Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving On

[Kyle]The showers were long and hot and the bed was soft and lumpless. We slept as well as two people could who had to get up at 2am for a flight.

From Perth in Western Australia we were headed to Cairns in Queensland on Qantas. Our flight was in 2 legs, via Sydney (Victoria). Since Australia is approximately the size of the U.S, this equates to roughly a San Diego-Miami-Boston trip. Unfortunately, since we were on standby and the second leg was overbooked, they were not able to check our bags all the way through and we had to pick up and recheck our bags in Sydney – this meant we missed our tight connection and head to wait 5 hours for the next flight. We considered a trip into Sydney, but with only a few hours before the next flight, we weren’t sure. Once Kyle saw the train ticket price to downtown he refused (stingy git). It turned out after all that we did not make it on that last fight out (all seats full) so we actually had to wait until the following morning before we left Sydney and finally made it to Cairns. With the next flight out early in the morning, we ended up taking the cheapest airport hotel for the night. It was actually a really nice hotel. The guy at the front desk swore we never should have got the rate we found on line but he honored it anyway. Maryanne even talked him out of a complimentary breakfast as well.

We made it out on the first the next day and arrived in Cairns to the first rain in 6 months. This was not just rain but the kind of rain that, even if you stood out of it, you were quickly drenched by ricocheting back splatter. The locals were jubilant, I was not so happy. As we were waiting at the carousel to collect our bags, I got paged. Mine hadn’t made it. Before the carousel had even stopped, Qantas obtained my information and told me they’d deliver the bag to the hotel in a few hours. All my clothes were in there. After a nap, the rain had stopped and we did a quick tour of town with me wearing a dress shirt and long trousers, rather than the shorts and flip-flops that are standard wear around here. I was the best dressed guy in town. Cairns is a wonderful, prosperous, happy, healthy town. The Esplanade along the waterfront is the nicest collection of public works I have ever seen. There is a huge, free pool. There are covered, lighted barbecues that are really outdoor kitchens. Almost every one of them was filled with people barbecuing or stir-frying up an al fresco meal. There is a really cool playground for all the kids including a fountain area controlled by buttons the kids can push. Outside is one of those signs like in amusement parks. It says, “If you’re taller than this sign, you don’t have to think you’re too cool to play here”. In case you still do, there is a really well appointed skateboard/BMX park not too far off. There are also beach volleyball courts and even free fitness classes several times per week. The town has a pretty high proportion of tourists, mostly college age backpacker types. The rest seem to be on expensive diving holidays.


The restaurant choices seemed to reflect this. We were getting pretty hungry. All the backpacker types were cooking in the free BBQs. We had no cookware so, eventually, we were able to buy $30 worth of Mexican food for $80. It was no Juan’s, but it was actually a lot better than we expected.

[Maryanne]I don't care what Kyle says, that mexican was lousy (food and service).

Fruit Bats roosting in (of all things) a fruit tree

On the way back we passed the town library and noticed some beautiful, mature fruit trees (Mango). Just stunning. All around wherever we went in Cairns was the noise of wild birds - here that noise turned out to be Fruit Bats. These bats are HUGE (about a small family cat size), and they fly around before roosting in these mature trees all over the center of Cairns.

[Kyle]My bag was waiting in our room once we returned to our hotel. {Maryanne: We love Qantas}


Karen said...

What a welcome contrast to see and read about Cairns! It sounds like a great, people-friendly place to be. The lush, green surroundings of the waterfront city look beautiful – with the exception of the bats! Ugh! I can’t imagine what it must be like to have one of those things hanging right over your head during the daytime..... forget about going anywhere at night! (shiver)
Mango sorbet will never taste the same! ;-)

Happy trails!

kate said...

Ha! I swear, Karen, I decided to leave a comment about how cool I think bats are before I saw your anti-bat comment! I used to be afraid of them when I was a kid because I believed the old wives tale about how they'd dive bomb you at night and try to nest in your hair. But I seriously wouldn't mind holding one - or trying to - if I ever got the chance at a zoo or something. K & M, were those fruit trees kiwis by any chance? I was trying to identify the little blobs in the first picture. Sorry that it rained, and that the Mexican food was bad, but Cairns itself sounds pretty awesome. Can't wait for more on-the-spot reporting!

Mommy Dearest said...

This is a location I think I'd absolutely love, bats and all. I am very pro-bat. If I could figure out how to build a bat house, I would do it. They eat all the insects. I think we owe are paucity of flying insects to our own bat population. But Kate, they really DO make nests in your hair and don't forget, sucking the breath out of babies! Or is that cats? Darn, I forget.

At any rate, Cairns looks absolutely beautiful. And hooray for Qantas.