I was in Adelaide, Australia, about to start my second house and cat sit. The hosts, Elizabeth and Steve, planned to leave later that day for their road trip to the east coast. As we ate some toast, we chatted about politics and their upcoming election. Like always, the conversation moved into Trump territory. They told me that they were surprised by Trump, but recognized that they only see snippets of him on the news. We agreed that the media is way too one-sided, so it’s challenging to know the truth these days.
Steve wanted to watch his favorite news program that was about to air. I joined for the last part of the program, and then Steve showed me around the house and explained my duties, like the daily cleaning of the litter box. They only had three hours before they needed to leave for Elizabeth’s concert, and then they would head out for their road trip once it was finished. I decided to get out of their hair so they could finish packing, so I took the rental car to McLaren Vale, the wine region.
After a 30 minute drive, I arrived at the visitor center. They told me about a tourist drive that makes its way to most of the wineries and is scenic. It takes about 45 minutes to make the full loop. I completed the beautiful trip and then stopped at the Cube, which had a Salvador Dali exhibit.
The Cube is just that – a giant cube that you walk through with multiple levels. Inside, there were art displays like flowers and trees creating a labyrinth. On the top floor, they offer wine tasting. It was the weekend, so it was pretty busy with groups. All of the tables and the bar was standing room only, and I found a spot at the bar. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that wine tasting is free! In the U.S., it’s often $10 for four-six samplings.
The bartender was busy but came over from time to time to get me a new tasting. As I stood there sipping the small amounts of wine, I felt lonely. Everyone there was with a group of friends, and I felt like I stood out. It felt like “locals only.” I walked outside and enjoyed the views of the wineries.
Next, I walked across the property over to the restaurant. There was no seating available, except for the sampling room. I ordered a bread, cheese, and meat tray and sat at a wooden bar overlooking the property.
Once I was finished devouring the food, I walked around the property. I found a small tent set up like at a carnival. There was nobody around, and I stepped inside. There were old-timey games and machines. I put some money into a fortune-telling machine, just for fun. I spit out two cards that said, “Act Now,” and “Don’t look back.”
I picked up the bottle of wine that I purchased and hit the road. I drove to the beach and walked along the esplanade. There was barely anybody around, probably because it was so cold and windy outside. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the ocean views, while loneliness kept creeping in.
I got back in my car and kept driving along the coast. I stopped to eat somewhere, but one place was empty, and another was packed. My mood was off, and I just kept driving. I occasionally stopped to take pictures because the sun was setting, and it was stunning. By the time I arrived back at the house, Elizabeth and Steve were gone, and it was dark outside.
The next afternoon, I drove to the car rental facility near the airport to drop off the car. I had to fill the gas tank before returning it and hadn’t gotten gas in Australia yet. I drove past a gas station that had $1.66 per liter ($6.27/gallon). That’s more expensive than anywhere in the U.S. Even in California, where gas is much higher than most of the country, it was usually around $3.50/gallon. The most I had ever paid was $5.00/gallon. I found another place that had gas for $1.44 per liter ($5.44/gallon).
The rental place would drop me off somewhere nearby or take me to the airport, so I requested they drop me at a bus station close to there. I wanted to get to the mall. Unfortunately, the bus wouldn’t arrive for 30 minutes, so I went inside the only restaurant that I could find in the industrial neighborhood and got a baked potato. Then I waited at the bus stop for ten minutes. There was not a bench available, so I stood there playing on my phone while keeping an eye out for the bus.
Apparently, I did a terrible job at this because a man in a truck drove up to me and said I just missed the bus. Confused because it never stopped, I looked down the street where he was pointing. Sure enough, the bus was two blocks away. I briskly walked towards it in hopes of catching it. The traffic assisted my cause, but just as I got close, the traffic eased, and the bus disappeared.
The mall was seven kilometers (4.3 miles) away. I walked in the direction while I checked Uber prices. All of a sudden, I found another bus stop. According to the schedule, the bus would arrive in two minutes. Great. This time, I ensured that I kept a hawk-eye out for the bus.
I saw the bus coming toward me. Then I watched as the bus passed me and kept driving. What the hell? I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the bus wouldn’t stop at a bus stop. I looked around and noticed a sign instructing people to hail the bus down. Wait, I have to hail the bus down like hailing a taxi? Apparently so.
It was warm outside, and I was exhausted at this point. Adelaide is a relatively large city with a population of 1.3 million. Unfortunately, public transportation outside of the downtown area was sparse. The next bus wouldn’t arrive for at least another 30 minutes. I bit the bullet and ordered an $18 Uber to take me to the mall.
I walked around and got some stuff I needed, like Ibuprofen. The malls in Australia always have a grocery store and stores like Walmart. I planned to eat at the food court, but when I arrived at 5:30 pm, it was a ghost town. I noticed the stores closing at 5:00 pm, but thought surely; the food court would still be open. Nope.
Stores closing early was one of the hardest things to get used to in Adelaide. Many places close at 5:00 pm. On Sundays, my hosts warned me that the grocery stores are only open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. In the U.S., many of our stores are open for 24-hours a day and have been since the 1990s. Stores and restaurants that aren’t open 24-hours a day are often open until 10:00 pm or 11:00 pm. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to a lifestyle where we’re always available.
I walked to Aldi, which is attached, and it was still open until 7:00 pm, so I decided to buy some food there. Of course, I planned on just buying a few items, and it turned into more than I realized. I looked ridiculous, with a huge stack of food balanced on my shaky arms.
I took an Uber back to the house, ate dinner, and watched T.V. The next couple of days were low-key. It poured rain, it was windy, and it was cold outside. I spent time writing for my blog, watching T.V., reading articles, and watching behind the scenes videos of Game of Thrones because it was the series finale.
I had a phone appointment with my doctor in Los Angeles, and she reviewed the blood work that I had done when I first arrived in Australia. I was grateful to have a doctor who was willing to make virtual appointments. I used the downtime to catch up with friends. I was even able to Facetime one of my nephews for his birthday.
The sunroom in the back of the house didn’t have proper insulation, so the wind pushed the cold air inside the home. The only heater in the house was a fireplace heater in the living room. I snuggled up while I watched the rain outside. It was a suburban neighborhood, and I watched as the mailman rode his bicycle from mailbox to mailbox.
I spent time researching ways to travel around Australia on Highway 1. I spent days researching, writing, reading, and watching T.V. The shows on T.V. were often old episodes of Fraser, Medium, Friends, and Seinfeld. I also occasionally caught a new episode of Ellen, but I wasn’t sure why most of the T.V. in Australia was decades old. Months later, I met a man from Switzerland who said he found Australia to be endearing because they seemed to be about 30 years behind the U.S. and Europe. I had to agree. Many things in Australia are very modern, but I was surprised by the number of things that seemed like from another era. In any case, I was enjoying house/cat sitting and just relaxing while I waited out all of the storms.
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