Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Travel Guide on Where to Eat and Sleep in Palm Cove, Queensland

If you’re looking for a relaxing oasis in Queensland, we found the small seaside village of Palm Cove quite delightful.

Palm Cove, 27 kilometres north of Cairns, is named after the long stretch of palm trees that line the beach here in Northeastern Australia. Many tourists opt to stay in either Cairns or Port Douglas (both bustling locations) when visiting the Great Barrier Reef, but we found Palm Cove the perfect tranquil spot. We simply strolled along the beach, sunbathed at our hotel and enjoyed eating and drinking along the Esplanade during our weekend stay. That’s all we needed.
However, kayaks or windsurfers were available to rent if we had wanted to be more active.

Sunrise in Palm Cove
Not wanting to miss a single sunrise, we woke up early on both Saturday and Sunday. All we had to do was stroll across the street, less than 50 meters, and we were on the beach. I was surprised by how many people were up early exercising or taking photos like us. Trying to capture that perfect sunrise moment through the palm trees seemed to be a popular activity.
Where to Sleep in Palm Cove
Luckily, we had a free night to redeem, so we only paid 288aud (about $200usd) for two nights at the luxurious The Reef House. This boutique hotel was definitely one of the fancier ones we’ve stayed at in awhile and the price was just right too. The Reef House has two pools, and it’s best to arrive early in the morning (by 10 a.m.) if you want one of the lounge chairs.
The hotel offered a poolside honor bar by day and a staffed bartender after 5 p.m. when free punch and snacks were served. This was a fun way to chat with some of the other guests. Plus, who turns down a free drink? Not us!
Palm Cove offers a variety of accommodations from local apartment rentals and small motels to a spacious campground and caravan park.

Where to Eat in Palm Cove
Despite being a small town, you’re spoilt for choice on where to eat in Palm Cove. We enjoyed one the best meals at The Reef House Restaurant, which has been regarded as one of Cairns' top restaurants. Reservations are definitely recommended. I loved the restaurant’s signature dish of crispy skin Barramundi with a Thai red curry, Asian salad and rice! We also tried the local dish of Moreton Bay Bug (basically a small lobster) for the first time because of it’s strange name. Not bad.
We had two other dinners at Vivo Bar and Grill, which has an international menu with Asian influences and delicious cocktails, and a simple, homemade Italian pizza and salad at Il Forno, which seemed very family friendly.

For a casual, diner-like experience for breakfast or lunch, we sat outside at Pete’s Place. The menu here offers eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast and the likes of BLT sandwiches or fish and chips for lunch. For a more typical Aussie brekkie, head down the street to Cocky’s for poached eggs with avocado, pancakes or Eggs Benedict.

Would you like to stay in Palm Cove?

My Traveling Joys

Monday, February 1, 2016

Since it’s the midst of summer here in Australia, I can’t help but think about beaches and tropical destinations.

Australia has heaps of beautiful destinations to visit, but one of the most tropical places we’ve visited so far is the Great Barrier Reef. The reef covers a whopping 344,400 km2 and includes more than 3,000 coral reefs in Northern Tropical Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contains about 600 different types of coral – which come in an underwater rainbow of colors and different shapes and sizes. When I was snorkeling over this coral, I was in awe! And I also was concerned about not kicking my flippers into the nearby coral.
Luckily, we even saw the Great Barrier Reef at low tide when the tops of the coral reefs are exposed to the air. What a sight!
Coral forms the backbone of the reef and is where many fish and sealife call home. There are two main types of corals — hard and soft. I don’t know much about the biology of coral, but from what I understand the softer corals are the ones that are often more visually striking than the hard variety. Soft corals are especially important as they serve as home to marine algae, which is one of the reef’s most essential food sources for the small fish, and then bigger fish eat the small fish. Such is the circle of life!
Sea anemones are related to soft corals and is therefore actually a living animal - not a plant.
Do you see the lil Clown Fish?
Looking back through my photos, it appears that we saw quite a bit variety of both hard and soft corals on our snorkeling trip. I only hope that this stunning underwater world maintains this beauty as it’s threatened by global warming, illegal fishing and the Crown of Thorns.

If you visit Australia, definitely make sure to explore the Great Barrier Reef! (Oh, and maybe rent an underwater camera like we did too.)

My Traveling Joys

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I’ve never seen so many different ethnic groups wearing their country’s traditional dress at one time as I witnessed yesterday in Melbourne as part of the 2016 Australia Day celebrations.

More than 100 community and cultural groups participated in the annual Australia Day parade, which started in the CBD and went down St. Kilda Road. January 26th marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships into New South Wales and the raising of the British flag by then Governor Arthur Phillip. The day also has multiple meanings for some, Survival Day or Invasion Day, as the Europeans took over the land from the Aboriginals – not too different from the U.S. situation either, I might add.

Anyway, I was so thrilled I took the time to see the parade because it was fantastic! I loved seeing all the traditional outfits from China to Thailand as well as Latvia, Macedonia, Sicily and the Black Sea region of Turkey.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did taking them!

Which one is your favorite photo?
These six fighter jets flew over the park after the parade.
Young girls from Bangladesh.
So here's the Turkish flag and the lovely group from the Black Sea region. They responded cheerfully to my Turkish "Merhaba" to them. 
The colorful Chinese dragon followed by the Chinese women below.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a high-level cultivation system from China, based on ancient principles such as Truthfulness and Benevolence. 
The Melbourne Indonesian Community
Japanese families celebrated too in this photo and below.
Latvian group in Melbourne
Cheerful ladies from Macedonia
The Friendship Australian/Egyptian Assn. in Melbourne.
Melbourne Lithuanian Community
Mexican Dance Company in Melbourne
Bring on the Scottish bagpipes!
Italian ladies from Sicily
Smiles from Thailand
Ukrainian children in traditional dress
Locals in Victorian-era costumes
Of course, why wouldn't Darth Vadar and Storm Troopers attend the parade?

My Traveling Joys

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