Monday, 29 May 2017

The Shopping Cart (May)

the shopping cart quote

It's that time of the month again....no not that one...the one where I round up all my purchases for your voyeuristic pleasure & tell you about each & every one of them.

As always, any sales or links mentioned in this post are correct at the time of publishing. If for any reason the sales are no longer happening or the links are broken by the time you read this post, then I can not & will not be held responsible.

Compared with previous months, I got spendy during May...real spendy. I guess that's what holidays do to you.

Monday, 22 May 2017

A Small Guide to the Gold Coast

beach views

Hola mi amigas! Today I’m going to chat about one of Australia’s top tourist destinations, the Gold Coast.

Home to various theme parks, beaches, high rise apartment blocks & rabid Schoolies running amok every November, there is more to the Goldie than just flash & glitz. With the Commonwealth Games coming up next April, the GC is about to come into the spotlight in a big way & what better time to visit than now? I just spent a week up there recently & thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It’d been 9 years since my last visit, so seeing it through fresh eyes & getting out & about more was great….besides, sometimes it’s good to get out of the rat race that is Sydney. 😉

This small guide to the Gold Coast will encompass shopping, eating & how to get around, as well as telling you about where I stayed down in Broadbeach (which is just one area of the GC). All of this is based purely on my own experiences & won’t encompass everything there is about the Gold Coast – consider it a mere taste of what to look for & expect.

Without further ado, let’s get into it:

SHOPPING

This was my predominant activity during my time there & as far as I’m concerned, there are only 3 shopping hubs you ought to check out: Pacific Fair, Harbour Town Outlets & Robina Town Centre. I’ll start first with Pacific Fair.

via Gold Coast Bulletin
Since undergoing a major makeover several years ago, Pacific Fair has become a top shopping destination on the Goldie. Its home to Queensland’s first Sephora store; as well as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo & your usual major & minor department stores & supermarkets. If you’re a slow walker, this place will take at least 2 days to conquer, so be prepared to get lost in there as it is HUGE. (I managed to conquer it in a day, but that’s just me.) There are also quite a lot of eateries both in the old & newer parts of Pacific Fair, ensuring that you won’t go hungry. I even went there one night to Comita Cantina because I was craving Mexican…I didn’t take photos, sorry. (Too busy eating food!) Whilst the spicy beef soft tacos I had were pretty damn meh, the chicken one I had as part of the 3 for $18 deal wasn’t bad. It’s also quite pretty in the newer part of Pac Fair (as the locals call it) at night.

Pacific Fair at night

fountain @ Pacific Fair

Next up, Harbour Town Outlets, which will be familiar to you Adelaideans as you guys have one too (apparently). This place certainly beats the DFO we have in Sydney & dare I say it, might even beat Birkenhead Point. I’ve done my fair share of outlet shopping both here & overseas & for me, Harbour Town Outlets was the best of the bunch as I was able to find quite a number of things. Here you’ll find your designer brands like Kate Spade & Michael Kors alongside your usual high street stores like Portmans, Cotton On, Forever New, Peter Alexander & a zillion surf shops. There are also eateries here too, but I didn’t bother eating when I went there. Be prepared to utilise a map because again, you could easily get lost. I scored a number of bargains during my trip here, including a Kate Hill handbag which you will see in the next Shopping Cart post.

Lastly, Robina Town Centre. I was always going to make a trip there seeing as I’d passed it on the bus on my way to Robina train station; but you know a shopping centre is half decent when someone you know swears by it (in my case, my Mum’s friend). Happy to say, this friend of Mum’s was right. Again, it’s big, but not too hard to get around in. (What is it with you Queenslanders, all your shopping centres are frickin’ huge! Not that I was complaining…) Again, you’ll find your major retailers like Myer & David Jones in amongst your high street brands, as well as a few interesting shops in between like The Hat Store & That Shop (the latter a vintage-inspired clothing & accessories store).  For me, this suburban shopping centre was great as whilst it had the same stores I’m used to seeing back home, it also had other stuff to pique my interest. I sometimes feel that Sydney shopping centres have all become cookie-cutter, due to ridiculous rents & the like.

EATING

Around Broadbeach (where I stayed) there’s a tonne of eateries – some decent, some not-so-decent. My parents used to go to Rocks every morning & have their $10 big breakfast (which they enjoyed), but I found their so-called “sourdough” toast tasted more like normal white bread. I also went to Sage twice & Koi once for breakfast & found them to be ok (although the people at Koi served my food before my drinks). I also hit up Bootleg Juice Bar twice for a “Cacao Shake” (aka a cacao & banana smoothie) & found it pretty enjoyable. For all you health nuts, their breakfasts looked quite wholesome & their açai bowl looked nice too.

Cacao Shake from Bootleg Juice Bar, Broadbeach
FYI, the polish I'm wearing is OPI's Kerry Blossom.
In terms of dinner, the only place I can really rave about is Mike’s Kitchen. Tucked away on a hill in Merrimac, this family-friendly restaurant has been running for 25 years & it’s easy to see why they get repeat customers. It’s rare that my Dad raves about anything, but he’s gone to this restaurant several times on golf trips with his friends & has come back speaking in glowing terms about their pork ribs, which my Mum & I just had to try when we were up there. Just a warning: Unless you are an absolute glutton with a bottomless pit for a stomach, I’d suggest sharing a full rack of ribs with someone because they are absolutely HUGE. They were easily the largest set of ribs I have seen for a very long time (possibly ever), but to mine & my mother’s enjoyment, they were also the meatiest & lip-smackingly tastiest ribs we’ve both had for a long time.

Full rack of pork ribs @ Mike's Kitchen, Merrimac
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.....*licks lips*

TRANSPORT

You can drive of course and in some places (i.e. getting to Mike’s Kitchen for rib-tastic goodness) it is necessary; but it is just as easy to get around the Gold Coast via public transport. If you are staying solely on the GC & going to all the major attractions like Surfers Paradise & the theme parks, then a go explore card is for you; but if you want to venture north into Brisbane & surrounds, or you’re staying longer, then a standard go card is best. It will set you back $10, but you can redeem that + any amount of have remaining on the card either at the customer service desk in Pacific Fair before you leave or via mail after you leave. The card also has a 12-month expiry date, so if you know you’ll be back in the meantime it might be best to hold onto it.

Random artwork @ Currawa Beach

As far as public transport options go, there’s the G:link tram, which goes in both directions from Broadbeach South (which isn’t far from Pacific Fair & is also a major bus hub in the area) all the way to Gold Coast University Hospital, servicing Surfers Paradise, Cavill Mall, Main Beach, Southport & numerous other stops in between. They are in the process of extending it, but I’m not sure where the extension is going to. That said, I caught this tram plenty of times & found it highly efficient, with trams running every 5-15 minutes, depending on the time of day.

There are also plenty of buses servicing the GC, which will take you to the theme parks (there’s special theme park express buses marked with a TX), Robina & Nerang train stations, Gold Coast airport, Robina Town Centre & many other places in between, including the Harbour Town outlets I mentioned earlier (I caught the tram to Southport, then a bus from Southport to the outlets).

If you wish to travel by train into Brisbane & surrounds from the Gold Coast, you’ll need to get to Varsity Lakes, Robina, Nerang or Helensvale station & catch the Gold Coast line north. I did this twice whilst up there & from Robina it took roughly 1 hour 10-1 hour 20 minutes; so my advice would be to get up early if you wish you do it that way because it’ll be a very long day if you do decide to use public transport. (I also went to Indooroopilly on the first occasion...I’ll talk about that in the next Shopping Cart post too.)

WHERE TO STAY

My folks & I stayed in a 2-bedroom ocean-view luxury apartment at Synergy Broadbeach, located right on the Gold Coast Highway. Conveniently located near restaurants, shops (Pacific Fair was about a 10 minute walk, or 1 tram stop, away) & the G:link tram system (the Broadbeach North stop was 50 metres away on foot), these apartments are modern & fairly spacious with a fair amount of storage to boot. Neither my parents nor I felt like we were encroaching on each other at any stage of our stay.

Lounge room @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
Lounge room

Main bedroom @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
Main bedroom - it also contained a mini TV

2nd bedroom @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
2nd bedroom, which I stayed in
Our apartment contained a large en-suite, a 2nd bathroom, a nice kitchen & dining area with plenty of pantry storage, a washer & dryer inside the kitchen (in case you want to wash some clothes, or the towels provided – the apartments aren’t serviced until after your stay) & a large balcony which gave us some views of the ocean (although we were blocked by some old apartment buildings). The complex also contains a pool, spa & gym (none of which I visited), a secure carpark & key system, as well as a reception desk manned during daylight hours (albeit reduced hours on Saturday & Sunday). Ricki/Rikki (who was on that desk most days) was warm, welcoming, friendly & chatty, which certainly made our stay all the more pleasant.

2nd bathroom @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
2nd bathroom - yes, that's me in the corner, that's me in the spot...light, losing my religioooooon...

Main bathroom @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
Main bathroom

Kitchen @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
Kitchen

Ocean view balcony @ Synergy Apartments Broadbeach
Balcony with ocean views
Normally stays of our kind aren’t cheap, but we managed to get a decent deal (as well as a whole bunch of extra incentives thrown in like restaurant discounts, discounts for endota spa etc) through Luxury Escapes, so if this recommendation plus the photos above & below have convinced you to stay there, then go & check it out. I'm unsure if the deal still remains - if not, keep an eye out for it.

Sunset over Currawa Beach

Views to Surfers Paradise, upon dusk

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this small guide to the Gold Coast!

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Have you ever been to the Gold Coast before? What did you think of it?

Friday, 19 May 2017

NOTD: Nebulous Things

piCture pOlish, nail polish swatch, Australian indie polish

Hola mi amigas!

Before I get into today's post, I'd like to apologise for being absent the past couple of weeks. I went on a brief holiday to the Gold Coast (more on that in the near future) & as usual, didn't have any posts scheduled during my time away. I also came down with the flu halfway through my holiday & felt like a phlegm-y, husky sauna both before & since I got home late last week, so haven't felt like blogging. I am beginning to feel better now, thankfully. At least I've re-gained my voice (YAY)!

But enough about that, let's chat nail polish....or more specifically, what I'm currently sporting on my digits.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Shopping Cart (April)

the shopping cart quote

It's that time of the month again....no not that one...the one where I round up all my purchases for your voyeuristic pleasure & tell you about each & every one of them.

As always, any sales or links mentioned in this post are correct at the time of publishing. If by chance those links are broken or sales are no longer happening by the time you read this post, then I can't nor won't be held responsible.

After 2 low-buy months, I got a bit more spendy during April, hence why I'm doing this post now instead of the end of May. At risk of repeating myself, I know I've said I'll probably make these sorts of posts a bi-monthly thing; but you never know, occasionally I may have enough to justify an earlier post.

Ok now I'm just babbling for the sake of filling space....get on with it girl!

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Monthly Happy List (April)

monthly happy list

Hola mi amigas!

So we're now into May & hurtling towards the halfway mark of 2017. How are you going with your intentions for the year so far? (If you made any in the first place!) Now might be a good time to reflect on that...or you can procrastinate & wait until after June, that's your call. I've been reflecting on some of mine lately & I feel increasingly ready to put a couple of those intentions into action. I might do a check-in post about this in the coming months, just to see where I'm at.

But enough about that for now....let's get on with the task of seeing what made me happy in April: