I’ve been a few places. I’m scheduled to go to a few more. But there are some places that I would love to explore a bit. There are even some places I’d love to explore a bit more. There have been times in the past when I’ve been somewhere and I’ve not allocated enough time there. Some places are a lot more enchanting than their pictures can convey. But, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about those places that I have seen in an image somewhere and it strikes me as a destination that is quite possibly too good to miss.
Here’s the list. I started it because I saw a picture of a place and I couldn’t really recognize where it was. It’s a reference for the future.
Remember when I had to decide how many books I bought and took with me? I used to buy and rip the sections out and then throw the sections away when I left a place because of the weight. I lost pages and I picked up souvenirs. That was before the 7 kilo rule and I carried 30+ pounds..
Makassar ,Ambon and Sorong are three cities in Indonesia. Interestingly, the geographic areas where they are located are also three countries in the Travelers’ Century Club’s (TCC) list of “countries” that they publish. This means that, if you go to all three, the TCC allows a member, or anyone else for that matter, to claim that they have been to three countries, not one, even though the three cities are all in Indonesia. Continue reading
Yes, I’m headed there. Not to look for Devil’s, of course, but rather to collect a notch, that is country, for my belt. The TCC gives me Tasmania as a country and I’m going to take it. But, since I’ve never been to Tasmania and never plan to go back, I need to talk about some interesting Tasmanian facts.
First, Tasmania has some of the oldest living things on Earth, the Lagarostrobos, a species of conifer tree that can live to be several thousand years old. While we don’t have any trees still alive today that are that old, we do have some that are around 2,000 years old. They are only native to Tasmania. Continue reading
It’s called a Fergburger. According to Wikipedia “Fergburger is a hamburger restaurant located in Queenstown, New Zealand. Fergburger specialises in gourmet hamburgers, and is quite well known internationally despite not being a chain and only having one location.” Their website is located here. I was told that the place had a perpetual line outside the door and that it was open 20 hours a day. When I went to get my first Fergburger it was sometime after midnight. There was a short line. It was only about four people. I guess I was lucky. Lonely Planet states “Queenstown’s famous Fergburger has now become a tourist attraction in itself, forcing many locals to look elsewhere for their big-as-your-head gourmet burger fix. The burgers are as tasty and satisfying as ever, but is any burger worth a 30-minute wait? You decide.”
The picture on the left is a picture I took of the line at Fergburger at 8:00 AM. It explains the reason I hadn’t gone earlier in the day. The line was usually at least 20 people. I ordered the basic hamburger . It was $8 USD. The prices went up from there. It seemed like they had a variety of options. They gave me a number for my order. I went outside to sit on a bench and watch the display screen for my number. When it arrived I picked up my burger and took it back to the hostel. The hostel was located about a block away from the restaurant. How was the burger? It was great. It was as good as advertised. Was it better than the burgers back home? Yes, I hate to say it. It was. Was it worth the $8? That becomes very subjective. If you’ve got $8 – no problem. If you haven’t got $8 that’s another story. Was it better than the half-price burgers I get on on Wednesday night at McNellies or O’Connels pubs? No. Not in terms of value. My home town Wednesday night specials include fries. Would I eat a Fergburger again? Absolutely.
Tonight was one of those periods. I went out and got a bottle of Speight’s Gold Medal Ale. The cost was about $4.25 USD for a 745 milliliter bottle. I’m not sure if that’s a good deal or a bad deal. I just know that’s what it cost at one store in Queenstown, NZ. I had been interested in a bottle of Speight’s ever since I saw the Ale House located at Corner Of Stanley Street & Ballarat Street in Queenstown. The words “Gold Medal Ale” also caught my attention.
Speight’s was founded by James Speight and others during 1876 in Dunedin, NZ. It is still brewed there. The company has a chain of Ale Houses on the south island of New Zealand. Speight’s goes out of their way to market the beer as a “southern” (island) beer. While it is sold as an ale, it is actually a lager beer. It seems that Speight’s is more in tune with marketing than actually representing their beer in more accurate terms.
But all the technical jargon aside, how was the beer? It was great. Was it overpriced? Yes. But the beer was really good and I’d definitely buy it again, even if it isn’t really an ale and even if I can get as good a beer in the U.S. at a better price. Let’s face it, I’m not in the U.S. I have to take what I can get.
Milford Sound is, at least theoretically, New Zealand’s #1 attraction. It is located towards the southern end of the country’s south island. Getting there isn’t a problem. There are lots of ways to do it. Finding a place to stay isn’t really a big deal either. However, if you think you can just waltz into Queenstown, New Zealand, the jumping off point for Milford Sound, in the summer months and find a cheap place to stay then you don’t really understand how popular the tourist attraction really is. I’m here now and I haven’t seen anything but No Vacancy signs up at all the local accommodations that have signs out front telling the public whether they have vacancies or not. I would say that someone without a reservation who is looking for a place to sleep during the high season should expect to pay a significant sum of money for their accommodations.
But that’s not what this post is about. What I’m looking at in this post is what I would have to pay to get to Milford Sound from Queenstown on a one day trip. I’m going to compare that to what I paid to get there using a rental car. I paid significantly more than someone who was taking a bus trip but there was a reason. I’ll get to that soon. Most of the trips to Milford Sound are tour buses that take you from either Queenstown or Te Anua and put you on a boat where you spend somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours riding around the sound, looking at one of Mother Nature’s better creations. The bare minimum price for the ride is $45 AUD with either Orange or Jucy. Both those cruises are first-thing-in-the-morning cruises. Mid afternoon cruises can cost twice that due to simple supply and demand. The $45 AUD does not include any transportation. If you want to throw in a bus ride from Queenstown the price goes up to $125 for Orange and $115 for Jucy. The trip from Queenstown will take 4+ hours to get there and 4+ hours to get back.
I rented a car at the Queenstown airport when I went to Milford Sound.. The car cost me $123 AUD for a 3 day rental. I didn’t have to pay the $12 AUD to get from the airport to Queenstown and the $12 AUD to get back to the airport. that the vast majority of people pay when they ride the public bus to and from the airport. My cruise wound up costing me $22.50 AUD as I rented a car from Jucy and got a 50% discount. I didn’t have to stay in Queenstown. I stayed in Te Anau, a small town located half way between Queenstown and Milford Sound. That means that my trip to Milford Sound wasn’t a 4+ hour drive there and back. It was a 2+ hour drive each way. While I would have liked to have had someone else drive me there and back, I didn’t want to sit on a bus for almost 10 hours. Plus, I would have had the cost of buying a lunch somewhere and it’s muyunderstanding that those bus lunches don’t come cheap. I went to the store and just grabbed a couple of cheap snacks for my trip. This saved a few AUD for food. Another thing I could do with the car was to go out sightseeing. I did a lot of that. I could stop the car anywhere and get out and take some photos. I couldn’t do that on the bus. One thing I did have to do was to buy fuel and that was what really shot the price up. I spent a total of $xxx AUD on fuel. That was the major cost difference as far as the rental car versus bus trip was concerned.
Was I glad I got the rental car? Absolutely. It was great. I could go wherever I wanted and I put a bunch of miles on the car wandering around places I would have never been able to go without the car. Yes, it wound up costing me some extra money but I feel the cost was worth it. There’s not a lot of public transportation when you get into rural New Zealand. A car is important if you want or need flexibility. Plus, I got to experience what it was like to drive around New Zealand.
This is the lodging breakdown for my “cheap sleeps” in the cities I visited. The costs are in total U.S. dollars. The average per night is found by dividing the $$ by the nights. Continue reading