Day 6 (June 16) - Brisbane/Cairns
Today we had our final breakfast at the hotel in Brisbane (the Nutella waffles returned!) before Julie whisked us away to the Brisbane airport. At the airport in Brisbane, some of us sampled a Julie recommendation: the pies! We went to Pie Face – an Australian chain – and had a variety of the meat and veggie pies (NO SWEET PIES!). Photos of two pies below (a meat and mushroom and a Lorraine – like a quiche). Kriza and our tour director Hayley tried some very delicious looking rolls from a Vietnamese restaurant in the terminal. Others had nutritious juice drinks and muffins, and a small contingent got subs from Subway – yes, really.
Quantas Airlines treated us to cheese, crackers and chutney in flight – a fantastic combo! And a couple tiny shortbreads for dessert!
Today was our day reserved for staff/senior dinner. Since Kelly and I truly enjoyed our previous "hot rocks" dinner experience in Cairns, we selected a location where we could re-live the cooking our own meat on hot rocks – Dundee's. We began with a selection of dips including guacamole and a tapenade. We also sampled four differently prepared oysters. Then, on to the "mains". Several of us grilled Oz beef on the hot rocks and a couple grilled kangaroo. Anna tried the "bugs" and prawns and Maggie had the seafood tower – wow! A delicious dinner was enjoyed by all!
Day 5 (June 15) - Gold Coast/Brisbane
Today began with the Hotel Ibis breakfast spread with pancakes instead of the Nutella waffles. All else was pretty much the same.
Following breakfast, we departed on our bus with masterful driver (and HUGE NEW UCHICAGO FAN) Julie to the Gold Coast.
The staff huddled for a bit over coffee, while the team had the day on their own. Everyone ate at a variety of places and sampled a variety of items, including:
- more gelato
- grilled calamari
- beach burger - Aussie style burger with avocado and egg on it
- Belgian hot chocolate at Oliver Brown Cafe
- more fish and chips
- Christie had the best sandwich she has ever had - kebab
- hot chili pizza with jalapeños
After the day at the Goldcoast, we returned to Brisbane for our first "match" as they say. We played a U23 team in a "tune-up" game for their national championship series which begins in two weeks. It was a well-played game vs. a fundamentally sound team - they practice quite a bit more than they compete here. Following the game, the teams had a barbie including steaks and local sausage. It was a great opportunity to connect with the local team and a quite satisfying meal!
Day 4 (June 14)
Today was our first breakfast at the Ibis and it seems everyone's favorite was the Nutella waffles! Also available were poached and scrambled eggs, not-at-all crispy bacon, sausages, two types of hash brown potatoes, baked beans (really), a variety of fruits, deli cheese slices and ham slices, granola, yogurt, delightfully light croissants, some dry cereals and orange, apple and pineapple juices, water, coffee and tea. Quite satisfying for all breakfast tastes!
Following breakfast, we departed for Stradbroke Island. At the ferry stop, many of us decided to have a latte, tall black (americano), short black (espresso), flat white, (sort of extra creamy latte), tea or a water.
On Straddie, following the lovely Gorge Walk, we all delighted in very tasty gelati from Oceanic Gelati. Some of the flavors included chocolate chip, raspberry, Nutella, lychee, something a bit tropical, vanilla and more.
After a brief ride on the bus, we stopped at Skip's where most people had fish and chips (Skip's specialty). A couple got burgers and salads. Skip herself is a former soccer player who had been to the U.S. and Canada to compete before settling on Straddie and opening up her restaurant.
Everyone was on their own for dinner. Most of the team seemed to head across the Brisbane River to the South Bank - an area lined with a very wide variety of restaurants including Ole (Spanish - tapas), Spaghetti House Trattoria and Mister Paganini (Italian), Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant, Mucho Mexicano, Hop and Pickle - among others! It seemed like most of the team enjoyed one of the MANY dessert places that also lined the street.
I myself sampled the delicacies at Ole including lamb skewers, the carne raciones, and the calamari. All were excellent!
Day 3 (June 13)
We arrived in Brisbane and went directly to the Australia Zoo. As a softball team is ALWAYS hungry, we went directly to the food court area of the zoo (admiring a couple very large tortoises along the way in the rain)!
For lunch, people had a variety of items including burgers with BBQ sauce, burgers with an egg on them, BLTs, wraps, salads and a lot of fries! At the zoo was the first time we saw ketchup called tomato sauce!
For dinner, we had our "welcome meal" at a restaurant a couple blocks from the Ibis Hotel at a restaurant called Milano. Everyone had the opportunity to pre-order an Italian delight. Entrees included pescatore risotto (pictured below) asparagus and chicken risotto (delicious), gnocchi, lasagna, wagyu beef burgers and Sicilian calamari salads.