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Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tuesday’

Travel Tuesday- Gold Coast

This is one of my more lengthy Travel Tuesday posts. I usually like my pictures to do the talking in these but so much of my experience with the Gold Coast was the people and the stories that I have to share it in text. I’ll try to throw some pretty pictures in there to break it up.

A view overlooking Brisbane, on our way out

A view overlooking Brisbane, on our way out

In my last Travel Tuesday post, I talked about the short two-day trip I took to Fraser Island immediately after a week at the Sunshine Coast. After my Fraser Island trip, I was dropped off in Brisbane and was planning on heading back to Toowoomba the next day after a day in Brisbane doing city things. One of the hardest parts about moving to Toowoomba from Boston is how much I missed the city sometimes. Giving up constantly having places to go, things to see and restaurants/cafes/shops to explore was an adjustment. Toowoomba isn’t small but it definitely isn’t the New England city I was used to. So I figured I would crash in Brisbane for the night, do some exploring during the day and head back to Toowoomba that evening.

Tony's Mom on her land, helping to clean it up

Tony’s Mom on her land, helping to clean it up

While in Brisbane, I had booked a cheap hostel less than a mile from the train station but my boss assured me I could stay at her practice for the evening. Free room and board? Yes please! She is a midwife and has a practice “not too far from the train station” she said. Unfortunately, I had done a crap job at packing (not surprising) and had taken most of my weeks worth of stuff from Sunshine Coast with me to Fraser Island. Which means, I was lugging it around with me in Brisbane as I hunted down my bed for the evening. 3 miles later, with a giant back pack on my back (and no, not the back packing ones. I’m talking about an overstuffed laptop bag, with my circa 2008 Macbook, and my teddy bear sticking out) and a tiny rolling bag, I found myself standing in the middle of a road, at night, with the name I was looking for but with numbers that weren’t going low enough. Turns out, I had to go across the street and go behind this little wall thing and the street continued.

The View

The View. Those tall buildings are the Gold Coast

That obstacle tackled, I got into the practice no problem and plopped down on the bedroom to unwind before bed . An hour or so later, after going to the bathroom and planning on calling it a night, the alarm for the practice started going off. At first, I didn’t realize it was coming from my place because, well, I had been there for an hour or two. Then,  my brain did the most logical thing and jumped to every single episode of Law and Order: SVU that I had seen where there was a single white girl alone in a new place where she is attacked (so like, 50% of them?). As I was creeping about this place, I was relieved to find it empty but at this point the sirens were loud and I couldn’t figure out what to do! I opened the door to see if something had triggered it and found the neighbors crowded around. Yeap, the American is making a scene! But because they were Aussies they weren’t nearly as disgruntled as Bostonians would have been and kindly came inside to help disarm the alarm. During this time, I was frantically calling my boss, who had no idea what to do, so put me through to Sharon, one of the midwives who worked regularly at this practice. She walked me through disarming the alarm and when silence descended, finally, I found myself alone with two older middle-aged men, one who was in something that vaguely resembled a white bathrobe. Again, cue the SVU panic.

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Shore where we docked the boat to the untouristy beach

Thankfully, they were incredibly nice and immediately exited the facility. And I was now in contact with Sharon, who was coming to the practice tomorrow and offered to let me stay with her when she returned for the weekend to the Gold Coast. I was hesitant at first but isn’t this what traveling is for? The next morning, she arrived with a Starbucks for me and I knew it was a sign from above. So off I went to the Gold Coast!

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Look how quiet the beach is! Locals know the best spots

So, I’m not sure if I mentioned this previously, but I did zero research for my stay in Australia. I’m talking, nothing. As someone who obsessively makes lists (and leaves them in purses, pant pockets, jacket pockets, books, magazines, on the fridge….), the little planning I did for this vacation is astonishing and speaks volumes to my need to get out of Boston for a while. With that said, I knew nothing about the Gold Coast and let Sharon and her husband, Tony, show me whatever they wanted. I pretty much just tagged along with them for a few days. We hung out with Tony’s mom and saw her land with a beautiful view then went shopping and had coffee with her. I had dinner with Tony’s family, all who were incredibly welcoming and tolerant of a random American with weird food issues crashing their party. I went to an untouristy little beach via boat where Tony surfed, Sharon swam and I prayed not to get a sun burn (she did eventually get me in the water). I learned that the sand on this beach was a lot softer then in the states and walking on it was the most intense work-out my calves had ever experienced. I had Easter dinner with Sharon and Tony’s parents and siblings and helped make this tomato salad. I embarrassed myself immensely by taking it upon myself to organize their 500+ DVD collection. I spread out across the living room and attempted to find cases for all the loose DVDs, then divided them into kids and adults, then sorted them all alphabetically. I wish I was kidding. I’m not. It took me two nights and in the end, I never found the Man of Steel DVD that started the whole thing. Sharon found me very amusing and told me I was welcome back to organize whatever I wanted. 🙂  Sharon and I also took an ocean side hike, which had both amazing views and crazy vegetation. Then she was a saint and took me to Starbucks (yes!) and Lush (YES!!) before bringing me back to Brisbane to catch a bus back to Toowoomba.

no tourists means I could finally get some whole shells which I had been looking for. There were none at Bondi Beach or Sunshine Coast- too many people

no tourists means I could finally get some whole shells which I had been looking for. There were none at Bondi Beach or Sunshine Coast- too many people

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Sharon made me soy cappuccinos with little milk hearts twice while I was there. I’m trying to remember why I left…

Views from our ocean-side hike

Views from our ocean-side hike

 

ocean-side hike

ocean-side hike

 

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I was overwhelmed by the kindness that Sharon and Tony showed me and had such an amazing time! They lived right on the water. I would wake up in the morning and sit on her porch and just relax. If I ever move to Aussie, I’m finding a house right next to Sharon and Tony’s and cooking for them every night as a huge ‘Thank You’.

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So, I did some more traveling. Finally! I went to the Sunshine Coast with the kids I nanny for and their mom over the kids’ April vacation. She had to work, the kids and I had no plans so we just hung around- beachside. It was fun. I didn’t do too much exploring down there because I didn’t have a car but I walked down to the Maroochydore Esplanade (they had starbucks and vegan fro-yo. Life made) and made it out to the Australian Zoo and Currimundi Beach.

Note: My camera had a terrible crash at Bundi beach back in December and it just hasn’t been the same since. Just a wee bit fuzzier then I like. I think I need a new lens 😦 😦 Also, some of these are off an old Samsung phone. Moral of the story- These pictures aren’t the best but I’m trying not to obsess over them. Trying be the key word.

Beach time and Maroochydore Esplanade walk:

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I built a sandman! Think more Frozen “Do you want to build a snowman?!” and less Metallica

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Vegan lunch one day at Raw Energy. I ordered the Mexican Roll Up with no sour cream. Yum!

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and followed it up with some Soy Chocolate Fro-yo at Yogurt Land. I was SO happy about this.

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Australian Zoo:

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Perentie, Australia’s Largest Lizard

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AHH!! Crocodiles!!

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Cassowary

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and more koalas!

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Robert Irwin picking up a little croc. He’s only 10!

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Kangaroo just chillin’

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aww, cute baby giraffe…

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and baby tiger!

and, last for the Sunshine Coast, Currimundi Beach:

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Currimundi had beaches…

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…and a shallow lake area

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We saw this randomly at a little airport. I don’t know anything about planes but I know that I sort of love this one!

 

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My second day in Sydney was Christmas! It was cool and rainy. I spent the morning skyping with the family, opening a few present (I totally got Taylor Swift Keds. I’m totally not even embarrassed. They’re totally cute) and taking my time. It was a holiday after all!

Eventually, I got my butt in gear and decided to visit a few tourist traps. I wanted to remain busy to avoid being homesick. And nothing says, ‘Cheer up, Erin!’ like spending the holidays with adorable penguins and Kate and William. Plus, there really wasn’t much else open.

First up, I needed to get into the Christmas spirit and nothing says Christmas like a Hot Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks on a rainy morning. To make it vegan, I order a peppermint soy latte and add cocoa powder from the milk and sugar area. Possibly better then the original. Also, It was my first of the season. I was pumped! So pumped in fact that I went on to have one Starbucks beverage almost every day during my Sydney trip. Hello liquid calories!!

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Then it was off to the Sydney Aquarium. Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed. There didn’t seem to be much room for many of the animals and there wasn’t really much chance to wander and explore. The aquarium was sort of set up as a one way path. You follow it and that’s that. It was surprisingly crowded on Christmas Day with tourist and I definitely felt the lack of space. I actually saw one family with an elderly person in a wheel chair bail out through an Employee Only exit because they couldn’t find any way out and didn’t have time to go through the whole aquarium. On the plus side though, they had Fairy Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world and oh-so-cute, as well as Dugongs, which are related to Manatees and I had never heard of before.

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A nursery for shark eggs. How crazy are those spiraled ones??

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Fairy penguins! super cute but they were all enclosed so I had a hard time getting a picture

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Tiny little sea horse

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Moon jellyfish, I believe.

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The dugong.

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I don’t believe them and I’m still not going in the water!

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I took this picture in a tunnel you have to walk through. It’s surrounded on all sides by a tank and the sharks can just swim above your head, no big deal.

Next up was Madame Taussaud’s Wax Museum. Also VERY crowded. Particularly with tourists that were incredibly unaware of their surroundings and kept walking into my pictures. Or jumping the line for pictures. I was not amused. By the time I got out, I was so worked up and stressed all I could think of was, “Someone get me a margarita before I hurt someone!!”

I did see some amazing sculptures, though. Being in Sydney, there were a lot of Australian celebrities represented – Hugh Jackman, Miranda Kerr, Olivia Newton John- as well as huge A-listers like Brad and Angelina, William and Kate, Katy Perry and Leonardo Di Caprio. It’s amazing how real some of them look! The only room that really held no interest for me was the Australian history room because I didn’t know any of the figures and it was too crowded to leisurely read the cards.

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What did you do on Christmas? I hung out with royalty. I actually got my picture taken with them but it was by one of the museum’s photographers and they tried to charge me, like, $45 for them. No thanks!

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“You’re the one that I want, (you are the one I want), oo, oo,oo honey!”

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Wolverine!

My “thank-gosh-I-got-out-of-that-museum-without-killing-anyone” Margarita.

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After dinner, I wondered around the Sydney Harbor which was decorated for Christmas (So many Santas!) then went back to the room to relax and dry off from the rain.

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I should have one more post from my Sydney travels coming next week. Let me know what you think of this Travel Tuesday feature!

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Even though I’ve only done a handful of them, Travel Tuesdays have quickly become my favorite section on this blog. I hope I can keep them up for 2014.

As I mentioned, I went to Sydney over the Christmas Holiday for 1 week. It ended up being my only travel opportunity so I’m glad I went the full week. It reminded me a lot of NYC in that it was a fun city to visit but I didn’t find it as sightseeing heavy as say, Paris, London, Florence, etc. I had a great time, don’t get me wrong! But it was mostly because I shopped until I, quite literally, dropped at the end of the day. There were nights I went to bed certain that my feet had swollen to twice their normal size. Good thing I had bought out Lush earlier and had about a million different bath bombs to soak them in! SO excited.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make aside from the fact that I’m a horrendous consumer whose soul belongs to Lush and Starbucks, is that though I enjoyed Sydney, I may not have as many pictures as I anticipated. Despite my week long trip, I think I may only get about 2 or 3 Travel Tuesdays out of it. And I hope I don’t bore you.

Now, let’s begin. Day 1 I arrived at about 6 pm to my hostel, Sydney Central YHA. It’s the same chain I stayed at when in Brisbane and was totally sold when I found out they had a free movie night each night. An excuse to stay in and not have to socialize while simultaneously sort of being social since I’m experiencing an event with 30+ strangers and making small talk over the free popcorn machine. Count me in!

Day 2, I planned on getting up early so I could photograph Bondi Beach at sunrise. Turns out it was cool, cloudy and rainy and I mostly woke up at 5 am to get a lot of overcast pictures of the sky. I would later drown this disappointment by raiding Lush (for the first time), dying of excitement over finding fro-yo and aimlessly walking around a giant mall which was so large that I actually got lost. All and all, I would count it pretty successful.  After all, any day that has me walking away from a beach not sunburn is  victory in my book.

 

Now, onto the photos! (just click on the photo to see Full Size. It should open in a new window):

 

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Let’s just take a moment to admire my packing skills here. This was round 1 of my attempt to pack. Yes, that is my suitcase before  I went to Sydney. In otherwords, before I went shopping for a whole week. Clearly, I had to dump this all out and do some serious editing. I think it’s safe to say I need to work on traveling light.

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Waddup Sydney Central Hostel! I spent three nights here in a room with 5 other girls. I can safely say I didn’t hate it. The staff was helpful, there was a nice restaurant inside with breakfast served all day and the most important thing, I didn’t get bed bugs. I can also say, I didn’t love it. Especially when two of the girls in my room rolled in at 3 am on the morning I was waking up at 5 am. Then turned on all the lights so they could see. Then one got a booty call at 3:15am and proceeded to talk to said booty call until 3:30am when it finally dawned on her that maybe it was rude and took it out side. I didn’t love that so much. But the rest of the hostel was nice!

Now, endless beach pictures:

 

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why yes, I did wear my Converse to the beach and yes, I am still finding sand in them. BUT, since it was cloudy and cool, I ended up walking about a mile and a half up a rather steep street to get to the mall , Bondi junction, so it ended up being a wise decision.

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Anyone who knows me knows that the Achilles heel of my veganism is Fro-yo and ice cream. It’s my kryptonite. I love it. So when I found a fro-yo place at Bondi Beach, I almost died. There are no fro-yo places where I’m living in Toowoomba. I don’t know how I moved to a place with no Starbucks and no fro-yo but somehow I did. This was is half original fro-yo with pomegranate and granola. And have chocolate with cookie dough, Tim Tams (!) and a sour gummy worm. Not vegan but delicious. Ironically, for lunch I stopped at this little vegan joint called Iku Whole Foods bought sweet potato millet balls, ate it on a fresh roll (from Tin Pin Bakery) with some hummus and fruit salad from Bondi Road Fruitologist (heaven!). Did I photograph any of that? Of course not. I just photographed the ice cream. oi!

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I’m pretty sure sharks don’t come this close inland. I think I’m safe.

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It wouldn’t be a trip to Bondi without a few surfer pics. Because of the weather, the beach was almost deserted that day but I know the few days before and after it was mobbed.

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This bird has one foot. Just saying.

More to come next week! I visit the opera house and go on a wine and cheese tour which may not have been the best idea for a light weight vegan. But it was still fun!

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