Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bye, Bye Brisbane and Australia. Time to Return to Vermont!

Friday February 17, 2017
Brisbane QLD Australia
Vermont USA

G'Day mates, we're heading home.

Today is our last day in Australia. I'm sad to be leaving this AWESOME country but I miss my dog and my bed.

We're up early and eat a big time breakfast in the hotel lobby. We grab our gear, check out and walk down the hill a ways to the taxi stand for our cab to the Brisbane International Airport.

We're flying Virgin Australia to Los Angeles and the plane is pretty empty so we can stretch out for the 14 hour ride.

We wave goodbye to the Gold Coast and the islands. And we're crossing the Pacific Ocean.

I still can't wrap my head around us leaving Brisbane at 11:30 and arriving in Boston MA at 5:30 on the same day. And we're in the air for like 20 hours. Too weird.

The food and drinks are plentiful and the in-flight entertainment keeps us up some, so we can try to regulate our sleep vs. awake time.
I watch this GREAT movie called Red Dog, it's based on a true story. It was incredible. And it gave me a great farewell send off from Australia. Netflix it if you can!!

LA to Boston was a little bumpy and the plane is much smaller, totally uncomfortable.
We land, grab our luggage and start the drive north with all the ski traffic heading that way too for vacation week.

We're home at 9:30 p.m. and up early Saturday to bail Riley out from his kennel, I mean SPA stay.

We're pretty much dead to the world on Saturday and Sunday but rally on Monday and take a hike. Yeah, we got snow but the freeze thaws have made it pretty bad for cross country skiing. The season may be over.

What's next for adventurers Jay and Nancy, who knows. Maybe a dive trip, maybe a trip to Great Britain, or maybe a trip back to Ireland...
Stay tuned.

Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane QLD Australia, Night 2

February 16, 2016
Brisbane, QLD Australia

It's our last day in Brisbane. After breakfast in the hotel lobby we pack up our stuff and get things organized to head home on Friday.

Around 12:30, our tummies are started to grumble so we walk down the hill to Mr. Edward's Alehouse for lunch. I know, we've already eaten there but the food and beers were so good. If I lived in Brisbane-this would be my go to place!

Again, they were slammed with folks on their lunch break. We thought we had timed it to miss most of the lunch crowd but no such luck. I had the wild mushroom and chicken pasta and Jay had the swordfish. We are now properly fueled for night 2 of BRUCE!

We hang in the room continuing to pack and organize for a early morning check out on Friday. At 3:30 we shower, change and head to the train station.

We're a bit earlier tonight and closer to the door in the pit walk up line. We see some familiar faces from the first night and meet some really nice people. I finally get to meet a family from Ireland that I've been trying to see since Albany 2016. (They waited in the roll call line and got right up to the stage.)

Once they open the door, a little after 6 p.m., we're in the arena and head again, to the back of the pit. Tonight we choose stage right, near the camera area.

After the opening with "New York City Serenade", "Working On A Dream" was debuted for the tour.

Next he played "Roll of The Dice" without guitar but playing a mean tambourine.

By now you've heard that Bruce made a teenager's dream come true.

After the crowd recovered from this performance, Bruce and the Band rolled out "Out in The Streets."

Followed by "No Surrender" and the crowd-surfing "Hungry Heart"

Once back on stage, Bruce announced to the crowd "I got someone's cell phone." He said he'd leave it backstage after the show for the owner to collect.

Bruce played the haunting "American Skin (41 shots)"; Jake has taken to hands-up during this song and it just gives me goose bumps.

"Rosalita" brings the crowd back to jumping, dancing and laughing.

The show closes with "Thunder Road" and the crowd goes wild.

More photos from the show: CLICK HERE

I hope this isn't the last night of Bruce Springsteen WITH the E Street Band for me.
Only time will tell.

From: http://brucespringsteen.net/
New York City Serenade
Working on a Dream
Roll of the Dice
Jole Blon
Long Time Comin’
Growin’ Up
Out in the Street
No Surrender
Hungry Heart
Mary’s Place
Follow That Dream
The River
American Skin (41 Shots)
The Promised Land
Downbound Train
I’m On Fire
Because the Night
She’s the One
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Brisbane Day 11 Make Your Own Brewery Walking Tour

February 15, 2017
Brisbane Australia

We slept later after our night with Bruce standing for 3+ hours in the pit. We even almost missed breakfast. We jumped out of bed and ran down stairs with only minutes to spare.

Jay's been checking out craft brewery tours online for either a half or full day adventure. They seem kind of expensive for what they are offering.

We decided to create our own walking brewery tour. It's only about a 40 minute walk from our hotel so we're cool with doing that. It's hot but cloudy so the walk to Doggart St. isn't too bad.

We first visit Newstead Brewery. The brewery is in an old building built in the 1940s.
From their website:
Newstead is the confluence of energy and ideas from three brewing perspectives.

Mark Howes comes from a research background with a PhD in molecular bioscience. Home brewing got serious, instead of post-graduate studies, the beard was grown and so too was the brewery. 

Jarrett Bravo hails from global hospitality with stints in running backpackers hostels, hotels and English pubs. Bringing a love of the UK style and traditional methods with a bent on herbal nuances Jarrett’s perspective is refreshingly holistic. 

Gavin Croft draws from a home brewing and small business perspective, with a focus on innovation and precision. While concomitantly supporting his independent brewing company, Gavin brings a wealth of inspiration and knowledge garnered from both post-graduate education and commercial experience in brewing.

They have a good selection on tap and of course Jay goes for the porter.
PORTER 21 Feet 7 Inches
Murky, silty and black as your hat. Chocolate and coffee flood the palate. Toasted malts are the heroes, with noble hop aroma and spice filling in around the edges. Oozing with creme this smooth Porter is perfect for quaffs on the river. Or in it.
—— ABV 5.2% • IBU 54 • EBC 120 ——

After our long walk, not only our we thirsty we're pretty darn hungry. The chef has a crab and ocean trout cake with asian salad on special and we both place our orders. It was delicious!

After lunch we take a quick walk to Green Beacon

Their motto is: "Don't drink it because it's craft beer. Drink it because it's good beer!"  well, alright!
Their beers include a core range, seasonal release and special release. Unfortunately for us they didn't have the Penny Porter on tap.

So it's back to Newstead for us. Jay buys two six packs of the porter to go.

Heading back to the hotel we see some pretty stark architectural contrast with the old churches and the new high rises.

We're back at the room for some chill time.

We loved Mr. Edward's Alehouse so much we return for dinner. The place is hopping with folks meeting up after work. The service was a little slow because of the number of people eating there (three HUGE parties) but the food was excellent. I had the prosciutto wrapped chicken and Jay had the grilled veggies.

I even had a Dalwhinnie 15 to toast Jay's Cooper's Stout. Mr. Edward's has quite a list of Whisk(e)y!

Our time in Brisbane, and Australia is winding down. We have BRUCE night 2 tomorrow and then head home to Vermont on Friday.

More photos from our day in Brisbane: CLICK HERE

Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane QLD Australia, Night 1

February 14, 2017
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Boondall QLD Australia

It's Valentine's Day 2017 and we're in Brisbane Australia. What better way to spend the evening than to be standing in the pit for a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show with Jay.

What's a pit, you ask, well instead of seats in front of the stage, it's a standing room only floor-General Admission. The "pit" is run differently for Bruce in different countries. In Europe, they camp out for days in line. Here in Australia, they are doing roll call, where you show up, get a number and check back in at the designated times before lining up to get into the arena before the doors officially open.

We opted for the "walk-up" pit line. Where you have a pit ticket but just walk up and line up, say an hour before the doors open.

We want to spend some time seeing Brisbane, we didn't want to spend all day in a parking lot in Boondall.

It worked out, we weren't too far back in line and most people race to get in front of the stage. We like to hang out at the back of the pit where there is less pushing and shoving and more space to move.

The show opened with "New York City Serenade" with the guest strings then jumped right into "Lucky Town."

Bruce reached for a sign and played "Janey, Don't You Loose Your Heart." After telling the crowd that Valentine's Day is the third loneliest day of the year he launched into the "Rendezvous", "Be True", and "Back In Your Arms."

During "Hungry Heart" Bruce heads off stage to circle the pit. We were on the rail and waiting to say HI.

He crowd surfs back to the stage.

"Leap of Faith" made it's tour debut tonight.

And getting "Secret Garden" as one of the encore songs was pretty special.

He closed the show with house lights on full "Born to Run", "Dancing in the Dark", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" pointing to the big screens and photo/video memories of Clarence, "Shout" and "Bobby Jean."

Happy Valentine's Day Boss Style!

More photos from night 1's show: CLICK HERE
Videos and clips from Australia

Made it to the train station pretty quickly and were back in our room by 11:30 p.m. Some bread, some cheese and some much needed sleep.

From: http://brucespringsteen.net/
Brisbane Night 1
New York City Serenade
Lucky Town
Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart
Be True
Back in Your Arms
Better Days
The Ties That Bind
Out in the Street
Hungry Heart
Wrecking Ball
Leap of Faith
The River
Candy’s Room
She’s the One
Because the Night
The Rising
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Brisbane City Botanic Garden, Day 10 of our Aussie Adventure

February 14, 2017
Brisbane, QLD Australia

Woke up before the alarm. Looks a little gloomy outside and standing on the balcony it feels cooler after last night's rain.

We had a lovely breakfast in the hotel restaurant before heading out to walk the City Botanic Gardens. We cross Wickham Terrace and trot down the red stairs to Edward Street. We follow Edward St. basically to the river.

We walk along the outer rim of the gardens, a path that takes you along the river's edge. We get passed by folks running and biking and a few moms' with strollers.

Somehow we took a wrong turn and end up in the River Stage Area, a natural outdoor amphitheater. A nice guy comes and lets us out through a security fence back into the Gardens but not before talking about some of the concerts they've hosted at this venue. He even says one of his mates is going to Bruce tonight too.

This Garden is quite the oasis set between the river and the city's downtown.

I can only image how cool it would be to live so close to both the river and these gardens.

It was fun to see so many varieties of unusual birds just hanging out near the pond.

The heat and humidity are picking up and we're drawn to the sound of running water. There's a small waterfall feeding the pond.

 The heat is starting to get to us and we're getting thirsty. We passed Mr. Edward's Alehouse on the way down to the garden entrance. I had looked it up online before we left our room as it popped up on my map to the garden.

They have great local beer on tap. The Cooper's Aged was yummy. And was so great with their grilled swordfish!

More photos from our walk around the Botanic Gardens: CLICK HERE

We hike back up Edward St., stopping along the way to purchase our train pass for the two trips we'll be making to Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall to see Bruce Springsteen on Feb 14 and 16.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Aussie Adventure Day 9

February 13, 2017
Brisbane, QLD Australia

Monday morning in Brisbane, I'm up at 5:30 a.m. without an alarm. WHY?

I check email and the weather back home-it's snowing again. It's supposed to be 89 F here in Brisbane with chance of thunderstorms later in the day. They need rain here. There are 80 fires burning in New South Wales right now. Fire danger is high to catastrophic.

Today we're taking a river cruise to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Miramar Crusies makes daily trips on the Brisbane River to the Sanctuary and we thought it would be fun to see the river and koalas in one trip.

We cross over the river via the Kurilpa Bridge, a walking and cycling bridge. Our ferry is docked at the Culture Centre Pontoon near the State Library.

The Miramar II is departing at 10 a.m. and we head out onto the river. We get a recorded commentary as we make our way down the river. Explaining about the various neighborhoods along the river and the devastating flood they had recently.

We cruise by some pretty serious real estate.

At 11:15 a.am. we dock at Lone Pine and have until 2:15 p.m. when the ferry heads back to the city.

I want to hug a koala so we head right for the Koala Cuddle. I'm given Cordelia and get to "cuddle" her for a few minutes. Koalas are sluggish during the day because they eat eucalyptus leaves that are highly toxic. But if they rest quietly during digestion, they don't get sick from the leaves. That's why they are slow moving and look like all they do is sleep in the trees.
When we traveled with Harrison the other day he said while he was at "Uni" he worked with a professor studying the koalas. They'd drive around the rain forest and he'd shout out every time he saw a koala in a tree sleeping "Gray Blob!, Gray Blob!"

After the photo op we walk around the park and take in all the animals. There are koalas everywhere.

There is a large fenced in area that people are allowed into so you can interact with the animals. The kangaroos are a big draw.

The animals have a shady area that is their safe zone, when they get tired of humans they hop behind the barrier and hang out without humans bothering them, but you can still take pictures.

This one has a joey in her pouch nursing.

They offer demonstrations with birds of prey.

And sheep dog herding. It was so hot that the trainer went really easy on the dog-Hunter the border collie and Rex the Kelpie.

More photos from our river cruise and the Koala Sanctuary: CLICK HERE

Back on the ferry and we cruise back towards the city trying to stay out of the blazing sun and trying to catch any breeze we can off the water.

Instead of crossing at the Kurilpa Bridge we take the Victoria Bridge this time. Stopping at the Woolworth's and BWS to gather up room food supplies. We're hot and sweaty, a shower is in order.

After we freshen up we head to The Gresham on Queen St., Jay found it online. We just barely get in the door and the skies open up with a horrendous thunderstorm and downpour. The beer selection is lacking so we head back over to The Embassy Craft Beer Bar.

Jay orders the White Rabbit beer and the veggie nachos. I have a dram of Port Charlotte Whisky with the coconut lemongrass chicken salad.

We climb up the red stairs to Wickham Terrace from Edward Street and hit the Busy Bee for ice cream. Jay crashes but I'm still wide awake so I surf online a bit. Folks back home are posting pictures of the snow storm. It looks mighty nasty. The forecast says more snow is coming too.

Glad I'm not in Vermont.

Next up, an easy day at the City Botanic Gardens because we have Bruce Springsteen night 1 Brisbane Tuesday tonight. We have pit tickets so we'll be standing for 4-5 hours from pre-show pit entrance to the end of the performance. Bruce will be on stage for about 3 hours. He's amazing!

And it's Valentine's Day! So we're expecting some pretty varied songs from the Boss!