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A quick guide of where to eat (and drink) in Fortitude Valley

We’ve been lucky enough to call Brisbane home for eight years now - and in the last three or four years I’ve become obsessed with finding the best places to eat and drink. It’s become a really fun hobby, and I always love recommending places to people.

With that in mind I wanted to share some of my favourite places to eat, drink and be merry in Brisbane. It’s a reasonably big city (hush now all you Sydneysiders - I know it’s smaller than Sydney) so I’ve decided to divide it into suburbs. I’ll also do my best to keep it updated as I discover new places (and say farewell to old ones).

Pre P.S. Most of the photos are going to be from Instagram as I rarely take my big camera out when it’s not an event - so apologies in advance for the photo quality.


First up is Fortitude Valley. It’s got a reputation as the place to party in the city - and that’s definitely correct, but it also has a great bar scene (including my favourite bar in Brisbane). So if you’re looking for a more chilled night out - this guide to the Valley is for you.

Greaser

I almost don’t want to tell you about Greaser because it’s my favourite bar in Brisbane and I like that I can always get a table. The theme in Greaser is The Outsiders (yes that book you read in high school) so the menu is heavy on burgers and fried chicken, the live bands are normally swing or jazz, and it’s got that speakeasy vibe (helped by the fact it’s underground and you have to walk through a creepy alley to get there).

Heya

Heya is inspired by the street food of South East Asia and the tiny bars found in the Golden Gai district in Tokyo. There’s lots of hidden corners to be found in the venue, and the odd secret bar as well. The food is really good - I recommend the cheeseburger spring rolls personally and there is a great range of alcohol behind the bar. It’s a fun place to go for drinks with friends on a Saturday night.

Les Bubbles

When I first moved to Brisbane I was surprised to learn that in the eighties and nineties the police were universally considered corrupt scum bags. All that ended with the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and that’s where Les Bubbles comes in. At its height the “bathhouse” where Les Bubbles now stands was a brothel and illegal casino where the high ups would come to - ahem - have “meetings”.

Les Bubbles (regretfully) would like to inform you that they are no longer a brothel - but their speciality is still meat - steak frites to be more specific. When I say specialty I mean it - they do one thing, but they do it perfectly. It’s probably the best steak you will eat in your life, and they serve it with bottomless fries, an amazing salad and a range of sauces. Don’t panic though if you’re vegetarian or pescatarian, you’re still welcome and they’ll happily tell you what the dish of the day is if you don’t consume meat. The ambience is perfect, the food is delicious, the wine range is excellent. Definitely don’t eat lunch before going so you can enjoy the experience fully. Bonus points if you head downstairs to the bathhouse for pre (or post) drinks. They still have the hot tub up and running and serve cocktails and snack food.

Bloodhound Corner Bar & Kitchen

I love Bloodhound for pre-drinks before heading out to dinner. It’s got a great cocktail menu and a rotating range of interesting beers on tap. It can get pretty packed on the weekend, so head in early if you want a table, otherwise you might have to accept standing around. The food is tasty, but expensive for what you get, which is why I don’t really recommend it as a dinner place.


One month European itinerary

One of my favourite things to do when we start planning our trip is plotting out our itinerary. I love sitting down with a map (lol - okay fine Google Maps) and working out where we want to go, how far it is between destinations, and how to make it flow in a logical way.

Our very first trip to Europe was kind of like a Contiki; we did a big loop of Western Europe, staying only a few days in each location. It was a lot of fun, but by the end we were pretty tired, and I was sad we hadn’t spent more time in a lot of the locations.

On our honeymoon I wanted to take a slower pace, visit less places and spend a little longer in them where we could. After a lot of thought I dropped Spain and Portugal from our itinerary. It added too much travel time, and I realised it would be fun to do them as a separate trip later on. I also dropped a visit further south in Italy to go to Pompeii - again because I could see us doing a Southern Italy trip one day in the future (probably in summer).

I thought it would be fun to share our full itinerary so you can get an idea about how we spent a month in Europe in winter. I hope it gives you some inspiration!

Pre P.S. We travel by train as much as possible because it’s in general the most economical way to travel (and a lot more fun than planes) so all times to the next destination given are based on train travel. It’s been a few years since we did this trip so I’m trying to do my best to determine what trains we caught.


Paris - 4 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 4 hours 30 minutes


Lucerne - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 49 minutes


Interlaken - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 6 hours 30 minutes


Venice - 4 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 2 hours 5 minutes


Florence - 3 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 30 minutes


Rome - 4 days

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 55 minutes (flight from Rome to Athens)


Athens - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 50 minutes (flight from Athens to Crete)


Crete - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 50 minutes (flight from Crete to Athens)


Athens - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Time to next destination: 3 hours 30 minutes (flight from Athens to Paris)


Paris - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings

The perfect weekend getaway: Athens

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

I think since the Global Financial Crisis, Greece and Athens has gotten a bit of a bad reputation (or at least among my friends it has). So I was completely surprised by how much I loved our time in Athens. The Greek people are some of the kindest and most wonderful humans I have ever been lucky enough to meet, and Athens is home to so many incredible things to see and do. 

Friday afternoon

If you’re going to be staying in Athens you may as well stay somewhere with an amazing view of the Acropolis. And the Plaka Hotel is perfect for that. It’s nice, affordable and has a really great rooftop view of the Acropolis.

Once you’re settled in I suggest heading upstairs to the rooftop bar for a pre-dinner drink and the aforementioned view of the Acropolis. Then it’s time to head out for dinner at Efcharis; a fantastic restaurant with live music, enthusiastic helpings (seriously I thought I was going to die after our first meal there) and really friendly staff. If you’re lucky you might even get to experience their home brewed raki (I’m not certain it’s called raki in all of Greece but that’s what they called it on Crete).

This is also a good time to warn you - the smoking laws in Greece are pretty much non existent. Throughout Europe the laws are a lot more lax than they are in Australia but it was at it’s most blase in Greece. So if the weather is clement definitely sit outside if you don’t want to marinate in smoke.

Saturday

It’s time for a day of adventure! My personal recommendation is the breakfast buffet at the hotel (because if it’s not obvious from all of my perfect weekend articles so far I really approve of hotels where the breakfast is included). But if that’s not your speed there are some super cute bakeries right near by and Greek pastries are fantastic.

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

After breakfast it’s time to go to the Acropolis! You can buy a ticket that includes a lot of different sites around Athens; the Acropolis, the north and south side of the Acropolis (which is also very cool), Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Olympieion and Lykeion. You probably can’t get all these sites in over a weekend but it’s always good to have all these locations up your sleeve.

The best place to start is the Agora; which was the centre of life in ancient Athens. It has been allowed to return to nature which really just adds to the atmosphere. It’s a beautiful place and it’s really hard even when you see it to imagine the scale of it - trying to imagine it at it’s height, with Socrates lecturing and the market bustling.

After the Agora it’s really easy to head straight up to the Acropolis. Although there is a lot to see on the Acropolis, one thing to look out for is the Erechtheion, in high school my classics teacher spoke highly of the beauty of the columns (which are Greek maidens) because it is able to support the roof without making the women's neck look stocky.

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

After a morning of adventure it’s time for a lunch stop and then it’s time to hit up the Acropolis Museum. This museum is very unique; it’s built over an archaeological site and rather than cover this up the floor is glass to allow visitors to see the dig in action.

In addition the top floor is dedicated to a scale replica of the frescoes that surround the Parthenon (the largest temple on the Acropolis) which allows you to get up close with the incredible carvings.

Around now I imagine you’ll need to head back to hotel to relax before heading out for dinner. The street where Efcharis is also has a lot of other delicious dinner options; and they’re always happy to spruik their restaurant as the best which helps (or hinders - depending on your preference) you to pick a good place.

Sunday

First thing after breakfast it’s time to head to the National Archaeological Museum. In general the Acropolis Museum is more interesting but the one thing you shouldn’t miss in the National Museum is the Antikythera mechanism. It’s housed in its own permanent exhibition and is considered the first “computer” that was used in the second century BCE to calculate various astronomical phenomena. It’s incredible to see something so ancient that holds up to our understanding of science today.

After marvelling at one of the true wonders of the ancient world it’s worth trying to take in some of the remaining sights on your Acropolis pass; I liked Hadrian’s Library and the Olympieion (which is pictured below). They’re dotted all over the city so it’s a nice way to soak up some more of Athens; plus gives you lots of chances to stop in at various bakeries for snacks. It’s the perfect way to wind down your trip in Athens

The perfect weekend getaway // Athens

The ultimate guide to surviving a long haul flight

At the airport

Get there early

It is very stressful worrying about whether you are going to miss your flight and so it’s very important to give yourself a decent amount of time to get to the airport.

I recommend taking the estimated time it should take to get to the airport and doubling that time to be safe - I can’t count how many people have told me that they missed their flight because they didn’t know about roadworks or train lines closures or because their car broke down. I also recommend leaving an hour to check in, check your bags and get through security.

I know this might seem like a lot of time and often you will end up with time to spare. Honestly though the time goes past really quickly - especially if once you get through you make a beeline to a bar or cafe for a coffee or alcoholic beverage of choice.

Be Nice

I have been bomb checked multiple times, had my bags searched for nail scissors that didn't exist and had my husband detained (temporarily) because he had travelled to a high risk country as part of his military service and every time I have smiled and been helpful and this makes the experience 100 times more pleasant.

I have also seen people bring downright rude and unhelpful and let me tell you a little secret from someone who works in customer service for over a decade. If you are a dick, we will make things hard for you. We will take longer to do simple things. We'll say no instead of yes.

So, the lesson for the airport (and you know, life) is don't be a dick - they are doing their job and they will bomb check you regardless of whether you are nice as pie or a tosspot - so how that goes for you is entirely in your hands.


On the flight

Let’s be honest here - long haul flights are not fun for anyone. Particularly if (like me) you live in Australia and flights of over ten hours are the norm. Ultimately there is only so much you can do to make an economy flight comfortable (I mean that’s why business and first class exists after all) but there is definitely ways you can make the experience more positive.

Getting comfortable

When deciding what to wear it’s important to dress comfortably both in the literal sense of the word and also in the sense that you need to feel comfortable with people seeing you in this outfit.

Of course everyone has a different level of personal comfort but what I would suggest is wearing something stylish but comfortable for around the airport and for the first part of the trip - I have a dress I wear every time that’s made of jersey material and is short sleeved  which is perfect for all the changes in temperature you can go through when travelling. I also pack some actual pyjamas to wear for “night-time” on the plane to help me get some sleep.

In addition I always pack a loose cardigan and a pair of socks - most airlines these days do provide socks and blankets but you never can tell how cool the plane will get (or how much you trust the blankets to be clean).

Lastly neck pillows are a must have, I know they are dorky and carrying them through the airport is embarrassing but it’s been a game changer for us when we travel. The first time we flew to Europe we tried to get by on the tiny pillows the airline provided. I got no sleep and neither did Mike. The second time around we both had neck pillows and not only did it make the thirteen hours on the plane more comfortable but we both actually got sleep!

Self Care

Self care is so important on long flights to help you to recover more quickly from jetlag. Firstly it is so important to hydrate regularly. I learnt this tip after our first flight to Paris, I had forgotten my water bottle and had to survive on the water provided by the flight attendants. Anyone would think I had been in the desert for days from how parched I was at the end of the flight.

I definitely recommend packing a big water bottle in your carry on, remember to make sure it is empty otherwise you won’t be allowed to take it through security, and fill it up before you board the plane. Also it may go without saying but where you can avoid caffeine and alcohol.

I also recommend taking advantage of any layovers - most large international airports offer some kind of services these days to help weary travellers. For example Changi airport offers showers, massages, lounges for having a nap and even prayer rooms. Many airports also have yoga rooms.

If I was to make one suggestion it would be to take a shower. Pack some travel sized versions of your normal face wash, body wash, moisturiser, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste to make the most of it.

Keep yourself entertained

The most important thing to remember on a long haul flight is to give yourself as many options as possible for entertainment. You don’t want to do the same thing for thirteen hours in your every day life - that doesn’t change just because you’re on a plane.

If you want some recommendations on how to entertain yourself I wrote a whole post on the subject that covers all my favourite ways to keep myself busy.

Getting some sleep

Sleeping on a plane is incredibly illusive. I can’t say I’ve cracked the code but I definitely have picked up a few tips for improving your chances of getting some shut eye.

Firstly, brush your teeth and wash your face. Perform all the normal rituals you would perform if you were in your house to help set your mind up for sleep.

Now let’s get comfortable. Recline your seat back as far as it will go. Use the neck pillow I know you’ve gone and purchased. Also use the pillow the airline has provided (either prop it against the window or use it to help support your back).

Take a melatonin pill. Put on own your socks and if necessary the socks the airline provided. Pull your blanket up high and put on a guided meditation - Headspace, Calm and Buddhify all have some specifically designed to help you to get to sleep. Once the meditation is done put on a playlist to help you sleep - I like the rain forest sounds one on Spotify. Lastly pull your eye mask down and let yourself drift off to sleep.


How to entertain yourself on long flights

Spending hours on a plane has limited ability for excitement. Sure initially it’s fun but that wears off quickly. I am fiercely determined to occupy myself on any flight I get on - being bored on a flight really does make it go approximately one thousand times longer. Here are my current favourite ways to entertain myself on a flight:

Podcasts

We all know that I am a podcast obsessive and you can check out my favourite podcasts right over here. When I travel I download a bunch of episodes so I can listen whether I’m near WiFi or not (I use the Stitcher app). I also sometimes resist the urge to listen to episodes from my favourite podcasts in the lead up to a trip so I have lots to listen to when I’m away.

Colouring

My favourite thing to pair with listening to podcasts is colouring. So far I’ve taken big colouring books on flights but I recently discovered small colouring books (I mean I say discover like they were hiding from me but obviously they weren't) and I’m excited to give these a go next time because I think it will be more convenient; for both me and the people in the seats around me. I use Derwent pencils (which are so fancy) when I colour.

I’ve also started using a colour by numbers app; there are a ton out there, and a lot of them can be used without wifi (I cheat and just “start” a bunch before I get on the plane so it downloads the image). It’s a good work around for short flights if you don’t want to be lugging your art supplied with you.

Games

There are tons of really awesome games you can download to your laptop these days - not just games like Candy Crush but adventure and puzzle games as well. My current favourite is the Nancy Drew games - they are just difficult enough to hook me in without being so difficult that I get frustrated. I’m so excited to download a game (or two) to play next time we fly.

Read

I love books and I always take at least one with me on the flight. I try and make it something a bit lighter that will suck me in rather than a more serious tome. I also buy a few magazines (favourites include Peppermint, Gourmet Traveller and Collective Hub). Lately I've also been really into Audible for non-fiction books.

Write

I always journal when I travel but lately I have also been taking my laptop with me on flights so that I can do more free-form writing. As much as I love the idea of having a beautiful notebook that I could write in between staring pensively out the window and sipping a martini the reality is my handwriting is awful and as a leftie I end up with stains on my hand. A laptop removes those obstacles and lets me pour out ideas.

Music

When I’m reading or writing I like to listen to music. Spotify is my app of choice for listening to music. I always make sure I have at least one playlist downloaded so I can play it offline. Normally it’s something atmospheric and peaceful, some of my favourites are:

TV & Movies

Most airlines these days have some pretty awesome choices of television shows and movies. I do recommend leaving TV and movies until you have exhausted all your other options. It’s much better to do all of the more “active” entertainment choices first and leave movies and TV for when you are just too exhausted (inevitable on a long haul flight) to do anything else.