Travel to Brisbane and the Gold Coast

Cooper and I are both proud Queenslanders. While I consider England is a bit like my spiritual home, being back in Aus recently made me remember what’s so special about it, and why you should definitely travel to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

I’m most disappointed when people around the world tell me one of two things about why they might not travel to Queensland, Brisbane the Gold Coast or other areas of my stunning home state:

  1. “I don’t think I’ll get to Australia, it’s a bit far and isn’t it just the same as other places, like America, Spain, England…?”
  2. “I went to Queensland a few years ago and found it to be run down, and too touristy.”

Pretty offensive! But I get the myths, stereotypes and misconceptions. Please, don’t ever write Australia and especially travel to Queensland off.

I was reminded of how contemporary and cool we are; super friendly people and a sunny vibe.

It’s worth your while. I’m inspired when I meet travellers like Geri Vladeva who dream about visiting Aus,for good reason (and she did so this year, read about her adventures)!

Let’s start again.

City updates

After being away for four years I noticed some big changes, especially in Brisbane. Anyone who has visited Queensland over the past 20 or 30 years tends to think Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns (some of the best places to go!) are a little dilapidated.

Now however, you’ll find sleek cities, lovely river walks, restaurants, bars, cool spaces to hang out and be active. I was really impressed.

Head straight for the riverfront walk in Brisbane, or a stroll through Southbank.

And if you’ve not been to Surfers Paradise in a while, well, it’s totally cleaned-up, and a chic spot to visit. Pacific Fair down the road at Broadbeach has enjoyed a significant expansion and is a premier shopping destination.

Burleigh is still beautiful too, with its glorious beaches and sophisticated restaurants and cafes.

Australia has its own charm, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Queensland.

Multicultural influence is everywhere too, particularly Asian culture – there’s no shortage of Asian grocery stores and fusion restaurants, including Harajuku Gyoza – a smart Japanese-inspired chain developed by an Aussie foodie fan.

Brisbane city centre boasts a number of food halls dedicated to serving delicious Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Korean food. So good!

I was also surprised to find an extraordinary ‘spiritual spa’, meditation, yoga, therapies and crystals space – Chameleon New Age Salon, set across two dazzling floors in the heart of Surfers Paradise. It was just one of the many unique offerings I found in south-east Queensland and that had me feeling truly proud and impressed.

Getting around

Brisbane and the Gold Coast are served by international airports that are now easier to access than ever before.

The Gold Coast has developed the ‘G’ (G: link) tram which means a city that was previously quite inconvenient to navigate if you did not have a car, is now simple to access.

You can take the train from the centre of Brisbane all the way to Helensvale then catch the tram to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Alternatively you can easily transfer to Coolangatta airport (Gold Coast) on this line too.

Brisbane and the Gold Coast (also Cairns) receive countless flights from Asian destinations now, and Queensland is well and truly open for business.

If you buy a Go Card, you can use it on all public transport in Brisbane and across the Gold Coast. It operates like an Oyster card (London) or any other major city transport card. You can add top-up value to it, and by using a Go Card you will enjoy big discounts on your travels, so it’s worth picking one up from one of the many vendors in these cities.

Areas to visit

I was very impressed by Brisbane – it’s a city that’s done a LOT of growing since I last lived here. The river walk is absolutely beautiful – I’d start down in front of the Stamford Hotel and walk along past the gardens, or go left towards Hamilton. Early morning is the best time to explore and capture great pictures like the one above.

You can use a Go Card on the CityCat (ferry) too, and see the city via the Brisbane river – head one way towards the cruise terminals and Hamilton, or the other way towards my old stomping ground, the University of Queensland.

The Gold Coast – in my mind at least – consists of three major sections. Coming in from Brisbane you hit the northern end, with its theme parks and serene suburbs like Sanctuary Cove (great for golf or boating enthusiasts) and Paradise Point.

Harbour Town outlet shopping is also in the area, and in recent years features cool additions like Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors stores.

Driving further into the city you might like to explore up-market Main Beach (not far from Sea World), the waterfront at Labrador and a stop in Surfers Paradise is a must.

Past Surfers you’ll come to Broadbeach which is a beautiful spot brimming with cool boutiques and eateries, the home to Draculas cabaret restaurant and theatre and an intense shopping experience, Pacific Fair.

Burleigh and beyond is for those who love serious beachfront landscapes – probably my favourite part of the coast, presenting the epitome of our Aussie beach lifestyle.

 

Australia – it is as sunny and beautiful as they say; full of characters, experience and charm. My home state is far from back-water now. You’ll find the best of contemporary experiences here, along with an enviable way of life from the rainforest to the surf.

Heading our way for a travel adventure? Let us know in the comments if you have any questions. And of course, if you’ve discovered your own slice of fun in Queensland, we’d love it if you left your recommendations in the comments to help other travellers.

 

 

 

Aussie living in Serbia: things I miss and things I don’t

 

Guest contributor, Roxana Oliver is an Aussie living in Serbia – she’s shared her story with us on travellivelearn.com

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About a year ago, I moved to a lovely town in Serbia, Novi Sad. Since I love travelling, it didn’t take me long to discover the good sides of living in this new culture. Its hospitality, the people’s eagerness to socialise, excellent food and pubs, and, naturally, going out at 8pm and returning home at 8am!

Still, there are things about Australia I miss dearly, and others that, whenever I think of them, give me a tiny mental pat on the shoulder for deciding to move.

Things I don’t miss

No doubt about the first one – Vegemite! Spreading yeast extract over my slice of bread has never been a treat for me, no matter how much you try to improve the taste. That brings me to another food (some) Australians insist on consuming – the witchetty grub, sold in many Australian markets. My palate can endure a lot, but wood-eating larvae is certainly not my cup of tea; not raw, not cooked, not in a soup. Just. No. Although, many say it actually tastes like chicken.

Once I’ve moved to Serbia and got used to Serbian prices, it hit me how super expensive life in Australia is. The costs are too high, even though the salaries are quite decent. Sydney, in particular, is among the most expensive cities in the world, whether you’re talking transportation, food, real estate, or clothes.

Another thing that always saddened me was that, in Sydney, I wasn’t able to experience that typical winter Christmas that you can see in so many movies.

Christmas in Australia is in the summer, and somehow celebrating it in hot weather, heading to a beach or going camping is not exactly the idyllic Christmas I wanted – the snow (there especially for Santa and his reindeer!), Christmas lights all over town, cinnamon cookies and hot tea!

Things I do miss

Again, let’s start with food and drinks! The first thing that comes to mind here is the good ol’ Aussie beer. Australians are, mildly put, incredibly fond of it and some of the brands there are so good that your tongue will suffer from incurable nostalgia when denied this delight for a while.

The same goes for my #1 drink of choice. As a great fan of high-quality gin, I miss certain brands of it from back home – a somewhat silly thing to miss when you’re in a country that has excellent wine and rakia. There is the option of ordering my favourite artisan gin online, so I guess I won’t be missing that for much longer.

Chiko Rolls I still shed a tear for sometimes. There’s something about grabbing a Chiko and taking a walk around your neighbourhood or going to watch a sports game. These delicious snacks are about as Australian as you can get – mutton, spices, and veggies wrapped in cabbage and then fried. Our version of spring rolls on the go!

Let’s be honest here and admit it’s extremely difficult to top Australia’s gorgeous beaches. Once you’ve been to a place like Whitehaven beach, it really becomes almost impossible to enjoy any other spot on the planet. The whole place looks like a dream, from the breathtaking colours to powder-fine sand and unbelievably clear water. It makes you not want to leave – ever!

But more than anything, I miss the road trips.

In Australia, travelling from one city to another takes hours, so my husband and I would sometimes jump in the car and drive off somewhere just for the sake of another memorable adventure. The breeze, dusk-coloured landscapes, your song playing in the background, the excitement of knowing that beyond what your eyes can see, nothing else matters at that moment… Something I’m able to experience only back home and nowhere else.

No matter where you go, certain things are bound to charm you, and others will leave you feeling disappointed or indifferent.

The trick, I’ve found, is to focus on the things that make you happy, regardless of whether you’re home or abroad.

 

About

Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family.

Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter. She is also one of the editors at Higstylife Magazine.

Top 6 places to visit in North Italy

Italy is a country which is packed with jaw dropping beauty, from the stunning architecture of the Milan Cathedral in the North all the way to quaint beachside towns or Naples and Palermo in the South of the country.

The sights are beautiful, the traditional cuisine is scrumptious and the weather, especially in the summer months, is warm and lovely.

People come from all over the world to soak in the rich history of Italy’s iconic cities like Rome, Venice or Florence.

Milan is a major European fashion capital and the beachside cities draw a large crowd of tourists every year.

Every city in Italy, whether it’s in the north or south, has something special to offer visitors and Northern Italy is packed full of unique sights and tourist attractions.

If you’re planning a vacation to Northern Italy, you may be overwhelmed at how much there is to do and see! Hopefully this guide will help. Here are the top six places to visit in Northern Italy.

Milan Cathedral

Among the many things to do in Milan, visiting the Duomo is certainly the most important and memorable one.

The Duomo di Milano, which translates to the Milan Cathedral is a key monument that attract millions of tourists every year.The original building was constructed in the late 14th century and it took a full six centuries to complete, with construction finally ending in 1965.

However, there have been several renovations since then, with the most recent taking place in 2009.

The Duomo of Milano is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, under only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.

The architectural style of the church features broad naves, flying buttresses, openwork pinnacles and spires, as well as the highest Gothic archways of any fully completed church.

When visiting the Milan Cathedral make sure to take a trip to the roof, the most amazing sculptures are located there and you will get to admire the entire city from above.

Certosa di Pavia

Another fantastic place located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy is the Certosa di Pavia – a beautiful monastery with a rich history.

Its construction took 100 years and was finished just before the turn of the 16h century.

“Certosa” is named after a group of Carthusians, who were typically known for their plain architectural style. However, the Certosa di Pavia, ironically, is one of the most exuberant and intricate buildings in Italy.

It has features of both renaissance and gothic architectural styles, evident in the Latin cross path and gothic arches.

The massive building has several paintings done by famous artists, as well as decorative stained glass windows.

If you love architecture and history this is a perfect place for an interesting afternoon.

After visiting the Certosa it is highly recommended to head south and explore the lovely town of Pavia located just 15 minutes away.

Autodromo di Monza

If you aren’t as intrigued by the rich history of old buildings and architecture, there are still plenty of places to visit in Northern Italy- one of which is the Autodromo di Monza.

This historic race track is located to the north of Milan and third purpose-built motor racing circuit to exist in the entire world.

The Autodromo has three tracks and several races take place there annually. For all car and race-track fans, visiting the Autodromo di Monza could be an absolute dream come true.

Lake Como

If you ever see any pictures of Italy featuring a crystal blue lake in a valley, surrounded by lush green hills and white-capped mountains, that’s Lake Como.

Set at the base of the Alps, Lake Como is a posh resort area. Located in the Lombardy region, Lake Como is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the country, measuring 146 square kilometers in area and 400 meters in depth.

The lake stretches to meet the cities of Bellagio, Como and Brunate, amongst many others. For those interested in visiting, you can see Lake Como during a day trip or opt to stay in accomodation like lakeside villas.

Brunate Lighthouse

The Brunate Lighthouse, also referred to as the Faro Voltiano di Bronate or the Volta Lighthouse, is located in Brunate near Lake Como.

The lighthouse was named after Alessandro Volta, a famous Italian physicist and chemist who made significant contributions to power and electricity.

It was constructed in 1927 on the 100th anniversary of Volta’s death. Brunate Lighthouse stands a whopping 29 meters tall and features a light that flashes red, green and white that can be seen as far as 50 km away. The colors symbolize the invention of the battery, which is said to have been invented by Volta. Though a steep climb, the trip to this large octagonal structure is well worth it.

Sacro Monte di Varallo

A sacro monte is a mountainside building used by Christians to worship Christ. Directly translated as the Sacred Mountain of Varallo, the Sacro Monte di Varallo overlooks the quaint town of Varallo Sesia.

Varallo Sesia has a population of just over 7,000 people and is located in the Northern Italy region of Piedmont.

The Sacro Monte di Varallo grounds are fascinating, as they are surrounded by a garden, several chapels that narrate the life of Christ and many statues and sculptures that do the same. If you are interested in history, religion and culture, you won’t want to miss this place.

 

About Barbara

Barbara Mazz is the founder of crabintheair.com, a travel blog where she shares her passion for exploring the world. She loves writing about all the hotels visited, the wonderful cities discovered and the unique people met along the way.