Thursday, June 16, 2016

Down Unda: Gold Coast Days 5 & 6

Day 5 of our epic Australian adventure took us from Sydney to Brisbane, well the Gold Coast, actually, but we spent the morning flying into Brisbane and then picking up a rental car and driving an hour south to check in at the Surfer's Paradise Marriott Hotel.  All of the Marriotts that we stayed in in Australia were amazing, but the Surfer's Paradise Marriott wins FOR. SURE.  It was unbelievable.  Our room had an amazing view of the city, which is built upon canals weaving up and down streets, and right on the beach.  And the rooms, food, and accommodations were awesome.  But, the best part of the hotel was the pool!  It was actually made up of a few pools, one of which was salt water with a man-made beach.  And in the pool was reef with hundreds of fish that you could swim with and snorkel!  It was really unbelievable.  We could have spent a week at this hotel and been perfectly happy not ever leaving!  But, we didn't have that luxury since we were there for only a couple of days and we had all of the Gold Coast to explore!  We compromised though, and after getting settled in our hotel, we decided to just hang out and swim at the hotel for the rest of the day.

We couldn't leave the Gold Coast without dedicating a day to its beautiful beaches.  We had really high hopes of visiting a few different beaches, but in the end, we decided to just hit up Burleigh Heads Beach and make a day of it.  Burleigh Heads is gorgeous!!!  There's a national park right on the beach, and they've got some great hiking trails and beautiful rocks and cliffs to explore.  We didn't hike, but we stopped and took photos and enjoyed the views.  They also had a really fun playground right by the beach that our kids had fun playing on while Bennett took a nap on the grass.  Once he woke up, we set up camp on the beach and had a blast playing in the sand and the waves (which were HUGE btw).  

After we had our fill of swimming and playing, we grabbed delicious tacos and gelato on the cute beachy-town streets of Burleigh Heads and then headed back to our hotel.

We let our kids swim in the pool while I got to meet up with a very dear friend, Emma Eriksson!  Emma, her sister, and her dad were baptized while I was serving in Nerang in the Gold Coast 12 years ago!  It was so, so, so wonderful to be able to sit and talk and catch up with her!  She is an amazing girl and is very dear to my heart.

Then, after Emma left and we ate and rested a bit, I got to see more dear friends!  Rachel and Kurei Smith, their kids, and Kurei's parents (who were all in Nerang ward when I served there) came to the hotel and we were able to visit while all of our kids swam together.  It was such a fun reunion!  Rachel and I had a special bond when I was a missionary and it was so good to reconnect with her.  

The Gold Coast is such an amazing place, with people there that I love!  Next time we will stay longer!!!

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