24 hours in Brisbane.

Brisbane is the 3rd largest City in Australia, the capital of Queensland and a great gateway to the Sunshine coast and Great Barrier Reef. It has 283 days of sunshine, making it the perfect place to wander around and relax with a beer

Many people fly in to Brisbane just to head back out, but I had an opportunity to fly up with my partner for a night, so I tried to cram in as much as possible in 24 hours!

We arrived at the Domestic airport, and took a taxi to the City using Didi for the first time.

It was the cheapest option at $25 and it took around 18 minutes. We checked in to our hotel, the Mercure at North Quay and dropped our stuff off.

It was 12:30 and we were ready for lunch, I had found a cute little place called Brew just off Albert St. They do great vegetarian options on their menu and a good selection of beers. We had the halloumi bagel and Mac cheese balls, both with fries and both were delicious!

We were nearby the City Hall which is the largest in Australia, I had read you could go up to the top of the clock tower and it was free! So off we went, taking the lift to the 3rd floor. Unfortunately there wasn’t a tour space until 15:30 but we took our tickets just in case.

After this we walked straight down Albert Street past all the shops and through the botanical gardens where the first macadamia nuts were cultivated for farming! It was super cute and there were little lizards and interesting tropical plants.

Crossing the Brisbane River on the Goodwill bridge we went past the Maritime museum and began walking North along Southbank. The weather was gorgeous and the walkway beneath bright purple Bougainvilleans was stunning.

It’s so great to have such amazing green spaces in the City, and even better is the Streets beach! A man made turquoise blue beach pool in the middle of the City. A great place to swim, relax and catch some rays.

A top thing to do in Brisbane is take the City Hopper a free boat taxi that runs up and down the river. Just make sure you take the free one as the other boats charge.

We took the boat past kangaroo point, where you can abseil down the cliffs, past the waterside restaurants of Eagle St pier and under the famous Storey bridge.

The final stop was Sydney St and we got off here to walk back up to the City over the raised walkway above the river.

It was so beautiful, with places to stop and sit and water fountains. I had read there were bill sharks in the river, and spent my time keeping an eagle eye out for them to no avail.

If you follow this walkway till the end, you can reward yourself with a beer at Felon’s brewing company. A wonderful spot directly underneath Storey bridge. Nearby is Wilson outlook reserve, which affords you spectacular views of the city.

Felon’s brews all it’s own beers on site, and the cool instagrammable Percival’s bar is right next door too. As we sat enjoying our beers a huge thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere. Lightning filled the sky above the skyscrapers and the rain suddenly poured down.

It was such a cool experience, helped by the fact that we were sheltered from the rain. Plus it was a great excuse to get another beer.

The sun soon appeared again, so we took the City reach boardwalk all the way back to Eagle Street pier, through Queen Street mall and back to the hotel. After a quick change and freshen up we had a drink in the hotel bar and went in search of food. The best place to go would be Fish lane in South Brisbane but we stayed local and tried Harajuku Gyoza.

This was really good, dumplings, agedashi tofu and deep fried eggplant. Tasty beers including a cool Japanese ale. All for $30 each with rice, edamame and miso. Filled to the brim we went back to the hotel as Craig was up early to work the next day.

Craig was off to work in the morning and I was off to solo explore. I walked down Fish lane with it’s amazing Street art and hipster cafes. I stopped at Naim on Melbourne street and had incredible smashed avo on toast. It’s a fabulous little brunch spot.

I was now ready to hit up GOMA, with perfect timing as it opens at 10am it’s free too which is a bonus. It’s the gallery of modern art and it had some very interesting exhibits on aboriginal art and life, and some really cool media displays. It’s got some cool architecture moments as well.

I spent around an hour here at a leisurely pace, and then quickly popped over to the state library of Queensland to see an exhibition on satirical comic strips from 2018.

After missing out on the clock tower from the previous day, I was determined to do it. So after another cute boardwalk I headed back over the river and picked up a ticket. This time it was an hour’s wait. I quickly checked Google maps and found an old windmill, which turned out to be the oldest convict-built structure in Brisbane!

I also got to enjoy a couple of nice parks, a quaint little shopping arcade and finally took the plunge and tried the Hungry Jack’s vegan whopper. It was soooo good, and whoever invented the spider is a GOD. It’s soft serve on top of a slushy and it’s incredible.

Ready to hit the clock tower, we went up in the original lift and had about 10 minutes to enjoy the views of the City. It was fun and because it’s free it’s definitely something good to do but I wouldn’t worry if I missed it. We stopped behind the clock on the way down and it was done!

I had about 2 hours left in Brisbane! So I marched back over to the Southbank, found the Brisbane sign near the Lyric theatre and walked past the wheel of Brisbane. It’s well priced at $22, I wish we had done it the night before as I bet the City looks amazing lit up.

An insta-friend had recommended The Terrace bar to me, so I thought that it would be a great way to finish the trip. It’s located on floor 21 of the emporium hotel, next to Southbank train station.

I was so glad I went, the views over the City are 10 out of 10. Service was really good and the drinks were pretty well priced. I had a caramelised peach mojito and green coast lager. I could have stayed there all evening, it’s definitely one I’ll recommend on to others.

Being so close to the station was good too, it cost $23 to get to the domestic airport from here, not much less than the taxi so a little pricey, but the journey was fine and there’s a Coles nearby to pick up snacks. The train takes about 30 mins. Then it was check in to the airport and back to Melbourne after a lovely little Brizzy getaway.

Heading to Taipei, Capital of Taiwan.

Today I was off to my next Taiwan destination, the capital Taipei! It’s an easy journey from Taichung. I took the regular train which took around 2 and a half hours, but you can also take a bus or the high speed rail which only takes around 40 minutes!

I opted for the regular train from Taichung main station to save some cash but also to enjoy the Taiwanese countryside. If you want to take the high speed just hop over to Xinwuri and the high speed rail station.

The train journey was very comfortable and I arrived in Taipei around midday. The York hotel was just a short walk south of Taipei station on Nanyang St. It was also a bit of a shock! I’d only briefly glanced at the photos when I booked my room, so when I arrived I was given a key and room number and told to go down to the basement.

When I got there it was completely decked out like a nuclear bunker! It was actually pretty cool and fun after the initial shock and for less than £20 a night to have my own room in the centre was pretty good!

I dumped my stuff and checked my lovely planet guide and found an architecture walk I could take, so thinking I’d give it a try I headed out to explore Taipei.

The start of the walk was a little further from the hotel, so I incorporated the Huashan 1914 creative park into my little tour. It’s an art and film hub located in and around an old sake factory. It was pretty interesting to wander around with some cool exhibits.

So far I was impressed with Taipei, it was super quirky and futuristic but with a lot of traditional buildings around too. I started this self guided walking tour, and soon found myself extremely bored and regretting it. I’m not sure if it was my architectural ignorance or if it was just not very interesting.

The mayor’s residence art salon was ok, but probably the highlight. Luckily the tour didn’t take too long and it ended right by a much more interesting spot. First up was the East gate, a reconstruction of the old Japanese gate that once stood there.

Not far from here is Liberty Square. The central point of Taipei, not only is the Liberty Arch here but also the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall. Chiang is a controversial figure, a Chinese general who fought the Japanese in WWII but also ruled as a dictator. However he is seen as a hero on Taiwan for repelling the Communist advance from Mao.

It’s a beautifully created square, vast and open and I really enjoyed learning some history of Taiwan. It’s an interesting place as they take so much influence from both Japan and China. As you can see below the memorial building is amazing too.

From here I checked out the President’s office building and took a detour through the peace park nearby. Getting a little taste of tranquility in the big City.

My next destination was the north gate, and from here I wandered through a pretty interesting part of Taipei, with some great old buildings and a bit of street art to Ximen district and the Red house.

Built as a market in 1908 it’s now used as a theatre and for shopping, but it’s a pretty interesting building. Plus behind it is the main gay area in Taipei. Ximen as a district was also really cool, filled with little food stalls, futuristic shops and arcades and an awesome street art section.

It really reminded me of Japan, and the street art was out of this world, I probably spent an hour wandering the back streets finding more art stuff to look at, and I easily could have spent longer.

Once I’d had my fill of the graffiti, I needed my food fix. So I checked the maps and noticed a night market about 30 minutes all north. So off I went! On the way I discovered a cute little park that was a reservoir in WWII used to put out fires from air raids. A market was built on top of this and then demolished after years of decline.

Finally I made it to the market and was overloaded to the max with sights, smells and tastes. I had tasty vegetable gyoza, some more eggy pancakes, and ice cream to finish! It was late now, so I took the underground back to my hotel. After a little planning I was soon fast asleep.

24 Hours in L.A.

How do you spend a short amount of time in a City as vast as Los Angeles? Part of it depends on where you’re staying, and what you’re interested in.

Flying through from London on my way through to Melbourne, it almost felt like the pressure was off to see and do things in L.A. However, I was meeting Craig there and we had 2 nights and one full day to try and capture at least a small essence of California life.

Our hotel was a little far out (Woodland hills) and we knew traffic could be horrendous and time consuming, but after a chilled first night we were ready to go. The LACMA was high on our list, mostly for the amazing Urban Lights installation. A collection of lamp posts might not sound interesting, but check out the pics! Definitely an instagrammable spot.

The LACMA itself was actually closed on a Wednesday! So we had a little wander around the grounds, checking out some of the weird arty installations and the Brea tar pits, where I met a lovely giant sloth! I thought this was a cool little side quest to the main adventure of the day.

We then walked over to The Grove, an outdoor shopping area which is pure USA. We stopped at Sprinkles cupcake and picked the tastiest looking one.

Next up on our list was Monty’s burger, a purely vegan burger place that was recommended to me by a friend. Located in Koreatown it was so easy to take the bus along West 3rd Street. The best thing is that even the ‘plastics’ and containers are compostable.

Monty’s was amazing! A little pricey but the burgers and tater tots were soooo good, made from impossible fake meat patty’s we took 2 doubles and shared the tots. The vibe inside was very cool too. Another perfect Instagram moment.

Our next stop was downtown and the Arts District, so we hopped back on the bus, only costing us $1 each for the ride into the City. We got off near Pershing Square and walked over to 4th Street to start the Arts trail. This end of downtown is a little run down with some interesting characters, but there was some very cool street art to be found.

I had noticed a couple of brewery’s on Google maps and the Arts District brewery was out first stop. It’s located in an old warehouse and there’s plenty more street art to be seen around this area including a few pretty famous ones.

The beer was good, the weather was amazing and we sat outside watching the world go by. Angel City Brewery was next up and even better, their outside space is amazing, free water and some cool pieces of art to look at as you drink. I also had a great pineapple beer here and there was such a great vibe. If you are in L.A. for a while I’d definitely recommend it.

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Our plan was sunset at Santa Monica, and after getting a bus that didn’t really go anywhere, we checked and realised we could take a train the whole way. So we jumped on the blue line, and realised we were on the wrong blue line 😆. So we quickly got off and made our way onto the correct train.

It took about 45 minutes to get over to Santa Monica and there were some nice views over the City. We arrived just in time to get to Santa Monica pier for the sun to set. It was absolutely stunning and we loved wandering up the pier and being on the beach.

At this point we were starving, so we went to 800 degrees for pizza and salad, once you get over the weird ordering system the food was so good, it was pretty cheap, around £30 for mains and drinks total. After both of us flying across the Atlantic and Pacific respectively we were pretty tired so it was a cab ride home and bed.

The next day we only had a few hours to spare before flying on to Australia. So we decided to do the Getty museum, located on the 405 near Beverly Hills, it was built by the Getty family, a huge oil tycoon who loved art. The best thing? It’s free!

Our Uber took so long because of traffic, so always bear that in mind when planning L.A.

The architecture of the place is actually incredible, and there are some interesting pieces from Turner, Monet and Van Gogh. I liked the contrast of each building housing different examples of art such as photography or historical pieces.

The highlight for us was the central gardens, with beautiful landscaping and views over the City, we loved just wandering through looking at the different plants and flowers.

We had our lunch in the cafe, this was a nice food court type place with plenty of choice, even for vegetarians. Knowing the traffic could be bad we headed back to Woodland Hills and got some snacks and booze to take back to Australia from Westfield mall.

L.A. is so big it can feel a little daunting to get around and see things, but it’s definitely worth making that extra effort. If the weather has been a little less windy on our first day we would’ve hiked up to the Hollywood sign which is still on our list! I hope this gives you a little inspiration of things to do with limited time and budget.