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Australia

Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires

Don’t miss the best opera houses around the world

By | Argentina, Australia, USA | No Comments

Throughout all my travels, I never got a ticket for an opera abroad. I either felt I did not have the money (Sydney Opera House), there wasn’t a play during my stay (La Scala, Milan), the affordable tickets were sold out (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires) or I simply forgot about it (Lincoln Center, New York).  For the future, I decided, that this is going to change – next time I will do my very best to get a ticket once I am near one of the best opera houses of the world.

Sydney Opera House

Every opera house has unique challenges, when it comes to acoustics. Even cultural customs have an influence on the acoustics, like in Italy, where architects have to the effect into account that people bring their jackets into the room instead of giving it to the wardrobe.

Lincoln Center, New York

If you are not fancy for operas, I would still advise you to take a guided tour. Opera houses are an architectural masterpiece. I was amazed by the effort it took, to provide “perfect acoustics”. There are numerous components when it comes to perfect sound: The shape of the room, the material the wall, ceiling and floor are built of and even the cloth of the seats. In order to provide the same acoustic during rehearsals like during the actual performance, the material and shape of the seats have to absorb the same amount of sound, as if a person was sitting on it.

Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
Australia Kings Canyon (1)

Kings Canyon: Insider tip for people heading towards Ayers Rock

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Traveling Australia as a student, I had a lot of time to spend in the country. To get a real outback experience, we decided to drive through the outback instead of just flying to Ayers Rock and back to the coast. It was an amazing experience – especially since we did not have air-condition in our van!

For sure, our main thing on the “To-See-List” was Ayers Rock. However, reading about the region we found out about Kings Canyon, a highly recommended area 4 hours drive from Ayers Rock. I had difficulties enjoying Ayers Rock, since Uluru – as the Aborigines call it – is a holy place to them, which they would not touch and for sure – never climb. Yet, since tourists are a great bargain, they offer tours to hike on Uluru, which is absolutely against their culture.

After Ayers Rock we spoilt ourselves at Kings Canyon Resort (ok resort, but view and pool making up for everything) and found out about some hiking tours around the canyon. At these time, I hated hiking, especially in the heat. Yet, what we experienced was breathtaking. I have never before seen such a tremendous canyon, with breathtaking formations of colored stones. If you ever make it to the Outback, make sure you see Kings Canyon and go for the three hours hiking tour on top of the canyon. If you look closely at the left hand side of the picture, you can see some tiny people standing at the edge of the canyon, which is part of the hiking route!

Port Arthur Tasmanien

Tasmania: Port Arthur – super scary, unique and highly recommended

By | Australia | 2 Comments

If you ever travel Australia, make sure you get to see Tasmania or “Tassie”, as the “Aussi’s” say. Since it is a 15 hours boat ride away from the mainland, there are not too many tourists going there, which really makes it a special and remote place. It’s most known for the Tasmanian Devil, a little monster with awful teeth. The island is a quiet place of nature with beautiful walks across the diverse and green countryside.

The most impressive and awkward place we went to, was Port Arthur. In the daytime the former prison is a beautiful ruin at the lakeside. However, at nights it is one of the spookiest things I’ve done traveling.

From 1833 until 1850 Port Arthur was the prison with Great Britain’s most dangerous prisoners. Despite other cruel prisons, the penalties were rather psychologically than physically, since people became aware, physical penalties lead to cruelty rather than social integration. Therefore, Port Arthur became a place of silent penalty – meaning neither the prisoners nor the staff were allowed to speak beyond the most necessary.

Port Arthur was the safest prison at its time, located on a peninsula with a small fenced connection to the mainland, equipped with dogs. The isolation, both personally and locally led to many suicides. There are 1646 graves, of prisoners and staff members at the near Island of the Dead, yet only the 180 staff members got a gravestone. The last prisoners arrived in 1850 and Port Arthur finally closed in 1877.

Today, especially the Ghost Tours at night are a tourist attraction. Around dawn at 08.30 pm people are guided through the ruins with petroleum lamps and the guide tells stories of ancient times. There is no “dungeon-like” extra-frightening to scare people, the super spooky things are the legends and ghost stories of tourists, visiting this place at night, hearing the screaming of former prisoners or seeing chairs moving by themselves. Although none of that happened when I was there, it was a super scary and unforgettable experience.

Pufferfish

Pufferfish: Deadly delicacy

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I had no clue, what this creature could be, which I found at an Australian beach. Yet, since it looked so wired, I did not dare to touch it and therefore took the picture with the animal half-covered with foam.

Later I learned the animal was a pufferfish, and preparing it for a “better” picture, would have been a really bad idea. Pufferfish are the second most poisonous vertebrates in the world and are highly toxic to most animals and to humans when eaten.

Since Pufferfish is a delicacy in some Asian countries, I wanted to make sure, you learn your vocabulary: Especially trained chefs, who are (mostly) able to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous parts, serve them as fugu in Japan, bok in Korea and hétun in China. Pufferfish poison deadens the tongue and lips, causes dizziness and vomiting, followed by numbness and prickling over the body, rapid heart rate, decreased blood preasure and muscle paralysis. Good News: If you are still alive after 24 hours you are very likely to survive.

Pufferfish are able to fill their elastic stomachs with water (or air when outside the water) so the predator is unable to eat it and while inflating the poisonous spines straighten up. This way predators die from choking or their stomachs full of poison.

Yet, not all puffers are poisonous and some Japanese fish farmers have grown nonpoisonous puffers by controlling their diets.

Pineapple Field

Wanna know how to grow a pineapple by yourself?

By | Australia | No Comments

I can remember as if it was yesterday, the feeling of astonishment and amusement, standing in front of this pineapple field in Australia years ago, realizing … that these pineapples or not growing on a tree. I thought it was the most obvious thing, that pineapples grow on exotic palm trees. Surprise – things are not necessarily the way we think they are.

Pineapples are aggregate fruits, formed by a cluster of 100-200 flowers fusing together as the fruit. The squared eyes you can see when holding a ripe pineapple in your hands, is what is left from the individual flowers. The leaves sprouting out of the top are actually growing out of the top of the stalk, which the pineapple is growing around.

Growing a pineapple at home is not the easiest things – and it takes a lot of patience. But – it is possible. One day, I want to grow one at my house, just for the fun and excitement of it. There are several blogs and videos on the internet on how to grow a pineapple – I especially liked this one:

Coober Pedy - Sunday Blog3

Coober Pedy: Underground Outback village

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Coober Pedy is a fascinating place. This tiny village of just around 1700 inhabitants is the world’s largest opal resource. It is located along the famous Stuart Highway of 2700 km length, connecting north and south of the country.

To me, driving through the Outback with a non-air-conditioned Mazda bus was a great adventure. Some people say, there is nothing to see in the Outback… but I just loved it’s colors, slightly changing landscapes and the endless 360 view. It’s a perfect opportunity to calm down mentally, since your eyes and ears get the rare chance to really relax.

Coober Pedi derives from the Aboriginal word “kupa piti”, meaning white “man’s whole”. Due to the heat, people live an work in underground residences, which are called “dugouts”.  You will even find a the  below-ground  church in this very special town.

Hopefully, the area was and will be able keep it’s charm – which I got to know when I was there 10 years ago – despite the tourists coming along.

 

Remarkable rocks, Australia

Flinders-Chase-Nationalpark: Most remarkable rocks…

By | Australia | No Comments

These graceful rocks are called – remarkable rocks. You will find them at the coastline of Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island, Australia. It is a sanctuary for endangered species and home to a few geological phenomena. It has been a very powerful moment, when I stood on these rocks, the wind blew strongly through my hair and my clothes. The view was stunning and  endlessly –  above the woods and ocean. In this very moment, I was fulfilled looking at these natural wonders shaped by the wind.