So it's like illegal to go all the way to Australia and NOT visit the Great Barrier Reef. Well, maybe not illegal, but it should be. Especially if you're a SCUBA diver. Which Jenni and I are. Even though there is perfectly good diving in Perth, the two of us were bound and determined to dive the Reef, one way or another. Thanks to Vickie, Jenni's amazing mother, we got our wish.
Vickie, a whiz with travel arrangements, found a travel agent in Cairns (pronounced "cans") who could put our trip together. Joel from Dive The Reef set us up with an overnight boat trip out to the reef that included 7 dives with all equipment provided. This was an amazing deal. He even set up our overnight accommodations in Cairns.
We flew out of Perth shortly after midnight on Friday. We changed planes in Brisbane then on to Cairns. On the plane to Cairns, I ended up sitting next to a cute guy who just happened to be from the same rural county in Ohio I'm from. Talk about a small world! We chatted about high school and the changes back home. He told me he was in Australia for a semester abroad as part of his degree in International Business. I told him about the meet. All too soon, we were landing in Cairns.
Jenni and I collected our luggage and tried to figure out how to get to the resort where we were to stay in town. It took some doing, but we finally caught our shuttle and headed off to the hotel. Perth had certainly spoiled me. Cairns was a bit more run down than Perth. I put it down to the tropical climate which has to be much harder on buildings than more moderate temperatures and humidity.
The resort was more Youth Hostel than hotel and had the rules to drive the point home. No food in the rooms. Strange because we had a refrigerator in ours. No pillows or sleeping bags in the room. I was still puzzling over this one a couple days later. And even though we had a private room, we didn't have a bathroom. The community toilet was next door and the community shower was across the hall. It took me all of five minutes to decide that I am way too old for this stuff. But, I could deal for a night.
After we got settled, Jenni and I headed out on the town to find food and explore Cairns a bit. Armed with a map, we hopped on the shuttle and headed downtown to see what we could see. Because it was ANZAC day, the streets were pretty much deserted as were the restaurants.
Still we saw our first restaurant that served authentic Australia cuisine. Here's a picture of the menu they had in the window. If you click on it, it'll enlarge so you can see some of their delicacies.
We saw a confusing street sign...
...and sang with the Blues Brothers...
...then headed to a little marketplace where most of the shops were closed for the holiday and the ones that were open charged an extra 10% as a holiday fee. I had my first self serve Chinese Food, Jenni got the noodles she'd been craving and we chowed down before walking out to the shore.
This was the coolest part of Cairns was the oceanside pool. Here's a video.
It was maybe 4 feet deep total, but it was fairly large. We sat on a low wall that bordered the beach and watched people swim. I swear one little girl is synchro swimmer in the making. She was having the best time doing handstands and flips all by herself.
As for the ocean...it was kinda missing at the time.
Some seagulls with no sea.
Jenni and I at the missing ocean.
Once we'd had a our fill of the Cairns' sites, we headed back to the shuttle stop where we found Elvis. He was across the street.
After our little adventure, we settled back in our room where Jenni had a ton of homework and I fell asleep before I knew it.