Back to the Bright Lights of Brisbane

So here we are back in Brisbane, or ‘Brisvegas’ as it’s sometimes known (though I’m still not sure quite why!) When we made the decision to come back here before New Zealand I really wasn’t looking forward to it but decided to take an optimistic approach and hoped things would be different this time. So far, it seems pretty much the same as last time but I’m going to try my hardest to enjoy it and make the most of it all!

* * * * *

This morning I was woken up by the sound of Codie’s alarm going off but rather than leaping out of bed as I wanted to, refreshed and ready for the day, I rolled over and slowly opened my eyes. I’d had a bit of a disrupted sleep last night as I’d woken myself, and probably everyone else, up by shouting though I cannot for the life of me remember what. Hmmm. I really hope this hasn’t been happening in all the hostels we’ve been in as I have a history of sleeping with my eyes open too and that’s apparently quite scary. I couldn’t possibly say as I’m asleep. Anyway, once I was used to the bright sunlight, I quickly got up and dressed and we headed down to investigate breakfast. Even though we’d now spent 4 nights in the hostel, it was the first time we’d been up in time to take advantage of it and Codie was quite keen to see what was on offer. Unfortunately it wasn’t much so I opted for no breakfast instead whilst he munched on peanut butter on toast. Yuck. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why so many people like it. It just looks and tastes so, so nasty.

Once the munching had finished, it was time to pack our things up and get ready to check out. I was really glad that we’d packed most of the things up last night, apart from our towels, as it meant that I had a good half an hour to sit and read The Hobbit. I’ve read so many books on this trip but as far as I know, this is the one that I don’t like putting down at all. Having said that, Alfie the Doorstep Cat did have quite a similar effect though I think that’s mainly because I’m missing having a cat friend. In the end, I had to be forced to put my kindle away before we gathered everything together and trudged downstairs. Just like when we arrived, I had to really concentrate on now falling over on the stairs as even though they were concrete, they wobbled and shook so much. You’d have thought with the amount of people going back drunk all the time, they’d at least attach the stairs to the wall. Not being drunk and using them was still a challenge and I’m pretty sure someone must have fallen down them at least once! 

IMG_5810When we reached the reception area and checked out, it was only 10 which meant we had a whole 3 hours until we were able to catch our bus to Brisbane. Whilst that seemed to be ages, a part of me was also quite pleased as I really wasn’t very keen on getting back there and I wanted a bit of time to just relax before all the travelling chaos. We dropped our bags off in the luggage storage room, which appeared to be just someone’s actual room, and took our places on a sofa. It was nice to just sit down for a bit and I caught up on the news whilst people watching and the time just flew by. It would have been lovely to have gone for a little wander around the city again but we’d have ended up buying things like food and if we want to do lots of fun things in New Zealand, we really need to save our money. Soon it was time for us to catch the bus and leave Surfers Paradise for the bright lights of Brisbane. Our bus was only leaving at 1:15pm but at quarter to we thought we should probably get all our things together and get the courtesy bus to the station in time to get decent seats together. Knowing that I probably wouldn’t use the bus toilet, the words “very difficult to open the door” strike fear into me, I quickly ran off to use the one around the corner instead. It was a bit annoying that it didn’t have any soap as it makes you think how many dirty door handles you’ve touched and I had to put up with a few people practically kicking the door down to get in but I hurried out, grabbed the antibacterial hand gel and went to get my things together.

Off we went, ready to go to Brisbane and see how it went this time. I’m really enjoying travelling around different places at the moment and so even though we’ve already been there, I think just the thought of leaving Surfers to go somewhere else excited me a bit. I also really hoped that I’d fall for the charm of the big city this time instead of wanting to leave so I suppose I was also keen to see how that would go. As we travelled along, we listened to the news and heard that a man had been fatally attacked by a suspected 4 metre shark in Ballina, just south of Byron Bay. It was really horrible to think that it’d had happened to someone but at the same time, I also found it quite exciting to think that such a shark hadn’t been too far away from us. There’d be another attack on someone further up to coast as well though that guy wasn’t too badly injured. Of course it’s horrendous that people are dying and being hurt but I love sharks and I loved the fact that they are just swimming about just off the coast. It also made me think that perhaps the birds and the splashing we’d seen from our viewpoint in the SkyPoint tower had been caused by feeding sharks and that was an amazing thought. I wasn’t able to think about it for too much longer though as we were arriving at the transport station and needed to hoist on our bags and find the Greyhound bus. I really thought that we were earlier enough to get on and sit together but as we quickly walked over, it became apparent that this wasn’t the case at all. We were last. After signing in, chucking our bags onboard and jumping on to the bus, we discovered that there were barely any seats left at all and yet again we had to face the wrath of people’s glaring faces, acting as though we were making them late. I found this quite difficult to deal with as it was only 1pm, we were 15 minutes early! To the sound of sighing and tutting, I eventually found a seat at the front and Codie found one at the back. It was a bit annoying but the journey was only an hour or so and he managed to give me my headphones, kindle and some sweets so I had plenty to keep myself occupied with. I just wished that people were a little bit more helpful instead of acting as though you’d just asked to shoot their pet when you ask them to move their bags. From my experience of this over the last few months, I’m now going to make the effort to help someone looking for a seat instead of looking out of the window as I really do understand how hard it can be.

Sitting on the bus for the next hour or so wasn’t quite as bad as I’d thought it would be even though it was completely packed. On a few occasions I had someone’s sweaty feet on either side of me and sometimes I was kneed in the back but it definitely wasn’t the worst journey in the world and seemed to go fairly quickly. I was also quite pleased that I’d managed to get a front seat as it meant that I got to see some of the Gold Coast’s attractions as we passed like Wet N Wild and Dreamworld. With Codie being sat right at the back though, I didn’t have anyone to point things out to and that was a bit rubbish. The french girl I was next to seemed nice but she was absorbed either in her music or in a conversation with her friends sitting behind us so I couldn’t really talk to her and everyone else was asleep nearby. It always amazes me when people seem to just block out the views straight in front of them and snore away to themselves because I know I definitely couldn’t do that. I don’t like missing out on things for a start (I always expect a koala to run alongside the bus the moment I close my eyes) but the road ahead was still lined with beautiful countryside so it seemed a shame not to make the most of it.

IMG_5821As we approached Brisbane, I felt my heart drop and I suddenly felt a bit miserable. I’d really tried to convince myself to try my very best to like it this time but it seemed as though I just couldn’t. Seeing the huge buildings towering over everything didn’t intrigue me as they had in Sydney, they made me feel a bit gloomy and I tried to focus on my kindle instead but it seemed impossible. I ended up reading the same page about 5 times before I gave up and stared out of the window at everything we’d left behind in October. Still trying to remain slightly optimistic, I watched the people wandering about , hoping that I’d see people smiling and happy to be there but there didn’t seem to be any. There seemed to be so many people wearing the same drab, grey shirts and cross expressions, I felt the last of my enthusiasm drain away. I didn’t want to be back at all. I recognised the places we’d passed on the way to Hervey Bay and recalled how happy we’d felt leaving, only this time we were on our way in to spend next 10 days there. There wasn’t too much time to dwell though as we were about to arrive in the coach bay and I needed to gather myself and all my things together.

Hopping off the bus, I quickly made my way over to the luggage compartment as our bags were at the front and I’d need to get them first. When I got there, they already seemed to have leapt out and were lying in the way of everyone else. Hmmmm. Cheers for that bags. I was still holding my kindle and phone as well as the camera bag so it was a bit of a struggle lugging them across the floor but I somehow managed to and left them in a pile still in the way. Oh dear. I’d underestimated quite how many people were getting off and on the bus so while I thought I was out of the way, I really wasn’t at all. Luckily Codie had finally made it off and so helped me to drag it all to the side before we tried to decide what to do. We’d actually arrived at the transit centre about 20 minutes early and with us already having to wait half an hour for the shuttle bus to the hostel, we now had to wait quite a bit longer. We decided to go inside so Codie could connect to the internet and contact the hostel, Bunk, just to double check that we were able to get on the bus otherwise there’d have been no point us hanging around. The only wifi connection available was downstairs in McDonalds so I waited with everything on the seats whilst he went down to try and sort things out. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but remember how excited we were about sitting in the seats waiting for the bus to Hervey Bay and I looked at the people close by, jealous that they were getting to leave. I’m pretty sure that New Zealand will make up for it though so I told myself that I just have to get on with things and waited for Codie to come back. A good 10 minutes later he did, equipped with a regular fries and the news that the shuttle would be there about an hour later. Hmmmm. It was a while to wait but we occupied ourselves with chips and biscuits and the hour crawled by in the end.

IMG_5822We weren’t entirely sure where exactly the bus would appear so we went outside to the bays as that’s where we’d been dropped off the last time. After a little while, it turned up though it was clear that with so many people waiting to get on, some would be left behind and we didn’t want it to be us. When the woman driving opened the boot there was a mad rush to get the luggage loaded and a seat. It was chaos. I ended up sat next to a girl who glared at me the entire way back because her friend had to wait at the centre and I’d sat where she was supposed to. I really wanted to just tell her it was tough, she’d not been ready to put her things on so it was really her own fault but not wanting to cause I fuss, I kept quiet and sat there awkwardly. As we pulled up in the carpark, there was a mad dash to get off the bus to get inside as nobody wanted to be the last in the check in queue. Unfortunately, trying to gather all our things together and recover the water bottle which was rolling around in the boot meant that it was in-fact us who ended up the last in line which annoyed me quite a bit. I didn’t want to end up crammed in a room with two top bunks as this hostel is really quite noisy at times so you want to be able to hang a sheet up and feel a bit more cosy and secure. Following a good 15 minutes waiting for other people to be sorted, we eventually got the keys to our room and set off in search of our beds. This time we were in J101 which was upstairs and straight away I absolutely hated it. It was hot, clammy, there were no privacy screens and if you climbed the ladders to the top bunks, the only ones left, the entire bed leaned and lifted off the floor. Considering we’d come back to Bunk especially for the privacy screens, it wasn’t great to be in a room with none and so Codie asked reception if we could move to the room we were in last time. I don’t think you should be able to advertise dorm room facilities online if they’re not the same in real life as you do feel a bit conned. Luckily there was enough space downstairs and we were able to get decent beds there instead WITH privacy screens. It sounds like I’m really picky but every now and again you just want a bit of space without people being able to look at you and the screens are the best option for that without having to pay a fortune.

IMG_5824Now settled in to the new room and onto the new beds, we left to get our free drinks in the beer garden. We had planned to go to Woolworths to get some food for tea but you had to be at the bar dead on 5 for the drink and with it being half 4, we wouldn’t have made it in time. You never turn down anything free when you’re travelling, unless of course it’s something stupid, so we opted to stay for the cocktail and hoped that we’d have something in the cool bag to satisfy our hunger. The drinks were some sort of cherry sours mixed with lemonade type of things and whilst it was nice, it was also very strong, especially when you haven’t drunk much! Still, a free drink is a free drink and once they’d been consumed we left to sort out our washing. Yep the fun just went on and on! We shoved as much in the machine as possible, poured in the rest of our washing powder and then went to sit in the lobby to try and use the internet for a bit. It was a bit rubbish though so I was really quite pleased when Codie’s washing alarm went off and I had to go and put everything in the dryer. I’m never sure what setting to put it on so I spent ages deliberating and then chose colours with my fingers tightly crossed.

Washing sealed in the dryer on a setting I hoped wouldn’t shrink any clothes, it was now time for tea so off we went to the kitchen. The plan was a meat pie and green beans each but upon opening the cool bag we discovered they weren’t looking quite so green anymore and so they ended up in the bin. Hmmmm. Now it was just a healthy tea of pie. Yum. Still, every good Northerner loves a pie so I put them on a plate and shoved them into the microwave. Hmmmm. Another problem. The microwave just didn’t seem to want to work which meant that without an oven, we were faced with the fun of walking to McDonalds which neither of us wanted. Normally I’d jump at the chance of a tasty burger but I’ve reached the stage now where all I’m craving is fruit and veg and the shredded lettuce just wouldn’t cut it. It wasn’t looking good. A guy came over and tried to use the toaster but it just wouldn’t go down and after trying a couple of plugs, we realised that the power had gone. It was brilliant news as it meant that all we had to do was move the microwave down, plug it in to a working socket and off our pies went. Hooray! What made it even better was the fact that two girls had some yummy looking vegetables left over and offered them to us instead of binning it. That was great as it meant that I got the veg I was craving and I didn’t have to make any of it! Nope I’m not lazy, I’m just not a huge fan of cooking! We also remembered that we still have some garlic bread left so that was lobbed into the microwave and we actually ended up with quite a tasty and filling meal.

IMG_5826After washing up and dragging ourselves up the stairs, collecting the burning hot but clean washing and heading back to our room where I hung some of my non-dryer clothes, it was time for a much needed shower. That’s not to say we were stinking, (though let’s face it, we probably were), I was just desperate to feel warm and snug in my clean pyjamas. I think it’s one of my favourite ever feelings. It wasn’t the most powerful shower I’ve had in Australia, the ones on Magnetic Island were just amazing, but it did the job and it wasn’t long before I was back and under the blanket in bed. And here I am now nice and snug. Just the way I like it. I’m still hoping that Brisbane will grow on me and I’m optimistic that’ll I’ll feel better once I’ve had a nice sleep. Now let’s just hope I get one!

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