A Travellerspoint blog

California Eating

Food diary of a fatty

Arriving in LA was a bit of a shock after Fiji. It was kind of cold, hectic, not very pretty, and really quite American. I don't think it would rate in my top 10 places i've been (or even my top 25) but there was still fun to be had.

It's not an easy place to get around without a car so I did a fair amount of wandering in West Hollywood where my hostel was. There was a lovely shopping area down the road from me with very fancy shops, a cute little tram, stalls of people who pounce on you offering to show off the work of their hair straighteners on you and asking when you last had your hair cut (when i last brushed it might have been a more pertinent question but hey), some less fancy shops, some great thrift/antique/second hand places and The Cheesecake Factory. My my. I'd been warned not to eat much before going in for the cake so I decided to forgo lunch and have a piece of cheesecake with a cuppa in the early afternoon. Even taking such precautions, it took everything I had to finish my piece. I was so full I didn't even ask the waitress if i could adopt the abandoned piece of Reese Pieces Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake that had been desserted (boom boom) after about 3 bites (i'm not exaggerating) by a guy at the next table.

I spent a day on a bus tour doing all the LA sights - saw the Hollywood sign, walked down Rodeo Drive, went to the theatre where the Oscars are held, saw all the famous people's stars on Hollywood Boulevard, drove past famous people's houses in Beverly Hills, saw the balcony where Richard Gere wooes Julia Roberts at the end of Pretty Woman and visited the crazies in Venice Beach (which is kind of like Camden by sea, with more drugs)... all very glam and superficial but quite cool to see.

I also went to The Getty Centre for a day which was fab (although I did slightly ruin the bonus of it being free to attend by ending up paying $25 to get there. The bus driver watched me put a $20 note in his machine for a $6 ticket before saying 'You did not just do that' rather than telling me it didn't give change. Helpful) - a massive art gallery with exhibitions from all over the world and different eras. My favourite parts were the architecture tour and garden tour I went on which explained all about the artistic visions of the architect and the garden designer which was v interesting.

So, after failing to spot any celebs but managing to catch up with Mel and Emily who I met in Fiji (bonus), I flew to San Francisco where I could barely conceal my excitement at seeing Francesca again. In fact, I was so excited I had to put my ipod on a jaunty song and mime singing and dancing along in the back of the taxi. Our reunion was somewhat complicated by the fact that my flight was delayed and I didn't have a phone but after much racing around different airport terminals, multiple airport wide (airport wide) pages of each of our names and a lot of confusion we were eventually reunited in our hotel, much to the amusement of the receptionist.

I LOVED San Francisco. Such a beautiful city with lots to do, lots of different areas to explore, fantastic weather (we were VERY lucky) and lots to eat :-)

We did a lot of wandering around different neighbourhoods soaking up the atmosphere, sitting in little parks watching the world go by, stopping to try a tasty morsel somewhere... we both loved Haight-Ashbury which is a fab area with really funky shops and a slightly hippy-ish feel, we explored China Town and saw fortune cookies being made, we nearly died trekking up (and giggling at) the insanely steep roads of Nob Hill, saw the crookedest street in the world, had amazing (ly large) burritos in Mission, we wandered around the Buena Vista Park, sat in Union square people watching, ate a delicious brunch on Washington Square, sat on the dock of the bay, had the life scared out of us by a tramp on Fisherman's Wharf who hides with a screen covered in branches behind a bin and jumps out at passers by, admired the sea lions. ate calamari at Pier 39.....the list goes on!

Comedy highlight was probably our Segway Tour around Golden Gate Park which was fantastic. It took me a while to balance on it without wobbling or shrieking like a woman possessed (Francesca showed me up by being all composed and balanced immediately) but after that it was so much fun! Felt slightly ridiculous and very much enjoyed the bemused expressions of passers by.

Sadly, the comedy highlight was NOT the stand up comedy night we went to. Alarm bells should have sounded when we couldn't find the venue and eventually discovered we'd walked past it several times as whilst it moonlights as a 'comedy' venue by night, by day it is a hairdressers. The second warning sign was being greeted by the girl at the door with 'Oh, we've been expecting you'. Because, yes. We were the ONLY PEOPLE who had bought tickets.

So, we took our seats, breathed a sigh of relief when two other girls hot pursuaded in off the street, then sat back and endured one of the longest and most uncomfortable evening of our lives. I don't think the worst part was the fact that the two (we were promised 'four of SF's best'...) comedians weren't especially funny, or the fact that the both had their notes on the table beside them and kept saying things like 'what other jokes do i have??' whilst glancing through them. I don't even think it was the fact that they told all their jokes directly to our faces with no escape from eye contact or fake laughter. No. I have to say the worst part was the compere/girl on the door.

This girl was also incredibly unfunny (though she clearly found herself hilarious), and also made eye contact for just a liiiiittle bit too long every time. In addition to this, she loved the sound of her own voice and didn't feel the need to develop any kind of coherent thread between her comments, or even avoid repeating the same thing again and again (we heard at least 6 times that dating in San Francisco is very hard). However, all that could have been forgiven had she not spent 70% of her time trying to promote (yet, paradoxically ensuring noone in the room would ever EVER even entertain the thought of considering to maybe think about possibly going to) her one woman shows - "What Momma Said About 'Down There'" and "In Search Of My Clitoris" - a 'really fun' look at the always hilarious topic of female circumcision.

We literally ran away the second it was over, unsure whether to laugh, cry or drink ourselves into oblivion. We were entirely certain, however, that we would be doing everything we possibly could to avoid those one woman shows.

More successful trips included a cycle ride along the Golden Gate Bridge which was really beautiful - ending up in Sausilito where we got a ferry back to the city, a day trip to Alcatraz which was great - brilliant audio tour and really well set out, and a wine tour to the Sonoma Valley. We also went to Marin County for a few days of rural retreat. The buses only run on Sundays and public holidays (!), there are no shops or restaurants and the hostel we stayed in didn't allow alcohol! It was also practically empty and we were actually the only people staying in the (huge and beautiful) house we were in so we had a very wholesome few days of walking in the hills (AMAZING views of the city and Sausilito), cooking for ourselves and working our way through their board game collection, getting completely addicted to a great game called Sequence.

We started the fortnight by making a list of all the food we wanted to eat whilst there and i'm proud to say I think we managed to acheive most of our goals. Having lots of time there meant we could go back to places we really liked so we did return to Nick's Crispy Tacos on Taco Tuesday for $2 tacos and $3 margueritas. We also managed to equip ourselves with dessert for 6 nights through 2 visits to the Cheesecake Factory (i'd actually live in that place if I could. The choice is incredible. I honestly think we spent longer choosing our cheesecakes than I spent deciding which university to go to). We exploited the fact that ice cream places will give you free tasters, we smuggled wine into the cinema when we couldn't finish it with our dinner, we were slightly disappointed that the promise of Happy Donut didn't really live up to expectations, had some incredible raw tuna, revisted the fudge shop who let us taste the fudge and the salt water taffy AND gaves us free popcorn, ate dim sum in a square in China Town watching men play Mah Jong and marvelled at the miracle that was a chocolate brownie from Tartine Bakery.

In short, we ate our way around an incredible city, enjoyed perfect weather, laughed a LOT and had Otis Redding in our heads basically the entire time.

Posted by Hoodfish 06:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Pacific Paradise

Island hopping on the Yasawas, Fiji

After a brief overnight in Auckland, I arrived in Fiji to torrential rain, a flower in my hair and a welcoming song - all of which set the tone for a pretty special 12 days.

I spent my first night on the main island of Viti Levu in a town called Nadi. There's not really very much to Nadi itself but the hotel/hostel i stayed in was lovely - great food, a swimming pool, lovely staff and a dedicated, if slightly suicidal-thoughts-inducing 'band' who managed to turn the chirpiest of songs into the kind of music that wouldn't be out of place at a wake. I met a few girls who were just leaving Fiji and they gave me some tips on the best islands to visit and after a good night's sleep being lullabied by the funeral twins downstairs, I set off to the islands.

The 'thing to do' in Fiji is to travel on the yellow catamaran - The Yasawa Flyer - which sails to the top of the Yasawa archipelago and back every day. You hop on and hop off where you want, booking your accommodation on the boat. Each island has between 1 and 4 resorts on it and there are no shops or other infrastructure so you eat at the resort and basically spend all your time there and they all offer different activities. I had a 'Bula Pass' which includes some accommodation at no extra cost. However, after a few nights at places where you do have to pay a little bit extra, I came to the conclusion that i wasn't likely to return to anywhere quite like this for a while and the general experience (read: food) was sufficiently better than the free places for it to be entirely worth paying the supplement!

Without exception, the islands are stunning. The boat journey between them is incredible - you pass some islands that are so tiny they barely look like a sand dimple, some with huge hills towering above them and some with great expanses of rainforest. They all feature lush greenery, white sand and (i know i may have referred to the sheer turquoiseness of the sea before but this really does win the prize for sheer turqouiseliciousness) sea that is so clear and turquoise and perfect that is looks like it's been photoshopped.

I spent 4 nights on the first island at Manta Ray resort which i LOVED. I slept in a 32 bed dorm but it was split into cubicles of 4 so it didn't feel so huge. As with all the other islands, food was announced with the banging of a huge drum (the same type of drum as they use to tell the kids it's time for school and to announce the start of church services on Sunday) and I enjoyed every bite - we had 3 course meals and buffets of amazing curries, freshly caught fish, exotic fruits... deelish! Unfortunately the side effect of this is a slightly Pavlovian response to anything resembling drum beats...

Apart from eating and chilling out on the perfect beach, I did some of what in any other context might be termed 'relaxing' but in Fiji is called 'activities'. I wove a basket out of banana leaf (and then my instructor unpicked it and did it properly), I made a bracelet out of coconut, went kayaking, snorkelling (ACTUALLY the clearest water i've ever swum in), did 2 dives (saw a lobster!), and went to visit the village of Soso which was fab. We got a little boat over to a neighbouring island and were greeted by a young girl who showed us around the village and the school and then took us to a church service where we listened to the incredible choir and watched dozens of little kids squirming around in the pews, play fighting with each other and pulling faces at us.

Most of the islands provided some form of entertainment (traditional and...erm...less traditional) in the evenings so we learned the Bula! (hello, welcome) dance which is kind of like the Macarena but with a bit less hip thrusting, played musical chairs (seriously), did the 'Snake dance' (like the conga but the person in front does any kind of dance move they want and everyone else has to follow), risked serious injury with several goes at the limbo, had races booting coconuts across the floor with another coconut tied to a string around your waist (this is where the hip thrusting missing from the Bula! dance came in...) and generally acted like kids a lot of the time. I also got involved in several Kava ceremonies which is a Fijian way of welcoming you into the village - you sit in a circle and the Fijians make up a drink (i use the word in its loosest sense) from Kava root and water, then offer it to you in coconut shell cups. You say Bula!, down your drink, suppress the gag reflex, clap three times and hey presto, you are a member of the tribe. Rounds of drinking are interspersed with rounds of song, dance and desperately trying to think of an excuse to get up and leave. They are so friendly and welcoming you don't want to be rude, but this 'non-alcoholic but mildly narcotic' drink really does just taste like muddy water and has an after effect like a strepsil that numbs your throat so it eventually seems worth being quite rude to bring the whole thing to an end!

Everywhere I went the staff stood on the shore to welcome us from the boat with the Bula! song. All of the resorts I stayed at were on gorgeous beaches and offered different activities. I did loads of snorkelling, went on a trip to the Blue Lagoon where the Brooke Shields film was filmed), made another bracelet out of leaves and some others from shells, got up at 4.30am to climb up to a hill at the back of the island to get a view out to sea at sunrise, did yoga on the beach at sunrise, went to another church service, watched a film on a screen set out under the stars, swam, got a bit emotional at the beauty of the singing, drank cocktails out of coconut shells, sat in more than my fair share of hammocks, read a LOT and ate some of the most incredible (my favourite being Fijian Kokoda - a traditional dish of lime cured fish in coconut soup which is delicious) and inexplicable ('vegetable' soup that tasted of cheese...) food i've ever had in my life. The whole thing was made all the more fun by the fact that you spend all your time in the resorts rather than going off in the day to do other stuff so you really get to know the people you're with, and keep seeing the same people on the boats between the islands.

There was also the small matter of the Tsunami warning... I was at dinner on my first night on the islands when the Ops Manager sat down next to me and cheerfully announced that there'd been a huge earthquake in Japan and there was a possibility we'd be on Tsunami alert. There was much speculation (and a small amount of panic) for a few hours until we were told that we WERE on Tsunami alert. Originally the plan was to go up to the main Bure (the hut where we ate) at 2am as it would hit at 3.30am if at all but then it was decided that it wasn't a good idea to let people stay at the beach bar until that point so we all packed up our bags of essentials and headed up at 9pm. We weren't in any danger as we were 47m above sea level (the wave was predicted to be about 6m) and there was a hill behind us we could climb if necessary. We were also camping out in a hut with a bar, they brought up mattresses, we had a dvd player and internet access and all in all had a pretty good time of it. It was humbling to see how the locals reacted though, given that it was their entire livelihoods they stood to lose rather than a rucksack full of dirty clothes they plan to throw away as soon as they get home. One guy headed out into the ocean on his boat as it was the safest place for it! The next day the currents in the bay were crazy - they changed direction every 20 minutes and you could tell just from looking at it just how strong it was.

It seems they've had so many warnings that haven't ever come to anything that noone really believes it'll happen but still. I felt very lucky to not have my whole home at risk. And also very lucky to not be on one of the islands that are only 0.5m above sea level, some of which had to be evacuated to the mainland! Some of which didn't even tell the visitors that there was an alert but that's a whole other story.

So, Tsunami warning aside, an idyllic few days in Fiji.

Posted by Hoodfish 10:45 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Navigating the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling,diving and more than my fair share of eating

We took the night bus from Rainbow Beach to Airlie Beach (via Hervey Bay where we spent 2 hours - more than enough time to see the highlights then find some delicious fish and chips, and stock up on sweets and chocolate - the ONLY way to make it through a 14 hour bus journey!) which was surprisingly painless as we both managed to get a double seat to ourselves. We arrived at 7am and met up with some of the girls from our Fraser Island trip, hung around the hostel with them, did a bit of shopping in town and relaxed by the pool in the nicest Nomads hostel so far. Airlie Beach is ridiculously nice - lovely shopping street with a gorgeous bay and a lagoon area where you can swim without risk of sharks! The benefits of being with a group of 60 people on Fraser became apparent when we bumped into someone from our trip every 5 minutes!

After night's sleep in a bed to recover from the journey an ill-fated bikini shopping trip (more on this later...) we headed off to the harbour where we met our sailing boat - Broomstick - and departed for the Whitsundays. It was phenomenal. There were 22 of us on the boat (7 of us from the Fraser trip!) plus 3 crew and we were on a proper competitive sailing yacht! If i knew more about international sailing i'm sure i'd have been impressed with its credentials. As it was, I was happy there was lots of space to sunbathe and the food was amazing!

The weather was incredible - perfect blue skies, crystal clear waters - the only slight drawback was that this meant there was no wind to speak of so we only managed to sail a little bit on the last morning. That was so much fun though - travelling at 9 knots (supposedly quite fast...it certainly felt pretty nippy!) and at a 45 degree angle. We all got the chance to hoist the sail and twizzle the funny handles that make the other sail go out (learnt all the lingo too...) and felt very sophisticated as we zipped though the water.

We were on the boat for 2 nights and went out snorkelling 3 or 4 times which was brilliant. The visibility varied but at its best it was great - huge shoals of beautiful fish which were very entertaining when we threw bread in for them! We saw an ENORMOUS green and blue fish called Elvis and also met his less attractive girlfriend. After it got dark, we watched as thousands of fish swam in the light shining on the water at the back of the boat. getting chased by squid and the odd shrimp. One over exhuberant squid propelled himself onto the deck and squirted ink everywhere!

The food was superb (especially in contrast to Fraser Island as we didn't even have to make it ourselves, let alone clear it up!) and the company was very entertaining with lots of banter, games of cards, and entertaining pastimes involving snorkels, toilet rolls and lengths of rope. Maeve and I managed to get the bottom bunks in the main body of the boat which were about 50cm below the upper bunk but which did have the advantage of a breeze blowing in from upstairs, which is more than can be said for the beds in the room at the front of the boat so we were pretty lucky!

Undoubtedly the highlight of the trip was the visit to the famous Whitehaven Beach - supposedly the 3rd best beach in the world (though as the 2nd best is a manmade one in Dubai, I think it must be top 2!). We sailed in on one side and walked through the rainforest to a look out over the whole bay and it was breathtaking. Our guide said it was about as good as he'd ever seen it and it was hard to imagine it looking any more incredible. Huge swirls of fine white sand across bays of bright blue sea with a back drop of lush green forest and flawless blue sky. Amazing. We then sailed to the other side and went to the beach you're allowed to actually land on. Some got in the dinghy to get to shore but some of us decided to swim. It didn't look THAT far... All i can say is i'm very glad i had a snorkel and flippers or i'm sure i'd still be swimming it now! I didn't help myself by getting my head down and powering off as fast as i could go for a good 5 minutes before looking up to discover i was swimming in totally the wrong direction...

When we got to the beach, we took off our stinger suits we had to wear to avoid being, well, stung, and set about a few games of frisbee, football etc. It was at this point I bent over in my brand new bikini of which i was so proud, and the top popped clean off! Luckily i recovered from the shock quick enough to preserve my modesty but that didn't stop the hysteria. Noone was more amused than Maeve who tried to fix me up but discovered the plastic clasp was completely broken so i just had to do my stinger suit up and avoid too much jumping up and down. Maeve was still chuckling as she ran for a ball and exactly the same thing happened to her! Isn't karma a wonderful thing?! Annoyingly, as the tops and bottoms of the bikinis were bought as 'separates' they'll only refund the tops so we're both stuck with a lonely pair of bikini bottoms but it was almost worth it for the amusement caused.

We got back to Airlie Beach and had a few drinks with the people on our boat and saw a few more Fraser Island folk before heading off up to Cairns on another night bus. We were a bit disappointed to miss the 'after party' from the trip but the rain was following close behind us and ours was the last night bus to make it all the way up so we felt very lucky. That same rain dominated our time in Cairns but again, luck was with us on the day we got a coach up to Port Douglas and went on a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It didn't rain at all and there were even a few glimmers of sunshine so we were very grateful!

The Reef was incredible. I had only signed up to do one dive but as soon as i emerged from that one, I signed up for a second and a third! It was amazing. I saw a huge turtle and a white tip shark, swam into caves and through archways, waved at clams as big as me - making them slam shut... and to top it off the food was pretty good too :-)

Rain stopped play on my final day in Cairns but we had a lovely last night together to celebrate our last night together after a fab few weeks and an early birthday to Maeve - eating a LOT of delicious sushi and going to see Adjustment Bureau at the cinema which was ludicrous but quite enjoyable. Then I booked my Fiji trip (I love to forward plan) and bid farewell to the land of dingos, red sand, coral, dodgy 90s dance music and laid back fun.

Posted by Hoodfish 11:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Travellers' Trail

East coast of Australia from Brisbane to Cairns

On the way out of Brisbane we got interviewed for a TV channel asking us what we thought of Brisbane in comparison to other Aussie cities. I didn't let the fact that i'd not seen more than about 3m square of it stop me from having an opinion so I do hope nothing too important was being based on the outcome of that particular survey...

Anyway, we got the bus up to Noosa which is a really lovely beachside town - slighty fancier than one always feels comfortable in wearing backpacker chique, but what can you do. We checked into our hostel on a Valentine's package which was lovely. Nothing says romance quite like 2 for 1 beds in an 8 bed dorm, a free dinner of rice, spring rolls and sweet chilli sauce, and a jug of snake bite with a blackcurrant heart on the top of it. Our first night there. there was a party where you had to make your outfit out of bin bags - always a pleasant choice in extreme humidity! I think we spent longer making the outfits than we did actually sporting them but we had fun doing that!

It was from Noosa that we went to the legendary Australia Zoo - home of all things Steve Irwin. As a branding exercise, it's pretty comprehensive. We were picked up in huge coaches with massive pictures on the side of Steve holding a croc with a speech bubble saying 'Crikey!' and the seats were covered in material with various animal shapes on it, interspersed with the odd jaunty man with his arms out, clearly about to kiss a dingo or something equally bonkers. On the way there we watched one of the MANY DVDs available of Steve thrashing about with crocodiles, leaping on them and generally causing trouble. Don't get me wrong, the man did incredible things for animal conservation, but he was a proper nutcase.

The zoo itself is excellent - wide variety of animals in huge enclosures with lots of interaction and information to get you engaged with the animals and their situations. We fed elephants, watched tigers being petted and trained as if they were domestic cats (don't try this at home, kids...), held a koala, saw wombats, dingos, kangaroos, tasmanian devils etc etc. All very cool and a generally entertaining day which we ended with a few drinks with some friends of Maeve's from earlier in her travels.

We then got the bus to Rainbow Beach - home of self-drive 4 wheel drive trips to Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island. When we arrived we had a briefing from Merv - a man of inexplicable facial hair and many 4x4s. He told us all the things that would get us fined on the island and we came to the conclusion that the only way to avoid a fine was to just not bother going. We were divided up into groups of 7 or 8 and kitted out with our camping equipment and enough food for 3 days (if you read the food plan properly and don't leave the meat and cheese open in the esky once the ice starts melting...) and then set off!

Maeve and I were in a group with 3 English lads and 2 Swiss boys who made for very entertaining car buddies. We all (bar the one who doesn't have a license and the one who's under 21...) took it in turns to drive with varying levels of success. No prizes for guessing who left the handbrake on and stalled twice within about 3 minutes. I'm not sure being horribly hungover is really a pardonable excuse but in my defence, i did recognise my limits and stop driving after 10 minutes! The beaches on the island are basically roads but inland it is spectacular. There are some crazy roads that are basically just one big pot hole and the others did a great job of navigating them in our trusty vehicle, managing not to flip it, flood it or any of the other disasters our training warned us about.

We basically drove to different places of interest during the day then arrived at our campsite at night in time to make dinner in our groups and then spend the evening playing various ridiculous games and marvelling at the incredible stars. By the end of the trip, our 'family' were operating as a slick teamwork machine and there were only a few hiccups like when we wisely decided to leave the washing up til morning, only to discover that we had no water, washing up liquid, tea towel or scourer. The lesson there was to wash up immediately and steal from other teams earlier.

The places we went to were amazing. Lake Mackenzie was spectacular - clear blue water, bright white sand - the only disappointing thing was i'd been told the sand destroyed loads of people's cameras so i didn't bring mine to the lake! We spent a good few hours there playing piggy in the middle and generally relaxing. Also went to Ely Creek which was a FREEZING cold freshwater creek that runs through the forest out into the sea that you drift along with the current, ducking under the water whenever you needed to avoid an attack of evil March flies. There was an incredible view from the look out point where we saw sharks in the water below, and another lovely lake that was VERY welcome after a long sandy and sweating walk to it. Sadly the long sandy sweaty walk back kind of cancelled out its effect but hey. It was still welcome! It was also a very entertaining place to roll down the sanddunes into the water. I thanked my lucky stars i'm not a boy when the boys decided to roll down in groups of 2, 3 and then 7... We saw an old and rusty ship wreck on the beach and went to the Champagne Pools where the sea bubbles over the rocks into big pools. Maeve had just commented that it would be funny if I got washed out of the pool by the tide when a huge wave came along and washed at least 6 of us out!

Basically, it was a fantastic few days of fun with perfect weather and more sand than you could ever believe possible. Even the process of cleaning up the van was quite fun and Maeve and I managed to live for a few days on the left over food we procured which was very much appreciated!

Posted by Hoodfish 10:05 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Panning the Gold Coast

Inspiring the younger generation

After a lovely few days, Hadley cemented his status in my eyes as god of hospitality and friendship by driving me all the way to Coffs Harbour, via his friend's house (where we were presented with freshly baked muffins and narrowly avoided a full catalogue of his ... erm ... 'arty' DVD collection) and The Big Banana. From there I got the bus to Byron Bay where I arrived at just gone midnight and was asked for directions within 2 minutes of getting off the bus. I'm such a local.

I really liked Byron. Really chilled out place with lots of great surf shops, little cafes, bars, restaurants and a gorgeous coastline. On my first day there I sweated my way along the beach to Cape Byron Headland where I walked up through the bush to a lighthouse and the eastern-most point of Australia. I then recovered from the exertion with some lolling about on the beach followed by cheap dinner and a few drinks with some people from my hostel. I'm not sure 'Cheeky Monkeys' offers the classiest of nights out but it was certainly home of innovative marketing to people with a tight budget and minimal inhibitions, and gave me a chance to reminisce about the decade that has passed since I was the age of most of the people in there.

The next day I spent on the beach and wandering around the shops, had a few drinks and games of cards and gate crashed a beach party before it was time for me to get the bus up to Brisbane.

On arrival in Brisbane I was met by Naomi who, together with her mum, offered further evidence of City of London Choir's antipodean greatness. It was waaaaay too humid to really do much and we had waaaay too much to gossip about so we spent a fair amount of time chatting, sitting under the fan with a large glass of water, chatting, working our way through classic Australian sweetmeats that I couldn't leave without trying and chatting. Naomi drove us into the mountains where we had an amazing lunch with stunning views from the top of Mount Glorious and a nice chat, we rented a DVD, had a chat and went to the cinema to swoon over Ashton Kutcher (it might actually just have been me swooning. I seriously can't make it through a scene with him in it without murmering 'I love him'. I think I have a sickness of some kind). We also did some chatting.

Both Naomi and her mum also volunteered ridiculously generous amounts of their time to talking (and counselling) me through my thoughts on the rest of my year of adventure/worklessness and helped me come up with a new plan about which I am officially VERY excited.

My final day in Brisbane we drove into the city through a truly incredible thunderstorm and I was reunited with Maeve who i'm going to spend the next 2 weeks with. A pancake house seemed the best location to wait out the storm/catch up on the last 2 months/say goodbye to Naomi.

So, having not really seen much of Brisbane but having had a fab few days of fine company, great food and insightful advice, we hit Queensland with the immortal words of a 23 year old I met in our Brisbane hostel ringing in my ears:

"I really hope i'm still travelling when I'm your age"

Posted by Hoodfish 17:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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