We had another glorious day for our return flight to Sydney. I must say, I would encourage anyone to travel to Cairns and surrounding area regardless of the time of the year. There is so much to see and do here, even a week was not enough. We were out doing something every day, and did not get much rest at all. Not sure if that is a good thing or not!
This morning we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport. We stopped at the Shell petrol station in Smithfield, the last one before the airport when you are coming from the north. We had a coupon from our shopping at Coles supermarket, so we got 8 cents off a litre price. If you buy any liquor at Liquorland, they also have the same coupon at the bottom of your receipt, so don't throw them out if you are using a rental car!
Once we were inside the departure lounge, we found a table and chairs to spend another two hours waiting. At least it is air conditioned! Linda and Dave grabbed a burger from Hungry Jack's for a quick lunch, and to tide us over until we got back home in Sydney.
I had noticed a little boy wandering around the lounge, no more than three years old I am sure. He was so cute, but looked so sad. He was in his sock feet, carrying one shoe in each hand, and clutching a small car and a ball as well. It became obvious very quickly that he was alone. I watched him for a bit longer, and as he made another circle of the lounge area without anyone approaching him, I got out of the chair and approached him myself. He wouldn't have anything to do with me, even when I asked where his mommy was. I kept him in my sights while I went to find a federal agent. Two men came over right away, and they couldn't get him to talk either. One of them went off and came back with a female agent. Problem solved! She got his shoes on, and then he jumped into her arms, and off they went. I did find out later, that the parents were actually already outside and were frantic. He was not departing anywhere, but had already arrived. The parents had no way to get back into the departure lounge, and the agent was actually wondering how he could have got back into this area himself! Too small to set off an alarm?? Anyway, it all ended well.
Our flight to Sydney left late, but that was all right. We grabbed a taxi from the airport and got back to Linda's house after five in the evening. I forgot we lost an hour on the return trip. Dave and I unpacked and walked over to Marrickville Road and picked up a large pizza at the "Crust" pizza place. We brought it back to the house and enjoyed it with a glass of wine. And on another note entirely, we successfully withdrew some cash from the ATM machine at the bank! It did take a second attempt, as I forgot about the exchange rate, and it would not let me take out the amount I had initially asked for.
On Wednesday morning I received a phone call from Mark and Alberta. They live in Eastwood now, but I met them for the first time in Fiji way back in 1979. We have been corresponding ever since, and I actually did visit Mark in 1982 when I came back to Australia the second time. He had worked in King's Cross neighbourhood then, and I met him for lunch one day. We made arrangements for Mark to come and pick us up around four o'clock, later in the day, and we would go back to their house for a couple of days.
So that morning, Linda dropped Dave and I off in downtown Newtown so we could spend some time in the bookstores. We spent quite a bit of time in them all, but I especially liked Elizabeth's. I did buy three books there, including Ruth Park's "Harp in the South". We had lunch in a small cafe before we headed into Gould's. We could have spent a whole day in Gould's, but we found it very difficult to move around the shop. It was actually overwhelming. I was methodically going through the books in the childrens' section, one by one, and could not find anything I wanted, and then discovered that all the rows of books had another row inbehind them. I couldn't do it anymore, and Dave was having the same trouble with the books he was looking for. It would be a great place to go if you were not looking for anything specific and you had the whole day to browse through it all. We got the bus back to Dulwich Hill right outside the door, and repacked and organized for the couple of days in Eastwood.
Mark got to the house about five o'clock, and discovered that Linda lives right around the corner from where his son lives! Dave and I have walked by his place numerous times already. It was dinner time when we got to the house, and the tennis was on the TV, so it was a great time for all! I really enjoyed watching Tomic play...and win!
The next morning we drove out to the Blue Mountains. Stopped in Leura on the way out, and then headed to Katoomba. Bargain Books had "Blinky Bill", a huge red hard cover in a slip cover for $35.00, and as heavy as it was, I couldn't resist it! We had lunch at the Elephant Bean cafe, and then drove down to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters. It was a cloudy day, but at least it was not raining! After taking the obligatory photos, we headed further west on the road, and continued back to Sydney on the Bells Line of Road. We did stop at the Tomah Botanical Gardens, and had a wonderful walk around. Mark and Alberta had never stopped there before and so it was great for them to see something new as well. We got back to Eastwood in time for a late dinner, and to watch Hewitt play his tennis match...and win!
Friday morning showed some promise with blue skies, but it didn't last long. We decided to go to Manly anyway. Mark came with us, and we used the train to get into the city. The ferry ride over was very nice, and it was definetely a cooler day. We got to the beach, the REAL Manly beach, and Mark actually went in swimming. I loved seeing this beach for the first time, even though I had been to Manly before. When I was there many many years ago, I walked off the ferry, turned left, and planted myself on the beach. I really couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, but it was nice enough, and I had the whole beach to myself. It was only when I got to Sydney this trip, that I realized you had to actually walk to the other side of the peninsula to get to the beach! The Corso!!!!! What a wonderful place, and what an idiot I was! We actually walked over to Little Manly after Mark's swim, and when we were back on the wharf side, a young man stopped me and asked me if there was another beach...he had been told there was a surfing beach and he couldn't figure out where it was! I was so delighted to be able to tell him the directions, and to realize that I wasn't exactly alone in the world! I was so glad that he wasn't going home without seeing Manly Beach!
We ate lunch at Little Manly, I had a HUGE barramundi burger, Dave had the fish and chips. The clouds had disappeared by then, and the view was beautiful. We got the ferry back, and I must have taken a dozen photos of the Opera House and the bridge. We got the train back to Eastwood, and by the time we got back to the house, Tomic was playing his second set. We had a late dinner as we were waiting for Mark's dad to come over. He enjoys tennis too, so after dinner we were able to watch some more tennis...and to see Tomic win again, an exciting match.
This morning we were up early to head over to Rozelle for the markets. I got a couple more books, and an Aussie apron! It has the flag on it, brand new, for 50 cents! Love it! We stopped at a coffee shop on the walk back to the car, and the timing was perfect, because as soon as we sat down, the skies opened and it poured rain! By the time we were finished our coffee, it had stopped enough that we could get back to the car. Mark and Alberta drove us around Hunter's Hill and Woolwich to see how the "other" people live, including his doctor! We stopped in at Leichardt to visit Alberta's mom too. More coffee and goodies. And we got a tour of the garden, a beautiful place, full of lots of basil and spices, fig trees, and lemon trees. And it all smelled so wonderful! It was just a five minute drive to Linda's house from there. When Alberta and Mark said goodbye, they presented me with a copy of "A Fortunate Life". I was so surprised, and touched, because she knew I was looking for it at the market. She had run off to the newsagent and picked up a copy while we were having our coffee!
So now, Dave is actually having an afternoon nap, and I am watching the skies. We should be heading down to the Domain by now to stake out a spot for the Symphony tonight. Not sure what we will do now. I reckon we can wait for a while yet before making a decision. It will be cooler than we thought, that is for sure! And maybe not so crowded either. The skies are clearing so we might just make it yet.