A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: tangueratravels

On the eve of my blogoversary: Tanguera Travels is moving!

One of the reasons things have been rather silent recently is that I have decided to move my blog over to a self-hosted site. And today on the eve of Tanguera Travels first blogoversary I am happy to announce that this move is complete!

Yes that's right, time flies when you're enjoying yourself and tomorrow it will be one year since I wrote my first post.

Thank you to everyone who has read my posts and subscribed to the blog. I would be thrilled if you checked out the new site here. I am really excited about the beautiful logo designed by the talented Isabelle Salem. I'd love to hear your thoughts about what you think of the new design!

All the old posts are there and I am currently working on a series of posts on Berlin. You can read the first one here.

In case you want to be informed of new posts you can subscribe on the right side of the main page here. You can also keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter.

Happy tangoing and travelling - see you on the other side!

TT

Posted by tangueratravels 12:26 Comments (0)

Dancing Tango in Hamburg's Red Light District

Friday night and Sunday afternoon, La Yumba, Kastanienallee 9, Hamburg-St Pauli

overcast 15 °C

It was getting dark as I left my hostel. A few metres from where the Beatles played their first gig abroad, a man dressed as a pirate was singing let it be and accompanying himself on a guitar. Friday night on the Reeperbahn was just getting started.

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Photo: www.mediaserver.hamburg.de / Christian Spahrbier

I made my way through the crowds, looking for the turn-off for Kastanienallee. In many cities, the red light district is not the safest place for a woman to be walking at night, but this felt more like carnival. Further on I could see the "dancing towers" ahead on me, appropriately enough, they are supposed to symbolise a couple dancing tango.

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I found the street where I had to turn off and the noise from the Reeperbahn faded as I walked down Kastanienallee, a dimly lit, mostly residential street, and looked for number 9. There was no one around and I was just thinking about how I’d actually felt safer when I had been walking along the Reeperbahn when I saw light and heard tango music. This was number 9. I had arrived at La Yumba. I went inside and followed the music upstairs.

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Photo: La Yumba

Inside, beyond the bar, a couple was dancing and others were sitting down. It was a few minutes after nine, so the milonga had not long started. The room was lovely, decorated with chandeliers, an interesting contrast to the brightly coloured lights and a parquet dance floor surrounded by plenty of chairs and tables. I had only been sitting down for a tanda or two when I was invited to dance. Cabeceo did not seem to be used in this milonga, at least not as far as I could tell. Anytime I was invited to dance the guy simply walked up to me to ask. It had been a long time since I danced tango in Germany (although it's actually where I started) and it was my first milonga in Hamburg. From what I could tell, I was one of the few non-Germans or even non-Hamburgers there and it had very much a “cliquey” feel to it, especially as the evening went on.

I did get invited to dance quite a bit in the earlier part of the evening, but as of about 11pm, the room really started to fill up and I found myself sitting out tanda after tanda. After a chat with two other ladies who weren't getting any dances - it turned out they were also newcomers to the Hamburg scene - I decided to call it a night.

I was back at La Yumba again that Sunday afternoon, this time with a friend who lives close to Hamburg and occasionally dances tango. We each danced a tanda and that was it. Perhaps we should have been a bit more attentive to prospective dance partners ... but this trip was more about catching up with friends. I'm nevertheless glad I was able to get a brief introduction into Hamburg's tango scene at La Yumba. I hope to be back again soon to get to know some of the other venues!

Useful information

The Friday night milonga at La Yumba starts at 9pm. There is a practica beforehand which starts at 19:00. Entrance costs 12€ (for both the practica and milonga). The Sunday afternoon milonga takes place the second and third Sunday of the month from 3 - 7pm , although it is not organised during July and August. They also organise a tango breakfast from time to time. Check their website or the calendar below for up to date information.

Like most cities in Germany, Hamburg has a very active tango scene. Make sure you check this calendar of tango events before your trip.

And finally …

What to do in Hamburg when you’re not dancing tango

While this weekend was mostly about catching up with old friends, it wasn’t my first trip to Hamburg, so I’ve included a few tips below

1. Speicherstadt

One of the most beautiful parts of the city and the largest warehouse district in the world, this is also where you will find several of Hamburg's museums, including the Speicherstadt museum, the maritime museum and the spice museum.
Bonus tip for travelling tangueras: if you are looking for tango shoes, there is a shop for dance wear (including, but not exclusively for tango) right in the Speicherstadt called Dance Affairs.

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Photo: www.mediaserver.hamburg.de / Christian Spahrbier

2. Landungsbrücken and Jungfernstieg

Being in Hamburg is all about being by the water. Take a walk along the pier at Landungsbrücken which is where many harbour cruises leave from. Alternatively, you can skip the guided tour and take one of the ferry lines which are part of Hamburg's public transport system. More information and suggestions for routes to take here and here.

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Another good spot for a walk or just sitting by the water (in this case the Inner Alster) is Jungfernstieg in the centre of the city. Apparently the pier got its name because it was known as a place where parents used to walk with their unmarried daughters ("Jungfern") at the weekends...

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3. Museum of Emigration in BallinStadt

If you have a free morning or afternoon, I highly recommend a trip to BallinStadt, where you can easily spend several hours. The museum is housed in the halls through emigrants passed on their way to North and South America and has recently been renovated and expanded. It now tells the story of emigrants from the 16th century to present day, through a series of interactive exhibits. It's only about 10 minutes on the S Bahn from Hamburg's main train station.

4. Reeperbahn & Beatles Platz

The morning after the milonga in La Yumba, I decided to take another walk along the Reeperbahn, this time in daylight. I realised that in my hurry to get from the S Bahn station to the hostel the previous evening I hadn't noticed that I'd walked straight passed the Beatles...

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This is Beatles Platz, just opposite the entrance to Grosse Freiheit, where some of the clubs where they used to play are still located. The statues seem to stand on a turntable, with the titles of some of their most famous songs along the edge. Come back here at night for the real Reeperbahn atmosphere!

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Have you danced tango in Hamburg? What's your favourite place to visit in the city? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Posted by tangueratravels 12:02 Archived in Germany Tagged travel germany tango dancing hamburg milonga city_trip weekend_break Comments (0)

What to do in Singapore when you’re not dancing tango

sunny 35 °C
View Bangkok to Singapore via Australia on tangueratravels's travel map.

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My last stop of this trip where I have been trying to dance as much tango as possible along the way, was Singapore. My main reason for stopping here was to participate in my very first tango festival. As I was taking classes during the day, I mostly limited sightseeing to the area where I was staying and where the festival events were taking place (central Singapore). Here's what I got up to during those few hours that I wasn't dancing or sleeping ...

1. Crash course in Singaporean History

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A good place to start is the National Museum of Singapore, where you can easily spend several hours. Established in 1887, this is Singapore’s oldest museum. Exhibits and multimedia displays tell the country's history from the colonial period under British rule to independence up to the present day. The Living Galleries provide an insight into life in modern Singapore with sections on food, fashion, film, family life and the development of women's rights. Entry to the Living Galleries is free from 6-8pm. Definitely worth a second visit.

2. A Walk in the Park

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Just behind the museum is the entrance for the complex which was once known as Forbidden Hill and is now called Fort Canning Park . You can access it from the side of the National Museum via an escalator. It was called Forbidden Hill by the native Malays as it was the final resting place of the King of Singapura and it was believed that anyone who entered would have bad luck. Under British rule it became first the residence of the colony’s governors and later their military headquarters. This is where the British surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942, who took control until the war ended in 1945. Control of the Fort was eventually handed over to the Singaporean military as part of the process of gaining independence in 1963. Nowadays the site is a public park and is often a venue for concerts and festivals. Among the main sights are the Gothic Gates which lead into Fort Canning Green (pictured above), the underground bunkers used during the Second World War (known as the “battle box”), the Spice Garden and a hidden door known as a Sally Port which was used to enter or exit the fort without detection. You can download a walking tour guide from the park's website here.

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3. Shopping


From Fort Canning you are a short walk from Orchard Road, the main shopping street in Singapore. Alternatively, you are even closer to Bugis street although this will be a very different experience. The once legendary Bugis street is now a cluster of stalls selling everything from t-shirts (apparently the cheapest in Singapore), underwear, touristy knick knacks to food and flowers.

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4. Flying High

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For 360 degree views of the city take a ride on the Singapore Flyer. The world’s biggest Ferris wheel until 2014 , it moves so slowly you can barely sense that you are moving (it takes about 30 minutes to do one turn). It’s good to do this in the early evening when it’s not so hot. When I went around 6pm, there was hardly anyone else, so no waiting time and I shared the capsule with only 2 other people. A multimedia exhibition inside explains the construction.

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Although a bit pricey at 33 SGD, I would say that it’s worthwhile for the views.

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5. By the water, at night


After the trip on the Flyer, I had some time for a walk along the harbour for a ground’s eye view of what I had just seen, before it was time to head to the airport. Unfortunately there was no time to visit the Gardens by the Bay which I’ve heard are spectacular. Next time!

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Where next?

Now that the big trip is (long) over and I've told you all about it, where next for Tanguera Travels? Since I came back I’ve been staying closer to home and in the coming weeks I will be sharing some posts about some of the places I’ve visited and will be visiting over the summer. You can therefore expect future content to mostly focus on dancing tango and travelling in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Towards the end of the year I might be heading further afield again. Watch this space....

Thank you so much to everyone who has read this blog so far, I hope you have liked it and perhaps even found it useful in one way or another. If you are not yet a subscriber and want to be notified about new posts, you can do so by clicking at the top of this page and filling in your email address. It's completely free :-)

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Posted by tangueratravels 07:53 Archived in Singapore Tagged skylines museums singapore history shopping sightseeing stopover looking_for_quiet_places city_trip Comments (0)

What to do in Melbourne when you're not dancing tango

overcast 30 °C
View Bangkok to Singapore via Australia on tangueratravels's travel map.

This was my second trip to Melbourne. The first time I stayed for almost a week and had time to explore the city and surroundings. The second time I had less than 48 hours and I spent quite a bit of my time dancing tango. This post is about what I saw and did during both trips.

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Where to start

Melbourne is a great city for getting around on foot, so a good way to start your trip is going for a wander around the centre with no particular destination in mind. Even someone like me, who still manages to get lost in the city I've been living in for more than 5 years, didn't get lost in Melbourne. Bourke Street Mall (between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets) and the surrounding streets form the city centre's main shopping hub. If shopping is not your thing, it's also fun to explore the laneways, admire the street art, stop for a coffee and watch the world go by.

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For getting around you can make use of the City Circle Tram. Thîs free service operates during business hours, with an extended service from Thursday to Sunday (until 9pm). The route runs around the CBD. You can view a list of the stops here.

Federation Square and surroundings

You'll probably pass by Federation Square at some stage during your visit. The futuristic architecture contrasts with the neo-classical Flinders Street Station across the road and the nearby St Paul's Cathedral and on a sunny day it's a nice if noisy spot to sit around and figure out your next move. Like many places around the centre there is also free wifi available. This is where you'll find the visitors' centre which organises free tours of the square every day except Sunday, as well as two museums, the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia , a collection of indigenous and non-indigenous Australian art, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Entrance to both is free. For prices for the ACMI's the cinema programmes or other special events check the calendar available here.

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Just down the steps behind Federation Square you can go for a walk along the banks of the Yarra River where there are also some bars and restaurants. River cruises also leave from here.

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Queen Victoria Market

A pleasant way to spend a morning in Melbourne is with a wander around the Queen Victoria Market. Open every day except Mondays and Wednesdays, it's huge so you might even want to go more than once!

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If you have half a day for exploring outside the city ....


If you are only on a short visit to Melbourne but don't want to miss out on the beach, St Kilda's is your best option. It's about 20-30 minutes by tram from Melbourne CBD. For nice views with your afternoon coffee head for the kiosk at the end of the Pier.

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More useful information on public transport options for getting to St Kilda and what to do there here. Alternatively, if you have more time, have a look at this blog for beach inspiration around Melbourne.

If you have one full day for a trip outside Melbourne ...

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... then it has to be along the Great Ocean Road. With spectacularly beautiful coastal views, this 243km stretch of road is also the world's longest war memorial - it was built by returning soldiers and dedicated to those killed during the first world war. It's a very long day trip from Melbourne (the trip we did lasted about 12 hours altogether), but it's worth it.

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Obviously if you have the time, the more relaxed way is to take your time, go one way leaving either from Melbourne or Adelaide, making stops along the way. Ideas for what to do and where to stay here.

And one last idea for a (half) day trip from Melbourne...

During my first trip to Melbourne we also did an evening tour to Phillip Island to see the little penguins' parade at sunset. There is also a Koala Conservation Centre as well as the country's largest fur seal colony. You can drive there in about 90 minutes from Melbourne, just remember...

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What's your favourite thing to do in Melbourne? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Posted by tangueratravels 08:54 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes art melbourne victoria beach shopping st_kilda cafe city_trip Comments (0)

What to do in Hobart when you're not dancing tango

My stay didn't get off to a great start - dark, rainy, unwelcoming Hobart seemed that first night - but I soon felt at home in the harbour city with its vibrant arts scene, beautiful landscapes and friendly locals. 6 days in & around the Tasmanian capital

sunny 25 °C

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On the Waterfront

Founded at Sullivan's Cove in 1804, Hobart is Australia's second oldest capital (after Sydney). A good way to start your stay is with a walk along the harbour.

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Museums

After taking in the views, the nearby Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to spend a couple of hours. It includes Aboriginal displays, a collection of colonial and contemporary art, geology and zoology sections, as well as temporary exhibitions. Don't miss the Islands to Ice exhibition on Antarctica (permanent exhibitions, Argyle Galleries, Level 2). Entry is free. There is also a nice café in the courtyard.

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Some would argue that no visit to Hobart is complete without a visit to the Mona - the Museum of Old and New Art. It's not for everyone and although I'm not into modern art (which seemed to make up the majority of the exhibits) and some of the pieces are more than a little disturbing, I'd still say it's a worth a visit, for the architecture of the museum itself alone. At times it feels like you are wandering through cave-like labyrinth as the three lower levels are built into the side of the surrounding cliffs. The exhibition starts on the lowest level and you work your way up, along the windowless passage ways, back up to the light, getting lost along the way. You get an ipod like gadget to guide you through the museum which allows you to save your own virtual tour and then email it to yourself.

You can get there by ferry, leaving from the Brooke Street Pier Terminal in about half an hour.

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There are also some options by bus, more information here. Entry costs 20 AUD (including the ferry trip) and is free for Tasmanians.


Salamanca and Battery Point

If you are in Hobart at a weekend, make sure you head to the Salamanca Markets on Saturday, where you can easily spend several hours. They open early and run until around 3pm. Browse local artwork, knitwear, souvenirs as you listen to street musicians and munch on a wallaby burrito.

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It's also worth going to Salamanca Place when the market is not on, to visit the Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart's creative arts hub which includes galleries, a theatre, numerous shops selling artwork, jewellery, clothes and more. There are also plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants.

From there, head up Kelly's steps to reach Battery Point, one of the oldest parts of Hobart.

The area gets its name from the battery of guns that were established here in 1818 as part of the town's coastal defence. It was also in this part of Hobart that Hollywood legend Errol Flynn was born. There are some cafés and restaurants along Hamden Road and if you're looking for a light snack and somewhere to relax, I recommend the Pollen Tea Room at 56 Hamden Road. They have a little courtyard at the back where you can sit on a fine day enjoying a pot of tea.

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Street art, dinner and a movie: North Hobart

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Most of the restaurants in Hobart are located along Elizabeth street and this part is also much less touristy than the centre. If you want a little afternoon pick-me-up, Sweet Envy is the place to go with desserts as beautiful as they are delicious,

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A little further up Elizabeth Street, is the more than 100 year old State Cinema, which if the weather is nice even includes a rooftop cinema. I was keen to see an Australian film so I went to see Last Cab to Darwin while I was there (although not on the roof top). A funny and moving road movie, unfortunately there don't seem to be any plans to release it in Europe yet.

This part of Hobart is also nice for wandering around and admiring the murals on some of the laneways ...

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Devil Worship

Obviously if you have come all the way to Tasmania, you're going to want to see a Tasmanian devil, right? A good place to do this is the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, a half hour drive from Hobart city centre.

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The Sanctuary takes care of injured animals, many of them which cannot be found outside of Tasmania, with the aim of releasing them back into the wild. It also operates Tasmania's only 24 hour rescue service which is funded entirely by the entry fees to the sanctuary. Entry includes a bag of kangaroo food and participation in a wildlife tour (organised twice a day, so make sure you are there either around 11:30am or 2pm) in which a keeper will introduce you to some of the current residents and tell their stories.

While I was there we met Tina, a six-month-old wombat, who had survived in her mother's pouch after she was hit by a car.

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Then there was Burt the koala....
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a family of lizards ....
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the kangaroos...

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and of course, Tasmanian devils...

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I would recommend spending a morning or afternoon at Bonorong during a stay in Hobart and supporting a business which is making a real contribution to preserving the unique Tasmanian wildlife, rather than simply showcasing it.


Top of the World

For spectacular views of Hobart and the Derwent river - if you're lucky enough to get up there on a clear day - head to the summit of Mount Wellington. Be prepared for the fact that it'll be roughly ten degrees Celsius colder than at the base and EXTREMELY windy. Walking around the pinnacle area you have lunar-like landscapes, truly making you feel like you are on another planet...

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Richmond

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It felt like a ghost town as I walked around, although perhaps this was because I was there on a Sunday morning.
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Richmond is about 25km north east of Hobart and is home to Australia's oldest bridge (built in 1825)...
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... oldest Roman Catholic church, St John's (built in 1836)
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... and oldest colonial gaol (built in 1825, it pre-dates the penal facility at Port Arthur by 5 years).
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From here I headed on to the Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur.

Port Arthur

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The former penal colony of Port Arthur is now a UNESCO world heritage site and an open air museum. It was selected for its location, connected to the mainland by a 30 metre wide stretch of land known as Eaglehawk Neck, making it a natural prison. The "Neck" was guarded by a row of dogs who stood behind a bank of shells and the surrounding waters were rumoured to be shark-infested.

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Nevertheless, there were some escape attempts, including one successful one (although they were eventually re-captured). My personal favourite is the story of Billy Hunt, who disguised himself as a kangaroo to try and hop his way to freedom. However, he had to give himself up when the guards decided to shoot at him. More stories here and here.

Despite the beautiful sunny day and the scenic surroundings there was an undeniable feeling of melancholy to this place as I walked through the grounds and entered some of the buildings.

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Nowhere is the sense of despair more palpable than when visiting the "separate prison". Prisoners who were sent here were kept in complete isolation, forced to wear a hood when they left their cell so that they never saw another person and with the guards under instructions not to speak to them.

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As I entered, a recording of a man's voice read the regulations as they were read to each man who was imprisoned here. A copy of these rules hang in the individual cells which you can visit.

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Included in the grounds of the separate prison is a Chapel, in which prisoners attended the service in individual booths, again restricting their contact to others. A recording of a male choir was playing when I entered. Apparently some of the prisoners would insert their own words during the hymn singing in order to communicate with each other.

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Back out in the sunlight, I took a harbour cruise around the Isle of the Dead, the final resting place of over 1000 people, both convicts and officers who passed away during their time at Port Arthur.

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This tour is included in the entrance price but if you want to get off the boat for a tour of the island itself you will need to book this separately. More information here.

I would recommend spending at least one full day at Port Arthur (the entrance ticket is valid for two consecutive days). Tours of the grounds are organised (free of charge) several times during the day. They start close to the entrance of the grounds after you get your ticket. There are also ghost tours which explore the site's troubled past for the brave...

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On the way back to Hobart, I stopped at Devil's Kitchen and the Tasman Arch. Standing at the top of these unusual rock formations, listening to the ocean crashing down below. Another one of these experiences which is difficult to capture in a photo...

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Guess you had to be there...

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Missed my post on dancing tango in Hobart? You can read it here

Posted by tangueratravels 05:38 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes mountains museums wildlife history tasmania hobart coffee cafe tasmanian_devil port_arthur looking_for_quiet_places Comments (0)

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