I made the very hard decision last week to go on a tourist tour.. you know, one of those awful and boring organized trips where you get to sit in a bus most of the day and are occasionally allowed out, usually at the worst possible places, tactically chosen to let tourists take a picture of something utterly uninteresting, or in a labyrinth of shops selling the exact same things you found on your previous stop. I much prefer the way I did it in Norway: driving myself, alone, able to chose my own destination and stops. Sadly, if i want to see anything outside the city limits, this is giong to be the only way for me to do it.. God have mercy on my soul!!
It didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as expected, though getting up at 6.30 in a weekend is asking a lot! The company was as expected: a bus full of japanese, chinese, vietnamese.. all sorts of asian -ese’s. But the end justifies the means so to get out of the city I would have to suffer through it. Luckily getting up early meant having no trouble at all sleeping in the bus.. as if I’d ever have trouble sleeping anyways, but that s not the point..
The first stop for the morning tea was along the shores and a small sandy beach. A couple of people were trying to surf on the waves, but I don’t think it was a good day because there weren’t much more waves than you ‘d have in the North Sea on a windy day. Next we had one of those typical tourist stops: a wooden “gate” over the road with the text “Great Ocean Road” written onto it.. this basically was not much more than a wooden pole placed overhead, yet apparently that s enough of an achievement to warrant a stop. Talk about a complete waste of time.. at least there was a beautiful beach next to the read that was worth a picture.
We drove on to a little town to have lunch and had a few more stops on the way. Usually these were actually worth stopping for because of the great view you had over the rocky coastline.. if only we had a shore like that in belgium.. though closed-minded as belgians tend to be, it would probably be covered in concrete because it s easier to build or walk on anyways.. Maybe it s for the best we only have around 60km coastline.. we ‘d just turn it into a concrete wasteland in no time.. as we say in Dutch “Parels voor de zwijnen”, “Peals for the pigs”.. belgians wouldn’t be able to appreciate it for what it is.
After lunch we drove on to the 12 Apostles – of which only 8 remain standing today. It s a formation of limestone rocks rising up in front of the coastline cloffs and, again, a touristic hotspot. When we drove in we could see a whole queue of people going from the bus parking to the view point.. having heard nothing but asian languages all day already, one can imagine this wasn’t exactly on my wishlist. So I went for the – more expensive – alternative: a short helicopter flight over the coastline and the apostles. Not only can you see 100 times more from above (on the ground you can only see a couple; they are too spread out to see them all from the ground unless you take you time to walk along the coastline), it was much calmer queueing. So while this did cost me money, it also saved some money by avoiding a nervous breakdown.. 🙂 Those of us who took the heli ride actually had time to spare to go down to the beach whereas those who went to the viewpoint only just managed to get back in time.
Two more stops, one in the vicinity of some caves, the other in a small village to refresh before the journey home and that was the end of my first day as a bus tourist.. Could have been worse, had a friendly and well informed bus driver, though I would have prefered a little less other tourists.. 😉