May 19, 2016
Our flight this morning was at 7:40am to Cairns. We woke up at 5:45am and finally had the crumpets Jess bought for us. She toasted them and I had mine with jam. It was delicious! Jess and Robin both woke up early to drive us to the airport which was really nice of them. It was great being able to spend time with them. Since they live in Australia, I’ve only been able to see them once a year, if even. It’ll be nice when they eventually move back to Canada closer to us!
The Adelaide Airport was recently renovated but is quite small for a city its size (1.25 Million people). We were flying on Jetstar for the first time. Jetstar is Qantas’ discount carrier that’s based out of Australia and flies throughout Oceania and Asia (mostly SE Asia). Like any discount airline, you have to pay extra for everything – like checked bags (different cost according to weight class) and preassigned seats. Our flight from Adelaide to Cairns cost $212 CAD per person (including seats and checked bags). It was the first time I’ve weighed my bag since Japan and my bag has lost 6kg (it’s so light now)! It’s mostly because Mom brought back most of my Korean and Japanese purchases back home. And then the remaining deliveries to Melbourne and Adelaide.
The flight to Cairns was 3 hours and we slept the majority of the way there. When we got off the plane, we felt the hot air hit us and it was like we were back in summer weather again (29 degrees C when we landed at 11am). We’ve been going back and forth between hot and cold weather quite a bit during our trip.
Cairns (pronounced “cans”), is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Cairns is in Queensland and is on the north east coast of Australia, so it experiences tropical like weather all year round. Cairns is a small town but since it is the access point to the GBR, it is quite busy and full of tourists all the time.
The only options to get into town from the airport is a taxi or a shuttle. We read online that the taxi would cost around $25-$30 AUD to our hotel so we opted to take the shuttle which drops you off at your hotel, but each shuttle holds about 20 people. The shuttle costs $22 AUD for up to 4 people, so it cost us $22 AUD for the both of us. Luckily, we were the second ones to be dropped off.
We’re staying at the DoubleTree which is on Esplanade Street (the main drag in Cairns). After doing a lot of research and reading countless reviews on our options here, we decided to just book the DoubleTree. It was not that much more expensive than some other places ($150 AUD/night) and it looked a lot nicer. Tim also has a lot of perks when he stays at Hilton properties (thanks to all his previous work travel), like free WiFi, free breakfast, and room upgrades. Also, I wanted to stay in a nicer hotel since we were relaxing more in Cairns (and after all the motels we stayed in).
We arrived at the hotel at noon and checked in. They gave us an upgrade with a ocean view, some vouchers for free drinks and food, and their signature warm chocolate chip/walnut cookies. Since we wanted to check in earlier and didn’t want to wait until 3pm for another ocean view room, we took the next one available – which happened to be another double bed room. Oh well, we’re used to them now.
We were excited to just relax and chill. I love warm beach towns. Tim says I’m the happiest when I’m in places like this (Hawaii, Koh Samui, Maldives, Kenting, Okinawa). I think it’s because I’m a summer baby so I like warm weather and being able to just wear flip flops everywhere (maybe if I were Australian I would walk around barefoot too). We looked up places to eat for lunch and found a Japanese restaurant called, Four Cinq, that was highly rated on Trip Advisor, so we headed there.
Four Cinq is a ramen place that also serves other Japanese dishes like tonkatsu and karaage. Tim ordered the chicken ramen ($13.50 AUD = $12.80 CAD) and I had the tonkatsu ($16.80 AUD = $15.93 CAD). We sat on the patio and enjoyed our meal. The food was surprisingly good, but I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised because on the way to the restaurant we noticed that street was full of Asian stores and a supermarket catering to Asian tourists (mostly Japanese tourists).
After lunch we walked down to the Marina to check out where we would have to meet tomorrow morning for our snorkel tour. Along Esplanade Street, there’s a public salt water swimming lagoon which was very packed when we passed by. It was a good day to be in the water since it was quite warm out.
We made our way back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day. I changed into my swimsuit and lounged on the balcony catching up on some blog posts. The sun was pretty strong and I thought it would be nice to go for a swim in the pool. The pool was busy when we left the hotel for lunch but when we came back the pool area was all shaded so it wasn’t very busy any more with people who just wanted to get some sun. I went downstairs and went into the pool and it was cold. I guess the water would’ve felt nice if the sun was still beating down. I stayed in it for a bit then jumped into the hot tub.
We washed up and looked up what to eat for dinner. We decided to go to an Indonesian restaurant close by that had good reviews and seemed a bit more local than touristy (although most of Cairns is pretty touristy). Bagus Cafe is on Esplanade but the part of the street that isn’t very busy. Bagus Cafe is a family run restaurant that has seats outside and you order at the counter. We ordered a chicken mee goreng ($13 AUD = $12.30CAD) and a beef rendang curry ($15 AUD = $14.19 CAD). When we arrived it was very busy and after we sat down we realized most of the people who were around us did not have their food yet, so we knew we would have to wait. There was an Indonesian family beside us (I didn’t know they were Indonesian until they started speaking to the owners) and they really enjoyed all their food so it made us look forward to our meals even more.
We waited for about 20 minutes for our dishes but it was worth the wait. The dishes were great and one of the owners came out (after they weren’t as busy) and was very friendly. He apologized for taking so long but they want to make sure everything is very fresh. I haven’t had Indonesian food before but from the menu items, it was very similar to items they would serve at Banana Leaf at home (Malaysian food). If I lived in Cairns, I would go there regularly.
After dinner we walked over to a gelato place that was highly recommended by my cousin, Chloe. She had just been to Cairns a couple months ago and said Gelocchio had the best gelato so we went to try it out. There are tons of ice cream and gelato places around town. If I didn’t know to look for Gelocchio we would have probably not tried it out (unless we read about it on TripAdvisor). It’s around the corner from Esplanade St. and the decor on the outside is a bit tacky compared to some of the other gelato places we passed by. But once you go inside the walls are covered in messages from happy customers and the flavours looked legit and are all homemade. Gelocchio is run by a local Italian family and their gelato did not disappoint! We tried the lemon basil gelato, it was awesome and refreshing. We’ll be back again.
We headed back to the hotel and slept early. It was a long day and we had another long day and early morning ahead of us. Tomorrow we were going to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef!
Steps today: 11,000