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Published: November 25th 2015
The Great Barrier Reef
Handy window seat on the plane on the way in!
Our third week in Brisbane was routine by now. We got to try the local version of domino's pizza. I'm not sure if it's the same company (logo looks the same) but they had some seriously gourmet pizzas with awesome thin crust. The academic night that we went to with the residents had food again - lots of different and awesome pizzas! I've concluded that aside from having more prevalence of fish and chips and meat pies, Australian food is exactly the same as American: pizza, Asian, burgers, etc.
There was one exciting(ish) thing we crossed off the list last week- we rode the city CAT. Their winding river that wends through the city has a nice little ferry system that you can ride as public transportation, or for fun as some pensioners on the boat were doing. We had a nice afternoon out of the hot weather by riding up and down the river.
Fri morning early we were off again for the weekend. Same deal as last time- no checking ID or boarding pass (just scanned it at the gate). The Great Barrier Reef is huge and has a few places you could jump off from. We
Taro in the raw!
Never seen taro at a market like this. Turns out there are lots of tropical type foods here - some native and some introduced. In Brisbane they had a little public food garden in the South Bank area. The idea was to landscape with edible plants, and have volunteers pick it for people. Nice little public park and a GREAT idea! Tons of herbs with little signs, and even a few small trees including pomegranate, lemon, etc. And taro! Too bad I didn't take a photo, but it looked exactly like a patch of elephant ears (if you know what they look like)
decided to base ourselves in Cairns as this is where most of the tours leave from, and it's close to the big airport. Since we didn't have a car, close is key. I've read that Port Douglas is great, and it probably is, but it's an hour away. Next time I'm here with a car...
We didn't have much on our list to do here since we didn't have a car (which I regret on retrospect). After dropping our bags at our hotel, which was pretty close to downtown, we just explored on foot. It was a gorgeous day! First we stopped at Rusty's market. Mostly food, but also has trinket things. I bought a very weird melon I'd never heard of that tastes like chocolate. It wasn't ripe yet, but a couple days later when I cut it open, it really did! Not as sweet, and still had a little hint of melon, but strongly reminiscent of chocolate. Weird. It was the consistency of a paste.
After that, we ended up walking along the Esplanade, which is like the boardwalk. We stopped somewhere for drinks and a bite to eat. It was a beautiful day with a
Roo on the barbie
At Rusty's market there was a guy selling all kinds of meat and cheese. We did not buy...
nice view of the water! Unfortunately there's no beach right here- that's a 30 min bus ride away (one of the reasons a car would have been nice). The water here is muddy bottom and not safe to swim in. In response, the city created a lagoon- basically a big pool overlooking the water. Very similar to the South Bank Parklands pool in Brisbane. After our drinks, we went and hung out in the Lagoon until dinner. We had our classic dinner here: potato wedges and beer 😊
The next morning we started out early to make our way to the pier for our tour. All the boats leave from the same spot, which wasn't too far of a walk for us. A nice greasy breakfast from McDonald's on the way to start the day, along with my favorite flat white coffee, of course.
The check in process on the boat was pretty easy. While we were in port before leaving, they had tea, coffee, and little breakfast muffins. We also had to fill out waivers before we left. Over the loud soaker before we left they talked about motion sickness pills so many times I decided to
Killing the afternoon
From one of the many cafes overlooking the esplanade
risk a little drowsiness and take the ones I brought. Turns out that was the best decision EVER.
It was a 90 min trip to the first site. The weather had started out nice, but rapidly became gray and windy. The water was insanely choppy. Combine that with everyone around you getting pale and sick and it would be easy to lose it. During that trip we had a dive brief that lasted almost the whole time. Rachel snorkeled the whole time, but I dove the first 2 and snorkeled the last. Doing a combination was the perfect solution. You see different stuff for each, and if you only do 1 thing you kind of miss out. I hadn't been diving in 6 years, but it came right back and I instantly remembered why I loved it! Wish I could've stayed down longer, but still a great time!
At all 3 sites I'm pretty sure we were on the outer reef. In the dive brief they warned you not to touch anything for risk of damaging the reef or yourself. They pointed out that fire coral burns for 6 weeks, but didn't show us what it looked like
Not a great view at low tide. Gorgeous day out though and a huge pool!
(I think on purpose). Some of the creatures there take a decade to grow a few inches. It was fairly overcast making it a little darker underneath, and I think because of the wind, the visibility underneath wasn't great. It was still awesome but would've been epic with better weather (next time). I also wish I had gotten an underwater camera. Boo. So no photos, sorry. It was a little clearer up top during snorkeling. Overall, it's good to go on a tour like that the first time, but if I go back I'd rather do a smaller charter kind of thing. We did get to see the reef, reef sharks, and turtles, so I'd say it was a successful reef trip.
On the boat we met 2 fellow Americans there for business. They're songwriters in Nashville, which is very interesting to me because I've never met anyone in that job. Also they wrote done of the songs I like haha (and All American Girl was then stuck in my head for the rest of the day). It was nice having someone else to hang out with, so after the tour we met up for dinner later. We actually
This is the view from the lagoon. Meh. Really unfortunate that there is no beach in Cairns...
went to the same place we were at the night before - the Rattle N Hum bar. Very lively! We stayed out until a whopping 9:30pm, which is when the beer and my motion sickness tablets caught up with me.
The next day we again had to check out early. It was on and off rainy. Our flight wasn't until later, but Rachel didn't want to go to the rainforest, and everything else is varying cab rides away (not cheap). I could've gone off on my own, but instead chose to spend the day in Cairns again. It was much like Fri, actually almost exactly like Friday. I went in the lagoon a little around noon, but then it off and on rained, and Rachel was long done with the water, so I just got dressed. We just sat in one or another restaurant/bar on the water there for the day. It was really hot in the sun, but nice inside. Later we found a tour that would've been good to go on, but too late by then. So 2 of our 3 days in Cairns were spent sitting in bars/cafes on the esplanade. Maybe a wasted opportunity in
Aka bats. Trees full of them! At night they get very loud and fill the skies! Presumably eating bugs. Keep eating :)
Cairns, but could've been worse! 😊
After my fourth and last flight on Virgin Australia, I can say it was a pleasant experience and worth the little extra over crappy Jetstar. And that was our last weekend here! We have a couple more days of work, then head back on Thanksgiving. My flight is that night, and Rachel moved hers so she actually leaves earlier than me now. I was going to try the space a adventure home, but decided to visit friends in Alaska instead. So my trip home goes: Thursday night fly Brisbane to Honolulu landing at noon on Thanksgiving (date line!); see friends in Hawaii for the day, then fly Honolulu to Anchorage Thurs night at 11pm. Spend Fri and Sat in Anchorage, then fly to Fairbanks late Sat night (only an hour or so flight). Fly from Fairbanks to DC (with 2 stops. Meh) at 1:30am on Tues (!?) going first class thanks to a bunch of accumulated Delta miles from my time in Mississippi 😊 Home Tues evening! Phew what a world tour... From DC I go to NYC for a conference on Thurs, 2 days later. Haha I'm crazy, but it's a really
We were on the Silverswift, but tons of options that would all have been great I'm sure!
So stay tuned, at least one more blog entry coming soon... 😊
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