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We were sooo looking forward to getting to Australia. I had always longed to go and Mark for the guaranteed sunshine. So of course it was a little disappointing when we turned up to Adelaide to a few not so warm and rainy days. Couple that with having to traipse around the city to get our macbook looked at once again and although I’d taken an instant shine to the city, Mark was not instantly impressed with Adelaide/Australia – due to his lack of guaranteed sunshine. I had a load of hassle to deal with upon discovering someone had been fraudulently using one of my bank card details back in the UK – lots of pizzas, and taxis and online shopping for those scumbags!!! Luckily, First Direct have been really good at sorting it out but it is tricky with time differences and having to have long, expensive telephone conversations. It did add a bit more hassle and stress that we didn’t need.
Skip forward a few days and Mark would happily live here, especially in the house we are staying, more about which later. The temperatures have zoomed up into the 30s and it’s difficult not to fall in love with this characterful, laid back city.
Let’s start with where we are staying. Having turned our back on hostels for now, this was our first booking with the airbnb site, where you basically stay in someone’s spare room, or sometimes your own place. Mark was reticent about sharing someones home, but I had figured it was better sharing a few peoples homes, who care about their homes, than with tens of transient folk who aren’t really bothered.
The house bowled us over immediately. It’s a 70s juice factory converted into two properties. It’s very industrial but not too harsh. A huge open space with the long, amazing kitchen – a swing (I kid you not) and to Mark’s utter delight, a baby grand piano.
There are glass doors covering half of two walls, leading out onto a decked area that over looks a park and just under a huge eucalyptus tree.
This massive tree is home to a couple of possums who we haven’t seen as they live up high during the day and sneak down at night. We did miss one by about 5 seconds as he’d scarpered by the time we were alerted to his presence. Apparently the occasional koala goes up there too. I nearly wet myself when I heard that – how lame – but it’s exciting!!! Also, I am clearly ignorant as I didn’t realise that firstly, koalas would ever turn up in such suburban areas, I thought they were all out in the sticks. Secondly, I didn’t realise that they wander about at night, which is when they find their new digs. I have since seen the ‘careful of walking koalas at night’ signs on the roads.
I have also since learned that at some point in Adelaide, they made the conscious decision to have as many trees in the streets and parks as possible to encourage all the native creatures back into what was at one time quite a baron city.
The birds out the back of the house are also pretty cool. Lorakeets, bright coloured parrot type creatures and rozellas (or something like that) which are gorgeous colours and come in pairs – awww. There’s loads of other ones of various styles and sizes. It’s lovely to sit out there although they are noisy little buggers!!!
The part we are staying in is like it’s own mini apartment. A kind of front room/study where we can watch tv or use the desk, leading onto a bedroom (with a filled bookcase – oh joy!) and that leads onto a small dressing room which leads onto the bedroom. After the hotels and hostels we’ve been staying in, we were super excited to see this luxury and this space.
On our first day, after getting a taxi from the airport to an out of the way mac repair shop to drop our laptop off, which was a rigmarole I won’t go into, we made it to the house in the Kensington suburb that would be our home for the next week. We went out to stock up on a few things from the local shops, the house’s owner, John, had left us a map to the nearest supermarket.
Once we’d done that, tired and a bit bewildered after an early start in New Zealand, we stopped at a bar opposite the supermarket. It was a bit rough n ready but did the job. We were so tired we decided we would wait and eat there as there didn’t seem to be much else about.
Luckily, John phoned us and saved us – apparently 10 minutes the other way was an area called Norwood which is a hotbed of cafes and restaurants. Now that was more like it. We found a lovely bar to grab a drink in before chowing down in a fantastic, authentically atmosphere-filled, Italian called the European Cafe. I must point out that I was quite stunned that the bar had their patio heaters on. I mean I know it wasn’t quite the weather we were expecting but it was still around 20 degrees. Crazy!
The next day we hopped on a bus to explore Adelaide. The city centre is oddly surrounded almost entirely by a park in a square shape. It makes it easy to navigate, especially with the mainly grid system streets. The architecture was all quite cute and as a city as a whole, there was a nice mixture of old and new and it became quite clear, early on that food is a major thing here.
We hit Gouge Street, noted as one of the key foodie streets and despite having best intentions not to eat out, the array of smells just reeled us in. We stared longingly in many restaurant windows, wincing slightly at the prices and then headed into the small china town area and into a very basic, plastic chaired, uninspiring food hall. There was around 20 – 30 mini counters where you could get a variety of asian food. Mark quickly spotted the stand for ‘all you can eat for $6.80’ – I went with it because, to be honest, everything else seemed to confusing – I’d never have worked out what I wanted. Despite, the pastic plates and trays and the cheaper price, the food was really rather good. Of course, Mark, being a man, took the all you can eat thing, rather than a good way of getting good food, as a ‘challenge’ and piled his plate so high it was a high risk he wouldn’t make it to a table without some kind of collapse.
After eating we went into the Central Market. This is an undercover market, but has an outdoor feel and is foodie heaven. Every stall you can thing of selling everything you could dream of. The mushroom stall, the smelly cheese stall, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, sweets, bakeries, frozen yoghurt – everything. Having been back since the first time, we have discovered that going to the central market and the food hall, just before closing time, is the way to go – loads of food and produce is reduced. Get us getting into the swing of this backpacker budgeting!!! Oh,
alright, it was purely by accident we turned up close to closing time, but still – ‘strawberries for $1 – got to be a result
Later on our first visit to Adelaide we were a little perturbed when it rained for a good chunk of the afternoon. I say perturbed, Mark was right royally p’d off. Australia had promised him sunshine. Where on earth was it? I have to admit, it was a little dis-heartening after dreaming of the hot weather for so long in New Zealand. But we managed to check out a fair chunk of the city. Mark found a second hand camera lens he’d been looking for for ages, so that cheered him up. I gave in, having resisted for 2 months and bought an umbrella. That did the trick and the rain stopped. Of course!!!
So we went home and celebrated by Mark cooking us kangaroo steaks and salad which was really rather delicious.
Not only is the house we are staying in lovely, but the area is really lovely with a ton of character properties like the old boot store building up the road and the ‘Rising Sun’ an old fashioned pub which is now an amazing restaurant and bar. The thing that got me super excited is that along the roads where they have planting beds, often around areas designed to slow the traffic (the sign says ‘Slow Point’, no prices for guessing what Mark did when he saw this sign!) – but they have rosemary planted in them. A herb that I am slightly obsessed with and love the idea that if you run out while cooking your roast, you can pop out onto the street!