Big Question Marks

Monday, March 14, 2011

Living in Holidayville

It's been a whole week now since the plane dropped me off at one of the country's best beaches (and that's two weeks on the coast now for Adrian, after a week in Brisbane) and I have to say, the Gold Coast so far is pretty awesome.

Where? Well, the Gold Coast is in fact a decent-sized city (or at least a collection of smaller suburbs strung along the coast) located about an hour south of Brisbane, at the very southernmost end of Queensland, Australia. We're a good few hours' drive north of Sydney and we're nowhere near the tropical Far North, where we once lived (in Port Douglas). But the climate is subtropical and beautiful year-round, and is one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations. Where we live, in Surfers Paradise, is at the epicentre of the Gold Coast's hotels, clubs, souvenir shops, and Vegas-esque glitter.

It's actually a little unreal, living in a place that's perpetually on holidays. I mean, there are definitely others like us, who go to work or school, and still live a few steps from the beach, but there aren't many gloomy faces around, as most of the town's population is on vacation.

Living in a tourist destination also has its drawbacks, of course, like really overpriced restaurants, tacky bars, and getting harassed daily by sales agents on the street to go on a "Nightclub Tour". But my plan is to soak up the holiday spirit and chill out for at least my first week or two in Oz, so it works fine for me.

Most days on the Gold Coast - at least from what I've seen - start out sunny and warm. The weather seems to change throughout the day between sunny and cloudy, and sometimes we get a bit of rain (though usually if you get caught in it, it feels quite nice!). The temperature seems to stay between 25 and 28 degrees, and the ocean temperature is pretty nice too. Which means, as a holidaymaker, you've got a big decision ahead of you: ocean or pool?

Since the sun really starts revving up by around 10am or so, in my opinion, it's best to get your beach time in in the morning (OK, I can see why I'm way paler than everyone else here), and save the errands and business stuff for the afternoon. But just don't forget that banks close at 4pm and everything else seems to shut shortly after that. It's Queensland after all! For that reason, I am happy to be in a tourist town, since tourists love to continue shopping until after dark, and luckily we've got a multi-storey outdoor mall at the centre of Surfers.

And somewhere in between the swimming, shopping, and suntanning, one must make time for a little surfing! It's next on our to-do list, although we remember the waves being a little intimidating on the Gold Coast. We've also managed to squeeze a few delicious barbeques in (there are a number of barbequing areas in the nicely landscaped grounds to our building) and to have some excellent people-watching sessions (more about that to come).

But I guess the best thing so far about living in the Gold Coast is the attitude- lots of smiles, and friendly people in shops, in the elevator, and on the beach. It's just refreshing, after living in much-more-reserved Toronto, to be in a place like this, where people have no qualms about striking up a chat with a total stranger. But of course, when you're pumped so full of the sunshine vitamin all the time, who wouldn't be all smiles and chattiness?

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