The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Australia (post-Sydney)

After we left Sydney (with new Camera in tow), we headed north to CAIRNS. Not sure how or why we got it in our head that a trip to Cairns meant beachy time, but there are not actually any beaches there. Well, there was a big man-made lagoon with large metal fish but the nearest beaches were a 30 minute bus ride and they really weren't all that. Cairns itself was sort of this apex starting point for everything amazing to do in northern Australia. This draws in backpackers from all over the world and makes it a uniquely adventurous place to go.

(Sidenote: speaking of adventure, I stayed in my first ever hostel. I have some mixed feelings. I had a great time staying up late and playing poker with the French boys on the porch. On the other hand, I could have used some light or airflow in our room and surely could have done without the constant door slamming all night.)

Back to real adventure: we maximized our adventure in Cairns by doing three one-day tours. The first day we toured the
Daintree River and the Rainforests in Cape Tribulation:

"Cape Trib" is the rainforesty area that runs along the coast. You can see why they use the slogan "Where the rainforest meets the reef." The above shot is actually the area where Steve Irwin was diving when he was pierced by the stingray. In our trekking around the rainforest we also went crocodile searching, saw green ants you can lick, cassowarys (which are supposed to be really dangerous), and had lunch at a bar in the middle of the rainforest. We also learned about the disastrous introduction of the cane toad into Australia and attempts to get rid of them using golf clubs and microwaves. (If you don't know the story, go read it, it's truly fascinating.)

Our second day tour was of the
Great Barrier Reef. Although the weather could have been better, it didn't really diminish the beauty of the reef. Well, reefs technically. I guess I was expecting one huge reef instead of multiple smaller ones. Stunning nonetheless. We got the best of both worlds. We took a boat out there and spent time in the water getting up close and personal with the inhabitants of the reef:

Then, we took a helicopter back to shore enabling us to take in some of the most breathtaking views ever:

And that was the Great Barrier Reef in a day.

Our last big tour in Cairn's was Uncle Brian's Tour. This was hands down the best tour we took in six weeks. Gus (the bus) and Cousin Kyh took us into the
Atherton Tablelands in the interior of Australia to multiple different waterfall sights. Uncle Brian's is a small outfit with only two drivers who rotate days and only one Gus that fits about 20. We sang songs, slid down waterfall rocks, swam in a volcano and went Gus surfing (this is where you stand in the aisle and balance using no hands while Cousin Kyh takes the curves on the mountain rather quickly to try to knock you down.) There really isn't a way to describe the tour that would do it justice. I will say they really had me contemplating scrapping this whole "career" thing and moving to Cairns so I could drive Gus around!

While Cairns itself didn't have too much to offer, the adventures that were right outside of town made that leg of our trip one of the more unforgettable ones.

After Cairns we went to
BRISBANE. Since there wasn't quite as much to do or see in Brisbane, it was nice to be able to recuperate after our exhaustion in Cairns. We did spend quite a bit of time at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary cuddling the little critters and feeding kangaroos. We also had dinner with my ex-boyfriend and his Aussie girlfriend feasting on Emu, Kangaroo and Wallaby. They also graciously allowed us to use their place to wash clothes, burn CDs of photos and get onto the internet. Plus, they fed us Vegemite and Pavlova. My last day there, I did a tour of the FourX brewery and I also spent time walking around the "beach" in Brisbane. I should note that the (man-made) beach was under construction and those Aussie's used it as an opportunity to show off their sense of humor (note the sign):

All in all, I loved Australia. We spent more time there than in any other country and it was time very well spent. I think that the one thing that stood out about Australia more than anything (besides how funny all the locals are) was how everything and everyone is so outdoorsy and in touch with nature. Spending so much time with the animals, birds, fish, trees, flowers, reefs, rainforests, etc. really did define our Australian experience. After enough time, you begin to realize that each part of nature has it's own personality:


Monday, September 17, 2007

One of the more amazing things I saw on vacation

About an hour or so of the coast of north Australia...

...after snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef with Nemo...

...upon returning to the boat...

...the nice bartender man shows me this...

...in a can. Simply amazing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Home sweet home

After 44 days with 15 flights to 8 countries, I am back in the U. S. of A. I had the most memorable six weeks of my life but it is really good to be home. I don't start working for a week, so have some time to organize pictures and process my thoughts. For now, I have come to the startling realization that my vacation is almost over.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bleave me

Gee, now the keyboard is all in Greek. And I thought Turkey was bad. Actually, Turkey was nice. Quite nice.

Due to "snafu" at the airport (read: we were a day late for our flight out of Dubai), our time in Istanbul was cut short. I had just enough time to meet a nice Turkish boy, have our first date, meet each others friends, have our first fight, have him tell me that he loves me and ask me to marry him. Oh yeah, and I visited Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Did I mention we were only in Istanbul for two days. Yeah, those Turkish boys move fast.

Having a blast! Be home in a week and I'm sure I'll have plenty to say. Miss y'all though.