After Cairns, I arrived back in Brisbane for the third time. The third time is really a charm; I liked it even more. It was time to find a holiday job to pay back for all the traveling. I was flying out of Brisbane so it was the most likely spot to go. Although in hindsight it didn't make sense at all. I had two weeks until Christmas, in which I was meant to go to Sydney and then had made plans to spend New Years there too, then after I would have another two weeks in Brisbane before my visa was up and I had to leave. I probably should have considered going to Sydney to find a job, but I found it incredibly expensive and I had more friends in Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast. I booked into a hostel for 2 nights, the cheapest I could find, which was a 20 person dorm room. 20 person! It actually wasn't so bad. There were two bunks against every wall, and I found a bed on the very last wall with window views so, although it was loud with a combination of 20 people coming and going all the time, it felt quite private just sharing with 3 other beds. Oh, the life of a backpacker. Unfortunately, because it was summertime in Brisbane with high's of 30's, and with 20 people in a room, it was incredibly sweaty-roasting hot. I could barely breathe and ended up going to sit outside in the bar's common area and chatting with one of the guys from my row of bunks. I wasn't in the mood to be out, or drinking, or chatting, but anything was better than being in the hot room, unable to sleep, so I just watched all the other partiers dancing the night away.
The following day, after applying and searching for jobs, literally anything I could find even under and over-qualified for, I met up with Carly and Jonny at their hostel, laying out by the pool and drinking cool drinks.
Carly by the way is a phenomenal diver.
Carly and Jonny moved into their own flat a couple days later. The very day they moved in, they invited me to come stay with them. They almost insisted. The conversation went like this:"You're here until Christmas, right?"
"Yeah, in Brisbane until then, but I wouldn't possibly stay with you for that long. Just a few days would be so nice and generous of you."
"What! No! Stay until Christmas! Stay as long as you want! My cousin is coming on the 18th, I will sleep on the pull out couch with him and you can sleep in the bed. No really, we want you to stay."
"You guys are nuts. I love you." x
I was hoping to get a job in a hostel where I would get free accommodation (and wouldn't have to be in C&J's way) and most hostels also provide free meals, laundry, and wi fi. But until I found a job, I was on holiday. The sun was warm, the tan was improving, the city was gleaming, and I only had less than a month left to enjoy my time in Australia.
My couch surfing host, I mean friend, Paul had never been to Brisbane even though he had been in Australia for the last eleven months and only lived an hour away in the Gold Coast. I had no job or plans, he had nothing to do on Friday night so he decided to come up for a visit. Cue: giggles. He loved Brisbane. He loved not seeing muscle heads in tank tops, he loved the fact that we could just go to bars instead of paying to get into night clubs. There isn't a huge night life scene in Brisbane, at least not from what I experienced, so the following day, with no job and no plans and just a $20 bus ride, I decided to go back to Surfers Paradise. Hanging out with Paul as he led his bar crawl, I was so spoilt and didn't pay a penny the entire night. As it happens when traveling up and down the coast, you run into people you've met before, even if it's been a couple weeks and even if you can't pinpoint where you met them. I got a text from someone I had met a month ago from the beginning of my trip in Byron Bay and then literally bumped into someone I had met in Airlie Beach. Such a way to come full circle.
I was so lucky with my first couch surfing experience. I haven't done it since - I've tried but it hasn't worked out - but I made a really good friend from meeting and trusting a complete stranger. We kept in touch and met up again, and I hope that we will do it again, in Miami, New York, Asia, Europe or wherever we are.
What really delighted me about the actual trip down to Surfers Paradise is that I just had a shoulder bag. Everyone else getting off the bus was waiting wearily while their backpacks were being pulled out from under the bus and then had to figure out how to get to their next hostel and start all over again in a new place. I didn't miss that at all. I absolutely loved the traveling that I had just done, but I was also glad to be done with it for now. Walking straight off the bus and knowing exactly where we were going was such an incredible feeling, to be with a local, to not have to feel lost and alone, to be confident in already knowing your surroundings - it may sound weird, but it put a little bounce in my step.