Category: see

A daytrip to Taroko Gorge National Park

From Hualien, we arranged a day trip to Taroko National Park, where a river cut a beautiful gorge through the mountains. The first stop on the trip was a view point where the mountains meet the coast just before turning inland into the park. The first stop in the park was the Eternal Spring Shrine, where a flat trail leads all the way to the shrine. At the shrine there is a short but very steep trail up the mountain. We went up for a little bit to get a good view over the valley. The next stop was the Swallow

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Dubrovnik city walls

On the last afternoon, we finally climbed up the city walls of Dubrovnik and enjoyed the views of the city and the surroundings on a 2 hour walk. There are lots of people on the walls but since everybody can only go into one direction, it does not feel too crowded except on the super popular spots like the view point for the main street (Stradun). Here is the picture from the northern part of the walls showing the harbor and Lokrum island in the back. Further up the path, in the north-west corner we climbed up Tvrđava Minčeta, the hightest

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Boat trip to Lokrum island

On the second day in Dubrovnic, we took the ferry to Lokrum. The ride takes just about 15 minutes and ferries leave every 30 to 60 minutes. There are rocky swimming spots all over and a few sights in the interior of the island. Due to the heat, we did not make it to the fortress but enjoyed the botanical gardens, the monastery (see below), and the peacocks roaming the entire island. The whole island is a protected area which means that people can not stay overnight and also strictly no smoking. Here is a cute reminder on one of the

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In and around Dubrovnik

After Split, we took the ferry directly to Dubrovnik. We arrived in the middle of the day so we dropped our stuff and went one of the numerous swimming spots around the city. There was even a water polo match on and the rocks around were perfect for cliff jumping. On the way to the city, we climbed up to Fort Lovrijenac from which you have a beautiful view of the older city. Up there, we ran for the first (but not the last) time into a Game of Thrones tour group that visits a few of the filming locations in and around

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First fall mushrooms

The fall mushroom season seems to be a bit delayed this year due to the very dry summer. Despite a few patches of chanterelles in early August, not much else was ready to be picked and the strolls through the forest were a little disappointing. With the recent rainy days, very slowly the mushrooms are coming out. I found the first patch of bay boletes (Braunkappen) last Sunday. They were still very young and smallish but very firm and untouched by snails and worms. They ended up in a risotto and the next couple of weekends are now planned for further mushroom hunting trips.

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One day in Split

From Plitvice Lakes we took the afternoon bus to the coast and arrived in the early evening in Split. We dropped our bags at our place and went out right away to find something to eat. We found Luka’s Ice Cream shop afterwards and were very happy and full. The next day we started with an early city tour, passed Gregory of Nin and climbed St Domnius cathedral tower. The steps up are a bit scary but the views are worth it. By then it got already very hot so we took the next bus to the end of the line

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Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička Jezera)

The Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička Jezera) is a beautiful UNESCO protected area with a total of 16 interconnected lakes in Croatia. The water is very clear and from farther away glows from blue to greener colors. Besides the water color, what makes the area spectacular is the difference in altitude of the lakes so that they are laid out as a stair case with beautiful waterfalls between them. The park is divided into two groups of lakes around the largest one, lake Kozjak. The 12 upper lakes (Gornja jezera) are easily accessible with a 2 minute ferry ride. A path

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Half a day in Zagreb

We started our one week vacation in Croatia with half a day in Zagreb. That is definitely not enough to see everything, but with an average temperature of 35C in summer, we put the focus on places closer to the water. Early in the morning, the central market was lots of fun and we used the opportunity to stock up on fresh fruit and berries, nuts, and lavender oil for the trip. We did a short walking tour through the old parts of the city passing windy Stone Gate with its candles and old plaques further on to St Mark’s

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Abandoned prison on Green Island

Due to its location 30 km west off Taiwan’s main island, someone got the idea to build a huge prison for mainly political prisoners on Green Island. During the time of the White Terror (late 1940s to late 1980s), thousands were imprisoned and sent to serve time in the prison complex on the north side of the island. The high security block above is also abandoned but still closed. Many other prison and administration buildings are still standing around with but have been cleaned of most doors and windows. There is also a new building that hosts an exhibition of the

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Zhaori Salt Water Hot Springs

The Zhaori Hot Springs were our favorite spot at night on Green Island. Salt water hot springs are apparently pretty rare, only three different locations are currently known world-wide. During our stay, the outdoor pools were closed due to rough weather but it’s still a great experience to see and especially hear the sea when soaking in a hot pool about 50 meters from the shore. The outdoor pool looked like they suffered a bit lately from the weather. Since they were not part of the hot water circulation, we were not tempted to spend a lot of time there

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Green Island: Little Great Wall

The Little Great Wall of Green Island is a short walking trail to the eastern edge of the island. At the end of the walk, you arrive at the most beautiful lookouts of the island facing north and south. The views are stunning in both directions and the volcanic origin of the island is revealed quite well. Here is a picture of the southern view with the Sleeping Beauty and Pekingese Dog rock formations. Picture gallery

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Around Green Island in Taiwan

Our first stop after Taipei was a trip to Green Island, a small paradise east of Taitung with great snorkeling spots, rare saltwater hot springs (Zhaori), and a few hiking trails and sights to visit along the 20 km long road around the island. We took the ferry from Taitung, which only takes about 45 minutes nowadays. Even though the waters were not too rough, there is still some truth in the infamous tales about the Vomit Barge. Once we arrived, we were picked up by our hotel and drove the 500 meters to the hotel.  Then, appointments for snorkel trips were made and

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Taipei: Elephant Mountain

The walk up the stairs to Elephant Mountain is just a 10 minute walk away from the closest subway station (Xiangshan Station). The ascent does not take longer than 30 minutes, but is one giant stair case and thus pretty steep. There is a little kiosk selling drinks and snacks at the beginning and multiple resting spots with nice views along the way. Here is a first view of the city and Taipei 101. Going further up, there are a couple of outlooks and terraces with great views all over Taipei. Most impressive is still Taipei 101, which was the world’s tallest building

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Early season mushroom hunting

Since this year everything is a bit early in nature, we decided to give hunting mushrooms a try on the last weekend in July. We went to my hometown in the middle of Germany for the weekend and my parents organized a get together with some of their friends who own a beautiful ancient forest lodge from the late 1800s in the middle of a remote forest. So we could start looking for mushrooms right off the front porch and it did not take 15 minutes before we found the first porcini waiting for us. From there on, we found

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Ormiston Gorge

The final stop on our trip along the West MacDonnell Ranges was Ormiston Gorge. The Gorge is another beautiful gap in the ranges with a permanent water hole big enough for swimming and a nice camp site next to it. It feels a little bit like Ellery Creek but there are fewer people and it has the Ormiston Pound walking track is a round trip that takes you in about 3 hours around the Western elevation along the Ghost Gum Lookout and back through the gorge. The track provides many good viewpoints of the gorge and the Ghost Gum Lookout

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Ochre Pits

After our stay at the Ellery Creek Big Hole, we went on to visit the Ochre Pits further west. The colorful ochre outcrop is an important and cultural very significant place since ochre was used on a daily basis and from this rich source it was traded over the whole continent. The pits are just a short walk away from the car park. The about 3 meter high ochre walls are featured with a colorful wave pattern turning gradually from dark purple to light yellow and back again. This was definitely our favorite spot in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Picture gallery

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Ellery Creek Big Hole

After the stop at Simpsons Gap, we drove on to Ellery Creek looking forward to a cooling swim in the summer heat. The water was surprisingly cold but very refreshing. It was very nice to swim all the way through the Chasm. In the late afternoon, we started the Dolomite Loop Walk, a 3 km round trip around the hilltops with beautiful views of the landscape. After the hike, we started to set up camp and turned on the BBQ. The camp site was again almost empty, only one guy who was moving from West Australia to Melbourne stayed overnight.

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Simpsons Gap

After spending most of a day and a night in a swimming pool in Alice Springs, we started the second part of the trip to explore the West MacDonnell ranges. Simpsons Gap is one of the first sights when starting the trip from Alice Springs. There is a waterhole in the middle of the gap which does not carry a lot of water in summer. The No Swimming signs seemed a bit out of place at this time. Being so close to Alice Springs, it can become quiet a busy place. Eventually, we found the gaps and creeks further away (Ellery

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Arltunga – Abandoned gold mining town

The last item on the agenda for the East MacDonnell ranges was the abandoned gold mining town of Arltunga. This was the official first township of the European settlement in central Australia. It was about 600 km from the nearest settlement away and the trip took at least a week in the old days. The gold rush that lead to the township happened around the year 1900 and did not last very long. There is not much left of Arltunga, there is a museum with a one room exhibit about the history of the place plus lots of miners equipment that

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Perentie dreaming site

On the way to Trephina Gorge, we passed a significant site of the Perentie Dreaming. The rock narrow rock is very impressive, it reminded me a lot of the rock formations in the Warrumbungle NP in NSW. There is a short trail around the rock and there is not much else to see. Definitely worth the stop on the way along the East MacDonnell ranges. Picture gallery

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