Lounging around on Christmas day


104 degrees today, not excited about being outside.  Time to catch up a bit.

I really don’t have much of interest to write about.  We’ve been hanging around with friends going shopping at malls and relaxing.

I took one day that Praxy was feeling under the weather and took off across town to Costco.  Not to shop, but to look around.  It takes three buses and over an hour and a half to get from the Trott park/Flagstaff Hill area to Costco on the other side of the CBD (Central Business District).  Both directions.  The transfer in downtown Adelaide was quite confusing, but I’ve got it now.  I lost a little time there.

Costco in Australia is quite similar to Costco in the USA.  Many of the same items are available.  Kirkland branded items are rare-ish, but can be found.   Some things are a bargain, beef for example.  25% lower price than the USA for the same cut.  Considering the exchange rate, most items are similar.  (Aussies are taking a hit.  US dollars are getting stronger as we stay longer.)  Some of my favorites were there.  Jelly Belly jellybeans.  Kirkland AAA and AA batteries.  Premade pizzas.  Cheap hotdogs and drinks in the snack bar (which was packed, btw).  Canon and Nikon SLR cameras.  Kirkland mixed nuts in a jar.

I noticed a lot of Asians shopping there, Chinese in the lead.  Looked like many of them were stocking their restaurants, like they do in the USA.   Probably good prices.

Three buses back to the house.  I was a little late and Praxy was starting to wonder about me.  No problem, got back fine.

Time for a few little opinions I’ve formed about this beautiful country.

Prices here are higher than in the US for most items.  Even considering the favorable exchange rate.  Food and gasoline lead the way with gas around $4 per gallon.  My old international standby, MacDonalds, is about 20% higher.   Burger King (called Hungry Jack’s) is higher as well with no “value meal” options at either.   Bargains, at least true bargains, are hard for me to find.  Vietnamese is your best bet for a mealtime cheapie.

Cars are smaller.  There is no such thing as a 3/4 ton pickup such as my Dodge Cummins diesel or a Ford F250.  I see many a small pickup and van pulling what I consider a large RV trailer considering their diminutive size.  I’ve wondered how the tow rigs were faring.

Most places and parks are clean and relatively free of litter and debris.  Crime is low, but some friends were hit hard by an express burglary.  Traffic violations are dealt with harshly at great expense and hardship to the driver.   Don’t speed here.  Ever.  Traffic cameras are everywhere.  I hope I haven’t been caught screwing up.  I’m trying not to, but I’m getting a little paranoid.  The authorities will catch up to me if I do and the rental car agencies are required to help them.

I haven’t seen anything that remotely resembles slums in Aussie.  I’m assured they are here with Sydney being the biggest collection.   None in Adelaide.   Some of the outlying areas look a little seedy, but everyone seems to keep busy.  In short, Australian people seem more industrious than the people from the USA.  From my limited perspective.

Voting here is compulsory.   Prices for electrical kilowatt hours are some of the highest in the nation in this area.  Water is scarce with most yards being totally brown.  I assume prices for water are high as well.  Guns are outlawed, although many still remain hidden away.

All adults are required to be tested and found a career.  I find that rather refreshing.  Welfare types seem to be frowned upon.  Wages are generally decent.  Welfare is only for sick or handicapped.  I believe that health care is state sponsored.  It is best to have your own private insurance as those people tend to get to the front of the line for treatment.  Uninsured can have very long waits.

Public transportation is super.  You can get most anywhere in the city with a bus ticket and a 30 or less minute walk.  Price for a fare is $1.50-$3.00 depending on time of day.  A REAL bargain.  Trains, buses, and trams.   Only place I’ve seen that compares is San Diego, California.

A new friend took me to the wine area of Barossa the other day.  It was a great time as I wasn’t driving.  I could sample any and every thing.

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This winery is quite well off.  They had a bottle of great Shiraz called “Double Barrel”.  It was aged in two different whiskey barrels from the USA.

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The best, as usual, was a little hole-in-the-wall place called Whistler.  It’s hard to find, but worth it.

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They had a Merlot that was about the best I’ve ever tasted.  Yeah.  The ole hick from the sticks now knows that wines have a wide variety of qualities and tastes, even from the same region.  I always thought that wine was wine.  Nope.   We went to a very fancy place that at least the wine didn’t impress me.  They had a lot of other cool stuff, though, and great history.

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Great ambiance and many things to see.  Charlie and I took off into their cellar museum for a quick look.

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Charlie is married to Praxy’s schoolmate’s younger sister, a toddler at the time Praxy left Asgad for good.  He took me around for a quick trip to the famous Barossa Valley area for a few stops.

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That liter of 1916 is under lock and key.  $700 per liter.  The 1926 is a bargain at $500 a liter.   No, I didn’t get to try it.  Why would I?

There was a metal and knife shop, a leather shop, and an art studio here.  Much to look at.  We killed over an hour looking around.

I have to admit I enjoyed the wine tasting.  Maybe there is a scrap of cultural hope for me after all.  Still can’t get my pinkie finger elevated as I sip my wine, though.

The Barossa area maybe covers 5 square miles.  There must be 150 wineries in that area.  Amazing.

It was an 1 1/2 drive each way for Charlie to take me back across town, so I hopped a train from near his house north of Adelaide.  $1.50 to travel 35 miles back to Marion Center mall and Trott park.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Train was air conditioned and comfortable.  I had to wait almost an hour to catch the M44 bus to Marion mall, but our friends were waiting for me there.  Saved the last bus leg.  Yay!

Moving on to another round at Victor Harbor.  Victor Harbor is an interesting, fun place to visit.

12/27/2016  4:30pm

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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