Monday, December 21, 2009

Blokes & Sheilas

For those of you who don't know the above terms...Men & Women, Aussie-fied! haha

Now we move on to the next week of my travels.

Sunday, Nov. 22nd
-Enjoyed breakfast down by the water at The Dome. It's a lovely little waterfront cafe chain. Beautiful way to start your Sunday morning...water, sunshine, food!
-After dropping Karissa off at home to put Gab down for a nap, Pete decided to take me to meet his dad. Ray, much like Carol, is a riot! Much to P's chagrin, you can see so much of both his parents in his personality! :)
-Later in the morning, we drove back to the Marlston area (where The Dome is located) to check out the street vendors/higher class flea market. P dropped K, G, and me off and he headed to an old war ship that the public could tour that day (which he never got to do because the line was outrageously long). Us girls saw some cute stuff, but didn't make any purchases.
-It was really nice to just have a normal lunch at their house. haha Who would have ever thought I'd say that about lunch meat sandwiches?? ;)
-Miss Gabriella napped in the afternoon and I helped Karissa hang laundry out on the line to dry. She is quite lucky to have so much sunshine year round for laundry! I really miss being able to do that. We took our laundry line down several years ago. :(

the laundry going out on the line

-P also gave me my first lesson in the game of Cricket today! It took me awhile to catch on, but I'm finally getting to the point of understanding the basics. It was definitely a crash course! A good way to learn though...the Australia team was playing the Australia All-Stars (aka recently retired players).
-We spent most of the day watching TV and walking/driving around Bunbury. It's a cute little town...reminds me a lot of the little towns Jenna and I drove through in North & South Carolina a few years ago. Colorful, block after block of strip mall type buildings, boutiques, banks, and masses of people! :)
-I also had to spend some time repacking my suitcases for my upcoming adventure to the east coast! I'm excited to see more of Oz!
-Dinner was STEAKS! Yummo! P & K recently purchased a side of beef from a guy who Pete knows that owns a farm. It's unusual to have fresh beef in Australia, so we enjoyed the perks! (You see an inordinate about of chicken places in Oz...you would not believe all the fast-food chicken based places!)


Monday, Nov. 23rd
-Karissa & Gabriella drove me to the airport this morning...only to find out I missed my flight! ARGH! So now I have to wait until almost midnight to fly out. Super perturbed, but nothing I can do about it now. :(
-I spent most of the day walking around the small terminal, reading books, and checking email on the free internet kiosks. It was a LONG day.
-Today I did have a sausage roll, which you see in every bakery in Australia! ha It was good though. Think......apple turnover (the skinny version of McD's) but with sausage or bacon and cheese filling.
-Finally made it to flight time! Woohoo! 11:15pm. I slept pretty much the entire trip to Brisbane.


Tuesday, Nov. 24th
-For once, my flight made it in on time. I navigated the airport to pick up my bag, then took the AirTrain to Roma St. station. It was then just a short 1 block walk to my hotel.
-Once I got checked into my room, I called to confirm my tour for the next day and got transportation from the airport to the hotel lined up. Easy peasy. ;)
-No rest for the wicked. haha I hopped in the shower and get ready. Then made my way out into the city for a short walk around Brisbane. I made my way to check out the Queen Street Mall, Victoria Bridge, and South Bank. Brisbane is definitely a walking city. You see people EVERYWHERE. Women are wearing their dress clothes for work with tennis shoes...all carrying multiple tote bags, one of which I assume contains dress shoes! ha

artwork on Victoria Bridge

view of South Bank from the bridge

-It is HOT, HOT, HOT! Woah. Lovin' the sunshine!
-I only got to enjoy about an hour and a half out in the city before needing to head back to the airport. I checked out of the hotel and hopped back on the AirTrain towards the airport.
-Made it on my first drama free flight since Indy! :p We landed in Proserpine on time. Smalles airport ever. No joke! There are 2 terminals...and the checked luggage is brought into a bay on the outside of the airport on the same luggage carts its off-loaded from the plane onto. You just walk up to the carts and pick your bags up. hahaha Jeesh.
-The shuttle bus driver got us all loaded up and I was one of the first people dropped off. Club Crocodile Resort sounded and looked so fabulous on the website...obviously it has not been updated in awhile. Hmph.
-A big group of schoolies are staying here at the hotel. Could be an interesting stay from what I've heard about schoolies on the news and from P&K. :p The music from the DJ stand is BLARING, but at least it's good music! There doesn't appear to be anything near the hotel...or at least not that the front desk can point me to. (Come to find out when I'm leaving, it would have been a short walk to the nearby shopping center...I should have just asked the schoolies!)
-I was quite tired from all the traveling, so I laid down on the bed to take a short nap...longer than I planned, but feeling a little better. Woke up in time to have dinner at the outdoor bistro here at the hotel. I can at least enjoy the view of the pool from the patio where I'm eating!

view from my room

-I was so tired I didn't bother to pretend I was going to stay up. haha I went to bed early since I had to get up early for my tour the next day. I fell asleep to the music vibrations coming from the pool area right outside my room door!


Wednesday, Nov. 25th
-Why is it that on vacation, you always tend to get up earlier than if you had just stayed home? haha Oh well, as Sheila S. would say, "you can sleep when you're dead!" ;) Up and at 'em...ready to meet the bus at 7:10am to be taken to the drop off point after several pick-ups.
-To say it was a rough ride out to the reef was an understatement! Over half the people on the boat got sick. Proudly enough, I did not get sick! I was close, not gonna lie...haha...but managed to keep it together. It took us an hour to make drop-offs all along the Whitsunday Islands located right off the coast along Airlie Beach, but then another hour across open ocean out to Hardy Reef (a part of the Great Barrier Reef).
-Today's tour was AMAZING!!!!! What a perfect way to start off my Australian adventure! :) :) :) The tour was centered around a boat which is permanently stationed on the reef, Reef World. There is an underwater viewing chamber where you can see the fish swim by, submerged snorkeling platforms with vast roped off snorkeling area, semi-submersible boat to give guided reef tours, and a sun deck to hang out and dry out after taking a swim! SPECTACULAR! It took awhile to get used to the snorkeling gear (I had never been before and we had to wear the fins as well), but after a few minutes I was moving around like a pro! [felt that way anyway...I'm sure it didn't look that way! ha] I had an underwater disposable camera with me...hoping it turns out (which they did), but several people had the same one, so either we'll all have pictures or none of us will! After a few hours of snorkeling along the reef, I made my way out of the water to get some lunch and dry off. It was great to lay out in the sun for awhile. :) The lunch buffet was quite good...they made chicken kebabs among many other sides. On the ride back, fewer people got sick, but it was still a rough ride. I had moved to a different location on the way back and felt much better that time around! It made for a long day, but one that I will not soon forget!

our ride out to the Reef

an underwater view of the reef (from my disposable camera)

me snorkeling! :)

-After making it back to the hotel and grabbing a quick shower before dinner, I can now clearly see that I look like a LOBSTER! Yikes! haha I brought aloe with me, so it gets slathered on numerous times that evening (and the following days!). The sun is a scorcher here in Oz. Better use my sunscreen next time I go out all day like that. :p
-It was another dinner in the bistro night.
-After dinner I finished making out the last of my postcards to send home to friends and family. Feeling good that they are now in the mail!
-Took time to download my reef pictures onto my computer...they look great! :) Gave me time to reflect on the day and relive the experience. I so wanna do that again!!
-I have to pack once again. Heading off to Sydney tomorrow! More adventures in the near future!


Thursday, Nov. 26th
-Still burnt, but up early despite the heat emanating from my body! haha Managed to get my Sydney tours confirmed and checked out of the hotel.
-I had a few hours to spare before the shuttle bus would pick me up to go to the airport, so I broke down and paid for internet time. Gave me a chance to catch up on email and chat online with family for awhile. :)
-Finally hopped on the bus (same driver I had the last 2 days...ha), made it to the airport, got checked in with more than enough time! Once again, small airports have their advantages. It took no time at all to go through security...it's not like they have thousands of people to check out! ha
-The plane left 30 minutes late, but the pilot did a great job and we still landed on time in Brisbane (the connection spot). The next flight also left a few minutes late, and yet we still landed on time in Sydney! Way to go Virgin Blue! ha
-I took the train from the airport to Town Hall station and walked SEVERAL blocks to get to the hotel. Even the cops didn't really know how to tell me to get where I was going. Luckily, a very nice lady I stopped on the street confirmed where I was headed! And funny enough (like most Australians and Kiwis), knew that I was American. It was like I had a flag stamped on my forehead. haha Oh well.
-Hotel is super fancy! The concierge called my room after bringing bags up to make sure it was to my liking...um, yeah! haha ;)
-Treated myself to room service tonight and went to bed after watching ARIA awards (that's the strictly Australian recording artists Awards show).


Friday, Nov. 27th
-Another early day. Oh the joy never stops! ;)
-Called mom and had to have her call my hotel in New Zealand to confirm everything since I couldn't figure out how to call! :p
-Sydney City Tour (morning stops)
  • Star City Casino
  • Darling Harbour
  • National Trust (they take care of historic buildings)
  • Sydney Conservatory
  • Harbour Bridge
  • Opera House
  • Middle Harbour
  • Seaforth
  • Manley & Steyne Beaches
  • The Rocks (for lunch)
-Sydney City Tour (afternoon stops)
  • The Rocks
  • St. Mary's Cathedral
  • Mrs. Macquarie's Chair (to see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge)
  • The Gap
  • Redlight District (King's Crossing/Potts Point)
  • Woolloomooloo
  • Garden Isle (naval ship yard)
  • Bondi Beach
-After making it back to my hotel later in the evening, I made the walk to George Street for dinner. KFC is not the same...ha...but it was okay.

me at Steyne Beach in Manley

view of Opera House & Harbour Bridge from Mrs. Macquarie's Chair

Bondi Beach

-Purchased some more internet time so I could put my pictures online. It was another early night so I could get ready for day 2 in Sydney!


Saturday, Nov. 28th
-Booked my return shuttle to the airport this morning. These trips just aren't long enough!?!
-Blue Mountains Tour (all day)
  • called "blue" mountains because of the haze created when the eucalyptus oil mixes with dust particles
  • stopped in small town of Luera where I enjoyed an apple turnover and walked the street mall
  • Scenic World-railway and cable car ride, walked a short scenic path, quick lunch
  • stopped at lookout to view Jameson Valley...breath-taking!
  • Echo Point - viewed the Three Sisters
  • stopped at yet another lookout...the one where some English guy was found after he "disappeared"
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park - hottest day yet (40C), lots of animals, got to take my picture with a koala!
  • Sydney Olympic Park (from 2000 Olympics...now a town called Newington)

The Three Sisters

part of the Blue Mountains

a koala at Featherdale

-Made it back at a decent time tonight, but exhausted from all the stops! More internet time tonight to finish posting pictures. Treated myself to room service again...who can turn down apple pie and ice cream?!? ;)

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