In Brisbane I am staying at the Spicer’s Balfour Hotel off Bowen Terrace in New Farm. New Farm is a quiet suburb close to the city centre, which can be easily reached on foot in about twenty minutes.
The Spicer’s Balfour has the look and feel of a Bed and Breakfast, mainly I think because the hotel is very small and cosy and sits on a quiet street surrounded by private homes. But do not let appearances fool you, the Spicer’s Balfour has most amenities you can expect from a hotel, including a Spa.
The main dining area of the hotel is outside on the veranda on the first floor. There are trees all around the house, which conceal the veranda from view from the street.
The food at the restaurant is very good. What is more, the staff are all very nice and friendly and really do their utmost to accommodate their guests. On one day I asked if they did afternoon tea, to which the waitress replied that in fact they did not but would be able to make scones for me for the next day. Apart from the fact that I thought it was very nice of them to make the effort, those were without a doubt the fluffiest scones I have ever tasted. They were served with fig jam and whipped cream with vanilla.
I am staying in the Terrace Suite, which is very roomy and feels very comfortable. The bathroom is large and has both a shower and a bath. There is also a huge balcony.
The Spicer’s Balfour is perfect if you are looking for something a bit more intimate than the big hotel chains in the city centre. I like the hotel very much and would definitely stay here again on my next visit to Brisbane.
Link to the hotel’s website.
Perhaps the best way to get around Brisbane and see the city is by bike. Brisbane City Council provides an extensive network of rental stations from where you can pick up and return a bike to tour the city.
In order to be able to rent a bike, you first need to visit the CityCycle website and subscribe in the top left corner. You need to provide contact details and a postal code to set up your account. If you are a non-resident, your hotel’s contact information will do. You also need to provide your credit card details. The process is very easy and within five minutes you will have set up your account and received an email from CityCycle containing your user ID and password.
The screen on the column at the renting station will guide you through the process that will eventually allow you to unlock one of the bikes from its docking station and go cycling around the city.
There are different types of subscription. For a non-resident I would recommend a daily subscription. There is a daily charge of AUD2.- as long as you return the bike to a docking station within thirty minutes. So in other words, you will never pay more than AUD2.- a day, even if you rent a bike more than just once a day. Fortunately, there are so many rental stations throughout the city that the thirty minutes limit is easy to stick to.
By law you are required to wear a helmet when you are using a bike on the street in Australia. Some of the bikes at CityCycle come with helmet, others however do not. Every bike comes with a lock.
Cycling is permitted in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. I leave you with a few pictures from there.
I’ll never let you see
The way my broken heart is hurting me
I’ve got my pride and I know how to hide
All my sorrow and pain
I’ll do my crying in the rain
If I wait for stormy skies
You won’t know the rain from the tears in my eyes
You’ll never know that I still love you so
Though the heartaches remain
I’ll do my crying in the rain
– Crying in the Rain, A-ha
On my first day in Brisbane I decide to go for a run. I need to move a bit after spending nearly twenty hours on a plane and eating copious amounts of satay. It has been raining all morning and when the drizzle finally eases up around eleven, I decide to try my luck. But as soon as I am out the door the rains starts again and by the time I reach the start of the River Walk, I am already completely drenched. Still, the rain makes the temperature more bearable. I usually do not take the heat very well.
Brisbane is a good place to go for a run. If you want to take the scenic route, I would suggest a run along the waterfront on the Riverside Walk. On the New Farm side, the River Walk is actually on the water. There is a deck of a bit more than one kilometre that runs over the river.
From the hotel turn right towards Bowen Terrace. Turn left onto Bowen and keep on going until you reach the intersection with Merthyr Road. Turn right onto Merthyr and continue until eventually you will reach the beginning of the River Walk, which apparently was only reopened in 2014 following reconstruction. On your way to the River Walk you will pass by some interesting side streets that just look so typically Australian, with those elevated houses. You will also cross exciting Moray Street, which was voted ‘Brisbane’s Most Liveable Street’ back in 1993…
Along the River Walk you have some excellent views of Brisbane’s Central Business District. Eventually you will reach the entrance to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, after a distance of slightly more than four kilometres.