It is “Throwback Thursday” and this is my last post for my recent adventure in Australia. This shopping experience reminds me so much of the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In my Phnom Penh adventures there were many markets, but the Russian Market was the most staggering. It is still the largest market that I have ever experienced for variety and depth. And the bargains! (sigh) Alas those photos are stored on various crazy discs and not easily accessible. Instead we will feast on this shopping experience just a block from my Hilton Hotel in Adelaide.
Adelaide’s Central Market is not a place I would go for bargains. However, under one waterproof roof you can find loads of produce, cheese, bread, meat, used books–you name it–someone probably sells it. It is Los Angeles Farmers Market, a flea market and more all rolled under one roof.
I especially liked how the vendors called out what they had to offer. It made it more fun and I do think it encourages you to make a purchase. California farmers markets are laid back by comparison and lack the energy of this place. And it is open everyday. I bought used books and some cheese and bread for lunch.
I am running out of time to celebrate World Wildlife Day! One of my favorite travel purposes is to view and enjoy wildlife doing their wild thing. (Not that, get your mind out of the gutter!) I especially love penguins. I have made a point of viewing penguins whenever I go to New Zealand and now Australia. Most of the time I was not allowed to take photographs, so I went a little crazy and took hundreds of photos of these Fiordland penguins when I had the chance.
My son Tevis is knocking around Asia for the next 9 weeks and he has discovered a fascination with elephants. I understand this. I could watch elephants all day. I have fond memories from the one time I was able to go on a wildlife safari in South Africa. Here he is experiencing elephants at the Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park.
From salmon swimming upstream, to an echidna meandering or a koala sleeping to a giraffe browsing on tree leaves, they all help me get in touch with wonder and add to my already huge appreciation for God’s creation.
What is your favorite animal to watch in the wild?
Adelaide is much like my hometown of Sacramento–similar size and equally flat and easy to navigate by foot or bike. The main thoroughfare is King William Street and the main street for shopping is Rundle Street or Rundle Mall. On arrival I was keen to find a bookstore so I trundled off to Rundle Mall.
Dymock’s Bookstore was delightful. I found the books on the shelf of “What Australians are reading…” to be strangely familiar, so I asked Pam for help finding authors with an Australian voice. Plus my seatmate on the flight from Melbourne had given me two names: Tim Winton and Robert Drewe. Pam gave me MANY options and I chose Salt Creek by a local Adelaide author Lucy Treloar. It was an excellent story following the misfortunes of a family on the Coorang. I also thought it would be a great gift for Adelaide-native Kate Bridgman.
The Botanic Garden is wonderful. It is used by families, friends and lovers as a city park. At the same time it has a wonderful collection of plants and beautifully designed gardens. It is an easy walk from Rundle Mall.
The East End is a particularly fun section of the City. One night I walked there to have dinner at Africola, a restaurant I read about in my pre-trip research. I loved my experience and if I had not eaten so much amazing cauliflower I would have gone to the corner chocolateria and enjoyed more dessert.
I was staying at Hilton Adelaide Hotel on Victoria Square. It was the headquarters of the Tour Down Under and race village. Just across the square (or diamond) is the St Francis Xavier Cathedral and the hotel is adjacent to the Central Market.
I realize that most people focus on Sydney or Melbourne when they visit Australia. Brisbane is the current “it” city. Many people visit Adelaide with a focus on the wine country because the nearby Barossa Valley is on par with Napa Valley as one of the world’s great wine growing regions. South Australia is also an ideal place to take a cycling vacation. Adelaide is worth the time and effort.
Melbourne in Victoria Australia is a terrific destination for a vacation. A lot of people avoid travelling to New Zealand and Australia because they think it is too far to fly. From San Francisco or Los Angeles it is about 12 hours (depending on the wind) to Auckland. For people on the West coast it is equivalent to flying to Europe. I have made the trip over a dozen times now in one direction or another. This time I mentally prepared to continue on to Melbourne–another 4.5 hour flight. (There are direct 14 hour flights from LAX to Melbourne on other airlines.)
On both legs the Air New Zealand plane was their new style with seats in Economy that have these foot rests that if you have control of the entire row you can create a bed. It does not do you much good if you are flying with a bickering married couple from Oak Park, Illinois like I did. I smiled as I imagined the three of us stretching out on “bench.” However, great if traveling with children.
I had done some reading about avoiding jet lag and I tried a few new ideas. First I ate dinner at 7 in the airport (a few slices of wood-fire pizza). I avoided alcohol both pre-flight and en route. I declined the dinner and took a couple of Advil PM. I slept really well–at least 8 hours. Then I ate lightly until I arrived in Melbourne.
I was tired when we landed in Auckland and would have loved a shower. Instead I drank a flat white. I stayed awake all day both to speed getting on the right time zone and because there were penguins to see and friends to enjoy. I slept soundly and I woke up around 3 a.m. The key is to not panic or stress when you awake off schedule. Just as we can go without eating for longer periods than we often think possible–we can function for a few days with less sleep as we adjust.
On the way home I ate a light lunch and then declined a big dinner. I drank some hot tea and ate the cheese and crackers offered. I lucked out and had the row to myself, so I got to try the new “couch” in economy. It works quite well and would have been even more restful if the cabin lighting had not malfunctioned. They could not be dimmed. I still managed to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I watched quite a few films–watch The Dressmaker if you can.
I arrived in Sacramento by noon. I stayed up until 8 p.m. It was easy to go to sleep because it was already dark. I slept straight through until my alarm went off. I felt great today.
There are more than five awesome Australian animals or birds. The continent broke off from Gondwanaland way before any others so some pretty weird evolution occurred that is unlike anywhere else in the world. I was able to see all 5 at the Healesville Sanctuary outside of Melbourne.
Exhibit A: the Platypus. Sometimes called the duckbilled platypus, but that is redundant. There is not another kind of platypus. This may be my favorite animal in Australia. (All five of these are contenders.) I saw the wee platypus climb out of the water and into her den–alas no photo. I did buy a terrific hand puppet in the gift shop.
The Wombat. It was a hot day and so the wombat was snoozing under a log. They are so darn adorable. There is a photo of one in the newspaper and you just want to give it a squeeze.
Koalas. They have to be on the list, of course. They are fascinating; however, they are also sloth-like and hang out high in trees so there is not as much interaction. And you want to cuddle them until you see their amazing claws.
Surprise: Wedge-tail Eagle. Did not know about them until the Spirit of the Sky show. Wow. They are HUGE. And awesome.
Surprise: Dingo. Maybe I am missing Lulu and Dozer (dogs at home). We caught the keeper presentation on the dingo and watched her interact with the two in the closest enclosure. I was reminded of my beloved Radar and yet there is that wildness that is also fascinating.
What does not make my top five? The Tasmanian Devil fell out, in part because they are not very bright and can be vicious. The kangaroo because, except for the joeys that are A-Dor-A-Ble, they are kind of like really big rats and as common as deer. The Little Penguin I associate with New Zealand as well.
My friend Sandy’s favorite animal is the echidna. I did not see one until I was on Kangaroo Island and I have to admit they deserve adoration–not sure what animal or bird they’d knock out of the top 5. What is your favorite?
The Phillip Island ticket we bought for the Penguin Parade gave us access to the Koala Conservation Centre within 6 months of purchase. We ate a yummy breakfast at Bean’d Eatery in San Remo and then drove across the bridge and to the middle of the island where a grove of gum trees is home to koalas both inside and outside of a sanctuary.
The sanctuary has older, larger koalas sleeping the day away in eucalyptus trees along a raised boardwalk. This allows you to see them a few yards away, and yet give them the respectful distance that a wild animal deserves. The centre is different than a traditional zoo because the design feels more like it is about containing the human visitors than containing the koalas.
All day there was interpretive signage that communicated the threat to many of Australia’s iconic animals. The main extinction threat appears to be loss of habitat. And then, perhaps to limit overpopulation, some koalas have chlamydia, and some Tasmanian Devils develop cancer of the jaw, and so on.
I saw koalas in several more locations and each time the koala was chilling in a tree. Sadly when there is a bush fire of gum trees, it often consumes koalas who do not move fast enough away from an oncoming fire.
The koala looks so soft and cuddly and yet these nocturnal creatures are not. The males especially can make a racket at night.
I am a fan of Air New Zealand so when I booked my flights to Melbourne and Adelaide Australia I choose them again. I flew Southwest to Los Angeles International Airport to save money and car parking hassle.Everything went smoothly. I was in the Tom Bradley International Terminal awaiting boarding and I finally started to get excited about my planned vacation.
Air New Zealand is known for its creative air safety videos. They often amuse and passengers actually watch the safety announcement. On this flight the new video. I was delighted to see their latest video featured many famous surfers and the overall impact was to put me in the right mood for this vacation.
I needed to transition to full frontal summer temperatures and to a more hang loose attitude. This video really gave me a push to chillax.
I love reading mysteries and I love reading travel books. This month I moved my household and I seriously pruned the contents of my bookshelves. I also found a couple of books that I forgot I had bought to read. One is Jo Nesbo’s The Bat. It is the first of his Harry Hole mysteries. Interestingly, his books are not mentioned in Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust to Go. But is was mentioned on a page of Oslo tidbits in National Geographic Traveler.
Harry Hole is a police detective in Oslo, but this first murder mystery is set in Sydney, Australia. Besides being an entertaining mystery novel, it is making me want to visit Sydney.
Especially in chapter 24, when Harry and his Swedish girlfriend go to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium at night. I want to have my own experience after reading this excerpt:
“They descended a staircase that wound down to one of the big tanks.
“The tanks aren’t actually aquariums in the true sense of the word, they’ve just enclosed a part of the Sydney Harbour.” Brigitta said as they entered.
From the ceiling a greenish light fell over them in undulating stripes and made Harry feel as if he were standing on a mirrorball. It was only when Birgitta pointed the torch upward that he saw they were surrounded by water on all sides. They were standing in a glass tunnel under the sea, and the light was coming from outside, filtered through the water. A huge shadow glided past them, and he instinctively recoiled.
“Mobulidae,” she said. “Devil rays.”
You will have to read for yourself about his encounter with a great white shark.
I just met a couple of young women who are making their first trip to New Zealand next week. Their enthusiasm is wonderful; I can almost guarantee that they will have a trip of a lifetime. When I tell some people that I just got back from New Zealand they get a wistful look and say, “Someday.” Or “It’s so far.” Then they tell you they have gone to Europe countless times. Obviously the American lack of geographic knowledge is getting in the way. So here is a quick primer.
New Zealand is two islands–North Island and South Island–in the Pacific Ocean with the Tasman Sea between it and Australia. The most common mistake is to think New Zealand is Tasmania–the smaller island on the southern Australian coast. Or to think that there is little distance between Australia and New Zealand when it is another 5 hours of flying to get to Sydney. (In spite of this, it is worth the extra effort to visit Australia). The British refer to Australia and New Zealand as the antipodes–meaning the far opposite end of the world. Technically the Iberian Peninsula is the antipode of New Zealand. People feel a little less like they are at the end of the world with modern communication technology, but there is still a sense of isolation.
If you live in California the good news is the time required to fly to New Zealand is about the same as to London. Last time we flew from San Francisco to Auckland it took just over 11 hours. Usually it takes about 12 to fly out, and a little over 11 hours to fly back. Okay, so it is not a quick trip, but it is a heck of lot less painful than flying to Cambodia or South Africa. Plus Air New Zealand schedules their flights so you board, mess around watching videos and eating dinner, then turn out the lights and (hopefully) sleep for 6-8 hours. Then they bring up the cabin lights and you hear coffee being made in the galley kitchen. Stretch, eat breakfast and voila! You are at your destination. Or alternatively, watch a marathon of movies.
My friend UK Sarah has a much longer journey from England. She has to fly 24 hours either through Hong Kong or through California. We now have a tradition where she breaks her return journey to New Zealand in either San Francisco or Los Angeles and we play for 2-3 days in my home state before she finishes her flight home. I wish I could make that offer to all of you. Of course California welcomes all visitors even if my guest room is not available.
There is one go-to airline: Air New Zealand. It is not the only airline. Quantas also flies to New Zealand. Air New Zealand is a member of the Star Alliance for you point seeking travellers. Air NZ does not beat the Asian airlines for service to the individual flier; however, Air NZ comes out on top when you consider the terrific customer service on the website or on the phone, the humorous safety videos, the friendly staff at check in and on board the plane, the more than adequate in flight entertainment service, and free New Zealand wine.
The time difference also confuses people. I cannot claim to understand how the International Dateline works. Everytime I think I get it I look at the map with the crazy line and lose the thread again. I actually have two clocks in my house to keep track for Skype calls. If you are on Pacific Standard Time then today you are three hours ahead and a day behind. In other words, if it is 3:00 p.m. here on Monday, it is 12 noon on Tuesday in Auckland. It gets tricky because they are on opposite seasons and also practice Daylight Savings. New Zealand will “fall back” on April 6 and “spring forward” on September 28. While most parts of the US will spring forward on March 9 and fall back on November 2. If this is all too much math for your brain, there is always Google.
Once you get to New Zealand it is easy to fly from city to city via Air New Zealand or the Australian carrier Jet Star. Driving is an option; however the roads are not as fast as interstates in the USA and you have to weigh time and money. Also getting between North and South island is a challenge for people like me who get seasick in a bathtub. I have gone on road trips from Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin and it is worth renting a car to see more of the countryside. They drive on the left (please do not say “the wrong side of the road”). I actually find it easier and inexplicably more intuitive to drive on the left. Automatic (non stick shift or manual) cars may be harder to come by in New Zealand.
If you take a deep breath when you arrive in Auckland, listen to the Maori greeting as you enter the terminal, and allow yourself to adjust to “middle earth” time, you will be richly rewarded.