Friday, May 16, 2008

In The Lucky Land, Better Lucky Than Good.

On our last trip to Australia Inky and I found ourselves hemmed in by some of our plans. That’s not to say that we didn’t have a great time, because we did, but we weren’t able to be too spontaneous. This time around we didn’t book too much in advance, and I must say it has gone swimmingly.

Upon arriving in Sydney from Newtown on Wednesday we went to the Hotel we stayed at last time only to find them fully booked. Likewise there was no room at the inn on either side, and for a second I thought we may be screwed. I jumped on the web and searched on three different sights only to find the Mantra on Kent, a four and a half star hotel. The price was just a bit more a night than we had planned on, but the room was also considerably better than we could have imagined.

Rather than a hotel room, we got a 1 bedroom apartment, complete with kitchenette, king size bed, a TV area and a very nice bathroom. We thought it was more hotel than we were worthy of, that was of course, until we got to Tasmania. While sitting in that great room on Kent St I once again jumped on the web and searched a few different sights, only to find the City Park Grand, Launceston.

This place is an amazing find, and its dirt cheep. It was once known as the Albert Hall, and has recently undergone a massive renovation. It sits right next door to the famous James Boag’s brewery and is just blocks away from the Footy Stadium, York park, and only a few more blocks from one of Launceston’s great attractions: Cataract Gorge.

The room is a cross between a well appointed city hotel room and a relaxing country get away. It features two huge beds, a sprawling living room with flat screen TV, and a bathroom with a huge shower and a whirlpool tub. I feel guilty that we got this room for next to nothing, a guilt which is compounded by the fact that we appear to be among the first people to ever stay in this room. Maybe that’s why it was only listed on one website.

The place also has a great little restaurant called Q22, that Inky and I enjoyed quite a bit last nigh. The food was of a very high quality, and the service was fast and friendly, but the place was also very laid back and lacking in pretension. There is still so much more I need to see of Launceston before I can speak intelligently on the subject, but, I will say that it appears to be an amazing amalgam of a sweeping Irish countryside like view, small town sensibilities and 21st century refinements. That is, at least when seen through the lens of our hotel.

Well I think it’s about time to put on my terrycloth robe and read the voice of Tasmania, the Mercury. We have a Footy game to get ready for, and a walk to the Gorge too.

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