Saturday December 28
A lazy day in Perth. We started with a tasty cooked breakfast in a cafe around the corner. Breakfast turned into “let’s have another coffee.” Twice. After three flat whites each, we buzzed off toward the centre for a look around.
The city has a pedestrian area and downtown malls, but like most city centres in the developed world, globalization has taken its toll and the shops are the same chains selling the same products you will find anywhere. We had more fun walking around Subiaco two weeks ago. Subiaco is a suburb near King’s Park, away from the Perth central business district (CBD). It still has independent local shops.
Today we discovered the free bus system in the CBD. What a great idea! Three free bus routes cover most of the area and travel on regular buses is free within the CBD. It makes taking the train from the suburbs into town a practical way to commute or shop and is great for tourism. Someone should tell city council in Vancouver about this.
Walking this afternoon in Northbridge we happened upon a big outdoor screen a in grassy public square. It happened to be showing a great Ted talk on Dance vs PowerPoint. Smart, funny and well worth a view. In the evening the same square was full of people with blankets and chairs watching a free movie.
Northbridge is an interesting place to stay. It is close to the Perth CBD (the free bus system reaches the southern part), but far enough away to have character. It is an area in transition. The eastern part is full of Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese shops and restaurants. To the west it becomes Italian and Greek. The side streets are full of older small Australian homes, many nicely renovated. It has students, colleges, many backpacker hotels, offices, some rough parts and trendy new developments. Each corner feels different and the area feels alive.
The backpackers’ hostel is entertaining. We are the oldies here. The average age is mid-twenties. Lots of Germans. We met a young Swiss guy cycling for five months. He had done hard and amazing riding but he was abandoning his one year plan and going home early. He had run out of money. (That’s a comment on how expensive Australia is when a Swiss guy runs out of money; in some areas it is more expensive than Switzerland!) He had also discovered that the long cycle track in West Australia, described as easy for cycle touring, is impossible for all but hard-core mountain bike gear without baggage. He should know, he’s done both. He stood out, but a lot are here to party. Some are noisy and not well house trained, but I was young once and it is fun to watch them. It is great that they are going out to travel and for every questionable one, you meet someone inspiring. Like the Swiss guy we met today.