Monday, December 2, 2013

Honeymoon Adventures: Australia Part I

Although most people prefer to go on their honeymoons right after the wedding, I am SO glad we decided to wait a few months.  There were a number of good reasons, but the best one was that other than officially being married, this gave us something as epic as our wedding to look forward to (and plan)!  We spent 26 days between Australia and New Zealand, visited 9 different cities, took 8 different flights...and amassed a lifetime of incredible memories.

All photos personal.

Now that I've married into a Packers family, showing some love with the Sydney Opera House in the background
We worked with Down Under Endeavours (a Chicago based travel agency specializing in travel to the South Pacific) who booked the majority of our trip including flights, accommodations, excursions, car services to/from airports and more.  If you are planning a trip or honeymoon down under, I highly recommend arranging your travel through them.

Before I delve into the first part of our trip in Australia, I gotta talk about the flight to Sydney.  Because Mr. M travels a lot for work, he has racked up a ton of miles over the years on Delta so we exchanged a bunch of them for free round-trip tickets to Sydney--in 1st class.  For a flight that’s almost fifteen hours, having seats that recline 180 degrees, pillows and a comforter, three-course meals (with a sundae cart!), and unlimited amounts of booze was like no other flying experience I’ve ever had.  I totally would have taken more pictures of us lounging but I didn’t want to be that girl.  I did manage to snap a picture of Mr. M enjoying a glass of champagne while looking over the dinner menu though!

Flyin' first class, up in the sky
Our little seating pods
After arriving in Sydney and spending a night to help adjust to the fifteen hour time difference, we flew three hours north to Cairns, then had a car drive us an hour north to Port DouglasIf you plan on spending any time at the Great Barrier Reef, this is the perfect little beach town to stay in.  We also invested in an underwater digital camera and got the Fujifilm Finepix XP60 which was affordable and worked perfectly.

What We Did

  •  Scuba Diving & Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef
Scuba diving at the GBR has been at the top of my bucket list
The snorkeling was phenomenal
Giant fish
Awesome marine life at the reef
I've wanted to hug a koala bear since watching that show Noozles as a kid!
Mr. M wanted to take this little guy home
Feeding giant kangaroos
 Where We Stayed & Ate
We stayed at the Shantara Resort & Spa and had two surprises in our fridge awaiting us.  Management had given us a complimentary bottle of champagne to congratulate us on our honeymoon and Bridesmaid A.I. and her husband had surprised us with an incredible basket of breakfast food and a sweet note.

It was the perfect location and only a five minute walk from the main street in Port Douglas called Macrossan Street--this is where all the restaurants, bars and shops were.  There was even a supermarket and liquor store so we made sure to stock up!  Another great thing about this resort is that it’s truly designed with couples and adults in mind--no one under the age of 16 is allowed so it made for a quiet and romantic stay.

Apartment style accommodations
We ate breakfast on the balcony every morning
Chillin' by one of the pools
We ate at quite a few restaurants during our stay there, but our favorite was Nautilus restaurant.  It was a bit pricey but totally worth it for a romantic dining experience and excellent meal.

Next, we headed 45 minutes north to spend two days at the Daintree Rainforest.  Other than our driver taking a 2 hour detour in the wrong direction (booooo), this was probably our favorite part of the entire trip!  

What We Did

  • Cultural Walkabout with an Aboriginal Guide  
Not only did we get to learn more about Aboriginal culture with our guide Juan Walker, but he also taught us how to spear hunt for mud crabs.  Even though it took me some time to catch mine, I felt like a total bad-ass when I eventually did.  Afterwards, he cooked up the crabs we caught and we had a delicious lunch.  This was the most unique experience I’ve ever had--never before had I caught and eaten my own food.

We caught a total of five mud crabs between us two
Some before and after shots of our crab lunch--Yum!!!
Where We Stayed & Ate

The Daintree Eco-Lodge & Spa was the most unique place we’ve ever stayed.  This ecolodge is nestled right in the midst of the rainforest and a few of the rooms are built on stilts for a treehouse-like experience.  We stayed it one of those rooms and it was amazing.

Our "tree house" room on the right
Elevated boardwalks around the ecolodge
Outside of our tree house room
King bed with canopy netting
View from our balcony
We also indulged in some AMAZING treatments at the spa. And because the ecolodge is a bit isolated, we ate all our meals at Julaymba, the hotel restaurant. The meals we had were excellent and the lychee martinis were out of this world :)

Next up, our adventures in New Zealand!


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