My Australian Journey (day 2)
A retrospective summary of my 8 month experience in Aussie Land. Click here for day 1.
We woke surprisingly early - our bodies still adjusting to jet lag- and went downstairs for the free breakfast. The breakfast at Gilligan's wasn't bad- it included toast, jams/peanut butter, canned fruit salad, cereal, coffee, tea, and milk (unfortunately no dairy free milk options were available.)
After breakfast we decided to have a look around. The once lively bar was now baron except for the cleaning crew working to prepare the floor for another night of partying. Downstairs we found a farmers market. It only popped up on weekends but lucky for us it was a Saturday. Oversized melons, exotic fruits and vegetables, handmade jewelry and pastries. It felt like a scene from a movie or a picture from a travel magazine- my wanderlust was soaring.
We filled a cardboard box with produce, took it to the hostel fridge, and headed out to see what we could find in town.
I couldn't help but notice the cobblestone streets as we walked. Something about them felt so nostalgic and European.
Cairns itself was small and quaint for a city- in fact it reminded me more of a town. It's culture diversity was prominent from the first few minutes we spent roaming the streets. Art sculptures and outdoor gym areas lined the walkways, musicians played in the streets. In the distance were hills, densely lined with trees- within the city walls, a melting pot of tourists from all over the world.
By this time it was near noon and our stomachs were growling, so we had our eyes set for restaurants. One restaurant in particular caught our eye - "Jaffles". We had no idea what to expect but it smelled amazing. We grabbed a table outside and ordered our sandwiches.
Being vegan, I ordered one without meat or cheese- I instead chose baked beans for my filling. We still had no idea what we were eating even after the sandwiches came out but we loved them. They were like perfectly toasted sandwich pouches of yumminess!
I did a quick google search for "Free things to do in Cairns" - The Lagoon and the Daintree Rainforest were the first of the results to catch our eye and neither one was very far away- we decided to go check them out.
The Lagoon, it turns out, was only steps away from our hostel and had such a laid back vibe. A zero-entry community pool marked the entry, lined at the end with it's iconic metal fish statues. Aussies and travelers alike sat in groups across the lawn, sunbathing and socializing.
I got a notification on my phone as we headed back to the hostel to change. I'd posted a photo of the Sydney airport the day before and a friend of mine from Hawaii (who was currently in Australia) had responded. We'd been chatting back and forth a little and it seemed he had sent another message:
It's crazy how, once you start traveling, you start to find familiar faces all around the globe. I was so excited! We decided we'd meet up with him and his friends later that day at the "lagoon" (the main hangout spot in Cairns) after we finished exploring.
To get to the rainforest we took the bus - I always love taking public transportation while traveling, it makes me feel like I'm entirely immersed with the locals. We counted exact change from our coins and hopped aboard.
We- of course- got off the bus at the wrong stop and had to walk for a while to find the entrance to the park but we finally found it. There was greenery everywhere- the dense forest of trees we had observed from a distance in the city were now all around us. Mini waterfalls met us at every corner and all kinds of exotic plants accented the wooden plank walkways. I'd always dreamed of walking through a rainforest and now I was actually doing it! Everything about Australia felt so surreal.
We explored for about an hour, took pictures, and caught the bus back so we could head to the Lagoon.
We were both nervous to meet up with everyone but agreed it would be good for us to socialize - regardless of how badly we wanted to go back and lay in our bunk beds.
A hand popped up in the crowd and I instantly recognized his face. Ryan! We walked over to a group seated in the lawn and introduced ourselves. He introduced us to his friend Taylor whom he'd been working on a banana farm with for the last 3 months (a requirement to obtain your second year visa in Australia). Taylor was from Kentucky (just 2 hours from where I grew up in Indiana). Small world! We hung out for a while and decided to meet up later that night for some drinks at Gilligan's. It was nice to have some friends in town.
Me and Jamie got ready in the "Powder Room"- a special girls-only room at Gilligan's lined with mirrors, curling irons, and straighteners for night-out prep (not gonna lie, we spent way more time in here than we needed to but it was too fun- neither of us had ever been in a "powder room" before).
The dance floor was empty when we first got downstairs but it filled up fast. Colored streams of light split through fog that lined the upper atmosphere of the dance floor. Partiers bumped into each other left and right as everyone sung along to Dancing Queen.
The night was filled with the usual club-scene shenanigans- guys bought us drinks, Jamie kissed a stranger, at one point we found ourselves dancing in the bathroom, and far past midnight we ended up in bed with sore feet and messed up hair.
It was a good night.
Day 3 coming soon!
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