Nearly two weeks ago I went north 1720 km, which wold take about nineteen hours in the car, to Cairns, QLD. It’s pronounced like Cans because why would Australians ever pronounce the R..? They wouldn’t.
After three months of working my bottom off with all the kids, it was time for a holiday (vacation). The kids were on school holiday and so Kelli, the mom, told me to go! I booked the trip a few weeks in advance, so I had plenty of time to become eager and ready for some me time. Since Cairns is very far north, it is much warmer than where I live and therefore I was stoked for some extra warm weather to get my much-needed intake of vitamin D.
I started my weekend off with driving over to Brisbane, where Brady my best friend lives, on Friday arvo (afternoon). We spent the weekend driving twenty minutes to visit Costco and to check out a festival. Costco is native to my homeland and so we were stoked to be able to see something that was attached to home in our minds. The drive is actually only 10 k’s (5 miles), but with city traffic it took us about twenty-five minutes; so worth it. We walked around inside Costco and it was exactly opposite of back home (naturally since we drive on the other side of the road). We bought delicious Costco muffins and some food court food! Yum!! The festival was in Teneriffe and so we got to take a ferry down the river! That was awesome and worth the $5.60! The festival itself was filled with lots of people, beer and more people.. Not our thing.
Sunday morning Brady and I woke up at a decent time and began to get ready to leave for the airport. Our flight was at 2:30 pm and so we had plenty of time to enjoy our morning. Around 12:00 we are about to leave for the airport when I check the email for fun. Unfortunately, I am an idiot and read the arrival time as the departure time.. We just missed our flight. I have always had a fear of missing a flight, so I usually check over fifty times to make sure, but I got too lax and didn’t this time. We were going to be in Cairns Sunday the 5th through Thursday the 9th, but they didn’t have a flight until the next day. So since we had to buy a new ticket the next day, we decided to extend our trip a day also, but trying to fly back during the weekend was really expensive. We eventually forked down some more money and got it all figured out. I called the hostel Calypso and added on an extra three days and told them we were going to be late. I also called the airline to fix our return ticket. We now were going to leave 8 pm Monday and come back the next Monday on the 13th. That means we got three whole extra days; who’s complaining? You’re welcome. Oh and since we weren’t leaving until the next day guess what? We drove to Costco again and got more food court munchies.. So really.. it all turned out well.
Monday we woke up and ate breakfast and kind of just hungout all day. Around 2 pm Brady gets an email saying that due to some mechanical issues, our flight has been cancelled. Oh boy! We go online to book a new flight through the cancelled flight department, I choose one for 6 pm and press confirm. As the page loads it suddenly glitches and changes it for Wednesday the 8th! We then had to call the airline and they were quite upset that they had to fix a flight we already confirmed, but it wasn’t my fault! Eventually we get it figured out for 6 pm and head for the airport around 4, but don’t worry we get there and they can’t find us in the system. We had to wait until forty-five minutes before departure to see if our names popped up; they did.
Eventually Brady and I arrive in Cairns about 9 pm and call Calypso to have a shuttle come get us! A wonderful Canadian girl named Mikayla picks us up and takes us back to check us in. She gives us a tour with a hefty speech attached (I was quite impressed with all that she remembered) and drops us off in room 10. Our room was in House 1 upstairs, next to reception. We had a kitchen on our floor and a bathroom, which was awesome! We had bunk beds and Brady and I were both on a top bunk! Yay! Brady and I were exhausted, hungry and a bit shocked. Our last experience in a hostel didn’t turn out too well, so we were a bit skeptical this time. We walked to the corner Night Owl and grabbed some noodles for dinner and ate in our room. We met a few roommates and got our books out to read.
The next morning (Tuesday) we slept in a little and asked our roommate Claudia (german) about the beaches. Since we were going to a beach, we decided to take my carry on bag (which was really a beach bag) and so I got to dump all my clothes onto my bed (yay!). We had to take a bus 40 minutes north to Trinity Beach, I didn’t mind. We walk to the Night Owl (that’s where the stop was) and grabbed a popsicle for breakfast (you’re welcome mom) and rode the bus, which was only $3.10, very far north. Trinity Beach was a beautiful little secluded beach. It was populous and warm; stoked. We were a bit ravenous (I guess the popsicle wasn’t going to hold us over) and found a cute little shack Claudia told us about. Now, the prices in Australia are insane and I don’t mean that in exaggeration. When you go out to eat at a restaurant the cheapest meal is never under $20, and can even get up to $30 for a simple meal! Its crazy!! But this shack was a rarity and amazing! A huge kids burger and chips (fries) was only $8.50 and this burger was bigger than any kids burger I’d ever seen. It was also very delicious! Thanks Claudia for the recommendation! We laid out on the beach afterwards for about four hours and just relaxed. Naturally we put on a lot of sunscreen because anyone you talk to around here rips you a new one about sunscreen. The UV here is super crazy or something. Don’t worry though, we didn’t get any thing close to a tan line (too much screening of the sun). After about four hours we were ready to head back and decided to grocery shop on the way back. We had made a list the night before of what we’d need for the week. We decided cheap and easy (bare minimum): cereal for breakfast, PBJ for lunch, pasta with sauce for dinner, and some fruit for snacks. We only spent $30 each for a weeks worth of meals, which I thought was really good. But when I say bare minimum I wasn’t kidding. We barely made the bus and had to stand the whole twenty-five minutes back to our hostel. It was irritating and hot. We did survive, so don’t worry too much. The rest of the arvo we just hungout in the lounge on these couches and invested our minds into our books. I made dinner of pasta and sauce and we met a german named Hannes. He was making breakfast, which was really strange. It all made sense though when he told us that he worked the night shift for the hostel from 10 pm – 7 am. He is from Germany, but has been in Australia for 8 months (I think). He has an impeccable accent, barely tinted with German. Which makes me wonder if I will lose my “american” accent!? We chatted with him about stuff over brekky/dinner. Afterwards we went downstairs to relax and listen to open music night! It was actually really outstanding and had some wonderful people.
Wednesday we slept in quite a bit and decided to go into town to book a reef trip! The hostel provided a free shuttle into town so we took that. Town was only about five minutes away (fifteen minute walk) and was adorable. We saw a Woolworth’s (grocery store) and got excited that we wouldn’t have to take the bus north twenty minutes for more groceries. We found Travel Bugs (recommended by a roommate) and booked the trip for Saturday! The guy was really awesome and found us some spots on a full boat! We also booked a gondola ride through the Daintree Rainforest for Friday, so Saturday Reef trip was perfect. That left us with Thursday for whatever and Sunday for Lagoon relax day. We grabbed a delicious butter chicken pie with smashed potatoes and gravy at Pie Face for lunch and met up with Linda (Bradys host mom) to borrow her hotel room key to lay out by the pool. We grabbed some gelato made from liquid nitrogen and ate on the way back to the shuttle drop off. Mine was like “crunchy chocolate mash” or something and it was chocolate gelato, with crunchy chocolate pieces, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle and a syringe filled with chocolate sauce. It was the best gelato I’ve had since Italy. It was so smooth and melted in my mouth with a satisfying taste left behind. The shuttle drop off was under this weird giant tree that dropped strange spindle like flowers (kind of hard to describe) and had golden ants with green bottoms. Such an intriguing tree. We got back to the hostel, and was about to make dinner when some guys offered us the remaining angel hair pasta and homemade meat sauce of theirs! Yes please! I cooked us a bit extra sauce and heated up the noodles, it was delicious. We had a lot of extra, so i offered some noodles to this guy named Devon (Canadian) and he mixed it in with his spinach mushroom dish. We also offered some to our roommate Katie (girl below my bunk) and she was much obliged! We chatted it up with Devon for a bit and we found out he owns a motorcycle and has been traveling all over Australia! I am very envious! We hangout at our normal place on the couches, played a few games on paper and enjoyed the beautiful warm night.
Thursday morning we woke up around 9 o clock and it was pouring rain so I grabbed some brekky, ate it, and went back to sleep. Don’t judge me okay? I didn’t see anything wrong with one day of laziness on our supposed relaxing vacation! We woke up around 2:30 pm and took the shuttle to town in search for some veggies to throw in with dinner. We grabbed some broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, corn (for Brady) and carrots. We walked around a bit and then grabbed the shuttle back. The arvo was spent relaxing on the couches reading. I actually ended up talking to our roommate Claudia about her adventures in Australia thus so far and I shared a bit of my stories. She had to work at six, but she asked if Brady and I wanted to walk to town with her and grab some ice cream before she had to work. We obliged and got to see the beautiful Lagoon, it was a really nice walk. I got chocolate ice cream and it melted all over me (because why wouldn’t it). Claudia went off to work and then Brady and I decided to walk back again because the sunset was unspeakable. It was so beautiful and filled with many colors. It was yellow and purple, and orange over the water with some blue at the top. It is one of the top sunsets I had seen in a while. We made some dinner with delicious veggies and ate downstairs to listen to quiz night. I knew the general knowledge category, but my expertise stop there!
Friday morning we woke up to yet another exciting morning of pouring rain, but this day we had the rainforest trip and so we got ready and sucked it up. I made some PBJ’s for lunch and got dressed. We took the bus twenty minutes north again to get off at Smith and field and then had to walk fifteen minutes in the pouring rain to the Sky Rail station. By the time we arrived, I was soaked and looking real haggard. Lets hope I don’t meet my future husband on this trip hey? We got there a bit early because now I am afraid of missing anything ever again. The ride in the gondolas was pretty neat (it’s a lot like a ski lift but its in an enclosed little thing) and even though it was extremely foggy and rainy the view was amazing. I couldn’t imagine what the view would have been if not for the rain. It was also quite hard to take pictures because of all the water on the windows. Lets just say I took a lot of mental photos that day (which are already slowly fading from my much too filled head). We stopped twice and got out to walk around the rainforest and saw a beautiful falls, a dam and huge trees! HUGE! Brady is afraid of Ferris wheels, so I am not sure why she volunteered herself for this little (not so little) ride up into a giant rain forest. She panicked a bit at first, but soon realized how safe this wobbly, unsteady, little gondola was; why be afraid? The nature was so different from anything I have ever seen and the umbrellas were pretty cool. I wanted to ask if I could have one since Toowoomba likes to flood sometimes and I am without an umbrella back home. Brady wasn’t fond of this idea, so I kept my mouth shut (plus the umbrella would never fit into my tiny carry on let’s be honest). I bought some nougat at the top and it was a delicious treat! (I want more at the moment) Since it was raining so hard, and it was yucky we didn’t want to walk around in Kuranda so we hopped back on the Sky Rail and went straight back down (we did not stop at GO and collect $200). On the bright side, it had stopped raining by the time we got to the bottom, so we enjoyed a cup of coffee (tea for Brady) and then endured our twenty-minute walk back to the bus station. The rain did make for some really cool nature photos on the way though! We hungout on the couches when we got back and ate our PBJ’s. Around 4 pm Devon and Hannes asked us if we wanted to join them and some friends to go get wings at Trades. Now let me tell you, this was the classiest bar I’ve ever been to (I might be lying, but you may never know). Mikayla and Claudia were with us and some other people I didn’t know! Some of Mikayla’s friends bought us all a round of beer and tequila, but Brady and I gave Hannes ours! Did I mention the fact that the girls that worked here were topless? Yeah that was interesting (my parents are going to be stoked when they read this). We hangout for a while and all partipate in some casual banter. When we moved outside Hannes kept trying to talk to this girl who was sitting alone and she did not look happy with him. It was hilarious! Devon kept playing his ukulele, which was awesome, and we all just chatted and ate wings; well I had one (Not much of a fan to eat wings in public oops). We went back to the hostel, when arriving Devon and Hannes just jumped in the pool and convinced Brady and I to get in (I have no idea how, it was so cold). Everyone dove in all stylish like and don’t worry I just flopped right in. We played chicken and Hannes was on my team; we won! Hannes and Devon kept jumping in the pool sliding onto a boogie board; it was awesome! I was not stupid enough to try this stunt. I went upstairs to cook some dinner while Brady took a shower. Yay more pasta and sauce! Afterwards Hannes tried convinced Brady and I to sign up for the bar pong competition and succeeded! We beat the first team, Dom (german) and Lisa (english), but we lost against the next team against Eric and his partner. Dom asked us if we wanted to play some more on a table not being used so we did! It was fun! We won some and lost some and stayed sober the whole time! I learned that I am actually better throwing with my left hand (Yes I am right-handed mainly). I am actually horrible with my right hand. I played a few rounds with Hannes and called it a night afterwards.
Saturday.. THE GREAT BARRIER REEF (I wasn’t excited or anything). I could barely sleep the night before and had no problem waking up in the morning! I scarfed down my brekky and we took the 7:15 bus to the reef terminal! We walked down the board walk and boarded our catamaran! We went inside, grabbed some muffins (which were delicious I had two..shh!), some nasty coffee, and filled out some paperwork to ensure if we died we were not to blame the company (real comforting). It was 8 am and so warm already, I knew it would be a wonderful day! We met the lady sitting next to us, she was Scottish and named Amy. She was super nice and she was going diving! Brady and I decided together not to dive, I have sensitive ears and Brady didn’t really want to, and were stoked to snorkel. We went and sat in the front of the boat and enjoyed the two-hour ride out to the reef. I started to get a bit sick (of course) and so I took a sickness pill. I am glad I did! We met two Canadian (French part) girls and chatted with them for a bit. The first reef stop I grabbed all the gear and zipped up my entire body into a size two wetsuit (I am not a size two), but the tighter the better for warmth! We jumped in with a splash and looked down with our goggles. It. Was. Terrifying. Instantly I wanted to get back on the boat. To look down and see open water for miles and not see the bottom, it really clicks and you realize how small you are compared to the world. I wanted to get out, but I stopped and took a few breaths and pushed myself forward. The reef was unbelievable. I felt a bit like Nemo floating above this reef and looking out into the vast ocean! No wonder his dad was terrified to leave the reef. I can write about it all day long, but I will never be able to put in words the experience it really was. Here we were, 2 hours in the middle of the ocean (a deep ocean at that) and BAM there is a huge reef that goes down as far as I could see.We spent two hours at this part of the reef and I saw some of the most beautiful fish ever. We had an under water camera and I took some great photos, but they really don’t do the reef justice. Everywhere you look there are fish, reef and life. Big fish, little fish, sharp coral, squishy plants and anything else you can imagine! (Maybe not a kangaroo). We got back on the boat and enjoyed some yummy strange lunch and laid out at the front, while heading for our next stop. It took about thirty minutes and out of no where there was a huge sand island! Again, out here in the middle of the ocean, there is a freaking mini sand beach! This beach was also inhabited with about twenty-thousand birds! It was a breeding ground and very precious. There was the option to swim from the boat to the island or take a mini boat to the island. Brady and I opted to swim because there was more to see. We hopped right in and guess what? There were about six huge fish, the size of me (and I’m not too tiny), swimming under the boat! It was a bit scary! The reef was so vast and beautiful that we didn’t even end up making it to the beach, because we decided the reef was better and there are beaches back on shore! We accidentally got so into swimming around that we ended up in a really shallow part and kind of got stuck. We were afraid to swim in the shallow part because the Canadian girl had scraped up her foot pretty bad the other day and we didn’t want to repeat her mistake. Since we were stuck though we had to choose a direction and go! Luckily it wasn’t as shallow as we thought and just sucked in our tummies and floated to the deeper parts. I was glad we got to the shallow parts because we saw some fish and coral we hadn’t seen yet and it was beautiful. This was also where the bigger fishies hid, but we found them and got some good photos! I also chased a sting ray trying to take a photo (or trying to be like Steve Irwin), I actually did not know that it was a sting ray.. I thought it was a sand fish. I’m glad I didn’t die! Could you imagine that? (Sorry mom, I can’t come home because I chased a sting ray and died). The hour and half we had at this reef flew by and before I knew it we were back on the boat sailing for shore (Literally sailing). I said goodbye to the giant fish and waved goodbye to the best experience of my life (So far). It took a long time to get back to Cairns, so we had lots of time to talk with our Canadian friends (I feel horrible I can’t remember their names) and Amy! I laid out in the front of the boat for a while until I got cold and then I settled my debt (wetsuit and candy fees) with the front lady. One of the Canadian girls was an artist and she drew me! It was awesome! I know we all know what we look like because we all see pictures of ourselves and see in mirrors, but I have always been curious with how someone else sees me and draws me. I really enjoyed it. Brady and I decided we just wanted veggies for dinner so we were going to stop at Woolworth’s on the way home. We docked in at about 4:49 and Woolworth’s closes at 5:00, so we had to sprint to the store. It was a bit away and we were tired (And not really athletes). We ran, made fools of ourselves and I stepped in a huge puddle, which really irritated me because I had kept my Toms dry all day on a BOAT, and arrived to the store at 4:58. Don’t worry though this Woolworth’s closed at 9 pm, we ran for nothing (and I ruined my shoes for NOTHING). I bought some extra zucchini and rosemary then went back to shuttle pick up spot. Devon walks up as we are waiting for it and sits down to chat with us. Someone near us mentioned how the creepy golden ants taste like lime if you eat them, so naturally Devon tries it. He says it in fact taste like lime and asked where some tequila was! Haha! Dom picks us up and asks how are day was going and Devon told us how he was going to make maple steak strips (Sooo Canadian). I made rosemary sauté veggies and Devon made his maple steak and we all shared; it was lovely. At about this time Brady and I start to notice how burnt the back of our legs were and knew we’d be in trouble in about an hour. Ouch! We were exhausted, read a little (i doodled on my leg with pen), and fell asleep pretty early.
Sunday fun day at the Lagoon! Yay! Brady and I woke up early (well nine..we were tired okay?) and left for the 9:30 shuttle! We laid out at the lagoon all day and me being stubborn didn’t wear sunscreen. I didn’t want a repeat of Tuesday and it was our last day! Burn away! (Sorry mom and skin). I did in fact burn away and after two hours I had to run and hide from the sun; it hurt. We got pie face for one last time and went back to the hostel. I started to draw huge flowers on Brady and I. I was having fun and didn’t want them to wash off in the shower, so we walked down to the Night Owl and bought a permanent pen! Hannes came and found us and asked us if we wanted to play cards or something; we obliged. We played some game called Gambio, Ive never heard of it, but it was fun and required some brains. We also played some Empire remixed version of Monopoly and Devon joined us after a few rounds. Brady went up to chop some veggies and I eventually went up to recreate my delicious rosemary veggies. Naturally I can’t live up to myself and they weren’t as good. Too much butter. Hannes participated in Sunday BBQ night and was eating crocodile sausage and kangaroo steak! He let us try a bite. Thats right, I ATE KANGAROO AND CROCODILE. Who am i? To be honest the crocodile just tasted like chicken, you wouldn’t even know better, but the kangaroo was gross. I don’t even know how to describe the taste. Brady went up to shower and I started chatting with some people who sat with us at the table. I met a girl named Taylah and she was from Sydney. She was really awesome. Met some guys from New Zealand and girls from England. The best part of hostels is that if you’re awkward and don’t know how to start a conversation (like me) then you can literally ask everyone where they are from. It’s a great starter. Eventually I started drawing a flower on Devon’s calf and then Devon went to eat dinner. It was fun! I didn’t even realize that I knew how to draw flowers! Dom came over and wanted one on his back. Brady came down after her shower to see what I was up to. Brady noticed a big crater scar on Doms leg and asked him what happened and he told us! It was crazy! He was in Thailand and they weren’t sure what it was (maybe a mosquito or jelly fish) and they pretty much had to scrap it out of his left and clean it out! The pictures were gnarly! Dom, Brady, and I chatted for a while about Doms crazy stories. I finished up with his back and we hangout for a bit and we asked Hannes to reserve us a spot on the shuttle bus to the airport (since he works 10 pm – 7 am so we knew he could do it early) before we headed off to bed.
Monday morning blues. Today we go home and I was very sad about it. Our flight wasn’t until 4:50 pm, but checkout was at 10 am. So we packed up our stuff and checked out leaving our stuff in the corner of the room. We asked Claudia to let us in later. We tried to book the 2:50 bus to the airport, but it was full. The only other one was at 12 and we did not want to be at the airport almost five hours early, so we decided to just grab a cab for twenty bucks when the time came to leave. We hung out on the couches and Claudia joined us for a bit to say goodbye and what not. We ate the remainder of our pasta and sauce! We said our goodbyes to Devon because he was taking his bike out to ride. My whole body was pretty burnt as this point and I hurt to sit down. Right before leaving, Dom came up and handed me a journal. He goes on to explain that anyone he meets and likes he has them write in a journal! I thought this was such a wonderful idea and I am probably going to copy him (Sorry Dom!). I also thought it was so kind that I got to write in this journal! He works at the hostel, he probably meets a lot of people, and I got to fill up a page! It was a unique and lovely idea! Around 2:30 Hannes comes rolling out into the room! I got pretty excited that he woke up in the middle of his sleep (he sleeps from 7 am – like 5 pm or something) to say goodbye. He also tells us that we have a spot on the 2:50 bus, but we told him it was full. But he did in fact have our names put down and so we didn’t have to take a cab! It was a lovely surprise and ending to our trip. We said our goodbyes and guess who drove us to the airport? Mikayla! We were singing and laughing and I thought to myself there was no better way to send us off!
I got stuck in the middle on the way back and sat next to this guy (He was kind of cute and that never happens to me). Brady and I didn’t talk to him the entire way, until the last twenty minutes when we all three started to get anxious about the turbulence. We started chatting it up and we found out that his name was Brett, he’s originally grew up in Cairns and now lives in Brisbane. He was really awesome and helped block out the scary bumping of the plane!
I always love traveling. Ask anyone. I am a traveler. With how often I travel, you think I would be used to saying goodbye to my new friends and leaving yet another place, but I am not. Every time I get emotional and I feel like I am constantly leaving a piece of me around the globe. So as I sat on the plane, I got pretty sad and had to remember that all places we must leave behind, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ever go back!
Traveling is such a bitter sweet feeling being able to experience culture and to travel the world.You meet unique, wonderful people and get to add new adventures to the list, but eventually you have to meet the great new friends and the beautiful new surroundings and go back to reality. Its just how life works.
Our Cairns trip was amazing. The hostel was outstanding and warm. The people were fantastic and I made some good friends. The sights we unforgettable and full of adventure. Cairns you will be missed. I will be back.