I can't believe a week has gone by already - time is going by so fast! These past 2 days have just been nonstop fun. I really want to try and put some photos up, but I haven't found an internet cafe that will let me yet. I'm taking tons and tons of photos (and some neat videos too) and I want to share!
Yesterday morning was Hilary's skydive - I was supposed to do it too but I couldn't because of my ears. (By the way, I'm feeling much much better, thanks everyone who sent me good wishes.) Alyssa, Alison, and I just lounged by the pool: we swam, read, and wrote postcards. Once Hilary got back we went to the main town part of Cairns and explored for a few hours. Our main goal was to find the Cairns Esplanade which is a huge outdoor public swimming pool that is just feet (or should I say metres?) from the ocean near the pier. The pool is massive and has lots of different sections, fountains, docks, etc. There are also large grassy areas where people can sunbathe, and part of the water even has a sandy shore. It's all completely open and free, people just come and go as they please. We got in the pool for a while and relaxed.
After we got back to the hostel, we enjoyed our free dinners and a jug of beer (that's what they call a pitcher). At night we went back to town to hit some of the bars/clubs. First was P.J. O'Brien's, an Irish pub that had a special on Victoria Bitter (or VB - a good, common Autralian beer). Afterwards we headed over to the Woolshed, a club that was playing cheesy 80s, 90s, and more recent pop. That was a lot of fun - so much fun that we didn't get back until 2:30 and had to wake up at 6:30 the next morning to make it to our Great Barrier Reef boat trip.
The boat trip was amazing. About 50 or so people were on this all-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It took us about an hour for the boat to reach our first snorkeling point, where we snorkeled for about an hour and saw amazing fish and coral. Next was lunch - Australian BBQ. The boat cruised to another snorkeling/diving location where Alyssa and I were able to get a free 10-minute helicopter tour of the reef (it pays to work for STA Travel!). The ride was amazing! We saw schools of fish swimming from above and beautiful strikingly blue water. Apparently the helicopter we took (which was very nice - although I've never been in another one to compare it to) was used to film some of the ariels in Jurassic Park. After the ride we got in this little boat with windows down below (they called it a submarine) that drove through the reef so we could get a good look at the fish. Then we snorkeled again, enjoyed a glass of complimentary wine, and headed back. A great day!
Tomorrow morning we're beginning our Oz Experience, which is a bus of backpackers that will take us to various cities along the coast (heading south) for the next 10 days or so. I'll let you all know how it goes!