July 16th:

This being my free day, I took it really easy getting out of the room. I soaked in tub after my shower, using the showerhead (on a hose) to make a mini-jacuzzi. When I finally did leave, it was to go downstairs to the 3rd floor to do my laundry. Soap was $1, the washer was $3, and the dryer was $2 - much cheaper than the $74 I paid in Sydney!

I returned to the room after loading the washer, to find a message under my door - my dive DVD had arrived. I picked it up when I went to get my clean, dry clothes, then went back to the room to put them away, dress, and finally leave at about 11am.

I decided to just stroll around. I did have a few destinations - somewhere to develop my film, which I had targeted for the Fuju shop next to the Mexican restaurant from last night; the sushi place I had passed on Shields yesterday; and finally getting to Cairns Center, the mall at the end of Shields.

In my walking, I found a Kodak place before I got to the Fuji place, and so dropped off my film, asking just for a CD of the photos. I was also snapping pictures here and there. I don't know if there's a tour of Cairns, but there are certainly several very distinctive architectural differences between some buildings. Many of the buildings on corners seem to have once (and often still are) hotels, with second floor balconies over first floor patios. There are some more classical-themed buildings, mostly for the government. The rest of the place is much more modern (or perhaps just remodeled into a less ornate image), with almost every block being pierced by one (or more) "arcades" of shops, some more prominently signposted than others.

Next, I headed to Shields and started walking towards the mall. I found the sushi place, which had just opened I think - on the way, I passed an internet access place, which I made note of. I had a nice lunch, though the chef didn't put out any salmon rolls until I was quite full. I had 8 pieces of salmon nigiri, some interesting deviled eggs - hard boiled, with rice in the yolk pit, creamed/deviled yolk on top of the rice, and a small shrimp/prawn on top. I also had a tobiko roll (salmon roe), which was pretty messy, a tuna roll, and a cucumber roll. The whole thing, with soda, came to $22.50 - not a bad price for expensive Australia.

I then continued on to the mall, looked at the board for the book stores, and headed right to them. There were two, and neither had the new Doctor Who books I was looking for. At the second one, I did find the last 8th Doctor novel (I hope I haven't already purchased that one at home, but I don't think I did), and just as I was despairing, I found the Jasper Fforde books about Thursday Next (I've only seen them in the Science Fiction Book Club, not in any stateside store), and bought the first for reading.

I went walking around some more, taking more pictures, and then went over to the movie theater I had seen before. None of the movies showing interested me, so I went over to the internet access place, and read my 315+ emails (fortunately, the connection was really fast). I sent a few emails, then paid (only $2.50 - far less than the $8 in Sydney for an hour), and left. I returned to the mall to see if there was a movie theater there (an overheard conversation clued me in), and there was - it was showing Fantastic Four, but it was just slightly too late for the next showing.

I wandered my way back to the room and changed into my swim trunks. As I was doing that, I got a message under the door wanting me to call Down Under Tours again. I did, and we ended up juggling things around again. They wanted me to move the tour I had moved from today to Monday, to tomorrow, and switch tomorrow's tour to Monday. They said that this would insure that both tours would go off - aparently I was the only one signed up for the 4WD Rainforest and Green Island tour on Monday, but there was space for me on Sunday, and also room on the Kuranda tour on Monday. So, rather than worry about being cancelled out on Monday if no one else booked the 4WD tour, we switched the two.

That sorted, I spent some time in the pool. It was a little uncomfortable - a wedding had just finished down there, and the reception was happening in the area around the gazebo. But there were hotel guests using the pool, so I went in anyway. The pool is large, and has several areas - two shallow pools for the kids, one of them an unheated spa, a heated spa/jacuzzi, a slightly heated pool (I think - I didn't go in), and a large pool that was uniformly 1.5 meters deep.

Back in the room, I got dressed again and went out for dinner. I wandered over to the Night Shops, one of the arcades that opens at 4:30 pm and stays open late. It turned out to be a bunch of stalls selling all kinds of souvenier-type stuff, some of it quite nice and some I hadn't seen anywhere else. I left there and went looking for somewhere to have a steak, and chose O'brien's Pub. The meal wasn't specacular, but it wasn't horrible. I ambled back to the room, and settled in for Doctor Who.

The episode was The Empty Child, and was really good - lots of mystery, lots of flash, lots of aliens and weirdness, and Captain Jack. The only drawback was that it was the first half of a two-parter ... and I have no idea when I'm going to get to see the second half!

Well, that's about it for today. Oh, I don't think I've mentioned this yet - this hotel has green towels. I don't remember ever seeing non-white towels at a hotel. They're nice and big, too - but I'll bet they'd charge an arm and a leg if I took one. (Then again, I could bring one up from the pool, and they wouldn't necessarily know ...)

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