To start with, there was a BAR in the hostel itself. I mean, seriously?! The wifi didn’t work, at all. The hostel charged bloody $10 for using cutlery and crockery?! My room was on the ground floor, its windows WIDE open. I hated it. The place was crawling with drunk old men, the kitchen was filthy and the bathrooms were rank. And then there was the French girl in my dorm who insisted in telling me all about her sordid sex life in minute, horrific detail
I lasted a grand total of....two hours!
Two lovely friends that I knew from university, Ross and Hazel who are Ayrshire expats and are lucky enough to live in Brisbane, very kindly came to rescue me. Not before I had a huge argument with the manager about a refund. I was told I wasn’t getting one and although I was livid, I was just relieved to be escaping.
The last time I’d seen Ross and Hazel had been Glasgow a few years back and we had plenty to catch up on. We went to Kangaroo Point which offered the most beautiful views across the city, especially at night before heading back to their gorgeous flat in the West End where we had tea and chatted. Collapsing into their spare double bed was bliss after weeks of slumming it in hostels!
The next couple of days involved exploring Brisbane’s sights. I’d heard nothing but bad things about the city from fellow backpackers who claimed it was boring and just another urban sprawl. But just walking to the CBD from Ross and Hazel’s made me fall in love with the place
. I found it had a lot of character, especially the West End which acutely reminded me of its Glasgow counterpart, with quaint little coffee bars, vintage clothes shops and second hand bookstores. Even when I reached the city itself, I was really taken with Southbank, the ultra-modern riverside with a huge ferris wheel and tree lined walks and an array of chic and painfully expensive bars and restaurants. They even have Streets Beach which is a man-made lagoon, overlooking the skyscrapers of the CBD. Due to the blisteringly hot weather, the place was packed so didn’t linger, instead choosing to explore the Botanic Gardens which boasted an array of beautiful trees and flowers just in the grounds of the Queensland University. In comparison to Sydney, the whole pace of the city was very low key and welcoming and everyone was extraordinarily friendly and helpful, from shopkeepers to bus drivers. On one of the days I was there, I took a trip on the City Cat, the city’s regular ferry service and arguably the most scenic way to get around Brisbane. The views really were stunning and in some respects, reminded me of London with its huge skyscrapers and Brisbane River running through. In some ways though, it was similar to Glasgow, there is even a district called Kelvingrove and has a King George’s Square, although Brisbane’s statue of King George is a little more ornate and doesn’t have a traffic cone on his head!
Another highlight of Brisbane was hanging out with ALEX the surfer dude
. Not to be confused with ALEC the other surfer dude who decided to choose my dorm window to be sick outside of in Byron Bay! Alex left Byron the day after me and we arranged to meet up. Going for a couple of beers in Southbank nearly bankrupted the pair of us but it was nice to talk about our long-term travel plans. Alex plans to buy a 4X4 and literally drive around Australia, I’ve already said I’d love to join him at least one stage, probably on the West Coast if I get the chance!
I only had a couple of days sightseeing in Brisbane and didn’t see nearly as much as I could have, I had limited time but had to make time for one local attraction in particular! See my next blog entry for more details :)
As we crossed the border into Queensland, we hit a massive thunderstorm with sheet lightning and black skies which was really exciting. The excitement didn't last long however, I arrived in Brisbane to my hostel. So far in Australia, my hostels have been clean and respectable. But when I arrived at City Backpackers Brisbane, I knew straight away that I had made a seriously bad choice. To be fair, I’d only chosen the joint because there was allegedly free wi-fi which would be highly beneficial for job-hunting. Hmmmm.