Monthly Archives: January 2011

Not acting my age

Well last night I went to a live music bar with my Doctor friend from Melbourne, a beautiful French lady and a guy from the sticks near Melbourne.   One of my room mates works at the place and we had a great time.  The beer was good and the band was excellent.  They played plenty of USA country music and I had a great time.  They were dancing and I was enjoying them jumping around and then some girls pushed me on to the dance floor and I danced with the kids and enjoyed myself.   The Australians are very uninhibited and really let it rip when they dance.  I started to really get the feeling I was downunder.

Today, I got up early and took the train to Freemantle out in the ocean.  I visited the Freemantle Prison which was enormous.  They give tours of the place and I am glad I paid the $19 to get in.   The place housed the convicts brought there by UK and then they housed normal home-grown criminals up to about 20 years ago.   It looked just like the NY prisons I have visited.  They have hung about 50 people in the prison and I got to see the room where it was done.   I got out of that place real fast, but I really enjoyed the tour.

Then I caught a free bus to the Maritime Museum and took a tour of an Australian Submarine.  This was just so amazing.  It is in drydock and you go up stairs and enter where they put the torpedoes into the front of the boat.   I now know something about how submarines work.  This one was called “Oven” and it was built in Scotland in 1967.   Freemantle was the second biggest naval port during WW2.   I got to see a very large container ship which was open on the sides.  It is used to send live sheep to Saudi Arabia, just so incredible what I see and learn on the road..

So tomorrow nite I fly to Singapore and really enter Asia.  I am very happy with my 3 weeks in Australia, each city offered such excellent times, all were different and I now love Australia… I mean I love Austalians….  I will try to write something when I get there, got my hostel booked in China Town and I am getting there on Chinese New Year’s Eve… can you figure how lucky is that… No planning, just damn plain luck.

ciao

My time in Western Australia (WA)

It has been very hot here for the past few days, so I am laying low.  I have enjoyed talking to the people at the hostel, including my roommates–a Korean student, an Irish bartender and a guy from Melbourne who is working in the hospital emergency room and who will be a real doctor next year.   Most of the time I end up in the reading room, which has great AC, and talk to other people.  I have learned alot about Australia.  They do not have that many people here and want highly trained people from other parts of the world to come here and work.  To get most jobs you need some Australian certification and training.  There seems to be an intricate system of bureaucracy set up to enforce the rules.

Right now WA’s economy is booming.  They are building many new skyscrapers here in Perth and there are plenty of jobs advertised in their papers.  It seems there are plenty of jobs in mines as there is a need for natural resources, especially in China.  The English and Irish are here because there are limited amount of jobs back home.  I even meet a couple of Americans working here.  Just like New Zealand, Australia is full of Germans.   The Germans are very nice when you meet them one to one.  But if you are in the kitchen and they descend on you WATCH OUT.  They come at you enmasse and take over all kitchen counter space.

I did go out for a noodle dinner last nite with a friend from Singapore and my almost a doctor friend.  I really enjoyed my spicy noodle dinner and I can not say I am getting any better with chop sticks.  We stopped at a nice pub and had a pint of dark beer and then when back to the hostel and exchanged movies.  I thought I had plenty of movies but the guy from Singapore had a laptop and 2 external hard drives full of movies and American TV shows.

I was hoping to get out to an island off Freemantle but it is so hot I am not sure I will make it.  I do want to get back to Freemantle and tour the Marine Museum, they have a submarine you can go through there.

Well I am looking forward to Singapore and better internet access.  Hope all is well back home, or where ever you are.  One more thing, I have gone back to the gym the past few days and used the treadmill for a half hour each day…. feels good to work on my pathetic “core”

Cheers Mates

Australia Day in Perth

I got up early and took a walk over the train tracks to Northbridge… all of the museums were closed due to the National Holiday.  I did get some rice sushi which I enjoyed.  On my way back I was looking at the machine which sells tickets at the train station.  A guy from Sydney was trying to buy a ticket to Freemantle which is on the ocean…Perth is inland a few miles on the Swan River.  We started to talking and I decided to go off with him to Freemantle.  The train ride was smooth and all of a sudden the Indian Ocean was next to us.  Freemantle reminded me of Sydney’s Manly Beach.  Plenty of holiday people there and I really enjoyed it.  It reminded me of Cabo Arial near Buzios, Brasil.

Marcus is a chef and works at a fancy place north of Sydney.  His family is from Taipai and he just got back from a wedding in Singapore.  We had a great day walking around Freemantle.  I even rolled up my pants and got into the warm Indian Ocean.  We visited the old jail, had a couple of pints at a great pub and caught the train back to Perth to see the fireworks over the Swan River.

They really take this holiday seriously.  It is very much like our July 4th and people were ready to party. We went down to the River side and it was full of people.  They had stunt airplanes, planes skywriting, people jumping into the middle of the crowd (with parachutes), a couple of large stages with live music and guys on motorcycles jumping over trucks…amazing… look for the pixs on http://picasaweb.google.com/helderweb2000/Australia The fireworks were fantastic, the best I have ever seen… they were set off next to the river in about 6 locations and from the top of the skyscrapers behind us in Central Perth.   I had a great Australia Day in Perth.  I plan on going back to Freemantle this week and getting a ferry over to an island and rent a bike for the day.

My days in Australia have gone bye so fast and I like this place… Between Glen and David in Sydney, the tennis in Melbourne and Australia Day in Perth I have been incredibly lucky to be here and experience this great place.

Made it to Perth

Well, I got up early yesterday, got to the airport and had a nice 4 hour flight to Perth in Western Australia.  This place has a different feel to it, and I like the vibe so far.  I walked around the city and finally just pooped out.  My room mates are nice.  One guy is a retired Japanese pilot (this morning I used one of my few Japanese words on him “ohio” which means good morning) he gave me a nice smile.  The person below me is working at the local hospital in the emergency room.  He is 24 and will be a real doctor next year.  The other person is a young guy from County Mead in Ireland.  he works in a pub (go figure).  Today I will visit some museums and art centers.

 

Today is Australia Day (like July 4th) and there will be fireworks tonite on the river.  So I am off to see more of Perth and I hope that some things are open today… Singapore next week….

Last day in Melbourne, Australia

Today I walked to the Park in northern Melbourne.  I had no plans but saw a sign which said Melbourne Zoo.  I thought that might be a nice thing to do.  I got in and asked for a senior discount and a Youth Hostel discount… they gave me a Youth Hostel discount (it cost $19).  I was really surprised that this zoo was so fine.

I got to see gorillas, monkeys, lemurs, snow leopards, lions, giraffes, plenty of snakes and lizards, kangeroos, platapuses (sp?), wombats, a bear,  koalas, and plenty of other animals and birds.  They did a  great job in presenting the animals in a natural setting.

One funny thing happened, I went back to take another look at the kangeroos and there was a video crew interviewing a guy next to a bunch of roos (being fed by the trainers).  A german asked me to take a picture of him with the guy being interviewed.  After I took the picture I asked the guy if he played tennis.  Everybody around us started to laugh.  He told me his name was Tomas Berdych from the Chech Republic.  I found out later that this guy made it to the quarter finals and he is a world class tennis player.  I told him I was sorry and that I just started to become a fan of tennis and wished him good luck on his next game.  He might end up playing against Roger Federer from Switzerland.  sometimes I put my foot in my mouth but I do say what is on my mind.

My plane leaves in the morning at 7:15 so I have to get up at 5, catch a taxi to the train station and get to the airport in time to get my flight.  Not to good planning but it did not sound so bad last July when I booked the flight.I am all set for Perth, will be staying at another YHA hostel there.  Glen’s mom gave me a list of things to do when I am there, including a visit to an island, tour of an old Australian jail and a boat cruise up the river to visit wineries.

This week went by super fast, I walked so much, cooked some great Thai food and learned to appreciate Tennis.  I have about 100 days left of my trip and I could not have had better luck in my travels.  Tonite, some more tennis on TV, early to bed and off to Perth in the AM.

Tennis Anyone?

Thursday Jan 20, 2011  Melbourne, Australia

This is a walking city, very flat and interesting.  I have walked to the Sports Stadiums 3 times now and I think it is about 8 Ks each way.   I was smart enough to come here during the Australian Open.  I am learning plenty about tennis.  Tomorrow I am off for a day at the tennis matches.  I will be going with 5 Dutch guys…  My room mates are all Dutch and they all speak English.  I am not going to provide much info here… not really doing much.

There is a very, very large market here called Victoria Market.  They sell produce and clothes and foods from everywhere on earth.  Last nite I went with some people to the market at nite and there was a live band.  We all bought very large plastic cups of Sangria and it was excellent.  Today I just walked and we watched some of the tennis on a large screen in Federation Square.  I even got a short ride on the tram..spent the whole time figuring out how to buy a ticket from a machine on the tram.

Tonite I made a great veggie pasta dinner… it keeps getting easier for me.  It seems I make new friends in the kitchen.   I got a pomegranate today and shared it with Marlon, a young Dutch guy.  He was not familiar with it.  I told him how Jordan and Abby like them too.  That is it, internet is expensive here so I am doing without for awhile…..

Saturday Jan. 22, 2011   spent yesterday in the sun watching tennis game after tennis game.  I really like watching it live…not sure about on TV.  I got to see world class players here at the Australian Open.  I even got to see Venus Williams play.   When I flew from Sydney to Melbourne I talked to a lady who spent many years backpacking.  We talked so much I do not remember much of the flight.  She set me up with getting into the tennis matches and I will always be grateful to her.  I probably would not have been bothered to buy tickets and go watch tennis.  Now I think I am a fan… It was a fantastic day.

I walked to the market today and bought a couple of new blue shirts with Australia on them.  My days are going fast in Australia and the only problem is that it costs plenty of money to be here.. hoping that will change once I leave Australia….  Might have to borrow some money from my children…..yeah right.

off to the pub with my friends….

New city for me

Melbourne, Australia Jan. 19, 2011

Made it to Melbourne yesterday,  Glen took me to the Sydney airport and parked his car, bought me some coffee and stayed with me at the gate until I boarded.   Nice friend!!!   I got to sit next to a beautiful Aussie lady and we talked the whole way to Melbourne.  She told me about travelling around the world for over 5 years.  She was on her way to the Australian Tennis Open which will be going on for the next 2 weeks.   She told me I should visit the site and get to see some tennis.  I am planning to go on Thursday.

I checked into the YHA Metro hostel and it is large, clean and organized.  I paid for my week here and a week in Perth.  Plenty of money but I am set until I get to Singapore.  Last nite there was a little wine and cheese party on the roof last nite and I got to meet a beautiful German girl, some french people and of course some UK people.  I had a couple small glasses of red wine and then I gave my New Zealand hat to Sina, as she is going there soon to work.  That is 3 of those Peru type hats I have bought and lost or given away.

I went with the crew to a local comedy club and really enjoyed the people who got up and told jokes.  It was free, but I bought 3 beers for our table and the kids all shared the beer.  Today I will hang out here and later on I will ride the trolley cars to see the downtown of Melbourne…  I saw the tall buildings from the roof last nite and it looked very nice.

Although my time in Sydney was so filled with good times and friends I know I will get back in the back packing swing of things immediately.

Hope all is well with all of you and I am putting the pixs up at helderweb.com as much as I can.  BTW my room mates are 2 Italians and a Dutch guy.  Once again a little UN here.

ciao baby

goodbye Sydney…

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Sydney Australia

Well I am off today for Melbourne, do not like the fact that I am leaving such a great City and such good friends here.  My week has been full of plenty of touring, eating David’s gourmet food, drinking some very good wine and a few beers at some great pubs.  Glen has filled every day here with things to do and see.  I could not of had a better time.  As this is the mid-point of my 8 month trip I look forward to the rest of it and I am amazed on the first half.  Plenty of luck for me.

On Sunday we took a long walk along the beaches.  We parked at Coogee Bay and walked along the paths up and down the cliffs and along several other beaches.  It was one of the first real hot sunny days and everybody was out swimming and just enjoying themselves.  When we got back we had some finger food that David had prepared and walked a couple of blocks to a music venue called Camelot and there was 2 guys playing classical Indian music.  One guy played a couple of tablas and the other played a sitar-like instrument called a Sarod.  (note to son number 1…it would be a nice thing if you could restring my tabla before I get back….just saying)

On the way back I got to see something very amazing.  As the sun was setting in the west, some very large bats flew over our heads into a full moon… these “flying foxes” bats were very large and the site was bizarre.  This is what happens when you travel, you get to see something completely new almost everyday.

Yesterday Glen took me and his beautiful friend Maureen up to the Blue Mountains, a couple hours drive from Sydney.  This was a nice ride up to a very scenic place.  It was a little like the Helderberg Escarpment only about 10 times larger.   I  got to see some rural parts of Australia and I like what I saw.  we stopped at some little villages and had something to eat and drink.  Later on we had a beer in an old fashioned pub.  When we got back to the City we picked up Glen’s mom and came back to the apartment for my last dinner which David had prepared.  We had risotto (Italian rice), salmon, pan fried potatoes and then we had a dessert of figs and bananas with the best ice cream I have ever had in my life (actually the first ice cream I have had since Sept.)

Well, back to my normal backpacking existence with a deep appreciation to Glen for making my Sydney visit such a good one.

My days in Sydney, Australia

Saturday, January 15, 2011, Sydney, Australia.

I have had the good luck of having some friends here in this very big city…. I met Glen back in Crete and he has been a wonderful host to me here in Australia. He lives in a very nice high rise, has a couple of daughters and 3 grand-children. He has a flat mate David who is a very interesting person. David has a son living here too who is a very serious young man with some life goals…

I have been treated like a king while I have been here. Glen has showed me so much of this area. I will try to cover a few of the things we did so far. When I got here he took me for a ride around the city, including the 2 famous bridges here, down to the water for a view of the Opera House across the bay. I got to see Bondi Beach, on the ocean and Botany Bay on the bay.

Sydney is very widespread and it consists of individual neighborhoods, each with its own character. the first nite I went out with Glen, David and his son Jack to a local Vietnamese place. I have gone off my diet a little, eating some seafood, but basically sticking with my veggies. David is a goumet cook and I am loving it. Last nite he made Thai Green Veggie Curry… I watched him do it and wrote down the instructions in my notebook. This morning he made some homemade Humus. This is a very sophisticated life here, the neighborhood has plenty of great places to eat and also not far from the train station.

Yesterday Glen and I got a day pass which covered the trains and boats. We took the train to the Central Quay and caught a boat to Manly Beach… this was an amazing. One side on the bay and the other on the ocean. We walked along the beach and up to the south head point which is the ocean entrance into the very large Sydney harbor. We had a beer at a local pub (Coopers Ale) and got a veggie plate at a sushi bar. Learning to use chop sticks and I am always getting something new and interesting to eat while I travel.

We got back to the central quay and caught a little boat and went under the Sydney Bridge and got into the middle of a bunch of little sail boats which were really moving in the high winds.  After a day on the Harbor we caught the train back to the neighborhood and had a great dinner which David prepared for us.  We watched a good movie…Crazy Hearts and I went to sleep very fast.

One nice thing I got to do was to go to Surry Hills and have some drinks and a snack with a couple of Buzios friends.  Paul and Kelly are from the UK but are now living here in Sydney and working in the music business.  It was so nice to see them again and looked very happy here.   We talked about our time together in Buzios and what places we have been to since last Feb.   Amazing to see people you know in different places in the world.  I asked them to visit me in Cape Cod and I hope I get to see them some day.

Today will be a down day, we are going over to visit with Glen’s mom and one of his daughters.  His mom is a real character.  A very interesting lady who liked her drink and even smoked some cigs….  I listened to her stories about her time in Perth and postings in Mylasia.  more about Sue later.

First time in Australia

Been on the move the past few days…. a plane ride to Wellington, a jet to Auckland, a nite in Freeman’s Bay Lodge in Auckland (got my passport with my new Viet Nam Visa) and a bus to the airport for my ride to Sydney, Australia. The flight was uneventful (Air Argentina), the lines for passports, customs (mainly food control) and baggage claim were long. And there was Glen, my friend from the Greek islands, there waiting for me. the last time I saw him was Oct. 2009 when we had a great dinner outside in a square in Athens.

Glen brought me back to his apartment which is a highrise with a great view of Sydney. We went for a drive over the famous bridges and a walk across from the opera house. We went out to a great Vietnamese dinner and I fell asleep real fast and woke up early (still on Auckland time which is 2 hours ahead of Sydney).

today we went to Botany Bay across from the airport and had a nice coffee and watched the planes taking off and landing. we also went to Centennial Park and walked around the lakes and watched the ducks, swans, ravens, magpies and turtles doing what they do. Australia is different than New Zealand, I think it is a little closer to USA…but there are some wonderful different things here. Got my laundry done, took a nice shower and I am being treated like a King here…. thanks Glen