Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 20, 2014

Adventures on the Other Side of the World #8

A Jean Paul Gaultier dress that took 1600 hours to make, given the leopard is actually hand beaded.

A Jean Paul Gaultier dress that took 1600 hours to make, given the leopard is actually hand beaded.

This is going to be another one of those posts that cover two days, because one was a lazy Sunday and the other a partial travel day. That’s right, I’ve hopped North to Cairns, where the weather is much hotter than it has been in Melbourne the past week, and a bit of a shock to my Canadian system.

But let’s start with Sunday.  I didn’t sleep in so much as just not get out of bed for ages. I’ve been waking up anywhere between 5:30 and 7:30 these days, and Sunday was no different, but instead of acknowledging that I should probably accomplish something, I played the vacation card and lounged in my pyjamas until nearly noon.  After that, Alexander and I took the tram into the Central Business District, where he showed me the very swank office that he works in.  Super fancy! They even have their own barrista, though obviously not at work on a Sunday.

Since I’d breakfasted on only coffee and chocolates from the day before, we stopped at one of the little lane cafes for brunch, where I had eggs florentine, because with spinach I could pretend I was being moderately healthy. After that, we went to the National Gallery of Victoria, where we checked out the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition they have going on, which was pretty cool to experience even though I don’t really follow fashion, then on to the permanent collection.

A window of cakes along Acland Street.

A window of cakes along Acland Street.

We only made it partway though the European collection before the both of us were museumed out (between the sensory overload and the hurting feet, we were done), so we took the tram back to meet Alexander’s boyfriend near Luna Park (a sort of carnival park with rides and the oldest roller coaster in the world, which I am unlikely to ride since I’m not big on fast motion rides), so we could visit the cake shops on Acland Street, a recommendation from D. and J. on my tour the day before. After a nip in to indulge ourselves (I had an eclair), the three of us returned home where we watched movies and ate takeaway from Baba Burgers, since none of us could be bothered to cook. The burgers are gourmet, and very delicious. Mine had maple bacon and camembert, and I had avocado put on it too because they are so yummy here.


One of the pelicans I saw hanging out along the harbour.

One of the pelicans I saw hanging out along the harbour.

This morning, I got up super early.  I had planned to get up at about 5, but heard the alarm go off for Alex’s boyfriend’s shift at four, and just when I was about to go back to sleep, got a loud text from my Aunt in Canada, who’d changed phones and sent a mass note out to her contacts at a very reasonable hour when you are not in Australia having forgotten to switch your phone to vibrate for the night. So I stayed quiet until five, when I showered and then walked with Alexander to my tram stop, where I rode to Southern Cross Station to get the Sky Shuttle to the airport. It took me a bit to find it, because it is a big station and my sense of direction is terrible, but it was super easy to buy a ticket and get on the bus. I rode next to a lovely lady from Chicago, also up visiting as part of the Jehovah’s Witness Convention here.  She was going to Sydney today, though some of her fellow participants were on my plane to Cairns.  The lineup in the airport was insane.  It took me an hour to go though the bag drop line!  Even so, Virgin Australia, with whom I flew, is very professional. They pull people out of line if their flights are closing and get them through.  I was bored but had plenty of time to get my flight (and had check in online) so wasn’t too worried about thing.

Once in Cairns, I found my hotel. I’m staying at the Hides Hotel, an older heritage hotel. It is very basic and you can tell it is an older hotel, but it is clean and quiet and air conditioned, so that is lovely.  Now, the folks from Cairns apologized for the weather, because it rained and cooled down to about 26C for a bit, but that’s about 10 degrees warmer than I’ve seen in Melbourne most days and certainly not what I’m used to at home, especially when it rose back up to about 30C, so I was glad not only to be able to return to my room for a break at 3 o’clock, but also that there was a breeze for the evening.

You can swim for free in this little "lagoon" near the Esplanade and the Harbour.

You can swim for free in this little “lagoon” near the Esplanade and the Harbour.

In addition to checking out where I meet for my reef snorkel and dive tomorrow so I arrive in plenty of time before eating a wonderful pumpkin risotto at a cafe called Al Porto, I checked out the shops along my hotel’s street and up to the Esplanade, did a harbour walk, booked a tour to the rainforest and some waterfalls on Wednesday, and then had dinner at a place called Restaurant Dundee’s.  I intend to go back there tomorrow to try their Australia platter (which includes kangaroo and crocodile meat), which was too big for me to contemplate given I’d eaten a later lunch. I had beer battered reef fish with chips and leaf salad instead, and it was delicious, as was the glass of Biancavigna Prosecco I had to accompany it.

For now, though, I’m back at the hotel, and will soon be going to bed since I was up so early and have to eat breakfast before my tour meets at 7:45 tomorrow. I’m very excited to see the Great Barrier Reef and hope that I get a few good shots with my inexpensive underwater camera, and also that I do not get eaten by a shark. Wish me luck!

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