After a 10am checkout, we caught the Gold Coast train at 10:30 but hopped off after they announced that it was an express train only stopping at (x) and (y). We got on the next train a half hour later that said the same thing, yet when we asked about it, apparently these trains DO stop at Nerang (closest stop to Surfers). Oops!
So we quickly arrived a bit after 12 and transferred to a Surfers Paradise bus that dropped us off at the transit center, conveniently located nextdoor to our hostel, the Islander Backpackers Resort. This place is right in the middle of SP and has both a hotel and hostel, both with balconies outside every room. It has 9 floors, a sauna, pools, spa, restaurant, and bar. Really nice place. Our room was like a run-down hotel room with two beds, tv, dressers, mirrored closet, and complimentary soap etc. Plus, the view from our balcony was amazing! It looks out toward the beach over the main intersection, and a few other high-rise hotels are just ahead. Below are the hotel pools with palm trees. It’s seriously a fabulous view.
After admiring said view, we set off to explore the area. We walked down the beach for a bit in really soft sand. The water was cold and not too many people were there. We could see the land curl out far in the distance, underneath some fog. Plus, the beach was lined with tall buildings. We walked a bit, then cut back onto the street and walked back. Seriously, it’s one long road with really tall, modern buildings and some green tree shrubs scattered around. Many of the buildings have lots of glass in their design, which makes them aesthetically pleasing. Most appealing of all is the Q1, the tallest residential building in the world. It’s tall and thin and has blue glass and is shaped sort of triangularly. Right in front of it was a hotel(?) called The Carlton, also very modern-looking. We sat inside for awhile and admired the view of the Q1, the glass walls of The Carlton with indoor and outdoor pools, and the fountains over some coffee. Even the cafe seating was modern and new. It was almost like being in a mini-palace. We were quite impressed.
It was extremely blustery today, though apparently 28C (mid-80′s). We made our way up to the heart of SP and did the typical tourist thing and took pictures of ourselves with the SP signs before getting lost in a maze of shops and restaurants. This occupied us for the whole afternoon, even though we didn’t buy anything. I was quite tempted to try out Infinity, this new maze-type optical illusion attraction, but instead we just stood in the neon-lighted entrance and looked at ourselves in the distant mirror. But yeah, even the shopping areas were modernly designed. It was impressive!
We ended up having dinner at Pancakes in Paradise, a nice family-oriented place with delicious pancakes. So many variations to choose from, but I had mine plain. Mmm. After that, we went back to our room and chilled and gazed out our balcony at the city lit up at night before venturing out for our nighttime photography excursion. But first, a pitstop at Gelatissmo for some amazing gelato (I had veronese chocolate and cassata, which was a bit like English trifle). Delicious!! There were some street performances going on in the mall strip, but we headed inland to Chevron Island. Surfers is comprised of several inland islands or isles on a river, connected to the boulevard by bridges. Chevron’s bridge gave us the most amazing view of the tall buildings lit up and reflected in the water (Q1 included). So gorgeous!
We walked a long way down the main road (5km or so) and stopped to photograph the Convention Center, another building with lots of glass to see through, as well as interesting architecture. From there, we crossed a walkway going over the roads with a nice view of the nearby buildings. This led us to the Conrad Jupiters casino, which provided us with several outdoor staircases from which to view the area. We could see all the massive buildings along the road lit up at night, the walkway and the monorail curving across the roads, and cars driving by. Absolutely incredible.
The casino itself seemed pretty small, but nice inside. We walked through, then walked around the perimeter and photographed the casino reflecting in the pond. And then at this point, we were too tired to walk back, and it was 11pm, so we returned via a bus.
The next day, I was woken up at 7:30 or so by the sunlight and cars below. That’s alright… I showered, watched tv, packed up, and sat on the balcony til our 10am checkout. The day began cloudy and windy, so first we walked around the shopping area for a bit. After an hour, the sun began to show again, and we deemed it time to ascend the Q1 tower. At 323m, it is the largest residential building (and 20th tallest overall) in the world, made of beautiful blue-tinted glass. It’s a really stunning building to look at/up. It only cost us $12.50 to take a 32-second elevator to the 77th floor to the observation deck. We were greeted with beyond-gorgeous 360-degree views of the Gold Coast, stretching from Brisbane to Byron Bay. It was nothing but golden sand beach stretching up and down the coastline, with that pretty blue water with white patches of waves. And inland, you could see all the isles/islands and the many resorts and apartment buildings, surrounded by distant mountains of the hinterland. Really, so picture-perfect. We were up there for nearly 2 hours in awe, and even enjoyed some coffee in the stylish cafe area.
After Q1, we wandered back up the street and then strolled up the beach as the tide was coming in. The buildings reflected in the wet sand and the clouds also added to the aesthetics of the scene. There were more people on the beach today, though it was still windy. And then we both had that amazing cassata gelato again. It’s so good that I can’t even properly describe it!
The rest of the day was taken up by aimless wandering. I wanted to buy things, yet found nothing I really liked. I hated that time was passing so slowly, yet I knew soon enough that I’d be back to reality and wishing I was back at Surfers. I bought a few things at Cole’s and we had an early dinner at Subway before getting our bags and waiting for our 6:15 airport shuttle. It ended up being 20 mins late – not exactly the kind of stress you want at the end of your trip! Finally a crazy eastern-European guy picked us up and whisked us to the Coolangatta airport.
And so ends another amazing Australian adventure.