I’m on top of the world!

26 05 2010

The view of the summit is absolutely extraordinary. Hobart and the Derwent River is right below me. I feel like I’m on top of the world. The chilly tops absolutely freeze my spine but the drop to the bottom  blows my mind. I’ve never seen a lookout like this.

 This is the extraordinary Mount Wellington which is located outside Hobart. Up a long windy road is the summit of the mountain. I was lucky enough to experience it in my five day holiday in Hobart. A weather machine, carpark, lookout and an information centre are all the man made structures at the top.  Apart from that, the summit is almost untouched with amazing rock features and fascinating wildlife.

 From the lookout straight ahead is the city of Hobart and the river while to the left and right are the rolling hills surrounding this. Although Hobart is one of the best tourist attractions in Tasmania, it is not  heavily populated which was surprising.

The only problem with such a huge mountain though is that sometimes the view can be blocked by cloud as I found out five years earlier. This time, with no clouds and a wind temperature of  -1 degrees, it is clear and I can see for miles.

 It is an amazing experience. This mountain is definitely one of the best things in Hobart and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit this fascinating and beautiful place.



Les Saisies: Paradise on Ice

23 04 2010


At 1650m, Les Saisies is a perfect vacation on the French side of the Alps, in clear view of Albertville (which once held the Winter Olympics). With 70km of slopes on Les Saisies and up to 185km in surrounding areas, you will never need to take the same route. Surprisingly, Les Saisies is crowded all year long: hiking in spring and through summer, and skiing starting late autumn to early spring.  In the winter holidays it is crowded with people from as far as Spain, Germany and South Italy. Ski lessons are taught in English, French and Italian. Several restaurants are scattered throughout the mountains, some easy to get to, others exciting to get to.

The slopes rank from green and blue for beginners to red and black for experienced skiers with them all overlapping, allowing easy access to favourite slopes. All slopes are wide, allowing beginners space, time and manoeuvrability.

There are also other activities for those who wish to relax or explore the quaint village to buy famous cheeses. There are aisles of sweets to enjoy after a long ski or a dog or horse sleigh ride. There is even an adventure rollercoaster on the snow with a rise of 400m, descent of 800m and a top speed of 40km per hour which raises no questions on the name ‘Mountain Twister’.

 Finally there is a possibility to have a night ski, with one slope alight and village lights giving a magical, once-in-a-lifetime effect.                                                                              

By Michael

Japanese Experience

31 03 2010

Japan was a lot different to what I had expected.   Before my arrival, I thought everything would be ancient and historical but I was proven totally wrong.

Walking down the streets of Narita we came across numerous old Japanese style buildings. Right next to them we would see a modern, 21st century building.  I also expected the people who lived in the city to be rude and to be pushing me out of the way, knowing that people in Japan are always busy, but even in the busiest of streets people were always polite and courteous.

One of the places I visited was Akihabara which is known as ‘Electric Town’.  Akihabara sells mainly computer hardware, electronics and anime.

The best way to visit places in and round Tokyo is to catch the trains.  These are a very quick way to get around and are always on time.

Another thing I really enjoyed in Japan were the ancient temples and beautiful landscape around them.  The temple I visited in Narita was named ‘Narita-San’.  The temple and its surrounding gardens were founded in the year 940.

The food in Japan was different to what I expected.  I thought I would see a lot of Sushi restaurants.  Most of the small traditional restaurants served a lot of noodle based meals, with the sushi being a side dish.

Japan proved to be a fantasitfc and educational experience.



31 03 2010


When I look around at the gardens and parks I see every day, nothing can compare to the experiences I had in Dusseldorf, Germany.

There are many stunning parks in Germany, unlike any you have ever seen before. One park that I walked to frequently when I was on holiday there was NordPark. Altogether, NordPark is a large community and a very popular summertime destination for families. It is a walker’s paradise.  There are numerous gorgeous flowerbeds near the entrance that makes the environment warm and friendly. The fresh air, beautiful greenery and sparking lake add a striking touch to the welcoming surroundings.

There are also many facilities in NordPark suitable for all ages, including a giant swing and building blocks hidden deeper in the park  for children to enjoy. There are also many peaceful areas, shady trees and park benches suitable for people needing  quiet time for themselves.

Not only are there amazing parks to visit, but the whole of Dusseldorf itself is a wonderful place to get away to.


We need some suggestions!

9 11 2009

There are a range of new columns in Student Voice and all of them appreciate your feedback. ‘Marc’s How To Column’ is particularly looking for new topics to write on. Got ideas? Leave us a comment!

The Lost City of Petra

28 10 2009


Flocked on either side by my Mum, Dad, brother and our friendly, energetic guide Mahmud (who has been showing us across all of Jordan), I took a deep breath, excitement filling my lungs as I started the 1.2km walk through the narrow gorge called the Siq, to Petra’s finest, the Al-Khazneh, the treasury. The Nabataeans, the people who inhabited Petra, were clever and practical. As they were open to outside cultural influences, they absorbed and added them to their own native touch so that the final outcome meant that they had many cultures captivated in Petra. A short walk down Petra makes this evident. Scanning my eyes over the Siq, showed me the Greco-Roman influence, the water harvesting systems, as did the Al-Khazneh, the huge pillars standing clear to that fact. All around me were influences including Egyptian and Mesopotamian intertwined in the local.

                Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself, the 80m cliffs soaring either side of you, their vibrant colours and patterns a breathtaking sight. Even though you read about the lost city of Petra, a departed race possessing nothing in common with modern civilization, nothing truly prepares you for the wonders as one of the greatest ever formed by nature and man.

                Craning my head back in a fashion as to see all of Al-Khazneh’s glory, a massive front wall carved from the sheer dusky pink rock-face, dwarfing everything in sight, the 43m high and 30m wide façade was glorious. Carved how? It’s hard to imagine such a huge yet beautiful creation was carved in the early 1st century, possessing the important role of the tomb to the significant Nabataean king, showing to some extent the engineering genius of these ancient people.

                Although Petra was such a vital part of the key trade routes between Arabia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, rising up more than 2,000 years ago, it’s almost unfathomable that the vibrant trading heart, located in a series of desert canyons in Southern Jordan, which vanished from maps at the turn of the seventh century A.D.

                And now, I say my profound thankyou in my head, to the Swiss scholar, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as a Bedouin trader who identified the ruins in 1812 that lay beneath a thousand years of dust and debris.

                Some people revel more in the comfort of riding a horse or donkey camel through the vast expansion of the Nabataeans’ ancient world. I dawdled, awe-struck by the pure size of the regions towering red sandstone cliffs, slowly falling behind my brother, Mum, Dad and Mahmud. The city’s buildings, including temples, tombs and theatres cascaded around me, all their beauty and historical content to offer.

                After spending three hours already in the dry heat, exploring many caves, we were summoned by a group of Nabataean men to one of the many caves, to enjoy a traditional lunch of homemade bread and a dish made out of tomato, onion and spices. Complimenting the traditional tasty lunch, we had a small glass full to the rim of sugary tea, just what you need on a scorching day. Trying to understand the group of local men (quite an art really!) finally grew tiresome, so we again ventured and explored through the hundreds of rock formations.

                Skipping to the top of an 823 step hike with my brother (yes, we counted!), my parents lagged behind in exhaustion. Mahmud did not even bother with the climb saying, “I’ve seen it many times before, many times. Now I rest.” Obviously overwhelmed with our enthusiasm as to see as much as possible, we climbed Ad-Deir Mountain. Captivating the unimaginable mountain scenes on your ascent doesn’t even compare when you encounter one glimpse at Petra’s second most famed attraction, Ad-Deir, the Monastery.

                Monstrous in size, yet beautifully awesome, the overall design resembled that of Al-Khazneh, the only different that the architectural embellishment was only simplified. Unknown that Ad-Deir was a tomb, temple or possibly both, the Deir used to be an important pilgrimage site, the climb up the mountain serving as a processional route. In Byzantine time, it changed its use again, to that of a church.

                After visiting the High Place of sacrifice near Ad-Deir, we continued our descent down the Ad-Deir Mountain. Reaching the bottom, I glanced back up the mountain, hoping that one day, hopefully in the foreseeable future, that I would be back again to explore more of Petra.

                Edging on closing time, we did one quicker round of Petra, quickly visiting one of the theatres, a Greco-Roman influence shining through, then to my favourite caves, holding more to explore, passing over a tomb or two, and back to the treasury, soaking up its last pieces of glory from the sunlight afternoon.

                Distressed that we didn’t have enough time to explore Little Petra, we were still excited that we had seen so much of such an amazing place. Needing three days to venture through all the vicinity of Petra, only having enough time for one, I was still exuberant that I’d had the chance to investigate the magnificent place. But it wasn’t all over yet, tonight, I’d be back at the ‘Petra by Night’ expedition, exploring more, by the naked moonlight.




By Nighthawk

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26 10 2009

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