Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brisbane: A Snapshot et al

The plan was to write a day-by-day account of my trip to the Land Down Under. That's still my goal; however, I'm struggling to stream my thoughts sufficiently to screen, at least to my satisfaction.

I'm just going to do some wanderlust writing: start in the middle and see where I end up.

Brisbane is a cool city: it's laid-back, it's historical, it's urban, it's beach-y.

Essentially, it's anything you want it to be.

My impression of Brisbane's architecture is that it's sort of a love child of New Orleans French Quarter and San Francisco's preserved homes. I fell in love with it. The buildings simply roll with the ebb and flow of the landscape. The houses are built into the hills, stand as one with the cliffs, greet the river licking at the shoreline.

One of my favorite afternoons of the whole trip was wandering around the city with Matt, snapping photos of the buildings and shops. Honestly, I want more time to do that. Some days I could almost cry, I feel such an urge to go back and explore more--more of the city, the suburbs, the bush. You really need to spend at least a month here, just in this one city, to really absorb everything around you.

I tried my damnedest in the ten days I was there.

There is nothing quite like the sense of humor of the Australians as a collective. They are passionate, cheerful, friendly, and they enjoy life in a way that's hard to capture and difficult to explain without experiencing it first hand. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was treated kindly by friends and strangers alike.

Something that struck me was the etiquette on the public transportation. When we would board, and scan our Go cards--that's a pre-paid transit card that allows access on all forms of public transportation in the state, including the bus, train and ferry--the driver would always nod and say "g'day mate," or "onya, mate."

Whenever someone would depart the ride, they would nod and say "thanks, driver" or "thanks, mate," as they got off at their stop.

The public transit itself, I should note, was exceptional. I'm sure those of you who use it on a daily basis are probably rolling their eyes right now. But bear with me. Our transit here is atrocious. Buses are late. Stops aren't marked properly with signs. In the winter, the city doesn't shovel or plow so people are forced to stand knee-deep in snow waiting for a bus that may or may not come.

Queensland's public transportation was impressive. Granted, I don't live in a big city. Perhaps the El in Chicago, the Metro in D.C. and the subway in New York City are just as efficient. I have little experience (or no experience in NYC, I've never been there) with these systems in these cities.

In Brisbane, the train was always on time. The quiet carriage was quiet (this was written with a smile, as I can hear Matt's eyes rolling 10,000 miles away right now). I never worried about being stabbed or stalked by a tall, angry spirit (I've seen Ghost too many times).

The CityCat ferry was an excellent ride, even though we chose a bad day to give it a go. It was pouring out. But luckily, Matt was game to stand on the outer deck with me in the rain and let me snap pictures as much as I dared, until my camera started to get slick with drops and I'd wipe it off and we'd go back inside, only for me to drag him back out again (one more photo, Matty! Please!).

                                       Matty got a good one of me soaked to the bones.
On our exploration of the city, we came across many parks where families were playing rugby or cricket, to my absolute delight. Not something you'd see often where I am from, and as I am slowly learning about rugby, I get more and more excited about the sport.

One rainy afternoon, on our way to the CityCat to be exact, we came across an actual Bowls Club. I was enthralled. We walked over so I could snap some photos of the athletes in action (they came out too blurry to post, unfortunately).

The trees in Australia are nothing like I've ever seen before. I could not stop taking pictures of them. They were all so different: some moody and brooding, some vibrant and tropical, others simply quirky.

Now is a good time to press my kola-shaped bookmark onto the page and close the book for the evening. There's thousands more pictures to sort through and millions more stories to share. Good night, world.