When we woke up on what was going to be the our very first morning in our #Room753 trip to Australia we found out it was 11 A.M. and that the breakfast at Sofitel Hotel was already closed for diners -they finish at 10 A.M.!-. Starving and with nothing planned for the entire day ahead we decided to take it easy and just explore Brisbane on foot as far as our tired and jet-lagged feet would take us. An hour later and were descending the Sofitel’s escalators which took us directly outside the entrance of the historical Grand Central train station and across the street from the ANZAC Square.
To cross the streets of Brisbane you will have to wait for the pedestrian light to go green and once it does, there would be a loud high pitched noise urging you on and a timer displayed above the red pedestrian sign so you’d know exactly how long you’ve got to get to the other side of the street. I found it especially helpful when you are engrossed in checking your smart phone while waiting and then the light turns green for you. I loved the fact that it was so easy to get everywhere in Brisbane on foot and I spent most of my stay walking around the streets of Brisbane. I also noticed that almost all street crossings have the name of the street written in Braille language on the side of the traffic pole.
Even the street signs come in many languages, including Arabic! It felt weird reading the Arabic signs but also quite welcome, like my language and presence was of importance to the city of Brisbane.
Now back to ANZAC Square, its this beautiful wide green historical square with a shrine and a burning flame at the top to remember the Australian and New Zeland Army Corps who fell during World War II. During our stay we came upon a lot of Brisbanites spending a quite time in the square by either reading, chatting, walking, or having lunch.
They have these big trees shaped like bottles which as I learned later as shaped this way because they retain water to use later, somehow like a plant camel or something. I wonder if these water saving trees can live and survive the desert climate of Kuwait?
And check out this lounge chair sharing thing they had going as well.
After walking across ANZAC Square you can walk down the street and two minutes later you find yourself at a crossing which leads straight into a mall called “Queens Plaza” which is three stories hight and houses brands like Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, LV, Tiffany & Co., Sass & Bide, and many more.
I didn’t spend much time shopping in Brisbane, though there are plenty of shops around and some are even from popular high street brands like FCUK and Top Shop but there are better things to do in Australia then spend all your day shopping. Plus, all the stores had the “winter collection” which won’t necessary do to shoppers from the other side of the planet. However, I did make a stop at Chanel and I was blown away by the extremely friendly staff and their hospitable treatment.
And I even found the Chanel Camellia Espadrilles that I couldn’t find anywhere else! Those gorgeous pink ones belong to my little sister now. When I asked for a VAT form, which is called GST in Australia, they said there is none. You just take the original receipt to the airport and that’s it!
Exiting Queens Plaza you find yourself smack in the middle of Queen Street, a half a kilometre of pedestrian only street with shops on either side and is actually called Queen Street Mall and is a pleasure to lose yourself in among the happy and relaxed shoppers. Did I mention that everybody wears a smile in Australia and would greet and wish you a good day or morning just because they happen to cross your path?
Armed with the Brisbane Inner City App, we made our way along the Queen Street Mall, taking in the sights, the modern and traditional building facades, and the beautiful fall refreshing cool fall weather, and the hustle and bustle of happy shoppers walking about their business or sitting down for some lunch. There was a particularly interesting shopping area called Brisbane Arcade that has been there since 1923 and would be a pleasure to walk into for people who are hung up on History like myself, quiet a story behind it too but you’ll have to read wikipedia to know more.
This building’s decorative butterfly facade was one of the most interesting and beautiful I’ve ever seen! If you look closely you can make out the shape of the butterflies and at night there are colourful digital butterflies flying all over the facade and its simply gorgeous and no I couldn’t take a proper picture of it sadly but you’d have to see it in person to appreciate it fully!
At a news stand we came across I saw all these Australian Women’s Weekly magazines and cookbooks and I realised I was actually in Australia where my favourite cookbooks come from! I think the first time I ever owned a cookbook it was one from Australian Women’s Weekly and I simply love them and there they are! All displayed right there in front of me in the middle of the shopping street!
And I looked up from the news stand to find “Hungry Jacks”! I think Hungry Jacks is the Australian name for “Burger King” and for some reason it reminded me so much of “Hungry Bunny” which was the previous name of “Burger King” in Kuwait.
We had to share a picture of Hungry Jacks on instargram of course.
And check out that net chock-full of different balls! It is actually a competition, guess the number of balls inside the net and go to Brisbane City’s Facebook to participate and you could win something football related.
Oh and do look down when you are walking down Queen Street Mall, you’ll find poetry everywhere!
You will also see artistic pieces in every corner around Brisbane! Art and yellow bicycles you can hire and drive all around like the Barclays ones in London. A great way to help transport people everywhere, reducing traffic and keeping people in shape as well!
How gorgeous is this golden sphere/shell thing? It took me forever to photograph because people keep going inside it and hiding!
We even came across a peaceful demonstration on our first day in Brisbane, something about students benefits being slashed down if I’m not mistaken.
Once you are done with Queen Street Mall you can cross the street and head to Brisbane Square where the Library & Customer Center are located. On that day Brisbane Square was busy with a sort of used items market where people had brought luggage and opened them to sell different items of clothing, house ware, toys, and some handmade stuff.
Check out the retro comics! Some of them which date to the 1970′s are sold for $8 only!
Also found everywhere in Brisbane: coffee shops! I suspect there are more coffee shops than restaurants and delis in Brisbane and you can find them everywhere, even down that little alley!
On our first day after we had lunch in a pizza restaurant called Milano located in the middle of Queen Street Mall -I’ll post about it later- we went inside a big mall with a big department store called Meyers and it kinda reminded us of the malls in Switzerland located next to train stations where you can find everything from supermarkets to pharmacies, cafes, and restaurants. We found Target, Mrs. Fields Cookies, and Gloria Jean’s coffee where I was once given a coffee training course in Kuwait!
At the top of the mall there was the Events cinema where we went to see our first movie in Australia, Bad Neighbours!
Its also worth noting that you can find 7-eleven at every corner in Brisbane. We used to frequent it at night, attacking the ice cream freezer for dinner.
In case you didn’t know, the currency in Australia is Australian dollars and it has this cool clear square in the corner that you can see through! Never seen any currency like that before!
Another of my favourite places in Brisbane? The King George Square where the Museum of Brisbane is located. I never had the change to actually go inside the museum but I loved the square very much especially at night. The clock on the tower on top of the museum would chime every fifteen minutes and I fondly remember a hot afternoon where we sat down drinking an iced Mocha while the clock was chiming, watching passersby all around. I have it on video, I hope it works!
We used to make a habit of going to 7-eleven for ice cream then walking to the square to find a seat and enjoy our guilty pleasure.
And after ice cream we would walk back to Sofitel via ANZAC square, which is also beautiful all lit up at night.
I miss Brisbane :’( Its going to take a long time for me to get over my crush on Brisbane therefore expect a lot of posts in the coming days and more of my #Room753 Bloggers visit to Queensland, Australia!