Friday, February 5, 2010

In a state in the Banana State

I'm just back from the airport, having delivered the Baby there for her first solo foray overseas: to Brisbane for 10 days to use up some expiring airpoints. It's a bit of a turn-around, me turning around and coming back home again, and her being the one to fly off somewhere fun. Though I did bump into Martin there.

I hope it's fun for her, and she learns things and makes some good memories and maybe even some friends, and gets a taste for seeing other sides of life. But Brisbane? I struggle a little with Brizzy.

My first time there, a bit older than the Baby, I had just arrived and was standing on the street on a Sunday evening, waiting for a bus to get to the Youth Hostel on the edge of of town. I wasn't sure it would actually be coming, it being Sunday evening and all, and then a young guy in a car pulled up to the kerb and asked for directions to Queen Street. I made some joke about Queen St in Auckland, tried to remember where it was in Brisbane, and was just getting to the end of my stuttering directions when I looked at him properly and realised that he was exposing himself - at the precise instant that he presumably lost his nerve, and took off with a screech of tyres. No points for my powers of observation - nor for the size of, er, him either. But it made me lose my nerve too, and I scuttled round the corner to tuck myself away in the People's Palace in a room like a toothpaste tube box, tall and small but at least lockable.

Second time, I thought I was just passing through, but after queuing for half an hour at the Qantas desk for a QF flight onward to the Whitsunday Islands, the clerk told me, "That's a Jetstar flight, you should be at the other terminal, it's three kilometres away, you'll have to take a bus. Next!" So I took a taxi and arrived ten minutes too late to check in, even though the plane was still there right outside the window. Missed flight: what a horrible feeling that is. I didn't much enjoy my unscheduled night in the city before flying out next morning.

Third time was last year, after a Gold Coast assignment, when I had to explain to the woman at the Avis counter that I was returning a replacement hire car because the original one was still in a parking building back at GC. I'd had to abandon it after dinner in a fancy restaurant, having knocked the keys into the loo as it was flushing, and seeing them swept away in a nano-second. If ever I've wanted to turn back time, that was it - especially when I was rolling up my sleeve to reach (in vain) around the U-bend. I'll draw a veil over the "how do I get back to my hotel with no money and into my room with no key?' scenario, and the humiliation of having to tell all sorts of official people. But at least the Avis lady thought it was funny.

So, Brisbane? Not one of my favourite places in Australia. I hope the Baby has a better time.

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