It didn’t take long to work out what the problem with the Air BnB was, the master bedroom was about 10 meters away from a major road into and out of the city and the windows appeared to be made out of tissue paper. In many ways the ambient sound of Australia is like the US, the big V8 and V12 engines being markedly different to the engine sound of the UK. Mix those up with the frequent ambulance sirens that seemed to go on all night and it was far from a solid night’s sleep.
I think we all got up at around 10am and I took middle child for a walk to suss out the area and see if we could pick up some provisions for breakfast. Once we stepped outside of the house you get a very clear appreciation of just how hard the air-con had been working, it was like stepping into the mid-day heat on a Greek island but at 10am. The weird thing was that the chauffeurs from the previous evening had asked if we knew how to operate the ‘central cooling system’. It was as if everything on the other side of the world was the other way around like we were in a Mr Men story.
My boy and I walked around the local area that was made up of a hot potch of commercial buildings, none of which sold anything edible or drinkable. Eventually we ended up finding a little clump of shops at St. Peters where we picked up a takeaway pizza menu from Dominoes. I chatted to the guy and started a theme that would continue for the rest of the holiday. Everyone we spoke to had, at some stage, lived or worked in England. Typically they seemed to head for Brighton or London, but never further north than Nottingham.
Still lacking food, we tried the place next door called ‘Hello Dolly’ that was a Lebanese cafe. We picked up a few bottles of fruit juice from the fridge and four pieces of Baklava from under the counter and that came to £18. I was worried that this holiday might bankrupt me! By the way, when I say that the Baklava was ‘under the counter’, I meant that it was in the refrigerated section rather than illegal contraband that wasn’t on display.
What made the world’s most expensive baklava all the more annoying was that no one wanted to eat it when we got back. Apparently our little walkabout had taken longer than expected so we returned to frosty faces and empty breakfast dishes. We made ourselves scarce and then got ready for the day ahead. We got dressed and walked through the park and into the city centre. On the way down we passed the festival site that was packing up having finished, typically, at almost exactly the same time that we landed the previous night.
We wandered through the town and the streets were wide with no litter or graffiti. There were, of course, the usual high street shops and eateries that you would expect to see but there were also a wide range of independent shops and cafes that made it a very nice wander for us all. We stopped off at a bar to cool down and, ignoring the lovely independent cafes, we decided to try out the Belgian Beer Cafe. The two people behind the bar were lovely and chatty and made us feel most welcome. We sipped our chilled drinks and watched the world go by for a while before wandering down to the pedestrianised shopping street for a wander.
As we had a few fussy and complex eaters in the party, we settled on a food court underneath a shopping centre so that we could all pick what we wanted. We arrived just before 5 o’clock and everything was starting to close down and so the choices were limited. We sat and ate our meals with Australian sparrows darting around all over the place to pinch our crumbs. A procession of sporty and fit looking professionals walked past us on the way to the gym after work and I was quickly getting a feel that Adelaide was a lovely place to live and work. I liked it.
The transport options were plentiful and snazzy. There were lots of busses zipping through town that we would come to try out in the coming days and a tram system that was free for the majority of trips around the centre of town and we used that as a hop on hop off system. It was cool, frequent and safe and led to lots of conversations with people eager to find out where our ‘cool’ accents were from. The coolest way to get around town was obviously a company that is trying to be the next billion dollar start up, Lime. For less than a quid you could unlock an electric scooter and whizz around town with a skinny flat white in your hand and the wind blowing through your hipster moustache. They were dumped all over town and came with a snazzy free safety helmet. I did try one out as they didn’t seem to be locked up but after a meter or two a piercing alarm went off so I scurried off looking guilty.
As the shops were beginning to close and the night shift was beginning to start we set off for home. As we walked to the tram station we started to follow a family up the road that had obviously been out for a very nice dinner. What looked like the mother and a younger couple in their early forties were walking to the taxi that had pulled up at the side of the road and the father, a fragile but very upright and professional looking follow in his early seventies I would guess, had cleverly delayed his walk to the car to put some space between him and the rest of the party.
Our group were walking much faster than him and were about to pass him on either side. Just as we were getting on his shoulder he let out the longest and satisfyingly bubbly sounding fart that I think I have ever heard. The juxtaposition between the very high class family dinner that had been enjoyed with one assumes sparkling, witty and serious conversation and this farting old chancer was hilarious and it took everything that we had not to collapse in a heap laughing. We held it together until we were a safe distance away, made eye contact with each other and said in unison, “did you hear that?” in disbelief.
We rode the tram to the far end of the free ride section and all the way back to ‘home’ just so that we could see more of the town and take in the lovely sunset. At the end of the line the tram driver had a good chat with us. We told him where we were staying and he gave us directions, up to the Maid and the Magpie then take a left. He then explain that his parents had been the owners of the pub many years ago and it was a place we should check out.
It was too early to sit in the house all night and so we stopped off at the iconic pub. It first opened in 1896 but had, very obviously, been renovated a few times since as it was modern and fresh inside. We sat and watched reruns of English Premier League football matches and EPL cricket in one of the oldest licensed premises in Australia.
The ladies of the group soon got bored and so we asked if they had any playing cards. We were given a promotional pack from a box behind the bar and told that they were ours to keep. That summed up Australia so far for me, yet again, people were so kind and happy to help that it was a pleasure to be there.