08 January 2012

Second half of 2011

Hello everybody,

WOW!!!! 2011 really went by in a flash!!! And now even the good intentions of my New Years resolutions seem to have dwindled and I find myself at the end of January without having posted pictures or updated you with my news for the latter half of the year.

So, better late than never...
Here we go...

For the first time since leaving Germany (2008) my arm was twisted into heading to the snow. Yes, that's right skiing in Australia! In fact, to top it all off I decided that this was my opportunity to learn to snowboard. Result... A weekend trip to Fall's Creek in the Victorian alps. Day 1: A very patient Phil showed me the ropes... falling leaf, toe side, heel side. Never the less I spent most of the afternoon on my ass. Pain in the butt and exhaustion from trying to get back up again finally got the better of me and the allure of a hot jacuzzi at the hotel made it that much easier! Day 2: No risk no fun (or no brain no pain?)... either way I decided the best way to learn was to risk a little more, and surprisingly it worked! It is unbelievable how much more enjoyable it can be if you're not lying in the snow the whole time :) Summary: Snow is still cold and hard! Protagonists: Joanie, Christelle, Loren, Hella, Phil and ME

Shortly after the skiing weekend I was once again on my way to the US of A. This trip included a week in North Carolina followed by a couple of days in Boston. All of the pictures are from Boston since NC was literally a commute between work and the hotel and there really isn't much to take pictures of. Although I only had very limited time to explore, I definitely think Boston is a city I would visit again. Amazing fresh lobster at a really funky restaurant on the water, small pubs in narrow alleys, Cambridge and MIT...

As you may (or may not) know we have formed a small wine club in Melbourne. We are a group of friends that get together once a month to enjoy some local and international wines. This is usually hosted by a member who gets to choose the theme of the evening... on this occasion in November our club did a road trip to Tasmania. More precisely to Bruny Island, which is located south of Hobart. Our hosts Tammy and Landon had organised a wonderful itinerary including stops at the Bruny Island smoke house, oyster shack, dairy/bakery, vineyard before we headed to our chalets in Adventure Bay. Oysters and champagne on the beach for sunset were followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, smoked salmon and delicious cheeses. Sunday we were treated to an adventure cruise along the rugged south east coast of Bruny Island. Apart from the rock formations and blow holes we were also fortunate to see seals and humpback whales as well as a variety of birds.

Congratulations to you for staying interested this long...

One last adventure and then I am done with 2011! For Christmas my friend Alistair and I went to New Zealand, we flew into Christchurch and spent a couple of days in earthquake central with some of Ali's friends. Our first day consisted of mountain biking at Macleans Island. Unfortunately my skill as a mountain biker let me down a little and I ended up flying over the handle bars and breaking my arm. DAMN!! Initially I thought this would seriously impact our holiday, since we had planned a lot of activities which require mobility... but like they say "no brain, no pain"! Our trip took us over the Lewis Pass to Reefton where we spent a couple of recovery days hiking and fishing. From Reefton through the gorgeous Buller Gorge to Westport and from there down the west coast to Fox Glacier. This was the first test for my arm, a full day hiking on a glacier... and it was brilliant!!! For anybody who has not done a glacier hike before, this should be placed on your bucket list! Next stop Te Anau where we spent Christmas with Frauks and Peter. A ham, turkey and numerous crayfish later we decided to walk off the calories on Gertrude Saddle. The end point of this short and steep hike is an unbelievable view over Milford Sound and the surrounding mountains. If you are in this area...definitely a MUST DO! The fun doesn't stop there... the next day we headed to Doubtful Sound for a overnight kayaking trip. This fiord is more difficult to get to and as a result remains largely untouched. Seeing a small part of it from a kayak was brilliant. I tried to protect my cast from the water by wrapping it in cling wrap and taping a rubber glove to my hand.. unfortunately by the time we got back to Te Anau, the cast was soaked and falling apart and was soon unceremoniously removed by Peter :)The following day we all went to the Te Anau rodeo. This was a first time event for me and turned out to be a brilliant, especially the white knuckle death grips of the kids in the sheep riding competition... only in New Zealand! New Year was spent in Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. A short pitstop on the way back to Christchurch at Mount Cook village and Tekapo heralded the end of another amazing New Zealand holiday. I can honestly say I have done similar trips the three times I've been to NZ and I will keep going back :)

That's all folks!

Tomorrow is the start of February... the year is flying by again! I hope it is successful and filled with happiness for you all. Remember, my door is always open if you ever feel like dropping by in Melbourne!