waters. Frank and I already had seen them on our first trip in 2003, so we stayed in our hotel and let the parents do the event. That didn’t matter because that morning we had seen the most fantastic stalagmite in the world. A long time ago the concierge of the hotel had created a huge yellow/brown/grayish sculpture of silicone sealant, right in the corner of our bathroom! Over the years it had gotten a glossy patina of mucus and that had attracted a variety of pubic hairs.
I’m sorry I didn’t think to use my camera at that moment of discovering.
Mount Ruapehu is a high snowy volcano. At the foot, in the village of Ohakune they sell skis. There wasn’t much to do, but it was so quiet and peaceful. An atmosphere like in your childhood days on a warm autumn day when you played truant, and there was no one else on the street.
In Whanganui something happened to me of what every superficial woman is hoping for … a rival fellow woman recognized me wearing the only piece of designer clothing I own!!! Only sold in New York and Los Angeles (and Tauranga), for the price of a decent used moped. I was proud! I had bought it prior to the first art contest, at the time that I was still confident of winning. Anticipating the series of speeches I should have to do on stage. Haha.
Sad, isn’t it? But the contest attempts aren’t over yet.
Wellington itself was a city like so many other cities. The highlight was the botanical garden with a small fish pond in a greenhouse. I stuck my finger in the pond and left it there for a good ten minutes to let it be kissed by a few dozens of fish. That mentally excited me to such heights, that at night I ordered the second bottle of beer in my life. The first was in 1982.
14 March 2006 (Australia)
In the late morning we do some walks. The beaten tracks; such as the botanical garden, the South banks and a mangrove-boardwalk along the river. I hope ever to become an early bird, so that I will be able to see these beautiful things at sunrise, when there is nobody on the street and for a while you can imagine you are the only living soul in the city. For a moment wading through the empty, silent, warm pool and see those strange mangroves in the magical morning light.
For a night owl this is an almost unattainable time of the day.
One of the forms of public transport is the City Cat; a catamaran crosses the river at high-speed, zigzagging from jetty to jetty. You can use it all day for only five Australian dollars. For us tourists this was a perfect way to spend the sun-drenched afternoon; Sitting in the wind on a fast boat, stepping off, checking out some neighbourhoods and stepping on again.
A very wide river runs through Brisbane. Ten meters from the edge a bicycle-path with a length of 2 kilometers is floating in the water.
Via thàt cycle track and a lot of other streets, we walked to the gallery area to do some research in advance, because … well, you never know.
Like in all big cities, the neighborhood with the galleries is located just off the center. We only visit one of the top galleries, looking for paintings that are similar in price and size to mine. And yes, my concurrents are existing! So there must be a market for. I almost know for sure selling over here will be easier than in New Zealand. Not easy, but easier.
Ai … another point of consideration to add to the list with allurements … Unprepared a seed is planted.
12 March 2006 (Australia)
We have arrived on Friday in Brisbane. My in-laws were knocked out after a full day of traveling. Auckland/Brisbane is only 3.5 hours, but like everywhere in the world for an international flight you need to check in at the airport 3 hours in advance, after an equally long journey by car before.
Frank and I have more energy and appetite and want to stay & play outside for as long as possible. It is 25 degrees and the lady at the hotel desk explained the eateries could be found across the river in a sort of park.
As far as we can judge in the dark, Brisbane is beautiful!!!!! And clean. The park is richly decorated with palm trees and there is a large ‘artificial’ beach with air heated chlorinated water, mini-lagoons and boardwalks. You can swim for free at any hour of the day or night. It is dark (the pictures are from the next day), but it is pleasantly lit and there is a peaceful and fairy atmosphere. Fantastic!
I always forget to bring some item in our suitcase. To keep the tension alive, I refuse to make a proper list. Last time it was a classic one; toothbrushes. Nothing to bother because you can buy them in every night shop. This time I had forgotten a more difficult piece; the battery charger of the camera!
Since the arrival at the airport I was complaining that we urgently had to buy one, but Frank likes to live dangerous … he thinks there is nothing more fun than making a picture on the last drop of gasoline.
In contrast to New Zeeland, there is an extensive network of public transport. The first day was for family visits, but Sunday we went by train to Underwater World in Mooloolaba. But just THAT day there was a strike going on! Instead of 1 hour we did the trip in 4 hours …
The same applies for the return trip. So we have had plenty of time to think about whether we could live here …
* Yes, because Brisbane is the nicest city we have visited so far in our lives.
* No, because a large part of the year it is too hot.
At first glance Australia seems to be a lot more Americanish than New Zealand. Both socially and in their appearance reminiscent of the pastel colored Florida. The social parable appeals less to us, but in detail the groomed appearance of Brisbane and Mooloolaba is delightful. Even the high buildings are not too ugly. Everything meant for public use, is made of good materials; hardwood, stainless steel which is cut in fancy shapes and decorations. Tiles, planters, fences, staircases and fountains; everything looks equally chic. No plastic or molest-proof and graffiti resistant stuff.
We noticed that the men -although closer to the equator than in New Zealand- are all neatly dressed in long pants and that all women are -without any exception- try to at least ‘make something’ of their appearance.
Well, not for nothing New Zealanders are bullied by the Australians because of their … well, their countrifiedness.