All that is wrong with the world…

June 15, 2011

Brisbane – The smallest downtown of any big city

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:03 pm

Brisbane City is the third biggest city in Australia, with just over 2 million people and an area of 5904.8 km², according to Wikipedia. Out of all the cities I have been to, I have rarely come across a city with such a small downtown/CBD in proportion to the area of the city and/or population. The density for Brisbane is just 918/km² which seems crazy when you consider it is the third biggest city in Australia.

By comparison the third biggest city in Canada, a country with a comparable ratio of population to landmass to Australia, is Vancouver which has a density of 5,335/km2 and an area of 2,878.52 km2 – roughly half that of Brisbane has a downtown that is easily twice the size of that in Brisbane. Adelaide is the 5th biggest city in Australia, with just over 1 million people and an area of 1826.9 km². The density is less than that of Brisbane at 659/km², yet their CBD is roughly twice the size of that of Brisbane’s. What’s more it actually feels like a city with side alleys, more than 20 streets in total and a vibe that something is happening. Even New Orleans with its scant 350,000 people has a downtown that is larger than Brisbane’s.

Using Google maps you it is easy to see you can walk from any point to any other point in the city in 10 minutes, generally in less time than that. The Downtown in Brisbane is at most 1 km2 which is ridiculous for such a “large” city. Most people overseas have not heard of Brisbane despite having heard of Sydney and Melbourne which isn’t surprising given it tries hard to be a country town. For a city so large with population and area I think it says a lot about the culture that the downtown is so ridiculously small. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were among the smallest in the world.

I liked living in Brisbane for a while, but there is absolutely nothing to do there. The downtown is full of businesses with the odd café or restaurant. No museums or galleries or shows or….anything. There are a few clubs open at night but most of them get boring after a while, and given our potential 2am curfew there is going to be even less to do. Brisbane is a very nice place to settle down and perhaps raise a family, but there is no way I can stay there when there is so much more going on in the world. I find it hard to identify with the majority of people who stay there, going through college and getting a job and just repeating the cycle, when there is so much more beyond.


October 13, 2010

The best kebabs in the world

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:36 pm

My favorite food in the world were the donor kebabs I would buy when I was in Brisbane, Australia. I used to go to a particular shop that made them perfectly, and often when other stores tried the kebab would explode in an epic display of failure. Lamb or beef and chicken, tomato, lettuce, onion, pineapple, mushrooms, jalapeños and olives with hot chili sauce and sour cream wrapped in a thing stretchy kind of pita bread. Delicious. No tabbouleh though…that stuff is nasty.

That is more or less the style of kebabs in Australia, or at least Sydney and Brisbane. A lot of different toppings and sauces, wrapped in pita bread like a wrap. While traveling the world I often searched for a kebab that was similar and have always come up empty handed. All the kebabs across Europe seem to be just basic Turkish kebabs…, meat in a flap of bread, sometimes thin or thick and crunchy, with very basic toppings such as tomato and lettuces with the only sauces being chili or garlic. They just aren’t the same, and they can be a whole lot messier to eat. Even in NYC where you can find pretty much any food you could imagine, I was unable to find Australian style kebabs. I tried the kebabs in Germany, both in traditional and wrap style and while tasty, they still didn’t compare. Given the lack of variety in take away food, they can become downright bland after a while. I’ve tried Gyro’s a few times which can be tasty, but they are definitely a separate dish.

I never understood why it was so difficult to find a donor kebab in a wrap with the choice of more than two toppings or sauces. The delicious thin stretchy bread is nice, but not necessary. Just to have some pineapples and olives on my kebab and not have to take care to hold it would be ideal. I thought searching for such a thing was a lost cause, until recently. I arrived in Vancouver a few days ago, and was very pleased to hear that the kebabs here are similar to the ones in Australia. The kebabs here are definitely the closest I have found, but just not the same.

All the toppings I listed above are available but the sauces still seem limited to garlic and chili. At the one store I went to toppings come in at I think 75c per topping, and combining meats adds an extra dollar or two. The kebab I described above would end up at about $12 CAD, compared to just under $8 AUD. The other thing is the bread just isn’t the same. It’s a standard puffy pita pocket. It holds everything together well enough unlike the kebabs in Europe, but it seems a lot more squashed in. Like the kebabs in elsewhere, a significant portion of inside the pita seems to be lettuce. One of my favorite things about the kebabs in Australia was that it was mostly meat inside.

I haven’t had a kebab even close to my favorite in quite a few years, so this was definitely a nice thing to find out. I’ve only been to one kebab shop so far, so with a bit of exploring I might be able to find one more reasonably priced and with different bread and sauces. I’ll keep looking until I find someone who make a kebab like the best in the world – at least now it seems like I have a good chance.

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