Porcupyn's Blog

June 6, 2017

Checking into Cairns

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:12 am

We had pre-purchased two window seats one per kid guessing/hoping that the airlines would seat the adults next to the kids; in addition, we had paid extra for 40 kg of luggage. The nice thing about JetStar is that the weight is not per piece, but by total luggage. So, we were able to check in Mrs. Porcupyn’s carry-on bag as well, to reduce stress to her bum ankle). Navigating the JetStar check-in area was a breeze, as was finding our departure gate in the relatively small Sydney domestic terminal. Instead of the normal jetways though, there were ramps – one in the front and one in the back – for the two entrances to the plane. Though it was a pain, somehow Mrs. Porcupyn managed to negotiate the steps and get on board the plane. Thankfully, the flight was pretty sparse and we were able to get three windows among us which was more than sufficient as everyone was wanting to get some rest on the flight.

If my memory serves me right, we left Sydney at about 2:30 pm and landed in Cairns at about 6 pm. It being winter in the southern hemisphere, though we could see the sunset as our JetStar plane was in the initial phase of descent while approaching the Cairns Airport to land, it was already dark once we were on the ground.

The plan for Cairns was to stay at two different Airbnbs – for the first night, a location that was very close to the wharf because we were slated to be leaving at 7:30 am to the Great Barrier Reef the next morning and, for the second night, one located farther from Cairns in a place called Kuranda which looked really really promising per the photos.

But before that, we had to get our rental car which we had reserved with Sixt Car Rentals. In all our hurry, we had never gotten a chance to purchase a local SIM card – but when we did purchase one upon landing in Cairns, it did not work with any of the three smartphones we had (later, we learned that our phones were probably still locked!). Not finding a counter for the rental agency in the terminal, I started to panic (OK, just a little bit!). Fortunately, the staff at the information booth were very helpful and allowed me to use their phone to make a phone call. We learned that we had to walk a little bit outside the terminal to get to the pick-up spot.

Soon, a pick-up vehicle stopped by. However, it said East Coast Car Rentals not Sixt. The driver assured me that they were one and the same. I was a bit apprehensive at this point, especially because I had seen lower prices for East Coast than for Sixt online while making our reservation, but had consciously avoided them because of their bad reviews. However, our driver was a pretty friendly guy and got us to the CBD location in about fifteen minutes. Per my understanding of the Cairns area map, at this point, I figured that our Airbnb for the night was about 15-minute walk (not on an injured ankle!) away, and the wharf – from there – was about 20-30 minutes as well.

But anyway, we got the car – a comfortable white Camry – and set off to find the Airbnb place. It took some searching and some backtracking, but we finally got there and were able to get inside even though the gate was locked thanks to other Airbnbers who were returning just then. That was fortunate as we did not have a working phone and – like we learned quickly – Australia shuts down for the night much earlier than the USA does.

While it was not really great accommodation, we were aware that Airbnbs are a hit-or-miss and we had been batting pretty good with them up until that point. So, we were not too upset. I did manage to get out and walk to the closest grocery store that was slated to close in 30 minutes to get something to eat as we had not had anything since lunch. Fortunately for me, though it was drizzling at this point, the rain did not really pick up.

But the next morning, we were not as lucky.

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