Friday was a fun day for many reasons. It was the day of the big race. I was in the purple team and got a chance to wear my cute purple tee that I bought during my last visit to Kolkata. So anyways, I pumped in the usual flat-white and bacon+egg muffin into the system and headed to the office.
Most of the folks were already gathered in the cafetaria and there was a huge spread for the picnic lunch. Packed with lunch and water we started off, team captain Jared in command. After racing off towards the Brisbane Square, very soon we crossed the river via the Victoria bridge and onto the South Bank. For the next 3 hours we were solving clues and running all over the South Bank. Everyone else was nearly 2 feet taller than me, with a proportionate leg span and tons of stamina, especially Richard who did most of the running. That resulted in me always lagging behind or huffing and puffing to catch up with them. [Gentle reminder: get back on the bicycle to build up your stamina]. We crossed the ‘Streets Beach’ several times and considering the warm temperature and humidity, I was tempted to jump in. Anyways, to cut a long story short, we finished 7th (total number of teams = 7) and I was the last one to cross the finish line. But I take back with me an immense knowledge about the layout of the South Bank. The race was organized by the super-awesome Valente family team of Francesco and Melissa. They put together a track with clues, around a stretch of more than 4-5 kilometers.
Everyone gathered at the finish line inside the QUT and posed for some fun pictures. Gladys and I walked back to the office on a road that ran next to the river. I found a painted hoarding pointing the direction towards the Brisbane Cricket Ground – Gabba. All throughout the walk we had to keep an eye out for the cyclists, who were zipping past us. There was a second spread for a late lunch at office, along with the prize distribution. After everything was over, there were impromptu gatherings and chit-chat sessions at various corners of the cafeteria, which included me being enlightened about the infamous “drop bears” – courtesy Ryan and Francesco. Most of us were tired and somewhat sore from all the running around. But who cares..especially when the fun factor shoots through the skies!
It was our last day at the office and I tried to stay back as long as possible. After a lot of warms hugs, hand-shakes and goodbyes, I packed my bags and headed towards Queen Street mall for a round of shopping. (All by myself – very liberating and totally fun!) The others had gone back to the hotel and we decided to meet at 7 for dinner, with some more team-mates. Queen Street mall is a stretch of road with lots of shops. Cars are not allowed in that road. On one side is the Brisbane Square with the majestic Treasury Building aka the Casino. During most days of the week, the shops close down by 5PM, however on Fridays they are open till 9PM. I checked out some clothes, which were invariably made in China and priced way way way too high compared to whatever you get in India. Next, I moved onto the souvenir shops and got busy getting presents. I had already collected a lot of stuff and soon started getting pings on my phone to meet the others for dinner. Aside from the other team-members, we met Asgeir’s wife Jessie – a very chirpy and friendly lady with a brilliant smile.
We all walked down to Eagle street pier and chose a restaurant next to the river bank. The lights from the story bridge shone brightly alongside and the mood was very festive. Earlier during our walks we had crossed this place several times, but sadly I can’t seem to remember its name. There are huge wooden benches which can seat about 15-16 people. We took over an entire bench and spent the evening over some wonderful food and conversation. After dinner Jessie offered to take us to Mount Coot-tha, however the plans fell through and we said our goodbyes. On the way back, Parag and I got some coffee and then we got into a cab and rode back to the apartment. We all met again in Ankit’s room to plan for a trip for the next day and decided to catch a ferry to go to the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary. Tired and exhausted, it was time for bed.