Posts Tagged ‘Honeymoon’

Whitsunday Islands

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

So…our travel journal ended with Noosa Heads.  That means it lasted all of four days (out of 20), which is four more days than any of our other trips.

We always enter any extended vacation with grandiose ideas of writing in our journal everyday to document each passing day of our vacation.  And with each passing vacation, we never complete a full journal.

However, that’s not to say I don’t have notes and specific memories of our honeymoon that I will eventually write down and document.  But for now, here are some memories of the Whitsunday Islands…(Carins and Bora Bora to come)

So after spending a few days in Noosa Heads, we took a flight up the eastern coast of Australia to Arlie Beach, from there we would embark on our 3-hour tour, our 3-hour tour…err, I mean our 3-day sailing tour of the Whitsunday Islands.

When we initially looked into doing a sailing tour of the Whitsundays, there were obviously a lot of options.  Everything from 2-day catamaran tours to 5-day large boat diving tours.  We eventually settled on doing the 3-day maxi sail boat tour.  You know how race horses, after they’ve reached their prime and are put out to pasture to live out their remaining days, these touring companies have sail boats operating in the same manner.  These maxi sail boats are the same sailing yachts that are raced in well-known regattas (e.g., The America’s Cup), then when their time is due, the yachts are retired and put into the touring industry to live out their days.  Then tourists like us come onboard and make a mockery of her distinguished racing heritage (j/k).  One of the things that made the maxi boat tours unique, was having the option of help crewing the yacht.

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Anyway, we spent 3-days and 2-nights aboard the Silent Night.  I thought it was fun — putting up the sail, letting the wind power us through the sea, reaching up to 8.5 knots (that’s ~10mph for ye yellow-bellied land-lovers).  Which doesn’t seem that fast, but it’s a decent speed, especially with the wind blowing in your face.  As much as I enjoyed it, Miriam didn’t seem to be sharing my enthusiasm at first.  For her, it was a bit cold, and sleeping overnight on the boat took some getting used to.  Also, given that it was a free-moving boat, there wasn’t underground plumbing with renewable water supply.  Basically the crew brought onboard two large drums of water, and that was our usable water supply for the three days for everything from drinking, to cooking/washing dishes, to flushing the toilet, to the shower.  So rationing, particularly warm water shower rationing was implemented.  That wasn’t such a highlight for Miriam.  She pretty much likened the whole experience to camping, but on water.  Sleeping accommodations were a tad better than sleeping in a tent in a sleeping bag (instead of hard ground, you get swaying water and sounds);  the lack of freedom to clean/bathe was akin to griminess of wilderness camping; sitting on deck around the cooler during the night after dinner was akin to sitting around the campfire at a campsite.

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Despite some of the drawbacks, I think we both agree the experience was worthwhile — the fellow travelers we befriended onboard, the amazing views of the islands from the boat, the clear waters and white sands of Whitehaven Beach, the fun of snorkeling.

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After our 3-day tour, instead of only touring the islands by sea (which by the way, there are apparently over 74 islands in the Whitsundays, not all of which are populated, some being just land masses) we spent a night on one of the islands, Hamilton Island.  Back in my youth, there used to be a television show called, “Fantasy Island.”  (That show, whether purposely themed by the television executives, always followed a show, “The Love Boat”)  If ever there existed a real fantasy island, I would imagine based on logistics and activities, it would model after Hamilton Island.  Now there’s nothing too fancy about Hamilton Island, I mean it’s nice and has some amazing views, but being there, you just get the feeling you’re at fantasy island.  The whole island is like one big communal resort.  When you check into your room, you’re given a well-organized, detailed schedule of events of everything that’s going on on the island, not just your hotel, but the whole island, listed hour-by-hour.  Organized group activities for the kids, water activities for kids and adults, golfing, happy hour…you name it, they’ve got it.

And then, the island itself, there’s no cars.  Only golf-carts.  Golf carts everywhere.  Need to get from the hotel to the island’s restaurants…golf cart.  Need to get from the hotel to the golf course or animal sanctuary…golf cart.  Need to get from the hotel to the airport…golf cart bus (not really, but it is a small van, like those european mini vans).  It was quite amazing to see how many golf carts there were in such a condensed area.  It felt like everything got miniaturized and thus made walking a more viable mode of transportation.

Ironically, as I think about the whole Love Boat and Fantasy Island parallel, we just lived a re-enactment of the television programming schedule.  Whereas, instead of a love-finding match-making journey on a cruise ship to Puerto Vallarta, we had a 12-person sailing yacht around the Whitsundays.  Whereas, instead of a fantasy-fulfilling adventure island with a midget, we had an island full of mini golf-carts.  Oh, the Whitsundays.

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To view more pictures from the Whitsunday Islands, visit the Photos.

Retrospective Entry #3

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

From our Travel Journal written Friday, July 10th:

Today is Friday, July 10th, 3:30am local time at the Papeete Airport.  We’ve just arrived on our Air New Zealand flight from Cairns via Aukland and are killing time at the airport until our 7:30am flight onto Bora Bora.  The airport at Papeet is an open-air smal airport not unlike ones at Koh Samui and Hamilton Island (more about Hamilton Island in a later entry).  Surprisingly, we’re not the only ones at the airport burning the midnight oil awaiting early morning flights onto tother islands in French Polynesia.  Miriam is sitting next to me laying her head on the table atop the Air New Zealand blanket she “borrowed” from our flight.  I’m using this time to fill-in the journal and catch up on the previous week of activities during our Australian leg of the honeymoon.  The honeymoon I endearingly call, “Miriam’s honeymoon.”

Here’s the sequence of our stay in Australia:

Tuesday, June 30 – Thursday, July 2: Brisbane
Thursday, July 2 – Sunday, July 5: Noosa Heads / Fraser Island
Sunday, July 5 – Wednesday, July 8: Arlie Beach / Whitsunday Islands
Wednesday, July 8 – Thursday, July 9: Hamilton Island
Thursday, July 9 – Friday, July 10: Cairns

After spending the first couple of days in Brisbane, we hopped onto a Greyhound bus up to Noosa Heads, a small resort town about 2.5 hours north of Brisbane.  Checking into the hotel, I had previously mentioned to them we were there on our honeymoon; and lo and behold, awaiting in our room was a nice, chilled bottle of sparkling wine (2 bottles of sparkling wine running tally).

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Noosa Heads was a nice little resort town along the water and had a great national park nearby with lovely hiking trails.  We spent the first day walking around the town, aka Hastings Street, poking our head into the shops and scouting out restaurants for dinner.  (Much to our amazement, all the restaurants we tried in Noosa were fantastic).  Granted, they all cost more than average (e.g., ~$30 per entree), but it wasn’t like we purposely scoped out pricer places — all/most of the restaurants in Noosa were in this price range.

We went to Berardo’s Bistro on the Beach (amazing seafood linguine where I literally licked the plate clean); Zachary’s Pizza (not your deep-dish Berkeley pizzeria, but quite the opposite, really thin-crust pizza.  Miriam’s new favorite pizza joint…in Australia); Wasabi’s (sushi restaurant along the Noosa River and had wagyu sushi).

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We took one of the days in Noosa to just relax and go to a spa and get massages.  We got misled into thinking it was a 90-minute couples massage, when in fact it was a 60-minute couples massage with a 30-minute use of their private couples courtyard and bath.  We were not pleased, although the massage itself was nice.

The other highlight of our stay in Noosa Heads was our day trip tour to Fraser Island.  Fraser Island is apparently the largest sand island in the world, and is only accessible via ferry and 4WD vehicles.  The island itself has no actual paved roads; but rather, vehicles traverse literally along the beaches and sand.  We rode in a Land Cruiser SUV with four other people and thoroughly enjoyed bouncing around on the uneven sand and driving alongside the breaking ocean waves.  Venturing into the heart of the island we stopped to take a short guided hike into the island’s rain forest.  Afterwards, it was onto our lunch spot near Lake McKenzie.  Lake McKenzie was absolutely amazing.  Pristine, blue water against the fine white sandy shores.  The sand was so fine that our tour guide said that it was good for exfoliating the skin.  Miriam tried this on her hands and feet and was convinced they turned out softer.  I nodded my head in agreement with her, but can’t help to think that it might just be all in her mind.  All in all, Noosa Heads and Fraser Island was a great little escape to a resort town with wonderful scenery along the water.

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To view more pictures from Noosa Heads / Fraser Island, visit the Photos.

Retrospective Entry #2

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

From our Travel Journal written Sunday, July 5, 2009:

Today is Sunday, July 5th and we’re sitting at the Brisbane Domestic Airport trying to kill four hours before our flight to the Whitsundays.  We’ve spent the past five days split between Brisbane and Noosa.  Brisbane, to me based solely on our short two day stint, was a similar riverside metropolitan city not unlike Bangkok.  In fact, sitting at some of the riverside bar/restaurants and riding the river ferry, reminded us very much of Bangkok.  One unique Australian activity we got to do was go to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  We were able to see bats, dingoes, Australian birds of prey, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and koalas.  Miriam even got to hold a Koala.  There were massive mobs of kangaroo, many of them just lounging around and laying on the grassy field.  All in all, it was a worthwhile trip out to the sanctuary, as we got to see Australia’s indigenous animals and check that off our list of things to see.

For dinner that night, after being surrounded all day by animal-life, we decided to go to a steakhouse in the city, Cha Cha Char.  Being our honeymoon, we decided to splurge and get an order of the Wagyu rump and Wagyu filet.  Before our trip, I remember seeing something on the Wagyu beef in Australia and how it was prepared/cared for in the similar manner as Japanese Kobe Wagyu.  And sure enough the Wagyu was quite tasty.  Miriam didn’t like the Wagyu rump as much as it was a bit sinewy.  But the filet was outstanding.  It was a juicy steak but with a tender consistency of foie gras.  This was the second time we’ve had real Wagyu, and it was just as good as the first.  (In fact, we actually got almost two orders for the price of one.  Not because of our “honeymoon discount” but rather because my initial order had a little piece of plastic wrap remnant still on a small portion of the “side wall” of the cut.  Since it didn’t interfere with the part I was eating, I continued to eat half of it, and then afterwards told the manager of the plastic wrap…and he brought us out a new order.  Miriam ate the new one and I finished off her rump.  Wagyu rump.

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To view more pictures from Brisbane, visit the Photos.

Retrospective Entry #1

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

From our Travel Journal written Friday, July 3, 2009:

After 20+ hours of travel, we finally checked into our hotel, Quay West, in Brisbane on Tuesday, June 30th at 1:30pm local time.  Our travels began Sunday, June 28th, on an Air New Zealand flight departing LAX at 10:30pm, and included a 13.5 hour flight to Auckland, a 2 hour layover, 3.5 hour flight into Brisbane, and finally a couple hours through customs/baggage claim/cab ride into the city.

Our honeymoon possibly may not have even happened since somebody forgot to check if visas were required to Australia (they are).  But fortunately when we checked in for our flight we were able to purchase visas on the spot.  Whew!

Back at our hotel in Brisbane, we washed up and set out to explore the city.  We took in the city Centre, including City Hall, King George Square and the Treasury Building.  And soon enough Miriam complained she was cold, since she had packed for warmer weather and omitted packing a warm jacket.  For some reason, I find we always spend our first day on a trip shopping for omitted goods — Oahu was swimming trunks that fit; Maui was sunglasses; Singapore was camera; Brisbane is jacket.  Miriam says that’s the fun of traveling — to go shopping!  I suppose.  But I thought the fun of traveling is sightseeing.  Oh well, I guess this is what I married into, better enjoy shopping.

Walking across the Victoria Bridge we made our way to the West End to have an authentic Australian meal at Tukka.  Our meal consisted of crocodile and emu.  Surprisingly, the crocodile was a white meat with consistency of chicken but tougher, while the emu (though in the bird family) was a red meat with a consistency closer to venison.  Both were tasty and quite edible.  Although we found this Australian cuisine restaurant, we noticed they were few and far in between.  The majority of restaurants were of other fare, mostly international.

Having had our fill of Australian cuisine, we made our way back to our hotel to enjoy our complimentary bottle of champagne, courtesy of our hotel, since we mentioned we were traveling on our honeymoon.  Everywhere we went, I was sure to mention this in hopes to conjure free items or upgrades.  In fact, I think for the next year, anywhere we travel, I’m still going to mention we’re traveling for our honeymoon.  Let’s see how long I can keep this racket up before guilt sets in…

As for this honeymoon, I’ll keep a running tally of complimentary goods/services, but so far: 1 bottle of champagne.

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To view more pictures from Brisbane, visit the Photos.