Renting a car in Melbourne for Christmas - like a jackpot in the lottery
After a 7hr flight under arctic conditions due to air conditioning working on full volume (you COULD stop freezing if you rented a blanket for 3$...) we finally arrived in Melbourne and made it to Geelong, a city about 2 hrs away from the airport with the only rental car available in the whole district. Apparently, Christmas is a very popular time for Australians as well as tourists to go and to explore the countryside, so much so, that literally no cars were available in the whole area. Once we finally got our hands on a rental car for the next few days, our trip along the Great Ocean Road could commence. Driving west of Melbourne, we went through the Great Otway National Park and the Otway Forest Park where you can find koalas in the wild, many vineyards and tropical forests, as well as many beautiful beaches. Our highlight of our first night in Australia was seeing the sunset at the 12 Apostles and the penguins living there which come back home every night 30 min after sunset. Funny enough they are called 12 Apostles even though it's definitely less than 12 stone pillars in the sea.
And the award to the most annoying fly goes to.....
the Australian Bush Fly! this type of fly prefers to really be 'in your face'.
It feeds on your saliva and other excrement so it really tries to get into your mouth, eyes, nose and open wounds-yummy! And usually, there are about 20 of them at least...something nobody warned us off. As a consequence, the idea of going on a hike was quickly thrown overboard and instead we made our way towards Warrnambool up the coast where we had a 16 bedroom dorm just for ourselves.
On Christmas Eve, we went to one of the local cheese farms and had a nice Christmas lunch, before we made our way back towards the city of Melbourne. Where we had an surprisingly good Armenian Christmas dinner.
Koalas, kangaroos and dolphins for Christmas
On Christmas day, we decided to go to Philipps Island where we managed to see koalas and kangaroos, and on top of that, on boxing day, we were lucky enough to snorkel with dolphins. In addition, we managed to meet up with two friends of mine, one from California and the other one from Germany. Both moved to Melbourne so of course we stopped and made a visit. Although many years had passed until we last saw each other, it felt like it had been just yesterday. Melbourne itself is very similar to London and the hip area called fitzroy is equal to Camden, but overall, with all the excursions and meeting with friends, we didn't get to see that much of the city. Our impression was that there is plenty of delicious food available in Melbourne, from Chinese, over Thai, Lebanese and many more. Australia in general seemed to be rather expensive, food as well as accommodation so it is not necessarily the right decision for people on a budget.
New Years Eve fireworks in Sydney and one sad farewell
Right before New Year, we hopped on a bus towards Sydney to visit another friend and a former boss of mine. We were lucky enough to get a room in the heart of the city and decided to do a walking tour through the downtown area, as well as an Opera tour and a relaxing day at Manly Beach. For our final day of the year, we ended up going to Coogee Beach and walking along the coast direction Bondi. After that, we had lunch with our friend and managed to watch the Sydney fireworks from a prime location, with harbor bridge on our left and the opera on our right, rooftop terrace and live band included. This can be considered as the coolest firework both of us have ever seen and the best way to finish our trip together.
After just 3 hours of sleep, we started what would be our last little journey together, at least on this trip, towards the Sydney Airport to say good bye. While Johannes made the decision to continue his adventure in Australia, I headed back to Asia to meet up with my mum.