So this is the blog where A. I'm going to bare all about our family holiday well, most of it, and B. There will be a review of the areas we saw, the food and the places we stayed. Like us, I think there will be some out there that will be HOPEFULLY, pleasantly surprised.
We left Melbourne on the 9th Nov bound for Gold Coast airport.
It was Miss M's very first plane trip and holiday interstate. We have been told by family and friends of all the preparations for travelling with a little one and yep, I even searched many google sites for information too. If you have travelled with a child, you'd know the types of information, like how to keep them entertained on flights, food ideas and what to pack where just a few.
Somehow, we always seem to look like we are travelling for a year! We even only took enough nappies to get us to the first hotel. I guess we fell down in the clothes department. It's hard, you find you have clothes for cold and hot weather, dressy clothes and jumpers however, there are always clean clothes you end up coming home with and that need to be washed.
Anyway, we are at the airport, it was a fairly stress free morning except I think deep down the calm and collected Mr T was crapping his pants! He holds himself differently when stressed and he can have a look where I think, maybe I should keep out of his road and keep talking to a minimum.
Seriously though he is the backbone to keeping us all together, organised and happy and safe and I love that about him.
Miss M was blown away with the airport and the size of the planes. She was so excited to be going on holidays and even enjoyed her first bus ride from the airport car park to the terminal.
Time to board and Miss M was fantastic but a little scared at the point of where you are in the walkway tunnel walking onto the plane. I think for Miss M, it was the sound of the engine of the plane that was a little scary for her. She did it though and got on the plane. Miss M loved the inside of the plane, the chairs, the headphones, the tables that folded down and magically food and drink soon appeared. She was blown away and so happy with that service, so much so, on the flight home, as soon as we boarded she had her table down ready and asked for her food!
We had no problems with her ears hurting and kept a stash of chewy lollies for take off and landing. I was rather nervous of the landing with Miss M, but unlike me (who has a fear of flying), Miss M loved it and the rougher and louder the better! There were even some rough landings to which most people on the plane had fallen silent and looked up from there reading with a slight worried look on their faces, whilst our child on the other hand is sitting in her seat saying "Yahhoooo" and "Weeeee".
There is a whole load of ideas to keep a child amused on flights and I am going to add one more, only this is not for the flights, rather for the terminals. If your child loves wheels on cars, trolleys or wheels on anything, then your child will probably love the responsibility of their very own suitcase.
I thought Miss M would have been a little agitated after sitting for a long time and thought she would have run wild at the airport, NO, she was the opposite as she had her suitcase responsibility (we took this on as hand luggage and basically it had her food and activities in it). She had another small one as well.
Another bus ride later and we were at our first destination, The Sofitel Hotel at Broadbeach. We decided not to have a car at this point as we would not really use a car and could save a lot of money.
The Sofitel is a beautiful hotel! I love a nicely presented foyer and great customer service. They did not fail here.
The rooms were clean, modern and the bathroom was not one of those jam packed poky little try and swing a cat in here type places, rather a spaciously set out bathroom.
This place also has one of the nicest bathroom toiletries. You know the shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser creams. It smelt amazing and actually felt like you were properly washing your hair.
The pool was amazing and although there are plenty of restaurants and cafes within walking distance and in the corso (that we ate at), I am sure the food in this hotel would be nothing but first class.
There was one cafe I have to name and shame. Ristorante La Roma, Surf Parade, Broadbeach.
We were served (if that's what you call it) by a young arrogant French waiter. He didn't offer water, and practically threw the breakfast menus at us. We soon realised he was the only one working out front and was frazzled however, the place was far from busy.
Looking around at the other two tables, they looked pissed off and we started to think, we were going to have to wait too.
Now one thing in mind was that I was around 8 weeks pregnant and food was very important at this stage as was eating on time. If I let myself get to the starving point, I vomited.
We were still ignored, so we walked out and walked next door to Coast Coffee Bar. They had music, they had vibe and we were served immediately and brought water. We were eating when the poor people next door were only getting there food!
I'm not saying don't go there, I'm sure it's not like that all the time, but if I get bad service, it turns me off eating there.
The next day was check-out and sadly but excitingly we were off to our next location - Seaworld Nara Resort.
We got a taxi to Seaworld and it was a nice drive through Surfers. The trip and we had some traffic because of roadworks cost approximately $30, which we thought was pretty good.
First impressions of Seaworld was, wow, I definitely feel like we have arrived at a resort.
You quickly get the vibe that this is a BIG family resort as it is a tourist destination. Apart from the reception/foyer area, the tourist feel disappeared.
If you want to check in early to Seaworld, forget it! You can always try, like us, but we pretty much knew we wouldn't be able to get to our room till 2pm.
The good thing is that you can leave your luggage with the porters, and because we had free access to Seaworld, we headed there for the 4hrs we had to wait.
That was really good and filled in our time, unfortunately though, we were not equipped with hats or sunscreen and got a little burnt.
What I loved was the direct access you had through to Seaworld from the resort with the Monorail right there (if only it worked when we were there). Unfortunately it only worked once!
Our room was nice but you could definitely see signs that it was dated. The big mirror in the room was covered in a child's hand and dribble marks all over it (eventually being cleaned after three days and the cleaner seeing my filled in feedback form).
The bathrooms are tiny and basic (they do the job) and there is only a kettle. They don't have toasters due to a fire/smoke alarm hazard and point out if you bring your own and set the alarms off, resulting in the fire brigade coming out, you will be charged $900 for the call out! I remember reading though that some rooms may be equipped with a toaster or microwave, so check first.
What we noticed though was a lot of mums/dads going to the bar for milk for the kids and getting staff to heat up bottles, so don't be deterred as there is always ways around things.
We had cereal and pancakes for breakfast each morning in disposable cups and plates and it worked and saved money too.
What I loved:
The service was pretty good but exceptional service was favoured in the cafe/bar near the foyer. Nothing was a bother, they were always friendly and talkative and the food (we ended up eating hear the most) was delicious and decently priced.
The pool, awesome, awesome, awesome and the pool cafe too was great!
Unlimited access to Seaworld (worth staying at the resort for this).
Room service was good.
What I thought could make this place amazing:
More informative information. We had no idea there was a kids pool party/ light show each night or what time it was. There was a little sign in reception failing to state time.
When we got our tickets to entry to Seaworld (this was in the resort foyer area), the staff we short and uninformative. Getting information from them was hard and felt the staff could have been a little better in this area.
Had no idea there was a kids playground and tennis courts etc. This could have been pointed out and I think being at a resort, they could have daily activities going on for the kids and parents. Volleyball courts could be built and add daily matches etc.
There are so many activities and ways of informing holiday makers, that could be added to make this place unforgettable.
The kids room was very basic and age restricted which was a bummer as our little girl was under age.
The playroom/games room was tiny, hot and half the games were not working.
A shuttle bus from the resort to Surfers via the Marina Cove would be a really good idea.
We were under the impression that the bus service went directly to the resort.
Although it isn't a bad walk to Marina Cove, when it's hot and if your pregnant, it is a killer!
You can only get a bus from Seaworld and even then we struggled to get one to where we wanted. They would pull in and say Surfers, Mainbeach etc and then all bam! Not in service signs came up on the buses. Annoying!!!
If you want to do grocery shopping, Mainbeach is your nearest location without a car and they have a little grocery store. No Safeway or Coles! The Marina Cove is more touristy with all those expensive designer shops (not that they aren't lovely).
There is a McDonalds though, if that's your thing and want that however, it would be a slight struggle carting food for the family back to the resort.
Mainbeach and in particular Teddar Ave, is a lovely location for cafes and dining. It can be nice and quiet in the mornings and then it can be rather busy, especially at night!
Our last day at Seaworld resort and we are reluctant to leave. We loved our time hear, regardless of those minor feelings before however, we now had our hire car and were on our way to Brisbane to see friends.
Our destination was the Novotel Brisbane airport. Now just to clarify, if you are thinking this accommodation is right at the airport (within walking distance), then your wrong. I was under that impression, although there is good news in the fact that it is only a short approximate 10 min drive and easy enough to get a bus to and from.
This hotel provided a shuttle bus to the airport at a small price of $5 per person.
Now about the hotel. This is a corporate area and has a DFO, Safeway and a few eating places. The cafes we found weren't open at night however, there is a shopping centre close by that has some satisfying eating places. Ours was a trip down memory lane at Sizzler. Yes, we were a tad excited as Melbourne doesn't have Sizzler. Sizzler is not what you think, it's changed and the food is a little different but still not bad. The ambiance is low key and well, don't expect flash, but it was surprisingly nice and not bad value (we just got the salad bar).
Now the Novotel. This particular one was beautiful. I was actually blown away! It was clean, very clean and whilst waiting for Mr T to park the car, Miss M and I waited out front of the hotel and we kindly greeted by the manager who offered to take our luggage up and even gave Miss M a little plush toy. He thought she was just beautiful.
The foyer and reception was simple but again very clean. The biggest surprise was our room. I expected the standard room with two twins squeezed into a room and a small bathroom. We walked into our room and it was huge! The bathroom was so large and really modern with what I thought had a mood light. There was a lounge type area, table and chairs for what was a little dining like table and two spacious twin beds.
It was a short drive to a pier where we caught a ferry along the river for the day. We were headed to Southbank to have a look around. Unfortunately the weather turned bad and so we hopped off at Eagle Street Pier. We actually thought that was Southbank at first.
It wasn't Southbank but it was still nice.
What we found with Brisbane is that it was rather clean and tidy. We were pleasantly surprised with the roads too. They weren't too bad to drive on, although I think locals might have something to say about some of the roads.
It will be nice to come back and explore a bit more of Brisbane and other areas. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Sunshine Coast this time however, there will be other times.
Our holiday was going so quickly and we were now on the end part of our trip. Bound for Sydney this time, to see my sister and her family and friends.
One thing i failed to mention was we did have rain most days too. We didn't notice it that much on the Gold Coast as it would mainly rain at night and then would end up being a really hot day. Brisbane was not too bad either, a tad cooler but a massive storm the night before we left and Sydney, well it just poured most of the time.
Our destination in Sydney was where I used to live in Parramatta. We were staying at the Novotel Parramatta. This used to be a lovely hotel as Parramatta used to be a fairly nice place (although busy).
It has been some years since I was last here and both Mr T and I were shocked by how different it appeared. It wasn't as nice and I don't mean to be picky or judgemental but it was dirty.
The hotel wasn't the best, intact I wouldn't recommend it. The lifts were really old and dated with the lift buttons having hand written numbers on them. For the standard that they portray on Wotif, definitely bad. The foyer was basic and reception, were not friendly at all.
The room was disgusting. Dark, dirty looking, noisy and half the facilities were broken. The shower, you couldn't move in, we got locked out several times from our room and the car park and I could go on but guys, this place was just bad!
There was one very nice staff member though who took the time to speak and smile.
Places we visited were my old home town of Penrith. This has changed a bit, grown and Mulgoa Rd has grown with restaurants, businesses etc.
The old Panthers Leagues Club has had a massive make over. Hardly recognised it!
The restaurants within are stunning and Mr T and my old favourite place, Panarotti's (a pizza place), although different decor, was still delicious.
Would have loved to seen more but we had Miss M a little run down with a cold.
We caught up for dinner with my sister, her husband and kids that night at The Australian Hotel and Brewery in Rouse Hill.
This place was huge, busy and rather good. The food was cheap and tasty.
We caught up with my sister and family the next day at their house and the kids had a great play. Unfortunately though we could see Miss M was not looking well and we were due to catch up with friends.
After leaving my sisters, Miss M went down hill pretty quickly. Her cough was hoarse and she was really lethargic. A long night with an unwell child and a trip to the doctor the next day and our poor little baby had croup. She was so sick and not herself and we felt so bad for her.
Unfortunately this meant that catch ups with friends were off, especially as they had little kids as well. These things happen though and no matter how much you may plan your holiday, you have to be open to change and going with the flow so to speak.
We spent most of the day in bed resting with Miss M. She said to us that she was so sick of being in the room and wanted to get out, so we went for a drive.
Mr T and I wanted so badly to show her where we met at Manly beach and so we drove there. Of course it was raining and so we didn't get to see much. We showed Miss M the beach and it looked like the bay at home. The surf was fairly flat.
Then we went to the Bavarian Beer Cafe on Manly Wharf. This is a place that Mr T and I love.
A quick bite to eat, as Miss M was not feeling too well and not eating, a little ice cream cup later that she had a small portion of and seeing one ferry arrive and one leave and it was definitely time to go and get our munchkin back to bed.
That brings our holiday to a close. The next day we were heading back home and although Miss M was a bit brighter, it was a hard flight home, exhausting in fact for all of us, even though a little someone didn't want to miss a thing.
It was so nice to be back in Melbourne and we went from cold wet weather to a really hot Melbourne day. Rather uncomfortable but we didn't care, we were on our way home!
We definitely will go back for holidays, there is still so much more to see and do and especially catch up with friends. We made it through and coped with a child and travelling on our first family holiday interstate.
The transition once home was hard for Miss M. We found that letting her get away with a little on holidays, meant we would pay for that when we got home and it took about a week to get her back into routine. Still overall, not too bad when you have a great trip!
I understand that there will be some that will be interested in these places and some that will not. There will also be some who's experiences at these places may or may not have been different.
This merely is our holiday experience.
If this information helps you in any way, then that will make me happy of course and if not, I hope it was a decent read for you all.
Good luck on your next holiday and remember, go with the flow and have fun!
All following images are that of my own. I apologise for the poor quality of some of these and not being in order.
On the plane ready to go and Miss M a little nervous.
Our first hotel and room, The Sofitel Broadbeach.
Kurrawa Park and our first step onto the Gold Coasts beaches.
Lovely night from the foyer of the Sofitel. Rosella's were settling in for the night and singing.
Foyer of The Sofitel Hotel. Was gorgeous!
View from our balcony at The Sofitel.
More Sofitel balcony views. Overlooking Jupiters Casino and the Hinterlands. It wasn't a beach view, but this was pretty special.
One very serious Miss M ready for Seaworld. She had been waiting for this moment for a while.
Having a rest in the shade.
One of the rides in Seaworld. Was awesome for little ones and big ones! A word of warning though, you get very wet.
The result of the ride.
Our room at Seaworld and two exhausted kids.
The pool at Seaworld resort.
One of my favourite flowers, the Frangipani.
Another ride. This was Miss M's first scary ride for her. It was the noise more than the height. Rides have height restrictions, so be prepared for if they can't ride on a particular ride.
Stopped for a drink at Seaworld whilst waiting for the rain to stop.
I managed to get myself in a picture.
Outside the business park at The Novotel Brisbane airport. Loved the quirky art sculptures, although one Miss M didn't understand.
On a Ferry on the Brisbane river. Such a great service they provided.
Brisbane's Story Bridge.
View of the nasty storm that approached Brisbane. Glad we weren't flying as this was the flight path for Brisbane airport and we watched some planes get hit by lightening.
Manly Beach. Photo doesn't do this beautiful place justice. Again more nasty rain!
A sick Miss M finally made it to the beach her mummy and daddy first met.
Our sick little princess still manages a smile.
Waiting at the airport to go home is never fun.
Sunrise over Broadbeach. View from our balcony at the Sofitel Hotel.
Seaworld -Love these dolphins!
Seaworld - A cute little penguin.
Seaworld - The simplest things provided so much fun for our little girl.
Seaworld - the touch pools (if you dared).The stingray pool is amazing and if you have the courage (took me a while) do touch one. They are soft like velvet and sort of slimy, well worth the experience though.
Seaworld - Kids Dora show. Great entertainment for the kids and great rest time for mums and dads. This area was rather hot, so re-fuel with a cold drink.
Seaworld - Love the Polar Bears
Seaworld - our room.
This holiday was not complete for Miss M without her beloved "Bubba". She practically went everywhere we went and definitely needs one really good wash when we return home.
We absolutely enjoyed our holiday and already miss the Gold Coast so much!