Thursday, March 11, 2010

Laid back in Adelaide

"Adelaide is where old people go to die" - by Nick van der Leek

Me relaxing in the Glenelg area, which is around 10km from the city centre. Glenelg - one of those odd words that spells equally in both directions.

A storm brewing over Adelaide central. I hired a car in Adelaide and within two days had a very good feel for the city and surrounds. It has the same quality Perth has, in that while large enough to be a city, it doesn't overwhelm or intimidate you.

This is the oldest pub on the coast, the Ramsgate Hotel. It was on those chairs later in the evening that I almost fell off my chair - watching cyclists doing their thing until fairly late in the night. In the early mornings you'll also see scores - tribes - of runners taking over the streets.

It was in Darwin that I heard a backpacker talking about the best and worst cities in Australia. He described Adelaide as a sort of last stop for retirees [see quote above] before the graveyard. It depends on how much you're a fan of big cities [for the sake of it] and noise and traffic jams. Sydney has all of that and more, and Sydney is also a really expensive city. Adelaide has a charm, and small town vibe. It's because it's out of the way - but not as isolated as Perth - that I like it.

I also noticed cyclists in the streets, everywhere, at all hours of the day, rain or shine. In fact one night I was sitting outside an old pub and couldn't believe my eyes at the number of cyclists out there at night.

Adelaide is situated in a region of Australia - South Australia - that is mercifully cooler than most, and here the monotone of the Outback rises up as it meets the sea, creating a unique and memorable landscape. Cliffs, the color of red brick, capped in a faded tawny yellow, meet the sea.

South Australia has an awkward slanting peninsula in the shape of a W, with Kangaroo Island on the eastern end, around 100km from Adelaide. It's a scenic drive to get there, through some beautiful towns. The island itself is largely a reserve, and it gives an impression what Australia looked like before people arrived. There is a small population on the island [one a den of inequity] and many of these houses are old and additional samples of an earlier era. As for Kangaroos, you might see truckloads, I had a glimpse of one jumping away from the side of the road as the bus stormed by. But the Remarkable Rocks and beaches covered in lounging seals are worth a look. We went on a day trip which is really expensive, and given the ferry crossing both ways, means you see less than you otherwise could. Try to spend a few days, at least two, on the Island.

Getting back to Adelaide itself; the city has a tram system integrated into a very modern, very efficient public transport system. In this sense Adelaide isn't unique, but since it is one of Australia's smaller cities, it is easy to get around either on a bicycle or on one of these [see below].

Adelaide is less scenic and less impressive than say Melbourne, or Sydney, but with that comes a change of pace, and a change of climate that I rather liked. If it's scenery you're after, take a drive to one of the beaches - at Maslin, clothes are optional.

What is wonderful about this area is that you can find a perfect stretch of beach with no one on it, and here you don't have to worry about crocs, stingers or jellies.

I'll be providing more insights into Australia each week. Next week Melbourne and Geelong, and the drama surrounding me losing my credit card.

Read more:
My impressions of Perth and comparisons to South Africa in South Africa - the view from Down Under Part 1.
View additional pictures of the trip here.

No comments: