TRAVEL with pat and lew

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new friends in Perth – Annemarie and Mark

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

In Fremantle, a couple walking by is attracted by our American accents.

Mark is from Ohio, a teacher who was recruited to Australia in a program which offered a two year position. That was 30 years ago. Mark met Annemarie, fell in love, and never left. They have three sons and a daughter and a wonderful life down under.

Mark gives us their number, and several days later, we call. They invite us to join them for lunch, pick us up, and take us to a small town between Hillarys and Perth. The stir fry noodles, veggies, and chicken are excellent, as is the conversation.

We learn a lot about living in Perth. Mining income in the region is way up, driving prices sky high. Housing has appreciated dramatically in the past three years. Mark and Annemarie’s five bedroom home has doubled in value, but the cost of living has also accelerated, and traveling anywhere from Perth is ferociously expensive – $1000 roundtrip to Sydney, $2000 to Europe, much more to the U.S.

A week or so later, we again have dinner with Mark and Annemarie, at the Fratelli Restaurant on the West Coast Highway with a wonderful view of the sunset over the Indian Ocean.

After our trip to the outback, Annemarie reports she has told all her friends and we have become an “urban legend.” No Americans have ever been known to be in Fitzroy Crossing, let alone stay the night.

Annemarie reminds us in every email that they’re still talking about us in Perth.

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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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why did we do a home exchange in Perth?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

Geographically confused as we may sometimes seem to be, we do know that Australia is not in Europe.

So when Fran and Claude wrote to us seeking an exchange, we said no, even though their two story town house on a marina near Perth looked absolutely fantastic. Fran emails to ask us to reconsider, and of course we did, to our great eventual pleasure.

We get to work by email on several typical home exchange issues … car (we don’t have one to exchange, but we get useful information about where to rent one in Perth), internet in Perth and Collioure (we will each leave computers for the use of the other), telephone (we will both use Skype), arrival details and how to get in (we will be met at the home in Perth and have mailed the Collioure keys), and tourist stuff.

Looking at the pictures of Fran and Claude’s magnificent home, we ask several times if they fully comprehend just how small our 300 square foot apartment is.

They are undeterred. After they have arrived in Collioure, we ask if they are all right. Claude says, “You have a comfortable bed, a good shower, Collioure is great, and the view from your terrace is spectacular. What else do we need?”

We have also made a connection for Fran and Claude with our Collioure friends Valerie and Lorcan, and they hit it off, getting together many times.

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Rottnest Island

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

Rottnest Island lies in the Indian Ocean, 18 km off the western coast of Australia. It derives its name from the (incorrect) assumption by early explorers that the small furry Quokkas who inhabit the island were some form of rat (rott). Actually they’re small wallabies, who hop about on their hind legs dragging their long tails behind them.

We make boat reservations, choosing to rent bikes on the island rather than taking them over on the boat. There are discounts both for seniors and Hillarys residents. We spend a pleasant half hour on the sunny Indian Ocean.

It’s the first time for us on bikes since leaving Key West over four months before. The terrain is relatively flat, and we handle the gentle hills without difficulty.

We have lunch looking at the beautiful ocean and the Perth skyscrapers off in the distance. A quokka visits us under the table.

We ride to Bathurst Point lighthouse where the views of the beach are spectacular. A little further along the coast is an even more beautiful beach. I take off my shoes and walk into the ocean … perfectly clear … cool but not cold … smooth bottom. A natural pool formed in the rocks, about 2 feet deep, is filled with bathers.

A sign on the Rottnest general store proclaims it to be the first stone building in Western Australia, built by Aboriginal convicts in the mid 1800s.

An inquisitive peacock comes up to us while we’re sitting on a bench. From a distance of less than a foot, it looks me straight in the eye, struts and stretches. It has an incredibly deep blue neck and head. 

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exploring the city of Perth

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

          

On our second day in Australia, we start out for Perth. Our plan is to drive to the train station a mile or so away, but the weather suddenly blows up enough to discourage us and we return to the apartment. Good decision. It’s quite a storm.

The next day, we make it to the train station and find the last parking spot in the lot. The ticket machine in the station is broken. I walk up and over to the machine on the other  side of the tracks, then realize it only takes change and I only have bills.

Up and over again. There’s a call button. I call and explain. He puts me on hold. Before he comes back, a little kid wanders by, playfully pushes the button, and disconnects us.

The train is coming. There’s no time for another call, so we get on without tickets. Nobody asks, and we have a free ride. Later, we learn there’s a $50 fine for riding without a ticket. “It’s all part of the adventure.”

Across from the train station in Perth is the major shopping area. We stop first at the Tourist Office, load up on info. There are two pedestrian shopping streets. David Jones, a large department store, provides our first experience with very high prices, even by New York, Key West, and Paris standards. Australia is so far from anywhere, the cost of bringing goods here must be significant.

We eat lunch at a nice pub called Bobby Dazzler’s. For the return trip, we get change at the train station, buy our return tickets with a senior discount (they call it “Concession.”), ride the  train to the Greenwood station, and drive home.

A good first outing.

We take several other trips to Perth. One time we explore King’s Park, which is quite beautiful, but not very utilized. We’re used to Central Park in New York, which is always teeming with people. There’s a great view of the Perth harbor from the heights of the park. We take a bus tour of the park, expecting flowers, but we get bushes.

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a trip to the “guts” of the mall

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

Although we brought 95 books to Collioure in June, and have purchased at least 25 more since we arrived, we’re running short, and we have some long days of travel ahead of us. This is cause for panic, so we head out to see if there’s a book store in the Wickford Mall.

We had been there a couple of Sundays ago, but it was closed. We drive around the outside of the mall. No stores are visible, and what can be seen doesn’t look promising. We stop a man walking near us and ask if there are any book stores inside.

“Yes, there are two.”

“Where are they?”

“Deep in the guts,” he says. There’s guts in there?

We park and enter the “guts.” Surprise! It’s actually a terrific mall, with many high quality shops, well lit, attractive. However, it’s all spread out, with wings off of wings, and no directory in sight.

We find a book store and make several purchases. Then we find a used book store called Pulp Fiction, which has an wonderful selection. They also purchase used books. Very conscious of the Qantas weight restrictions, we decide to return another day with the books we’ve finished.

We see signs for a cinema, and there are two movies playing we’d like to see. We are seriously movie-deprived, having seen only one movie in Dublin since June. We’re not jammed, so we decide to stay in the mall and go to the 1:00 showing of The Devil Wears Prada.

As we’re in the process of buying our tickets, senior citizen discount thank you, another woman, perhaps the manager, joins the ticket seller.

“Would you like to buy a senior card?”

“We’re leaving in a few days, I don’t think so.”

“But if you buy the card, you get into today’s movie free.”

“How much is the card?”

“$10.00.”

“How much is the movie?”

“$11.00.”

Even old seniors like us can make that decision. As we’re buying the cards, she asks if there’s another movie we want to see before we leave Australia. Yes, there is. Well, if you come before noon, with your new cards, it only costs $1.00 each. So, we see two movies for $22.00 instead of $44.00.

Meryl Streep is fantastic. As is The Departed, which we see two days later. 

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stunning Cottesloe Beach

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

                 

Cottesloe is a small town further down the west coast of Australia, below
Perth. We drive right past it to the outskirts of Fremantle. We didn’t realize Fremantle was so close (20 minutes) since we went there by river boat and it took 1 ½ hours. Turning back, we find Cottesloe.

It’s one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen anywhere in the world … elegant … grass terraces … people picnicking on the terraces. A gracious old inn, the Indiana, overlooks the scene. There’s a nude beach somewhere, but we don’t find it. Didn’t actually look very hard.

Pat has been looking for a cycle apparel shop, for a gift for her daughter Kerry. There was a sign on the road somewhere that such a shop exists on Stirling Boulevard (Stirling being the first governor of the Perth colony in 1829). We find the street, drive past the shop (sound familiar) and find it on our way back. Great shirt for our cycling gal.

The proprietor in the cycling shop is British, 10 years in Australia.  When she discovers we’re Americans, she asks us what we thought of President Bush.

Without waiting for our answer, she says, “He’s stupid,” reflecting the 100% opinion of every foreigner in every country we’ve met in all our travels for the entire summer.

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* Broome and the outback

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2007

“You can’t go to Australia for a month and not see the outback.”

We started asking on our first day in Perth, clerks in stores and at the Tourist Office. Kalgoorlie was recommended by some and disparaged by others. Everyone agreed on Broome.

We read the brochures and decided on a two day outback excursion. The guy at the Tourist Office, and others, said two days was not nearly enough. We should devote ten days, at least a week. But we know what we like, and for how long. Two days, we thought, would be quite enough. We weren’t wrong.

We book flights to Broome and a two day trip into the outback, one overnight to be spent in a place called Fitzroy Crossing. It’s an expensive two-day trip, with airfare, motel, and excursion amounting to $2500 AUD ($1800 USD).

To prepare, Pat buys an Aussie cowboy hat from our Hillarys Harbor neighbors Barry and Brian, who run a hat store in the adjoining shops.

“The balmy air of historic Broome is filled with the scent of frangipani. Vibrant colours of bougainvillea nestle amid unique buildings amongst the Coconut palms. A romantic vision come true.” So says the official Broome web site. We never found what they were describing.

sunset at Cable Beach in Broome

There is one sight in Broome, however, that is spectacular, the sunset over pure white sands at Cable Beach, with the green Indian Ocean beyond. We cut it as close as possible. Our Qantas flight arrives at 5:25 and the sunset is promised for 5:52. We make it with 8 minutes to spare, and it’s just spectacular. I take too many photos, which is always the case for me and sunsets, but several capture the breathtaking reality.

With the sunset come the camels. These are remnants of an estimated 12,000 camels imported into Australia and used as draft and riding animals by people pioneering the dry interior. Camels played a significant role in construction of the south to north transcontinental telegraph line, after the undersea cable arrived in Broome from Singapore in 1889. We flew from Singapore to Australia, and that’s a whole lot of ocean in which to lay cable. Some day I’ll look for a book that describes what must have been a very difficult and dangerous process.

Linda, our new friend (and book reader) from Fremantle, was once a cameleer at Cable Beach. I never thought I would know a cameleer.

We cab from the resort at Cable Beach, which is outstanding, to our motel, which is underwhelming. In our first room, we flip the light switch and blow the electricity. The desk clerk sends maintenance, but electrical uncertainties make us uncomfortable.

We ask for another room.

There are no other rooms.

“Then find us another motel and refund our money.”

“Well, there’s one guest who hasn’t checked in yet. We’ll swap rooms.”

The second room features lamps over the bed with only one working bulb out of four. The maintenance guy returns and fresh bulbs are installed. By now he’s our buddy, so we ask about living in Broome. Housing is expensive and limited, no surprise. Nobody stays long, also no surprise.

We dine outdoors, along Roebuck Bay, which we can’t see in the dark, but it’s nice anyway. We’re not hungry, having stuffed ourselves with junk at the airport and on the plane. Excellent bruschetta and wine, plus a great dessert (a good surprise), sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream. The buffet breakfast is not exceptional and too expensive ($19.00 AUD).

Kimberly Wild Expeditions picks us up at 7:15 am. Andy introduces himself as driver, tour guide, and cook. There are seven couples on tour, on a bus that can hold 20, a young couple from England/Ireland, another from Italy/Scotland, two sisters from England, and three couples from Australia. We’re the only Americans.

One of the Australian couples is 5 ½ months into a caravan tour of Australia. He used to work for Telstar. Later, we hear stories about clearing a path for poles that were never used, and something about hush-hush capped oil wells in Central Australia. Have we learned a national security secret?

We drive for two hours and see nothing. I mean nothing. We reach the Willare Bridge Roadhouse, a general store with a few very minimal motel rooms, with the feeling of a movie western bunkhouse.

Andy unpacks our “morning tea,” which is chocolate chip cookies, a nice raisin cake, instant coffee, and, actually, tea. A cowboy comes by, perhaps from the bunkhouse, with photos showing the roundup and branding of cattle. Pat calls him a rustler. Maybe he is.

There aren’t many cows out there. The land is seasonal. For months it rains and floods, then it’s incredibly dry and hot. Not much can live in that, except crocodiles and termites (see below).

We’re just now, in October, at the end of the dry season, with torrential rains expected in the near future. When the storms come, much of the ground we have seen and will see, including the roads we’re driving on, will be under water.

Protruding like weird monuments from the desert floor are thousands of large mounds. They look like droppings from pre-historic dinosaurs, which Andy says was the explanation given by several only ‘somewhat intoxicated’ Aboriginal people. Actually, they’re termite (white ant) homes, formed over the ages by the mucous and excrement of billions of insects. Ugh!

Two hours further along the endless dusty road, we boab trees, found only in Western Australia. Some are over 1500 years old. Aboriginals used the giant trees for shelter, food and medicine. For the white settlers, they served as easily recognizable landmarks and meeting points.

Several of the huge trees, dead and hollow, have an unexpected history as impromptu prison cells. We stop on the road to see one such prison tree, with even less creature comforts than the cells at Fremantle Gaol.

Our first major destination is Geikie Gorge National Park, 390 km from Broome.

While Andy sets out a lunch of cold cuts, potato salad, and cheese, we take a short walk. The sky is stunning, rich blue, with powdery clouds, high cliffs, rugged trees, and a bright sun.

There’s a sand bar where we’ll go to swim. Change? Some (me) use the bathrooms, some go behind a tree. Pat opts out completely, and later, one of the other ladies asks, “You couldn’t find a tree wide enough to change behind?” Embarrassed immediately when she realizes what she has said, she quickly apologizes.

This was the first time we understood that our travel agent had failed to give us important information. Others had some sort of brochure which listed things to bring, such as a towel, since we’re going to swim this afternoon before we go to our motel.

The water is very warm, shallow, and contains no crocodiles. The flies are infuriating, and the insect repellent I bought at the Willare station seems to be an insect attractor. Later, someone asks if I went in the water. I answer “yes, but if you blinked, you missed it.”

That night, I see the mimeo sheet for the Geikie Gorge National Park, which says “Fresh water crocodiles do live in the Gorge although they are not usually a threat to people. Swimming is at your own risk. Beware of submerged logs.” Needless to say, had I read that first, there would not have been even a blink’s worth of me in the shallow river.

After the swim comes a river cruise. In the hut before the trip, we notice marks on the walls showing how high the floods rose, some 20 feet above our heads. The water comes quickly and stay for weeks or months.

“Make sure to take bottled water with you in the boat,” we’re told.

“Can we buy water here?”

“No.”

Thank you again, travel agency, for the brilliant way you prepared us for this trip. Another couple (the Italian and the Scot) gives us a bottle of water. We get into a flat craft, filling all the seats.

The gorge is white limestone, carved out by the raging river over millions of years. The formations are stunning. We see a few birds, one wallaby along the bank, no crocs. The sky framed by the high orange cliffs is astonishing. The color looks like it’s been painted on.

Aboriginal families are camped along the banks, cooking over open fires.

On our way to the night’s accommodations, we pass the almost dry Fitzroy River just at sunset. Andy stops on the bridge for photos. The motel at Fitzroy Crossing exceeds expectations.

I have to elaborate on this, because everyone – Mark and Annemarie, Fran and Claude, all the many others they told – burst out laughing uproariously when they heard that Americans actually spent a night in Fitzroy Crossing.

But it wasn’t bad, certainly better than Broome. There were three choices of accommodations – tent, cabin, and motel. We had wanted a cabin, but there were none available when we made our reservations, so we got the motel. Lucky choice.

Our room is fine, although it takes hours to get the a/c down to where we want it. There’s an excellent pool. We take a cooling dip in the dark, followed by quick showers, and feel human again. We pass up Andy’s barbeque in favor of the motel restaurant.

Walking toward the restaurant, we’re disturbed to see a huge fire, right where we’re heading. We begin to re-think the advisability of Andy’s barbeque, but nobody else seems upset, and the soaring flames turn out to be a controlled brush fire.

We have a cold beer on the restaurant porch with the England/Ireland couple, and are joined by an Aboriginal man from the next table, who wants to know if we’ve been fishing. He and his family have the darkest skin we’ve ever seen, with a distinctive facial look and hair. The man talking with us is quite pleasant and inquisitive.

Influenced by the fire, still smoldering, we decide to eat inside. The menu was amazingly good, and the meal likewise. Nobody in civilization believes us when we say that, but it’s true. I had pan fried barramundi.

Barramundi, native to Northern Australia, is considered to be among the premier freshwater angling species in the world. A little known fact: The barramundi becomes a male at 3 years. When it reaches the age of 5, it changes into a female. I have no information on the sex of the fish I ate, but it was delicious.

Pat asks the waitress where people live in Fitzroy Crossing, since she hasn’t seen any housing. The waitress points to a group of people at a nearby table.

“They work in the hospital here and the hospital has built housing for them. They would have to provide housing or nobody would come.”

“And once they come, they stay for awhile?”

“Oh no. Nobody stays. Maybe a year at most.”

We go to bed at 8:30 – the room has cooled appreciably – and we’re up at 5:30 am. We walk to the campsite to join the rest of the group for breakfast. Andy’s got a fire going in the brick barbeque, a sheet of aluminum foil for making toast, and a large pot of water to boil for coffee and tea.

We’re told that the cabins and tents were comfortable, with a cool breeze through the open, netted windows. We don’t believe it.

Our first stop on the second day is Tunnel Creek Park, a large bat cave where we will walk through pools of cold water. Those who had the brochure have two pairs of shoes. So does Pat, who always takes two pair of shoes. Not me.

We drive two hours on the bus, the last 45 minutes on a bumpy dirt road. We exit the bus to an extreme midday heat, which Giorgio (Italy/Scot) later informs us is 39.5 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit).

Her running friends from New York will never believe that Pat, habitually lost even in the familiar turf of Central Park, leads the way into the dark caves, pointing her flashlight and climbing over rocks. The tunnel is 750 meters long, some of it pitch dark, with two natural cuts high above providing minimal light.

One of these openings is adjacent to the screeching bats (actually flying foxes). Some of them fly above us. Some swoop in from the outside, wings fluttering much louder than expected.

We walk through the pools, the deepest of which comes to mid-thigh. Some of the passages over the rocks are difficult. One person (an Australian) slips and cuts his leg. There are no crocs. We see a rock in the water, and Andy pretends it’s a crocodile, but soon tells us it’s a “rockodile.”

The return trip through the cave goes faster. Pat and I are brave enough to go ahead of the group for much of the way. After the cool cave, it feels even hotter outside.

Another hour or so of bumpy roads (and for me, wet shoes) brings us to the Windjana Gorge National Park. Lunch outside, on camp stools in whatever sparse shade we can find, followed by a walk through the gorge.

The river is almost dry. Hundreds of white cockatoos fill the trees and screech as we pass. And there are crocodiles, dozens of them, wallowing in the shallow pools of water near the banks along which we’re walking. We let them alone and they do likewise. We lounge in the shade along the river, look up at the spectacular gorge and sky above it, all the while keeping a careful eye on the crocs nearby.

An hour later, we’re back at the Willare Bridge Roadhouse. Who could ever believe that such a place would be a familiar sight! An ice cream, a coke and a cup of ice for the road.

It’s about 5:00 pm. I remind Andy that he’s supposed to drop us off at the airport for our 8:00 pm flight, and he says that’s fine with him, but he never heard it until I told him. Our complaint list for the travel agency is growing.

It darkens, and the return trip is uneventful. We reach Broome precisely on schedule at 6:45 pm, are dropped at the airport at 7:10, and are through security by 7:15 pm. Virgin Air to Perth.

Two days. Some spectacular sights. Long enough.

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new friends in Perth

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 20, 2007

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Swan River wineries

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 19, 2007

The Swan River Valley is the oldest wine region in Western Australia, blessed with a Mediterranean climate tempered by Indian Ocean breezes, connected to Perth by the blue meandering Swan River. The wine varieties include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.

We choose to drive, and it takes us 30 minutes on the excellent highways, with not much traffic.

Our first stop is Sandalford, founded in 1840, one of Western Australia’s oldest and largest privately owned wineries. We enter a long gravel drive through white iron swinging gates. The grounds are magnificent. Grape vines stretch in the distance in every direction, vistas broken here and there with colorful trees and shrubs, including small bottle-brush trees, unique to Australia, with bright red spiky flowers. Spectacular.

We purchase several bottles of wine and a ceramic wine cooler. We’ll drink the wine before we go, of course, but will the wine cooler fit within our weight limit on Qantas? We’ll find out.

Giulford is advertised as historic town, but we don’t find much of interest. We go to another winery, which is also beautiful, then return to Sandalford for lunch, as they say on their web site, to dine “amongst the rustic ambience of limestone, wood and a grand open fire.”

There’s no fire on this warm day, but we have our best meal in Australia, including Tasmanian salmon, scrumptious bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, and of course, several Sandalford wines. Not too much wine for the designated driver; Pat is the designated taster.

We head to Caversham Wildlife park to walk off our lunch. This is a fun experience … big birds and small animals … kangaroos in a large open space … we walk among them., pet them, Pat even feeds them … kangaroo babies sleep in their pouches as we stroll by.

Leaving Caversham, we pass a large sunken area and stand spellbound as a brilliantly-blue peacock spreads his lustrous blue-green tail feathers in a spectacular example of avian courtship.

Our day ends as darkness settles on the harbor … blinking boat lights come alive … wine and cheese … reading our books … a great finish to a great day.

Glad we came to Australia. 

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internet difficulties in Perth

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 19, 2007

We actually have two computers in Perth, the desk top which was left for us in our home exchange house, and the laptop we brought. The Ethernet cable works fine with our laptop. Skype works fine, but MLB and Slingbox reception is not great, which we think is related to a slower broadband connection than we are used to in KW or Collioure.

Computers and telephones are among the very difficult aspects of living in someone else’s home, or even in living abroad generally. People everywhere use their own phone by second nature, so they never think of telling you all the subtle differences, like when to use an extra digit or not, and it can be frustrating. We’re probably just as deficient, but we’ll try to be more precise, and to ask better questions. Better to use Skype.

One morning, we turn on the computer and there’s no internet connection. With three weeks left in Perth, this is a major problem. All of our communications, travel arrangements, and financial transactions depend on the internet.

Fran, our home exchange partner, has left a number to call for iprimus tech support in case of problems, and she also communicates with Iprimus to give permission for them to talk with me.

Iprimus advises there are no system difficulties, so the problem must be at the home. They lead me through a process that confirms the internet connection from iprimus to this location was functioning properly, and conclude that the problem is in the router connection. They give me a phone number for Netgear tech support.

I call Netgear, who agree that the problem was probably in the router. They lead me through an exercise which resets the router. Now all I have to do is log on correctly through the router setup program. The only problem is that the account name and passwords I have do not work. I call Iprimus again.

After confirming that my birthday is June 5, 1942 (thank you Fran for making me two years younger when you made up my birthday) Iprimus gives me the correct login name and password. I open Windows Internet Explorer, which opens even though it does not connect, type in the information given to me by iprimus, and the Netgear setup screen appears.

I enter the information provided by Netgear, select setup wizard and follow the steps indicated. When asked for account name and password, I enter the information provided by Iprimus. Voila. Internet access restored.

This is surely not a straightforward easy process, but if you keep calm and carefully follow instructions you can get there. Both Iprimus and Netgear were wonderfully helpful and patient. I cannot imagine doing this with France Telecom and Wanadoo in French, but I’m sure if I spoke French, they would be just as helpful. 

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a day trip to Fremantle

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 19, 2007

Fremantle is described in our guide book as a vibrant port city, with history, heritage, art, culture, and fun.

We train to Perth, walk past shopping streets to the jetty at Swan River, and purchase one way boat tickets to Fremantle – $18 each. The 1 ½ hour boat ride down the broad river on a sunny morning is quite pleasant, with good views of King’s Park as we leave Perth, and beautiful homes along the broad, slow-moving river.

Our first impression of Fremantle is that it looks like a movie set. The buildings are old, maybe 100 years, with odd looking monochromatic flat fronts which look fake but aren’t. There are no people on the street.

A couple wanders by and stops, attracted by our American accents.  We find much to talk about, become friends, and get together 4-5 times before we leave. See * new friends in Perth .

We continue walking and find life in Fremantle. Boardwalk type shops line Cappuccino Strip, the main street. Fremantle Markets, a major attraction, were built in 1897 and reborn in 1975. The shipwreck museum is interesting.

Fremantle Gaol (Prison) is the highlight of the day. Closed for perhaps twenty years, the facilities are depressing and stark, with no toilets in the cells (buckets!) and no running water. The only attractive space is the church. The exercise yards are tiny for the number of inmates the prison once held.

Our tour guide is full of information and humor. Pat tells her about my prison book, she provides her email address, and Linda becomes an enthusiastic serial reader of A Good Conviction.

There’s an ominous hanging room, with gallows and a trap door. A dog, sensing death, will not come into the room.

An exhibit about imprisoned Irish Fenians who escaped in late 1800s tells an incredible story. One prisoner escaped to America. In Boston, he raised money, bought a ship, and hired a captain, then sailed back to Australia, where he rescued seven other prisoners.

For our return trip, we take the train instead of the boat. It costs $1.80 each, and takes less than 15 minutes. Nice day. 

Posted in ... 2006, ... Australia | Leave a Comment »