Last November, S was sent by his work out to Brisbane for a week of intra-company
hobnobbing team building. He thought he’d stay on in the office for an extra week, for more hobnobbing important work matters, and then head down to Sydney for a third week to see my extended family who live there – namely, my sister, brother in law, niece, nephew, and all my brother in law’s family. I decided that I wasn’t going to be left out of this, so flew out to Sydney myself to spend a few days with the fam before S joined me. However, right at the beginning of the trip I decided I’d fly up to see him in Brisbane for a weekend. I’d never been there before and, quite frankly, any excuse.
|[Brisbane: sneak peek]|
The weekend was such a mad jumble that I can’t think of any other way than to just write down all the things we did, What I Did On My Holidays style. It’s a long one, so make sure you have a beverage and preferably snack of your choice to hand… I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s hypoglycaemia after we’re all done. Ok, let’s go to Brisbane!
Getting up in time for my flight was no problem thanks to a mild dose of jetlag and my nephew and niece’s (4 and 1.5 respectively) rather keen waking hours. I managed to pack for the whole weekend using just a rucksack which I was very proud of, and headed to Sydney airport on the train.
I flew with Tiger Air, and they were actually pretty good. The only downside were some annoying teenage boys getting drunk at 9am on their way to schoolies, and the man in front of me who reclined his seat into my knees as soon as we took off, and kept it there until the last second before landing. It actually gave me bruises, neatly matching on each knee.
|[You can just see our hotel – it’s the one on the far left]|
After arriving and getting the train to the city – super easy, by the way – we made our way to the hotel, the Quay West Suites which is located right across the road from the botanic gardens. We begin to settle in (review here) and it’s at this point that I realised I didn’t know where my wallet was. After a thorough search of my one bag I knew I had definitely, 100% lost my wallet. This was rather stressful, to say the least. I decided it had either been half inched, or I’d left it in the airport somewhere. I was inclined to say it was the latter, because I didn’t notice anyone near my bags at any point and nothing else was missing eg my 3 iPhones (don’t ask). We decided to hold off on cancelling all my cards in case it had been handed in to lost property at Sydney airport.
After some frantic lost wallet related admin on the hotel wifi, we were off again to meet Mica from Away from Blue. She was super sweet and very hospitably treated us to drinks and a cake, while we spoke about all sorts of things. It’s surprising how much you can have in common with someone who a) lives on the other side of the world and b) you’ve never met before. Thanks again for the refreshments, Mica!
After that we headed to The Triffid, where S had bought us tickets to some event or other – I was a little hazy on the details, but had agreed purely because he said Bernard Fanning would be playing. Sold!
Turns out it was a concert given by a well loved local musician called Danny Widdicombe, to celebrate his 40th birthday. He’s been living with leukaemia for the past 20 years, and I think some of the ticket sales went to charity. The evening followed the setlist of an album called The Last Waltz, which is by a band confusingly called The Band. The Band was formed of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and others and in 1976 they played all their favourite songs in an epic final concert. This was recorded, and became The Last Waltz.
Anyway, long story long, this event was re-enacted by Danny and all sorts of Australian musicians who I’d never heard of but were all excellent. Even though I knew absolutely zero of the songs – they were all country music songs from the 60s and 70s, which is not something I’m overly familiar with – I still had a great time because the music was genuinely excellent and the musicians were clearly all having the times of their lives. Bernie came on very last but brought the house down, predictably.
This was the only picture I took, because I was busy ‘experiencing’. It’s awful and you can’t tell which one even is Bernard Fanning but hey. Like I said, experiencing! If you want to pretend you were there too, here’s a video of the last couple of songs of the night.
We stood about two rows back, right in front of the speakers, so my hearing was absolutely shot by the end of the night (and throughout Sunday as well…) so we made our way back to the hotel yelling “eh? what??” at each other the whole way.
Gloomily realising it was the sensible thing to do, after breakfast we had to call and cancel all my cards from the lost wallet. So to cheer ourselves up we went for a sedate walk through the botanic gardens and over to the South Bank.
|[Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, approx. one million degrees Celsius]|
Well the botanic gardens were pretty but you wouldn’t have got me out of the shade for love nor money. It was so hot. Over the bridge we went, and I noticed that Aussies are so keen for coffee that there was in fact a coffee shop halfway over the bridge, just in case people couldn’t make it the whole way over without some caffeine. To be honest I could have gone for an iced something-or-other but we powered on, and headed up a cruel hill to Vulture Street. This is the title of a Powderfinger album and fans that we are, we had to pay it a visit. Mission accomplished, we rolled sweatily back down the hill to get a cold drink down on the South Bank.
|[On the South Bank]|
After we’d cooled down a bit, we caught a river cat down to Toowong. S had been staying there with work and was keen to show me around. I saw all the places he’d been going on about – namely the pub, his hotel, the office – got a bit more sweaty, and that was my experience of Toowong.
The clouds had been drawing in during our perambulations around Toowong, and on the river cat on the way back they turned an angry black colour. No sooner had we disembarked than the heavens opened and we were caught in a massive thunderstorm with pouring rain, loud thunder, sheet lightning, the works.
|[That outdoors cafe had been full of people about three minutes before this photo was taken]|
We had to shelter in an alleyway until it passed, which wouldn’t have been so bad had it not smelled quite strongly of fish. Anyway, we made it back safely and were able to admire the lightning from our balcony for a bit before getting ready to go out to dinner.
We ate at a place called The Burrow, which serves some very decent gluten free pizza amongst other things. I would describe the ambience as hipster; the menus were presented to us inside old children’s books which was cool, if a little distracting. All in all a solid 3.5 out of 5, marked down half a point due to an unfortunate bathroom situation.
|[The Burrow, and my pizza anticipation face]|
After that we met up with an ex-colleague of mine in a place called Cloudland which is probably the coolest bar I’ve ever been to. There are plants hanging from the walls and there’s an indoor waterfall.. You should probably go and look at the pictures because I’m really not doing it justice. We caught up about what it’s like to be an expat in Australia, making friends, what’s going on in our particular work sector. It was great to catch up and I was pleased to see him so happy.
Now Monday was a bit stressful, because it was Wallet Reckoning Day. I’d been unable to get in touch with the pub I’d bought a diet coke in before my flight on Saturday morning and lost and found hadn’t had anything turned in either, so I was fairly convinced my wallet was lost for all time. S and I worked out a fairly complicated financing strategy before he left for work, where he withdrew a week’s worth of money from an ATM with his working card for me, and gave me his backup credit card and PIN in case of emergencies. That would have been fine, if a little suboptimal, but the real kicker was I had a hire car waiting for me at Sydney airport which I needed for the rest of my trip. To get the hire car I needed my driving license, which was… you guessed it. In the lost wallet. In preparation for a heated discussion, I got all sorts of codes, driving license numbers, proof of this and proof of that to wave in front of people. I was still not confident and to do without the car would have been very inconvenient to say the least.
|[Gratuitous pagoda and wheel photo as things were getting far too text heavy. This is the South Bank, too]|
I made my way to Brisbane airport with my stomach in knots, and asked the Tiger Air staff in case I’d left it on the plane by accident. They were super helpful and told me they’d re-check and let me know at the gate if they had my wallet.
Of course I was stupidly early for the flight, but went directly to the gate anyway just in case they had my wallet.
On the plane we got, and I had a window seat for a change. I got some cracking shots of Sydney as we came in to land, which cheered me up, but I was still a nervous wreck.
As soon as we landed I shot off the plane and made a beeline for the infamous pub where I’d had my ill fated diet coke (this is where addiction gets you, people) and who had not answered their phone the entire weekend. I’m not sure how the bartender understood my jabbered enquiry but he said nonchalantly “oh, this one?” and brought out my wallet. My wallet!! I told him I could have cried which I don’t think he appreciated, so I walked out with my wallet raised high in the air in triumph, grinning at strangers like a madwoman.
Alright so half the cards in it were now useless, but one wasn’t. My driving license. I’ve never been so happy to see a bit of plastic. Off I went to Avis to pick up my hairdryer on wheels, and I’d have done a wheelie out of the place if I could.
And thus endeth my weekend in the great Brisvegas. It was a whirlwind to say the least, but a decent introduction to the city. I’d be keen to go back, especially if the humidity were to ease a little…
Have you ever been to Brisbane? What did you make of it? Have you ever lost something vital at an unfortunate moment?