It’s morning and with full steed, I take to narrow streets of Barcelona to get a sense of what city life is like, but as the Spanish have their siestas between 9 – 5, there’s no one around. There’s is nothing going on, it resembles the livestock of stables near a Findus factory. Horse jokes are still relevant, right?
With lack of entertainment being supplied by the general populace and uninterested by the intriguing architecture, I look to the pavement. There’s something particularly European about it, the arrangement of concrete and ominous stains and its colourful array of varied browns. I’m not disgusted by this, as I know, if I’m ever drugged and dumped in a random location, I could treat the pavement as a barcode and know instantly where I am in the world, within a square mile.
I grow weary of scanning the pavement and look up. I now seem to be on a hill overlooking the city; mountains in the distance guard the medley of sun-baked colourful lowrises with a few buildings poking out to the break the uniforms cityscape as is flows into a very blue Mediterranean sea. It’s all typically picturesque, so much so, I took a photo and descend from the hill to stop off in a café for a quick coffee.
Taking my espresso, I look round to observe the café’s patrons and where to sit. On each table, there was a lonely middle aged women looking forlornly at the table, at least they were until I walked in, like the stallion I am, that’s when their eyes lit up and followed me around the room like the rays that follow your hand from a static electricity plasma lamp.
There was one in particular, an overweight haggard version of Vivienne Westwood. Perusing my attention by subtly adjusting her hair as if she was in a shampoo commercial and pouting her lips as if the bottom half of her face was caught in vacuum cleaner’s hose.
Being the coward of confrontation and awkward moments, I down the espresso right there and then, scalding my throat in the process, place the coffee back on the counter to the owner’s amazement and to put it politely, get the fuck out of there.
After I see a lady being pickpocketed by a man trying to steal her entire belt, which was met with lots of running, shouting, threatening and people not caring too much as they’re glad it wasn’t them, my day became much less exciting.
I was on the verge of returning to the café and hook up with Vivienne Westwood and run away to the hills of Grenada and make sweet, sweet love. I, however, decide against that idea and instead, hunt for graffiti in the Raval.
Departing the plane in Barcelona, the sky is pure blue that descends into a hazy brown of filth from air pollution, a signature sight that’s unique to Spain.
For some unbeknownst reason patience is running low for the Spanish passengers around me which considering the fact that our plane was 20 minutes ahead of schedule, seems, well, slightly odd. The lady in front of me is most frustrated and lets her feelings known to the passport officer, though she’s probably passing on praise passionately for a lovely flight.
I take my turn. The officer, grabs my passport, quickly analyses it and throws it back to me and without a smile tells me to go. I can only assume he doesn’t like hearing about people’s positive experiences and has somewhat irked him.
As my flight is early, I’m forced to hang around the arrivals hall waiting for my friend. In amongst the short conversations of constant refusal for a taxi with the local salesmen, I get a good look at the people arriving home to Spain and I can’t quite put my finger on what’s not normal about the situation.
I continue to observe and dissect the evidence in front of me to find a conclusion to this abnormality. A lady wanders the concourse wearing the skin from every animal featured on Noah’s Ark with a man looking like a reincarnation of Bob Marley as a white geography teacher. I could criticise this, but I imagine somewhere in London there’s a Spaniard criticising on how everyone dresses like they’re from Buck Rogers.
It then comes to me, what I’d failed to put my finger on, what short arms the Spanish have.
Arriving to my place of temporary residence, off the main street through an inconspicuous door, into a dark narrow stairwell up to a small cosy flat, I decide that getting groceries is the adult sensible thing to partake in at this very moment.
As I approach the local supermercats (or as I like to call them, Sperm Cats) I’m greeted by a homeless lady with a pot asking in the Spanish equivalent for spare change. Not knowing Spanish, I say no by giving a half smile and a shrug, she seems fine by this and I enter the store with no further hindrance.
The store is amazingly foreign and seems to only sell 4 items; croissants, sliced meat, toilet paper and wine, cheap wine, €1 for a bottle. Naturally distracted by this, I fill my basket with Spain’s finest rocket fuel pick up some croissants and pat myself on the back on a successful shop.
Leaving, the homeless lady, again, grabs my attention and instinctively I half smile and shrug. She seems upset by this until she spies my bag of groceries and her emotion changes. “Ahh, you’re English, eh? So obvious.” I’ve never been mocked by a tramp for buying alcohol before. Unsure how to cope with the situation, I simply extended my half smile/half shrug turn to full versions and casually walked off, dragging along with me load heavy bags making the soft sound of tinkering bottles and my own sadness.
- Met up with a friend
- Met at a hostel
- I'm too old for hostels
- Drank a drink at the hostel
- Realised drinks in a hostel are really rather cheap
- Drank a few more drinks at the hostel
- Realised I'm not too old for hostels after all
- Guys night watching films
- Evil Dead II
- Didn't remember half of what actually happened from the first time I watched this tongue-in-cheek horror
- Still a great film
- The Losers
- Modern tongue-in-cheek mindless action film
- Another great film
- Last day of work, forever.
- Final drinks at The Royal
- Seemed fitting as that was the first place I had drinks when I got to Perth
- Final Champagne Thursday
- Day in Freo
- Ate breakfast at the Mussel Bar
- Grabbed a brilliantly thick hot chocolate
- Watched a film
- The Avenger
- Was freaking amazing!
- Evening in Subiaco
- Tasty woodfire pizza
- Swanky Llama Bar for swanky drinks
- Another day, another film.
- Hangover II
- Reminiscing over Thailand
- Clarences for meal
- Experiences a taste of Perth's comedy fest
- Saw a trio of musical funny people called Tripod
- Watched the FA Cup Final
- Disappointingly boring.
- 50ml for breakfast
- Watched TV with one housemate
- Went for a family meal with another housemate
- Breakfast overlooking the beach and overly aggressive sea at Cottesloe
- Drive to Swan Valley
- Sampled a bit of wine
- Played mini-golf
- Won mini-golf
- Back to Leederville to relax at Greens & Co.
- Played Connect 4
- Won Connect 4
- Irish Pub for a few drinks
- Home for some good ne' fashioned home made Chilli
- Burrito for lunch
- Walk around Lake Monger
- Saw a tortoise!
- Burrito with friends
- Driven to the airport
- R and R.
- R and R.
- Mini-road trip down to the Serpentine Valley
- Brilliant forests
- Great roads
- Roadside fresh fruit stalls
- More reservoirs than you can shake a stick at
- This area of Perth was a nice unexpected surprise.
- Late afternoon walking dog at the beach
- Evening Fondue party
- How VERY grown up!
- and a tad 70s
- Drinking games until 2am
- Dog Beach
- R and R.
- R and R.
- Thai food
Day's Verdict: Pad Thai.
- Shopping mall fun at the food court
Day's Verdict: Hmm.
- Authentic Italian at a small, always packed place called Il Ciao
- Nice yummy pizza
Day's Verdict: Bella.
- 4pm drinking
- Beer pong
- Promoted to beer and rum pong
- Then just rum, no pong
- Other drinking games happened, I think
- Not overly sure.
Day's Verdict: Messy.
- R and R.
Day's Verdict: Nothing of interest happened.
- R and R.
Day's Verdict: Nothing of interest happened.
- Out with friends to an Indonesian food place
- Went to a small bar called Frisk with a million types of gin
- Tried a club but the fights, the queue and general scum-bags, caused us to make the right decision
- Not going
- Walked home to Leederville, lost most people
- Found people
- Went to someone's house for post-food-drink-drinks
Day's Verdict: Drinky Drunky.
- ANZAC day
- Remember the war and it's people
- Breakfast out at some chilled place reading papers
- Watch an AFL match on TV, thrilling game between two teams, one in one colour and another in a another colour.
- Cider, much much cider.
Day's Verdict: Over-exhausting.
- R and R.
Day's Verdict: Nothing of interest happened.
- Pad Thai night
- Watched Johnny English
- Watched Thor
- Very very good
Day's Verdict: Blissful.
- Day spent in the city, mooching around
- Night spent at Raffles for a 30th
- Later night spent at house party for someone's leaving event
Day's Verdict: Mixed.
- Day in Northbridge
- Yum Cha for breakfast
- Quite a sight to be experienced
- All these carts of steamed food doing the rounds of all these random bits and pieces
- Watched acrobatic comedy
- Surprisingly good for what seemed like an amateur event planned by the city
- PICA Art gallery
- One of my favourite art galleries, so was going to enjoy it even if I didn't understand half of this 'art'
- Sunday Session
- Mount Lawley to a very nice bar called 5bar
- Drinking this incredible red wine
- Quaffing down on amazing oysters
Day's Verdict: A bloody great Sunday.
- R and R.
Day's Verdict: Nothing of interest happened.
- Champange Thursday
- Hired a boat in Mandurah
- Boat, more like a floating couch.
- Set sail across the Peel Inlet down to an old mill
- Drank beers and ate food in the sunshine
- I took the helm and got everyone wet.
- Wasn't allowed to drive anymore
- Saw a dolphin
- Evening picnic at King's Park with friends
- Fell asleep and woken up by guy telling jokes
- at 2am
- Went home to sleep proper.
- R and R.
- Dog sitting
- Friend round for a plate of beige food
- He never came round again
- Outdoor Cinema
- Watched The Rum Diary, thought it was a great film that didn't really go anywhere.
- It also rained.
- Chairs were also uncomfortable.
- Night in downtown
- Cheeky sparrow, typical alcohol/food place for people with too much money and not enough fashion sense.
- Amplifier Bar, typical alcohol/music place for people with too little money and not enough fashion sense.
Day's Verdict: Fashion seems to be a problem in Perth.
- Watched Synchronised swimming.
- Tiny Malaysian robots were incredible
- The rest were a bit shit
- Saw Australian team that are going to London Olympics
Day's Verdict: I didn't feel the over-need for a shotgun to the face.
- Breakfast at my new favourite place, 50ml.
- Paddleboarding afterwards.
- Cooked pesto stuffed mushrooms.
Day's Verdict: Just a day-ish.
- R and R.
- Drank a hot chocolate
Day's Verdict: Action packed.
- R and R.
My mummy is making a gigantic trip from one side of the world to the other on her lonesome to some see me down-under. Ahh, how nice and how pleasant!
This also means an action-packed fun-filled road-weary scenery-overloaded itinerary that has been planned by me over the next couple of days, as I drag my mummy around Perth and surrounding areas, we both explore this place together for the first time.
Mum arrived and had a Chinese with my housemates, to be what I consider an explosive start to the itinerary!
I had to work during the day leaving a blank space of events until I returned, to hear my mum getting ready to go out to The Garden in Leederville with the girls from home and work, which oddly I wasn't formally invited to, as I'm sure these devious girl were just after getting gossip on me, I duly put it upon myself to gatecrash the event therefore regulating and stopping any vicious lies and rumours from being spread about me.
Going for a walk in the car, I drive us through the 'burbs from Leederville down to Matilda Bay and along the Swan River to end up at Cottesloe Beach for a late tasty breakfast of, blah on blah with a side salsa baked beans.
The annual event of sculptures by the sea was still going on so we walked along the bustling beach in-and-around the various indoor and outdoor displays, looking at and deciphering metal steps, ambiguous bodies, sandbag living rooms, fabric things with trunks, shoes made of maps, multicoloured cars, red pigs and rods of perspex.
Leaving Cottesloe, we drove up the coast past the scrub dune land, to City Beach to spend the afternoon, soaking the sun while walking along the sand and partaking in a little bit of swimming/not drowning.
From there we drove back in land towards Perth's Downtown and to East Perth to take a late afternoon walk from Claisebrook Cove along the riverfront, passing the WACA we spot some dolphins, which was met with lots of verbal ecstatic liveliness, continuing to the Lucky Shag by Perth's infamous bell tower for a post-walk lager cooler. We finish the walk going through the gardens near the council building and getting a CAT bus back to East Perth.
Evening brought entertainment in the form of an Aussie BBQ by the pool, hosted by a Scottish friend, cooked by an Englishman, and mostly attended by everyone else, though mainly Scottish...
Morning walk on the Dog Beach down near North Fremantle with my housemate, always a good spot when you're feeling a little dog sick to help realise that your own dog would probably panic kill most of the dogs here, if placed in this situation.
We drove north to Matilda Bay so my housemate and I, could teach mum how to paddleboard which considering her timid and stiff scared paddling and balancing technique managed to accomplish half hour of getting out and back without falling in, very impressive!
My housemate and I ditch my mum on the shoreside as we went for a proper paddle to annoy some pelicans. We returned back to shore and sat on the riverside looking at the other energetic people, then, we spot some dolphins, which was met with lots of verbal ecstatic liveliness.
After a early afternoon rest and recoup, we drove back down the Fremantle to experience the joys it has so that'll be a packed Little Creatures brew house, a look at The Roundhouse and 'umming' and 'ahhing' at old building in the vicinity.
The evening we had a meal at Clancy's Fish Restaurant at City Beach as we (I'm sure there were other there, not sure now) all watched the sunset.
Driving north to Caversham a small out posted village in nowhere's ville, we eventually find in amongst all the oddly placed attractions, namely the steam engine train museum, the Wildlife park, where we enjoyed looking at animals from all over Australia, which was a pleasant experience, though anything behind cages, especially birds is a bit awkward, regardless the main reason for being there was to see kangaroos and that we did, in a central enclosure we walked amongst them as they bounced, lied and poop'd around us as we coaxed them to come near us with free food.
Driving further north, we enter the Swan Valley and experienced a few wine tastings, though mostly enjoyed the chocolate factory snooping, overwhelming coffee tasting and information overload and the unbelievably serene and tasty lunch overlooking the vineyard of River's Edge.
We continued our exploration as we aimed the car towards the Perth hills, where we were greeted with hazy views over Perth and (personally fun, probably less so for mum) empty country roads, we stopped off at Kookaburra for a small walk into the forest the treated us to a spectacular view over the Mundaring Reservoir and neighbouring hills.
As we began our long way back drive to Perth we passed the dam we'd saw from above and walked along it, and admired the old pump station and further views through and over the hills on one side as still wind tampered surface of the water adjacent were reflecting the tree line and sky almost perfectly.
Today we head south, deep south, not that deep, but deep enough, to Margaret River.
The drive was typical with long brick walls, motorways with the occasional deviation through to the Scenic Tourist Drive, which was both scenic and a drive, not much in the way of tourist though, we stopped off at Bunbury to take in the panoramic view of Bunbury from the aptly name Rotary View, before grabbing a quick coffee from some social club-on-sea
Arriving into Margaret River, we check into our unbelievably amazing apartment, with its high bright ceilings over an open planned layout with a large balcony overlooking the forest, which was a little bit unexpected.
We head out to stretch our legs and get our orientation as we walk through town and down along Margaret River itself, stopping off along the way to ask some commoner with a regal attitude where the path for the walk begins.
The walk along the river was so calming with the sights and sounds of real nature, snapshots between gaps of the trees as the river created a jungle-like view with small sand islands with dead Karri trees poke out of the water, with kookaburras flying around as mum sang the accompanying theme song for them.
Crossing a quiet part of the river over a dam, we were treated to something I found, so incredible and calming; the sun was beaming down on the mirror like river onto our faces, a cloud above started to gently burst with soft raindrops that floated towards and around us like gentle cherry blossom, the wind meandered and rippled in between the trees leaving long rippled footprints on the water's surface, all the while a duck was idly swimming and quaking along, unaware of all this goings on.
Walking back into town, it was happy hour so we stopped off at Corners Bar for a drink outside as we feigned a intellectual conversation to really bitch and judge other people that were coming in and out of the bar. The evening was spent relaxing with a Goodfellas salmon pizza while watching a film or documentary on the telebox.
Expedition today of Margaret River's Cave Road. Starting off at Edward's wine makers which was closed, but wanted to show mum the story of the owner who flew an old bright yellow plane from Bristol, UK to Margaret River.
Next we drove further north, to Gracetown a small hilly village situated on the middle of the this South-Western Australian peninsular, we parking up after a small bit of off-roading and a lizard sighting, we arrive to a brilliant outlook of the ocean and surrounding cliffs, we walk down a few hundred steps to the beach to walk along the sand and get a better look at the surfers carving wakes into these massive waves.
Driving back south through the landscape of farming, cattle, deer and grapes we stop off a the Historical site of Ellensbrook a farm, or something, a small white building surrounded by burnt trees and the like.
Continuing south, Surfer's Point at Prevelin Beach was our next destination where the Margaret River Pro Surfing Competition was on, we didn't stay for long, but long enough for me to see prolific surfer and world champion, Kelly Slater.
Our drive south to Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta saw us blown away by a truly spectacular and unbelievable section of the Boranup Karri Forest, that was magical and out of this world, a look beneath the canopy and behind the bushes as this section presented you with an endless view of seemingly bright white bark, it's hard to explain it as anything but, awesome. Lighthouse was OK.
Taking a scenic drive back up north via Flinder's Bay to learn about whaling and Hardy's Inlet to admire the kite and windsurfers, we spot some dolphins, which was met with lots of verbal ecstatic liveliness.
Venturing back into the forest we stop off at Jewel Cave to be guided through the largest/biggest touristic cave in the world, which was both large, big, wonderful, errie, informative, very impressive and when the lights are off, dark. Probably could've been made better had our guide been less concerned about the animals that were trapped down here years and years ago and more about something else like, rock.
Afterwards we head to my favourite spot, Hamelin Bay a large open sandy bay with a shallow reef and magnificent mysterious limestone cliffs, walking towards said cliffs passing the remnants of an old shipping pier, there was something in the waves. A big bastard of a stingray, that's what, which took mum by surprise.
Walking along the beach as the sun began to drop, the clouds come to cool the place off, we decided to try and get to a prime spot to admire the sunset at its best, Boranup Outlook, driving a Toyota Corolla getting semi-lost in semi-offroad conditions in a forest at nightfalling probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
The reward up top was more than enough, worth the danger for me, with panoramic views over the top of the forest canopy streaming down to the ocean as the sun, hidden from view by a slither of clouds sitting on the distant horizon, was a murky orange explosion as it eventually got dark and the first stars started to come out, it was time to head home.
Margaret River is food and wine country, so obviously that calls for a wine tour and being guided around some of the estates to see if their produce is up to standards.
Starting off at the big beautiful estate of the Watershed, where we were taught how to appreciate and drink wine as we worked our way up and down the reds and whites, then we off we went to Leeuwin estate tucked away in the forests, famous for its outdoor festivals that pulls in 'the big names' and it's extensive and expensive barrel room art gallery in the basement. Voyager estate for an amazing lunch and tasting, based on a South African villa with fantastic a rose garden kept by 7 gardeners.
Afterwards, we visited a boutique establishment that specialised in not just wine, but nougat also, obviously food was appearing more into our schedule to help sober us up, as we then visited the chocolate and cheese factories, before continuing the liquid testing at another boutique place that made lots of sweet wines and very seemed knowledgeable about alpacas and pigs. We finished up at a brewery, where I got a paddle taster of 5 or 6 different beers.
That evening was a little bit humiliating as I pretty much passed out on the sofa while mum kept on trucking and being lively.
Our last day in Margaret River, we grabbed a very good coffee to start our day at McHenry's and drove north to Bunker Bay, stopping off at beaches and various interesting points along the way from Moses Rock beach, Injidup Point with it's amazing deep sanded empty and serene beach, Super Tubes beach, Canal Rocks, with it's impressive display of water smashing and coursing through the rocks, Yallingup village for watching surfers at it's big busy beach and Cape Naturaliste where we were bombarded and swarmed by flies, then at Bunker Bay enjoying another peaceful sunny beach walk before grabbing a drink at a nearby beach side cafe.
Leaving there via a short and scenic Eagle Road we begin our drive back to Perth, stopping off at Busselton Jetty, the longest jetty of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and yes, they'd be right, it was long, very long, pretty though.
Deviating from the highway home, we snuck into a very atmospheric and quiet Tuart Forest, wide unmarked roads bordered by big established trees with the occasional small farm building, one of an historical importance as the forest mellowed away into marsh land, following the road from here to a small village attached to an endlessly long narrowish calm beach called Peppermint Tree, tranquil was is the only word that comes to mind with this area.
Driving back onto the main highway and the sun was dropping deep, we get ambushed by hundred of Kangaroos as they littered the sides of the roads and near-by field.
Time was getting tight but we managed to reach Bunbury again and complete our holiday-within-a-holiday at the social club-on-sea to have a drink and watch the sun go down, marking the end of an incredible trip down to Margaret River.
After an energetic trip the last few days, taking it easy was definitely on the agenda for today, and there's nothing more relaxing than a 15 mile walk around Perth, from Leederville to Harbour Town and into Perth City, exploring the Barracks, shops, historical buildings and eventually making our way to the lacklustre King's Park, though the war memorial and the view over Perth was interesting.
Heading back to Perth and stopping off at The Aviary for a late, late lunch we cross Horseshoe bridge into Northbridge and explore the more creative Asian side of the area, stopping off at the pretentious but actually quite good PICA, before heading back to Leederville to collapse.
Exploration of the North today, as we drove to Scarborough (OK), Trigg (Quiet) and North (Good) Beaches before stopping off at Hillary's to explore the harbour area and see all the British ex-pats annoyingly enjoying themselves.
Continuing up Ocean Reef Road to Burns Beach and more sedate, still British heavy beach, surrounded seemingly moronic mass of tightly compacted large gardenless villas and to be greeted by a man on a giant motorised parachute floating up and down the coastline.
Reaching Mindarie Keys Harbour, a low key and relaxed area, with houses close to the calm waters with accompanying large boats, and a long section of bars and restaurants, all naturally filled up with British people speaking loud inane nonsense about the weather and Spam ruined what would've been a nice pit-stop. Heading back south, to see what Lake Joonadlup was all about, seeing as it was dry and filled with British people having BBQs with their kids, not much of any interest was going on.
The evening we had a rather pleasant BBQ in suburbia with real certified Australians!
Exploration of the South today, as we drove to Mandurah and enjoyed a cruise through the canals and estuary, admiring the intriguing war memorial, even more intriguing mostly ugly large manors and seeing lots of wildlife and being told lots of history about the place.
Heading north to Rockingham and Point Peron for a small beach walk then through to East Rockingham for an ice cream break, overlooking the causeway to the military base on Garden Island.
Afterwards, we went spent some time reflecting at the giant war memorial at Kwinana and going 'wow' a lot at the top half of a submarine, before exploring the industrial side of Perth with its oil refineries, marine centres and various other things that were going on there, even though it sounds a bit bleak, I found it to be quite marvelling, as I'd never seen anything like that, on that scale before.
Getting back to nature we became one again with the countryside as we took a quick stop at Woodman Point in Coogee to walk along the pier filled with fishermen, tame inquisitive pelicans and we spot some dolphins, which was met with lots of verbal ecstatic liveliness.
The sun was starting to set so, we decided to get a sundowner at the Left Bank in Fremantle, watching boats and traffic pass us by as we recalled all the photos that were taken, albeit were forced to take.
With the sun orange remnants on the horizon, we drive to one of my favourite spots of Perth via the suburbs of impressive houses to, Point Walter, a parkland that has a spit of sandy beach that reaches out into one of the corners of the meandering Swan River, as traces of the sun truly disappeared.
A quiet relaxed day, as it was my mum's last day, starting off with a spot o' shopping in the morning and driving the wrong way and ending up being way inland and up far north (instead of west and south) but we did see some large satellites, so ever cloud...
Arriving at our intended destination, City Beach we spend a few hours, soaking in the sun, body surfing and general relaxation and recouping.
We leave City Beach and drive to Downtown to have lunch at the C Restaurant, a revolving restaurant with great views over Kings Park, Swan River, Downtown, surrounding suburbs, with great visibility that day, we could see for miles all around us to the Hills, Fremantle, Ocean and beyond.
We walk around the shops and take an (accidental) drive down the river and spend the afternoon doing nothing.
The evening saw us back at City Beach with housemates, friends etc. basically everyone, to admire one last sunset and tasty food at Clancy's, before driving mum to the airport and making sure she gets on that bloody plane out of here!
Busy, immensely fun and very rewarding time spent with mum, exploring all that Perth and its areas has to offer, amazing scenes, tastes, sounds, information and just beautiful, something that I will treasure forever, if not, a fairly long time until a better experience comes along.