At long last, I am posting the trip report from my 2-week Australian vacation earlier this year. I started in Sydney and continued on to Canberra, Melbourne, Cairns, and Brisbane. Below is the Brisbane section of my trip. Note that any unfamiliar references probably refer to the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I live. Enjoy!
Friday, May 8
The day began entirely too early with the 4:10 Sun Palm bus to the airport. Check in was a bit slow, but my flight didn’t leave until 6 so I took my time. The Jetstar flight was uneventful, and we arrived in Brisbane a little before 8. I walked out of the terminal, checked my e-mail on the train platform using free wireless, and caught the Airtrain to Central Station. A short walk later, I was at the Marriott. I checked in, switched into shorts, and dropped off my bags before heading out to explore. My first stop was the bustling Queen Street Mall, where curiosity led me to a biscuit, hash browns, and orange juice from Hungry Jack’s. The food wasn’t as good as the Burger King equivalent.
Food consumed, I circled around the CBD for a few minutes by foot then caught the Free Loop bus for an orientation to downtown Brisbane. I got off at City Hall to visit the clock tower and made it to the top in time for the noon bells. Afterward, I walked through the QUT campus and across the Goodwill Bridge to South Bank. I found South Bank to be surprisingly charming, with an arbor walkway and a man-made swimming lagoon. I stopped at New Zealand Natural for a “Chocochillo” and then carried on to the Cultural Centre Busway Station. I caught Route 115 for a short ride across the Victoria Bridge to the underground Queen Street Bus Station. I surfaced and walked to the North Quay ferry terminal and caught the City Cat to Riverside, where I alighted to return to the hotel.
Once formally checked in, I walked back to the Eagle Street Pier and caught the City Ferry back to South Bank. I stopped at Brumby’s for a pesto scroll then returned to the City Cat terminal and rode back to Riverside. I changed into pants then caught the bus to Fortitude Valley for dinner around 8:00. I suppose I had higher expectations for the neighborhood, so I made my way down Brunswick Street in search for dinner. Down in New Farm, I finally decided to eat Indian food at Karma. The food was good but not exceptional; at least it was cheaper than Spicy Bite in Cairns. I returned to my hotel by bus around 10 and fell asleep not long afterward.
Saturday, May 9
I slept in until about 9, got ready, and left the hotel in search of breakfast. As expected, weekend dining options in the CBD were limited, and I ended up in the Myer Centre along the Queen Street Mall and at Gloria Jean’s once again. This time I finally got to try the mango and yogurt smoothie with muesli. As satisfied as one could expect to be from such an item, I boarded Route 445 at 10:54 en route to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
We arrived a little before 11:30, and I quickly paid and made my way in. Turns out the sanctuary has a wide variety of animals unique to Australia, which made me glad I opted to visit it rather some place(s) in Kuranda. I snacked on nachos and Schweppes lemonade after taking in the unique birds, dingoes, and of course koalas. (A wild turkey tried to eat my camera during the food consumption process.) I explored the kangaroo and emu area afterward, where I was lucky enough to touch a couple kangaroos and a wallaby. Then it was koala cuddle photo time! I made my way out and caught the 2:20 Route 445 back towards the city.
I alighted across the street from the Regatta ferry terminal and caught the 2:59 City Cat to the University of Queensland. After a brief look-around, I caught the 3:30 City Cat to the QUT terminal. I walked through campus and to the Botanic Gardens, where I stuck primarily to the riverside and lily pond areas, then walked back to the hotel. After a short break and a change into pants, I caught the 6:08 City Cat to New Farm Park. I walked around a bit, and even though I spotted a couple restaurants that sounded interesting enough, I decided to catch Route 199 to Fortitude Valley. I had a quirky veggie burger with hot chips at a franchise called Grill’d, then hopped on Route 199 for a short ride back into New Farm. I picked up a thickshake at Baskin Robbins then bought breakfast at IGA.
Rather than take the bus back to the hotel, I opted to check out an interesting river walk I had spotted from the ferry on my way to New Farm. After a bit of a challenge getting to it, I walked along the totally awesome Floating Walkway (and then past a couple vacant warehouses) back to the hotel, where I was greeted by a timely fireworks display at 9:30. I watched videos on Max and eventually fell asleep.
Sunday, May 10
I was up at about 7:30, and after a shower and packing, I was out the door with plenty of time to catch the 9:11 Airtrain from Central Station. I ate breakfast (muffin and iced coffee) then hopped on the train, where I ate my banana while standing in the check-in line. Then it was off on the plane once more, this time from BNE to LAX. The food was better this time around, and I made it a point to watch Gran Torino and Milk. I was satisfied with the former, but the latter was not as good as I had hoped. Not much rest was to be had, and I certainly felt more cramped this time. Oh well.
Arrival at LAX was uneventful, but my 10:00 American Airlines connection to SFO was a fiasco. First it ran late due to mechanical problems, by 11:30 or so everyone was off the plane, and the flight was finally canceled at 12:30. I then spent two hours standing in line at the customer service desk for a re-booking. I was put on the 6:45 flight to San Jose but managed to make the 3:50 plane, albeit my checked duffel bag went to SFO anyway. At least I had my food vouchers to keep me company. I caught VTA to BART to get home just before 8:00, and my luggage was dropped off at 9:30. Phew, what a day!
My first trip out of North America was a success! Next year's stop? Probably Europe. And my next trip to Australia? Definitely going back to Brisbane first! To be continued. :)