Saturday, October 22, 2016

Australian Cruise: Brisbane – Day 3

Written: Monday, 10th October.

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Our day began early as we still haven’t got into a regular sleep pattern just yet. This meant we were at the Gym (for the second day running) by 6am. I stuck to my standard 30 minute ‘walk’, whilst Ann did all this and more!
Confused smile

Then it was off for a spot of breakfast at The Troughery  The Ocean View Café for some nourishment before heading off for our first foray ashore on this Cruise – Brisbane. Disembarkation was due at 8am, but something had clearly gone awry as by the time got to Deck 2 Midships just before 8.15, there was already a sizeable queue building-up snaking from the exit point back past Reception Guest Relations and threatening to smother the public area. However, we were soon moving - sort of - but in keeping with Celebrity’s passion for providing queues, we merged with another queue from the deck above, who we assume were on a tighter-schedule Tour. Mild ‘stair-rage’ followed as we all jostled for position, but no-one does queue-survival like the Brits, and we were soon on our way.

After the statutory flashing of key-cards to prove we weren’t stowaways, we were off the ship and running the gauntlet of ship’s photographers – and (maybe surprisingly) a seven-foot Koala-bear gyrating like his life depended on it and anxious to get us all in the mood (not sure what the intended mood was though!). It was already 25 degrees C, so the poor s** in the Koala-suit must have somehow got the short-straw for the benefit of our early morning entertainment.

We were scheduled to meet a Representative from Brisbane Greeters at 10am, and after discovering that there were in fact TWO Cruise Ports for Brisbane (and ours was further out) we were initially a little worried that we were not going to get to King George Square – our meeting point – in time.

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City Hall, King George Square

Clearly, our driver had seen all the Mad Max movies, and we arrived with time to spare. Not only that, as soon a got off the Coach, we were pointed in the direction of City Hall by another Greeter via a free Bus. The ‘free’ theme continued, as we discovered, as Brisbane also has city-wide free wi-fi. A quick catch-up with emails and then we wandered into the Square.

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John, our Greeter was already there, and as we were early, we had time for a quick coffee and the bigger challenge - my first attempt to connect my laptop to the free wi-fi (which for whatever reason failed spectacularly! My phone was fine, but the laptop just wasn’t playing!)

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Outside City Hall

John gave us a brief overview of what to expect from our tour whilst we waited for the rest of the group to join us. He was very impressive with his knowledge of the City and we also learned a bit more about Brisbane Greeters. They are 200 strong, all volunteers, and their aim is to promote the City to not only visitors, but also those arriving in Brisbane on business

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Famous Speakers from Brisbane

The temperature was rising, and it was turning into a very warm day. Luckily, the breeze made it feel a bit cooler. The rest of the group arrived and John sprang into Guide-mode.

Our first top was inside City Hall. These days it’s home to just the Lord Mayor, but in previous times, it had been the Council’s HQ.
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Inside City Hall 

After heading outside and learning a bit more about the Square itself, we then headed on foot into the shopping area. One of the nice things about Brisbane, we learned, was that it was very respectful of its heritage, and John pointed out plenty of examples of this modern city’s links with its past.

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Bats in Brisbane!

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Original shopping Arcade

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Local Brisbanians celebrated by way of commemorative plaques in the pavement

In a supreme example of irony, the old Treasury had been turned into a… Casino!

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Money Pit!

Then it was off across Victoria Bridge towards the South Bank. In some respects, this area had a lot in common with its namesake back in blighty – the concrete, slightly bland-looking Arts buildings… but the scenery was about to change dramatically…

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Along the South Bank

..as we found the BEACH!

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...and with the kids being on half-term, it was getting plenty of use!

The Beach gave way to a more familiar sight in big cities these days – the ‘Wheel’.

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After a bit more walking, it all got a lot prettier, in the guise of massive – and extensive - displays of Jacaranda Trees

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We continued our walk along the South Bank heading towards Goodwill Bridge – taking in a coffee along the way.

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We stopped off at one of the (many) local Universities to look at their hi-tech interactive wall, where kids (and adults) were making use of its facilities. It was brilliant!

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Exiting the University, we continued our walk as we headed towards views of Story Bridge

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Looking less and less like the South Bank in London!

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Story Bridge

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Journey’s end (too tired at this point to recall the significance of this building!)

And just after 2pm, we concluded our walking tour with John. It has been an amazing journey of discovery – and John had been a real ambassador for Brisbane. Our feet were telling us that we’d covered quite a distance – and John, who had been measuring it, concluded that we walked about five miles. A perfect excuse NOT to do the Gym tomorrow then!

We said our goodbyes, jumped on the Coach and headed for our room.

A lazy evening followed including a visit to the on-board shops where the vultures helpful shop staff were hovering. One thing that I hate more than queues is shops that don’t display any prices. The old adage about ‘if you can’t see the price, you probably can’t afford it’ was probably true then! We finished up drifting towards the Theatre where a Freddie Mercury Tribute Band was performing – and I use the term ‘performing’ in its broadest sense, as ‘Freddie’ to us, didn’t sound like Freddie at all!

Time for bed Zebedee! And definitely no Gym tomorrow! We’ve got a whole day at sea, so time to recharge the batteries!!
Smile