12/12/12

Brisbane, Australia (Hawaiian Airlines Inaugural Flight) - November 28th-30th, 2012

Within the past decade, Hawaiian Airlines has really been expanding their international flight destinations out of Hawaii.  The airline industry giant now flies direct routes to four cities in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, and Manila in the Philippines.  In 2004, they first connected the Hawaiian Islands with Australia by flying direct to Sydney.  Fast-forward to November 2012, and they now fly non-stop to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia.  I was very fortunate to be invited on Hawaiian Airlines' inagural flight to Brisbane to dabble a bit in the city life for a couple days.  Upon arriving in Brisbane I met three other bloggers: Ed Sugimoto of World Wide Ed, Catherine Toth of The Cat Dish, and Melissa Chang of Nonstop Honolulu.  They were also invited and would be my companions throughout the trip.

My first night in Brisbane was spent at a dinner gala in the Sofitel Brisbane Hotel, a beautiful French-inspired hotel located in the Central Business District of Brisbane.  The Sofitel would be my home away from home for the next couple of days.  The dinner gala was put together by Hawaiian Airlines to celebrate its inaugural Hawaii-Brisbane flight.  Food was catered buffet-style by Oahu-based chef Chai Chaowasaree of Chai's Island Bistro.  The food was incredible, and it was a perfect welcoming for all of us that were invited.  Live Hawaiian music and hula was also provided for entertainment, catching all of my attention to the point where I felt as though I was still in Hawaii.


View from the elevator at the Sofitel.


My hotel room!


The view from the window of my hotel room.


The first thing that caught my eye at the Hawaiian Air dinner gala was this massive skillet of fried rice.  I never knew skillets were made that big.


Food for days.


Lamb.


Sushi.


Tiger prawns.


Shrimp.


Live Hawaiian music.




When the dinner gala was finished, my fellow bloggers and I headed out on foot to a pub known as the Pig 'N Whistle.  The open-air pub was about an eight minute walk from our hotel.  Much of the beers on tap were Australian.  I opted for a Toohey draft and would have a few more as I chatted with Cat, Ed, and Melissa about what was in store for the next day.  A visit to the South Bank was on the itinerary.

ANZAC Square.


Beers on tap at the Pig 'N Whistle.




Day two was hot and sunny.  Clear skies prevailed, making for a hot, half-hour walk through Queen Street Mall, over Victoria Bridge, and into South Bank Parklands.  South Bank Parklands is a massive area along the edge of the Brisbane River, with a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.  Other attractions include a giant ferris wheel known as the Wheel of Brisbane and a man-made beach known as Streets Beach. The view from the edge of the Brisbane River is spectacular. It is even more impressive at night as the bright city lights reflect against the surface of the river.  During our jaunt along the South Bank, we spent much of our time taking pictures of the city and relaxing at the edge of Streets Beach.  Heading back to the hotel along Queen Street Mall, we stopped to enjoy the Hawaiian music and hula entertainment Hawaiian Air had setup near the Wintergarden retail outlets to promote their newest route from Hawaii to Brisbane.

Treasury Hotel and Casino.




Walking to the South Bank along Victoria Bridge.  Click on the picture to view a larger version.


Panoramic view from the South Bank.  Click on the picture to view a larger version.


Streets Beach.






After the show was over, we freshened up at the hotel and walked to Chinatown to find some dim sum.  Thirteen of us marched through the streets to the King of Kings Chinese Restaurant in Fortitude Valley, about a twenty minute walk from the Sofitel.  After finding our seats, the waiter took our order and asked if anyone was interested in a drink known as "The Dragon."  Since no one was up for the challenge, I opted to try it out.  The waiter placed three separate glasses in front of me.  One was a shot glass filled with bright red liquor; another was a glass cup filled with yellow liquid; the last one was a shot glass filled with a green liquid.  I was instructed to shot the red one first, then gulp down the yellow one next, and finish off by shotting the green one.  Before I took on the challenge the waiter told us about the "legend" behind the drink.  It was something about how 2,000 years ago if you wanted to control the world, you had to control the dragon, so obviously, you had to slay the dragon first.  I slayed the dragon, alright, and it gave me a mean buzz within a minute of guzzling down the shots.  I'm not sure what the drinks consisted of, but the red shot tasted like nail polish remover, the yellow one tasted like beer, and the third one tasted like mouth wash.  It also burned like hell going down and left a spicy tingle in my mouth.  But it was awesome, and after we ate, I lead everyone back to the hotel on foot.  After slaying "The Dragon," I'd say everyone was pretty brave to follow me.  Lucky thing we didn't get lost.

Beer!


Lots and lots of Chinese food.




Back at the hotel, we showered off and got ready for our second night in Brisbane.  We met with Hawaiian Airlines employees Jeremy Althof and Jesse Starmer.  Both would lead us to our dinner locale.  Like we did earlier that day, we walked to the South Bank to view the city under a full moon along the edge of the Brisbane River.  The view was incredible.  The light shimmered across the river with the full moon hovering just above the highest skyscrapers.  We then caught a taxi to our dinner destination, a brand new restaurant and pub known as Alfred and Constance in Fortitude Valley.  The restaurant was loud and filled with people enjoying drinks from the bar.  We ordered several plates on the menu and some pitchers of mixed drinks that we all shared.  After we had had enough, we caught a cab to the Treasury Hotel and Casino.  Cat, Ed, Melissa, and I were exhausted from the long day of walking.  Jeremy and Jesse decided to stay at the casino.  We parted ways.  The next day would be my last day in Brisbane, but not without visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the Mount Coot-tha overlook.

Night view along Victoria Bridge.


The Wheel of Brisbane at night.


Full moon over the Brisbane metro reflecting off the surface of the Brisbane River.


Dinner time at Alfred and Constance.


Oyster kilpatrick.




On my third and last day in Brisbane, we visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  The sanctuary is much like a zoo, offering glimpes of wombats, kangaroos, snakes, lizards, and of course, koalas.  We also had a chance to hold a koala and pet and feed kangaroos.



Nice head rest.


Lazy buggers.


Kangaroos everywhere!








We then headed to the Mount Coot-tha lookout where we had an amazing panoramic view overlooking the metropolitan area of Brisbane.  Far off in the distance we could see Moreton Bay and Moreton Island.  After snapping some photos, we entered the gift shop where I bought a bag full of kangaroo jerky.  Interestingly enough, the 'roo jerky actually tasted fishy to me, but it was delicious.  Ironically, just an hour earlier I was petting and feeding kangaroos.

Downtown Brisbane.


Jerky, Aussie style.




Noon approached, and it was time for lunch, so we headed to a restaurant known as The Shelter Bar, situated underneath Story Bridge, the largest cantilever bridge in Australia.  Two draft beers, a bloody mary, and a savory lamb and rosemary meat pie hit the spot after an active half-day of tourist roaming.  It was now time to head back to the Sofitel to get ready for the 6:30pm flight back to Honolulu.

Meat pies at the Pie Face.




Spending only two days in the city, I can't vouch for being an expert on the weather in Brisbane. Although, I can tell you that it was hot and humid when I was there: around 32 degrees Celsius during the midday, which equates to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It kind of reminded me of Hawaii, but a little hotter.  The city of Brisbane abuts the Brisbane River, offering dramatic river-to-city landscape views from certain vantage points around the metropolitan area.  The architechture of modern and old contrast well as seen walking along the city sidewalks.  The metropolis is vibrant and alive, hustling and bustling during the day and into the night.  The numerous eateries and pubs to satisfy your hunger and thirst are everywhere.  I highly recommend trying a meat pie.  It is sold at any bakery you can find and most restaurants, and it definitely hits the spot after a long, booze-filled night out in the town.  Speaking of booze, if you're looking for beer, Australia has some of the best.  I recommend Hahn's Super Dry.  Stay away from hard liquor, though; it'll burn a hole in your wallet, and you'll want to save some of that money for shopping.  Purchasing something "authenically Australian" isn't hard to find as there are plenty of shopping opportunites at Queens Plaza and Queen Street Mall.  And if you're an avid gambler, the Treasury Hotel casino is the place for you.

The city of Brisbane is awesome.  From eateries and pubs, to shopping and sightseeing, it is definitely a worthwhile destination to put on your travel wishlist.  Hawaiian Airlines has truly bridged the gap between Hawaii and one of Australia's metropolitan gems.









Book your flight now at HawaiianAirlines.com.

For more pictures and tweets, check out #AlohaBNE on Instagram and Twitter.

For more complete write-ups, videos, and even more pictures of our trip visit the following websites:
World-Wide-Ed.com by Ed Sugimoto
TheCatDish.com by Catherine Toth
NonstopHonolulu.com by Melissa Chang


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