Four Nights in Brisbane

We turned a Thursday work meeting into a long weekend in Brisbane and had a lovely time.

About a dozen years ago, we flirted quite seriously with the idea of moving to Brisbane. The other course of action worked out just fine, but we’ve always wondered a bit about life in a sleek high rise overlooking the river. We almost got a taste of that at the Westin Hotel, where we stayed on some leftover Marriott points. The hotel was super-nice, as was the service. We enjoyed breakfast and happy hour in the concierge lounge, where we met various interesting people with stories to tell. Last night was crowded and we shared space with a couple whose summary included “I used to be in the casino game, in Macau…” We did visit the Brisbane casino, housed in the old Treasury Building, and managed to leave with as much as came in with, victory!

Now that we’re in Auckland, Brisbane doesn’t seem quite so exotic, but after spending a few days exploring (my third time, Lee’s first) we would still totally live here.

My meeting was in a nice hotel located just under the Depression-era Story Bridge, with a cool view.

We took the City Cat ferry (top picture) all the way up and down the river, a great $5 ride. Lee also took a guided river tour and shared the best parts of the commentary with me.

The Botanic Garden…

Roo-dalisque?

We took some nice walks along the river, including the South Bank that is full of attractions. Sadly, the free pool was closed for maintenance. But we did see the Peace Pagoda from Nepal, a leftover from Expo 88. The explanatory plaque says it’s one of only three outside Nepal and also says that there are Peace Pagodas all over the world. Go figure.

We ate good burgers at the Triffid, a well known live music venue. Lots of band posters everywhere, mostly unknown to me.

We saw a bunch of different neighborhoods. All nice. We especially liked the slightly funky West End, where many of the world’s gluten-free vegans seem to have congregated so they can open little shops and sell stuff to each other. We ran into a really impressive market there.

It’s a Kiwi cliché that we now believe, fresh produce is way cheaper here. Also gas. And real estate from what we saw. Hmmm, no wonder so many New Zealanders are moving to Oz.

There was a lot of public art…

That’s a scale model of the dome of a Cathedral that was contemplated for over 40 years, but finally the plans were abandoned for lack of funding.

Statues of Byrnes and Burns, two men who accomplished a lot and died young.

I hope this carving, in the very posh part of the waterfront area, is called something like To Have and Have Knot.

We did an Asian food-themed walking tour, meh. They took us to a Filipino place we’d discovered on our own the day before…

We also took in an improv comedy show that was truly remarkable in its amateurishness.

And then on the last morning, I wandered down to the finish line of the Brisbane Marathon in time to watch the winner roll in in a time of 2:33. That’s a hell of a lot faster than I could have ever run, and pretty good for a hometown white guy with a full time job. But in the running villages of the Kenyan highlands, I’m pretty sure kids that slow don’t get dessert.

I had a good time watching all the half marathon and even 10K finishers coming in… so many tales of agony and exhilaration and all sorts of other emotions on unvarnished display.

That’s the winner in the center. If he passes red shirt guy in the next 80 meters he’ll have run twice as far in the same time.

All in all, we packed in a lot and find ourselves tired and ready to go home. Tomorrow is Queen’s Birthday holiday so there’s a day to recover. But if duty ever called… a person could do way worse than Brisbane.

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