So our trip has finally come to an end and I can’t even begin to tell you what happened from the last time I blogged to where we are now, but I will try. Right now I’m sitting on the airplane heading back to the states with my laptop plugged in and my headphones turned up just looking at photos and videos from the last couple weeks. I still can’t believe everything we did!
Well first I have to tell you about the last few days of our trip! Not only did Seena and I watch the sunrise, but we did it from a hot air balloon in the middle of Cairns! So romantic, I know. But it really was a sight to see. We arrived at the site with some of our friends from Contiki and it was pitch black outside. We all got in the basket and watched as our guide fired it up and lifted us up into more blackness…but as we began rising up higher, the sun starting peaking up and slowly but surely…out it came. The sky turned GOLD with color and we even flew over dozens and dozens of Kangaroos! It was such a blast.
Once we finished it was still early enough to have brekkies (it’s what the locals refer to as breakfast) and you know we were excited (at least I was). We even tried vegemite! If you’ve never heard of it and you’ve never tried it…there’s only one place to go to try it at! Yup, Australia…where else?
The next day we set sail for the Whitsunday’s! What exactly do I mean by set sail? Well…we hopped on a sailboat and took a two-night sailing trip through the islands of the Whitsundays. Not only did we get to live on a boat for two days, but we were among the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. I know it may seem like I am exaggerating, but the sand is so soft that people take cases for their camera cases to not get a spec inside it. And the waters? As clear and blue as can be! Don’t believe me? Check out our photos below
We spent the day on the islands and then headed back to the boat just in time for the sunset. I know I said the sunrise in the hot air balloon was the most beautiful thing, but the sunset on a sailboat in the middle of the Whitsunday islands…it’s to die for. As the sun was setting we decided it was time to really relax and start drinking. We had our other group of Contiki friends on a sailboat near us so we decided to join forces and have one big party. It was awesome to be able to come together with so many people from so many different places around the world and to be able to come together on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean under the stars…well that’s just magical. And to add to the even more cheesiness of this all…we even watched shooting stars all night. And I found myself asking once more…is this real life? Well it is and it can be!
After our sailing trip we departed from our Contiki group (sad face) and headed to Brisbane for our last and final night in Australia (double sad face). We got checked in to our last hotel (which was spectacular by the way!) and then we met up with one of our Queensland tourism guides to go night kayaking in the river! Another adventure! This one was very relaxing as we kayaked underneath the skyscrapers. Picture Downtown LA and imagine the 110 being a river that passes through and that’s exactly where we were. It was definitely a lovely ending to one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on.
So everyone keeps asking what my favorite part of the whole trip was…and I can’t even say. Everything. All of it. From the second we left LAX we were greeted by a warm and friendly Air New Zealand staff and from the second we touched down in Australia our Queensland tourism guides and Contiki guides were nothing but great to us. Everything I ate was delicious and definitely did not disappoint. The adventures? I mean how does one compare white water rafting, skydiving, sailing, bungee jumping, snorkeling, kayaking and everything else we did to say what their favorite part was? I know I can’t. The friends I made? From the locals, to the backpackers, to my friends on Contiki and even the ones from New York…everyone was so diverse and so much fun and I can’t imagine not continuing my friendships with them. This is something I will never forget and I know everyone else on the trip can say the same thing.
I think I’m even going to start planning my next Contiki adventure…maybe Argentina or Italy? I’d even do Australia all over again!
-Rita Manoukian, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles