Friday, February 25, 2011

Cairns, Cairns, Cairns

Now before we start, Cairns is pronounced Cannes (like the place in France).  I know, I know, we did it too, but once you know, it's a little irritating to hear the wrong way!

So Cairns.  Hmm, where to start.  Well, Cairns was not our favourite part of the trip.  A little intro: when we decided we wanted to be back in Canada mid-Feb, we really wanted to do more travelling other than New Zealand.  Australia seemed like the best option, since we were over there already, and it had been our original plan.  However, we were more pumped about getting to go through China on the way home, so SE Asia may have been a good option too.  When we talked Oz, we knew we did not have enough time or cash to do everything.  Our top things were to scuba on the Great Barrier Reef and see the Opera house.  Coming off of three weeks in the South of NZ, we were tired of moving around a lot, and also found buses and transport to be surprisingly expensive.  So we planned to stick to two areas, and take a bit more time in each.  We debated between Cairns and Brisbane, and ultimately chose Cairns because of the horrific flooding in Brisbane.  Cairns and Sydney it was!  

So we sadly left New Zealand behind, and headed off to Cairns.  We had a very early flight that went through Brisbane, so spent the night at the airport.  Not too bad, but when the airline people tell you that you have to pay an unexpected luggage fee and repack your bags to avoid more fees at FIVE in the morning, you may not react in the most kind manner.  Oops.  

I almost slept through the takeoff, and pretty much missed a last glimpse of fair Auckland.  Sad.  We had a nice quick layover in Brisbane, which we thought seemed nice, however gave us a nice look at the extravagant Aussie prices, yowch.  Then off to Cairns, everything was going smoothly.

Three-quarters of the way to Cairns, the pilot announces that a cyclone is approaching.  Andrew had kept an eye on the weather, which said thundershowers all week.  That was pretty disappointing, but we didn't even think of trying to rearrange our trip.  However, thundershowers are different than a cyclone!  Still, we didn't think too much of it.  

The hostel sent a driver to pick us up after a (VERY) long wait, and he promptly started talking about the cyclone.  Didn't sound too great at this point, but we were more concerned about not getting any time on the beach.  However, at the hostel, people were freaking out.  We found out it was a Category 5, were told to stock up on food, and that we would be in the (very small, full of windows) hostel bar during the cyclone.  We debated trying to get out of there, but decided we would probably not get very far.  So after a nice swim, and a trip to the crazy grocery store, where we got one of the last loaves of bread, we packed everything up so we'd be all ready and headed to bed.

Then we were woken up at 6AM, and told we were being evacuated, not to the bar, but to an evacuation center.  Umm, that sounds significantly worse, yet better.   Worse storm, but much better than letting the hostel staff keep us safe.  FYI staff, if I can see your underwear, your dress (AKA shirt with no pants) is too short.  We got downstairs to the entire foyer full of people, all trying to get on the first bus.  Not too fun! The hostel had taped most of the glass, including the pinball machine, which was kind of funny.

waiting to be evacuated
But this has gotten significantly long, so part 2 soon...


Anonymous said...

Hello Ger and Andrew,
So glad you are home safely - but it must be difficult for you since you've recently been there - both Christchurch and China, where there's so much upheaval.
Take good care,

Andrew & Geralis said...

It's good to be home, but it is really tough to see all the crisis going on globally. Hope you are all well!