We made it to Australia! These long haul journeys are a walk in the park by now – quick movie, quick nap and we’ve travelled 3500 miles (significantly faster than the 200 mile bus journey to Phnom Penh).
We’re now embracing the whole “proper backpacking” thing with our first stay in a real hostel, complete with shared bathroom. Our room has a bunk bed and a tiny square of floor space exactly the size of my opened suitcase, requiring a death-defying (ok, mildly perilous) leap from the doorway to the ladder to enter the room. We have cooked in the shared kitchen, though I suspect our roast chicken (take-away) and fine wine option wasn’t exactly the standard backpacker meal.
Adelaide feels like a pretty normal mid-sized British city. Even the weather is chilly (a temporary cold snap, I’m assured). And we really like it. The biggest differences are the universally excellent coffee (no Starbucks in sight) and the incredibly warm people – everyone’s happy to have a chat. Coming from London, it is a fun surprise to be engaged in conversation as you wait to cross the road, or have the Australian bus system explained at length by the friendly bus driver while the passengers wait patiently.
Our friend and one-time Oz resident Sarah Chapman described Australia as “like Britain, just 10 years behind”. Our visit to the South Australia Museum certainly confirmed this. Aside from the exhibits (lots of aboriginal spears, not much actual information), there were regular announcements, “The museum shop is closing in 15 minutes… The museum shop is closing in 10 minutes… No really, the museum shop is closing in 5 minutes. This is your last possible chance to buy branded pencils and cuddly toys.” It was all rather charming in an antiquated kind of way.
Most importantly of all, we have begun our discovery of Adelaide wine. And in the words of the National Wine Centre (wine tasting with some local history thrown in), “It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full, there is clearly room for more wine.” I think we’ll fit in well here.