Archive for September, 2008

Kuranda Markets

Monday, September 15th, 2008

We keep our search in the markets of the region to find the perfect present for family and friends back in Spain. Yesterday we made our way to Kuranda, where there are dozens of stalls and souvenir shops to suit everyone’s taste and budget.

First stop was Kuranda Homemade Tropical Ice Cream, where we had a delicious ice cream. I went for the Mint Choc Chip and Steve decided to try the Rocky Road, with marshmallows, nuts and many other ingredients. We had a chat to Cliff, the owner, who was already on his second ice cream of the day, and it was only 10am!!! I saw him later sitting outside of the van, and he said it was to keep himself away from the ice creams for a while.

After the ice cream we were then ready to start our search. We’ve got a very good idea of what we want, we’re only trying to find the place where we like them most. Kuranda has four different markets, alghough there’s not a big difference between them. Some of them have a few more eateries, some of them sell mostly hippy stuff, but basically in all of them you will find those Australiana items everyone wants to take home. But the big discovery of the day was a candy shop, where a couple of people were making candy in front of a big audience. Someone had ordered personalised candy, with a message, something like ‘Steve loves Maria’ type of thing. And we saw the whole process till the end. Absolutely amazing how much hard work it implies and the results. The black and white stripes that you can see in the photo are the letters, rearranged somehow to be readable when the candy was converted into a long thin tube.

We also went for a bit of a walk down to the Barron River. It’s a beautiful area, very quiet and peaceful, surrounded by rainforest and with the river in the background. Kuranda Riverboat Cruises operates a boat up and down the river, where you can see lots of different native birds, snakes, turtles and even the ocassional freshwater crocodile. But the walk only is really worth it, away from the many tourists that pack the streets of Kuranda every day.

My darling tried to impres me by solving one of those puzzles made of metals, where two pieces are tangled and without using any force you have to separate them. After trying for a few minutes he gave up, of course making it very clear, and loud, that I had given him the most difficult of all of them.

And the picture above is one of my favourite corners of one of Kuranda markets, it always gives me the impression that you’re entering a fantasy world.

Port Douglas Markets

Monday, September 8th, 2008

We decided to go for a bit of a drive yesterday and what a better place than Port Douglas on a Sunday, when the markets are on? So we left Cairns early and hungry, with no breakfast whatsoever. But we knew that a delicious meal was waiting for us at one of the cafés in Port Douglas, that we have made into a bit of our routine when we go up there. We always order their muffins, they are absolutely delicious. It seems we didn’t manage to keep Java Blue a secret, yesterday the place was absolutely packed with tourists, all of them after the same delicacies we were too. However, we managed to find a little table inside and were very happy indeed.

Then it was time to stroll around the markets. We’re looking for presents to take home when we go to Spain for Christmas, but we didn’t want to take the typical boomerang, basically because we have already done so and unfortunately we can’t keep on buying the same presents all the time. So this time we’re looking for something more elaborate, and it’s not easy. I think we have found what we wanted, but I’m afraid I won’t be let the secret out, just in case my family happens to read this post and finds out before we get there. We’ll tell you when it’s all over, see what you think.

The markets are a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. Lots of different stalls, from fruit selling to second hand items, bric a brac, souvenirs, clothes and accessories, furniture, art, etc. But my favourite stall is the one which sells the coconut faces. They are superb, so funny and tropical and different from your “Made in…” souvenir. I’m tempted to buy a couple, one to give away and another one to keep myself and have a laugh every time I look at it. Have a look at the pic below, don’t you think they are funny faces?

Steve was completely fascinated by the guy peeling and cutting coconuts. Although it’s not very clear in the photo above, he was using one of those knives that pirates used to use and was absolutely amazing handling it. If it was me cutting those coconuts, I would be in hospital right now. Where we live there are lots of coconut trees everywhere and when the season comes, you can see all the coconuts lying on the floor. I love coconuts so one day I decided to take one home with me, cut it open and eat it. Well, easier said than done. I tried cutting the coconut with every tool and instrument I found in our house. I ended ut with a hammer hammering the coconut as hard as I could but the freaky little thing resisted and I ended up giving up and thowing the coconut away. From then on, I buy all coconuts from the guys who know how to do it. Easy!!!

The sugar cane guy was also an interesting sight. He has modified his bycicle in such a way that he can squeeze the juice out of the sugar cane by peddling. I guess the peddling starts some sort of machinery than then squeezes the canes. He’s more than willing to let you try, of course he would be in such a hot day as yesterday. I must say we were slightly careless and now we’re suffering from a bit of sunburnt. What would my mother in law thinks, as Steve always tells me.

But one of the funniest sights of the markets yesterday was the one just above. I guess this guy hadn’t been such a great father (for those of you who didn’t know, yesterday it was Father’s Day in Australia) and his kids had taken revenge on him by giving him “a massage” as a present. When he got off the bed he had red marks all over him but a big smile on his face, so I reckon it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

And after we had stopped at every single stall at the markets, we went for a walk on Four Mile Beach, the prime beach of Port Douglas. It doesn’t take much imagination to find out why this beach has been given such a name: it’s four miles long and fabulous. By Australian standards, at least in the Far North, the beach was crowded, with more than 30 people playing, laughing and having a swim. Even the lifegards were enjoying the day out, playing cricket, very different from the tv shows about the lifegards in places such as Bondi Beach, where they don’t get a minute rest saving lifes. The water was really inviting, very clear and refreshing but since Steve wasn’t wearing his swimmers, I didn’t want to go for a swim on my own. Nobody to duck under the water, you see?

Summer is back in the Tropical North

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Yes, summer is back!!! No because it has been real winter in our piece of paradise, usually the temperature doesn’t drop below 20º, but it’s something in the air. After many weeks of getting up and sitting in front of the computers straight away, today we decided to go to the beach for a walk. It’s a wonderful day, sunny, warm and with a fabulous breeze. About time after the cloudy and rainy days we have had in the past weeks. It seems they are history now, so everybody, get ready to go to the Great Barrier Reef again. And don’t forget to rent one of our Digital Underwater Cameras We’re in the process of updating our stock, selling our old cameras (not one of the them is older than six months) and buying new ones. So if you are interested in buying one of the “oldies”, or renting one of the new ones, give us a call or drop us a line.

Well, I was talking about how much we enjoyed going back to the beach after so many weeks of hard work. We even had time to take a couple of pics to show you all that we’re still alive and kicking. And working on our tan for when we go to Spain on holidays at Christmas time. Looking forward to it already.

Last night we had a busy schedule. Apart from our normal delivery time, we met up with two of our Spanish clients: David and Yesenia. We organised their time in Australia, although they only had time to visit Cairns and the surrounds. They didn’t want to miss anything worth visiting, which is easier said than done. Tropical North Queensland is full of wonders, from the Reef to the Daintree Rainforest, from the Atherton Tablelands to the Queensland Outback. I think they were very happy with the way their trip had been organised, as they had time to go diving, visit Cape Tribulation, see crocodiles, cassowaries and other native animals in Cape Tribulation thanks to Mason’s Tours, make their way down to Mission Beach and Dunk Island and tour around the Tablelands, including Yungaburra, Malanda and Mareeba on their way back to Cairns.

And after saying goodbye to our new friends, we headed down to the Green Ant Cantina for a fantastic Mexican feed. Little by little we’re starting to have our favourite restaurants in Cairns, and in other areas of the region as well. It’s not an easy task, new restaurants open and close all the time and it’s pretty difficult to keep on top of things here in Cairns. We manage somehow.