Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Iya Kazurabashi Bridge

Keeping on the bridge theme, another popular attraction that is easy to get to from Naruto station with a JR pass is the Iya Kazurabashi Bridge. This is found on right-central Shikoku Island
The Iya Kazurabashi Bridge, or the IKB, is an old-school vine bridge that has been updated and is now steel cable reinforced.But the steel cables don't really matter when you look down and see the gaps between you and the river. I have a size 12 shoe and still really need to watch where I'm walking.Everyone is watching there step on the IKB, I don't think you could have something like this in the US. The liability would be to high.Not everyone showed up to the IKB with the proper foot wear or nature walk clothing on. But it's okay, she had the foresight to remove the shoes to avoid falling through the bridge floor.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Naruto Straits

Since the Sydney post focused on bridge and beaches, we can continue on that theme for a while, a few weeks ago I made my first visit to the Naruto Straits, a channel between Tokushima (south- south west of Osaka) and Awaji Island. It makes a connection between the Pacific Ocean and the inland sea.Naruto Straits is best known for naturally occurring whirlpools as water rushes in and out of the inland sea. Below is the Oo-naruto bridge that runs over the channel, there is a walkway below it where you can view the whirlpool from.When below the bridge walking to the whirlpool viewing area, you are not really protected from the elements. There is a strong wind passing through this area, no one could walk straight. You can see the wind messing up my hair.I don't know if it is global warming or just the incorrect weather conditions but this was the most hardcore whirlpools seen today. Most travel advertising show large cartoon style whirlpools. It's not all calm though, water flowing in and out of the channel is very strong. You can see the photo below water just taking off into the strait. According to wikipedia this is the fourth fastest strait in the world, behind other straits in the countries of Norway, Norway and Canada.You can see the structure of the bridge too. Very cool place to visit and easy to get to if you have a JR train pass.As for beaches, although it was bad weather, the Naruto beaches do not seem as nice as Sydney. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Manly Beach

My last day trip from Sydney was north to Manly Beach, about 30 minutes from the CBD via ferry. Below is the beach and like Bondi there is a small downtown area along the rear edge with shops and restaurants (fish and chips!).Many beaches around Australia have 'plumed' gas grills for walk-up-use. Two such grills are seen in the photo below, I guess you can walk up with something to grill and join the party. Unfortunately there was not a grocery store near the grills, so I was unable to join the fun.Also like Bondi, there is miles and miles of nature walk around Manly Beach, here it runs along the coast and through forest and over cliffs.Below is a small rock pool, free to use. There is a small changing room across from the walk way.Below is my return ferry pulling into Manly Port.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bondi Beach

I have been to many beaches in the past but never one where nature meet surfing quite like this. Bondi Beach (below is the Bondi Bay) is about 30 minutes from central Sydney. To get there you need to take a 15 minute train and a 15 minute bus ride, cost is about $5.I assume I can surf, it can't be that different from wake-boarding BUT you know, the water was really cold. These people are crazy.I should be able to body board too. Even though the beach was not as packed as it normally is in summer, there were still people everywhere using the surf.Bondi Beach is also the trail head of this amazing 'Coastal Walk', a path that meanders about 3.5Km of the pacific coast line. I takes about a hour to walk and takes you past really cool rock formations and nature reserves. The path sometimes keeps you near the oceans edge.Australia has these really cool rock pools, the one bellow is called iceberg pool (again I assume it's cold). These are carved right into the rock and use water from the ocean. Ocean water can washes over the edge of these pools too. The one below are pay-to-use, but others you can just walk up and use too.There was also a skate park in the middle of Bondi Beach, this time no skate board rental was available. I don't know how you figure out you can jump like this.... trial and error?One last photo from Bondi Beach. Along the back edge of the beach is a small downtown area full of shops and restaurants. There are also a few tattoo shops including the one below called Bondi Ink. The guy getting the tattoo is Todd Carney, a famous rugby player in Australia. There were a bunch of people taking his photo during the session.This is starting this year for the Australian national rugby league team, nicknamed the Kangaroos.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sydney NSW

I made my first trip to Australia this past week and visited four or five neighborhoods around Sydney. Sydney is a fun city with kind of a Canada Vancouver / Victoria / Toronto feel to it, if those cities were surrounded by beaches. I was only able to visit the Sydney area, like Canada, Australia is huge and the only practical way to get from city to city is to fly and that felt like to much work. In Sydney I was able to visit the Harbor, the Rocks, Central Business District, Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. Below are photos from the first two places.I think it is impossible to visit Sydney and not pass by the harbor daily, it's one of the main transit points for trains and ferries. And when you pass through here the first thing you see are the two Sydney icons; Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Below is both, seen from the 2nd floor deck of the Manly Bay ferry. Below is the Opera House seen from the same ferry, it's a really amazing structure.Below is the Opera House seen from mid-span on the bridge.It's about a 9 hour flight from Tokyo to Sydney, the JAL 771 flight lands at 6:30 in the morning and it's about a 15 minute train ride from the airport to the central business district. When I got there around 7:15 I was able to drop my stuff off the hotel and walk around a little bit. Below is me after the journey from Japan to Australia just after finding the bridge.... kind of tired.Like the Opera House, the bridge is an amazing structure.Although I think Sydney could do a better job of lighting it up at night... but maybe they are trying to save on electricity. Below is the Opera house at night, it lighting scheme is simple too...Below is the downtown skyline seen from the ferry around dusk, 5:30pm, this is more spectacular. You can see the Opera house kind of in the lower right of the photo.Behind the Harbour is a neighborhood called 'The Rocks.' It's a cool place, lots of shops, wine bars, restaurants and churches.There was even a small street fair Friday afternoon.Below is looking down on the Rocks, there is a lot of really old buildings are architecture. Between all the buildings there are hidden paths and stairways you can take to get from road to road.And the inside of buildings match the outside, everything seems to be taken well taken care of. Below is a hallway in a wine bar called Odyssey. In Sydney, bistros and bars are usually attached to hotels, below is a typical menu from Harbour View Hotel Bistro. Everything English, but it's weird that nothing on here matches the Outback menu. No Shrimp on the Barbie, and don't ask anyone "what's up with that?"And look at this, a typical tap below. No Fosters! I think the Outback has been selling us a lie for the last 20 years.Below is a view from the Harbour View Hotel. The central business district is full of parks with old old trees. I will make a few more post over the next couple of days showing other parts of the city I visited including the CBD, Bondi and Manly.