Hike from Sommerau to Läufelfingen

Hey guys! There have already been some great guesses for round two of What Am I Stitching. I’ll move on to round three soon, but in the meantime click the link if you still want to guess. For now, I’m going to tell you about a hike we went on in May. Yes, I’m slightly behind with my travel blogging…

We hadn’t been hiking for a while and we decided that May would be a good time to do it, before it got too hot (although the summer has also been mostly chilly so far, with the odd very hot day!). I got online – I like to use http://wanderungen.ch/ – and found a promising looking hike that wasn’t too far away, a discovery trail from Sommerau, along a small stream to a waterfall, then up the hill to a viewing tower on top of the Wisenberg mountain. From Basel SBB, we took the train, changed once in Sissach and arrived in Sommerau at 10:17 a.m.

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The start of the hike, near the train station in Sommerau

We walked along the little stream – called Chrindelbach – for about half an hour before reaching the Giessen waterfall; an appropriate name as giessen means “to pour”. The 18 km high waterfall marks the end of the valley – from there, it’s all uphill!

After the waterfall, the route leads out of the woods for a short while, past farms and fields of dandelions. One farm had set up a little refreshment stand with a coffee machine and some other drinks. So cute!

After the dandelions, the path led back into the woods for a short distance, and in the middle of the trees we found the Wisenberg viewing tower. At around 25m tall, the top of viewing platform provides an amazing view over the trees. You can even see the Alps! (Although they were hard to capture with my camera. I did my best!).

Back down from the tower, we left the woods again and walked past another farm. This next photo is the most Swiss thing ever…. green field, cows, Alps. All that’s missing is a bar of chocolate 😉

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From there, we hiked past more farms, pretty flowers, lots of green and a few more animals until we reached Läufelfingen train station, where we had a beer (which I didn’t photograph) before taking the train back to Basel. Here are some photos from the last stage of our hike:

Now the tourist information part: the total hiking time was roughly 3 hours and 40 minutes. We took just over 4 hours from start to finish, including all the photo stops. You can also take a bus to Wisen and walk up to the tower from there, which will take about an hour.

This was my May 2016 trip for  Take 12 Trips 2016.

Allschwil, Basel-Landschaft

Okay, now I’ve finished telling you about New Zealand, it’s about time I recorded my last few outings for #take12trips 2016 (in case you missed it, I’m redoing the take 12 trips challenge).

There are two branches of the Müller drugstore chain in Basel that I know of, and both are equally awkward for me to get to! But sometimes I really want to, because they sell things that I can’t necessarily get at the supermarket (and also their shower gel is cheaper). One of those Müller branches is juuust in Allschwil, a town in the canton of Basel-Landschaft that borders on the Basel-Stadt (the city). (I promise there is a point to this story!). Usually I get there by walking to near the zoo, taking a bus that goes through part of Basel city and then walking for another 15 minutes to cross the border into Allschwil, but one day I decided I was going to walk as far as I could then take a bus the rest of the way. The result was that I ended up on a bus that went through the centre of Allschwil and discovered that it’s actually quite a pretty little town. I knew then that I would have to go there one day with my camera. The opportunity to do so came one day when Jan and I had been to IKEA, which meant I had a day ticket. Jan had a choir practice in the afternoon so I decided to make use of said day ticket and go an explore Allschwil. It was a fairly rainy day, but that actually worked to my advantage – fewer people around to tell me off for taking photos of their houses! (Not that that’s ever happened but I’m always afraid it will!). Here are some photos of the town centre:

I thought there were people standing outside the church, but when I got closer I saw that they weren’t real!

More photos:

Once you get away from the town centre, the buildings become fairly “ordinary” and there isn’t really anything to photograph, but it was worth the trip to see the half-timbered houses photographed. There is also a water tower in Allschwil, about a 25 minute walk from the centre. For the price of 2 CHF you can take a lift up and enjoy a view of Basel, the Black Forest and other surroundings. It’s only open on Sundays and bank holidays though, and my trip to Allschwil was on a Saturday so no water tower for me!

I enjoyed my trip to the centre of Alschwil, but I was left with just one question… why don’t I live in such a pretty house?!

Today I’m linking up to Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase.

Packing my Suitcase
Allschwil was my April trip for #take12trips 2016.

New Plymouth, New Zealand

Yes, I’m still going on about New Zealand! Nearly finished now 😉

When I left off before, we’d reached the end of the Forgotten World Highway. From there, we drove to our B&B in New Plymouth, which was lovely by the way! I wish we could have had more than one night there. Before going out for the evening we admired the view from the window and took some photos of the birds out in the garden. We were later told that these are Indian Mynah birds.

Our B&B wasn’t directly in town, so we got back in the car to go down to the coast then parked up and went for a walk.

This sculpture is called the Wind Wand:

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Apparently it cost more than 300,000 NZ$. Worth it? 😉

We walked along the coastal path for a little way. It was nice to be by the sea.

Apparently I took a lot of photos of rocks? I liked the way they looked with the sea in the background.

The sun eventually started to set, so I played around with my camera settings trying to get some good photos. I should probably know what the two rock formations/small islands are but I don’t. Sorry! *Bad blogger*

We were hungry by that stage so we headed back to a restaurant near where we parked the car. It’s called Arborio and the food we ate was delicious! We even indulged in some nice wine and had desert. We must have been feeling rich 😉 I took zero photos of said food though. Again, bad blogger.

The next morning, the sun was rising when we got up for breakfast.

From New Plymouth we drove up to Auckland, stopping at the Waitamo Glowworm Caves on the way. I have no photos from there because you aren’t allowed to take photos in there (and I left my camera in the car so I couldn’t have sneaked any ;-)), but I can highly recommend it! There are glow work experiences of up to 3 hours(!), but we didn’t have that long so we did a 45 minute tour, which involved walking through one cave with a guide followed by a boat ride through the dark to the exit. During the boat ride, you can see all the little glow worms glowing away… like millions of stars on the roof and walls of the cave. A truly awesome experience that was over way too soon!

Again, I’m linking up for Monday Escapes, and I remind you that New Zealand was my #Take12trips destination for March (yes, I’m that far behind on posting!)

Travel Monkey

Huka Falls/Lake Taupo and the Forgotten World Highway

For our ninth day in New Zealand, we had booked a room at a B&B in New Plymouth. We left Rotorua after breakfast and drove to our first stop of the day, Huka Falls on Lake Taupo. This is not a waterfall in the traditional sense of the word (cascading down from a great height), but a series of small falls in an area where the Waikato River narrows significantly, causing a huge volume of water to funnel through a narrow space. Huka is the Maori word for “foam”.

The falls are a spectacular sight and definitely worth a visit! There’s also a walk you can do around there, but with a long drive ahead of us we didn’t have time. Instead, we drove a bit up the road then pulled over to take some photos of Lake Taupo and the surroundings. Imagine having this view out of your window?

After driving for a bit longer, we spotted signs for the Waituhi Lookout and decided to stop there. After driving up a narrow winding road through some trees, we came to a clearing with a small amount of space for parking and a viewing platform. We climbed up to the platform, looked out over the trees and saw this:

How amazing is that view? I’m so glad I ignored the advice I was given to miss out north island and just spend time on the south island! (I couldn’t have anyway since I actually wanted to see my family and they’re all on the north island!).

The lake in the pictures above should be Lake Taupo again if I’ve got my geography correct.

After another half an hour of driving, we arrived in Taumarunui, which is at one end of the Forgotten World Highway (technically State Highway 43). There, we stopped to buy some food at a supermarket and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a clock:

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Apparently Taumarunui is on the North Island Main Trunk Railway.. hence the train clock, I suppose. There wasn’t a greet deal there though (at least on the main street), but there were free and reasonably clean public toilets and the little supermarket had some food for us, so we were happy.

Back in the car, we drove on into the Tangarakau Gorge. First stop was at the grave of a surveyor named Joshua Morgan who died in the gorge in 1893. Not all that exciting, but from the grace you could see the bridge we had just crossed to get there.

Next stop, another waterfall: Mount Damper Falls. We parked by a sign then had to walk across a field to get there.

The next photos will just be general ones from along the Forgotten World Highway. We stopped a couple of times to take photos but I can’t say precisely what each one is of.

The end of the highway is Stratford. We didn’t actually stop there, but there are a lot of streets named after Shakespeare characters and we had fun spotting them as we drove through. Finally, we reached that day’s destination – New Plymouth – where we checked into a lovely B&B before driving into town for a walk along the coast… but this post has a ridiculous amount of photos already, so I think I’ll give New Plymouth its own separate one!

*New Zealand was my March trip for my 2016 redo of Take 12 Trips*

Arrowtown and South Island’s south coast

Day four on New Zealand’s south island saw us deciding to take the poor, neglected car for a drive – it had been sitting around doing nothing since our trip out to Paradise the day we arrived in Queenstown! The plan was to head to Arrowtown first and then drive down to the south coast. An excellent plan as it turned out – we had glorious sunshine all day while it poured down in Queenstown!

A former gold mining town located on the banks of the Arrow River, Arrowtown is mostly famous for its gorgeous autumn foliage. Unfortunately, we were a few weeks too early and the leaves were only just starting to change colour. The town itself is quaint though.

After leaving Arrowtown, we took state highway 6, which leads past Lake Wakatipu. The weather was starting to turn by this point and I was almost blown away taking the following photos:

Look how low the clouds were!

As we continued driving, the weather got continually worse and when we stopped for a cuppa we had to run from the car to the cafe! I would like to tell you where we stopped because we had an amazing vegetable scone there, but I can’t remember the name of the place. Sorry!

Next, we drove down to Invercargill, but it didn’t look that interesting so instead of stopping there we drove straight through to Stirling Point, in the town of Bluff. By this time, the weather was amazing! Here, photos:

There’s a lighthouse at Stirling Point, which was built in 1912. There’s also some art sculpture thing, consisting of a giant chain with an anchor at the end. From Stirling Point, you can see Dog Island, which houses New Zealand’s tallest lighthouse. The island has been uninhabited since 1989 when the lighthouse was automated.

Our next stop was another lighthouse, this time at Waipapa Point. First a few photos that I took from the car park:

Sheep and farms, grass and sheep. So very New Zealand! (Could also be Ireland…)

Now some photos of the lighthouse and the sea and stuff:

I took many photos of the lighthouse, from every possible angle. I’ve spared you most of them – be grateful!

We left the lighthouse and drove on for another half an hour until we reached Curio Bay, famous for being the site of a petrified (i.e. fossilised) forest. The rocks in the photos below are actually trees… or they were, once upon a time.

The signs also claimed that we would be able to see yellow-eyed penguins here. Supposedly it was malting season, so they would be on land and we weren’t to worry if they looked sick – that’s just what happens when they shed their feathers. Of course, the signs also warned us that we should stay away from said penguins and not frighten them, which I would have been very pleased to do if I had seen even one penguin! Of course, there were none to be seen so I had to make do with this guy:

Some kind of heron I presume? Where are all the bird experts?

With a three hour drive ahead of us to get back to Queenstown, Curio Bay had to be the last stop on our tour along the south coast. Instead of driving back along the coast, we headed straight inland and took the quick route back. At some point we stopped to take photos and I got the shot below. No idea where it was taken, but I like it!

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Finally, we stopped again in the same place as in the morning. By this time, the sun had come out in Queenstown as well (although we were assured it had rained for most of the day).

Oh, what a difference a day makes…

Back in Queenstown, we dropped off the car and went in search of food having had a lovely drive. With more time, I would have liked to stop off somewhere for a night and then drive further around the south coast, or maybe even take a boat trip out from Bluff to Stewart Island, but this was a lovely day trip. If you find yourself in Queenstown with a car and a day to spare, I can highly recommend this drive along the coast.

New Zealand was my April trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge (take 2!) and I’m also linking up for Monday Escapes.
Packing my Suitcase

Queenstown Gardens

Because we had come back from Milford Sound by plane, we were back in Queenstown relatively early. I had to charge my camera first since it had died on the plane back, so while it was doing that we went to the convenience store to pick up something to drink then made use of the free wi-fi in the hotel lobby (note to anyone considering staying at Novotel – you get 1 hour of free wi-fi per day in the lobby; wi-fi in the rooms has to be paid for! Remind me which century we’re in?!). We weren’t ready for dinner yet having bought quite a bit of food in Te Anau to eat on the Sound cruise, so we decided to go for a walk and ended up in Queenstown Gardens. What follows will include many pictures of plants! I couldn’t help it – so many of them were so different to what I’m used to!

I spent way too long trying to get a decent picture of these birds, which I’m fairly sure are Paradise Shelducks. They just didn’t want to stand still!

The one with the white head is female and the male has a black head. Shelducks form long-term pair bonds, often life-long (aww!) and tend to hang around as couples. Driving around, we would often see a male and a female Shelduck standing in a field somewhere!

In the rose garden, I took far too many photos, mainly because I was trying to play with my camera’s macro setting. Here are a few:

I love the kind of multi-coloured pink/orange ones! They looked so pretty.

The gardens are on a little peninsula, so once we got round to the other side we had a view of a different part of the lake – a part without lots of boats on it (the side where we had entered from is where all the touristy boats are moored). The view there was stunning, especially with the way the evening sun was hitting the mountains.

Back round the other side, a few more photos had to be taken before we finally decided to head off and find something for tea.

There was also a Disc/Frisbee Golf course in the gardens, so we decided to come back and play on our final afternoon in Queenstown. We hired our discs from a place in town for $5 for five hours, but the Internet tells me you can also hire them from the ice rink, which is in the park.

If you have any idea what any of the plants in this post are (other than roses – I can recognise them!) please let me know in the comments.

New Zealand was my March trip for 2016’s redo of Take 12 Trips.

Also linking up for Monday Escapes:

Packing my Suitcase

Trip to Milford Sound

I meant to continue my New Zealand posts earlier in the week, but things got a bit crazy and I didn’t have a chance.

Anyway… for our first full day in Queenstown, we had booked a trip to Milford Sound. We chose the coach-cruise-fly option, which meant we were picked up in a coach at 6.30 a.m., drove to Milford Sound (with stops along the way), had a cruise on the Sound and then had a scenic flight back to Queenstown in a teeny, tiny aeroplane. The option with the flight back is more expensive than coach both ways, but so worth it! By the way, if you choose to just do the coach option, definitely go with Mitre Peak Tours. I highly, highly recommend. (We booked through Milford Sound Flights, and the coach/cruise parts were run by Mitre Peak).

It was dark when we left, but after a while the sun started to appear over the horizon, so we begin this post’s image overload with my attempts to take photos of the sunrise through the window of a moving coach!

I tried to take more photos through the windows once it started getting light, but it didn’t work very well, so here are some from our first stop instead. I have no idea where this is! Somewhere with mountains…

I don’t even remember whether those photos are from before or after Te Anau, where we stopped to pick up more people and so those who didn’t have lunch included could pick some up from the supermarket there. Jan and I had a sausage roll and a coffee for breakfast there. And I took zero photos.

The next stop was at Mirror Lakes, which is definitely after Te Anau 😉 In case you can’t guess where they got their name, here are some photos:

We then stopped at a little stream where our bus driver said we could fill our water bottles if we wanted. Again, I don’t remember where it was (because I’m an idiot), but have some photos.

The next stop was at the Cleddau Valley cascading waterfalls. Our bus driver told us that when it’s raining there are hundreds of waterfalls… everywhere you look, water is cascading down. It was not raining when we were there, but we still saw waterfalls. I can only imagine how impressive it must look in the rain.

Our final stop was at Karangahake Gorge.
Our bus driver told us that he recently found out all the other bus companies only have two stops – at Mirror Lakes and Karangahake Gorge. Apparently this is because people get out of the bus, have a chat, finally decide to take a few photos, have another chat, look at the photos, delete then and take more. So at every stop he asked us to please take our photos then get back on the coach so we could have more stops later. At Karangahake Gorge, he told us we could only stop there if everyone agreed to get round and be back on the bus in 10 minutes. As it turned out, the last person was back on the bus after 12 minutes. As our driver was pulling out he said “And that is how we get to make more stops than any other tour!” (Once again, book with Mitre Peak tours if you can – and hope you get Carlin as a driver).
I could definitely have spent more than 12 minutes at Karangahake Gorge, it’s so impressive! But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos for yourself:

Yeah, I may have gone overboard with the photos… that isn’t even all of them! But if you think that’s a lot, wait until you see the ones of the Sound 😉

Finally, at just before 12 o’clock, we arrived at Milford Sound! Our boat was waiting for us, and we had a two-hour cruise on the Sound, complete with commentary from the guide. I have no idea what any of the things we saw are now though (other than Seal Rock). Mitre Peak is one of the mountains, obviously, and the two permanent waterfalls are Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, but I have no idea which is which! Supposedly whales and dolphins can sometimes be spotted following the boats, but we didn’t see any. We did see seals though, which was nice. Anyway, enough rambling from me, you’re here for the photos – yes?

There are a lot of photos, so I thought I’d split this into two. Part two = seals and stuff!

Before we started our cruise, it was pretty cloudy, so the bus driver said he assumed we’d be going back in the coach with him. It gradually brightened up throughout the cruise though, so once we got back he told us to go and ask at the Mitre Peak information desk. Our flight was indeed going, so we wandered over to the airfield to meet our pilot (whose name I’ve forgotten!). Guys, if you ever make it to New Zealand, you have got to do a scenic flight over Milford Sound!! I literally cannot describe how amazing the views were! Here, have some photos, but they can’t do it justice either. It’s something you really have to see for yourself.

(Try to ignore all the random reflections from inside the plane!)
Unfortunately my battery ran out before we got back to Queenstown so I have no photos of Lake Wakatipu. So you’ll just have to take my word that it was stunning! So amazingly blue.

So, to sum up, Milford Sound is definitely among the most beautiful places on the planet and if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you must put this on your list! It was an absolute highlight of our entire trip. I literally cannot gush enough about this place! Also, look how cute the seals are!