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Thursday, 1 July 2010

It's good to be back home. Back from three days at a tuna fishing management conference - although it was called a 'workshop' - and two nights in West End, a suburb just west of Southbank, Brisbane.

West End is an entertainment district, it seems to me - who is a long-time resident of Sydney, the city I grew up in and know best among Australia's cities. The enormous Melbourne Hotel dominates the major intersection of Melbourne Street and Boundary Street.

There are a lot of restaurants in the sector. The small, often ethnic, and trendy restaurants line Melbourne Street along with houses and offices. Toward the edge of Southbank - which grew out of the revamped sector designed for Expo 88 - the up-market tone is immediately set and it continues to predominate as you walk along the landscaped thoroughfare toward Boundary Street.

Off Boundary Street, just north of the intersection, sits the Sapphire Motel, a yellow-painted, multi-storey complex of rooms, carpark, and restaurant. It looks OK, but it's distinctly down-market. My experience there tells me it's not a good refuge for the traveller.

I went to bed early at around 10pm. Just after midnight, I was awokened by a sharp report as someone knocked on the door. Then the voices started. They were loud and angry. And with them the TV's annoying drone permeated the wall from the room next-door. This went on and on, so I decided to call the front desk to complain.

Even though I made the call and spoke with the night staff, the disturbance continued for an hour, so I called again. This time, the staff took the time to knock on the door of the room next-door, telling them to turn down the volume. They did, but it wasn't until around 2am that I fell asleep.

It was a fitful, dream-laced sleep that left me ghasping when I awoke at 7am. I went back to sleep. When I woke up, there was more noise from next-door so I was very glad to be checking out. I did that, and then descended the echoing staircase to the carpark where I'd left the car. Here, however, another suprprise awaited.

The tire was flat. I'd driven over a small bolt about two weeks earlier and the aperture created then had finally grown large enough to let all the air out on the front right-hand side. At the front desk, I asked if there was a garage nearby. With the directions in hand, I gingerly drove the car through the streets to my destination.

I left the car at the garage and walked a few minutes to the conference centre, where I attended the final session on the schedule. After lunch at a nearby Turkish restaurant, I returned to the car and drove home.

It was an eventful trip, and a fruitful one. But next time I'll pay more than $90 a night so as to get better, quieter, and more salubrious accommodation.

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