You could travel the world
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast
Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love
Oooooh Oh Oooooh
I have had quite a week and nothing sums it up better than these lyrics from Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’.
On Wednesday I flew into Coolangatta Airport on the sunny Gold Coast, ready and rearing to take on the eleventh challenge from my list of ’30 things to try before I’m 30′, number 7: Swim with a Dolphin.
From the airport, I took the first available bus to Sea World to meet my good friend (and challenger), Alana. After quickly dumping my bags in her car and slipping through the front gates, Alana raced off back to her post as dolphin trainer, and I hurried to meet my group.
At Alana’s suggestion, I elected to take on the ‘Trainer for a Day’ experience rather than the traditional ‘Dolphin Aqua Adventure’. At $329.99, it wasn’t cheap, but in my opinion it was worth every cent. Whereas the ‘Dolphin Aqua Adventure’ incorporates just 20 minutes in the water with a dolphin, the ‘TFAD’ experience involves a full day of “behind the scenes” activities with a number of animals, as well as the 20 minute swim.
As luck would have it, I just happened to be there on a day where it was suitable to swim with not 1 but 2 dolphins, Mum, Zippa, and 2 year old baby, Melody (trained by Alana). Zippa and Melody showed us lots of their tricks. We had a great opportunity to pat them, and to watch them underwater. It was extra impressive and extra fun for me because it meant being able to watch Alana at work.
Thankfully, too, when we got the opportunity to feed Melody, Alana resisted the urge to give me the slimy piece of squid.
A kiss from Zippa
In addition to the dolphin swim, we got a behind the scenes tour of the Seal show, including an opportunity to get up close and personal with a few of the seals.
We spent some time with the male dolphins, and I enjoyed a handshake…
…and a bit of showing off.
However, my favourite part of the day (apart from seeing Melody and Alana in action) was getting behind the scenes at the polar bear exhibit. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photos and, for obvious reasons, you’re not allowed to pat them, but there was something very impressive to me about the sheer size of these creatures. Basically, they are just giant Labradors, which I found exceedingly cute. I’ve never seen an animal that big up close before. I loved it.
It also gave me the sudden urge to drink a rum & coke.
As we all know, I’m not the World’s biggest animal lover, but I thoroughly enjoyed my day. It’s definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will always remember, and I’m grateful to Alana for setting me a challenge that I would have been unlikely to set for myself.
I’m sure that, had I not been set the challenge for my Top 30 List, this is something I would never have gotten around to doing – always finding an excuse like “It’s too expensive”.
It’s only now that I’ve had the experience that I realise how reasonable the price tag is. You have a tour guide for the whole day and get to see parts of the park that few people get to see. By the end of the day I was more than happy to hand to have handed over a few $$ to support the fine work the Sea World team do in caring for our beautiful marine life.
Even if you don’t have friends in fishy places like I do, you would find that all of the Sea World staff go out of their way to give you an unforgettable experience and plenty of close contact with the animals. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough and I hope I can convince a few of you to add it to your bucket lists as well. I know you won’t be disappointed.
Meanwhile, after the TFAD experience, I spent the few remaining hours of my day checking out the other exhibits.
And checking out the rides… specifically ‘Jet Rescue’, which was attended by 2 of my cousins who also happen to work at Sea World. I hadn’t seen them in years so it was great to catch up… even if it was only a quick catch-up…
A “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of catch up
Over the next couple of days I also got to see another cousin plus my Aunty. The whole week was then capped off by getting together with the girls to celebrate Alana’s last birthday as a single lady.
The highlight of the night being actually getting to MEET Katy Perry…
… About 4 or 5 Katy Perrys in fact…
… Plus a handful of Britneys, Gagas, the Spice Girls, X-Tina, P!nk, Delta and even Beyoncé!
“Fine, fresh, fierce we’ve got it on lock!”
All in all it was an amazing week, and one that I will look back on fondly when I am old and wise enough to consider blue hair appropriate for everyday living.
A big “thank you” to Alana for a week I’ll never forget!