You will have probably heard me mention this some while back in my housekeeping post, but now it is time for me to present to you the wonderful trip I took to the Gold Coast just two weeks ago. I guess a stressful few weeks at work immediately after has prevented me from writing this up any sooner. The conference I took part in was on Sewer Processes and Networks and was held at the Holiday Inn. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, this makes it my third academic conference, the second one I presented my work at.
For starters, let me comment on the worrisome morning I had trying to get to the airport on time to catch my flight. Leaving two and a half hours beforehand by bus+train+sky bus from Southern Cross station in the city (a good and fast service to the airport) got me there with half an hour before departure. I was lucky enough to be able to check in.
Virgin Blue, never flew them, this was my first time so I didn’t know what to expect. The last time I went to Gold Coast, I took JetStar. I like the prominent red colour of the plane, can’t miss it!
Overall the flight was a bit bumpy and the landing was rough (Gold Coast airport, also known as Coolangatta airport is situated near the coast so you feel the wind as you come in to land). Walked across the pavement into the airport building. I was also greeted by sunny summer weather.
As you enter the airport you are greeted by lots of food stalls and a large waiting area. The airport I believe was recently extended to include a new wing for more flights. Not knowing whether there would be plenty more food places in the arrival hall, I took the gamble and went outside.
My luck wasn’t as good as I had expected but I found a cafe where I ordered a foccacia and a coffee. They gave me this beeping device that will make a loud and annoying sound once your food is ready. Also had my sunglasses ready for when I exit the airport.
Like many other cities, airports are painstakingly far from the city centre and so I boarded a bus to Surfers Paradise and the Holiday Inn where I would be staying. The ride lasted about 50 minutes, but most of the delays would normally be due to the bus stopping at various locations to let passengers out.
Eventually got into the Surfers! Hello Holiday Inn, this is where I would be staying for the next six days.
My booking read “superior ocean view”, wonder what it meant. As I opened the door, I was greeted by an pretty nice room. There were two beds in there, but I had the room to myself.
A sideways view towards the ocean, “superior” is a relative term, but I suppose that this definitely classes as an ocean view!
Twist your head to the left and you’ll see a massive spectacle that is surfers paradise.
The view on the other side of the building also offered some brilliant opportunities for photography, the only drawback being the window that I had to shoot through a glass window that was somewhat dirty.
Took a stroll around after settling in. Also decided to buy some groceries at the nearby supermarket. The Towers of the Chevron Renaissance. I remember staying there back in 2004 when I came to Gold Coast to look at Universities around the area. Despite the running around, the holiday itself was one of the most relaxing experiences in Surfers Paradise that I had. Coming back to this place reminded me of this.
At the base of the towers is a nice courtyard that you can walk through. Had dinner at the Indian restaurant here on one of the nights on this trip. Definitely good food!
Continued walking down the streets. Billabong have their own building here in Surfers Paradise, which is expected. I remember wearing a lot of Billabong when I was back in Singapore many years ago.
Hard Rock Cafe and its guitar. Bought a shirt here in 2004. Still have it and it is as good as new. The quality of their merchandise is definitely top notch (wonder how long the Hard Rock Cafe shirt from Venice that I purchased not too long ago will last).
After some shopping, I returned to the Holiday Inn, taking one quick glance at the Clock Hotel. The clock sings a different tune every hour, iconic, but certainly questionable if you’d want to spend a night there. Imagine you had a late night and were trying to sleep in the next day.
Soon after returning to my room with groceries (really only snacks), I grabbed my swimmers and headed to the beach before the sun set.
Surfers paradise beaches have life guards on patrol. They will advise you to swim between their flags so that they can keep an eye on you in case you get inundated by a giant wave. Be careful, the waves here are huge.
The skyline is also slowly changing. Some larger and modern looking towers are slowly going up.
After soaking up a bit of sun and swimming among the waves, I sat at the beach for a good half an hour and watched the crowd go by. The life guards had ended their shifts and people had stopped swimming.
Back at the hotel, just before going out to dinner, I took another shot of the beautiful evening sky and the cityscape. This picture was taken with my iPhone, which to my surprise was able to snap HDR photos (High Dynamic Range). After dinner and a bit more of a stroll around the area, I finally retired for the night.
Woke up the next morning and since breakfast was not included in my booking, I decided to go search for some around the streets. Settled for Gloria Jeans toasties and a nice morning coffee.
Sat by the roadside watching the arcade of palms. It was a Sunday and my colleagues would be arriving later in the afternoon. Decided to hit the beach one more time, knowing that from then on, it would be lots of work, conferencing and meetings.
It was a good balance of work and play I would say. The next few days were indeed busy but with a lot of socialising. I got to meet quite a few people from around the world. My presentation was well received as well.
After three solid days of conferencing, we were finally at the closing ceremony of any conference, the dinner.
When I saw the schedule, I read that the dinner would be held at the Sea World Dolphin enclosure. Did not know what to make of it, but was eventually impressed by the setup. Tables were basically set up around the edge of the water. Dolphins would be swimming around as we eat through a glorious buffet of marine cuisine and salad.
Delicious food if I may say…
…especially the seafood. I lost count of the number of prawns I had. Also decided to munch through some crab. Sorry Ocean! :S
All this was also accompanied by a spectacular show featuring a number of dolphins doing acrobatic acts. You have to give them credit, it’s not easy to throw 200kg into the air and spin it around. The dolphins do it pretty flawlessly! The trainers visited our tables later on to answer any questions that we had. We got a bit of insight into how the dolphins are trained. In short, a whistle is pretty much all you need to indicate to the dolphin that it is doing the right thing. A bit of fish to keep it happy from time to time and you’re good to go!
Mysterious and wonderful creature – cheeky as well, playful pairs ended up on occasion splashing some of the tables.
With dinner done and transport back to the hotel completed, I headed out for a beer with two of my colleagues to celebrate a great end to a great trip. The next day was work on a different research issue and by late afternoon, I boarded the bus back to the airport and the plane back to Melbourne. I debated staying a bit longer than usual to enjoy a second weekend, but thought otherwise, knowing very well that a lot of chores awaited me in Melbourne. They needed to be taken care of and so I bid farewell to Surfers Paradise.
I hope to come again in the near future. The enjoyment of sandy beaches is only a 2-hour plane ride away. I guess we’ll have to see what the future holds.