Then it was on to Brisbane. I had no trouble getting to Brisbane, but once I was in Brisbane, I wasn’t doing so well. I had no idea where I was going, and since the car rental place closes early on Sunday, I had a limited amount of time to find it. The car rental place in Sydney didn’t have maps of Brisbane (why, if someone is renting a car to drive Sydney to Brisbane, wouldn’t a rental company think to supply maps?), plus they had been unable to give me any directions to their Brisbane location. The map I did have was one page of a travel guide that was several years old. That got me in the neighborhood, but all the one-way streets were defeating me. I began to panic. Because it was Sunday, the business district was close to deserted, but I finally spotted a policeman, and he was able to direct me to the car rental place—which I reached 10 minutes before closing. I was fairly shaking from the adrenalin rush, but the charming attendants calmed me quickly, and, because it was closing time and they were leaving, they offered to drive me to my hotel–which did make me feel more kindly toward the map-free rental company.
I had booked the hotel I’d stayed at on my first trip to Australia–because, of course, I had to. It was where I’d begun the starting over. From the outside, it doesn’t look any different, but inside, it is not what it was. As the man at the front desk noted, “It has different owners and management now. You might notice some changes.” Well, it’s not awful, but it’s not as nice as it was, and that was a bit disappointing. Still, though a bit more tatty, it is clean.
I dumped my stuff in my room and then went for a walk through town. Brisbane has changed, too, at least the downtown part. I’m sorry to see that the old parts I’d loved seem overwhelmed by new buildings. I suppose if I’d never been here before, I’d be really impressed with the sophisticated glass and steel towers that are so abundant now, but I miss the Brisbane I knew.
I walked down to the Botanic Gardens and was relieved to see how little they’d changed. I knew this place. I recognized trees and plants. I walked along a still-familiar riverbank. I would have stayed longer, but the sun had set, and I wanted to get back to the hotel before it was totally dark. The afterglow of the sunset made a spectacular, flame-colored backdrop for the city.
As I walked, I looked for somewhere to get a meat pie, since it was one of those dishes I’d come to love on my first trip. However, nearly everything is closed on Sunday evening, so I headed back for dinner at the hotel. Asparagus soup and a steak were wholesome and comforting.
The people at the hotel are actually very nice. More of a pleasant, thoughtful, efficient nice, as opposed to the “pull up a chair and join us for tea and a chat” nice I encountered before. A bigger city nice–but still nice. And they are going to let me leave my suitcase here for the two days I’ll be at Binna Burra, which helps me a lot.
Anyway, it’s time to think about calling it a day. I certainly had a fair bit of fresh air and exercise today. And tomorrow, back to the rainforest!