Saturday, December 19, 2009

Random Travelogue..

I have been trying to formulate my thoughts of the last week in Australia and what seems to be coming out is stream of consciousness so I will blog in random order:

1. We shipped our bikes by SEA, which means that we will be arriving in ABQ before the bikes make it. Margaret and Mark-your cases are on quite a journey and I hope we see them all again (we insured them in case of loss, etc).

2. While in Adelaide, we rented a car and drove in traffic on the left side of the road, which is quite a challenge especially when we hit “roundabouts” which practically caused me a heart attack a few times as doing this is like rubbing your head and patting your stomach. Try it..Eventually we became use to it as we both took turns driving and navigating. We are still married after this.

3. While in the car, we rode along the coast of Southern Australia (SA to the locals). The number of stunning, beautiful beaches are too numerous to mention. I was awestruck by each one. Plus NO PEOPLE..Empty clean, stunning beaches. H mentioned this is what California must have looked like hundred years ago. Seriously amazing!

4. It was god awful hot while we toured above beaches. Over 40 degrees C, which translates into well over 100 degrees F to us. The ozone layer has a hole in it here as told to us so the sun is VERY hot!! The water however is cool and you can see forever to the bottom of the ocean in most beach spots.

5. We had the most amazing Italian dinner in Adelaide the night we left. Adelaide is a pretty cute city, there are street cafes everywhere. This restaurant was the best we have had so far. A perfect ending to our stay there.

6. Off to “Kangaroo Island” on a ferry that took our car with us. It was a 2 hour drive from Adelaide along again stupendous ridiculous views of the ocean. 45 minutes on the ferry and we were there. The island is 75 miles from one end to the other. Some of these are hairy dirt roads which were challenging at times but totally worth it.

7. The first day in “KI” we saw the honey bee farm, the sheep farm where they make their own sheep milk products. We got to see the feeding and milking of the some of 1400 sheep. Who knew this would be so much fun?

8. KI was named the “Best Island in the WORLD” by National Geographic so comes highly recommended. 15,000 kangaroos on the island, 4000 penguins, 6000 fur seals, 5000 koalas, 254 species of bird life and 500,000 wallabies. Could we see them all? Unfortunately, we did manage to see tons of dead Wallabies on the roads, which had some bad luck in their ventures.

9. We got to our “hotel” basically a Bed and breakfast overlooking the “American River” (something about Americans landing here to fish a few hundred years ago). The view was fantastic, accommodations fair and the folks that run the place where gracious and friendly. They told us about the “Penguin Tours” that happened after dark about 20 miles away that night. It was still sweltering hot but as we took the tour, a storm came in and we enjoyed the tiny penguins that only come out at night as we became soaked and cool at last. These penguins are 13 inches high and as cute as they can be. It was so awesome and this was just the beginning of our wildlife adventures!

10. First stop was the Koala sanctuary. Wild koalas perched in trees, wild kangaroos. It was magical to say the least..

11. Next was “Admiral’s Arch” where we commenced to witnessing the many island seals. So many we stopped counting…The views were well, I do not have any more adjectives to describe it. Crashing waves into arches..Seals galore. How else can I explain it?

12. Next was the tour to see the colony of sea lions along the coast. This was the highlight of our visit. We got to get within feet of the most beautiful sea lion grand-daddies and pups. It was magical..

13. Just when we thought it could not get any better, we had dinner at a seaside restaurant in “Kingscote” after we witnessed the feeding of hundreds of HUGE pelicans on the wharf.

As we said goodbye to KI this AM, it was with mixed emotions. I wanted to stay and see more wildlife, yet anxious to get on with the next chapter of our adventure. We hopped on a plane to Alice Springs, Australia, where we are staying one night in a VERY nice hotel, until tomorrow when we fly to Ayer’s Rock, one of the Wonders of the World, here in the middle of the desert of Australia (the Outback). It certainly looks and feels like the “Australian Outback” I have seen in the movies so far. We are relaxing tonight before the 3 day trip to the magical wonders of “Uluru” (Ayer’s Rock). It is suppose to be one of the most magical places in the world. Will let you know..

I am still ruminating about IMWA. When I read that the field was “decimated” and more than half the pros did not finish, I felt better. When I felt the heat and heard the “UV warning” with temps well over 105 degrees, I felt better. But DAMN, I am still pissed at times! But hey look where I am??

Tidbits about Australia:

They have hands down, the BEST drinking water I have EVER tasted.

They have the weirdest coffee drinking system ever. Heating water in "hotpots" then adding instant coffee..OK, the coffee shops have "REAL" coffee that will put hair on your chest..

There is no tipping here. They take your money first, then serve you. Interesting..

Only those “hand dryers” in most bathrooms. Kind of annoying.

People are happy here. The economy is booming. It shows.

The airport security is EXTREMELY lax. That is nice..NO shoe removal or worries about liquids.

The airlines attendants are nice, friendly. Much less uptight than in the US.


More later…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sweet Adelaide..

Here we are in Adelaide, Southern Australia. It was a 3.5 hour flight from Perth, where we lost 2.5 hours. Not sure where that .5 hours comes from, an Aussie thing I guess. I do not question. When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed, well a lot disappointed in our “5 star” accommodations. I guess the star rating is different here because the hotel we are in is : a)very old and b) some stains in the furniture and c) not the “nouveau d├ęcor” they advertised. Sorry- these things make me worry about bed bugs, etc. but I cannot right now.. We do have a one bedroom suite which makes up for the bed bug worry. (Did ANYONE see the Dateline story but me? about this issue-old beds=bed bugs)..

We are in the heart of the city of Adelaide, which seems to be growing on me. We ate at a great Indian restaurant last night and tumbled into bed at a decent hour, even with the time change. This AM I felt like a new person walking out on the street, we immediately found a McDonald’s which offered FREE Internet service as opposed to the $40 per day at the hotel-seriously? That was OK..we enjoyed our McCafe and Muesli per McDonalds. I have yet to figure out the whole “hot plate” water warming system here to make coffee in the rooms. They all have it so I know it is possible but darned if I can figure it out!
Next off to the Southern Australia tourism office, where the poor chap spent an hour with us while we figured out what the hell we are doing the next few days. We settled on a car tomorrow (god help us in the big city driving), where we will travel down the coast to the beaches of southern Australia, followed by a ferry trip Wed to “Kangaroo Island” where we will spend Wed-Sat there exploring wildlife and hopefully see some real Kangaroos at last.

Next we were off to the Adelaide Zoo where we were some of the first folks to see the “Giant Pandas” just shipped in from Japan. They were very cute (pics to follow on FB). Sleeping 10 hours a day did not give us much active Panda watching but it was really fun. After the zoo, we walked around and visited the “Migration Museum” where we learned that the British took over the Indigenous people here (sound familiar?) and killed them off to create a new society. I think some of the native cultures are finally reclaiming their heritage and past. It is unreal how white, Anglo-Saxons thought they ruled the world at one time. I am a descendent of one of those I suppose..

Tea on the mall, people watching, lots of walking today..Hopefully will walk off all the food I am consuming. We are off to try out a great steak house tonight and hopefully see the Christmas lights of the VictoriaSquare tonight..

As an aside I have tried “Nads” to take off my facial hair, since my wonderful esthetician is not here with me. I think it works..I have taken half my chin skin off as a result. I am getting tanner by the day, although using 50 SPF sunscreen. This is not attractive on 55 year old skin..Holy cow I feel old!
I try to use my cell phone to call the US. No one here seems to know how to do this. Is it that hard? Will have to stick to Skype I guess..