Ocean spirit at great barrier reef, Australia

Ocean Spirit

Ocean Spirit

An ocean spirit tour to great barrier reef is a must if you come to Australia, which is the worlds largest coral reef system. But be prepared, as it is a long and tiring day out with children.

Our day started very early in the morning, with the pick up of the tour company from our hotel for ocean spirit. However, we found out that, we were not the only one to be picked, and the bus that took us, would also visit another dozen of hotels and look for the other attendees of the tour. So it took us more than an hour to reach the harbor-not a nice start. Than we queued at the harbor for check-in, which meant another half hour or so waiting everyone to come. Finally, it was about 10:00 when we started our journey.

Looks like a wonderful boat

Looks like a wonderful boat

Our boat was a nice, big, white catamaran with enough space inside and outside. We preferred to settle down on the top deck, at a rather secluded corner to keep away from the wind.

Michaelmas Cay

Michaelmas Cay

It took us another 2 hours to reach our destination-Michaelmas Cay. So it was already noon and everyone was already tired when we finally got there. After listening the safety information in the most attractive and fun way, presented by the staff, we were told that we had 3 hours there, to eat, swim, snorkeling, explore the coral reef with the glass boat and enjoy the sand.

First we decided to get off on the beach, for our son to swim and for us to enjoy the birds and the sand.

Lovely beach?

Lovely beach?

No need to be jealous of me. First of all, there was a rope around a very small part of the beach, and it was forbidden to go beyond, in order to protect the wildlife, especially the birds. Secondly, when I say “the birds” I mean an Alfred Hitchcock film-like birds, zillions of them shouting all the time, but more importantly smelling really really awful.

No passing the rope

No passing the rope

You should hear them and smell them

You should hear them and smell them

So it took our son just a few minutes to swim and we returned to our boat immediately to have lunch. The lunch was not bad. Sushi for our sushi-monster-son, nice seafood and vegetables. After lunch, we took the glass boat, where about 50 people sit in a boat-let me say a semi-sub-marine, where the majority of the boat is under the sea. A bit depressive if you are claustrophobic, but you can sit at the very back of the boat and have some fresh air over there.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

This is a really enjoyable experience for the children. You can both explore the underwater beauty and stay dry at the same time. Moreover, there is a guide, telling about the fish and the reef and you can search for Nemo, for sure you will find him.

Our return to our hotel was about another 4 hours, 2 hours on boat, 1 hour for everyone to find the right bus back and 1 hour to the hotel, with many stops on the way. So as I said, it is a nice experience, but there should be an easier or leaner way to do this tour. The main activity of the day takes just a few hours, but it takes all day, so make sure to take enough books or whatever to kill time on the way.

Feeding the fish

Feeding the fish

 

Tjapukai Aborigin Park, Cairns, Australia

G'day to you

G’day to you

Tjapukai Aborigin Park is a great place to explore the Aborigin life, with our son. Lots of attractions, shows, lessons, meals and souvenirs.

The tiles in the entrance with rainforest concept

The tiles in the entrance with rainforest concept

Nice food, on Aborigin artwork tables

Nice food, on Aborigin artwork tables

Language, music, traditions, marriages, social life, art, guns, food, medicine, everything is very traditional and unique to that far end of planet earth. They are originally, so perfectly suiting with the environment and nature.  I understood that, Australian government is trying to promote the Aborigins to live their traditional lives and speak their own language, but I can not think how they can live with their traditions, while many others enjoy the life with internet and smart phones. They are named to be “Australian citizen” and have right to go to hospital for instance. So, how their medicine traditions and knowledge will pass to next generations, while they have chance to be taken care of in modern hospitals. They have right to go to public schools with all other children. Why should they light the fire with sticks, when there is a lighter? Why they should play instruments for communication, while they can just phone someone? Why they should try to collect their food from the forest, while they know, there are loads of them in the supermarket? How will they not forget, to survive in the forests? Why should they hunt a kangaroo, when they know there is a world called McDonalds?

In Europe, it is very hard to see traditions of thousands of years. Everybody is somehow assimilated to the life around them. Migration to big cities and learning to live a “better” life with so many smart developments, decrease the differences with countries, religions, ethnic groups or whatever. Sometimes, I would think of archaeologists, dig my home let’s say 500 years later. What would they think as “the original”? A piano from Moscow, TV from Korea, furniture from Italy,  a treadmill walker from Norway, lots of Chinese toys… How would they think our traditions were?

OK, OK, let’s return to the park.

First we had an open buffet meal. Not so many kinds, but enough to choose some. Than we watched some show about life of rain forest people and learned to play didgeridoo.

Walking to amphi theater

Walking to amphi theater

Than we walked to the other part of the park from a bridge (Above) to watch the dances and music. Also to see how Aboriginals light fire and to learn about their food and medicines.

Singing and dancing

Singing and dancing

Lighting a fire

Lighting a fire

Than we went to take some lessons about how to use a boomerang and throw a spear.

Throwing a spear

Throwing a spear

Became an Aborigin

Became an Aborigin

Not finished yet… Than an Aborigin girl painted our son, for him to become a powerful spear thrower and explained to us their artwork, how they make the paints and how they use them.

And our final stop at park was the souvenir shop, to buy some CDs and t-shirts.

Might sound a bit touristy, but well, we are tourists and this is the only way to find out the Aborigin life, and it is really a very nice park to explore with children.

Next: A day out for ocean spirit.

Kuranda Scenic Tour, Cairns, Australia

Kuranda Scenic Tour

Kuranda Scenic Tour

In our second day in Cairns and 6th day in Australia, we had a lovely day in the rain forests of Cairns and had chance to get to know the Aborigin art and life. After having a lovely breakfast in our biiig room at Pulman Palm Cove hotel, we met our daily guide at the hotel lobby, a lovely lady “Carole” from “Cairns Guides Direct”, who was with us whole day. First she took us, to Kuranda Scenic Train Station.

The station

The station

"Just to visit" vagon at the station

“Just to visit” vagon at the station

Very similar to the train we have been last summer in Norwegian Fyords (which you can read here), this train took us from a very nice scenic and lovely route to top to Kuranda Village. Again very similar to it, this train was also 18th century nostalgic experience, with some stopovers for photography. One of the easiest ways to explore the area with children. Moreover, the station itself is worth to visit, so allow a good 20 minutes to yourself, before your scheduled train arrives.

Nature is so nice with the historic train

Nature is so nice with the historic train

Reaching the top

Reaching the top

The final stop of the train was at Kuranda, a very small Aborigin village, a bit loaded with tourists, but nice to see how Aborigins live today and find some Aborigin artworks and clothes.

Best way to travel with children

Best way to travel with children

The route plan

The route plan

Also the plan of the route, and the information given, provide to feel the real taste of Australia.

The return from Kuranda to down, was with Kuranda Skyrail, which is another lovely experience with our son.

View from skyrail

View from skyrail

The skyrail station itself was very calm and convenient, no queues etc. It is about 7 km long going over the rain forest and the best part is, there are some stations on the way, where you get off, do a bit of walking around to explore rain forest plants and animals, and get on again for the next stop. There is even one very small, interactive museum in one of the stops, to teach children (and us) how the rain forests form, what is their importance and what kind of plants and animals live around.

Very large trees of the forest

Very large trees of the forest…

With some very large leaves

…with some very large leaves

The final stop of the skyrail was at a station, very close to Tjapukai Aborigin Park, which is another perfect experience to do with children that I will be telling in my next post.

Palm Cove Australia

Palm Cove Beach

Palm Cove Beach

Last October, in our trip to Australia, our second city after Sydney was Cairns. We settled in our room in Pullman Hotel, at Palm Cove and decided to explore the area in the afternoon and have some lunch. From our hotel, it was a 15 minutes walk to the center of Palm Cove, which is a very cute and tiny little town, with some nice restaurants and little shops, all settled by the beach. The beach has a lovely view, with tropic plants and white sand, however, the sea crocodiles make it dangerous to swim. So we just enjoyed good food and the nice view.

With the advice of helpful reception staff, we sat down at Vivo Bar and Grill restaurant for lunch. A very Mediterranean menu, with Australian seafood.

Tiger Prawn Bruschetta

Tiger Prawn Bruschetta

Spiced calamari

Spiced calamari

Baramundi fish

Baramundi fish

A very nice, calm and relaxing restaurant, with a lovely view of the beach and the palm trees. After lunch, we also did a small walk to enjoy some shopping from local shops and to be surprised by the lovely plants and trees.

Cute beach shops

Cute beach shops

Very calm shopping area

Very calm shopping area

So nice to walk between the trees

So nice to walk between the trees

Next: Kuranda Scenic Railway

 

 

Which was your best hotel room?

I’ve been to more than 200 cities in more than 20 countries, and stayed in more than a 100 hotels. I suppose my dear followers, you too like to travel. Here is the question: Which was the best hotel room you have ever stayed? Probably, like me, very many hotels come to your mind, right?

I think all three of us in my family would answer this question differently. my husband’s answer was straight: Polonia Palace Hotel. Why? Because the best sleeping quality is his only concern.

Polonia Palace Hotel

Polonia Palace Hotel

The room was very ordinary at the first sight. One double bed, a bathroom, a sofa turned into a child’s bed, and a little free space. That’s it. But my husband has a saying: Never decide about a hotel before 24 hours. So after 24 hours, his decision is “the best”.

For my son, I guess would be Hilton, Las Vegas. (I can not ask him now, he is out with his friends, but I’ll ask and let you know if I am right) Why? Because there were 3 televisions in the room, one of which was just in front of his bed, with a wall-to-wall screen of barcovision. Of course he spent hours watching Formula 1 and some other staff. Plus a good hotel for our son means a high hotel, preferably some floors over 20th is the best for him.

My answer to a best room would be, Pullman Cove Hotel in Cairns, Australia. I will probably write another post, sometime later about the hotel, but just to give you some hints, here are two photos.

Living room and kitchen

Living room and kitchen

Terrace and private pool

Terrace and private pool

Yes, our room was a 2 bedroom flat, with a big kitchen, living room, a laundry room, two bathrooms, a terrace and a private pool and the sound of ocean waves. A room you wouldn’t want to go out.

On the other hand, when we think of a “best room” we also tend to think of a room with the “best view”. What if I asked the best view room you have ever stayed? All the answers would change and the only answer would be Francischiello Hotel & Spa Bellavista near Sorrento, Italy. A view of Italian farmlands, the Mediterranean sea and the Capri island beyond.

Our room view in Sorrento

Our room view in Sorrento

And the view in the evening
And the view in the evening

 

Now I understand that, I have been to very few hotel room with a “best view” other than the sea views.  I think a hotel would not have much chance in terms of “best view”, if it was not by the sea. Maybe some mountain views in the Alpines of Switzerland, some of the Golf Hotel views, maybe a desert view, or some room overlooking the city lights, or a view of unlimited wine yards in France, or a Christmas market in Austria, or a medieval Piazza in Toscana,  or a castle in Germany, or… whatever, I should note to make sure some stays in “best view” hotels next time.

PS. Please share your best hotel experiences with a link to my post.