In the midst of preparing to leave for Australia I took a blogging hiatus for a few weeks to focus on ensuring all the loose ends were tied up before my arrival in the new country. But now I’m happy to say I’m officially settled in, and ready to pick up blogging once more!
This first week since arriving has been all sorts of things: chaotic, beautiful, stressful, enlightening, frustrating, adventurous, but mostly just busy.
I arrived Thursday night and took a bus from the airport to the YHA hostel in Brisbane City. If you’re ever traveling in Australia, I highly recommend staying at any of the YHA hostels. I will likely post a review of their hostel soon and discuss it in more detail, but my stay here has been lovely.
Friday morning I woke up early and after eating a banana and Nutella toastie (like a grilled cheese), I went on a walk to explore the city. Brisbane is a very unique place quite unlike any other I’ve visited. The Brisbane River snakes through the whole city, providing gorgeous river views from nearly every vantage point. The towering skyscrapers of Brisbane’s business district provide a perfect backdrop against the water making it a very picturesque scene.
After my walk I hopped on the bus to take me across the river and to University of Queensland so I could familiarize myself with the campus. My first (and current) impression of the University, is that it’s huge. It’s nearly 60 acres larger than USC and has double the amount of students. I got lost several times, and only just recently figured out my way from the bus terminal to the student centre and back. My favorite part of campus right now is a beautiful large pond, tucked away behind the large sandstone buildings, where the peaceful atmosphere is home to an abundance of trees, flowers, and wildlife. I see the shaded benches as the perfect place to escape to study or just relax, and I’m already looking forward to the many more afternoons I can spend there.
Saturday took a different change of pace. I woke up early and myself and a few other girls accompanied one of the leaders from the hostel to the markets in West End. We took the scenic route along the river and after 30 minutes arrived in the flavorful, hipster town. Despite being quite busy, the markets had a very laid back vibe about them, and live music played nearby from a band out of a hippie van. You could buy nearly everything from food to jewelry, and I picked up some delicious fresh apples and plums before we headed back.
After resting for a bit, the other girls who went to the market (Maja and Saige) and I decided to walk to South Bank to swim. The “beach” in South Bank is unique in itself as well, being that it is a man-made fresh water lagoon that sits on a hill beside the river, deliberately placed to have stunning views of the city centre. We spent several hours lounging in the sun, exploring their markets, and enjoying fresh ice cream.
When the sun began to set, we headed back to YHA to shower and change before Saige and I met up again for dinner. It was on this adventure that we discovered Caxton street, a swanky street home to upscale bars and hotels and also, interestingly, cheap street pizza. Like nearly all other parts of Brisbane, it was well lit with outdoor twinkle lights and was noticeably cleaner and safer than any other big city I’ve traveled to in the U.S. It was also full of much livelier company, as Saige and I got invited to join a cheeky dice game with some nice Aussies who bought us wine and gave us tips about traveling in the city. It was a true show of Australian hospitality.
Sunday morning the three of us returned to South Bank to watch the Australian Ballet, only to discover we misread the sign and it was actually a ballet lesson being taught by the Australian Ballet. After watching a bit of it we decided to explore a different part of the city and headed to the large half indoor-half outdoor Queen Street mall. I restrained from buying anything (astounding, I know), but fell in love with a store called Typo, which I’ll also write more about later. While out and about, we all also managed to open a bank account and get an Australian sim card for our phones, making us official Aussie residents for the next few months!
This has been quite a long post I realize, but I want to ensure I don’t forget a single detail of my trip, and also I want everyone reading this to be able to enjoy the journey with me :).
I want to end by listing just a few things I’ve learned so far since arriving.
- The Australian sun is HOT. (And that’s coming from a girl who splits her time between Los Angeles and Phoenix.) I learned the hard way I need to apply much more sunscreen than I was.
- I am hopeless at reading a map.
- Public transport here can be your friend, if only you remember which stop you need to get off on…
- Food is incredibly more expensive than in the U.S. ($12 is a cheap burger)
- There are a lot of islands off the east coast of Australia worth visiting.
If you’ve made it this far in the post, thank you for taking the time to read all about my travels! As I explore throughout Brisbane I’ll be sure to continue documenting it all here, as well as some tips for backpacking, studying abroad, and just traveling in general throughout this magnificent country.
I hope everyone is having an amazing week!