Off to Brisbane

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
Trip End Mar 21, 2008

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tuesday, November 21

We check out of the British Arms Backpackers without the slightest bit of sadness. Admittedly the second and third nights were better than the first but I would not recommend the place to my worst enemy - unless he was a toolie or an English soccer hooligan. As soon as we drive out of Surfers, it is almost like returning to civilization.

In Brisbane we are staying with Leo and Narelle for a night. We met Leo and Narelle, along with their young kids Thomas (9) and Bridget (7) at the wedding we went to in Slovakia back in September. They have a big but unpretentious house in the suburbs and they continue the run of amazing hospitality that we have experienced on this trip so far. No sooner have we settled into our comfortable room than we find ourselves, with a beer in hand, sitting on the enormous back deck enjoying a delicious home-made dinner. We had asked Leo and Narelle if we could stay for one night but they generously offered to look after us for the other couple of days we are in Brisbane.

Wednesday, November 22

We have full days in Brisbane but two of these will be fully occupied by the cricket, so that gives us only one day to take in the sights of the city. On Leo's recommendation, we visit a part of town called Southbank, so named because it is situated on the south bank of the river that runs through Brisbane (whose name escapes me right now). It comprises a good kilometre or two of what used to be industrial land that we prettied up for the 1988 World Expo, held in Brisbane. In this sense it is quite similar to Darling Harbour in Sydney, also refurbished for the Bicentennial celebrations in '88.

Southbank is now full of museums, art galleries, flash shops and restaurants. The unique feature though is the man-made beach that has been constructed - sand, water and all - so the inner-city folk can come for a quick dip and a sunbathe on their lunch breaks. It produces an interesting juxtaposition, with the golden sands and palm trees belying the high-rise and busy motorways to either side. Today the 'beach' is full of pasty-white bodies belonging to English cricket fans. We stop for lunch in the peaceful botanical gardens that broder the busy but manageably-sized CBD. The rest of the day doesn't hold too many surprises, just herds of English tourists wearing cricket and football tops. It is very rare to meet a male English traveller who does not have one of his local club's football jerseys somewhere in his luggage. It is kind of like an identifying sign to tell other English people the part of England you come from, because no one who isn't English could care less.

Brisbane seems like a very nice place overall - at about a million people it is only about a quarter the size of Sydney, the weather is obviously pretty decent and it just has a very liveable feel to it.

By the time we get back to Leo and Narelle's, a delicious BBQ is well in preogress. It is times like this that we wish we knew more gneerous and hospitable people like the ones we have stayed with so far. The only example of poor 'hostmanship' was when nine year-old Thomas invited me to play racing car games on his Playstation and then mercilessly kicked my arse, over and over again.
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