Win the Ultimate Ski Trip to Banff & Lake Louise! A contest from home

Want to win the ultimate ski vacation to beautiful Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta? Why not Get To Banff this winter! Check out www GetToBanff.ca for details and entry.

Not at all on the topic of our road trip in Oz, but we do love our home in Banff and encourage you to check this contest out. Maybe you can join the Wandering Winters for some spring skiing in the Canadian Rockies!

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Australia’s Capricorn Coast – Central Queensland & Carly’s return home

We rejoin the trips proper timeline with our next instalment from Agnes Water to Carly’s home turf as we travelled north to Rockhampton and Yeppoon. With only a few hours drive up to Yeppoon and no need to stress about setting up camp we left Agnes after our morning surf on another beautiful sunny day in central Queensland. Towns are getting smaller and the scenery at this point reminds me more and more of a mixture between a tropical version of western Canada and the large agricultural stretches we found on Costa Rica’s north-west coast. Fields upon fields of sugar cane run east toward the coast while as we move closer to Rockhampton the cane fields are broken up with cattle stations and wide open grasslands stretching west towards the mountains. You would never know that a short drive of the Bruce Highway east and you’re on the ocean, although the land is obviously fertile it’s still very arid as the rainy season has not yet kicked in.

Kangaroos escaping the hot midday sun under a tree

Kangaroos escaping the hot midday sun under a tree

These huge fig trees remind me of Barbados

These huge fig trees remind me of Barbados

Cane fields

Cane fields

working the cane

working the cane

I am beginning to understand why family and friends in Oz were so adamant that we had a bull bar on the truck we purchased as there are kangaroos and wallabies everywhere! It seems that every field has at least one group on it. I figured seeing kangaroos would be like whitetail deer in Canada but there are WAY more kangaroos than I had thought. We decided that we would take pictures of all “giant things” we saw along the way, a cafe in the small town of Miriam Vale offered up our first subject a giant crab!

The first of many giant things! Crab in Miriam Vale QLD

The first of many giant things! Crab in Miriam Vale QLD

I’ve never understood the need for small towns the world over to build a giant something or other but it makes for a good laugh and a fun photo opp. Just outside of Miriam Vale we got a reminder that it was the holidays when we got pulled over by the police. The officer stepped out on the road and flagged us over to his well hidden checkpoint seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I was certain I wasn’t speeding as tanner (our 4Runner) doesn’t really have to ability to speed. We pulled of and to my surprise it was an alcohol check stop, in the middle of the day! After a quick licence check and my first Australian breathalyzer test (0.00 yay!) we were back on our way. I have been through many check stops in my life but getting stopped before lunch was a first.

As we got into Rockhampton clearly cowboy and cattle country the surroundings made to it hard to believe that Carly didn’t grow up riding and is slowly at my insistence working on her fear of horses.

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We continued on towards Yeppoon where we were set to stay with Carly’s step brother Aaron and his family, the prospect of a house and not a tent was a great feeling. Carly and I both love camping and spend as much time as we can in the bush but it is always nice to have a roof over your head for a few days especially when you’re spending 2 + months tenting. We arrived early afternoon and pulled in to Aaron and Sky’s, a beautiful new home set on an acre of land in the hills above downtown Yeppoon. We were quickly greeted by Kean and Miley the two older kids and before we knew it we were getting shown toys and demonstrations of Kean’s bike and scooter skills on his BMX track. We got settled in and unpacked then set off to meet up with some old friends at The Strand Hotel and bar for a Sunday afternoon session and a catch up. Carly has been amazed at how Yeppoon has really not changed all that much since she left here close to a decade ago. The waterfront park has been updated and the Strand got some much needed renos but not much else was different. For me it was great to see where Carly grew up and to meet some of her old friends. We caught up with Carly’s friends Frank, Belinda, Kara and Jarrod and after a while Rory a good friend I knew from his time in Banff showed up with his girlfriend Teegan. We had a great afternoon tossing around stories and getting up to speed on what everyone was up to and as we seem to do drank well into the night. The Strand was great! From all I had heard it was a rundown old dive but a local favourite, since the renovations this is not case. We hung out in a beautiful covered outdoor seating area, being right off the water you get a nice breeze off the ocean and get to stay out of the intense afternoon sun. There was live music all evening and the solo artist playing was really good. We watched all day with anticipation as the outdoor BBQ slow roasted pork, beef, lamb and chicken just waiting for the BBQ buffet to open. When it finally did we had a feast! For $19 you got a generous helping of all four meats accompanied by breads and the salad bar offerings, what a meal! Honestly some of the best BBQ we’ve had in ages. As it happened Yeppoon’s annual Christmas carols in the park that night as well. We were treated to kids singing carols followed by fireworks over the water! All in all a great night.

The next morning we were up early as the 3 kids are up so you don’t have much of a choice hangover or not! After breakfast with the family we headed out to visit the Dreamtime Centre in Rockhamton, an educational interactive centre where you can learn both the history and culture of the areas aboriginal peoples. If you’re in the area I would highly recommend a stop here, allow a couple of hours to take the guided tours and walk the grounds admission is $27 per person. You learn a lot of the history of both the land and it’s traditional owners as well as traditional medicines and foods derived from native flora and fauna. Carly and I both are fascinated by indigenous cultures and history so it was a great morning. Our guide Wayne was knowledgeable and passionate and as it turned out a fantastic didgeridoo player! We also learned to throw a returning boomerang properly although we were both outclassed by a 12 year old boy who was a natural.

Traditional Torres Strait Islander hut - Dreamtime Discovery Centre - Rockhampton QLD

Traditional Torres Strait Islander hut – Dreamtime Discovery Centre – Rockhampton QLD

A Huntsman spider

A Huntsman spider

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Carly learning the art of boomerang throwing

Carly learning the art of boomerang throwing

Boomerang!

Boomerang!

After Dreamtime we headed up the road to the Capricorn Coast Caves. Again a recommended visit if you’re in the area. A guided tour of the immense cave system is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. The staff and guides are friendly and the caves and surrounding forest is beautiful, so much so in fact that the main cavern aptly named the Cathedral is used for weddings and has been the venue for symphony orchestras and choir concerts. The caves are home to a number of different species of bats from the thumb sized micro bent wings to the massive flying foxes! The caves were purchased with tours in mind and were also used briefly to mine guano. On our way out of the caves we saw a rock wallaby, a small shy species we felt lucky to get to see one so close. Again allow about 2 hours and admission is around $25 per person.

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We made our way back into Rocky to visit Carly’s friend Frank for a BBQ at his place. The night before Frank and I had been chatting about rum and he figured we should have a “rum off” well in he wise words of the Bro Codes author Barney Stinson; CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! long story short, like most things that involve copious amounts of rum this was a terrible idea :). We did have a lot of fun with Frank and two of his mates Damo and Cat. For clarity’s sake Damo is short of Damien, and if you’re not familiar with Australian or “S’tralian” speech habits, everything is shortened. Unless of course it’s a name that’s already short than for some reason they make longer e.g. Tim becomes Timbo or Timmo, I can’t explain it but that’s simply the way it is. Maree (Carly’s mother) was kind enough to give me a translation card to help with some common Aussie colloquialisms, luckily living in Banff and with Carly I already speak fairly fluent S’tralian but here is the card for your reference.

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The next “morning” we made our way back towards Yeppoon, taking a scenic drive up the coast through the town of Emu Park and making stops at different beaches and scenic lookouts in and around the Capricorn coast. That evening Carly took me back into the mangroves in town to witness a nightly wildlife phenomenon we have now dubbed the “batpocolypse”. Every night at sundown what must be thousands of huge fruit bats emerge from the mangroves around Yeppoon on the hunt for food. It’s a truly amazing spectacle that must be witnessed if your visiting the Capricorn coast area. We spent an hour if not more watching the bats fill the night sky. You see lots of fruit bats all through Queensland but nothing close to he sheer volume in Yeppoon, very cool!

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Thousands of bats in the mangrove- Yeepoon QLD

Thousands of bats in the mangrove- Yeppoon QLD

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We spent the rest of the evening relaxing with Aaron and Sky at their place and made plans for our next stop at Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef!

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Merry Christmas!!

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#MerryChristmas to all our family, friends & followers! A quick jump ahead in the time line to wish everyone a safe and happy holidays from Cairns. It was a balmy 33 degrees here today (December 24th) and we spent our day on the beach, a little different than I’m used to in Canada thats for sure! We fly to Brisbane tomorrow to be with family and are looking forward to seeing everyone. A special wish to all our friends and family in the Toronto area, we hope you as all safe and warm. #WanderingWinters #Australia #Honeymoon

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Australia’s East Coast Road trip Continues – Agnes Water, 1770

They say that the weather in southern Queensland is “beautiful one day and perfect the next”. So far that adage has rung true, the weather has been unbelievable! As we move north the temperature climbs as does the humidity but having spent time in Mexico before our arrival in Australia it really has been a fairly easy adjustment as we have had time to acclimatize to the heat. We only had an easy drive to Agnes Water today which was nice, with no real schedule we can make our way north at a leisurely pace. This really gives us the freedom to pull off whenever we see something of interest. If you’re going to visit Australia TAKE YOUR TIME, there’s just so much to see and do in every different region.

We arrived in Agnes Water around noon and pulled into town to grab some supplies…. Well beer and ice ;).
Australia Travel Tip for today; Get your ice from the larger grocery stores when your in bigger towns as ice in little beach towns like Agnes was $4.50 a bag!

We cruised around Agnes Water and the neighbouring oddly named town of *1770. After getting the lay of the land and these pretty little surf towns we head just south of Agnes to the Workman’s Beach Campground, a beautiful little spot set back in the bush. With a number of sites (all unpowered), a grassy day use area, toilets, showers (outdoor), BBQ sites, lots of shade and at only $6 per person per night it makes for an amazing place to camp as long as you’re tenting or sleeping in your vehicle. If you’re travelling in a larger camper or with a trailer you will want to look elsewhere as the sandy road into the site and low hanging brush make it inaccessible. There is also direct access to Workman’s Beach from the camp site, a quick walk through the bush and down the embankment from the day use area and you’re on a beautiful protected little beach. There are a number of large rocks on either side of the beach so if you’re surfing during high tide make sure you know where hey are.

We set up camp made lunch and headed to the main beach in Agnes to check out the surf and relax. We had a beautiful lazy afternoon in the sun as the surf wasn’t great. The white sand beaches of central Queensland are absolutely beautiful, with school holidays starting we couldn’t believe how empty the beaches have been, even in popular areas like Agnes Water. Being summer it’s stinger season so many people avoid the ocean as a run in with a Box Jelly or and irakangi can be at best extremely painful but can also be deadly! After a great day at the beach we headed back to the campground to spend sundown at Workman’s Beach, as we made our way down to the water we ran into a surfer on his way back to his site after an evening surf, he must have been 70! I hope I’m still active enough at that age to be surfing and camping. We go back to camp for a spaghetti dinner and a couple beers, we bought a great Coleman travel lantern from Canadian Tire before we left home and it has been brilliant! A small travel version of the large lantern we own it has 4 removable sections so it can be used as one unit or take the individual lights off to spread the light around your tent or cooking area. For such a small little lantern it throws a ton of light and makes life easy when cooking after dark or trying to read or play cards in camp at night.

We were up which the sun the next morning, I’m not sure if it was the heat or the excitement of going for a morning surf and christening my new board! After a quick breakfast and a coffee we broke camp and set off for the beach. It was a perfect morning, sun was shining, the water was warm and clear and the surf was good but not huge which was good as I’m still a beginner – intermediate surfer and believe it or not Carly my Australian wife was trying surfing for the first time! After a quick beach demo for Carly we hit the water. What a way to start the day! Not exactly a display of surfing prowess but we had a blast and both got up a few times enjoying every minute of being in the ocean. My new board is amazing, the 7’6 Mini Mal is fantastic for my skill level and I find it easier to get up on than the shorter boards and easier to handle and paddle In the waves than a full blown 9′ plus Malibu. If you missed our first post I got the board from Sideways Surf Outlet As the morning wore on the surf got bigger and it was getting on in the day, so exhausted we reluctantly grabbed our boards and jumped in the truck and set off for Carly’s old stomping grounds of Rockhampton, Yeppoon then on to Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef!

In Wandering Winters next post; bat caves, Dreamtime Aboriginal Centre, Airlie Beach, waterfalls, lizards, snakes, Ocean Rafting, the Whitsundays and lots more fun. See you soon!

More pics to come when we get to a computer to upload off the camera!

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Brisbane to Rainbow Beach….Almost

Our first official day of the road trip! As we mentioned in the last post we started slow, fighting a combination of rush hour, weekend and school holiday traffic getting out of the city. We didn’t care though we were finally on the road, windows down, music turned up, surf boards strapped to the roof, Australia was waiting to be explored! The benefit of traffic, you get to really take in all the sites when you’re only moving 40km’s an hour.

Traffic finally eased up as we made it further north out of the city, with only a little time travelling in Australia you can still really get the sense this is a land of extremes. It’s evident with every second vehicle being a fully decked out 4×4. A lift kit, bull bars, off road spot lights and a safari snorkel are just standard equipment here. It’s hard to believe driving through dense forests and wide open arid grasslands that flooding is such a huge concern, but there are metre sticks every few Km’s to let you know exactly how much water is on the road during extreme wet seasons. Cruising along in our little Toyota 4Runner we received what I can only assume was a “Toyota Wave”. Being Jeep owners back home this is a phenomenon that we thought only occurred with Jeep owners, but we got a approving head nod and a wave from a guy in an awesome late 70’s Land Cruiser “Troopy”.

Our goal for today was Rainbow Beach, only a few hours drive north of Brisbane, however with the heavy traffic and getting away late we ended up stopping just a little short of the beach. Carly’s aunt and uncle lent us a great travel book listing all the campgrounds and caravan park throughout Oz and we found one that sounded great just before Rainbow. We pulled off the highway onto a dirt road to reach Standown Caravan Park. I almost crashed the truck in excitement as a large red kangaroo jumped out onto the road a few hundred metres in front of us. My first proper wild kangaroo! I’ve seen many in zoo’s and sanctuaries but there is nothing like seeing animals in the wild, especially when it’s an animal you have spent your life dreaming of seeing in its own habitat. Australia and it’s creatures have filled my dreams since I was a little boy and it truly is a dream come true to be spending this time traveling the country. With all the time I spent reading and watching nature and travel shows on Oz it’s no real surprise that I ended up marrying an Australian!

With it getting dark we struggled a little setting up the giant tent Carly’s brother Luke had lent us, but we got it figured out eventually. The 6 man, two room tent is a little more complicated than the 2 minute set up of our 2 man Sierra Designs backpacking tent we use back home. After getting set up we went over to check out the facilities at Standown. What a great little spot! Originally opened as a Veterans retreat then expanded into a caravan park Standown has it all. The kitchen structure has BBQs, two convection ovens, a couple of fridges for cold storage, dishwashing sinks and a whole host of kitchen appliances to make life easy. There was also a fire pit and great toilet and shower facilities on site. We cooked up some chilli and introduced ourselves to the crew of people staying at the park. We met some great characters and heard some fantastic stories and got lots of trip advice from the seasoned Aussie travellers. After a couple of beers it was time for bed, When the sun goes down Australia comes to life! Kookaburras laugh, galahs and cockatoos screech in a futile effort to drown out the rainbow lorikeets. The crickets are incredibly loud and the sky fills with giant fruit bats who’s swooshing wing beats can be heard overhead. It’s a beautiful symphony of sound, that does make it a little tough to sleep at first but once you’re used to it the sounds of Australia’s bush birds and insects are an amazing way to fall asleep.

We were up with the sun, as it’s hard not to be in a tent, it’s HOT! We woke up and freaked out a little as we noticed a large croc head in the pond directly behind our tent. We then calmed as we realized it was a fake put in the decorative pond by the owners of the caravan park. We made coffees, broke camp and headed to Rainbow Beach for breakfast. A quick drive to the ocean where we set up in the shade and had a fantastic breakfast on the beach. After our meal we packed up and headed north, destination Agnes Water.

In our next post, we visit Agnes Water, the oddly named town of 1770, surfing and more!

Ewan & Carly

Australia – The Adventure Begins

Being back in Australia has been incredible so far, for Carly it’s always great to be home and for me there has been a real sense of familiarity after our brief visit last year. Seeing family and old friends has been amazing for both of us and we’re still humbled by everyone who came to share the day with us in Manly for the Wedding celebration. I must mention the night before the Aussie wedding party we met some of the family at the Waterloo Bay Hotel for “tea” (Australian for dinner). The Waterloo Bay Hotel seemed to be no different than any other pub, a restaurant section with a nice outdoor seating area, a gaming room aka “pokies” with video gaming machines etc. but I was wrong! Carly’s uncles were insisting that I come to the other bar to get a drink with them, already having a beer I was confused but it seemed important so I followed them to the other room. I had been to a few pokies joints before and I still didn’t get why I had to see this one. It turned out that it was Thursday which meant topples servers! NOW I got it, the brunette working was certainly worth walking to the other bar for, cheers gents! Gambling, sports and servers in nothing but a g-string! Australia, what a country.

After the party on the 29th our focus switched to gathering gear we needed for our road trip and of course finding a vehicle, an essential part of any road trip. We had been checking a number of websites that backpackers use to post vehicles in Australia spending most of our time searching the listings on Gumtree We ended up finding a number of potential vehicles all listed at Southside Auto Auctions located in the Brisbane suburb of Underwood, so drove down for a visit. On our first trip we found a great looking Mitsubishi Pajero AND it was a turbo diesel! After chatting with Mark from the sales team about the process and additional costs (registration, government fees etc) we put in an offer of $4,000 to the owners. Our offer was accepted! However after a closer mechanical inspection the old Pajero didn’t live up to its looks. Mark was extremely helpful and understanding we wanted to get moving as soon as we could said to give him a few days and he would find the right vehicle for our trip.

We hitched a ride with Carly’s brother Luke down to the Gold Coast for the weekend to relax and enjoy a little luxury before living out of a tent for the next few months. Carly’s mother had sprung for 2 nights at Jupiters Hotel & Casino in Broadbeach, just south of Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise is a bit of a tourist trap and a little busy for us but still a cool spot to visit and the hotel was great. Being up at Broadbeach is a little more relaxed and the beach itself is beautiful. We had plans to surf the days away and enjoy nice dinners out on the town, however after a busy couple of weeks and 2 weddings we decided to spend our days strolling on the beach and that’s about it. In fact the second night we ate in our room and watched Shark Week until we passed out! Sounds a little lame I must confess but it was brilliant!

We returned to Brisbane Monday afternoon and popped into Southside to see Mark. After a quick walk around the yard we found a couple of trucks that might fit the bill. Keeping in mind the areas of the country we are visiting there were certain things we had to have, like 4×4, decent ground clearance, ample room for us and gear and bull bars. The bull bars really are essential as we’ve been told driving as many miles as we are NOT hitting a kangaroo is unlikely (really hoping we can avoid this). After narrowing down the list with mark we decided to put in an offer on a 1989 Toyota 4Runner, a little older than we wanted but it had low Km’s, was in great shape and had just about all the features we were after. We were able to talk the owners down from 6k to $4,100.00 and after three long days of waiting for mechanical inspections etc. we had our chariot! If you’re looking for a affordable vehicle in the Brisbane area we highly recommend both Gumtree and specifically Mark from Southside. To make the day even better we popped into Sideways Surf Outlet and after a little negotiating with Carly I was able to buy a new surf board! Being the giant I am I opted for a 7’6 mini mal which is a slightly shorter version of the classic Malibu style long board. If you’re in the market for a new board at a great price or for any surf gear check out Sideways! It’s a discount surf shop with incredible prices on everything you need from clothing to boards. I got the board, fins, a board bag, ankle leash and sure wax for $400! A new truck and a new surf board in one afternoon, now that’s my kind of Monday!

Having the extra days in Brisbane worked out well as it gave us time to get all the gear we needed and allowed us to catch up with some friends from Banff who are back in Oz. We went out to the Sushi Train for dinner with friends Carla and Drew on Wednesday night, it’s actually scientific fact that everything tastes better when it arrives to your table by train! It was an interesting experience as I have never been to a restaurant where you can BYOB, but this was the case at Sushi Train and the staff will even put your beers in the fridge for you!

We picked up “Tanner” the Toyota on Friday afternoon and rushed home to pack up. In the excitement to get on the road we overlooked the fact that it was not only a Friday afternoon but it was the last day of school before summer break for the kids and we payed for this oversight but fighting brutal traffic trying to get out of the Brisbane area! It was slow going but we were finally on the road and loving it, wrong side of the road and all!

Our next post will include Brisbane to Rainbow Beach, Ewan’s first Kangaroo in the wild, Agnes Water and more!

Be well and chat soon!

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Mexico to Australia – The good, the bad & the ugly

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After 17 glorious days in Mexico with family and friends for the wedding we’re ready to start our honeymoon adventure travelling around Australia’s east coast.

Being in the tourism industry we live much of our lives at odds with a hangover, so it seemed fitting to start our honeymoon in the same fashion. The night before we left Mexico was my fathers 60th birthday AND my parents 38th wedding anniversary, and with 40 odd close friends and family there, we had a great party! At the time of course it was a great idea! especially sharing the bottle of Johnny Walker Platinum with dad and a few of his buddies, needless to say waking up at 6:00am the next day was rough.

With our bags packed and final goodbyes given we set off to return our trusty rental Jeep Wrangler in Cancun. This seemed like a fairly easy task, we have rented vehicles on multiple occasions in the area and were always able to easily locate the rental offices near the airport….. This time not so much! To be fair we never really looked into where the Cancun office for America / Tulum / Cancun (all the same company) Rent a Car was so we must accept some of the responsibility on this one. We had left Tulum at 8:00am giving us plenty of time to get the Jeep washed (it was in desperate need of a clean) make the 1.5 hour drive to Cancun and be at the airport for our 1:30pm flight, well planned we thought!

We pulled off at Playa Del Carmen at a seemingly quiet little car wash service to clean up the Jeep in an attempt to mask the fact it was not always on a “paved” road. We pull into the tent and we’re surrounded by 6 teenaged boys rags and buckets in hand. The oldest looking one asks what kind of clean we want and for $80 pesos they were off! It was incredible, seriously loud dance music starts and like something out of a music video these six kids get to work with incredible efficiency and in about 10 minutes the Jeep is sparkling.

We continue into Cancun still with plenty of time to return the car and get to the airport to make our 1:30 flight. After 40 minutes or so driving around the airport and surrounding area we give up and use McDonald’s for in my opinion the only thing it’s good for, free quality WiFi. The rental office is not by the airport, there’s one in downtown Cancun and another in the hotel zone about 20 minutes from Cancun international, so we speed to the hotel zone now getting worried about making our flight on time. Once again the staff at Tulum Car Rental were fantastic and extremely helpful. We explained the time crunch and the shop manager had a 5 second once over of the vehicle then got one of his staff to drive us to the airport so we wouldn’t miss our flight. By the time we arrived at the airport it was almost noon so we were cutting it close, to our delight the line up at the Delta Airlines counter wasn’t too long so we were safe…..

We get to the counter and are about to apologise for running a little behind when the Delta desk agent says “wow, you’re early” We laughed thinking he was poking fun at the fact we we’re rushing to make clear security and make our flight when we realised that he wasn’t kidding. He handed us an itinerary that was not even close to what we had booked! Our original flight plan looked like this;

CUN – ATL Departing 1:30pm – ATL – LAX Departing 7:30pm – LAX – BNE Departing 11:30pm. This was a great series of flights, no long layovers and we were avoiding the hassle of Sydney and a domestic flight change in Australia which entails a bus service to another terminal that seems to be 15 miles from the international one.

Our NEW itinerary however looked like this;

CUN – LAX Departing 7:30pm – LAX – SYD Departing 8:00pm the following day! – SYD – BNE.

WE WERE LIVID! If these changes had been made to our entire itinerary why were we not contacted? If we had known this ahead of time we could have spent the day on the beach in Tulum, planned a day of sightseeing in LA and told people expecting to pick us up in Brisbane about the changes. After some deep breathing we decided that there was nothing we could do at this point and had to suck it up, after all what is travel without a challenge or two. If you have never been to the Cancun airport, you really don’t want to be super early for flights as you are essentially stuck there as it will cost about $50 US Dollars to get into town. So as you can tell from the above photo we “relaxed” in the airport for the next 7.5 hours.

We arrived in LA and quickly made our way to the Delta customer service desk to tell them what had happened and that we were not impressed, our main concern was trying to find a hotel room in LA on a Saturday night before American Thanksgiving. After what I will call a spirited debate the staff at Delta were able to set us up at the Airport Marriott for $79 (we are still “debating” on who will foot the bill) and on the bright side we now had a full day to spend in Los Angeles.

The next morning we checked out early, left our baggage with the concierge and asked front desk what to do for our one day in LA. The desk agent was fantastic she gave of a list of options then gave us free bus passes to get us down to one of her favourite areas in LA called Manhattan Beach. Despite the hassles with our flights we ended up having a fantastic day at the beach. Manhattan Beach is a small coastal town located between Santa Monica and Long Beach, it’s a trendy spot with lots of great little shops and restaurants. We spent our day wandering the main drag with little side ventures into the residential streets to admire the homes and high-end cars that fill the area. For lunch we went to one of the coolest little dive bars I’ve ever visited called the Shellback Tavern. Located right above Manhattan Beach Pier this little surf pub has it all. Great food, friendly service, old wood floors and a bar and cash registers that haven’t been updated since it opened. The servers working the floor knew just about everyone who walked through the door, from teenagers to a couple who sat beside us who I’m guessing were at least in their seventies. Combine the views, ambiance, service, food quality and the fact that menu prices range from $3 – $15 this is a must do if you’re passing though LA.

Shellback Tavern the best give bar in So Cal

Shellback Tavern the best give bar in So Cal

After a what turned out to be a fantastic day in LA we returned to LAX to catch our flight to Sydney. We were delighted to find out that the flight was nowhere near full which meant that we had a full row of three seats for just the two of us! 14.5 hours later and we were in the beautiful land down under. Wasting no time we rushed through the terminal to fulfil a couple of Aussie cravings we both were having

Caramello Koalas, BBQ Shapes and beer!

Caramello Koalas, BBQ Shapes and beer!

The trip had started off on the wrong foot, as we felt like we were robbed of a day in Mexico but all in all it worked out for the best. It goes to show that especially when travelling, if you just smile and roll with it, you never know where you might end up!

Chat soon Ewan & Carly

Shark attack

Again getting ahead of the trips timeline but we felt the need to share this.

We woke up this morning on the Gold Coast of Australia with the plan to spend the day surfing, only to find the news dominated with the weeks second fatal shark attack.

Sadly a teenaged body surfer was attacked and killed yesterday near Coffs Harbour on Australia’s east coast by what was thought to be a great white shark. Our heartfelt sympathies to friends and family of those lost. Instead we will spend our day a little closer to shore! Back with more from Australia soon.

Ew

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