Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sydney - Aussie Adventure Part 5

Having ridden on camels through the Outback, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, cuddled a koala, walked on the beach with sea lions and toured a brewery in Melbourne, we already had had a fantastic stay in Australia before arriving at our final Australian destination for this trip: Sydney.  But there was still one thing on my Life List that we had yet to cross off, and this was the city in which to do it! 

Unfortunately, our stay got off to an awkward start - as I was unlocking the door to our hotel room, I first saw that the lights were already on, and then I saw her.  A middle-aged, less-than-attractive European woman standing in her britches in the middle of my hotel room!  I quickly apologized and shut the door, not knowing exactly what had happened.
But this woman opened the door and proceeded to have an extended conversation with us, still wearing nothing but her underwear, about how her key didn't work very well but my key seemed to work quite well for her room.  We finally escaped by saying we'd let the front desk know that we needed a different room, and went back downstairs to the lobby.  Sure enough, there had been a mix up (duh) and they had given her the wrong room.  They gave me her room instead, which was right next door - oh goody, we'd get to run in to her again! 

For our first full day in Sydney, we walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens on our way to the
Sydney Opera House area to see what we could see.  It was quite a walk, but made for some excellent pictures!  After walking around a bit, we grabbed a bit at a brewhouse with excellent food and a great selection of beer.

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at a giant department store in
search of the Sydney Opera House Nanoblock set.  We found this fun "Wonderland" store that was set up as a Christmas toy store - reminiscent of the store in the movie Elf.  It was spectacular!
Our second day, we did some more walking around, but kept it more local and a little easier going.  That night, we got to check off #132 from my Life List - seeing a show at the Sydney Opera House!  I had bought tickets back in April to see Postmodern Jukebox, and we had great seats!  It was an awesome show, but the whole experience was just magical, knowing we were in such an iconic venue. 
The next morning we took it easy again, grabbing some donuts for breakfast and  Danish ice cream a bit later.  Sometimes in travel, I am tempted to just go, go, go, but it was nice to catch up on my reading and emails, etc.  For dinner, Jaiman found a Riclette burger place, and we just had to try it out!

Our final full day in Australia was unplanned, but we decided on a Blue Mountains tour, not really knowing a whole lot about it.  The Blue Mountains, as it turns out, is a lot like the Grand Canyon, except covered in blue-looking trees because of the eucalyptus in the air, and we had quite an adventure on our tour - including breath-taking views, a skyway, the steepest railway in the world, and another Aboriginee show. 

I think the highlight for me,though, was the wildlife park at the end, where we not only got to see our favorite Australian animals one more time, but they had joeys!!  The babies had me cooing and shooting pictures non-stop.  The wildlife park also had a little stamp passport to complete, and Jaiman and I were determined to complete it in the limited time we had, so we rushed around trying to find the remaining stamps while stopping to take pictures as I saw the joeys being cute again. 

The tour would wrap up with a ferry boat ride back to Sydney Harbor, but our bus driver took a quick detour to show us around the Olympic Park.  The boat ride was nice, and afforded us great evening views of the Sydney Opera House one more time. 
As our airplane departed for LA, I was able to snap a few photos of Sydney Opera House from the air, and reflected on what a magical trip this had been - just the right combination of adventure, food and beer, nature, experiences, and relaxation.  We would definitely be back, but we felt we had sufficiently experienced an amazing Aussie Adventure!  

Cairns & Great Barrier Reef - Aussie Adventure Part 4

Life List Achievement #53 was snorkeling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and I was so excited for this focal point of our trip to Australia.  We had attempted scuba certification back in Arizona in the spring, but due to illness, neither of us were able to complete the certification before moving.  I was anxious that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef just by snorkeling, but it turned out, I needn't worry! 

This being such an important part of the trip, I had done a bit of research, and had selected Silverswift for our tour, because it seemed to be one of the faster boats, thus allowing us to see more of the Great Barrier Reef in a single day.  They had scuba and snorkeling options at three different stops along the Outer Reef, plus food for the day. 
The weather was beautiful the day we went out, and we hung out on the front of the boat enjoying the wind and the views.  We were provided wet suits, snorkels and masks, and they even had prescription masks, which Jaiman and I took advantage of and were really glad we did so.  On our first trip out, we saw a giant sea turtle, large clams and anemone fish.  The next two stops we also saw large clams and anemone fish as well.  The coral and the fish were so close to us, I couldn't even imagine diving much, since we could see it all from the surface.  Sure there were deeper parts, but I definitely didn't feel like I was missing out by snorkeling.  Lunch was a buffet that was nothing spectacular, but sufficiently good and fulfilling.  On the last stop, there was a guided snorkeling tour during which our guide dove down and covered up the part of the clam that made it sense a predator, and it would close up in reaction.  He also told us about some of the other creatures and critters.  Jaiman and I pretty much maxed out our time at each of the three stops, taking in as much of the beauty as we could - it was really beyond description.  I think the only thing I would have done differently would be to bring my own dry snorkel, because from time to time the snorkel would accidentally go under water and I'd suck seawater, not the end of the world but a dry snorkel is just a little bit better. 

After our two concluded and we were shuttled back to our hotel, we walked around a bit, looking for dinner and Pokemon, and actually found a Corsola which we hadn't anticipated catching in Australia.  We ended up catching two during our time in Cairns, and would have loved to catch more, but were happy with our catches.
Just outside the McDonald's was a group of young boys apparently from an Aboriginal tribe performing some of their dances and songs for tips.  We watched them for a bit and tipped them before moving on.  Later, we'd see an Aborginal show that was very much the same dances, so it appeared they were legit.  There was also a fire dancer performance going on, but it was actually kind of silly, so we moved on quickly from that. 

At the time I was booking our trip, I wasn't sure if we'd end up scuba diving or snorkeling, so I had left an extra day after the Great Barrier Reef tour before flying in case we did scuba.  However, that was months prior, and I could barely remember what the next thing on the itinerary was without looking.  Jaiman and I were using TripIt, as we normally do, to track our progress through our vacation.  The one downside to this app was that if you don't book something for a particular day, it just shows the next thing without showing that there was nothing booked on a particular day.  We'd been traveling so long I suppose that we weren't really aware of what day it was.  So, the next thing on our itinerary was a flight to Sydney, so the next morning we packed all our things and tried to check out.  The front desk attendant informed us that we still had another night, and then it dawned on me that I had booked the extra day.  Feeling foolish, we headed back upstairs to figure out what to do with the extra time in Cairns.  On the suggestion of a couple we had brunched with in Melbourne, we used the extra day to visit the rain forest, specifically the Kuranda Village. 

By the time we were up and ready to go, we had apparently missed the train into Kuranda, so I decided we should take an Uber.  Our Uber driver was an absolute delight, and I honestly would have been more than happy to have him just drive us around all day.  He took us up into the rain forest and dropped us off in the Kuranda Village.  We weren't quite sure what it was we wanted to do, but we got our bearings and figured we'd catch the train back to Cairns later
that day, and with that, we were on our way to wander the wildlife park of Kuranda.While cuddling a koala had not been on my list of things I had to do, the opportunity presented itself at Kuranda, and I decided it was a great touristy thing to do.  However, it wasn't quite time to hold the koalas when we arrived, so we went to a little wallaby enclosure and fed the wallabies by hand, which was adorable.  Then we went back up to get in line for the koala cuddles, and got our picture taken holding a koala named Yoshi.  We walked around some more, visiting Bird World where all sorts of exotic birds flew around us in close proximity, even landing on Jaiman a couple times (but I was too slow with the camera to capture it). 
When we were happy with our time with the animals, we headed over to the other side of the village for the Aborigine experience at Rainforestation, where we saw a spear throwing demonstration, and a brief introduction to the didgeridoo to start.  Next, we learned how to throw a boomerang and each got at least one chance to try it out with supervision.  Finally, we were ushered into an outdoor theater where they put on a show for us, demonstrating their dances.  With that complete, we caught the shuttle to the train station and boarded the scenic railway that brought us over the mountain and back to Cairns, with one stop for a photo opp overlooking a huge valley and waterfall.  Cairns, you delivered a dream come true, and so much more!  I will never forget my time spent there.  And then we were off to our final destination in Australia, Sydney, where one of the most awkward travel moments of my life awaited us…

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Melbourne - Aussie Adventure Part 3

We arrived in Melbourne on September 21st, with minimal plans for this leg of the trip.  I had several restaurant recommendations from my new co-worker who had just moved to New York from Melbourne, so we thought we'd try one of those.  Many of them looked a bit pretentious and I was in the travel-tired mode and didn't really want to gussy up so much.  We identified one that was more on the casual side and relatively close to the hotel, so we wandered over there.  Unfortunately, it had over an hour wait to get in, and I was hungry and not really keen on waiting.  So we continued wandering around the downtown area and stumbled upon a place that was probably more our speed anyways: a video-game themed burger joint called 8bit.  We munched on delicious burgers and smothered fries, washing it all down with Nutella shakes.  Our first taste of Melbourne made a great first impression, to say the least! 

We wandered around a bit more, finding lots of graffiti which the locals seemed to appreciate, calling it "art" and taking pictures of it.  One particularly disturbing work featured America's new Idiot-in-Chief Donald Trump in an awkward position with
a dumbfounded look on his face. 

We went to a mall in search of a KitKat Chocolatory - we had learned on our trip to Japan that Asia has some amazing KitKat flavors, and we had been finding Japanese KitKats in conveniences stores in Australia, and also some really good Australia KitKats.  Much like the KitKat Chocolatory we had found in Tokyo, the one in Melbourne featured really fancy KitKats and didn't really have the "normal" packs we were looking for.  I bought a couple small packs of fun flavors, and we got to sample a normal Australian KitKat (which is notably much thicker than an American KitKat).  We also played with the KitKat computer that allowed you to customize your KitKats, but didn't actually purchase anything
through it. 
Back at the hotel, we decided on booking the brewery tour I had had in mind for our Melbourne excursion - it was a tour of the Carlton & United Brewery which makes Fosters, several local favorites (similar to America's Budweiser).  Then we called it a night, and got some much-needed rest. 

The next morning, we satisfied Jaiman's quest for great donuts at Shortstop Coffee & Donuts.  They had a number of unique flavors, many mimicking tea flavors like Early Grey and Green Tea. 

We were to meet for the brewery tour at 12:30 at Federation Square, a neat little area with museums and foodie places.  So until then, we did a lot more walking around town, first finding a street fair selling all sorts of Australian souvenirs and various other goods.  We found some neat Australian jerserys for cheap, and bought those. 
As we walked around, I was struck by a lot of juxtapositions: the flashy, modern new buildings next to old world English-looking pubs and hotels; business-types in suits walking through graffiti-covered streets; and fancy English names for things alongside sillier-sounding Australia slang.  I even took this great picture of a business-type getting his shoes shined in one of the most decorated graffiti alley we saw - it was an alley in which, based on the behavior of the dozens of people walking through it, you'd think we were in the Guggenheim.  People were stopping and pausing in front of every four-foot expanse of graffiti as if pondering and appreciating the artist work, and taking pictures of just about every angle possible.  I honestly wasn't sure what to make of it.  For lunch, we found a seriously legit Japanese ramen place - greeted with the traditional Japanese greeting as we entered.  The bowls were ginormous and delicious, and we were full and happy by the end of our stay at Shujinko Russel.

We made our way to the Federation Square area with plenty of time still before the tour pickup.  Seeing an interesting-looking exhibition, we wandered into the little museum.  It was all about swimming pools, talking about the symbolism of bringing the community together and learning how to share.  My favorite quote in the exhibition was from Paul Kelly: "As you move through life, it seems to be like a series of steps into deeper and deeper water.  What comes along in life are the things that we don't know.  The things that everyone goes through but are not known until you do it yourself.  The loss of a parent, the birth of a child, the beginning of love, or the end of love.  All those things.  You don't know them until they happen to you.  It's all deep water when you get there."  After going through the exhibit, we perused the book store and I found a lot of interesting-looking books. 

Finally, it was time to load onto the Carlton Brewhouse bus and head over to the brewery.  It was incredibly interesting to see how a massive brewery like this one operates; before this trip I had only toured small craft breweries.  I think it's neat when tours include a chance to taste the raw ingredients, and I've tasted the grains and burnt grains before.  A first-time for me was being
encouraged to try the hops - not the raw hops of course, I knew that wasn't a good thing to do.  Instead, they passed around the raw hops to smell, and then passed around the pelletized hops and encouraged us to take the tiniest of bites of a pellet.  Skeptical, I wanted to give it a try, and sure enough, the bitter hop flavor enveloped my mouth instantly.  It was definitely too much, but hey, they had water to wash out the awful flavor, and beer would soon follow.  And follow it did - after we checked out the mesmerizing bottling operations, we were guided back to the main tasting room where we were treated to several samples of the freshly-made local beer.  We learned that this brewery also was responsible for making the local version of import beers such as Stella Artois, so naturally, I had to try it to see if it tasted the same.  We got some wings to go with our beer samples, and the wings were pretty darn good too.  My favorite beer was the Wild Yak, and I would later try other Yak beers because of my experience at the brewery, but Wild Yak remained my favorite.  All in all, a great tour experience I would highly recommend to beer lovers!  We had a few minutes in the gift shop before the shuttle left, and Jaiman found an awesome Yak shirt there. 

It was admittedly a bit early for dinner, but we did want to try Taxi Kitchen on my colleague's recommendation, so we dilly-dallied around Federation Square for a bit, finding a strange little room tucked away in a corner of an otherwise open public area - it was meant to be like a little family room, and was decorated with slightly retro furniture and homely d├ęcor, with a small book case and various places to sit and read or recharge.  We took a break here, charging up our phones and enjoying the little piece of serenity in the middle of a bustling city.  Then we made our way over to Taxi Kitchen.  I guess it was still far too fancy for us - we immediately felt judged by the host, who asked if we had seen the menu online, implying that this wasn't our kind of place.  Whatever dude, just seat us.  We got high-top seats overlooking a busy part of the city and just ordered one plate to share between us.  While watching the city, we saw a few people with Free Hugs shirts hugging willing passersby, and other similarly entertaining people watching.  The food was, as predicted, weird,
and also not very filling, so we moved on quickly. 

Jaiman had been eyeing some sushi places that had the sushi already made and sitting in the window, visible from the street - and the rolls were HUGE!  He opted to get some of those for dinner, and I opted to try some wings from the place near our hotel.  I had noticed that the "footy" championship was this weekend, so we got our eats to go and unwound in the hotel room watching "footy" and eating our respective dinners.  As a foodie's haven, Melbourne did not disappoint! 

The following day, we went to another mall and toured around the city a bit more before catching a taxi to the airport and heading on to our next destination - Cairns

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ayer's Rock aka Uluru - Aussie Adventure Part 2

We saw the giant rock from the airplane.  In a vast, otherwise flat desert of the Outback, Uluru, and it's cousin Kata Tjuta  ("many heads"), are the only distinguishing features of the land.  This was one of the tiniest airports we've ever traveled through - a single runway, gate and baggage claim.  A shuttle picked up most of the airplane passengers, bringing us to the Ayer's Rock Resort where it seems the only hotels in the area are.  It was almost like a little community; different hotels at the resort obviously offered different amenities, but there was a town center where activities took place and there were shops and restaurants to mingle at.  Most of the hotels also had their own restaurants, and you could take a shuttle around the place to get from one hotel to the next, but the town center was an easy walk and had a lot to offer. 

We checked into the Desert Gardens hotel and got to our room on the second floor of a two-floor building with a view of Uluru.  Our room had a wide balcony, but we never really took advantage of it - the room was so spacious and comfortable, it was an oasis from our outdoor adventures.  I knew the Aboriginee dance demonstration was happening at the town center, but knew it was going to be tight to get there.  We did end up wandering down and caught just the last minute of it. 

Nerd Alert:  It was here, at Ayer's Rock Resort, where we

caught our first Kangaskhan in Pokemon Go.  I had noticed him on the radar as we were taking the resort shuttle to dinner, so we decided to do a big loop and get out at the stop nearest him to catch him.  And we did!  If you care but aren't aware, Kangaskhan is a Pokemon that is unique to Australia, so there's no way to get him in America.  The first one we caught was weak, but we ended up catching dozens others throughout our time in Australia, and got a few good ones to flaunt back home. 

Anyways, we had dinner at one of the other hotels that night; it was mediocre, but satisfied our hunger.  We called it an early night since the next morning would be another adventure! 

The next morning, after a hurried shopping trip in the town center for hats and water (how did we not think of that before?) we were picked up in the lobby for our camel train excursion.  The shuttle brought us to the camel farm, where our camels were all lined up and ready to be mounted.  First, we had to store all of our bags, and bring only water bottles and cameras in
bags they provided to us that would go around our shoulders.  Then, we each got a sheep skin to sit on.  Finally, they lined us up in front of our respective camels, and helped as each guest mounted the camel and "hung on for dear life" as they put it, as the camel stood up so they could adjust the straps for our feet.  My camel's name was Spinifex, or Spinney for short, and Jaiman rode Khan.  As our camels carried us over small ridges through the desert, we were told anecdotes about our camels.  For example, all of these camels were wild before being tamed.  There are estimates as high as a million for the number of wild camels in Australia, but they're hard to track because they move so much.  Also, Khan wouldn't follow any other camel except Spinney.  The cameleers learned this when, on a tour one day, Khan had laid down and refused to get up, and they ended up needing to get another camel to bring the guest back to the farm.  Since Khan's face was roughly at my rear the whole way, it was easy to get to know his personality.  He was chill, and lazy.  He didn't want to do anything, and everything he did was begrudgingly.  But he did like pets, so I patted his head and told him he was doing good, even if he was veering off course and trying to stop the train.  Silly Khan.  We toured through the desert, with great views of Kata Tjuta and Uluru in the background.  I was a little disappointed we didn't get closer, so for that reason alone I might not recommend this tour to others planning a trip to Ayer's Rock.  But if you think the idea of riding a camel for the sake of riding it, then I would definitely recommend this excursion.  The ride itself was slow going and easy, and not nearly as rough as I expected it to be.  I was also worried about the wind whipping sand into my face, and bugs, but neither of these were a problem for us.  It was a very pleasant ride, with no reason to stress. 

When we got back to the farm, the cameleers worked with each camel to get them to lie down, and then help the guests off their rides.  My camel, Spinney, was not having it, and started nipping at the cameleers.  Another came to
assist, and he was still being a big jerk.  Once they finally got him down, they said I couldn't take anymore pictures with him since he was being such an ass.  But that was fine, once Jaiman was down, we posed behind Khan, who was my buddy anyways.  We collected our belongings, and were invited to visit the other animals on the farm - an emu, a kangaroo, a baby camel and a water buffalo.  The baby camel was fun to see, but I was most excited about the water buffalo, mostly because of that darn Veggie Tales song that, if you know it, will now get stuck in your head.  You're welcome. 

I bought some postcards and a shirt that said, "HUMP DAAAY!" with a camel on it, because it was, in fact, Hump Day, and we rode camels.  Let's face it, that shirt was made for me on this exact day. 

Since the camel train didn't exactly take us to Uluru, we decided that we should take another excursion to actually go to the rock.  So after grabbing a bite to eat (I had an Outback Pizza with kangaroo and emu on it!) we headed to the tour area and booked ourselves on a hop on hop off shuttle.  Since we didn't really plan this, we had no idea what we were doing, and I think we ended up confusing the tour.  But really, if you call yourselves a hop on hop off, then we should be able to do whatever we want, right?  Well, what I found was that at Ayer's Rock, they really tried to take care of their guests by making sure they had everyone, which is nice in a way, but challenging when you aren't aware. 

So we were somehow scheduled for a pickup at our hotel.  It would give us enough time to see the Bush Yarn I wanted to attend at the Town Center, except that I had misread the schedule and realized that it wasn't happening that day.  So we decided to hop on the shuttle earlier and at the closest hotel rather than walk all the way back to ours and have to wait.  The driver then asked us what drop off points we wanted and when we wanted to be picked up at, and we had no idea, so he gave us a suggestion, but it was, like, 5 hours of hiking.  We were done well before that, and waited at the pick up point, hoping they'd still pick us up even though they made it sound like they weren't going to.  Just after I had given up on being picked up, the shuttle came.  Apparently, he was
late because he had been looking for us back at our hotel, not realizing we had caught an earlier shuttle.  I was so grateful to be picked up, I didn't even argue my point about it being a hop on hop off tour. 

The actual hike around Uluru produced some really interesting views; the rock changes as you go around it.  We didn't do the whole circumference - that was over 10 km - but we walked from the drop off point our driver had suggested to the pick up point.  There were parts of the rock that were considered sacred by the natives, and therefore were not supposed to be photographed.  The signs clearly marked where you could start taking pictures again and where you had to stop.  There were also plaques that talked about the different features of the rock, why it was sacred, etc.  It was a very hot and sunny day, and there was very little shade.  I had completely failed to bring
sunscreen somehow, and since I'd already spent a few hours in the morning in the sun riding a camel, I was getting worried about sunburn.  I tried covering my shoulders with the shirt I had bought at the camel farm, and kept my hat pulled tightly over my face and neck.  The bugs were awful here - flies and little gnats kept getting in our faces.  I had bought a cheap fly net the night before, and relented pretty quickly, putting that on.  It didn't stop the flies from getting on my net and irritating me that way, but much better than having them on my face.  There wasn't much shade at the pickup point (read: practically none), so when we realized we still had close to an hour before the pick up time I was hoping to catch, we decided to venture on to the gorge which was supposed to be scenic.  The gorge was, as promised, pretty neat to see, but we were watching our time and so had to head back shortly after arriving.  At this point, we were nearly out of water (again, bad planning on our part), and I wanted to get out of the sun as much as possible, feeling my skin bake. 

My learning and suggestion from all this is, hike Uluru early in the day, bring lots of water and sunscreen and hats and a fly net, and be more prepared than us.  All in all, we survived and even enjoyed ourselves, but we felt the pain of being so ill-prepared. 
Back at the resort, we picked up some food to go, and put our feet up in our hotel room with dinner and drinks, watching the sunset over Uluru.  As much as Ayer's Rock Resort was overpriced and felt gimicky, I couldn't get over the feeling that this was a lot like glamping - like, luxury in the middle of the desert.  I think people honeymoon here, or at least take fabulous vacations here.  As far as hotel stays, this was my favorite of the whole trip. 

The next morning, we did some final shopping in the town center, and then boarded the shuttle back to the airport to fly to our next destination - Melbourne

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Adelaide and Kangaroo Island - Aussie Adventure Part 1

Something funny happened on the way to the forum, as they say.  Or in this case, on the way to Adelaide.  We had gotten to LAX just fine, and actually had such a long layover that we ended up leaving the airport to go get lunch at a place Jaiman really wanted to eat at, and coming back to check in.  The flight to Sydney went without a hitch.  But when we arrived and checked in for our domestic flight, a bit worn and weary from the travel, I was thrown off a bit.  The plan had been to arrive in Sydney at 7:01 am and leave at 10 am for Melbourne, and then fly to Adelaide at 12:55, landing at 1:45.  But when we checked in to our flight, it said we were leaving at 9:55 am.  A little weird, but no big deal, I thought, they moved it up by 5 minutes.  But the flight wasn't going to Melbourne, it was going directly to Adelaide.  I had already disappointed Jaiman with the news that we had two more flights to go, and here we were looking at an itinerary that had us one just one flight left.  I assumed I must have changed the flights and not updated TripIt accordingly, but that actually wasn't the case.  From what I gathered, it seems Qantas had cancelled the flight to Melbourne and automatically booked us on a better flight to Adelaide.  Already, we were loving Australia. 

Things got even better when we checked our bags in - they had an automatic system to do so, and it worked like a charm.  Pretty awesome, Oz! 

Alright, so we arrived in Adelaide even earlier than expected, and our bag arrived and everything was good.  As we were driven to our hotel, we noticed a lot of Asian restaurants along the way - a mini China town if you will - and so, after checking into our hotel (which they let us a do a bit earlier than the usual 3 pm check in), relaxing a bit and then booking our Kangaroo Island tour for the following day, we decided to venture out and have some Asian food. 

We ended up at an okay place, but neither of us were really feeling it all that much.  Nevertheless, we were starting to decompress from the wariness of travel and general life stress.  We walked around town quite a bit, actually playing Pokemon Go, too.  While we were no longer avid players of the game (and most of the world has quit months ago), we were well aware that there was a region-specific Pokemon called Kangaskhan that we were determined to catch while visiting.  After some walking around, we decided to call it a night early, and headed up to the hotel room. 

We slept well, and were up and excited for our Kangaroo Island tour the next morning.  The shuttle driver was in the lobby ready for us when we got downstairs, and we were on our way.  We were transferred to a larger shuttle, and then were driven about an hour to the ferry terminal.  At this point, I wasn't feeling great, a little motion sickness or something bringing me down.  The waters were rough, so that only added to my motion sickness.  I cautiously ate a sausage roll for breakfast with a Sprite.  I will say, the sausage roll was fine, but it was nothing compared to Debbie's back in NYC.  Regardless, I made it without getting sick, but was definitely glad to be on land again. 

Ironically, the first iconic Australian animal we saw was a wallaby - dead on the side of the road.  Sad face.  The day was sure to get better from there. 
Our first stop was Seal Bay where we saw Australian Sea Lions up close and personal.  We mostly stayed on a little boardwalk just a foot or two above the beach where the sea lions walked around, sun bathed and played.  This allowed us a very close up view without being in danger of the strong, unpredictable creatures.  But we did get to walk a bit on the beach itself (I know, I had to suck it up and keep myself from having a panic attack from the sand), and we were told to keep our distance during this walk, but still got to see them pretty well.  One little guy approached us directly, curious about us.  It was a very chilly day, being in the southernmost part of Australia and still spring, and the wind blowing off the water made it that much chillier.  In fact, the wind was picking up a bit of the sand, and making me a little uneasy, but I did my best to enjoy the adorable wild critters. 

We then had a quick lunch which was nothing to write home about, but satisfying.  I, of course, detoured to the bathroom first and practically gave myself a sponge bath in the sink, trying to rid myself of both the sand and the notion of sand. 
Next, the tour took us to a koala sanctuary.  We were told that holding koalas was illegal in this state, which I had anticipated and understood, but that we'd be able to see them essentially in the "wild" since this was truly a nature preserve and not like a zoo or something like that.  I loved the smell of the eucalyptus as we walked through.  The first few koalas we spotted were a bit hard to photograph and see very well, but we did get a couple good views of some other ones as we went along.  One was a bit more active, and actually was jumping from branch to branch, which was fun to watch.  In the gift shop, there were those awkwardly frightening koala masks, and I joked with Jaiman that if I wanted a picture of me cuddling a koala, he could just put one of those masks on and pretend to be a koala for me.  He was not amused, and would not partake in such photo.  Being called Kangaroo Island, I was surprised that we had seen mostly sea lions and koalas so far, but there were wild kangaroos hanging out in the distance in several places, just not very photogenic, and we usually saw them as we passed without time to line up a picture anyways.  Our next stop on the tour was a place called Remarkable Rocks which was another windy, chilly place on the shore.  Here, the wind and ocean spray and carved interesting shapes into the rocks, hence the name.  We didn't stay very long or desire adventuring much because of the cold wind and ocean spray, but it was worth seeing I suppose. 

Then it was on to Admiral's Arch, which initially was a lot like Remarkable Rocks with the ocean spray and wind, but it had seals.  We winded down the path to the arch, watching playful and sleepy seals along the way.  They remind me so much of my chiweiner, Carly. 

I had been advised to stay longer than a day on Kangaroo Island, but I think
our tour was sufficient.  I did much better on the ferry ride back, and even got some reading done on the bus. 

The next morning, we went to Hungry Jacks for breakfast, which is like Burger King, Whopper and all.  We both ordered toasties, which I think is another
Australian staple.  Stopping in a convenience store, we discovered for the first time that Australia has some fantastic KitKats, including some of our favorites from Japan!  I got a Mint Cream & Cookie Smash pack.  KitKats in Australia have more thickness in the chocolate than American and Japanese KitKats.  The ones I got were Ah-Mazing! 

Then it was time to head out back to the airport for our next little journey… we flew to Alice Springs and then to Yulara for our stay in Ayer's Rock, otherwise known as Uluru