Over the past two years of travelling I have spent less than 24 hours in many cities including Baltimore which had much the same effect on me as the Australian city that has provoked this question in me. Wandering around the riverbank of Brisbane I never expected to feel so content in a city, let alone one I had only read bad things about from other blog sites. I never had high expectations so maybe that contributed to my love of this city – it was much the same scenario in Baltimore with people asking me why on earth I had booked a bus there.
There were many places on the roadtrip we spent less than 24 hours in – Noosa, Townsville, Newcastle and Brisbane. With only limited time to explore a place I always try to make sure I see as much as possible. I’ll often walk instead of using public transport so that I can really get a feel for the place and stop in the places I see interesting rather than noting them down for another day. Seeing a city for one day from the inside of a bus is never fun.
There are a lot of factors that count towards a person’s impression of a city – the weather, the time of day, the day of the week etc – the day of the week can affect someone’s opinion the most in my eyes as the weekend and weekdays tend to have very different feels about them, especially in a big city like Brisbane. I’ve always wondered if the opinions we form of a place in a few hours are just surface deep or if you can really make lasting decisions on a place in just those few hours. For instance after an hour in Townsville and Newcastle I really knew it wasn’t my cup of tea – they were places based around the port and it seemed no other life had grown from the city. Had I have spent longer in those places could I have been proved wrong? Only time would tell but after my short experience it isn’t a place I would rush back to.
In Brisbane we just walked for over 4 hours, taking in bit by bit of the city. We had no real route marked out except to see the Southbank area as recommended by a friend. A fake beach next to the river in the middle of a city could only seem tacky, but not this one – it seemed like a great idea, something I wish London could have had by the Thames. Carrying on from there we walked across the river through the Botanic gardens where we found some battered decking paths above the river and dead broken trees – not beautiful but not off putting. We ended up walking around the uni without meaning too but what a great atmosphere the campus had – reminded me of being in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We explored some of the centre before heading back over the river as the sun set and in to the West end where our hostel was located. The more we walked around the more we liked the city, it was perfectly separated by the river and unless you crossed into the city you felt like you were quite a distance from it.
When you fall in love with a city so much in a short space of time it makes you wish you had more time there, more chance to explore, more possibility of really getting to know the atmosphere of the place, and the difference between day and night but would the love you found in those first 24 hours be ruined when you found out more?
This is what I worry about when I love a city in such a short space of time, but I think it’s okay to fall in love with a place in such a short time as long as you know that if and when you spend more time there that opinion could be changed for better or worse. That first love is gut and surface feeling only. It’s a feeling that will leave you wanting to know more which is great as long as you know more could be for the better or worse. As long as you don’t return expecting that first love to be exactly the same then you’re okay.