Australia/Fiji/New Zealand-January 2019

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Having been born and raised in the Chicagoland area, you would think I would consider that home. Nope. Brisbane is where my heart is. And apparently for good reason! It’s funny how my “family” can still surprise me. Jenny and John, my Australia parents, surprised me at the airport. Any frequent traveler will tell you it’s always a lovely surprise when you get airport meet and greet. The surprises continued when I arrived at the Hilton. It does freak me out just a bit, seeing my photo on the big screen. Ben, of course nailed it by having my favorite mocha from Noosa Chocolate Factory. And then arriving in my room to find this smorgasbard. Really makes me wonder why I left!

My dear friend Beau was getting married in Auckland, so I took advantage of escaping the brutal Chicago winter and booked in so need time in Brisbane. Days always seem to go by way to fast while in Brisbane. So Jenny and I headed out to Byron Bay with Adam from Koala Transfers for the day, to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

Katherine and Evander flew up from Sydney to hang out and get out cake and chicken fix! Trust me, it’s the best way to spend an afternoon!

After a great few days in Brisbane, I headed to Fiji for some relaxation. My flight was delayed, so I set up shop in the lounge and attempted to get some work done. Imagine my shock, when I look up and see my dear friend Anthony from Melbourne! Turns out we both heading to Fiji! Lucky for me, I was headed to Marriott Momi Bay! What an amazing place. I know I sound like a travel ad, but there was honestly something so relaxing about this resort. The lagoon was full of fish, you could walk in and they were at your feet. It was soo peaceful. I rarely saw anyone walking out near my bure. I’ll be heading back for sure!

Next stop was Auckland for Beau and Anton’s wedding. SO beautiful to witness them exchange their vows while embracing their heritage.

I unfortunately confirmed on this trip, that I allergic to something in the air in Auckland. It only took like 10 trips to realise this. It won’t stop me from continuing to visit, but at least next time I’ll maybe will be better prepared.

I headed back to Brisbane to enjoy the sunnies days before returning to the Polar Vortex that was Chicago. I was almost a little sad to head back to Chicago, but then I remembered I was heading back in 3 weeks, so stay tuned!

Adventures in Australia-February 2018

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It was finally time for me to head back to Brisbane. It felt like I had been gone forever! I could not have planned my departure any better. There was this white stuff on the ground………

I was SO happy to see these blue skies…..

And then I walked in into the best welcome EVER at the Hilton Brisbane. aka “home”.Felt a little bit like a rockstar.

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I arrived back in Brisbane to catch the last few days of the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. I stood in line for 45 minutes to see the Soul under the Moon for 30 seconds.

It was interesting. But since the exhibit was in final days, they already started taking some of it down. I did manage to see quite a bit. I am glad I braved the heat to check out.

Until next time safe travels……..

Adventures in Australia-June 2016

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In the end, I was only away from Brisbane for 2 weeks, but it felt like months. I must admit I was happy to be “home”.  It’s amazing how much changed during that time. Winter had officially arrived, there was definitely a chill in the air.

I had flown Qantas back to Brisbane and I had to check my bags, because of all my purchases in Fremantle. One of my suitcases was broken in transit. Lucky for me, Hunt Leather was close by and they were able to deal with Qantas directly to get my bag fixed.

As I was walking towards Hunt’s I noticed something odd, it appeared to a new bake shop. I had just eaten breakfast, so I glanced but did not really think much of it.  I went about my business and forgot about it. Later in the day I was chatting with concierge at the Hilton, and I asked if they had tried the bake shop. Nope.It was tea time and we were all a little peckish……

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That mahogany velvet cake came from Dello Mano . I would be lying if I said I wish our paths had not crossed. RIDICULOUS is the only word I can think of that to describe this bit of heaven on earth. Ridiculously good, fantastic, amazing, awesome… choose what word you will,  you must come to Brisbane and try these cakes and brownies. Did I mention the brownies?
I asked the shop nicely to put a photo of me on the wall saying I am banned from entering. I am already on a first name basis with the staff. That only took 2 days……..

Just when I think Brisbane is pretty great, I discover something that makes me love it more. Winterfest in King George’s Square.  I was heading somewhere and I thought I smelled what could only be described as Christmas Market smell. So I followed my nose. And boy was I surprised. And ice rink in Brisbane!

They even had Langos! I was so excited to get my “market” fix in Australia, especially in June! I guess it was a blessing that I was heading back to the States the next day.

Stay tuned….further adventures in Australia await.

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Australia-April 2016

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Before deciding to move to Brisbane, I had only spent 3 days here.  The first day I arrived I went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the 2nd day I went on a tour of Gold Coast, and the 3rd day I did Hop On Hop Off bus.  So basically I did not do much.  When friends would say oh I am going to come visit you in Brisbane, I said ok, not sure why there is not much to do. OOPS. I have not even began to scratch the surface of all the things there are to do in Brisbane. My friend, Katy had a trip planned to Perth to see her Dad, so she added on a side trip to see me.

Even though Katy had been to Australia numerous times before she had not taken her requisite koala photo, so off to Lone Pine we went. We were there for about 2 minutes and my fearless friend was making new friends.

After a tiring morning of avoiding getting attacked by random animals, we took a cruise along the river. By cruise, I mean we hopped on the river bus for a scenic tour of the Brisbane. For a $1.25  it’s a great way to spend a few hours.  Even if your friend is wearing Koala ears.

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We got off the bus boat at South Bank Parklands  It’s a quite enjoyable area with a man made beach. ( Totally reminds me of Centennial Beach in  Naperville). It was quite surreal to have been in the “wild” in the morning, out to “sea” for lunch and then be transported to another world by the afternoon. And we never even left Brisbane.

The more I discover around Brisbane, the more I am enjoying it. There is just so much to see and do.
Now this blog post would not be an official adventure of Katy and Flo without some craziness.  On Friday, we innocently got into the elevator at the Hilton, with a really tall guy.  Apparently, I was quite obvious in my attempt to read what that logo on his clothing said. I said Rugby? Yep, New Zealand Highlanders. Then 2 more of his team mates go on the elevator. And we did what anyone in our situation would have done, selfie…..

IMG_0224The whole team was quite lovely and friendly. I perhaps see a trip to New Zealand in my future to catch a proper game. I will say this riding the elevator in the Hilton provided quite good entertainment.

Until the next time, safe travels……