For my birthday, Mr. Nomad whisked me away on a road trip to a surprise location. After packing the car and dropping into Chemist Warehouse to get some cold and flu tablets (why do I always get ill when I travel goddamn it!), we drove south past the Gold Coast and through the Queensland border to New South Wales. My first impressions of NSW was that it didn't look all that different from Queensland, however after driving for a while the landscape got greener (due to it raining more I would guess).We ended up staying just south of Byron Bay in Ballina, a really nice (and quiet) town right next to the beach. We stayed at the Ballina Beach Resort which was nice- it was slightly motel-ish but with the added benefits of being literally a 3 minute walk to the beach, and had its own pool and jacuzzi/spa for us to use.
For the first evening we scouted out the local supermarket for some things to snack on for dinner in the hotel. We then checked out the local beach and Ballina lighthouse. Then of course we had to test of the spa/jacuzzi which was really fun!
On my actual birthday we took advantage of the free breakfast at our hotel and headed out for a day of exploring at Byron Bay. Byron Bay was a 25 minute drive from the hotel and we absolutely loved it. What do you imagine when you think of Australia? If you think of surfers, amazing beaches and a laid back lifestyle, then this is exactly what Byron Bay was. Before exploring the town itself, we headed up to the lighthouse and luckily were given someone else's parking ticket so we didn't have to pay (paying for parking is one of my big bug bears!). After walking up, there were quite a few people pointing out to the sea, and low and behold, we'd arrived when several whales were near the shore! It was the perfect birthday present.
After having a look around the town and all the shops and of course spending some time on the beach, we found lunch at Beloporto Burger Bar (I had the Belo Special Salad and Mr. Nomad had the Belo Double Chicken Burger). We took these and ate them on the beach a little further up which was really nice- it's so quiet along the coast as soon as you leave the centre of Byron Bay. We had a blanket in the back of the car and set up camp on the beach for a while, taking in the beautiful weather and surroundings. After lunch we headed back to Ballina and enjoyed the spa/jacuzzi for the last time and on the way couldn't help add to our 'Australia's big things' portfolio (basically Australia has a host of large objects around in random places that people take photos with) and took some shots with the big prawn.
We ended up at Fleurs Restaurant which was part of a hotel for dinner. Whilst it might sound underwhelming, ur experience was much like the TripAdvisor reviews- surprisingly good. As a gluten-free vegetarian, I find it really difficult to find things suitable for me to eat, but at Fleurs it was no problem. I got the baked Aubergine and Kumera parmigiana with tomato sugo, pine nuts & fried cauliflower florets for starters which was really tasty, Mr. Nomad got the jumbo scallops wrapped in prosciutto on petit potato rostis with a saffron vinaigrette which he really enjoyed. For mains I asked the chef to make anything gluten-free and vegetarian and he suggested a gluten-free pasta dish or risotto, which I was happy with- and was given a vegetable risotto with a balsamic glaze and hazelnuts which was so good! Mr. Nomad got the veal saltimbocca with gnocchi romana and wild fungi Marsala sauce which was also apparently really good. We decided to skip dessert (we are such a savoury couple!) and headed on the way back to a supermarket and bought some crackers and cheese and a bottle of wine. After arriving back at the hotel we got dressed into some warmer clothes and headed back to the beach lookout and ate our crackers and cheese and sipped on wine. It was the perfect ending to my 24th (eek.) birthday and can't wait to visit again.
I've noticed every birthday I have seems to get better, but with that there are also some tears whilst I fathom HOW I am getting this old? It feels so surreal to me- I feel like an 18 year old trapped in a 24 year old's body). Please tell me I'm not the only one with this clouding conscience of aging doom over me every birthday I have!?
Where's been one of your favorite road trips?