Everybody says the name of this city differently, but everyone enjoys it! It is pronounced CANS. Most people (that is, Americans) desperately want to keep the R in it, though. It is a rather large place, although in many areas it feels like a small fishing village. The downtown has quite an array of shops and restaurants, accented by a beautiful post office, library building, and cultural center. Most impressive is the work the city has done on the Esplanade along the ocean. Since there is no real beach, as extensive mud flats for migratory birds take the place of a beach, Cairns built a free public swimming pool and imported sand to build a beach alongside the pool! It is very nice, and many people were swimming and enjoying the water, as it is very hot here. The Southern Hemisphere is still in spring, though, so it will get hotter as we approach the beginning of summer, just before Christmas.
Cairns is the traditional jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, and so marinas and boats are a big part of life here. We saw everything from small skiffs to tall ships, ready to sail into the reef. In fact we went out of this port in 2005 for a three-day tall ship cruise (the Solway Lass) through the reef. It was a spectacular way of seeing a small portion of the reef, while stopping at some amazing islands along the way.
We will be cruising through the Great Barrier Reef for a few days, on our way to Darwin, Australia. Our ship this time, Holland America’s Noordam, is many times larger than the Solway Lass and has about 2,000 passengers rather than 35. We won’t be stopping at any little islands, but cruising straight through to Darwin. So this will be a much different trip than last time.
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