Brisbane is Australia's third largest city, and is the capital of Queensland. When making plans to meet up with Laurel's family in Cairns in N. Queensland we figured that was a perfect opportunity to stop on the way and spend the weekend in Brisbane. So we did. And it was.
The first thing we did when we landed in Brisbane was go out for lunch. We are, if nothing else, food-oriented people. We met up with Laurel's workmate Katrina, who recently re-located to Brisbane to start a Brisbane branch of their office. She told us she knew the best Tapas place and promptly took us down a side alley, that did not look anything like a restaurant. Midway down the alley, she looked over her shoulder and said, "And this is where I murder you."
Fortunately we were not murdered. Brisbane is going for the same kind of cool downtown area that Melbourne has- replacing trashy alleys with hip, trendy bars and restaurants. So at the end of the alley we were presented with a great lunch place at which all agreed Greg was not nearly cool enough to go to. Lunch was awesome, Katrina did not lead us astray.
Continuing one of many subplots in this blog- Greg's need to pose for pictures with sculptures in public parks. Wow, look at that strength!
Katrina recommended a really good gellato place to hit up for a snack. It was also awesome. Greg picked the boysenberry sorbert while Laurel got the specialty of the house, a honeycomb-toffee gellato. Laurel won.
After our refreshing mid-afternoon retreat we walked a few blocks south to the Botanic Gardens. In the lillypad pond, we came across quite a few iguanas, like this guy here. There was also at least one massive eel, but we couldn't get a good picture of it. Laurel liked the lillypad pond far less after that. Not your usual pond critters.
Another of our blogs subplots- if we cannot identify the bird, and it does not resemble something you would normally see on the eastern coast of the United States, it is identified as a "crazy bird." Here is one such bird.
Brisbane is built along the winding route of the Brisbane River, so it has a metrobus-like-system of ferries that run all up and down the river taking people from side to side. It is remarkably fast and convenient. Here's a picture of one gliding along, while another is at dock taking on passengers.
This is the Brisbane skyline . . .
. . . and this is a picture of us being adorable in front of the Brisbane skyline.
You are going to need to lean in to see this one. The Brisbane river has flooded catastrophically on several occasions, most recently in December 2010. Along the side of the building are two signs depicting how high the flood waters rose in 1880 and 1974. They are really high, especially the one from the 1880's, that sign is at the second-storey of the house. There is a mark a few feet off the ground for where the 2010 flood rose- still a heck of a flood but not nearly as bad as the others. The official sign is presumably forthcoming. This seems to be a bit of an obsession in Brisbane; we saw several other signs like this all over town.
The highlight of our night was Paddles and Prawns. We kayaked on the Brisbane river and had a dinner of all you can eat & drink beer, wine, bread rolls, and freshly caught prawns. We don't have pictures of the paddling part since digital cameras and water do not mix, but we had a great, albeit arm-tiring, time. The current was really strong. We spent about 1.5 hours in the water, with 1.25 hours of that time spent paddling upstream. If you didn't paddle constantly you would find yourself going backward very fast. The return route, going downstream took no time at all. Needless to say, we worked up quite an appetite, and were ready for some all you can eat prawns. We had not anticapated the heads still being on.
Brisbane skyline by night- quite beautiful.
Our hotel was right across the street from the main square, where the city's Christmas tree was set up. That night was the official "lighting of the tree" ceremony. It was really pretty, but it still felt a bit wrong to have a Christmas tree up while the weather was so warm. The plaza also had a cool installation of recessed LED lights in the ground that changed colors from green to red and back again.