First, a hearty g’day to my most recent visitor via Telstra, location merely identified as ‘Australia’ (a tiny island off the New Zealand coast, as we know). Second, apologies to all those visitors who for some odd reason keep coming to read about my rye bread adventures. The first try turned out rather disappointing, and I honestly haven’t had the balls to try again – not that I’m not normally ball-less, for obvious reasons.
As I gleefully noted yesterday, there are 41 days left in my calendar until I can quit retail hell. I have been assured that I’ve earned enough dough to finance my excursion to the Bushland, so it is with great relief that I will make my escape one day before my birthday. And since I know how difficult a time you have all had, my dear readers, I will now finally unveil some of the facts about this trip.
I am going to Perth, Western Australia, dubbed “City of Light” back when residents lit up the place as John Glenn passed by far above. That was back in 1962, obviously a momentous year for many reasons. Why am I going to Perth? Well, for one, it looks like this:
(I do not own this picture. It belongs to someone who previously posted, then apparently deleted it from Flickr. This is a cached copy from Google. I hope to replace it with my own shot when I get back)
For another, it was a flea brain idea with no real reason behind it other than a somewhat goofy joke about winning the lotto and buying a derelict house in the lovely ‘burb of Peppermint Grove, whose postal code happens to be nearly the same as my old telephone prefix from Frankfurt. I had a penpal in WA once, but it wasn’t serious, and going to a desert state never occurred to me, but here we are. Made for each other, perhaps.
I’ll be leaving German shores on April 17, which will hopefully get me to Perth on the 18th, even though my flight plan has been changed about fifteen times since I booked my ticket. That’s ridiculous. I’ll enjoy two weeks in the ever-changing city with the worst customer service outside of the United States, if you can believe recent articles in the WA Today, then return to homesoil on May 2. Why? For one, I wanted to be in Perth for ANZAC Day. Blame it on Sydney. I was THERE for ANZAC Day, and yet totally missed all of it, so I’m going to satisfy my curiosity about how the Australians spend their version of Veterans’ Day. Whilst planning this trip, I accidentally discovered an oddity besides that, which I like to call the Mystery of April 18.
You see, back in 1989, when I had first made an attempt to get across the pond, I had actually applied for and been granted, a travel visa. I found it a few months ago in a long-since-expired passport. The issue date was April 18. Haha, I thought, and kept on rummaging through my drawer in search of some documentation I needed to get my job. Then I came across the passport I used in 2006. My entry visa was stamped April 18. When I originally planned the Perth visit, I chose the departure date based on the fact that my BFF wanted to accompany me, and I wanted to leave shortly after her boyfriend’s birthday; hence, the 17 April date. That now, again, I shall set foot onto red soil -albeit buried under concrete- on 18 April is downright spooky.
I’m flying with Qatar Air. Why? Because when I flew to Sydney, I did not, and this happened: I arrived at the airport at six o’clock. In the bloody morning. Which got me to the hotel, exhausted, sick and in desperate need of a bed, by seven. The staff were very apologetic, but they were fully booked (because of ANZAC Day), and my room would not be ready until that afternoon. I crashed, literally, in an armchair in the lobby, surrounded by various members of various marching bands, as well as piles of instrument cases. Luckily, a room was found by eleven o’clock, and I promptly spent my first day in Australia in bed. Hoping to do better this time, I expect to arrive late in the afternoon, so that I can settle in and go to bed at a more reasonable hour.
I’m not booking a hotel. Why not? Because it’s been discouraged from everything I’ve read, and because I’ve found airbnb. People privately rent rooms and even apartments and houses, and the pickings are far from slim. I also appreciate the user/visitor feedback people can give, and the vast range of accommodations. If my first choice should fall through, I’m looking at staying in Freo. I’d rather be close to the ocean and have to go into town to do stuff, than the other way round. If you’ve grown up landlocked, like I have, you understand why.
Thanks to the fantastic webbing of Facebook, I find myself in the odd situation of knowing Perthites now: original Perthites, ex-Perthites now congregating in Melbourne, ex-ex-Perthites who have happily settled into their hometown, and folks who moved there for various reasons from other places. Who knows if any of that means anything, but it may at least lend some inspiration for an evening or two out.
And so things stand as of today. As snow falls outside my windows, whereas in WA temperatures are routinely in the 30s these days, the whole notion of going to a place where palm trees grow, cars drive on the wrong side of the road, and people make funny faces at my English until I pretend to remember how to “talk properly” (leading my friend Nigel to exclaim that I sound ‘like a Canadian who’s lived in Europe for some time’) seems like the fog-brained dream it was a year ago. Yet, I can feel that little excited spark building somewhere deep inside my restless soul…