Posted by: John McGerr | February 11, 2009

Tranz-Alpine


The Tranz Alpine Express travels from Greymouth to Christchurch through the Southern Alps, via Arthur’s Pass. It’s a trip of about four hours and gives some nice scenic views of this part of New Zealand. I have to admit, though, by this time, we were beginning to suffer a little  from scenery fatigue. There is just so much spectacular scenery and you get so used to it that it would really take something out of the ordinary to catch your attention. There wasn’t really anything like this along the route. Had we take this train earlier in our stay we might have appreciated it much more. I don’t want to say this trip isn’t worth the effort but after the sights of Queenstown and Fox Glacier mountains, rivers, lakes and trees have become familiar sights. As a way to get from one side of the country to the other it’s much better than flying. Getting back to Christchurch was, again, like coming home. We had a day to spend in the city and I decided for some reason not to bring either camera nor camcorder with me and there was plenty to see, even with just one day. The cathedral was spectacular and we visited  shop where a guy made wooden toys, something my Dad would have liked as he spent several years making doll’s houses and wooden toys for family and friends. We visited the Antarctic Centre. This tells you a lot about what exploring the Antarctic involves and when you see what the early explorers had to survive on you have to wonder if their enthusiasm wasn’t tinged with insanity. We had a final meal out with our Kiwi cousins and an early flight back to Sydney. There was an eight hour stopover here, so Maxine and Chris met us and we spent the day with them, eating breakfast outdoors(something I could get used to – meals outdoors) then a walk along Coogee beach. At one point here there is a shrine where the Virgin Mary is supposed to have appeared. We also took a trip on the Sydney Monorail. I wondered if I was the only one thinking of the Springfield Monorail and wondering was the driver named Simpson. Finally though it was time to face cold reality and our stay Down Under was over. We left Sydney, stopped briefly again in Singapore and then travelled to Frankfurt. Here we got reminded of the reasons why security is so intrusive at airports when a bunch of armed men in uniform cleared a a group of people from a section of the airport where we were seated. I never did find out what the problems was, a suitcase or parcel unaccounted for perhaps. I looked at the Net when I came home but it wasn’t making the news that I could see. I really enjoyed Australia and New Zealand and I’d recommend them to anyone – yes it’s a real pain-in-the-ass of a flight but the end result is worth it and I will go back someday.

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