using my inside voice

What a city, what a lady

Lifestyle & Culture | April 24, 2010

Settling into a new city can be hard. Really hard. Sure, I've done it a few times before, and the challenges remain the same no matter where you are. But, this time it's a little different.

When we got to Dublin, it was freezing, I had an epic head cold, the prospects for finding an apartment were dim, let alone finding a job. I started to wonder what craziness possessed me to leave my family and friends behind in Australia to embark on this idea of working and living in another country. But, after a few weeks of arduous searching and tedious trips to dump apartments in the back alleys and soulless streets that exist in almost every city in the world, I finally found a home, a job, and could get to the point of exploring this famous city. I headed each weekend in a new direction with my scarf and gloves, thermals under my jeans and a few euros in my pocket to find something fabulous about my new home. Sure, sometimes all I got was a bad coffee in an arcade off the mall, but at least I'd never been there before (and likely wouldn't go again, but still!)

When we banked over Vancouver, with the pure golden sunshine lying heavy over tiled rooftops on an afternoon in March I felt a squeeze in my belly. As we sped towards our hostel in a taxi in the quickly-descended dark, I started speaking too quickly to the driver about the snow on the side of the road to cover my feeling of pending doom, being wholly overwhelmed with what I'd just done. Why, dear lord in heaven, why did I just break the bounds of comfort and peace that exist with the familiar, with family and friends so close and accessible? Once again I had made a stupendously scary decision to leave my home country and live on the other side of the world, on another continent, with not a soul in a 1000km radius who knows me. But, once more, after a few rocky weeks of apartment searching and scouring websites for jobs, I carved myself a little nook in the city of Vancouver. A place that was so comfy, friendly and fun that I stayed for three years in my nook with an alley view.

When I pulled up in Mum's Landcruiser to my new place in Windsor I felt ... well, normal I suppose. There was no scare, no strangeness, no worry about where I would find the supermarket or which bus I would catch to get where. I knew the train system and had a vague idea of how to navigate my way around Brisbane's city streets. I felt unfazed about the prospect of finding a job, and in fact scored a relatively good one in less than two weeks. I bought furniture, kitchenware, and settled into Brisbane city life without a hiccup, butterfly or nervous moment of burdensome foreignness. I bought a car and made trips to the coast for my sister's wedding preparations, easter and just because, visited Luke's family in Murwillumbah for pizza nights and bubbly parties in the green hills. Basically, I came back to a city I'd lived in before to create a brand new life without any of the scary excitement of past moves. It didn't feel the same, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but at the same time, it didn't have the thrill of discovering something new.

The stark reality dawned on me that I'd left behind all my best friends in Vancouver, and was going to have to start afresh without "new city" excitement, and only the hardest part of moving to a new place left to complete - finding new friends. In Vancouver Luke and I didn't make any proper friends for about 5 months and would literally spend any time we weren't at work with only each other, 24/7, week-upon-week. In Brisbane, a city so familiar, this just doesn't seem acceptable. To be fair, I do have a very small selection of extremely high-quality friends in Brisbane. I've been seeing them regularly and they've kept my faith in this city alive with lovely dinners and a bottle or three of wine.

But, I've realised that I can't sit back and be unexcited forever. The time has come Bris-vegas. I know you have changed in the past 6 years, become more sophisticated, softened and mellowed like a good red wine, developed character and body, grown from the brash, young buck you were when last we met into something more cultured, with more cafes, more coffee, food, wine, and people to meet.

I have a plan to get to know Brisbane again, and today I made my first wonderful discovery in the form of a side-street cafe in West End called BlackStar Coffee. Their flat white (more like a traditional cappuccino if you ordered it in Vancouver) literally knocked my socks off. Their eclectic mix of crates, old tables, chairs and mismatched sugar pots captured my attention, reminding me of some of the shabby chic cafes we whiled away at in Portland and New York City.

Yes Brisbane, I know you're out there just waiting for my visit, so here I come. I've got oodles of hours to spend with you now, so it's time to show me what you're made of! To top things off, I will comply with my travel-writing fans' requests to pen some more blogs. Along the way I will document my hijinks and miraculous escapades that could only happen in Brisbane. They will amuse you, make you laugh, cry, and wish that you too were living in Bris-vegas; what a city, what a lady!


1. Blythe on April 25, 2010

Darling, let me make some three suggestions: call Melody, call Katie, call Natalie. I'm certain they can introduce you to some lovely new friends. I love you. I miss you. x

2. Elizabeth on April 25, 2010

You're like a sister to me. I miss you more than words can express... Vancouver isn't as sunny without you in it.

3. Andrea on April 26, 2010

I'm so happy you're blogging again! Although Brisbane might not be foreign to you, it is just as exotic to us as your travels through Central America. We miss you and want to see the world through your eyes!

Any Comments?

About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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