Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brisbane. My Aussie Adventures part II

Hello friends!  
As it turns out, my computer had more issues than I had orignally been told so I still don’t have it back and thus, do not have access to my files or photos. But since I left you with such a cliff hanger- still in Sydney with two cities still left to see! - I know you’ve all been waiting at the edge of your desk chairs for weeks now. So I’ve downloaded some of my own photos from facebook and let’s hope they’re decent quality as I attempt to finish my recaps of Australia.
From Sydney we took Qantas, the Australian airline to Brisbane. As an airline, they are so much better than the United we took on the way here!I hate to say negative things about airlines, especially because I’ve been a loyal Continental passenger since I can remember, but since the merger with United....well, I’m dissapointed. Anyways,  The flight was only an hour and a half, it was a super quick boarding process, and despite the short duration, we were given full dinners, snacks, and the nice headsets. We arrived pretty late at night and went straight to our family friend’s apartment. There we admired the beauty and brilliant location that is an oil company provided living space on the 32nd floor in the middle of Queen street. It was tight quarters for 7 people in a two bedroom but I managed enough rest to be ready to see the city in the morning (ok so I'm actually superhuman while traveling and don't need rest). 

Brisbane is absolutely gorgeous! It's very spread out architecturally and everything is brand new, shiny, and modern. Did I say this about Sydney, too? Well, Brisbane is even more so. The main part of the city is on the water and has canals that run through it. It's very easy to get around. The downtown area is small enough to walk everywhere, and the bus system is easy to use and can take you outside the city to see all the sights, neighborhoods (also some of the fanciest living I've ever seen!) and are easy to hop on and off if you're just tired of walking. Another cool form of transportation, especially for us tourists, are the City- Cat's or City Ferries. They make a big loop through the canals and will drop you off at several main attractions. 
Here are some of the main sights: 
Mt. Coot-ha. The highest point in Brisbane There’s a beautiful lookout, café, and restaurant, along with several trails. We ate at the overpriced café that did not have much in the way of veg choices, but I took amazing scenery pictures. Then we randomly chose a trail that turned out to be really steep and it took a while to try to not slide down on our butts. At least I tried and succeeded in keeping my jeans dirt free, but, not naming names, some of us did not haha.  It finally leveled off but we didn’t know where we were so we found a neighborhood street and walked along that for a while. The houses are beautiful and the architecture is very different from what I'm used to here in the states. It looks like walking through architecture competitions! Brisbane is also very green, so it made for a nice walk with a lot of trees and perfectly manicured yards. We then had to ask some locals at a playground where we could take the bus back to downtown. See? buses everywhere! 
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary- This place is the ultimate Australian experience! It was by far my favorite part of the trip. You get up close and personal with all the native wildlife. Although you have to pay if you want to get your picture with the koalas, and they’re vehemently against letting you use your own camera. So we got to hold them but had to face backwards as a crazy paranoid lady stood as lookout. Afterwards, things looked up. We watched a birds of prey demo, pet some sheep and billy goats, and saw a sheep sheering and herding show. Then we went to see the kangaroos! They have a huge open area filled with kangaroos and emus that are all totally used to people. They let you cuddle, pet them, take photos, and even sell kangaroo food for you to feed them, although we didn’t need any to be able to get close to them. We also pet the emu’s, but they were kind of indifferent to our presence. We spent over an hour just playing in the kangaroo field. Then we were running out of time so we went back to the koalas, and even saw a baby one! Then the dingos, wombats, tazmanian devils, and the funniest parrots ever. They played with us for a while, and sadly were extremely distressed when we left :( 

Libraries- There are two great libraries that provide amazing resources and services for all the residents. We visited the State library and the City library. They're both beautiful and will provide you with computer and internet access, tons of books, and also have art exhibits and activities for people of all ages. Around this area, you'll also find the Cultural Center, and Queensland Museum. All of these are great places to stop by to get a better feel for the city and learn more about it. 
GoMa – Brisbane's museum of Modern Art. I'm an art nerd so I will happily wander art museums for hours by myself, so I've seen many museums in many different countries. This was a beautiful museum and while I didn't have the time to walk through all the exhibits, I had been excited since way before our arrival in Australia for one exhibit in particular- Ron Mueck. Totally incredible! His sculptures are so lifelike, yet on a variety of scales. Some are huge and some are small scale replicas of human figures, but his attention to detail and authenticity is mind blowing. We saw the exhibit and watched the movie about how he makes his sculptures.

Riverside Sunday Market- This is only one of several outdoor markets but it's the only one I got to see. It’s mostly arts, crafts, and clothes. It did have some strawberries, a bakery stand, and some cooked food in the form of german sausages and pancakes. It was really nice, not the best or biggest I’ve seen but I found some earrings for gifts, and tested out some lotions. Plus it's right on the water so it's a beautiful area to walk around. Other markets that sounded really nice were the Wednesday Twilight Fresh Market- every wednesday evening for fresh produce and gourmet products, dining areas, and coffee, and given Brisbane's mild climate, this is surely beautiful any time of year. The Valley Laneway Markets are all about local and unique artists and designers and also showcase live music and comedy on some nights. I wish I could have seen this one! There are literally dozens more, so if you're like me and love open markets, do your research before and find out what days you need to be where. I slacked a little in this department :\

New Farm Park- This is just one of many local outdoor hangouts and green spaces. There are also Botanical Gardens and other parks in all the residential neighborhoods. I visited this one, which is beautiful, with a lot of different and exotic trees and plants. On the sunday I went, it was packed with locals having fun, cooking, and playing. The Powerhouse is right next to it but I didn’t know this at the time since I had gotten kind of lost so didn’t go in, but it also has a lot of cool artsy stuff to see and films and shows if you check the schedule ahead of time. 
Like all major cities, Brisbane is divided into different "zones", each with its own unique vibe. It's always my goal to explore all of them! 
One of the stops on the City Cat is called Bulimba. This leaves you right at Oxford street where there are cute shops and café’s. We got off the one before and took a long walk through the neighborhoods. The houses were incredible and also so unique! These were even more high class than the houses around Mt. Coot-ha, and that's saying a lot. All the parks also have flat top grills for families or groups to cook their picnic fare. Though I have to admit, on this day, I was more than ready for some refueling at the coffee shops!  
Queen Street shops. Did I just say shopping?! Yes please! The main pedestrian area of Queen Street is full of  galleries, food courts, and definitely cheaper shopping than we’d seen in Sydney. It has good food and café’s, actual quality places, fresh juice, soups salads and sandwiches and all can be found in the food courts, surprisingly, and for relatively bargain prices. I enjoyed “Sumo Salad”, and also found some good smoothies and healthy snack stores so I could stock up on my dried fruit and nuts. 
China Town- This is on the Northeast side of town. We ate at a Singaporean/ Malaysian place one night since our family friends had lived in Singapore a long time ago. It was just ok in my opinion. There are several more Asian food restaurants and grocers, but I think I'm spoiled with Houston's giant China Town. 
Brunswick street- This is the north part right next to China town. Brunswick is where you go for a night out, club/ bar hopping. I simply walked through it then continued south where there are a  lot of Indian restaurants, café’s and some shops. It’s a bit more yuppy than other areas, but in my opinion that's a good thing. Not much was open sadly, because it was Sunday but I found an organic store with vegan desserts! I had to buy several of course, but the sugar was clouding my brain and I didn't think to take pictures before eating them. 
On our last day, we took Melbourne from the city center to Boundary Street. It’s kind of the Montrose (hippy) area of Brisane. This is like a magnet for me in every city! There were really cute café’s and thrift stores. We ate at another bookstore with a café and beautiful patio out back. More soup and good comfort food for moi! :) 
Before closing this guide to Brisbane, I cannot forget to give some shout-outs that made my stay enjoyable!
First of all, Lululemon on queen street. Anyone that knows me here, knows that I'm a huge fan of Lululemon, not for their clothing (I WISH I could afford it!) but for all their community involvement and free events. I'm at my local Housotn Lululemon almost every Sunday for free yoga classes and have become friends with a lot of amazing people from the fitness community here because of it. So when I saw Lululemon in Brisbane, I of course walked in and started chatting with some of the girls there. I was able to attend a free yoga class the weekend I was there. They also referred me to Brisbane City Yoga where I got to take a free Power Yoga class. I love being able to connect with yoga instructors all over the world! 
I can't travel somewhere without eating gelato. I know some countries are obviously known for their gelato's like Italy and France, but let's face it, it's everywhere, therefore, I must eat it. Gelatissimo came to my rescue with flavors like chocolate sorbet and lychee. 
There was also one occasion where I was about to collapse from hunger but no one else wanted to eat yet, so I was saved by one of the greatest veggie burgers I've ever had from a place on Oxford called Grill'd, Just check out the expansive menu. I had no idea you could get so creative with burgers, and they had 3 vegan options.  My burger was over half a foot tall. It was insane and delicious, and I do in fact have a picture of this but it's on my virus infested computer so you'll just have to use your imaginations. Try not to drool on your keyboards. 
I'll end here for now, and I'll be back soon with my final Australia Recap of Cairns, the Coral Reef resort! Hope you enjoyed my post, and of course, feel free to ask me questions if you are traveling here because it's always impossible to capture everything on the blog while still holding your attention :p
G'day mates! 


Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad said...

Can I say how jealous I am of your trip? This looks and sounds amazing. Also awesome that you hung out at Lululemon :)

I don't always eat gelato everywhere I travel, but I do have to eat the local dessert. I cannot turn down dessert.

Katie said...

You didn't manage to stow a koala away in your suitcase, did you?! Who needs a pug when you can cuddle with one of those!