2014: Year In Review

2014 Year In Review

2014 was a huge year for me – I moved cities, began university, started blogging, turned eighteen, endured a long-distance relationship, met heaps of new friends and I have matured as a person from the experiences I had this year. This post is more for myself as a permanent reminder of the highs and lows of my first year out of high school, but if you’re reading this – it’s gonna get a bit personal.

My Year In Blogging

2014 MapLate June, 2014 was when I opened my blog and began posting on it. This is really the first blog I have kept up with, and I’m proud of what I have put out this year. As of today, my blog has been viewed 1,386 times – 494 Australian views, 473 US views, 154 Canadian views, 85 UK views and views from nearly everywhere around the world – which I definitely didn’t expect!

273 people were referred to my blog from Search Engines, using terms such as “my first time tag”, “a quiz about me”, “long term long distance relationships”, “popular british youtubers”, “trxye”, “my first semester at the uni”, and my personal favourite: “tyler from pentatonix is he gay” (there is no Tyler in Pentatonix). 136 people were referred through my Twitter (*cough* follow me). More of my traffic came from my Tumblr, my Pinterest pins, WordPress Dashboard, plus a variety of Tumblrs that have reblogged my posts for their followers to see!

My most popular post was by far my College Room Homewares post, with 106 views. Coming in second was My First Time Tag with 57 views, and then Supanova Brisbane, 2014 with 52 views (thanks to Oliver Phelps for replying to my tweet about it, which drove most of the traffic for that post).

Oliver PhelpsMy least viewed post was my Update: I Have A New Theme post, with only 5 views. Photos from my posts have been clicked on 13 times, and 10 people have clicked through to YouTube videos or channels that I have linked to in my posts. My Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram have been clicked through to only three times, and my Pinterest only once!

My most popular day of 2014 was September 13th with 72 views, predominantly on College Room Homewares.

My Year at University

My first year of university was filled with many highs and lows. I endured horrible Chemistry lectures but got to cuddle goats, horses, cows, sheep, rats, mice, cats, dogs, chickens, fish(!!) and pigs. My first semester ended with a GPA of 5.5, with a High Distinction in Biodiversity, a Distinction in Veterinary Professional Life and Credits in Chemistry and Biochemistry. My second semester was a bit more of a struggle – I received a Credit in Veterinary Professional Life 2 and my results were withheld for Anatomy & Physiology because I didn’t pass the Physiology component. Early February is when I have to sit a supplementary exam for Physiology, so my studying isn’t over yet.

Despite my results, I had an amazing time experiencing university life and meeting lifelong friends. Tertiary education is definitely much more of a struggle than high school, but I am proud of where I have come so far.

My Year at College

2014 was when I resided at Western Courts, a dodgy run-down college composed of demountable buildings. My room was 1/4th of a demountable building about 1m wide in the bedroom and another 1m wide in the ensuite. This year, I learned how to fend for myself and live alone – I had friends living near me but most of my time was spent studying alone. I gained confidence and independence, especially once I could drive at uni. Next year comes with a new chapter at a new college and I couldn’t be more excited!

My Year of New and Old Friendships

This year, I met Blair, Tarryn, Jess and Sarah (aka Barry), fellow first year vet students. We all met on our orientation when we were put into the same group, and Blair and I got lost, oops! After semester one, Blair and Sarah drifted away, but my friendship with Tarryn and Jess only grew stronger. I met Priyanka, Nethmee, Hannah and Jane while at college. I met Priyanka as I moved in, as she was moving into her room two doors down at the same time. Days later, we both chose to eat lunch with Nethmee and Hannah, who also lived in our block, who we then became great friends with! We met Jane in semester two when she would sit with us every night at dinner. She lived a few blocks away but we’d all catch up at dinner!

When I came home from uni, I always had friends here for me. Our little group consisting of Sam, Imogen, Hayden, Jesse, Brittany, Lachlan, Ben, Daniel, Eka, Katelyn and Stella continued to stick together even though Imogen was overseas in Denmark and Jesse moved to New Zealand. We drifted away from Gideon and Jake, who changed a lot since high school, but the rest of us would have so much fun catching up whenever we could!

My Year of a Long Distance Relationship

2014 began my five-year-long long distance relationship with long term boyfriend Sam. It was hard being apart, but we would iMessage every waking moment of the day and have a weekly Skype night every single Friday night. Whenever I would come home from uni, we would make up for lost time. We went on our very first holiday this year, to Brisbane for Supanova. We both got our licenses and could finally stop relying on parents to drive us to each other. Our relationship has matured and evolved so much, and we are ending the year spending ten days house sitting my aunt’s place. I love spending days and nights with him, and it’s great practice for living together – which will definitely happen after I graduate in 2018!

The People I Lost

This year marked six years since we lost Dad, and two years since we lost my great-grandmother. This year, my grandma on Dad’s side joined them, and I was unable to attend the funeral due to being up at uni. Late in the year, a close childhood friend of mine who was a few years older than me took her own life, which deeply affected all of us. I’ve still remained very lucky to still have the people in my life that I do, especially my Nana and Pop on mum’s side and all of my aunties, uncles and cousins.

Thank you, everyone who was a part of my life this year. Here’s to a better 2015. Make this next year your year! Whatever your resolutions are, keep them if you can, and stay happy!
See you next year!
Sarah May xxx
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What I Got For Christmas 2014!

What I Got For Christmas 2014

Christmas has come and gone for the year, and once again I have been incredibly lucky to have received the amazing gifts that I did. Naturally, I’d love to share these gifts with you, but first it must be noted that I am very aware that my family gives expensive gifts, and others aren’t as fortunate. I am extremely grateful for all of the time, effort and money that went into my gifts, and I in no way asked for my family to spend so much. However, they chose to do so, not me, so please refrain from any “you’re spoilt” comments or anything similar. Christmas is the season of giving and the people around me just felt like giving quite a lot! So, without further ado:

Wii UWii U (shared gift)

This gift was a shared gift between my brother and I – both of us are born and raised Nintendo kids and have owned nearly all Nintendo consoles that have been released – I hadn’t wanted a Wii U all that much until such amazing games were released this year! My brother wanted it to play Super Smash Bros. U, whereas I wanted it to play Hyrule Warriors, The Wind Waker HD and Mario Kart 8. Mum surprised us both by giving us this one, I certainly didn’t expect her to spent so much on us! The Wii U package she bought came with Mario Kart 8 pre-installed, too!

Wii U Games

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

I’m a giant Legend of Zelda fan, and just had to have the newest game!

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Wii U)

I never owned a Gamecube so I never got to play this adorable game – until now!

Super Smash Bros. U (Wii U) (shared gift)

My brother and I are both into Super Smash Bros., him especially. My boyfriend and I played the Wii version of this game constantly, and we’ll be doing the same with the newest one!

A Link Between WorldsThe Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Nearly the only reason I bought a 3DS early 2014 was to play this, but I never got around to buying it! Thanks mum for buying me this game, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but once I’ve finished Pokemon Y I will definitely have to give it a go – this is especially great because I can take this up to uni whereas I’ll have to leave the Wii U at home! I’ve never actually played a non-N64/Wii/Wii U Zelda game before with the exception of the Ocarina of Time remake, so I’m definitely interested in playing a mobile-console based game.

Peter Alexander Pyjama ShortsPeter Alexander Pyjama Shorts x2

I’ve never owned “nice” pyjamas and seeing as next year at uni I will be seeing friends in my pyjamas a lot more often I thought it’s time to ask for some decent ones! I definitely didn’t expect Peter Alexander pyjamas though! Mum got me the front lacy pair and Nana and Pop got me the back pair. They’re so comfortable and fit so well, too! I love the lacy ones so much, they’re definitely something I’d wear all the time. The other pair is still really nice, too, and I’ve already worn both of them to death despite only getting them a few days ago. This is definitely only the beginning of my collection of cute pyjamas.

SunshadeCar Sunshade

This was a pretty basic gift but definitely something I’ve needed all year, especially since my car sits in the sun all day every day when I’m up at uni.

Magic Bullet

Magic Bullet (shared gift)

I haven’t had a chance to blog about my healthy eating I’ve been doing this month but I’ve been really into making fruit smoothies with our old, dodgy blender that would always leave chunks of fruit no matter how long I blended it. Mum being the infomercial sucker she is bought me (and herself) a Magic Bullet so finally my smoothies will be chunk-free! The smoothies just make it so easy to eat healthy and lose the uni weight I gained this year while still getting my sugar fix (I’m a bit of a sweet tooth). I know infomercial products don’t always live up to expectations, but from what I’ve seen of it so far, it actually works just as well as it does on the infomercial!

Pandora CharmPandora Charm

Mum bought me a beautiful Pandora Christmas charm to fit with the blue-theme of my Pandora bangle I got for my 18th birthday in June – it’s the dark blue charm second from the left! I love it so much and it’s officially the first actual Pandora charm on my bracelet!

Revlon Brushes

Revlon Makeup Brushes

Okay, I’m a bit of a makeup noob – I have a foundation brush and that’s pretty much it. I definitely need to get better at applying more makeup and now I have decent brushes I might finally be able to.


Eyeshadow Palette

I only really owned dodgy, cheap eyeshadow, so this was the year to ask for some decent quality ones. Pop did a good job in the annual adult Secret Santa to get me this! I’m not too into harsh, bright colours either, so the browns and darker tones in here will definitely be used often especially when it comes to my second Vet Ball, so I’ll finally not have to borrow friends’ makeup!

Jewelled Brushes

Jewelled Brushes

This was the second half of my Secret Santa present from Pop and includes a few more brushes that didn’t come with the Revlon brushes mum gave me. Not too sure about the jewels (I am an adult after all) but I’m sure Pop meant well. Thanks anyway, Pop!

Earrings and RingSilver Stud Earrings + Matching Ring

These beautiful presents were from my wonderful boyfriend Sam. This gorgeous matching set is my new favourite thing! The ring was bought slightly too big ( 😦 ) so I have to get it resized, but the stud earrings do this really cool thing where you can slip the ‘outer ring’ off the earrings to turn them into smaller studs! Big props to Sam for picking so well (with the help of an old high school friend who worked at the jewelry shop), I love them!

Link Commission

Framed Watercolour Link Painting (Commission from Katie Cook at Supanova Brisbane 2014)

As soon as I saw Katie Cook’s tiny watercolour paintings at Supanova, I loved them. However, there weren’t any paintings on the table that I loved enough to buy. Little did I know that Sam, who headed into Supanova on a second day without me to collect another commission, commissioned this cute Link painting from Katie for me! He even framed it for me, it’s so cute!

Alpacasso AlpacaAlpacasso Purple Stuffed Alpaca

I saw girls carrying these all around Supanova and thought they were so damn adorable. Adorable stuffed alpacas?! Yes! They were a little on the pricey side though, especially since I already spent heaps at Supanova. Sam managed to buy one of these for me when he went into Supanova on day 2 and somehow hid it in his backpack the entire rest of our week-long trip! I have no idea how he did it but he definitely pulled it off and surprised me on Christmas Day 🙂

Papercraft Zelda

Papercraft Christmas Zelda

As you’ve probably guessed by my already-huge Zelda haul, I’m a huge Legend of Zelda fan. Sam spent countless hours making this huge papercraft Zelda figurine for me and lost so much sleep Christmas Eve because of it! I love it so much, that boy is definitely very talented when it comes to handmade gifts. I would never have the patience to do this myself! Doing papercraft involves such little tiny paper pieces and such intricate cutting and gluing… I’ve only ever done papercraft of small figurines let alone attempting a huge one like this! It’s so Christmas and Elsa-like, too. I definitely appreciate the effort Sam put into this!

The Sims 4The Sims 4

I’m completely aware that I wasn’t a huge fan of TS4 when it was released, and I even blogged a first impressions review of it based off information online about it. However, EA has since patched a lot of the features missing from the initial release and I’ve watched so many playthroughs by my favourite YouTubers that I decided to give it a go – especially thanks to AmazingPhil and danisnotonfire‘s TS4 series on their gaming channel. The game is actually pretty good – goodbye social life!

Body Butter

Body Butter from The Body Shop

My aunty Tash got me these little body butter samples from The Body Shop, and they seem like they’re from a Christmas collection. The flavours I got were Glazed Apple, Cranberry and Vanilla Brulee (not pictured). I never take care of my skin so this body butter is a great place to start.

Movie Tickets

Movie Tickets

I deliberately asked Sam’s family not to get me anything for Christmas, but they just had to get me something so they got me some movie tickets. I love getting movie tickets as presents, up here seeing a movie costs nearly $20 a ticket! With snacks and a drink, it ends up costing a lot of money so movie tickets is honestly such a help.

So there it is, my 2014 Christmas haul! I’m so so grateful for all of the gifts I received and I’m so glad I got to spend the day with my family, Sam, and his family – this was our fourth Christmas as a couple but the first we’ve been able to spend together so it was really nice 🙂

I apologize for the post delays lately, I’m house sitting my aunt’s place with Sam for ten days so I don’t really have much time to sit and write a blog post lately! I have so many posts lined up waiting to be written that just won’t make it to 2014 but I’ll put them out as soon as I can!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, have a Happy New Year!
Sarah May xxx
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What I Am Most Grateful For…

What I Am Most Grateful For

It’s Christmas time, and as I live in a country where Thanksgiving is not widely celebrated, Christmas is seen as a time when we should all be thankful for what we have, in addition to spending quality time with family and be in the spirit of giving. So before the big day hits in just two days time, I thought it would be appropriate to share what I am most grateful for in my life.

I am grateful for having a loving, supportive family. My family will always support me throughout anything, no matter what I decide I do. Through the highs, through the lows, they support me fully and always have confidence that I am trying the best I can, even if my academic marks don’t reflect that. I also have a family that will allow me to do whatever I want to do without question – whether it be going out with friends, having my boyfriend stay over, or even move cities to attend university. Thank you mum, and the rest of my family.

I am grateful for keeping my high school friends. I can always rely on Sam, Stella, Brittany, Lachlan, Eka, Ben, Daniel, Imogen, Hayden, Jesse, Katelyn and Henryette to be there for me when I am not away at uni, and all the times in between. We may all be separated across three countries and five cities, but we can always catch up like no time has passed when we all happen to be home.

I am grateful for having met such great friends at uni. Whether its my vet friends or my college friends, my year has been made so much easier by having such great, supportive people around me. Although next year is leaving one of my vet friends behind, and my college girls have moved off-campus, I’m sure the friendships I made in my first year will last a long time.

I am grateful for not having to sit alone. Having friends in my uni course is such a small thing that I’m glad I have – I couldn’t stand having to spend every lecture, tutorial and practical alone, and even having people to walk to classes with. As a shy person, I’m so glad I made the friends that I made.

I am grateful for not struggling financially due to saving money before uni. I worked as a cashier at Woolworths for two years before I moved away to uni and had to resign, and throughout these two years I managed to save up $12 000 of my own money which went towards my accommodation. Thanks to this, I was able to support myself while living away from home with only minimal help from mum. Next year, I will be fully supporting myself with no financial assistance whatsoever, thanks to how much I was able to save while I still had a job.

I am grateful for having my own car and being able to drive it. It’s true that you don’t truly appreciate what you have until you don’t have it anymore – while I was still on my learners, I was prohibited from driving for a year total due to medical reasons. This prevented me from driving during my first few months at uni – so once I was able to drive again I definitely appreciated the novelty of being able to transport myself around.

I am grateful for being accepted into the course of my dreams. Getting accepted into a veterinary science degree is not easy and most applicants are turned away. I am definitely grateful I got accepted on my first try and didn’t have to complete a year of another degree to get credit to transfer in – instead, I was able to start my dream degree as soon as possible.

I am grateful for being able to share my life with my pets. Living on college where no pets are allowed really made me appreciate having my dog and cat around when I’m home. There’s something about an animal’s cuddles that really cheers you up, which is definitely needed around exam time.

I am grateful to have not suffered many losses in my life so far. In my eighteen years, I haven’t lost many family members. In 2008, my dad; in 2012, my great-grandmother; and in 2014, my grandmother on dad’s side. The losses of all of these family members have been sad, but I am glad to have three of my four grandparents still with me, and that my uncles, aunties and cousins have not died young.

I am grateful that all of my family can get together on Christmas. All of my immediate family lives in the same town, which makes it easy for all of us to spend Christmas together. I know that many families cannot get together at Christmas time, so I am so grateful that we can all spend time together on not only Christmas Day, but on various occasions throughout the year.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas on Thursday, whether your family is around or not. Spend some time with anyone you love, get into the spirit of giving, and have a happy new year!
Sarah May xxx
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Top 10 Australian Artists

Top 10 Australian Artists

Australia has a thriving music industry, and recent years have uncovered huge chart toppers such as Sia and Iggy Azalea. However, there are some Aussie music gems that have remained hidden in our little country, despite their immense talent. Our homegrown Australian artists are invaluably supported by national radio station Triple J, who provide precious air-time to both established and underground national and international artists, spanning a wide variety of genres. Thanks to Triple J, many fantastic Australian artists have had an opportunity to let their music be heard.

It is through the airwaves of Triple J that I have had the opportunity to discover these amazing, all-Australian artists. You may not have heard of them, but you definitely should have by now:

1. Ball Park Music

Genre: Indie Rock/Pop
Ball Park Music are a young and energetic band from Brisbane, who have produced hit after hit throughout their three-album career. Their live shows are praised by everyone who attends, including myself! Their music is quirky, infectious and super catchy – you’d be crazy not to check them out!

Other favourites: She Only Loves Me When I’m There, iFly, Sad Rude Future Dude, Surrender, Fence Sitter

2. San Cisco

Genre: Indie Pop
San Cisco have been quiet in the music scene for the last couple of years, until this year when they released their new single RUN. With only one album under their belt and another on the way, San Cisco are still pretty established in the Australian music industry, with their single Awkward placing number 7 in the 2011 Triple J Hottest 100, following up with further Hottest 100 entries every year following.

Other favourites: RUN, Fred Astaire, Wild Things, Get Lucky (Daft Punk Cover)

3. Hilltop Hoods

Genre: Hip Hop
Hilltop Hoods are easily Australia’s most popular hip hop group, with four albums peaking at number one on the ARIA charts, including two top-ten singles and one top five single. Hilltop Hoods have successfully broken through from purely Triple J airplay to being played on mainstream radio stations with the ongoing success of recent single Cosby Sweater.

Other favourites: I Love It (ft. Sia), Nosebleed Section, I Won’t Let You Down, Chase That Feeling

4. Chet Faker

Genre: Electronica
Chet Faker is taking over the Australian music industry in 2014, with his debut album Built on Glass peaking at number 1 on Australian charts and its three subsequent singles peaking in the top ten of the Australian indie charts. He cleaned up at the 2014 ARIAS, winning five of the nine awards he was nominated for, including Best Independent Release and Best Male Artist. Chet Faker is one to watch!

Other favourites: 1998, Gold, Drop The Game (with Flume), No Diggity

5. Sheppard

Genre: Indie Pop
Sheppard are a relatively new group consisting of siblings Amy, George and Emma Sheppard, and their three other band mates. Sheppard managed to break into mainstream radio play early in their career, with their single Let Me Down Easy. Their debut album, Bombs Away, peaked at number two, spawning 4x platinum single Geronimo. They recently won Best Group at the 2014 ARIA awards, on top of a truckload of nominations.

Other favourites: Let Me Down Easy, Smile, Hold My Tongue, Something’s Missing

6. The Jungle Giants

Genre: Indie Pop/Rock
The Jungle Giants are from Brisbane who released their debut album in 2013. They have supported big acts like Two Door Cinema Club and appeared at festivals including Splendour in the Grass, Big Day Out, and Groovin’ The Moo. Their music is super infectious and is well worth a listen!

Other favourites: Skin to BoneCome and Be Alone With Me, Mr Polite, Domesticated Man

7. Art Vs Science

Genre: Electronic/Dance
Art vs Science are known as one of Australia’s best live acts, who have a slightly crazy and very energetic stage presence. Their 2011 debut album was widely praised and won an ARIA award for Best Independent Release, and their newest EP has released some great music too. Their eclectic style of music is easily recognizable as an Art vs Science track nearly instantly!

Other favourites: Create/Destroy, Magic Fountain, Creature of the Night, A.I.M Fire!

8. Megan Washington

Genre: Indie Pop/Alternative
Megan Washington (also known as Washington) is one of the most incredible female artists Australia has to offer. Over her three-album career, her music is honest and transparent – and her live performances solidify that. Megan Washington began her music career performing jazz music, but her transition to a more Indie Pop/Alternative sound is complete.

Other favourites: Sunday Best, Rich Kids, Limitless, Begin Again

9. Vance Joy

Genre: Indie Folk
Vance Joy is perhaps one of the most popular indie artists in Australia right now. Ever since the release of single Riptide, which was voted the best song of the year in the Triple J Hottest 100 poll, Vance Joy has been adored by girls nationwide and has been greeted with great success with his debut album Dream Your Life Away. Vance is only new to the music scene, but is sure to stick around for a while.

Other favourites: Mess Is Mine, First Time

10. Flume

Genre: Electronic
Flume has had a huge influence on the Australian music scene, with his 2012 debut album peaking at number one and landing him four wins and another four nominations at the 2013 ARIA awards, including Best Male Artist and Best Breakthrough Artist. He also had four songs in the Triple J Hottest 100 in a single year, and is part of the side project What So Not.

Other favourites: Hyperparadise (Hermitude Remix), Tennis Court (Lorde Remix), On Top, Sleepless

I hope you enjoyed some of the great talent that Australia has to offer! Sometimes the best music isn’t what’s playing on mainstream media all the time, so be adventurous and discover some new music!

Until next time,
Sarah May xxx
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A Tourist’s Guide To Eating & Drinking in Brisbane’s CBD

A Guide to Eating and Drinking in Brisbane's CBD

When planning a long holiday, not a lot of people realize that every meal eaten during your trip will be out at a restaurant or cafe. As a recent tourist to the city of Brisbane, I was confronted with six days of finding meals to eat within the vicinity of our hotel in Brisbane’s CBD. In my journey, I ate at many diverse, amazing restaurants while managing to stick to my budget. So, I present to you A Tourist’s Guide to Eating & Drinking in Brisbane’s CBD (on a budget):

Jo Jos – Queen Street Mall
Dish: Pumpkin Pizza – roast pumpkin, kalamata olives, Spanish onion, basil, feta and mozzarella
Price: $20.00

Jo Jos is a huge restaurant located upstairs in the mall – its large, wrap-around balcony can be seen easily from the intersection between both streets of the mall. It is extremely popular around meal times, and it was hard to find a table to seat six people at 1pm on a Friday. Jo Jos consists of multiple kitchens, all of different cuisines, and each meal must be ordered at its appropriate kitchen – which is inconvenient if your guests are wanting a different cuisine to your own. Overall, the menu was very pricey. I ordered a pizza, the portion sizes of which is misled by the images on the menu, which show it as a scaled-down pizza. Instead, you get a full sized, huge pizza that can easily feed 3 people. I only ate 2 of my 8 slices, but it sure tasted great! Others at my table shared fish and chips ($22) between two people easily.

Score: 6/10
Pricey, huge portions, confusing layout but great-tasting food. Prepare to share with someone else!

Krispy KremesKrispy Kreme – Queen Street Mall
Dish: 1/2 Dozen Original Glazed
Price: $13.95

Krispy Kreme – Brisbane Airport
Dish: Apple Custard Crumble
Price: $3.25

There are no Krispy Kreme stores in central and north QLD, so it is a necessity to eat as many Krispy Kremes as possible when in a city that sells them. It is one of the only places where I am 100% satisfied to eat the “plainest” item on the menu. I had 3 original glazed donuts whilst in Brisbane and picked up another half dozen before my flight home from the conveniently-located airport store. Their Apple Custard Crumble was not disappointing – it was fresh, with an abundance of “crumble” on top with a delicious apple-flavoured custard inside the donut. Ah-mazing.

Score: 10/10
Reasonable prices for a box of pure deliciousness

Little SingaporeLittle Singapore – Albert Lane, Queen Street Mall
Dish: Garlic Prawns
Price: $13.90

The best thing about Little Singapore is by far the prices. Everything is so cheap, and it has such great portion sizes! The interesting thing about this restaurant is you are forced to eat with chopsticks – you are given a spoon, but receive looks of judgement should you pick it up. It is certainly a learning curve, especially when you order a rice-based dish – rookie error! I desperately wanted to try their delicious-looking range of milk tea, but I didn’t want to risk not liking it 😦

Score: 9/10
Chopsticks add an element of fun, great prices, great quality food. Wouldn’t recommend ordering rice!

Starbucks – Queen Street Mall, Myer Centre
Drink: Iced Christmas Cookie Latte – Buttery, creamy latte with shortbread cookie flavoured sauce, bold espresso and steamed milk, with whipped cream, shortbread cookie drizzle and butter cookie crumbles
Price: Approx. $6.50 (Tall)

I was excited to try the well-hyped Christmas drinks menu at Starbucks, so it was a tough decision which drink to get on my only Starbucks visit for my trip to Brisbane. The Christmas Cookie Latte tasted very strongly of coffee (surprise surprise) so as a non-strong-coffee drinker, it was tough for me to taste the Christmas Cookie part of the latte. However, as I got down to the cream, drizzle and cookie crumbles, I could finally taste the flavouring. Personally, it didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked, and I would have liked to try their Peppermint drink.

Score: 7/10
Good for those who like strong coffee, not so much for sweet-drink lovers.

Nando’s – Kelvin Grove
Dish: 1/4 Chicken in Lemon and Herb + Regular Chips
Price: $6.45 + $3.95 ($10.40 total)

You can always rely on Nando’s for a cheap, easy meal. They offer both dine-in and takeaway options in a variety of sauces, depending on your tolerance for spicy foods – Lemon and Herb is one of their milder options, and is perfect for my tastes. They also offer chips with Peri-Peri seasoning if desired, which can be a bit spicier but more interesting than plain old regular chips. I find that 1/4 of a chicken is enough to fill me up, but 1/2 of a chicken isn’t too much either. Although I ate at Kelvin Grove Nando’s, there are stores at South Bank, underneath Oaks Festival Towers and in the Myer Centre in Queen Street Mall, although the latter closes very early so it is not ideal for dinner.

Score: 9/10
Cheap, delicious and plenty of options available to suit individual tastes. Dine in or takeaway and plenty of CBD locations.

Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall – Caxton Street
Drink: Ginger Beer
Price: $8.50

Lefty’s is an old burlesque joint converted into a bar, which even when we visited on a Sunday night, was pretty busy! We spent the entire time in a secret bar behind an emergency exit door, by a friend’s recommendation. Lefty’s had a good atmosphere and a great nautical theme, however the bartenders were unhelpful (and seemed to be on all kinds of drugs). This bar also serves a beer called Stone and Wood – a passionfruit-tasting beer which the boys all loved. The best thing about it was that we could walk back to the hotel afterwards!

Score: 6/10
Good atmosphere, not a large drink variety, alright setup but I’m not personally a bar person.

Nitrogenie – South Bank
Dish: Oreo Vanilla Cream – smashed Oreos in vanilla ice cream
Price: Approx. $6.50 (small)

Nitrogenie is an ingenious idea for an ice cream shop, where they use liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream. The flavours they offered all sounded amazing, and although a little pricey for what you get, isn’t much more expensive than a standard ice cream shop. The liquid nitrogen did not offer a noticeable taste difference, so it is more of a novelty than a new taste experience.

Score: 7/10
Great flavours, slightly pricey, doesn’t taste noticeably different from conventional ice cream

Ghandi Curry House – South Bank
Dish: Butter Chicken, Cheese Naan, Garlic Naan + Regular Steamed Rice – boneless chicken cooked in a tomato based creamy sauce with cashew nut paste
Price: $21.95, $6.00, $5.50 + $4.50

The staff here were lovely, and the meals were great quality – my butter chicken tasted amazing! For the prices of the naan and rice, they were a great size to share between two. I couldn’t get through my meal or my share of naan. I ordered by dish mild, but spicier options were available if desired. There was absolutely no spicy aftertaste to my dish whatsoever, which is great for anyone who can’t tolerate spice like me.

Score: 9/10
Tasted amazing, great portions, but was a little bit pricey.

San ChurroChocolateria San Churro – South Bank
Dish: Churros for Two (with Dark & Milk Chocolate Dip) + Peanut Butter Besos Shake
Price: $14.95 + $8.95

As expected, the meals here were amazing and very chocolatey! The churros were the first proper churros I have eaten and they were crisp, warm and tasted amazing in the milk chocolate dipping sauce. I’m more of a dark chocolate person than a milk chocolate person, but the churros, in my opinion, tasted much better in the sweeter milk chocolate dip than the bitter dark chocolate dip. Next time I will have to try the white chocolate to get a proper idea of which dip goes best! The three churros each were more than enough, and the drinks tasted amazing! I love the option of getting takeaway cups for the drinks, especially since we’d only just finished a huge dinner.

Score: 9/10
Great tasting, amazing food and drink, friendly staff. Slightly overpriced drinks.

Strike BowlingStrike Bowling – Wintergarden Plaza, Queen Street Mall
Dish: Pizza x2, Sweet Potato Wedges + Potato Wedges

Price: $80 (includes 4 games of ten pin bowling and a soft drink each)

I’ve never been to a bowling alley that served decent food and drink before, so Strike Bowling was a great place to eat and have a fun game of ten pin bowling! Between four people, the 2 pizzas and 2 bowls of wedges distributed well. The sweet potato wedges were amazing and were served with a garlic aioli, I think most of my meal consisted of these wedges. The regular wedges had a great spice to them and came with tomato sauce and sour cream, and the pizzas were pretty good quality! There is also a bar at Strike, but the cheap lunch time deal only offered soft drink.

Score: 9/10
Cheap, great quality, great variety, great venue.

Vapiano – Albert Lane, Queen Street Mall
Dish: Ravioli con Rucola
– Homemade ravioli with rocket + ricotta filling in butter sauce with onions, fresh cherry tomatoes, rocket + pine nuts (with added garlic)
Price: $18.90

Vapiano is a very popular, unique restaurant right in the heart of the CBD, next to Little Singapore. Choice of seating is free, which usually means that small groups take up large tables and leave no seats for other customers, but we managed to find a table for two. The way ordering works is that you receive a prepaid card on entry, go up to the kitchen and tell the chef what you would like, tap the card and watch the chef make the entire dish in front of you. During cooking, the chef starts a conversation with you and even customizes the dish to your liking based on what you would like. The chef I had was very friendly and asked all about what I studied at university and promptly apologized if he needed to wait for anything during the cooking process. Overall, cooking was quick and very refreshing to hold a conversation with the chef cooking your food. Portion sizes were great, too!

Score: 10/10
Unique experience, great quality food, great portion sizes, affordable prices – a restaurant experience I would recommend to anyone!

Zarraffa'sZarraffa’s Coffee – Myer Centre, Queen Street Mall
Drink: Wild Caramel Crunch (Iced, with coffee and cream) 
– A wild fusion of coffee, chocolate and caramel fudge laced with vanilla syrup and drenched in cream, caramel fudge and biscuit bits
Price: approx. $6.95

The Wild Caramel Crunch was delicious – the taste of coffee was strong throughout the drink and, despite being so used to sweet drinks, I coul
d taste the caramel. The smallest sized drink was still of a reasonable size, but didn’t last long in the hot weather. It was refreshing and definitely woke me up, and the sweetness throughout the drink was fantastic especially when I reached the end, and could combine the cream, caramel sauce and biscuit bits into one last delicious drink. The quality of Zarraffa’s Coffee definitely seemed greater than Starbucks coffee.

Score: 9/10
Delicious, perfect balance of sweetness and coffee, but slightly overpriced and required a bit of waiting to order.

Do you know any more CBD restaurants I should try next time I’m in Brisbane? Let me know in the comments!
Sarah May xxx
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