First stop, Queensland’s capital city: Brisbane!
Wow, I’m off to my first destination on my east coast adventure. I had thoughts about visiting Brisbane before coming to Australia, but I didn’t think I’d actually make my way here back then because it’s just another city. Being Queensland’s largest city, I suppose Brisbane or Brissie has its own charms. Learning from other backpacker’s experience, there’s no need to stay in Brisbane more than a day or two – agreed.
The morning flight to Brisbane was quite a struggle since I was trying to stay up to watch the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. I ended up taking a nap before the game and woke up for the first half and went back to bed during halftime. I was woken up by Germany’s victory as I hear my hostelmates’ roaring chants of joy for their country. With a little bit too much to drink, I suppose it wasn’t a good idea boarding a plane slightly hung over. It was quite depressing to be checking out of this lovely hostel after 3 weeks even though I know I’d be returning to Sydney shortly.
After some delays, I finally made it to Brisbane. I encountered little misfortunes right when I checked into the Bunk Hostel located in Fortitude Valley. I think my room card key wasn’t calibrated correctly so I had to go back to reception to get that fixed before getting to my room. When I finally managed to unlock the door, a whiff of bodily sweat stung my nose. Ugh, I booked a mixed 10 bed dorm and just my luck, all my other roommates were boys. The only empty bed was the top bunk right next to the toilet. They belongings spread all over the room and the last locker in the room was broken. “I am not paying all this money to sleep in this shit hole,” I thought and went to the reception to see if I can get a room change. Luckily, there was another room available and the lady switched my room. The new room was much better ventilated and empty. In that 10 bedroom dorm, only two other girls checked in. So…the reception couldn’t have placed me there to begin with? I later found out that other girls were checking in the room in the middle of the night at around 2-3 AM and they couldn’t have been more noisy!
The first night started out a bit rough for me emotionally. I cannot believe I was actually experiencing severe Sydney withdrawal problems. I miss the people I left behind in Sydney. Even though I’d be back for a few days before flying out to Hong Kong, I was still feeling down about leaving everyone. The thought about leaving Sydney for real after my return seemed very upsetting. I had made a home out of my cozy hostel in Kings Cross and made friends with other travelers staying there long term; it felt like home. And then, there I was sitting in the Brisbane hostel bed all alone in the empty room since none of my roommates were back yet. It was my first time being a in foreign city without knowing a single person. I knew people in Sydney before I arrived and even in my past travels in Europe, I either knew or traveled with someone or had made a connection through Couchsurfing. This time, it’s just me.
After getting all settled in, I only had time to check out Chinatown and Fortitude Valley for the night and saving the rest for the following day. When I returned to my room after a quick stroll, one of my roommates had just came back as well. When I found out that she was from Rio de Janiero, I suddenly felt a sense of joy to meet a Brazilian and feeling nostalgic about last summer in Rio. It turns out that a group of Brazilians had checked in or will be checking in the hostel as they are here for a semester to year long exchange. My Brazilian roommate had invited me to meet up with other Brazilian students in the hostel. Hanging out with them brought back memories of the times spent with my Brazilian co-workers in Rio. I wish I was more fluent in Portuguese because their English was a little limiting at times. I used to confuse Portuguese with Spanish, but now after a semester of trying to learn Danish, I’m meshing all 3 of them together.
With one full day in Brisbane I had the option of exploring the CBD or skipping that and head out to South Stradbroke Island which is roughly 1 hr away from Brisbane. I had read about South Stradbroke Island on my East Coast Lonely Planet book, but when I asked others about this island, no one seemed to have heard of it. I decided to pass on the South Stradbroke Island and explore Brisbane instead since the weather was gloomy. I took the free City Hopper ferry that brought me over to South Bank. I walked along South Bank and saw the made man beach and lagoon. Aussies just have to have a beach nearby or else they cannot survive. After walking about the surrounding area, I walked to the botanical garden, the shopping street of Brisbane, and then took the ferry to Kangaroo Point. If you just want to check out the main bits of the city, 1 day is enough to see Brisbane.
Just my luck, my tour to Fraser Island is under-booked so they cancelled the tour giving me the option to either join the tour leaving a day earlier or a day after. I decided to hop on the tour leaving a day later, giving me more time in Noosa. Hopefully, there aren’t any other time conflicts in this 3 week excursion.