Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Merry December-Time friends! I hope you're enjoying your holidays, whatever those may be. My family does both Hanukkah and Christmas, though both as just another excuse to get together with family, but I love it nonetheless, and I love the holiday spirit that takes over everything this time of year! Unfortunately for Hanukkah, I did not have one free night this year to celebrate it, so my family kind of skipped right over it. That just means we'll have to make a bigger deal out of Christmas and I'm really looking forward to it! 

How is everyone celebrating this season? 

Mostly my life has been PACKED with work work work. But that does include yoga internships, tons of interpreting for  an array of topics you wouldn't even believe if I told you about, meeting new people, and hanging out with friends when I get the chance. 

Though none of this has involved traveling, I have actually been really enjoying my time at home, despite not literally having much time to chill at my apartment. I love jet setting back and forth but sometimes I need to take a breather, and focus on the life I sometimes miss out on. So now that I have a little bit of down time, I'm doing my best to take some vacation time for myself. 

That doesn't mean I don't stop dreaming about far off places though! And last week my mom gave me a gift that will help me travel everywhere without leaving my couch. She gave me a 6 month netflix subscription!! I"m so excited to catch up on movies, I'm never up to date on what is out or what's good, so I've been playing around and building up my queue and I wanted to share some of my favorite "destination" movies. Some of these are great for the plot itself, and some I just find really pretty or intriguing to watch as they make me want to go visit their countries. 

First- a classic L' Auberge Espagnole I admit I haven't seen this one in years so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I love seeing the scenes in Barcelona and it's such a good depiction of different cultures, clashes and all. 

Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens)- A fantastic, witty, and intriguing movie from Argentina. Argentina has some of the greatest film makers in the world, and this plot will leave you guessing until the very end with all it's crazy twists. This is really fun to watch! 

El Mar Adentro (The Sea Within)- Directed by the famous Almodovar, he's a hero to most Spaniards. This movie is thought provoking and well written. The Mediterranean sea is of course beautiful but you'll probably end up too busy crying to notice. Still, I don't want to deter anyone from watching this because it is a wonderful movie and touches on some heavy topics that should be addressed at some point. 

Hotel Rwanda- Another heartbreaking movie, but I think a must watch for the African History. It's one of my all time favorites but I only watch it when I'm prepared to bawl my eyes out. I've always been fascinated by African culture and finding ways to better the current situation has been a very important cause for me for a long time. 

The Number One Ladies Detective Agency - For a happier side of Africa! This is an HBO series based on the books of the same names written by Alexander McCall Smith. I've read all the books and highly recommend both the books and the movies. You'll fall in love with the main character, Precious Ramotse. 

Monsoon Wedding - This movie is simply stunning to watch. The colors, the music, the vibrant Indian culture...I loved it. I decided after seeing this movie that I am going to have an Indian style wedding. It doesn't matter that I am not Indian or whether or not my future husband will be Indian. I want my wedding to be this pretty. 

Paris J'Taime - Oh Paris! What can I say about this? The title says it all. I do, I just love Paris, and this movie draws you into all the individual stories and I just imagine what my life would be like in Paris (Amazing I'm sure!) 

There are so many more I could list, but instead I'll just encourage you all to start exploring! I know I plan on using some of my free time to catch up on movies and take advantage of my unlimited supply of dvd's now, but I do want to ask for some help! 

MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS! What are your favorite movies? They don't have to be foreign, though I love those too. Anything I can order from Netflix that you think I HAVE to watch. Send me your list of favorites!

Lots of love and Happy Holidays!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

To show how thankful I am, I'm going to reveal way too much of myself

I know in the past I've wandered a little beyond the "travel" theme of this blog and given a little insight into my life, but today I'm going to take it even further. It's a bit scary for me because I intend to reveal a lot that I don't usually talk about....with anyone...yikes!

But at the same time, I think it's relevant to travel. Exploring the world not only teaches you about your external surroundings; it inevitably leads to so much self exploration and revelation. I tend to have trouble staying present, and have been struggling for so long with really accepting or even knowing who I am and what I want. I've spent years either ignoring "me" or hating the "me" I think I am, or not living up to the "me" I think I should be. But when I'm traveling, I get a huge sense of relief. A mix of happiness and indifference, living in the moment that is so unlike my day to day at home. I went back to New York 2 weeks ago for work, and while every trip is great, this one was particularly enlightening. A big light bulb lit up in my mind as soon as I got home.

By going to work, I of course feel productive and realize how good I actually am at what I do. I meet new people and see friends that remind me that I am loved, and there's just something about walking block after block through that huge city that feels like there's so much possibility and future ahead of me. So coming home, I was already feeling positive when I was welcomed by my family and friends back here in Houston and it finally hit me....I am so, so lucky. I am surrounded by the greatest family and friends in the world. I have the best of the best as my role models. But instead of feeling blessed, this has led me to feel like I can't measure up, I will never succeed, never be good enough to give back what I've been given. And then it all backfires because if I can't be perfect I am better off not trying. Having such amazing family and friends can be overwhelming.

Exhibit #1- my parents. Could they possibly have accomplished more? When it comes to my chosen profession, they are some of the best in their industry. Their language skills and speed are unmatched in the interpreting world.  Now that I've been working as an interpreter for a little longer, I've learned that in comparison to your average interpreter, I'm pretty darn good, especially considering I've been doing it for only a year, but it's hard to focus on that when I expect myself to instantly go from point A to point B and become my parents. Also, let's not forget that they raised me and gave me more than I would have even thought to ask for. I was born into a life resembling a giant open doorway. I have to use this door, I HAVE to be someone they're proud of.

My brother's are both brilliant. David is both charming and probably has a genius IQ, a natural inclination towards politics and the ability to convince anyone of anything. Luckily for the rest of humanity, he was raised by my above-mentioned wonderful parents, so I know he will one day be making a huge positive impact. Michael has been a little inventor since he was still pulling his stretchy pants way too high over his diapers, and he'll probably go on to get PHD's and win the nobel prize. Of course, I fear that I'm not as good, as smart, or high achieving as they are, but more and more I feel an enormous sense of sisterly pride. These are MY brothers, we share so much already, and I'm even more grateful now that we're all getting older and can share on a friend level as well as sibling.

The other half of my vocational choice is yoga. Though it's so much more than that. I'm thankful for how much it has changed my life, my outlook, and the way I treat myself and others. I know that this will be a life long choice for me and will carry me through so many ups and downs. I'm also so excited to get certified to teach and share this with future students! My yoga instructors and fellow trainees are the most inspring people. I knew I was blessed at Yogaone Studios, but by traveling and seeing other studios, I've confirmed it. I feel so warm and welcomed by this yoga family. It's a collection of the most incredible, friendly, peaceful, beautiful and inspring yogis you'll ever find. Not only are they the most qualified instructors that I have been lucky enough to have teach me, they're approachable, inspriational and have made me feel an entirely new side of myself. I still question how I even ended up as part of that family. What did I do to deserve it?  It's been so good for me, and I only hope I can inspire my students half as much as they have me.

My friends from the yoga studio and from other paths my life has crossed, new and old, are all wonderful. They're successful in such a variety of ways; they're fun, intelligent, unique, and beautiful.  . They're there for me even when I've pushed them away. I worry that I am not capable of reciprocating equally. Whether I have that much to share, to give back. If I can be someone they feel proud to call a friend the way I am of them. But I'm lucky to have them, happy for the ones that have stuck around forever, and for the new ones I'm making and hope to become closer with.

So there it is - my Catch 22. I've been burdened with the task of trying to be the best daughter/ friend/ sister/ yoga instructor because it's the least I can do to show my appreciation for the incredible people that surround me. Poor me, right? For now, I still feel stuck, like I'm in limbo, making lots of plans but never really accomplishing anything, never as pretty, never as smart, or SELF CONFIDENT (key word) but I think it's getting better.

In all seriousness, I am totally unbiased... my friends and family are the best. You all would love to have my life. So I'm going to stop whining about it.  I'm going to stop wondering and worrying whether I am worthy of being loved by my loved ones. I need to stop over thinking life and start living it.

Today, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Rally for the sake of ...Rallying?

I'm sure most of you by now have seen the photos, or watched it on TV. Last weekend was the Rally to Restore Sanity and/ or Fear hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. If you haven't heard anything about it, look it up! There were some great speeches, performances, comedy segments, signs, and costumes, and I was one of the lucky 250,000 or so in attendance!

Since I'm normally a very opinionated person and love my politics, I could have a lot to say on that aspect of the rally, but that was not the intention of this blog, and I really feel that this rally was not out to divide us on any serious party or platform lines. I think it accomplished everything it intended to do: bring together peaceful, intelligent, forward thinking Americans who just wanted to get together and have a good time while still letting our country know that we expect change and progress.

This trip was also multi-purpose. I was able to visit my brother who has been working/ studying in DC since August. He's doing a really amazing program through the University of Texas that takes a very select few students from all the UT schools to do political internships while continuing to take classes and it seems like he's getting an amazing experience. I'm a little jealous, but mostly....aw, shucks, I'm just a proud big sis :)  I flew up to DC the Thursday before the rally so before and after, I got to hang out with him, meet his friends, and explore the Capital. I'll keep the words short and just give you a photo recap!

Hey there Abe! I actually had not made it here when I was in DC back in June. 

Me and the parents behind the Jefferson Memorial. It has beautiful fountains! There's also a long waterside walk and park that was perfect to walk through at sunset. 

My little brothers. David on the left is the one working in DC. Michael on the right is in high school here in Houston. This dinner was in Arlington near our hotel. It included some delicious gnocchi that I only got to hear about because they had cheese, but my pizza was delicious as well. 
I had perfect timing on this photo! 5 minutes later when my dad wanted to take the same one on his camera, the sun wasn't hitting it the same way. 

Crazy amounts of people in front of me. I could barely see those screens, I was holding the camera as high as I could here and on my toes! 

Oh the signs, haha. There were so many good ones!

We found fellow Texans!

More people behind me extending all the way down the Mall. 

That was the rally, and I had so much fun being in such a huge crowd of super excited people! And also knowing that all the great performers like Cat Stevens, Sheryl Crow, Ozzy Osbourne, Stewart and Colbert, and so many others were up there in the same general area was kind of cool even though I was no where near close enough to see them. 
Some other things to add to my summer DC guide- I went back to the Museum of American History, and that was a lot of fun. I had two lunches at Sweet Green, where you make your own giant salad. It has tons of fresh options, including the seasonal squash, and you HAVE to get the falafel. I also tried Java Green and tried kelp noodles for the first time. They were a little weird, and definitely no replacement for noodles, but the texture kind of grew on me. The way they were prepared was way too spicy though. It's a cool restaurant but definitely for the more adventurous taste buds, and I did really enjoy the big cookie I took for dessert! I love anytime I can get vegan cookies. My family also tried Obama's favorite burger place. I'm blanking on the name at the moment, but they all really liked it and it's a really popular place on Capital Hill. David, if you read this, what's it called??
The first night I went to the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial, and as I mentioned earlier, the park behind the Jefferson Memorial is really nice to walk through. We also went back to Georgetown for a nice early morning stroll down M Street , and that's always a cute area, but most things are closed on Sunday mornings. 
All in all, short trip but I had a good time! 

Tomorrow early early AM I'm off to NY again! I'm living on airplanes these days, but I can't wait to meet up with more bloggers and do some more work networking this week. That means I'll be checking in soon with more fun in the city!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The American Dream

Back in September I got to visit New York City for work. I get to go to the Big Apple frequently enough, though I'm hoping it becomes more frequent and eventually permanent! I went for a work conference that I really only had to set up for, so then I had the week to do as I pleased. I did some business networking for both our interpreting company and also visited some yoga studios hoping to make connections for my future teaching jobs. The rest of the time I walked and ate and walked and ate, enjoyed the city life, and spent time with amazing people. Since I've been to New York many times, I don't really see the tourist sites every time. My favorite things to do are just regular city people stuff, a lot of walking that I can't do in Houston, people watching, trying out all the great restaurants and just being in the middle of "it all". I'd like to give you advice on both ends, the city life and the tourist spots, too, because you HAVE to do them at least once. And even I like to go back to the museums every so often because it makes me feel artsy and inspired. 

I started off my week with a speed networking event through NYCgo I was invited to because we are company members, but even if you're not going to do business with them, the website is probably the best place to go to find things to do, see, and eat. It may even help you do it cheaper!

My first night there, I took myself on a wonderful dinner date at Josie's East Side. There were about a dozen things I wanted to try on the menu but ended up with the Veggie Deluxe plate. They also bring out the greatest bread and a pumpkin hummus to hold you over! The food was amazing and abundant and I felt like a scene straight out of "Eat Pray Love", and if you haven't seen it, it was me, myself, and I, in a bubble of food induced bliss. I give this 5 stars! Unfortunately I didn't have room for dessert but they had many dairy free options I would like to go back and get. 

This is straight from Veggiegirl's website. But hers appears to be missing the fried rice mine came with. So picture this + fried rice + grainy bread and hummus = fullness. 

My dad met me there and we went back to our hotel, Murray Hills Suites. I travel to NY a lot, and always stay here. It's a fantastic location and all the rooms have little kitchens. Quite the ideal situation. This place was recommended to us by an Argentinean friend, and I've noticed in my stays there that half the clientele are visiting from Argentina. I guess this place has just been recommended by word of mouth or through Argentinean travel sites. I just find it random and funny. 

I made sure to visit Chelsea Market this time since I had never been. I really liked it! It has a bunch of little shops and coffee places, a mini grocery store, Italian specialty store, a couple of cupcake places, and restaurants. Not to mention free Wifi where I played with my new to me, but oldest version ever made of the I-touch. 


Directly north of Chelsea Market, there's a staircase that leads you to The High Line. This is a beautiful park and garden on a raised platform. It was originally built for freight traffic in the 1930's to allow trains to go over the center of city blocks rather than the avenue. You can read all about the history and view more photos on the website. It's all very interesting and I actually did not know any of this at the time. I did still enjoy it and am very glad that Kate, my blogger turned "in person" friend, recommended I go see it after the market. It's a long walkway lined with a variety of fauna, and has large wooden benches and "recliner" type seats for locals and visitors to lay out in the sun and relax. Quite pleasant! 

Rocking my city style boots on the High Line

Speaking of "nature" type places in the midst of the big city, we can't envision New York without talking about THE park. I mean Central Park. This is one of the most important trademarks of the city- known worldwide, exhibited in dozens...no, probably hundreds, of movies. And it's huge. And beautiful. And fun. It has anything you could want, gardens, food, trails, the New York Zoo, tennis courts, and a variety of other fitness options, playgrounds, museums, lakes, etc. September provided me with the perfect weather for getting lost on its trails, but I've also been in summer when everything is in bloom, and in winter when we were able to sled down the hills. Many of the museums can also be found on the upper East side of the park. The only one I stopped into this time was the Museum of the City of New York to see an interesting exhibit on the most notorious women of the last century. I'm not sure how long it was supposed to go on, but it's worth checking out if you have any interest in history and culture. 

Upper east side, or at least northern Midtown on the east side is also where I found the greatest restaurant ever, Good Health Cafe. It's super simple but delicious food. Very vegan friendly, and was able to satisfy both my healthy vegan tastes and the pickiest meat and potatoes Argentineans. I introduced my other blogger friend Maggie to this place and I think it's become a favorite for her. She's now written a couple of reviews on it, too. I definitely plan on going back since I have to try almost every thing on the menu. Even my parents, who are in New York this week, have gone back! I'm jealous. Maggie also took me to another macrobiotic/ Asian style place called Souen in the East Village. This place was amazing too. 

I'll get back to my New York guide in a sec, but I couldn't talk about the city without mentioning these new great friends Maggie and Kate because they are both talented writers, and awesome people. I realize we have mostly "online" friendships, but they have made me even more excited to eventually move to New York. Unfortunately, life in Houston keeps pushing my moving date back, but I'll get there soon and I'm so looking forward to it! 

So back to New York. There's just so much to do, I'm overwhelmed and can't figure out how to tell it all! Especially without writing a novel that no one will read. I'll get speedier from here on out. 

There's Union Square, right around NYU. I love that whole area. It's obviously very much for my younger age group, has a lot of shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, and so on (what area of the city doesn't?). One of my favorite places of all time is the Union Square Farmer's Market. The produce is pricey of course, but it's just beautiful to look at, and since I don't live there and I'm usually just buying a few pieces of fruit for immediate snacking, I don't mind. I'm also in love with the Body and Soul Bakery stand. This is my second trip to New York where I've stopped by this stand to buy several of their baked, all vegan, all scrumptious, goods. They have savory pies, muffins, cookies, and scones. I had a pear and thyme scone, and a sweet potato muffin with dried apricots. Both were perfect in my opinion, and I'm very hard to please when it comes to baked goods. 

Sorry, the photo is stolen from the internet because I was too lazy to carry a camera. 

From there, I walked through the East Village to China Town so I could cross through Canal Street. There was a street festival going on so it was packed with people, food stands, all kinds of Asian grocery stores, restaurants, stores, and sights and smells. It's chaotic in a good way. 

I was able to try out two yoga studios in the city. One was Mang'Oh Yoga, which happened to be just a few block from my hotel on the East Side. I took a vinyasa class from Randi and LOVED it! The studio is small but nice with a warm and friendly atmosphere, and nice sitting room in the front. Randi was a great teacher and not only guided us through a challenging flow but was really able to tie in some important life lessons to think about. She was really great at seamlessly weaving together the movements and meditation, and that is really the kind of yoga teacher I aspire to be! She recommended I read "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali". So I'm really looking forward to that and may write a recap after. I would definitely go back to this place and even apply for a job if one is available by the time I get there. 

The other place I checked out was Exhale spa's Central Park location. I saw they had vinyasa yoga classes but I actually took a Corefusion class. It was tough but I really liked it! The spa has several locations and I know the Corefusion method has several dvd's that are really popular in the fitness world. I would also come back here and try out all their classes, and spa services. The whole place was beautiful and had all kinds of fancy amenities that I was free to play with. The prices were surprisingly average/ low end for the place/ quality/ and location. If you live in the area you should go! 

After my week in the city, I spent a night in Brooklyn with a friend. I had never been and up until now have been skeptical about the idea of maybe having to live in Brooklyn, but I totally loved it! It's so cute, filled with cafe's, bars, parks, kid friendly activities, a farmer's market, beautiful waterfront views of the city, and really fun arts stores and vintage shops. I really need to go back and explore some more so I'll hold off on too much Brooklyn information, but it's worth the 10-15 minute subway ride. Maybe I'll get my friend to write a special post for the blog :) 

I get another chance to go back to New York in a couple of weeks so feel free to share any of your own New York stories or recommendations! I also always love getting to meet new people so if I haven't met you in person, or even if I have, and you'll be in the area, let me know! 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pop Tarts!

Hey lovely readers and new readers! Thanks to Heather for writing about my pop-tarts and sending lots of new traffic here! Uh oh, I may have to start writing more frequently! It's good motivation, and any friend of Heather's is a friend of mine :) Although I've never met Heather in person, I've been following her blog Heather Eats Almond Butter for quite some time, because....I'm obsessed with almond butter too. But really, she's also an amazing person. Her writing is always wonderful and her warmth always shines through, and she will soon be sharing that with a beautiful baby girl! I've followed her pregnancy and have often felt so moved by her candid accounts through each phase of her pregnancy, including the one where she craved a lot of pop-tarts. So I thought, "hey, I've made pop-tarts before!" It is in fact really easy and so much fun to do because it's way healthier and you get to choose your own flavors. I offered to send her some as a gift for her and the growing baby. 

So, even though I actually have a post on traveling to New York about 1/4 written that I need to finish up considering my trip there was mid September....I am putting up this brief interlude, since I saw that many people wanted home made pop- tarts, and I know my friends and family will also appreciate this, I will share my not so secret, and easily alterable recipe. 

The pastry can really be done with your favorite pie pastry recipe- whole wheat, spelt, gluten free, or even cornmeal for a different texture. I did:

1 1/2 cups flour (I mixed about 1 cup ww pastry flour with 1/2 cup AP so it wouldn't be too stiff) 
5 tbsp earth balance (I have the soy free but anything works) 
1/4 cup dairy free milk (coconut milk :D ) 
2 tbsp sugar 
1/2 ts salt

- whip that all together, either by hand, or the lazy way with a hand mixer like me
- roll it out on a floured surface and cut into pop-tart sized rectangles
place rectangles on oiled baking pan, spoon approximately a heaping spoonful of filling in the middle and cover with another rectangle. 
- Use a fork to seal the edges really well, otherwise filling WILL spill out
- You can poke holes in the top but I think this might just be for aesthetic purposes :) 

Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 cup sugar (brown sugar is best, but all I had was evaporated cane juice, it's sort of brown?) 
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
enough water to thin it out a little, but not too much! Just about nut butter consistency

If you want a fruit filling, any jam or jelly will do, but I've discovered you should add about a tbsp of cornstarch + 1 tbsp of water to keep the jelly from melting out all over the place in the oven. This has happened and I ended up with empty pop-tarts! 

Other good fillings are nut butters, coconut butters, nutella, straight up chocolate, mashed up banana, dried fruit, etc...experiment!

For icing you can also mix powdered sugar with non-dairy milk and play around with flavors too. I usually leave it plain then slather on almond or peanut butter right before eating it. 

[sorry Heather, I took the pictures right off your site! I didn't think to take any of my own, but yours turned out beautifully! ]

Enjoy! And let me know if you make your own pop-tarts! I'd love new filling ideas!

I'll be back soon with everything you need to know before visiting New York City!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coral Reef Resorting in Cairns- My final stop in Australia

It's about time I finish up with this trip! For some reason, in my mind, I though my Cairns review would be the shortest and quickest. I have no idea why, maybe because it was supposed to be the more laid back portion of the trip, but going over my journals, I realized just how much there is to do around there once you include all the day trips and such. So I'm very sorry, but this will be another wordy post, conciseness is not my forte, but I'll do my best!

We took a Qantas flight again, I've already given them the thumbs up, and this one simply reaffirmed that, so let's move on to our resort/ hotel. We reserved an apartment about 40 minutes from downtown Cairns in an area called Palm Cove. The apartment was really nice, fully furnished, air conditioned, and spacious, plus had a balcony so we could get some fresh air with breakfast. Kitchens mean you can do your own cooking for much of the trip, which I always prefer, and it saves a ton of money. Especially with such a large group, and considering 2 members of said group are myself and my teenaged brother....well, much food is consumed. Our apartment was just a short and scenic walk to the beach. There's even a good chance you'll run into some wallabies or kangaroos on the way! Along the coast there are all the fancy 5 star hotels and a few restaurants (standard Australia prices apply) so there was nothing too great, but we did stop at a place called Coffee Haven a few times for our coffee fixes and decent lunch sandwiches for around $10 each. Our resort had a fitness center, tennis courts, and a small gym. My brother and dad were able to play tennis for a pretty reasonable fee. I tested out the gym my last day there but it's not very well equipped and I almost broke my foot on a stationary bike most likely from the 1980's. I saw they offered fitness classes for extra charge, but I didn't try them. I did step into the room though, and they sort of smell. Ick. Bike rentals are also an option, but, of course, that will cost extra. The lap pool would have been nice had it been summer. 

Yeah, did I mention that already? As much as I enjoyed it, this is most definitely a summer destination. I know we would have been able to see and do a lot more if we had gone around December, not July.

They keep the streets super dark at night, which is kind of scary if you're used to the city, but you're really in one of the safest places ever, so we took full advantage of the stargazing. The stars look like you’re looking at those professional space images. Amazing! They are so much brighter than I’ve ever seen before. The moon one night was also interesting, it was one of those crescent moons but instead of sideways like we have them here in the northern hemisphere, it was a crescent on the bottom like a smile. Awww!
The beach itself was a little chilly. Ok really chilly, I spent a lot of time wrapped up in a towel while reading, or enjoying walks and experimenting with freezing my feet in the waves. Also, though it's not an exclusively Australian experience, with all the barefoot running hype, and also since I had not run in forever and ever, I took a short barefoot jog on the beach. I loved it! It was so grounding to feel the sand between my toes and have that extra challenge from the instability of the sand. I ended up with some calluses, but the endorphin rush was wonderful. 

Our first afternoon we made a quick drive over to Trinity Beach just a few km's from our resort and it also happens to be on the way to Cole's, the grocery store nearby. The beach is nice but essentially the same as where we were with different restaurants and fewer hotels. Cole's is a large supermarket, pretty standard as far as they go, but I did notice that Australia as a whole doesn't have the variety we have here. But I did sort of fall in love with Wheatabix minis with berries cereal and am sad I didn't bring any home. 

Everyone but my mom and I took a day trip to Chillagoe. It's basically the outback, and 3 hours away by car over some not so driveable areas. I know I probably seem like a party pooper not going, but I needed a break from family and was not really into 3 hours of carsickness to see giant termite mounds. And my brother said it was not worth it. Maybe none of us are extreme adventurers.  I went into Cairns city with my mom. It was very easy to get to from our resort. Buses run between all the resorts and small beaches to the downtown and make stops at all the main tourist attractions, too. It took about 40 minutes from Palm Cove. The city is a cute beach town much like others, full of beach tourist shops, cafe’s, gelato, markets, etc. In other words, a lot of fun!  

The city is located around the Marina and the Lagoon, which was dried up when we went due to the draught they're having. It looked like a big mud basin but generally it’s supposed to be a big open area of water next to the Marina. 
Next to lagoon is huge public swimming area. It's a shallow salt water pool and was filled with people splashing around,  laying out, having picnics, and just hanging out. I was particularly fascinated by how many different languages I heard among the crowd. It seems people come from all over.The park around it is really nice too and has some quick food places and picnic tables. They also hold free events like concerts, and fitness classes outside. It's very much like Discovery Green here in Houston plus the pool (Houston developers, are you reading??)  These cities are so well planned and developed, and as I mentioned, they have a level of safety and security unheard of in the rest of the world.
My mom and I ate lunch at the Lily Pad Cafe. I have a mixed review for this place. It was really nice on the inside. Definitely a hippy veggie type place. The food was really good, and portions are massive, meaning I should have stopped eating way before I did :X.  The only problem with it was they took over an hour and a half!! It was ridiculous. We ended up complaining a couple of times and I think they just forgot to put our order in. We also stopped by the mall at the train station. It was a mall.  

Fresh taffy machine

Of course we thought a day trip to coral reef would be essential, but this will really only be worth it in summer, and do a lot of research on what company you use. We spent $139 per person plus $16 for the pickup in the van. I already knew I’d probably be too cold to get in the water but I was still excited for a day on a nice island. Unfortunately, the whole thing seemed really unorganized. I think all the programs are about the same, some more expensive, some cheaper, but Australians seem to be very laid back about things. This is good in some ways, but things like this trip just drive me crazy. We had to be out in front of the hotel waiting for our pickup at 6:55 am. No big deal for me, I can handle waking up early. But then we spent over an hour and a half picking up other people who were late, stopping at convenience stores looking for a disposable camera because one couple had forgotten theirs, and then we had to pick up our tour guide, and she was late! By that point I had turned into a cranky toddler from not having slept much and being in the car for too long. We boarded the boat at some hidden spot along the river, rather than a big marina like you'd expect. They take you on a  "Crocodile River Tour", meaning they basically need to get down the river anyways to get to open water. We saw one croc on the way back. This may just be because it's not the right season.  After getting out of the river it takes about 30 min of rocking on open water to get to the island where they stop the boat far off the island and you have to transfer to the glass bottom boat to be ferried to the island. But the “glass bottom” is about 2 feet wide and the rest is like you’re in this big metal safe where you can’t see out. I felt almost instantly seasick and claustrophobic so I went back up and sat with a few people on top of the boat. Perhaps I just have sensitive inner ears? 
The weather was beautiful and sunny the first hour and  a half. I tested the water but it was way too cold so I took pictures of seashells then laid around and read while my family snorkeled. They said they could see some coral and fish but our family friends said it wasn’t as bright as previous trips. I'd be interested in finding out if the reef and marine life change seasonally or if it's been damaged over time. 

Eventually they served lunch that I'm guessing was exciting for anyone that likes seafood with eyes.I had a ton of salad and fruit. By that time it had started to drizzle, and turned into a full on downpour for the rest of the afternoon so we huddled up under towels in the tent for the next 2 hours until the boat could take us back. My dad and brother ventured back out and my brother claimed that the water felt warmer, but his purple lips said otherwise. The trip back to shore was really choppy, so I was really happy when we made it back!

See the wetsuits? They don't help!
The following day we check out Port Douglas- We packed some lunches and drove to 4 mile beach, which is a little before the actual Port Douglas. It was beautiful but SOOO windy! As in painful sandblasting windy. After a while we took refuge among the trees at the park entrance, ate our lunch and drove to Port Douglas the city. I really liked it! It's smaller but a bit more ritzy than Cairns. The main street has a lot of places to see, drink coffee, shop, or read. We got ice cream and coffee, and later I also found a bookshop/ teahouse.  It has a nice beach too but  it was even windier than 4 mile beach and almost impossible to even walk near.  My dad and brother convinced us all to brave the wind to climb up to a lookout then we walked back through a nice neighborhood behind the main streets. 

Our final contribution to the Cairns tourism industry was taking the Skyrail to Kuranda Village. The skyrail is the longest I've ever been on, taking you on a 45 minute ride over the rainforest. It has two stops with hikes. The second one takes to to the lookout over Barron Falls. Kuranda village is pretty, but mostly pricey markets and cafe's. We ate at a cool restaurant with a lot of sweet potato based entrees. I can't contain my love for the orange! I also found some candy and taffy stores.Also, if you go to the market at the bottom of the hill at the very end of the main street, it’s practically empty and has better prices. To return to Cairns, you take an old train through the mountains that takes you by the river and falls as it tells you the history of the railway. 

And that concludes my trip to Australia! I hope you've all enjoyed cyber traveling with me :) 
Next up, I'm very excited to tell you all about a special trip I took last week, which included visiting some very special people. (Hint** Apples are more than just one of my favorite fruits)