We arrived in Brisbane, 2 hours later than scheduled due to the shambles at LAX then further queuing in Brisbane Airport. However, it was a blessing in the end as we couldn't check into our hostel til 2pm. We were dubious about our hostel at first, from the outside it looks like a train station, but when we finally got in it was a really clean, modern and had friendly atmosphere. Its a huge building, so its travellers galore and has a nice vibe to it. We got checked into our room, and payed $30 less than we expected so we were happy. The room was spacious but we found some scales, slippers, a st paddys hat and some peanuts on the floor which was a treat! It was all good in the end when housekeeping sorted us out with some actual linen and hoovered up the nice snack that had been left behind for us.
Once we had settled in, we set off to see more of the city. The hostel is very centrally located so it is a block to Queen St Mall and the big shopping area of Brisbane, which is good for retail therapy but not so good for the bank account. We had a few coffees, saw the river and soaked up some of the Brisbane culture and the suprisingly warm winter sun. Money is much harder to manage here and definately doesn't go as far. We are so used to paying American prices for food and drink we were shocked to discover a can of coke is $2-3 here (£1-£2) when we were used to paying $1 (50p!) It's on a similar price range to England, somethings are much more expensive tho, so it was a bit of a shock to the system when your used to paying $5 for a footlong at Subway and now u pay $10. God bless the American dollar. Jet lag left us feeling like zombies so we were tucked up in bed by 9pm that evening and finally caught up on some well needed shut-eye.
After we got over our jet lag (its a 17hour time difference between LA and Brisbane!) We spent most of our days chilling. Brisbane is a very relaxed city and it was a nice break from the crazyness of USA. My favourite part of Brisbane is the Southbank area. It was about a 15minute from our hostel and along the riverside are some gorgeous bars and restaurants. We went for a drink in one and whilst we sat at the table one of the giant birds with long curly black beaks, that seem to be everywhere in Brisbane, hopped onto the next table and started smashing glasses. It was hilarious! We also found a Napolese Pagoda and a Rainforest Walk which were both stunning. Further along is the Kodak Beach which is a man made beach that looks like an infinity pool when you look out to the river, and we went for a paddle on one of the sunnier days. I was very tempted to go for a swim but as I had no towel or bikini with me I didn't want to brave it in my underwear for fear of scaring the locals!
On the Saturday night we headed to the ground floor of our hostel which holds the 'Down Under Bar'. Its full of travellers from the hostel and people with 'international passports' and the drink were relatively cheap. We had a few drinks and chatted to some randoms...or rather they chatted to us. One man came up to us and shook Olly's hand and began to tell us how 'his life started at 11am this morning' and that he has 'been away for a while'. We were oblivious as ever, but later on her revealed to us that he had spent the last 7 years in prison! He was a really nice and polite guy though so we shook his hand again and went on our merry way. We headed outside to find another bar and instead found two Scottish guys called Lee and Stephen. They had been in Thailand and planned to spend the next year working and travelling Australia. We all headed to a place, the name of which is lost in the drunken blur of my memory, that had a club/bar vibe, played good music and served extremely tasty pitchers. We had a dance and lots of laughs and rolled home about 3am. When Olly and I got back to our room, we were shocked to find a mysterious backpack on the floor. We were very drunk at this point so developed an irrational fear of the person it belonged too. Olly went down to reception to quiz the guy on the desk as to why there was a backpack, who it belonged to, what they were like and why our supposedly private room had turned into a dorm! In the mean time I grabbed our money, passports, ipods and bedding and took them to Lee and Stephen's room. We spent the night sleeping on their floor but it was a good laugh and was funny to think back on the morning after.
Over the course of the week we had the Irish guy (who was the owner of 'the backpack') who turned out to be really nice and not a theif as we had stupidly presumed. Susan, the Korean lady who was lovely, but did not speak English and became offended when Olly asked her if she had a husband. Lastly there was Kristen, the 17year old German girl who had schooled in the Gold Coast for a year, who was also really sweet.
In our final few days we headed to the Brisbane Art Gallery, which has some amazing art and is free to look round (always a bonus!). At one point we were both admiring a very aboriginal and textured painting when the Art Gallery woman walked up to me and said 'Excuse me, you were touching that painting.' I was like 'Erm? Sorry, but I didn't touch the painting.' and she glared at me and told me to step away from the painting! We just laughed at the randomness of the Art Gallery granny, but I somehow don't think she was amused. We went for coffee in the cafe, which is surrounded by amazing art installations/fountains. We had a really nice day and headed back to the hostel.
Overall, Brisbane is a very clean, relaxed and aesthetically pleasing city, I really enjoyed spending the week there!
Next stop: Kingaroy!