We stayed for eight days in the Silvershore Apartments where each room had a full kitchen, large balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows.
We devoted the majority of our vacation lying on the beach or by the pool, and spent our nights lounging on the balcony. Most of the nights we cooked for each other and made big family-style meals, but we also indulged in seafood a couple of times.
Dinner out during our first night in Oz
Lounging on the beach outside our apartments
We had to steal this trolley to transport all of our groceries
Marc and Mads enjoying our view from the balcony
Our apartments were located just outside of a beach known as Surfers Paradise, so we all decided it was the perfect opportunity to learn to surf. I snowboard and spent many years skimboarding during family vacations, so I figured surfing would come pretty easy for me. I mean, it doesn't look too hard, right? Well, I was wrong.
After suiting up in wetsuits (it is Australia, but it's also the Winter there) we took our boards to the beach, layed them in the sand and learned all of the typical instructions (except how to stand up). We were finally told to take the boards into the water to catch waves while lying on our stomach or knees. I was frustrated because all I wanted to do was ride a wave while standing up on my board, but I soon learned this would not be as easy as I thought. Steering a longboard through the water while balancing on your knees was enough of a challenge.
After quite a few wipeouts and a belly full of saltwater, we came into shore for more instruction in the sand. We practiced popping up on our feet and learned the art of paddling before taking the boards back into the water. I stood up a few times, but would not consider it a successful morning of surfing. The boys seemed to stand up so easily while the girls continued to flop around in the water.
We all returned for a second lesson later on the week, even though our bodies were still sore from the beatings we took the first day in the water. This time the instructor reinforced the ideas of standing up and paddling, but also introduced turning. Once I was comfortable standing up, turning came pretty easily because you use the same movements as you would on a snowboard.
I felt much more accomplished that second day; it is so rewarding once you're able to comfortably stand up. Marc, Mads and I were so hooked that we even rented boards for a third day of surfing.
It took a lot patience and determination, so now I hope it's a hobby I'll be able to keep up with every time I am close to the ocean.
Another highlight of Australia was a day trip to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
There, we watched multiple shows about dingos, koalas, wallabies (Rocko's Modern Life, anyone?), crocodiles, snakes, birds and kangaroos. We even had the opportunity to feed kangaroos, which was my favorite part. They were very laid-back, food oriented animals with slimy tongues.
- Interesting Kangaroo Fact #1: They are the only large animal that move by hopping
- Interesting Kangaroo Fact #2: On land, kangaroos can only move their back legs together (to hop), but in the water (roos are actually good swimmers) they can kick each leg independently.
- Interesting Kangaroo Fact #3: As soon as a joey is born, kangaroos will mate again. They are basically permanently pregnant.
Koalas are cute and cuddly creatures, except for their razor-sharp claws
Australia is home to the most poisonous snake in the world...
Allison feeding a little roo
Experiencing the slimy kangaroo tongue
After all of our surfing lessons and bonding with kangaroos, we were able to fit a little experimentation with the Aussie nightlife into our busy schedules. On the last night, we joined a "Wicked Club Crawl" with other students and travelers and explored multiple bars and clubs around Surfers Paradise.
Elizabeth and me
Lili and Mads with his Michael Jackson glove
So overall, I think we experienced the three most important things about Australia: surfing, kangaroos and Aussie nightlife.
Also, I have now been to five countries in my lifetime: the U.S.A, the Bahamas, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. And I have a strange feeling that list is going to keep growing and growing...
And one more thing: Is there anyone out there reading?