Sunday, January 6, 2008

Caution--Watch for Cars or the best of OZ

Yes, they have signs all over Australia saying--Caution Cars. It kind of gives you an understanding about how they feel about pedestrians in this country. I thought the roundabouts were bad in New Zealand, but the drivers in Oz take the cake. You do not walk if there are cars on the street. They speed up, I don't know, hoping to hit you, but really, what is the point.
I have been meaning to mention that for some time. I figure that today is as good as any other good day especially since I want to talk about the best/worst of Australia. Here goes--
Best free meal--Govinda's in Perth. I did volunteer my time by prepping the kitchen and today, they let me scrub under the stove. Fun! Fun! Fun! I definitely earned my meal and it was fantastic. They even gave me fresh baked cake. I loved it.
Best bus ride--Sydney to Melbourne (12 hours overnight) I met Ilona and we had an intriguing conversation and I really enjoyed meeting her. She is mostly a native. She moved here when she was a child. I hope to keep in contact with her.
Favorite saying--How you going? It is wearing on me and I find myself saying it.
Best winery tour--McLaren Vale--no doubt about it. I woke up late, no brekky and they waited for me and took me to a cheese shop for coffee and a pastry. Plus, I did enjoy the wines tremendously.
Best winery--Penfold's--only because I really wanted to go there. They let me blend my own wine and it was fun.
Best sandwich--salami, sundried tomato/pesto and cheese from a deli in the Rocks in Sydney. It was a fantastic sandwich. I didn't enjoy the seagulls or that this one thought that I would actually feed it. He went back and forth between me and this guy eating McDonald's. No, I haven't succumbed to McDonald's, KFC, Subway, or Burger King.
Best meal--chinese with Teja in Melbourne. We went to some random chinese restaurant and brought a bottle of Penfold's to celebrate her last night on her trip. She was flying to LA as a stopover before landing in Slovenia. She recommended this restaurant and it was great. We had seafood lo mein and a clay pot vegetable mix. It was awesome--fresh all the way around.
Best market--Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. They are open 7 days a week. They have everything--produce, meats, seafood, clothing, wares, candles, tarot readings, massage, teas, etc. I enjoyed exploring the market and it was an essential part of Melbourne for me.
Favorite cities--Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and then Adelaide. Adelaide is boring. I loved the wine regions, obviously, but there is nothing else to do there. It was awful.
Perth is a wonderful, charming, city. It isn't bustling like Sydney and it has a very laid back feeling to it. I loved Margaret River and Bunbury too. The beaches were beautiful and the people were accomodating.
Sydney is a huge city. It is overrun with tourists and other backpackers. I was overwhelmed by that aspect, but could recognize how awesome it was. The botannical gardens were enticing and it was super easy to get around.
Melbourne is my ideal city in Australia. It has many activities and a laid back charm. The people were friendly and I can't say enough about the Market there. It was brilliant.
Apollo Bay was fun, too. I loved Molly and Reg and could have easily stayed at their hostel for a month. They were relaxed, friendly and positive. I really liked the vibe in that particular town along the ocean road.
I liked meeting people, other travelers in Australia. I already mentioned Ilona and she is a gem. Teja and Petra were also great to talk to and spend an evening with. I met Ricki from Germany and wish that I had her accurate e-mail address. I don't and so I can just mention that she was pleasant to talk to. Wendy from the UK was also a source of information. We met up at Bunbury and both recognized the inadequacy of that hostel's kitchen. She will be meeting her daughter soon to travel in Australia and she was a highlight of Bunbury.
I liked spending time with Chad, the Texan, on New Year's. It is always nice to be walked home. Jamie from Scotland was entertaining and I even enjoyed Jim Belushi from Canada. I did meet some incredible people this leg of the trip. Everyone is on some journey or another is what I realized.
The worst of Australia--
FLIES, did I mention them yet? They are horrible, ghastly little buggers that do not give up. Mosquitoes are a close second.
Whatever bit me sucked, too. I have been applying toothpaste which seems to dry it out and ease the pressure. It is an ongoing process.
Kangaroo--don't eat it. It didn't work for me
Cars, drivers--basically, anyone who isn't a pedestrian on the road was not fun to deal with.
I should mention the hostel factor too--
Emperor's Crown/SurfPoint Resort--Owned by the same company. Very clean and comfortable hostel, staff and I enjoyed my 8 days there.
Apollo Bay--felt like home hostel. I loved Molly and Reg and the proximity to the beach. They let me use their bike to check out waterfalls and they were helpful with activities around the area.
Nomad's in Melbourne--a party hostel, but very friendly. Sara helped arrange my wine tour, my accomodations in Adelaide and generally they were assist friendly. i didn't enjoy the loud music all the time, but it was a clean hostel.
Base in Sydney was okay. I liked the location, but I stayed in a room with 6 boys which is 5 too many. They weren't very clean.
The Shiralee in Perth--not really one of my favorites, but I did watch a movie marathon with Chris on my last night there. I watched bootlegged copies of Gone, Baby, Gone and American Gangster. I can look past the cleanliness when i am entertained like that. He was nice and they did have offer a great brekky with mueslix.
The worst--
The Blue Gulag in Adelaide--hostile owner. Very unpleasant man and not that clean of a hostel. i did like Daren, but he is moving to Sydney
Bunbury YHA--not very clean, kitchen was small and the owners would only check in from 4pm-9 pm. Very inconvenient.
Hay Market Backpackers--Muslim Hostel, need I say more? Not clean and kitchen a mess regularly.
I think I covered most of the hostels. I was in Australia for 5 weeks and so I could have forgotten something. It was awesome, but you would need 4 months to really check out this massive country. I wanted to take the train from Adelaide to Perth but they only offer that service 1 time a week. I didn't have time since I wanted to get to margaret river. Plus, I didn't make it to the sunshine coast or the Great Barrier Reef. I would love to return to see both of those and spend more time in Melbourne and Sydney.
I will be flying tonight and arrive in Sydney tomorrow for a brief stopover. I have a departure of 3:40 pm to Malaysia and then I have a 6 hour layover until I leave for South AFrica. I know, it sounds great. Can't wait. Catch you on the back side and I will only be 9 hours ahead then.


Jadey said...

Be safe in Africa. I will always worry about you. I loved your recaps, it makes me feel like I've been traveling with you.
Love you and talk to you soon

harmony said...

I made it to Sydney and I have checked in for my flight to SOuth Africa. I arrive at 5:40 am and should be able to get a taxi uninhibited. This guy at my hostel last night tried to scare me with horror stories of Johannesburg. I am confident that I will be okay. Actually, I am positive that I will be fine.