When we first got to Australia we went on a one-week cruise that left from Brisbane and went to a few different stops near New Caledonia. Jay and I ended up making this cruise one of the most productive work times we have had. We were able to find a couple of events that sounded interesting, work the rest of each day, and eat when we were hungry instead of at the typical meal times. When we needed a break, it was easy to go walk around the ship, play cards, or chat with friends we had made on board. As we sat on the deck with our laptops out, people would often come up and say, “Put away your laptops! You’re on vacation!” It took a while for us to explain that we weren’t actually on vacation, the cruise was just where we decided to spend that week. It was actually cheaper to go on the cruise than it was to pay for a week of a hostel and food. We saved money by going on what other people would consider vacation! We were also incredibly productive since Jay and I were both at stages in our projects where we could work without needing the internet.
One of my favorite experiences in Australia was living a block from the beach in Surfer’s Paradise (on a street called Ocean Avenue). We would wake up at 8am to the warm sun and feel happy and excited to get up. We would go for a run on the beach, play in the water, throw a Frisbee around, and then head back for showers. When we were ready to go out again it was only 11AM.
We found a high-class churro place that sold churros, ice cream, and chocolate fondue. They had free internet and we used that as our office for the week, paying rent by buying churros and ice cream. We would work in the churro place for a few hours and then go out for dinner, then sit outside on the boardwalk and get more work done. During that week in Surfer’s Paradise I felt happy, peaceful, and amazingly productive.
Jay and I spent two and a half weeks in Melbourne, mainly in an awesome Airbnb we found minutes from the central business district. Our hosts were awesome: our age, amazingly social, and incredibly welcoming. They showed us around the city, introduced us to their friends, and even took us to an indoor cricket match one of them was playing in! I have stayed in a lot of Airbnbs, and our time in Melbourne was one of my favorite experiences. Our goal for Melbourne was for us to feel like we really lived and belonged in the city. Before Melbourne, we were bouncing around every few days and didn’t have enough time to really make friends or develop relationships with other people.
We explored a bunch of the restaurants downtown (and a lot of dessert places), played Ultimate Frisbee with the Melbourne University Ultimate team, and made some friends that had really positive impacts on our lives. On one of my last days in Melbourne I went to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, where every evening thousands of penguins come in from the water and walk across the beach to their nests. We were able to sit on the beach right next to where they all walk. Using a night vision monocle, we could see the little penguins waddling and occasionally falling over just a meter or two from where our feet were.
After Melbourne we went to Cairns to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. We planned our trip to Cairns so that we would be there for the weekend before we left for Japan. The day we arrived we found that people were boarding up shop windows and hunkering down for a category 5 cyclone (aka hurricane) that was going to be hitting Cairns over the weekend. Clearly we chose a bad weekend to try to go snorkeling but we made the best of our trip and made friends in the hostel. While the wind and rain was picking up, a lot of the hostel went for a swim in the pool, finally hunkering down in the common room to watch a few movies as it passed over us. The day the cyclone passed was the day we had our flight to Tokyo. I guess I’ll have to go back another time to be able to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.