TRAVEL with pat and lew

new friends in Perth – home exchange family and friends

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

New friends are one of the great benefits of travel, especially home exchange travel where you live in a community rather than a hotel.

We arrive at the international Perth airport after midnight on a Sunday night/Monday morning, and move easily through passport, customs, and baggage. We use our cell phone, which we haven’t used in months, to call John, Fran and Claude’s son-in-law who is to meet us at their house. The taxi takes 30 minutes and costs $60 (Australian, about $45 USD).

John, a police officer used to odd hours, meets us at the magnificent Hillarys Harbor property at 2:00 am and shows us around, inside and out. An American from Chicago, he seems excited to talk with Americans. We look forward to meeting again.

The next morning, we’re sitting on the terrace and hear a voice from below. It’s Barry, from next door. Each month, the twelve Hillarys Harbor town house owners get together for breakfast.

“You’re invited,” says Barry. “You can be Fran and Claude.”

We meet eight of our temporary neighbors, all of whom become familiar faces to wave and speak to as our month in Perth goes on.

John drives us around Perth, a police officer’s tour, and we see aspects of the city not usually part of the tourist experience … the homeless he has arrested in the park … the hospital … beautiful town houses in West Perth, with totally different architectural styles abutting one against the other. It sounds like it couldn’t possibly work, but it actually does, creating an unusual but pleasing effect. John also takes us through the lively shopping area of Subiaco, to which we will return.

John and his wife Rebecca invite us to their home for an Aussie barbeque. The driving directions are simple and we arrive around 6:00 o’clock. Rebecca’s two sisters are there, plus 4 kids and a dog. John cooks steaks, hot dogs, Italian sausage. The food is great, and the conversation better.

Fran calls from Collioure while we’re there. She’s amazed by our trip to Broome and Fitzroy Crossing.

The interactions we’re having in Perth are being replicated in Collioure. A few nights later, we get another call from Fran. Our friends Valerie and Lorcan are with them in our apartment.

Valerie gets on the phone.

“Too bad you’re not here,” Valerie says. “We’re having a grand time, sitting on your terrace, drinking your wine. Fran and Claude are great.”

Someday, we hope to meet Fran and Claude. Meanwhile, we exchange emails.


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