Sunrise building a reprise
When we finally touched down in Brisbane, we had endured 36 hours of straight travel, going through airport security 4 times, countless jogs through airport terminals, a day and a half of airline food, and all of this on about 3 hours of sleep.
Brisbane was more than expected. We arrived to perfect temperatures, beautiful greenery, and very friendly people. We made it to our hotel in the city center after a fair bit of difficultly, no doubt related to our fatigue. After finally checking into our hotel, we all breathed a sigh of relief and realized how great it was to be where we were — In a beautiful city, with a whole vacation awaiting us.
The first order of business was to relax a bit, and then to find some place to grab some dinner. After sitting around our hotel for a fair bit, we decided on setting out towards the city center. We took the short walk over to the center of Brisbane, and were quickly re-energized by the beauty of the city. I had long regarded Brisbane as little more than a trumped up tourist trap with a big population, but was so wrong. After walking around the city for 20 minutes, I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. To say I was smitten with Brisbane would be an understatement. I immediately fell for this city. It was, in a word, fantastic, and there is a good reason why so many people call it home.
After a celebratory dinner at a local establishment, 36 hours of travel caught up with us and we retired for the evening. We went to sleep around 9:30 PM Brisbane time, and all had a decent night's sleep for the first time in 48 hours.
The next day we decided we should stick around and try to spend a bit more time in Brisbane. We moved from our posh city center hotel to a more low-key backpackers on Vulture Street. After checking in, we headed straight for a local bar and had a few drinks. We then caught a bus to Brisbane's restaurant and bar distric — Fortitude Valley.
The Valley treated us exceptionally well and we were able to have some excellent fish and chips, mixed with several beers. As the afternoon wore on, we visited a local record shop, walked through the Chinatown district, then headed towards the center of the city again. We made our way towards the river bank and again found ourselves enjoying some beers and just relaxing. It bears repeating, downtown Brisbane is absolutely gorgeous and worthy of staying a bit longer and lingering. Unfortunately, we again were feeling some jet lag, so we retired for the evening, this time closer to 11:30 Brisbane time and had another quality night's sleep.
The next morning, we awoke early and were excited to get on the road and see a bit more of Queensland. After a quick breaky at Maccas, we headed for the Gold Coast. It was a short drive, and before we knew it we were surrounded by the high rises and scenery that make up Surfer's Paradise. We stopped only briefly, but enjoyed our first taste of the beach thoroughly.
Next up, we drove down the coast and found ourselves in Byron Bay. I've never been in a city that was at once so touristy, yet so beautiful and alluring at the same time. Byron Bay is a small city population-wise, but has some of the most incredible beaches in the world, and the city itself is just...well, words can't describe it. Pretty much perfect.
We enjoyed lunch at a beach-side restaurant, where I had one of the best burgers I've eaten in years (thanks to the Aussie burger staple of beetroot). We then took a walk down the beach, and for the first time, the impact of the trip really started hitting me. There is just something so unique about being in this part of the world, something I can't really describe, just a great feeling, and Byron Bay had it in spades.
After a leisurely visit, we headed back down the coast, in search of someplace to hang our heads for the night.