If you are coming from the Esplanade, walk up Shields Street, turn lef and walk through Woolworths, exit to Lake St. Turn left for 50m. Walk across Lake St into Ocean Walk Arcade. (Entrance next to Zambrero Mexican outlet). Walk through. Interesting mix of gem dealers, games shops, toys, fashion, hippy nic-nacs and finally Blackbird Coffee shop (you will smell the aroma before you see it!) Open mon-fri 7am-4pm, sat 7.30am-3pm, sun 8.30am--12.30pm tel 40311587. Linger one of their many offerings and enjoy the aroma and a selection of reading material in a cosy atmosphone, then continue. Pantry 15 at the exit of the arcade is 100% gluten free and offers excellent fare while Candy and the Lillypad Cafe both offer awesome fare (Lillypad does great eggs benedict). Directly opposite on Grafton Street under Gilligans hostel is the entrance to Rusty's Markets open friday through sunday for a startling range of tropical and other produce, excellent biodynamic organic Mungali Creek products (try their Bush Honey or Davidsons Plum yoghurt - or their dairy-free coconut range). Have a foot massage then you are in tropical fruit lovers' paradise. My choice would be mangosteen, lady finger bananas, rollinea, sour sop, custard apple, rough leaf pineapple, red papaya, mangoes (my choice is Bowen then Brooks or Keitt or Asian Queen for late season varieties). Take home some breadfruit to make breadfruit chips or plantains to cook up with butter and sugar. Sample some Indian, Thai or Vietnamese offerings on the northern side of the stalls, and of course avocados are a must. As you exit onto Sheridan St and turn right you can even try betelnut if you are so inclined. Barista Sisters coffee is my next choice as you get towards the northern end of the market and the fresh drinking coconut or the cane sugar with ginger, lime, and cumquat juice freshly squeezed is to die for as you listen to the weekend entertainment on the makeshift stage and contemplate more forays into the other food offerings at this end of the market including German, Thai, fresh baked artisan bread, vegetarian gourmet delights, crepes, Vietnamese and Samoan offerings.
If you are still up for it, continue on to Shields Street and turn right for budget conscious traveller tours, shop around for tours. The backpacker tour desks along Shields street from Abbott towards Cairns Central often offer discounted tours. Try East Coast (Peter Pan's) on Lake Street (near the Lake St entrance to Woolworths - not the one on the Esplanade. They don't seem to do discounts so often) or others along Shields St. You'll be surprised.
And if you still have energy, for a cup of coffee with a difference, try the Aqualina cafe at the Cairns Aquarium (corner of Florence and Abbott st - open til late): sip and watch the brilliant live reef fish display in the huge wall tank.
Then continue across Florence St to admire the brilliant lipstick palms that border the Hotel Cairns, then continue up Abbott Street to view the amazing reef and WWII themed stained glass windows in St Monica's Cathedral.
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