After landing in Brisbane and taking a short flight to Cairns, I checked into the QT Port Douglas which offered great scenery, food and drinks. They also had a nice workout facility with classes to help you work it off. I tried something new called Zuu which is like a mix between boot camp and Crossfit and if it ever makes it to the States, I’ll be in great shape from that regular calorie burn.
They were also located really close to the Wildlife Sanctuary which is one of the only places that you’re actually legally allowed to hold a koala in Australia. The Wildlife Habitat was a great place to interact with kangaroos, koala and other exotic animals (oh my!). I have to admit I wasn’t all that enthused about holding Sampson, the oldest and meanest koala in the place, but he warmed up.
Cairns is a very tropical place and will remind you of many Caribbean islands that you’ve visited. It also had some of the best food and wine that I had a chance to enjoy on a great tour! I visited multiple vineyards and got to enjoy some of the fruit wines that Australia is known for. Viator.com had some great options for half and full day tours. I was also able to visit Coffee Works which has some of the most scrumptious coffee and chocolate you would hope to try.
I spent a day snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and I’m so glad I got to experience it before global warming destroys it. Though the 2 hr ride to get out there killed my seasickness (I could never be a cruise ship director or a Navy woman or a pirate), crossing one of the wonders of the natural world off my list was totally worth it. You never feel as small as you do in a large body of water, absolutely breathtaking. It was even worth the farmer’s tan that you get from the awful snorkel suit.
Australia can be a once in a lifetime journey for many so it’s best to go when you have plenty of time to experience the continent. My trip was just around 10 days and I visited 3 different areas while in Australia, but would have still loved more time. However, I did make the most of my visits to Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney.
Speaking of beaches, Sydney has some gorgeous ones! Bondi Beach on a Sunday is extremely popular and very crowded so definitely get there early to secure a spot if you plan to get in the water. But the street art and restaurants are must see’s while you visit.
After a few days hanging in Cairns, I headed over to Sydney for the second part of my trip. The hustle and bustle of downtown Sydney was exciting after the laid back tropical days in Cairns. What shocked me more than anything was how much Sydney reminded me of the States; Downtown Sydney could have easily been Chicago. The Quay feels just like Fisherman's Wharf. Had a wallaby not hopped across the road, I would have been sure I was in the US.
In Sydney, I visited all of the tourist trappings, like the Bridgeclimb and Opera House. My favorite moments however were those off the beaten path, like when I stumbled upon a Friday Foodie Festival with lots of local Australian treats (I refused to try kangaroo, you have to draw the line somewhere) or when I went to the markets near Bondi Beach on a Sunday afternoon and got lots of fun local crafts.
Australia is a must add to any travel fanatic's bucket list!
Flying from LAX to Brisbane is a 14 hour journey, so it gives you lots of time to think:
1) Time travel, even fake is really cool. The fact that I basically flew through 14 hrs of night was amazing.
2) Since I didn't know what time it was anywhere I wasn't ashamed to be partaking in the premium bar at what appeared to 8:20AM PST. That just means in EST it's Brunch. #mimosas #minusOJ
3) Virgin Australia is incredible! First, there's actual mood lighting, like we got in and it felt like we were flying in a Miami club.
Then the staff asks you a few questions and leaves you alone unless summoned, "no ma'am please raise your window shade" for these folks.
Next, you get 2 full meals and a snack. Now I have to admit, it's 14 hrs, and I was still sitting there like when is breakfast? However the Reese's Pieces I had were everything.
Then there's the seating, while Business Class (as always) is the ultimate luxury (full laydown beds and complimentary pj's) Premium Economy is pretty great: extended recline seats, aforementioned premium bar, power outlets, 2 oversized plane bathrooms and an in-flight entertainment system (more later). Not to mention, I don't know how they did it, but all the kids were in the real Economy section which means in 14 hrs I only heard one baby cry and then it just kind of trailed off into the distance like they have some kind of in-flight daycare back there that I won't investigate but will thank Sweet Baby Jesus in all his Golden Pamper glory for.
4) Now on to the entertainment, quality movies, TV and music that you can watch from your seat back or from your personal electronic device helped the flight fly by (well that and the fact that I took some Emergenzzzz and was basically comatose for 4 hrs. Still wondering what I did to make the guy next to me say, "My, you are a sleeper!"). I watched "Inside Out" (4 stars and adorable and I wasn't crying there was something in my eye) and then San Andreas with The Rock (swoon; 2.5 stars on the story and 4.5 on the action, but it was 2 hrs of The Rock so who cares).
5) Breakfast! (yep I made it) and only about 2 hrs until touchdown and it was the best way to fly. Mental note, anything over 8 hrs do it overnight!!