Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

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Rainy Rainforest

June 13, 2008

The RAIN in the Rainforest falls mainly…on our tent! On Saturday June 7th we headed up to Cairns and headed to Cape Tribulation immediately. While Andrew waited for me to arrive he got the car and visited the grocery store to get all sorts of yummy treats. He made it all by himself while driving on the left side of the road! Amazing!! 🙂 He picked me up and we were off to the rainforest!! We pitched our tent at the campsite and walked to the beautiful beach which was practically empty, it was so nice and relaxing. We cooked a little camp food, sat out and relaxed under the starts before heading to bed early…again! Overnight it rained, but we stayed nice & dry in our tent. The next morning…still raining! But it dried up relatively early and we went for walks along the beach and explored the area. We stopped for lunch at some picnic tables and had yummy PB&J. Just as we were finishing I heard step…step…step…slowly through the leaves, turned around and there was a Lace Monitor (Goanna Lizard) sneaking up on us. Yup…I jumped right up, and Andrew followed. A girl nearby said they wouldn’t bite, but they might scratch you up! Let’s just say we grabbed our PB&J (which the Monitor absolutely wanted) and high tailed it away. Andrew has affectionately named it the Peanut Butter & Jelly Monster and does a pretty good impression, tongue and all! After lunch we went for a walk along the beach and through the rainforest. We were going to stop by and close up our tent, but had a reservation for a fruit tasting we didn’t want to miss so we left the tent open to air out. BIG mistake! About halfway through tasting some VERY exotic fruits, it started to DOWNPOUR! Thankfully we weren’t too far away and Andrew got back to close it up before everything was too wet. But the rain followed us for the rest of the night! Meanwhile the fruit tasting was great. We tried many fruits that can’t really be found in many other places because they don’t transport welll…and well, they’re pretty ugly on the outside, but they were good on the inside!

The next day we had scheduled our trip out to the Great Barrier Reef with the Rum Runner. After an interesting trip through low tide to the boat we boarded and met the crew. Australians who live in Cape Tribulation are a little nuts. Let’s just say one of the guys lives in a ‘Tree House’ with no windows where the animals (snakes, birds and insects too) visit whenever they like…what?! But they got us safely out to McKay’s Reef, a beautiful small sand bar in the middle of no where. Granted, the high winds made the hour ride out to the reef VERY choppy. We sat outside in the front of the boat & got SOAKED! But it was still pretty fun. We took our first snorkel as soon as we got there & Andrew quickly spotted a reef shark, pretty cool! It was amazing how calm we were about it…and how disinterested in us it was! They’re not man eating sharks…don’t worry! The reef itself was amazing. Everything was so alive. Not only the fish, but the reef was beautiful! As we were heading back to the boat we also spotted a sea turtle cruising along the bottom. A small one, but so cute! After a yummy lunch we headed back out for our second snorkel and saw two more sea turtles and more beautiful reef. Of course, it started to poor while we were in the water…but thankfully it didn’t really matter since we were already wet! 🙂 The ride home was MUCH smoother than the ride out to the reef, but still we had 2 of the other passengers lose their lunch of the back. Andrew was struggling through the ride, but managed to get through the whole thing and was happy to see solid land! A successful trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I couldn’t be happier!

It rained again for the rest of the night, so hard it kept us awake. Every time it stopped, Andrew would open the tent, and every time he did it would start raining again…after a while it was pretty comical! Needless to say at 5am on our last day we were ready to go! We waited for a break in the rain, packed up the tent and headed out!! We loved Cape Trib, but were ready to go by the end! We headed down to the Daintree River for a Crocodile Sighting tour. Since we were ridiculously early, we took a small nap in the car! At 9:30 am we were ready for our tour, and were very successful in seeing some crocs! They are such cool animals. We saw mostly smaller crocs, the big one didn’t want to come out of the water at that time. I had no idea how long it took these animals to grow large. The 1 year old was very small, and the 2 year old wasn’t much bigger. The largest one we was a 30 year old female. So neat! It was a great end to our trip. We spent the rest of the day exploring Cairns and had a nice dinner. Cairns has really changed since the last time I was here, it’s a nice place to visit. All in all, this was another great part of our trip. Next we head to Sydney & the Blue Mountains!! The last leg! More soon. Love to all!

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Sitting in the Melbourne Airport

June 6, 2008

Well – this is another leg of the trip that Andrew & I ended up on separate flights. We got up at 3:30 am this morning & to the airport by 4:30 so Andrew could catch his 6am flight. My flight got changed from 9:30 to 11am…so now I am hanging out in the airport for 5 hours & figured I’d catch up from where I left off last night since I have more time.

The last 3 days: After we picked up the car we headed down to the coast. We stopped in Torquay (Tor-key) at the visitors center to get an idea of where to head. Torquay is a pretty cool town in itself, very big surfing area. It’s right near Bell’s Beach, which is where the final scene of Point Break is filmed (should anyone remember that movie with Keanu Reeves). We saw the beach & the waves were crazy. SO many surfers out on the ocean catching long rides! I think these people might be officially crazy. After Bell’s Beach it was on to the Great Ocean Road with beautiful views all the way to Appollo Bay. We stopped off at a random country club along the way where Kangaroos just hang out all day (see post below). I was amazed at how close Andrew got…though we think they feed the animals to draw people to their restaurant. Still pretty cool. Australian animal 1…check! Next we were on to look for Australian animal 2…the Koala. Another pull off of the road lead up to an area deep in Eucalyptys Trees. We drove slow & looked up and sure enough…there were little blobs up in the trees! Koala’s are pretty lazy animals. None of them were moving much, but they are still so cool to see! Andrew of course wanted to hold one, but from what we know…they are pretty vicious cuddly animals! So we drove on. We drove all the way on to Apollo Bay where we spent the night in a nice campground on the ocean. Our time has not yet fully adjusted, we were in bed by 7pm…and up at 5am!

The next day we woke up to a great sunrise over the ocean…which finally happened at around 7am. After packing up, we headed off in search of the famous 12 apostles. Along the way we stopped in the rainforest, which was cool, but we didn’t see much and at the lighthouse where the first morse code connection was made to Tasmania. It was the 2nd most southern point in mainland Australia, pretty neat, especially since we got to climb to the top! Afterwards we finally were on our way to the Apostles and they didn’t let us down. This sight is absolutely beautiful! The gigantic rock formations seem to rise out of the ocean and the colors are spectacular when the sun hits them. The pictures don’t nearly do justice to the greatness of this area, the rock formations are simply huge! After taking some pictures we also headed on to the Arch, the Blowhole and the Grotto, all of which were also pretty cool! Moving on from there we thought we’d stop to see some nursing Right Whales which are supposedly a guranatee at this time of year. Of course, whales are afraid of me…so we saw none!

We ended the day in Port Fairy with some dinner & another 7pm bedtime…actually, maybe it was 8…such late nighters we are! We were up again at 5am and got right on the road back to Melbourne…we wanted to beat traffic, which we ALMOST did, until we hit Melbourne at 9:30 am of course! Anyway, we checked into the hotel, took a nap (in preparation for our late night at the Footy game). Then we had a chance to walk around Melbourne, which Andrew hadn’t really done yet. Melbourne is a great city on a Friday night, there was live music, carousels, beautiful lit restaurants along the river. It was really a nice night to be out. And of course Andrew consumed his first meat pie…it’s true love! 🙂

We ended our stay in Melbourne with a Footy game, North Melbourne Kangaroos versus the Geelong Cats. We were North Melbourne fans of course! Our seats were great, 5 rows back from the field. the stadium is HUGE, and round so there are plenty of seats for everyone! Footy is a crazy game, but very exciting, and of course more exciting with all the crazy Aussie fans around. Though they only had 1 cheer, and it was pretty bad ‘North Melbourne, clap, clap, clap’. And the don’t know how to do the wave, which could be SO cool in this stadium. But we had fun none the less…and Andrew ate yet another meat pie! Only to realize afterwards just how much fat was in each…ha! He’s on a fruit & veggie diet for the next 3 days :). Sadly, the Roos lost to Geelong, they were clearly the better team, but we certainly didn’t give up with out a fight! It’s the closest scoring I’ve seen since I’ve been here…and I’ve seen a lot of Footy since that’s all that seems to be on TV here! So…here we are, I’m at the airport waiting to start the next part of our adventure, and Andrew should be just about in Brisbane if he hasn’t landed already. We’ll reunite in Cairns around 2pm and head up to the Rainforest/ocean of Cape Tribulation…where it’s about 80 degrees and sunny…yay! I’ll try to write again from Cairns on Tuesday! Love to all in the US!

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The Great Ocean Road

June 6, 2008

I’m going to keep this quick since I only have a few minutes of internet time left but I just wanted to update you all on our last few days.  We took 2.5 days to drive down the Great Ocean Road which is west of Melbourne.  After Andrew adjusted to driving on the right side of the car & the left side of the road.  And after I adjusted to the fact that he could actually do so safely, we headed out and had a great time!  We camped in Apollo Bay the first night, right next to the ocean and in Port Fairy the next night before driving back to Melbourne bright and early in the morning.  The sights were beautiful and the weather worked out great.  Here are a couple of highlights.  I’ll update more when we are in Cairns.

Kangaroo

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Day 2 – Melbourne

June 3, 2008

After managing to get a good amount of sleep (with the help of maybe 1 sleeping pill) and a HUGE breakfast I headed out to tour Melbourne while Andrew went to the conference all day. I walked up to the city from our hotel to have a look around. The main city is pretty much ‘a city’ similar to NYC in many ways. Though it does have many little side alleys that have fancy cafe’s and eateries. Yum! I wandered all around the city for about 2 hours and then headed back to the Yarra River (the main river running through the city). I followed it along until I ended up at the Rod Laver Tennis Arena and Olympic Center from the Melbourne Olympics…I think they were here in the 80’s. The river walk was really nice. I was AMAZED at the number of people working out in the middle of the day. It seemed to me that most of the people should be working…but I guess not. I reached the Rod Laver Arena to find out it was on Batman Ave…ha! After that I decided to walk along down the street following my map to the Chapel Street area. This is a long street with all of the fancy shops and restaurants. It’s just outside of the city and I thought it would be more like a Rodeo Drive. Oddly enough, all the fancy shops are mixed in with 7-11’s and other random ‘low class’ stores, pretty funny in my opinion, but still fun.

After Chapel street I thought I would be led straight to my hotel…boy am I bad at remembering where I started. I ended up walking WELL past my hotel and had to backtrack though another neat area of Melbourne. A street lined with office buildings, but also with trees. And at the bottom of each office building there was a cafe, bar or restaurant where people were hanging out and relaxing…at 3pm! 🙂 While it was very neat…I was EXHAUSTED from walking! All in all I walked for 5.5 hours straight! Guess I got my exercise for the trip! Needless to say we did not do MUCH at all last night. We had a nice dinner and delicious dessert (the Chocolate Bomb) at the hotel restaurant with some of the people on Andrew’s trip. So nice that pretty much all meals have been on Illumina so far! Andrew’s talk went great yesterday and it’s clear that all of the Aussie’s love him :). We were in bed by 10 and asleep by 10:05. Of course it’s 4:30 in the morning here now & we’re both wide awake and watching random TV, but we’re too excited about the next part of our trip to sleep. Today we head off to pick up the car, drive on the left side of the road and head out to the Great Ocean Road. We can’t wait to see some beautiful sights and hopefully Koalas! It will be a few days before we can write again. Hope all is well!View of Melbourne from the Yarra River

Rod Laver Arena on Batman Ave

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34 Hours of travelling – I made it to Australia!

June 2, 2008

Wow!  After getting to the airport at 3pm on Saturday May 31, I finally arrived in Melbourne, Australia at 1am Boston time on June 2nd.  That’s 34 hours of travelling!  Needless to say it was a VERY long trip, but so far well worth it.  A little review:

1.  When checking in at the airport I was told I would need a visa in order to get into Australia…which I didn’t have.  After letting my heart race for a good 5 minutes, the people checking me in told me they could get one for a $25 fee (acting as if there was no way I would be willing to pay)  My response…so DO IT already…what else am I going to do?! 🙂  I already have my tickets I just want to get on the plane!

2.  The flight from Boston to LAX was very smooth…though if you wanted ANYTHING to eat you had to purchase food.  They didn’t even give up peanuts.  Good thing I’m neurotic & brought all of those snacks! 🙂

3.  Upon arrival in LAX I was told our flight was delayed from 11:50pm to 1:40 am (4:40am my time:).  So I spent the next 5 hours pacing a very small terminal where everything was closed, doing my best to stay awake!

4.  I finally made it onto the Syndey plane and fell asleep almost instantly and proceeded to sleep on & off for about 9 hours…yay!  The last 5 hours I read & watched a movie.   Thank goodness for the window seat I had secured at the beginning of the flight…it was the last one, and it made all the difference!

5.  Arriving in Sydney approximately 200 people had to have their connections rebooked, including me.  After clearing customs easily I waiting in line for about 1.5 hours to get my ticket rebooked and then hung out in the Sydney airport for 3 hours.

6.  Finally I was on my plane to Melbourne and sat next to a lovely Australian woman who now wants to be my life long friend.  She was here for work so allowed me to catch a ride with her into the city on her company’s dime…a definite highlight.  Incidentally, she works for IBM and may be helpful in connecting me to get some interns placed…not too shabby :).

Finally at the hotel and it feels SO good!  I showered & did my best to stay awake for 4 hours until Andrew got here.  I failed miserably & ended up sleeping through 3 of them.  But he got here early & it was SO great to see him!  He’s been busy but seems to be having a great time!  We had breakfast this morning with some of his colleagues he’s speaking with and they are all very nice.  Some of them have been on the entire worldwide tour for the last 2.5 weeks and are completely loopy by now! 🙂  This is the last night of the tour, so I have no doubt that tonight will be an interesting, crazy and fun celebration.  For today I’m off to do some exploring, maybe some shopping and probably some more sleeping.  Andrew is gone for the day until dinner so I’ll do my best to entertain myself.  There’s a soccer game going on outside of the balcony of my room…so maybe I’ll watch that for a little while too.

Anyway, just wanted to update you all.  We’ll do our best to write as often as possible.  I’ll have Andrew share some of his pictures and stories from Singapore as well.  After tomorrow we’ll have a couple of days without internet access while we drive the Great Ocean Road, but we’ll be back in Melbourne on our Friday and will try to fill you in again then.  Hope all is well back at home!  We miss you all!

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Singapore & a broken toe!

May 29, 2008

So…I dropped Andrew off at the airport at 4am yesterday.  He should finally be in Singapore at 9:30am today (our time). I’m trying to imagine what he’s feeling like right now. Exhausted, confused, excited…lost? I can only imagine how the people sitting next to him felt after 15.5 hours on the plane. Let’s be honest, sitting still is not one of the boy’s strong suits! Hopefully he managed to get some sleep and relax. Hopefully he’ll find a way to let me know he made it safely before noon today as promised. I cannot wait to hear about all that he gets to see while he’s there and see the pictures I have no doubt, he will diligently take. From what I hear there are animals everywhere. For those of you who know him…you’ve seen his ability to get completely distracted by a hawk flying around (he’s seen hundreds of hawks) WHILE DRIVING and lose sight of the fact that he should be paying attention to the road. I can’t imagine how distracted he’ll be by monkeys & other strange animals. While I’m thankful he won’t be driving…I hear the drivers there are crazy so I’m hopeful he doesn’t wander into the roads. I love him…but he gets distracted VERY easily! 🙂

It’s funny how you never really think about all of the people flying around in the air until a loved one is up there. Thousands of flights take off and land EVERY day. And yet when someone you love is up there you’re convinced it will be the one plane something happens to. And then you realize you really have no control over it, remember that 1000’s of flights go on every day and try to relax. I watched the news every morning and it appears as though everything went smoothly. Which is less than I can say for train travel right now. A derailment in Chicago, a T crash in Boston and a ‘run-over’ in Maine, wild. All I can say is that we are lucky people and pray for those that were injured in the crashes. But enough with this saddness…

The last thing Andrew said to me before heading off to check in yesterday morning was…see you in Australia. What? So strange! I leave in 2 days and I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I also will be taking that dreaded 14 hour flight from LA to Australia. But it will be well worth it! We’re meeting in Melbourne, then off to Cairns and finishing in Sydney. It will be one amazing trip and I cannot wait, though laundry and packing still stand in my way! 50+ hours and counting!

In regards to the toe…let’s just say it was late, it was dark, there was luggage out and my 2nd toe on my right foot is now throbbing and difficult to walk on. GREAT!

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Wanna go to Australia?

May 6, 2008

That’s pretty much how it went. I was out for a walk, wondering where Andrew could possibly be. Finally, a call (we’ll talk about the fact that I answered the phone while I was walking later). “I haven’t left work yet.” grrr…okay. “But I wanted to ask you something before I said yes.” Uh huh???… “I might get flown to Australia for work…would you want to go?” Big smile…OBVIOUSLY!

It’s funny how quickly you can go from “grrrr…. to hee hee”. But it seems to happen all the time. In this case it is a VERY exciting ‘hee hee’! Thanks to all the work Andrew has put in over the years, a company has asked him to come and speak at their Asia Pacific conference tour. He will be traveling to Singapore, Brisbane & Melbourne in June…and I will go meet him in Melbourne and travel to Cairns and Sydney. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to go back to Australia and I could not be more excited!

Now…what to see? Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, Great Ocean Road, Opera House, etc? So much to see, so little time! Andrew of course would like to drive the entire country. I continue to remind him that Australia is almost the same size as the US…and we only have 2 weeks! None the less he thinks he would like to drive the 36 hours from Cairns to Sydney, stopping along the way. If you have ever seen Andrew in a car for more than an hour, imagine that, times 36…driving on the left side of the road. I won’t say any more, you get the point!

While the plans are still up in the air, I think I might have convinced him to fly to the 3 cities & do day trips from there. We’ll see. Needless to say this will be a fun & exciting trip. I still cannot believe we’re going! AUSTRALIA HERE WE COME! You have been warned! 🙂

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