Could you please teach me how to change a tire? (Perth)

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Finally, the inside of my car is starting to look good as well and I will be able to leave tomorrow, woohoo 🙂 On the other hand, I’ve just started to realize, what a cool quarter Northbridge is. So many cool bars and there is some kind of special at a different pub or club every night. Today (Thursday) I had a steak with fries and a drink for 15$ at the Court. In addition, it was quiz night and so my dinner was quite entertaining. I went there with Miriam, who is spending the night at the hostel with me, that we can buy the last things we need tomorrow morning and then head towards north. We might have been the only straight people in that pub 🙂

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Yesterday, I also walked past a public yoga class in a small park right close to the Mustang bar and I even found a small Chinatown. I’m sure I’d discover a lot more if I stayed in Perth for longer.

After having spent most of the day in car shops and camping stores, I was glad, when we finally drove to Heirisson Island, parked the car and could walk along the path under welcoming shade from trees. The island with the water around it looks very pretty. It would be awesome to swim here but there are “no swimming” signs and the water is probably not deep and clean enough.

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One side of the island is a normal park, where you can walk around. The other side is the same, except that there are semi-wild living kangaroos. We had to enter inside the fence to the part with the kangaroos through a door you would normally find at a pet zoo. The first kangaroo we spotted came hopping through a forest. It let me come so close that I could actually pet it. But once it realized that I didn’t have any food, it lost interest in me. Afterwards, we found a whole group of kangaroos and none of them was scared of us. That was quite a cool experience!

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After that, I had new energy to learn some things about my car and therefore, Jess showed me what liquids I’ll have to check and how to change a tire. Yes…I’d never have thought I’d learn that in this life. But for touring Australia, the more information I have about my car, the better.

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And tomorrow, Miriam will start our way up north and into the wild 😉

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I think I found the golden ticket to the chocolate factory (Perth and a lonely beach near Lancelin)

It was windy

It was windy

I’ve left Amy’s house for now. After I met Miriam and we decided that we will travel together (I seem to have luck with travel partners with that name…) I had to look for a place to stay for that night. I knew I was going camping the next day and since I hoped to start driving up north as soon as possible, I will look for places from day to day now. I wanted to walk to Planet Inn Backpackers because I saw online that they were the cheapest and offered breakfast and wanted to ask whether they still had a bed for me for one night. However, once I got to Newcastle St, I realized that I’d have to walk over a mile to finally reach the high house number. Therefore, I decided to just walk into the first backpackers I’d find and ask there. And so I walked into Underground’s Backpackers. As soon as I stepped in, I thought that I must have been mistaken.

It wasn't actually that far away, it just looks that way

It wasn’t actually that far away, it just looks that way

There was a reception but it all seemed a bit abandoned and chaotic. I already wanted to turn around, when an Asian guy asked me, whether I was looking for something. So, I asked my question, although I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t stay here. He asked me, how many I was because he could only take up to four people. When I told him I was alone, he said, that sure, he’d have a room for me. I asked how much it would be and he asked me, how much I’d pay for a room in another hostel. I said between 22 and 30$ and then he said, ok, you can stay here for 20$ 😉 This still seemed odd, but luckily, then two other people walked past us and he introduced them to me. Also two backpackers, who actually stayed here and they told me that it’s a good place. Then, the nice Malaysian guy showed me the room and explained to me that the hostel was being renovated and that he wasn’t really taking any people in at the moment.

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I was really lucky the door was open when I arrived, because every later time I got back to the hostel, the door was closed and I only could open it with a key card. I had a room with four beds to myself. Everything is air-conditioned, there is a pool and I had the nicest shower I’ve had so far in Australia. Again, I ended up giving the lovely daughters of the hostel owner a swimming lesson and later, they therefore let me eat dinner with them in the hostel kitchen 🙂 Everyone is really nice here but I think all the other backpackers help with the renovations and stay for free or less money. Cool atmosphere 🙂

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Now, to all the pictures I’ve posted above. After the night at the hostel, Jess picked me up with his big 4wd car and I got to see part of the road I’d soon take again. He made a short detour into Yanchep NLP, where we walked over a wooden path (similar like in the Everglades in Florida) except that we were looking for Koala bears instead of alligators. Of course, they were all sleeping but at least I got to see my first Koala bears in nature. Afterwards, we walked down to a swamp that used to be a lake, where we saw a group of kangaroos resting in the shade. When we left the park, the only animals I saw after that were sadly pressed flat to the road…

Can you see the koala?

Can you see the koala?

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We had lunch in a rest area on a small green patch in Lancelin and then drove off towards the white sand dunes. My second time sand dune driving, except that this sand was white and mostly not as soft as in Dubai. Except at a few places which better were avoided but unfortunately, two guys from Scotland got stuck. I don’t know how long they’ve been walking around to look for help already, but their heads were pretty red. I hope if I stay on normal roads, this won’t happen to me…

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Jess drove towards their car and shortly got stuck himself but we managed to shovel Betsy (his car) free again. Then he used a rope to pull the other car free and eventually, we were all back on the path we wanted to take. Jess drove us more into the dune land and suddenly, we were driving along a beach. We drove the car up a dune to park behind it, so that our tents would get flushed away during the night. So, the ocean was really just 30m from where I slept but I could only hear it because it was hidden behind sand and grass 🙂

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Under Jesse’s instruction, I managed to pitch my tent and after a refreshing swim in the choppy ocean (quite cool but also somewhat scary when really nobody else is around), Jess made us burgers on the bbq. With kangaroo and emu meat…Didn’t think I’d get to eat that so soon. The burgers were good but I can’t really describe a difference to other minced meat 🙂 But just sitting there in the middle of sand, water, nothing and sunshine, eating hamburgers and drinking red wine, really can be put on the list of most special dinners I’ve ever had.

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When the night fell, we could watch the stars (I now can find the southern cross) and once the wind died down, we had a fire at the beach (we made sure there was no danger of starting a forest fire or something). At some point, it was time to crawl into our tents. We only put up the tent, without the rain and wind cover, so that we could see the stars. It was wonderful to be so close to nature but even with my silk and normal sleeping bag, it was quite cold. Just have to cover my head from the beginning next time. Or wear a jacket, or put the second tent layer up.

After the sunrise, soon I was sweating again. A little more balanced weather would be nice but I won’t complain about all this wonderful sunshine.

The way back over the dunes was no problem, since we didn’t have to rescue anyone this time. We drove back to Perth, where we tried to catch some fish. I was proud that I managed to handle the rod but we ended up just feeding the little fish rather than catching a big one. Maybe next time.

 

The Scottish guys' car is hidden behind this dune..

The Scottish guys’ car is hidden behind this dune..

I <3 Freo (Fremantle)

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Freo is a town just south of Perth. From there you can take the ferry to Rottenest Island which is supposed to be really nice. I unfortunately haven’t found the time to go there yet, but what I’ve seen of Fremantle itself has made me fall in love with it already. One cuter café after the other, loads of nice bars with live music and beautiful houses everywhere.

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From Friday to Sunday there’s a big market in a market hall which you shouldn’t miss! Be hungry when you go there because they sell so many nice foods and sweets from all over the world (even German Bratwurst) and if you go around 4pm the fruit section will start reducing the prices. There is also a section with clothes, jewelry and other nice things.

Amy and Claire in action

Amy and Claire in action

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After the market, I walked to the beach and discovered something like a fort. From the top, there is a beautiful view over the ocean and once you walk back down, you will reach a very picturesque harbor.

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I also walked through the tunnel below the fort and what else should be in a tunnel but a piano? And really at least someone of every group that walked by quickly stopped and played something. I shook my head only to discover later that there are public pianos everywhere in the city and other instruments too. What a cool idea! I guess you can do that if it never rains…I asked Claire whether she thinks if it will rain this or next month and she said most likely not or only under 10min at a time 🙂

Random piano in a tunnel

Random piano in a tunnel

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Apart from the beautiful beach side and the pretty city, there are many places with free wifi, so everything a big LIKE 🙂 Also in Perth, the city center is equipped with fast working free wifi. Anyways, if I wanted to find a place to stay for a longer time, Perth and surroundings surely wouldn’t get boring.

That's what I call a cookie!

That’s what I call a cookie!

Park with ping pong tables

Park with ping pong tables

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Let’s go buy you a car! (Perth)

Slowly, I’m adjusting to Australian time and every night, I sleep better now. I feel like a baby who is learning to sleep through the night 🙂

View on Perth from Kings Park at night

View on Perth from Kings Park at night

When I left the hostel, Jess, a couchsurfer, picked me up in the center of Perth. I was in contact with him before I left home because he offered to help me buy a car. He brought me to his beautiful house (all the houses here look like vacation homes to me, so it must be really nice to live in there full time :)) and we had delicious sandwiches while looking up potential cars on the computer. We postponed visiting the cars to the next day because in the afternoon, I was supposed to meet Jessica, another couchsurfer, which would be my host for the following two nights.

Jessica also made me feel welcome right away and told me I should just make myself at home. The couch was actually too short for me to sleep on it, so I took out my exped mat that at least I didn’t bring it in vain. We then went to the coffee shop Jessica works at and afterwards went to a pub with her friends from work. They were all really nice and funny and Amy was so cool to invite me over to her house after my two nights at Jessicas.

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Funny how there’s always a bicycle at every beach, ready to be put on a picture…

 

On Wednesday, Jessica and I went to Cottesloe beach. The ocean looked beautiful and since it was already pretty hot, we jumped into the water right away. The water was pretty cold but once you’re in it, you get used to it. The water was pretty calm and no sharks to be seen 😉

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For lunch, we had some really delicious wraps from Weir’s Kitchen (88 Broadway, Nedlands) and at 2pm Jess picked me up again to go have a look at a car. By then it was extremely hot and I already started to melt by just standing in the shade. I’ve already found the car on gumtree.com.au when I was still in Switzerland. It sounded like a great backpacker car (Toyota Corolla wagon 2wd which can be switched to all wheel drive) with already heaps of camping gear in it.

The color is a bit worn out at some spots and it will need some fixing but the owner was kind enough to go down with the price to 1000$ and with the fixing it will come to around 2,500$. Then it should be reliable and in good shape and ready to take me around the country 🙂 Can’t wait to finally get started 🙂

Of course, when I did the test drive, Jess told me that the handle bar for the blinkers and the windshield wipers are on reversed sides here but when I made the first turn a minute after he told me, I put on the windshield wipers anyways. That will probably happen a few more times 🙂

Bell tower by night

Bell tower by night

When I got back to Jessica’s, it was still sizzling hot and so we decided to go to the beach again. After a cooling bath in the now choppier water we enjoyed a hot chocolate and a salad on the sand, while watching the sun set. On the way back to the house, we made a short stop at Kings Park for a short walk in the nice evening air and to have a view on Perth at night.

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On Friday, Jessica was on call for work, therefore I took the bus to the city alone and first entered a room from the Fringe Festival where artistic movies were displayed. That wasn’t really my taste but it was a nice change to be away from the sun and to sit down for a moment. After that I visited the Art Gallery. Apart from being nicely air conditioned it was free and had awesome paintings from Australian artists as well as Picassos and the famous French painters! Really worth the visit! There are also some other museums in Perth that are for free.

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Then my stomach said that lunch was overdue and so I went to the food court to have Pad Thai for 10$. In Thailand I only paid 2$ for their most famous dish. Yep, food and drinks in Australia aren’t cheap.
Then I wanted to go to Herrison Island.
It’s below a bridge that leads out of the center of Perth and it’s like a free pet zoo for kangaroos. However, when I got there by taking a free city bus, I realized that it would be too far to walk there at 38 degrees with the chance that the kangaroos aren’t even out yet because it’s too hot (best chance is shortly before sunset, that’s when the rangers feed them).
Now that I have to wait for my car to get ready, I’ll probably have the time to go back there another evening.

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Also some artistic humor at the art gallery

I took the bus back to Jessica’s to pack my suitcase and then move to her friend Amy’s house.
She and her housemate Claire cooked a really delicious pasta with garlic bread. I wasn’t allowed to help since they were a great kitchen team, probably thanks to working at a food place together 🙂
After dinner the very lively spirited Amy turned the evening into a girls dance party, which was a lot of fun and made me wish that I lived in a shared apartment with some friends!
That night I had a room to myself on a big blow up mattress.

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On Saturday, Jess picked me up to go watch a rugby game for which he was a referee. It was the best team of WA playing against the best team from Perth. The guest team players were mostly Maori from New Zealand (so many people from NZ live in Australia!!) and they won 44-12.

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It was a very entertaining game with a lot of movement. Afterwards we quickly cooled off with a swim in the ocean and then it was time to buy my car 🙂
I now possess a Toyota Corolla 4wd wagon and so far it has been no problem to drive on the left side 🙂 The only thing I am still missing is someone to come with me.

Back with the girls we went to practice for their upcoming beach volleyball game. In the evening, another friend from their work was over, who was also really nice and gave me his WA road atlas. I’ve been extremely lucky with my couchsurfers here! Such a nice group of people! I’ll try to meet Simon up north next week, because he will be camping and fishing there and told me he’d take us out on the boat 🙂 And finally, I found a girl from Germany on gumtree, who’d like to travel with me. I’ll meet her on Monday to see whether our plans and personalities match up. (Now it is Monday and Miriam is really cool and we want to do exactly the same thing, so I finally have someone to come with me and we will hopefully be able to leave on 28 or 29 February.)

35 °C in February – I could get used to that (Perth)

Well, this was a first. Surprisingly, my journey began without any delays due to snow storms. The last two times I travelled in winter, both times my flights were canceled. Once, I wanted to get to California from New York and I had to move my plans a few months later and the other time, I wanted to go to New York from Zurich. That time, I made it to Milan, had to spend the night there and fly back to Zurich the next morning to make it on a plane to Boston in the evening. Both times I swore that I won’t fly in winter anymore. Seems that yet again, I had forgotten about that. However, it seems to be New York that always has snow problems because when I glanced on the board today in Zurich, the flight there had been 4 hours delayed.

I on the other hand, hugged my parents and godmother goodbye in front of the Bye Bye Bar and then made my way with the Heidi train to gate E 67, the last gate on the E floor (the enormous plane probably wouldn’t fit in between other gates and planes). We were boarding from several gate numbers on two floors. Although there were over 400 people that wanted to get on that plane, the boarding process was pretty quick. I had to pass at least three compartments until I reached my row (79) and there was another compartment behind us with at least twelve more rows. I hadn’t seen the plane from the outside but from its length the A380 really must be big. Once I was seated however, it didn’t feel any different to any other plane.

This time, I had a window seat and could fully enjoy the sunset and the night view of Dubai when we landed. The flight seemed very quick, the food on Emirates was delicious once again and all in all quite comfortable. If you are wondering what movie you should watch next, watch “The inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete”. What a cute and also heartbreaking story!

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The 3 hours at Dubai Airport passed quickly. I walked up and down the shopping strip, which was open and buzzing with people although it was way past midnight and then I spent my last 23 Dirhams, which I had kept from my trip to Dubai in fall, on a Starbucks coffee.

At 2.30am I boarded a normal boeing (again a window seat, lucky me) and we were in the air for another 11 hours. All in all the flights didn’t feel that long but the second one would have been perfect if it were 3 hours shorter. There were a lot of turbulences over the Indian Ocean during two hours but I can’t sleep on planes anyways. Funny, that I never got really tired, since at about 2am Swiss time, the sun was rising again and then my body thought it has to be awake. I wasn’t even tired after not having slept for over 24 hours, when I finally arrived at the hostel.

Leonard St.

Leonard St.

I landed in Perth at 5.17pm. Then, I had to wait for almost an hour to get my passport stamp and enter Australia. At least afterwards, I spotted my suitcase on the carrousel right away. I made it out of the airport without any further delays. We weren’t sprayed with any disinfectant and they didn’t look through my suitcase and take anything away from me. So, to everyone who warned me about how thorough the Australians are with what you are allowed to bring inside – I guess they aren’t that strict anymore.

Skippy?

Skippy?

I took the free transfer bus to the domestic terminal, where I had to wait another half an hour in a nice 27 °C evening breeze for the bus to the city. Unfortunately, once it arrived, nobody announced the stops and I didn’t ask where I had to get off and so I missed it by about five stops, because then I finally asked some other people and they kindly brought me to the right bus station where I could buy another ticket and take the bus to Victoria Lodge. Of course, by now the sun had set and so I didn’t really see what the area looked like. I was glad to finally be in the room. For that night I was alone with Margot from France.

Fountain in the center of Perth

Fountain in the center of Perth

The next morning, I was awake really early and still not tired. The people at the hostel are really friendly and there was a nice German guy who offered me some of his toast, so that I didn’t even have to go out of the house on an empty stomach:)

It was really cool to walk to the nearby supermarket at 8am with short clothes in February. The sun was already shining brightly and it was quite warm already. The hostel is in a living area with lots of nice family homes. Exactly how I had pictured a suburb area.

Street Art

Street Art

Later, Margot and I took the bus to the city to participate in the free Perth walking tour. Helen guided me, two girls from Norway, a couple from Ireland, Margot and a girl from Brazil to see the good sights in the center and explained the free bus transport system to us. Certain buses within the city center, called CAT buses, are free. The others, you have to pay. But Margot also told us that there were student discounts, so I had actually paid too much up to now (I renewed my ISICS card before I left :)).

After the tour, we had lunch on a beautiful terrace called Annalakshmt (Jetty 4 Barrack Square) by the Bell Tower on Swan River. It was a recommendation of Helen. We could eat from a vegetarian Indian buffet, drink water or fruit juice and then just donate as much as we wanted. What a great idea at such a nice location!

Margot with our lunch

Margot with our lunch

With new strength, we went back to the shopping streets (Murray St and Hay St), where I bought an Australian sim card for the phone. Then, we took the bus to Kings Park. It’s on a hill just outside the city and on top of it is a beautiful (free) botanical garden. There was an awesome glass bridge to walk over, with an even better view over the river and the city. Apart from Kings Park, there are many other nice parks and rest areas in the city, that really makes it feel like a holiday place. So, as soon as the people from Perth take their lunch break or an after work chill-out break, they can step into paradise. Life seems very enjoyable here.

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View from Kings Park

View from Kings Park