Sunday, September 10, 2006

10 - September 2006

We awoke to sunshine streaming through the bedroom window and the view of boat after boat leaving the marina for a Sunday at sea. After a leisurely hotel morning, we officially began our day with a stroll along the Cairns Esplanade, where they've created an impressive and mighty popular manmade lagoon just a few feet from the ocean (the beach here is a muddy, weedy bog, so I suppose this is the perfect alternative). The "pool," with its own sandy beaches and surrounding lawns, was teeming with suntanned people and splashing kids, and lunchtime BBQs were lit up all around. Not far from there and also along with water was a great, well-tented children's park--with plenty more piping hot BBQs (grilling is quite obviously a favorite Aussie pastime!).

We then made our way through the shopping district, where we got to chatting with a particularly friendly shopkeeper who was shocked to learn that we didn't care for Tim Tams ('course, she doesn't think there's anything remotely special or enjoyable about Oreos, either). Later, on our way out, we asked her for a restaurant recommendation for lunch. "Well, if you don't like Tim Tams," she replied with exaggerated disappointment, "I suppose I'd better point you to McDonald's."

We lunched at a restaurant called 2 Fish on the boardwalk (the shopkeeper did take pity on us clueless Americans and suggest a couple of good places). It was a tough choice between that and a fish market we'd passed with offerings like whole lobsters and an icy bucket of Coronas and shrimp, but the 2 Fish oysters and beer-battered prawns won out (good thing, too--they were fantastic!).

Our next stop was Port Douglas, about an hour's drive away (we caught a shuttle). We passed several sleepy coastal towns (oddly, we've noticed that Australia has big and easily recognizable information centers in even the most remote and least remarkable of towns), sugar cane crops, fields of kangaroo (no kidding, there were like 25 at a time just grazing, hopping, and hanging out--but at 100 km/hr, we couldn't get a photo!), and lots of rocky beaches and muddy coastline (our driver said that last week's rain stirred up the shallow waters, but they should settle into their usual blue very soon).

The town of Port Douglas (known simply as "Port" to the locals) is a totally tropical, completely casual, seemingly timeless town (unless you count the '80's karaoke you hear on nearly every street corner downtown) with palm tree-lined streets (turns out they are non-native palms) and no traffic lights or parking meters. After checking into our hotel, we had dinner at The Lounge, one of the many (and I do mean many!) cute little candlelit cafes competing for nightly business. We shared a bowl of risotto with red-claw yabbies (turns out yabbies are quite tasty), followed by dessert, which is always a hit with us--and this one was no exception.

--Australians very much like '80's pop music. It's played in restaurants and shops, on boats, in buses, on nearly every radio station we've tuned into--everywhere! Bruce Springsteen, Tears for Fears, Wham, Duran Duran...the Aussie's shamelessly sing along to them all.

--When you order "lemonade" in Australia, you don't get a sweetened squeezed lemon juice--you get a Sprite-like drink made by Schweppes!

Favorite signs of the day:


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