Monday, December 30, 2013

Grocery Shopping and Dining at Nando's in the Gold Coast

Grocery shopping is one of the mundane activities than we experience on a daily basis. I like rolling in with a cart from one row of goods to the next. It's like expecting surprises from a such mercantile preoccupation. While this isn't worth blogging about, it's different when one does this non-touristy things in a strange foreign land. Who would have thought I'd pick a carton of milk or a packet of bacon strips in Queensland, right?

But this one had some surprises. Girlie's been very generous about the whole thing, she'd prod me to pick what I wanted - so I picked cherries and another fruit (below) whose name escapes me at the moment. Anyone can help me here?

What's different about this experience? When we've finalized our haul, I didn't realize that the usual cashier's booth was just a stall where we had to pull down our plastics and bag them ourselves, then as if that wasn't enough, we had to run them over the price checker and swipe the credit card ourselves. No human intervention! The machines have finally taken over man's modern daily toil. Would that work anywhere in Asia where every grocer or supermarket has a slew of humans, not machines, finalizing your shopping haul? Ain't Australia cool?

Before heading back to Oyster Cove, we passed by Nando's, famous worldwide for their chicken dishess. The restaurant chain is a South African casual dining franchise restaurant that had its start from a mining town in South Africa ith a predominantly Mozambican populace. The combination is nothing less exotic: Mozambiqan-Portuguese. Wouldn't you want a piece of that? Nando's specializes in chicken dishes with lemon and herb using Peri-peri marinades officially called Galinha a Africana. Peri-peri is a variety of Capsicum frutescens widely grown in East and Southern Africa. 

Historically, the restaurant began in 1987 when Portuguese-Mozambican Fernando Duarte along with Robert Brozin bought a restaurant called Chickenland in Rosettenville, southern Johannesburg in South Africa. 

They renamed the restaurant Nando's, after Duarte. The restaurant incorporated influences from former Portuguese colonists from Mozambique, many of whom had settled on the south-eastern side of Johannesburg, after their homeland's independence in 1975. The logo is derived from the Rooster of Barcelos.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Bag our stuff and pay without human intervention.

Had to pick some cherries. They cost $10-15/kilo in Manila but a dime a dozen in London and just a wee bit more in Australia.

Forgot what these are. :) Help?

Mozambican-Portuguese influences in the international chicken-serving restaurant called Nando's.

Quarter Chicken costs Aus$19 at Nando's Restaurant. That's PhP779 in Philippine money. Ouch! :)

Chicken Burger with fries

Rice peppered with vegetables

Rooster of Barcelos.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shopping Heaven in Harbour Town Shopping Centre (Arundel, Gold Coast)

When I do long haul trips, serious shopping isn't part of the itinerary because I'd be hauling off dead weight whenever I'd move, and that isn't so appealing. But I have to eventually get into it for gifts and souvenirs I have to take back home. After getting underwhelmed by Australia Fair, I wasn't looking forward to visiting Harbour Town Shopping Center (HTSC), the first and largest purpose-built direct outlet in Australia, and remains so today despite mushrooming of other shopping precincts all over the country. These days, HTSC is found even in Melbourne and Perth.

Located in Biggera Waters, a suburb on the western side of the Broadwater (population: 5,400), just north of Labrador on the Gold Coast, the centre is home to several branded and international names in fashion and accessories spread across low-level shops.

What's amazing is how every shops offers considerable price cuts and promos. This is evident in "Souvenirs Direct" which, for a change, had me salivating over products that I'd love to have for myself, aside from those I had to give away. The options are aplenty. They have 3-in-1's, buy-one- take-one's, and price mark downs. Items here are high quality, but among the cheapest in the country. This is why Brisbane folks, and even New South Wales denizens, flock here to splurge. I think I must have spent a considerable amount for those souvenirs as well.


Among other stuff, I got Australia shirts (2 for $25), refrigerator magnets (3 for $8), and boomerangs at $14 a piece. As a piece of superstition, it is believed that visitors who are gifted with boomerangs are bound to return to the Land Down Under. In this precept, Girlie bought me my boomerang. I'd have to plan a return one of these days, don't I?

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Zarraffa's Coffee

Reading Cinemas (above and below)

An unbelievable array of gifts and souvenirs.


A kebab restaurant

Visit their official website
Location: Gold Coast Highway corner Oxley Drive, Biggera Waters, Queensland

Ph. (07) 5529 1734 
(07) 5529

Opening Hours

Monday - Wednesday    
9:00am - 5.30pm
9:00am - 7:00pm
Friday - Saturday
9:00am - 5.30pm
10:00am - 5.00pm
Christmas Day, Good Friday, Anzac Day
Easter Sunday, Labour Day
Restricted trading

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mt. Coot-tha - Brisbane from the Mountain

From Gold Coast, it's a 70 kilometer ride north to Brisbane. Our destination wasn't the big city, but Mt. Coot-tha famed for its sweeping Brisbane panoramas and beyond, including Moreton Bay to the East. But what would be a run-of-the-mill road trip turned out to be a delightful ride that seductively gave me flashes of the city's skyline. The road skirts the urban jungle through the Western freeway, traipsing at the fringes of the metropolis before it started its ascent to Sir Samuel Griffith Drive.

The mountain is just 8 kilometers west of Brisbane sinuously rising to a height of 800 feet (244 meters).

The curves aren't as sharp as many mountains we've been to, so the climb is mild. Mt. Coot-tha is Brisbane's answer to Cebu City's Top where the main attraction is the sprawl of the city, its meandering river and across.

However, choosing the perfect weather for a spectacular view is key to enjoying your Coot-tha experience. You have to pick one that's sunny and smog-free. Our visit was downcast, with rainclouds hovering above. But sometimes, when you have limited time on your hand, you seize the moment - or you might miss it altogether.

Scenic Brisbane River
At the promontory of Mt. Coot-tha is the lookout point which has two restaurants and a souvenir shop. There's supposed to be a Japanese Garden along the way, but we clearly didn't go there for any Japanese, did we? We had to turn around twice because we missed the entrance lane to the lookout point.

There wasn't a lot of people there, and the restaurants seemed unappealing at that time. Summit Restaurant is fine-dining fare with mixed reviews and uneven service (opens daily from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM) while the largely mediocre Kuta Restaurant serves uninspired "gourmet" burgers (their steak burger is supposedly good though). I initially thought the latter was named after Bali's famed beach, but this couldn't be so based on the food they serve. Summit would set you back at $35 for a two-course meal.

Unless you're dining, there's nothing much to do there but gaze and admire the view down below so it won't probably take you more than an hour and a half to optimize your visit, which is free of charge. And aren't the best things in life free? Of course, though with dim weather and a hazy vista, it isn't quite the best that you'd expect. Fortunately, my company was more than interesting. :)

This is the Eye in the Sky!

This supposedly signifies the position of Mt. Coot-tha in relation to Brisbane River.

Summit Restaurant (above and below)

Gift Shop