Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fremantle and onward to wintertime.

Last night I met Meaghan in Fremantle. Fremantle is not quite a city. It's the port of Perth, so even though it seems like a separate town, it isn't. It's a section built up around trade because the big ships can't come down the Swan River into the CBD. I had only called her that morning and luckily she was finished work at 7:00 and able to meet me in the evening. I had planned on being in Perth today as well, but Australia shuts down on Sundays and I needed to take the bus to Albany. Even though we had only met very briefly (were introduced one day while crossing paths in the old Axelrod lab) about 3 years ago, I've been really looking forward to seeing her since Uta mentioned she was in Perth months ago. We'd been chatting about my trip for awhile via e-mail and she had suggested some restaurants and interesting places to see.

We met at the train station. I was the one trying to go through the pass holder exit, holding up the line and setting alarms off, and I recognized her right away. She had a little, borrowed car, and we drove over to the restaurant we wanted to try to get into. Driving on the other side of the road still feels very wrong to me. Also, Aussie cars are small and just don't seem sturdy like Canadian cars do. The streets of Fremantle were empty anyway. The 'cold' was probably keeping all the locals inside (it was about 10 degrees Celsius last night), well for awhile anyway, until the Fremantle late-night bar scene started up.

The restaurant that Meaghan picked, Gypsy Tapas, was fantastic. (Em, you would have DIED. Downtown Guelph needs a tapas bar). She said it was her favourite place in town because it reminded her of the Guelph scene. And I completely agreed. The music and atmosphere was great. We ordered the tapas buffet and the waiters just kept bringing us little plates of food. All of the ingredients were fresh and really well prepared. Meaghan also ordered us a half litre of Gypsy wine, which is basically grape juice that has fermented in a big bucket and is served by the pail full. It goes straight to your head and since she was driving I was responsible for finishing off the wine. It was really, really great to hang out with Meaghan. We laughed and had a great conversation about life in Perth, Australian guys, school, work, Canadian guys, and of course, the lab (Uta if you're reading this, Meaghan says, "hi!" and she misses you! - and I say the same thing!).

Meaghan and I at the restaurant:

Some mostly eaten Tapas plates:

Gypsy wine:

After dinner we walked through Fremantle and then Meaghan dropped me off at the train station. The train dropped me off right at beside my hostel and I fell right asleep, thanks to the Gypsy wine.

This morning, I woke up slowly, thanks again to the Gypsy wine, and said good-bye to Perth. I caught the train for three stops and then boarded a bus down to Albany. The bus drives across the south-western tip of Australia. It took about 6.5 hours to drive to Albany from Perth and the entire trip was through sheep farm country. The little sheep and lambs were all out grazing. The grass here is so green. I don't know how that happens because there really isn't any water anywhere. We didn't drive past a lake or river at all.

If you look closely you can see tiny white spots which are actually hundreds of teensy tiny sheep in a field.

I arrived in Albany at 4:30 and chatted with the women at the tourist information centre for awhile. They told me about all of the interesting things to see and do. Unfortunately, none of those things are open on Sunday. Perth is like Guelph and Albany is like Lakefield. There is a Sunday market that I will be attending though and there is a really nice walk out along the coast. This is whale season, so hopefully I'll be able to see some from the shore. There are whale tours, but they are really expensive. As is everything in WA. It's also very cold here (about 5 degrees Celsius this evening). The hostel I'm staying in is fantastic, great view of the harbour and really nice set-up, but it is very poorly insulated. I would definitely buy some mitts tomorrow, but there won't be anywhere open to buy them. I'll just have to wear all of my clothing in layers.

Okay, the internet is not cheap here nor is it reliable or fast, and my fingers are starting to freeze. I'm off to bed, night and have a lovely summer day in the northern hemisphere!

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