Monday, August 8, 2016

Cairns: The Great Barrier Reef

Well hi there! Happy Monday :) I actually already finished Monday and it wasn't that bad. So don't let the Monday morning blues get you too upset.

This past weekend I took my first little jaunt outside of Sydney - off to the city of Cairns, home of the Great Barrier Reef.

And guess who I found in the Pacific Ocean...

Jeffrey Daniel! 

JK. I didn't actually first see him in the ocean. I'm such a trickster. 

 He actually landed in Sydney Friday morning, so I met him at the airport after work and we hopped on a plane (poor Jeff - he was up to 20 hours on a plane at this point) and headed to Cairns!

We still don't know how to pronounce this place. I think you dismiss the fact that there is an I and R in the word and say "cans," but with an Australian it's kind of like "cah-nes." 

How many of you are saying it out loud right now? Knew it. 

The flight is about 3-hours to Cairns, so by the time we got there it was pretty late. Saturday morning we were up bright and early with the sun and headed to the "reef terminal" to meet our boat. But not before being greeted by this beautiful view...

The first of many selfies of the weekend. And if you think we look tired, you would be correct. It's 7 am on a Saturday morning. Boating is not for the weary. Or at least not for those who need 8 hours.

So we headed down the pier skipping and jumping and looking at views such as this - 

 ...and thinking all was right in the world. Then we get to the boat and the kind lady tells us that my sweet boyfriend has booked us on two different boats. 

Did you catch that? Two different boats. Two different cruise lines. Two different areas of shark-infested waters. 

Now, he claims that it was the lady on the phone that messed us up, but considering I don't know her, it's much more fun to tease Jeff. I can already picture me in 40 years - "hey remember that time you booked us on two different snorkeling tours?" Oh yeah. Good stuff. 

So THAT debacle took quite some time to sort out, but alas, we got it figured out and were on the same boat. The bad news? We missed breakfast on the boat. I wasn't too concerned...until about 30 minutes into us setting sail....

....and I thought I was about to wreck it ralph all over that boat. 

Now I've never gotten sea sick, in fact, the more turbulence on a boat the bigger I smile, but on an empty stomach in the Pacific Ocean? Yeah it wasn't working out. 

An hour later, we got to the first snorkel spot, and I was in the fetal position and cursing Jeff's name for making me do adventurous things. Like why can't I bake cakes and read books? What's so wrong with that?

So I tell him I'll join after lunch (I know myself - I just needed to eat), and lay back down. Then a lady comes and sits practically on top of me (hello, personal space much?) and proceeds to yak in a bag right next in front of me. 

And ladies and gentlemen, THAT was enough to send me running towards the ocean screamin' "holla at me sea life!" 

SO - we hopped on a glass bottom boat to get a closer look at our surroundings. 

I will say, doing this first really helped my incredibly large fear of the ocean. From the safety of a boat, I could check out the reef and see that there's really not much to be afraid of. Our tour guide even said we're "lucky" if we get to see a shark because we'll get to see how friendly they are. 

...I wouldn't go that far, but whatever. 

After the glass bottom boat, I took it easy until lunch because Jeff was supposed to have an introductory dive lesson. Unfortunately, Jeff took two advil on the sail and the tour guide saw him. And much to our surprise - two advil can prevent you from diving. They called the on-shore doctor, but he still said no. I knew I couldn't dive because of the pressure on my eye (and cause my dad is good and knows stuff like that), but we never dreamed a couple pills could keep a 6'6 guy from diving. 

So Jeff was pretty bummed. But he made the best of it and got his snorkel on. And got to meet Barry the Barracuda (not kidding; didn't name him), so he was alright.

After a pretty amazing buffet lunch on the boat, I was 100% cured and ready to snorkel. 
....or ready as I'd ever be. 

We headed to the back of the boat to put on our wet suits, flippers, and snorkel gear. Let me tell you this - putting on a wet suit is all-too similar to putting on spanx. And no one, much less 75 no ones, should ever have to watch you put on spanx. Am I right, ladies? 

In fact, mine was so snug that Jeff had to actually zip it up for me. I'm here to tell you that your relationship reaches a whole new level when your man has to zip-n-stuff you into a spandex onesie. I mean really. #largesliceofhumblepie

The aftermath:

I've never felt sexier in my entire life. 

And everytime Jeff laughed I wanted to punch him. Men just pull off wetsuits much better than women. #addittothelist

But alas - we were ready for the ocean! 

The next picture was right after we jumped in. Yeah, I don't remember taking this picture. I think I blacked out. 

Once I got my bearings (aka remembered to only breathe out of my mouth, not my nose), I actually had a good time! The reef was awesome (we saw turtles, Nemo, AND Dori!) and I totally forgot about the fact that I could have been eaten. 

Here are some shots Jeff got with his go-pro:

Lookie! It's a sea turtle!

 And here's me all like "heeeey look at me snorkeling!"

I must say, we do not have any selfies that even remotely resemble this one:

 It started raining during our snorkel - which was actually a pretty cool experience. Until the wind picked up and the waves became bigger and despite my life jacket I thought I was going to drown. 

Okay not really, but the waves made the snorkel entirely too much work. 

We got back to the pier around 4:30p, and I told Jeff there was one way and one way only that I wanted to celebrate my victory. 

...with ice cream of course. 

So we decided on ice cream frozen with nitrogen and topped with a syringe of chocolate syrup. Heck yes. 

There was a nice "reef-n-beef" dinner on the harbor, too - but let's be real - chocolate syringes are what it's all about. 

The next day was pretty rainy at first, so that was a bit lame, but we got some good shopping in and just perused the town of Cairns. It actually reminded me a lot of Myrtle Beach - or a really nice Galveston. 

We originally decided on seafood for lunch, but Jeff saw the "Swim, Skip, Hop, Jump" entree on the menu and decided to go for that. So here he is with his barramundi, crocodile, kangaroo, and emu. 

Then the rain cleared up and it was back out for more sight-seeing until we caught our plane back to Sydney. And goodness me, this city was not lacking in sights. 

Loved our first little Australian adventure :)

And that was our weekend! T-minus four days until our next one :)

Have a great day everyone!

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

10 (More!) Fun Facts About Australia

G'day mate! 

So a couple weeks ago, I did a post titled "10 Fun Facts about Australia"...and y'all ate it up! I received so much positive feedback about that post, so I decided to do it again! I learned more facts :)

So - without further ado, here are....

1 - There's no tipping here. At all. Not for food service, not for spa services, not for anything. It's not that they're "jipping" their people - it's just that the hourly wages are high enough to where it's not needed. Oh, and there's no sales tax either. So when the menu says your sandwich is $12 (because yes, sandwiches are $12 here), your bill will be an even $12. Not a penny more. It's amazing. 

So if you visit Australia, don't give away money for free!

2 - Speaking of money, Australia has the prettiest money ever. Each bill is a different color. Like hello who doesn't love a rainbow in their wallet?! Oh, and the $1 and $2 "bills" are in coin form. So basically that means you can pay for an ice cream cone with all coins and feel like you're not even really spending cash. #winning

3 - So french fries are called chips, and they're dipped in tomato sauce. But (potato) chips are also called chips, and they're dipped in other dipping sauces such as guacamole. So fries are chips and chips are chips, so if you need to clarify what's for lunch - inquire of the dipping sauce. 

4 - Okay this one really gets me. Stores (like shops/clothing stores) close at 6p. SIX. Even on the weekends! The "late" shopping night is Thursdays where the stores stay open until a whopping 8p. Can you imagine trying to do Christmas shopping and have a day job? I can't even. 

BUT - similar to the Europeans, dinner is really late here. A normal dinner time is 8:30 - 9p, and by that time this Texan is extremely "hangry" and has already eaten 2 fingers and a toe. Over three weeks in and I'm still not adjusting well to this one...

5 - So the Australian bird is part pterodactyl. It has this long curved black beak and makes this awful screeching noise and and and flies right above your head and and holds it's neck in this contorted way and I'm 400% sure it's part dinosaur. And when they fly near me I run screaming like a 5-year old who just got her pigtails pulled on the playground. 

6 - In Australia they do Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, milliliters instead of ounces, and kilometers instead of miles. So basically, without the help of google, I rarely know how much water I'm drinking, how far away I am from something, or what the temp is outside. It's a rough life. 

7 - It's been really fun learning the Aussie "synonym" to our American items. For example:
twisties = cheetos
snakes alive = gummy worms
hundreds and thousands = sprinkles
flip flops = thongs or pluggers

Let your mind have a field day with that last one. 

8 - The Tim Tam is the poster child for the Australian cookie. They're any and everywhere you turn, come in a plethora of flavors, and are pretty dang fantastic. The "original" consists of two chocolate biscuits (cookies) with chocolate mousse-like icing in the middle and then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. 

There's also this thing called the "tim tam slam" where you bite off the bottom part of the cookie, and use it as a straw in your glass of milk, coffee, etc. Apparently it makes the inside all melty and delicious. I have yet to try it but fully intend to. 

9 - Sydney is a walking city - and I don't just mean walking from point A to point B. Due to it's beautiful surrounding coasts, the city has a ton of predetermined trails for you to follow around the various parts of New South Wales. They're various skill levels and lengths, and are free for anyone to just wake up and walk. Camera in hand, of course. You can see a full listing here.

Okay, we pause our regularly scheduled programming to share the fact that I just did a Tim Tam Slam with a glass of milk and it may have been one of the better decisions of my life. That is all.

10 - Rugby is not really like football. Two teams, two goals, and a ball are involved, but that's about it. What pains me is that these men tackle each other with no preventative padding. Nor helmets. Bless them. Bless their bruised bones and concussed craniums.

The best part? The games are quick and easy. It's two 40-minute halves and you don't really stop between plays. So you know how 10 minutes left of American football can take the better part of an hour? Yeah, not the case in rugby. Katy likes Rugby. 

OH - and instead of eating hot dogs, you eat meat pies. They sound disgusting but they're dang delicious.

BONUS FACT: ...because I actually came up with eleven.

A lot of the trains/train stations, parking garages, and event stadiums are quite nice looking because they're only 16 years old. Thanks to Australia hosting the Olympics back in 2000, they had to increase their train routes and build various new stadiums for the events. So everything is still pretty clean! And you can definitely tell a pre-Olympic train from a post-Olympic train. Some of those pre-Olympic trains sound like they have a serious case of arthritis.


And there are your ten eleven {additional} fun facts about Australia! If you missed the first batch, or would just like a review, you can catch them here :)

Until next time,