After 28 hours of travel, we made it from our front doorstep to the beautiful, sunny East Coast of Australia! The 12-hour flight across the Pacific from San Francisco to Auckland, NZ was definitely the most challenging part of the trip. The new trans-continental flights have computers built into all the seats and there were 70 on demand movies to choose from, free of charge! Steve was even ordering vodka from his seat computer. Once he hit send, the drink was at his seat within 3 minutes! Then one more 6 hour flight from Aukland to Cairns and we were done!
It felt very rewarding to step onto Aussie soil! We weren't able to check in to our holiday apartments until afternoon, so we spent a few hours exploring the Esplanade, which is a gorgeous swim-safe lagoon (sand bottom but not connected to the ocean) and an ocean side boardwalk. We had tasty drink at Ibiza Beach Bar and then stopped at the mall to pick up some vacation necessitites before heading back to Southern Cross Atrium (our apartment) to check in. Our room is modern, clean, and compact. It has all the essentials for a great living experience, including a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking one of the three pool areas. The pools are very nicely done - pictures to follow!
We decided that our bodies would appreciate a little exercise after sitting on the plane, so we headed down to the fitness room to get our sweat on! The sauna is attached to the back of the work out room so it was well over 85 degrees in there!
We used Trip Advisor to find a really great place up on the Boardwalk, called Dundees, where we ate oysters, tapas, and bush tucker. The bush tucker sampler platter came with barramundi, emu, buffalo, crocodile, and yes...even kangaroo! Everything was actually much more palatable than we were expecting, so it was a great experience!
Although we've been handling the jet lag (or lack thereof) very well up to this point, we decided to call it an early night so that we could catch up on our sleep and be ready for some action tomorrow! So far, I think the biggest culture shock has been travelling on the left, whether its driving on the left side of the road (Steve did a fantastic job on his first experience driving us from the airport), to learning how to be a pedestrian for this "backwards" traffic (yeah, I've already had one close call with a speeding vehicle), and even the subconsious desire to always walk on the right side as well...which can be tricky if you're playing "back and forth" with someone on the sidewalk. :-)
Our favorite animal sightings have been the giant fruit bats (aka flying foxes) hanging in the trees (there are thousands of them and they are HUGE...wingspans can be up to 3 feet!), but they only hang out in one type of tree. We also saw some beautifully colorful parakeets, a huge frog that seemed to run rather than hop, and birds taking a bath in the pool.
We are keeping our itinerary for tomorrow pretty open but we will definitely be visiting the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier reef in the next 4 days!