Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
The late-night train ride from Gold Coast to Brisbane was a little spooky, but we made it to downtown Brisbane without a hitch. The only initial issue came when Michelle was a little turned-around when we arrived and led us in the wrong direction on our way to the youth hostel that we were set to stay at. Normally I print out maps for such an occasion, but I trusted Michelle to lead us where we needed to go. She had lived in Brisbane for over five years and she just made a minor slip-up amid trying to quickly acclimate herself back to her old stomping grounds.
Amid walking to our hostel, again, I was a little spooked. It was close to 11pm in downtown and there simply wasn’t anyone around. I felt like I was walking through a phantom city. All I could hear was the wind blowing and I recall asking Michelle, “Where is everyone?!?” It could be that I was so used to South Korea’s fervent night scene, but I was simply taken aback about how uninhabited downtown Brisbane felt. It was weird, and it would not be last time that it felt like this during our few days in Brisbane.
Upon arriving to the youth hostel, a bus load of ruffian teenagers made it inside the hostel lobby just before we did and caused quite a ruckus. Michelle and I were very tired, and all we wanted to do was sleep. Our hostel check-in host also appeared to be fatigued and obviously didn’t want to help us at all, so it took some diplomatic nudges to get us checked-in. However, when we arrived to the 6-bunkbed dorm room, I immediately noticed it was quite filthy and muggy. Our beds were on opposite sides of the room, which was not a problem, but it looked as if the other 4 roommates had lived in there for weeks as their clothes were all over and the small shared social table was covered with their open deodorant canisters, abundant trash, and dirty wet towels. Most notably, the room smelled rank. I’m an experienced traveler and can handle it, but after Michelle had walked in, she simply gave me this look that I will never forget. She didn’t have to say a word, her disapproval was clearly and sternly written on her face. I was initially perturbed, not at Michelle, but at the fact that I would have to deal with the very discourteous check-in host again and nicely complain in attempt to obtain a better room for the night. To our luck, we acquired a much better sleeping situation for the evening, and then left the hostel the following morning after booking another place that was considerably much less like an army barrack and more like a peaceful enclave.
Brisbane was not jiving with me up to this point, and the fact that it was cloudy and rainy the entire first day didn’t help my slightly somber disposition. Nevertheless, Michelle and I made the most of it, and we took a taxi to downtown Brisbane and she eagerly showed me around.
Downtown Brisbane is essentially the shopping center of the entire city and where everyone appears to hangout and meetup. The first place that caught my eye was the Noosa Chocolate Factory, where I ended up buying an assortment of chocolates to send to friends and family, in addition to some milk chocolate covered black licorice, which I inevitably gobbled up with great delight when I returned back to South Korea. If I visit Brisbane again, Noosa Chocolate Factory will be the first place I go to in order to try more of their succulent chocolate.
After walking around for awhile and getting a good feel for downtown Brisbane, we double backed to a cafe on the edge of downtown that just felt right to me.
Bonsai Botanika was a cafe with a Japanese restaurant on the second floor. It was a very relaxing place that Michelle and I mightily enjoyed and actually returned to a second time the following day. Their coffee drinks and pastries were delicious, and the chill ambiance was exactly what we were looking for. I would definitely return there again.
It started to rain more in the late afternoon, and it was then that Michelle and I decided to head back to our accommodation in order to rest. However, instead of going out to eat, we made a delicious spaghetti, which actually gave us a much-needed boost. Not long after dinner it started to rain buckets, and I was slightly concerned that our vacation in Australia would be soaked with gloom, but I would be given a delightful gift the following morning: the shining sun and clear blue skies.
Michelle and I attended her Korean church near downtown Brisbane, and I saw that this brought great joy to her as she was able to see her old pastor and some old friends again. Her pastor was quite friendly and gave a sermon in Korean about John 15, which Michelle assisted me in following along with my English Bible since I could not understand all that was spoken. In addition, before church service began many church members approached Michelle and said rather facetiously, “What happened to you? You never came back.” Of course, those that have followed my blog know our story and her choice to stay in South Korea, which I will be forever grateful.
After church service we took advantage of the great weather to get out of downtown and walk around the city. It was a beautiful day.
Brisbane started to grow on me. Perhaps it was because of the very pleasant weather, and the fact that I felt re-charged after a few nights of decent sleep and an uplifting church service. Whatever the case, any distaste I had for Brisbane quickly dissipated. What started out quite unpleasant for Michelle and I, soon turned into something very gratifying.
I discerned that Michelle felt both fulfillment and loss in her return to Brisbane, and that she learned that not much changes while one is away, only principally those close friends that were once there, but now are gone, and that a longing to see them and continue those old golden times will always persist. It seems that no matter how hard one tries, resurrecting the past in the present will never bring what one exactly expects. It can be tough, but that’s life. I know this from experience, and I feel that Michelle now understands this as well and can move forward with much more confidence and yearning.
With pleasant memories of Brisbane, we then headed south and continued our adventures together along serene Australian shores. Stay tuned.