Oh Brisbane – you had me at hello

Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Mar 04, 2013

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, December 13, 2012

What a city, Brisbane is a relaxed, fun, young city with loads going for
it – it's a small ish city, with skyscrapers in its CBD (Central
Business District) which is where we stayed and spent most of our
time. It has a lovely Southbank – which consists of a Brisbane
eye, symphony orchestra/theatre buildings, the only inner city lagoon
in Australia and lots of shops/restaurants. Found just over the
river from the main shopping centre, it was only a 5 minute walk

The weather was excellent, with temperatures in the 30's and, for the
first week of our stay, low humidity. Towards the end of the week
some thunderstorms started to come through, and the humidity shot up
to 75-80% making it feel much hotter. Not that we're complaining –
it's December and we're spending all day in shorts and t-shirts –
life doesn't get better than this...

We stayed at the Hilton hotel for the first 2 nights to celebrate Deb's
birthday – and I've never stayed in a hotel like it – it was
amazing! The rooms were massive with views looking out over the
city, there was a roof top tennis court and roof top heated swimming
pool and spa which looked out over the city – twas things what
dreams are made of.

On our first day in Brisbane we did some shopping in the posh section of
town, including Armani, Gucci and other posh shops which we didn't go
in what with our shorts and flip flops – so headed for the local
Woolworths instead to pick up some bits for tea – we are getting
into our cheese and biscuits snack pots with apple and grapes – num
num num... We chilled for the afternoon in the rooftop pool and
luckily had it to ourselves and spent hours relaxing.

The next day was Deb's birthday and I had lots of fun things planned –
and was lucky enough to find a newsagents the day before to get some
last minute birthday presents – including a Hello magazine, a
wordsearch book, a multicoloured pen – the one where you push down
which colours you want to use, some chocolate and a bottle of coke –
just so she'd have something to open on her birthday. Her other
presents included a day of fun in Brisbane – starting with a river
cruise tour on the Mirimar II up to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
and a few hours seeing koalas from little babies through to
geriatrics – and even got to cuddle a koala. We took the river
cruise back to the city and then went to chill our by the rooftop
pool at the hotel for the afternoon. After tea we went to the
Brisbane eye for what was supposed to be a sunset ride, but got
waylayed getting ready so it was night by the time we got there –
but it was still lovely views over Brisbane. After a birthday tea we
found a Max Brenner chocolate restaurant which served the most
fantastically amazingly wonderful puddings and ice creams I've ever
had – and it was so busy, I stood in the queue for over 45 minutes
to get the birthday girl her birthday cake – a chocolate soufflé
with whipped cream. I had chocolate waffles with bananas and
strawberries and ice cream – it was fantastic – so yummy but so
rich – we then felt quite sick as we wobbled back to the hotel –
luckily it was a 20 minute walk away so by the time we got back we
could breathe normally again! We probably didn't need the Iced
chocolate frappé with whipped cream in accompaniment of our deserts
– but it was sooooo goooood! Before and after dinner we chilled at
the Southbank lagoon – man made swimming pools and beaches that run
parallel to the river and with view of the city skyline – it has a
big movie screen in the middle which shows Christmas moves, and
people were just chilling out on the beach or in the water watching
it – it was so cool.

It's weird but it doesn't feel like Christmas – I know it is, in fact,
it's the 21st at the time of writing this – and we've
seen Christmas movies and watching the Myers Christmas parade, and
been shopping and looked at presents, but the Christmas spirit isn't
with us at the moment– and I know that if I were in the UK I'd be going nuts
with excitement – the weather and being away from home must make a
big difference – although I'm sure when we get to Byron Bay and closer
to xmas day that'll change.

I could only afford 2 nights of luxury so on day 3 we went to the
Meriton Apartments for the next 6 nights stay – which was the
tallest building in Brisbane with something like 74 floors. We were
on the 33th floor and had spectacular views of the city
from our bedroom and living room – yes that's right, bedroom and
living room – still not slumming it in hostels – instead we had a
lovely apartment with a kitchen, living room, bedroom and washing
area. We were now a couple of kilometres out of the main town
shopping area so after we checked-in, we did our weekly food shop
and Woolies, we bimbled down to town for beer and people watching and
a bit of shopping. The town centre has a massive amount of shopping
arcades and a big Myers and David Jones mall – but no matter how
hard we tried, we couldn't find a pair of birthday trainers for Debs.
We booked our day tours to Adelaide Zoo and Moreton Bay and then
went back to the apartment to watch Christmas TV and do some laundry.
Something tells me this isn't what life at a hostel would be like...

Day 4 was a day trip to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo and it was the most
fantastic zoo – or rather animal sanctuary, we've ever been to.
The animals had large enclosures, this was an animal first philosophy
and the animals looked well looked after – we saw several Tazmanian
Devils being taken for walks, and the keepers being pulled off
everywhere lol! It was a very hot day, being inland from the coast,
and it made the sun cream run into my eyes so I had quite sore eyes
all day – but that didn't stop me having a fantastic time –
especially when I got to hold Big Phil, a Burmese Python – he was
massive but so lovely and cuddly – unfortunately I can't get me a
pet one – what with Deb's snake phobia – pity as I'd love to take
Big Phil home to show mother...

We saw koalas, crocs, snakes, birds, giraffes, rhinos, camels,
cassowaries (Emu like birds), Tazmanian devils, lizards, water
monitors and loads more – and we visited the animal hospital which
is located in one of the parks car parks and saw some koalas that had
been run over – one poor guy had an injured neck and he couldn't
get off the floor. On the way to the zoo the bus driver told us how
humans had build a freeway through koala habitat and as a result
loads of koalas were getting killed/injured and inbreeding because
they couldn't get to other colonies as before. It was very sad to
see how human activity impacts on these poor little guys :-( Steve
Irwin and is family are leaving a big legacy for animal protection
and welfare, we learnt a lot and had a fantastic time.

Being knackered from the zoo, we decided for a lazy day and caught up on
I'm A Celebrity on You Tube – no way did The Haymaker get voted out
before the final! Boom! Didn't see that one coming! In the evening
we plodded down to the Southbank and watched It's a Wonderful Life on
the big screen at the lagoon and chilled out enjoying the warm
evening air – it was a warm evening – and was still over 30
degrees at 10pm. We found a lovely little Italian for tea and I had
some lovely spicy pasta – and Debs found a good pizza – we have
had some trouble finding a decent pizza over here – so this was a
good find!

The next day was a day trip to Moreton Bay – Tangalooma Resort.
Picture the scene, deserted white sandy beach stretching in to the
distance, the surf breaking against the shore, warm weather, blue
skies, the sounds of birds cheeping over head – stuff dreams are
made of. Unfortunately we decided that wasn't enough and to walk up
to the desert – a massive hill with a ridiculous amount of steps
that nearly killed us – but the views were lovely. On the way back
I walked along the surf on the beach cooling down with the waves at
my feet (some waves were bigger than others and I my shorts got quite
wet!). We lazed by the pool in the afternoon and read our Kindles
and chilled out – I got a bit annoyed at one point when a woman was
staring at me as I was about to get in the pool after changing into
my bikini – only for Debs to tell me that I was walking around with
loo roll hanging out of my bikini bottoms. Not my finest hour...
The pool also didn't have any steps in/out so we had to push
ourselves out of the water onto the ledge in a sitting position –
and because my bottoms are a little big for me, they kept coming down
as I got out of the water – also a little embarrassing – but
apart from this – it was a great afternoon!

The highlight of the day came at sunset when we got to hand feed dolphins
in the sea – we were lined up – and because we had to head back
on the catamaran to Brisbane – we got to go first, got a fish,
waded out in to the sea and the dolphin swam up and took the fist out
of our hands – OUTSTANDING!!! They are such lovely animals – so
gentle – it's amazing how anyone could thing to hurt them. There
was several dolphins being fed by hand, as well as a mother and calf
– about 3 weeks old, being fed from the boat. A wonderful evening.
We also got to see some forked lightening (thunderstorms were in the
area) in the evening and on the way back to port which was cool –
Debs and I had tried to figure out if it was bad to get struck by
lightening in the sea – what with water being a conductor – but
then we thought the sand would earth us so it was okay – but
apparently not...

The next day was all about the shopping, I was dragged – I mean, we
went into lots of shops in the centre of town, looking for clothes,
shoes- the usual. I know I'm on holiday cos I get beer at lunchtime
– at this only happens on holiday – there's something special
about lunchtime beer and watching the world go by. A bigger treat
came in the evening as we went back to Max Brenner's chocolate shop
and had more deserts! This time I had the dark chocolate soufflé
with the melty insides – and a chocolate lick – a smell pot of
melted chocolate. Debs had the waffles with ice cream, strawberries
and banana (which I ate). We learnt our lesson with the Frappé this
time and went without. Probably because we had earlier had pizza –
so were already quite full by the time we got to the shop – but
'whilst in Rome'! It was a good 40 minute walk back to the apartment
which gave us time to walk off some of our pudding :-)

On our last full day we took a bus to Mount Coot-tha lookout, a lookout
in the hills around Brisbane which give excellent views across the
city and surrounding landscape. We then went to the Botanic Gardens
and saw some lovely plants and trees – especially the cactus and
bonsai trees. We also saw some lizards, water monitors, a snake and
spiders (cringe). We then popped into Sir Brisbane's planetarium –
which I had been looking forward to all week – but was a bit of a
disappointment – just some photos and a Neil Armstrong space
suit... Twas a hot and humid day with temperature well in to the
30's and 75% humidity – twas a sweaty one. In the afternoon we
walked down to Southbank for a bimble around and did some more
shopping before heading back to the apartment for tea and packing.

We caught the 11.30 Greyhound bus to Surfers Paradise which is where I
am writing this blog from – and there is thunderstorms going on
outside – no rain at the moment but thunder and lightening which is
cool – we are going to be taking a walk into town check-out some
waves which I'm very excited about - but that's for another blog!

Brisbane is a fantastic city and somewhere where we could live quite easily,
it's the third largest city in Oz after Melbourne and Sydney but is
small and relaxed, it was a real chilled-out vibe, has lovely
shopping and restaurants and has a lovely feel about it. It's sad to
go but we have to move on – Byron Bay and Christmas beckons!

On a general note – Australia is expensive. Maybe we shouldn't have
gone to Toni & Guys for a haircut – maybe the barber's down the
road for a $20 cut would have been better – but seriously, $91 for
the cheapest haricut? That's £60! More fool us for paying it but
we're lazy and our hair now looks lovely...Oz is a really expensive
place, we're told that wages are good so it balances itself out –
but we were and are continually shocked about how much food costs –
so much so that I'm down to one packed of biscuits a day!

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