Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The shuttle bus service wasn't running due to the V8 racing so we hopped on the tram for free and saw a crying bride in a wedding dress at the bus station. Poor woman. After just over an hour we arrived in a grey and rainy city which could have easily been mistaken for Sheffield. The buildings looked dull and run down and the short walk to our hostel, Brisbane City Backpackers, wasn't any better. There once again wasn't much wifi in the rooms and the Internet lounge consisted of a few stools and tables, despite advertising it as a movie lounge space which it categorically wasn't (we found the actual movie lounge after a bit of exploring). The rooms were dark and dingy with a lack of plugs once again and the bathrooms were pretty grubby and unisex. We decided to put on our raincoats, get out of the hostel and go for a wander which was actually very productive. Brisbane looks a bit like London with big bridges over the river and towering buildings littered around. We crossed the Victoria Bridge and walked over to the South Bank down to the pool and man made beach area which was a lot more exotic. On our way down we saw an open air cinema sundae session advertised with a Frozen sing-along, free Ben & Jerry's and a live DJ which looked pretty cool, so we pencilled it in for the following evening as we thought it'd be a nice way to end our time in Brisbane. We've learnt that we can be very judgemental when we initially get to a new place and that first impressions are very much dependent on the weather as Brisbane turned out to be a lot more beautiful than Sheffield.

As we walked down further there was a cute little market where the atmosphere picked up as when we first started walking it was a bit of a ghost town for a Saturday afternoon. The market was lined with bars, restaurants and quirky sweet and ice cream shops. As it was a bit dull we wanted to stop at a Starbucks until we stumbled across a kitsch little cafe called Max Brenner Chocolate Bar with the motto chocolate by the bald man. Inside was a cute little quote which read 'I invite you to watch, smell, taste and feel my love story' in bold plaque letters on a wooden wall in front of the actual chocolate shop. At the back was a cafe and the array of chocolatey treats and desserts were literally mouth watering and it took everything in our power not to completely splurge and try everything. Instead we settled for a hot chocolate each and a strawberry chocolate fondue to share and I've quite honestly never known such silence. All the chocolate was delicious and it was a little slice of heaven on a drizzly Saturday afternoon which was a nice little touch of comfort. 

The South Bank is a very pretty and scenic area and there's lots to do for friends, families and couples. We'd been told that Brisbane is where people come to settle down and I can already see why. It felt really safe and secure but not boring. There was street entertainment, pretty flowers entwined over an archway and a multitude of dining and entertainment opportunities. After a lovely afternoon exploring one part of Brisbane we headed back to Coles to get dinner and I managed to drop 1kg of pasta all over the floor. The bag literally split (that's what you get for buying Coles own 1 dollar 10 pasta) so I scooped it under the shelf and ran away from the sales assistant. Coles was situated in the middle of an upmarket dining alley lined with fancy restaurants. The lights were dim, tree lights twinkling, candles flickering and Brisbane was slowly becoming more appealing by the minute. We then made dinner before getting ready and going down to ladies night in the bar at the hostel where we had 2 vouchers each for 2 glasses of wine for 5 dollars. We went down with Danielle (from Ohio) and Leesah (from near Inverness) from our room and had 2 jugs full of 12 glasses of white wine between the three of us, chatted and played cards before taking it up to our room at 10 when the outside license closesd. 

The next morning we decided to head to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was 46 dollars each for admission and included a photo with a koala bear which we thought was pretty reasonable. We had to run from the travel agents to the bus station as the buses only run hourly on a Sunday but luckily we made it (this is how the carb diet cancels itself out). After having a wander around the sanctuary and attempting to get kangaroo selfies, it was koala hugging time. They're so cute but way heavier than you'd imagine and Oranoku's (his name) claws dug into my arms while he tried to attach and balance himself on me. I was his last cuddle of the day so we definitely bonded. I don't particularly like my photo as I look like a sweaty mess but it's just one of those things you have to keep for the memory, and for my parents Christmas present. My favourite thing about being away and travelling is doing things I can't do back in England so I'm really happy we got the chance to visit the sanctuary as it was one of my favourite things I've done on this trip.

After heading back and making dinner us girls went back down to South Bank for the open air cinema. Tickets were about 20 dollars plus 5 dollars for a deck chair, but when you throw the free ice cream and entertainment into the mix, the price wasn't bad at all really. When we arrived we chose our deck chairs, got a complimentary cup of ice cream and settled down listening to the music and live band as the seating area got more crowded with people sprawled out on blankets and loungers. Just before the film started we helped ourselves to another free cup of ice cream and had such a lovely two hours. We watched the sun set as the sky darkened and families, children and friends all sang along to the lyrics on the bottom of the screen. The atmosphere was pretty magical and it was nice to do something different. It was such a relaxed and enjoyable activity and the perfect way to spend both a Sunday evening and our last night in Brisbane. Some say the city is pretty boring but if you take the time to explore and try different activities, you learn what a vibrant and beautiful place it is, although I think two days and two nights was the perfect amount of time. Brisbane is definitely a great city to visit and I've had two of the best days since being here, but now it's time to head further up the coast to Noosa.

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