G’day and Happy Valentines day to all…Today all of the WA ifsa students (the 10 of us) traveled to the Swan valley for a bike ride around the vineyards and wine tasting. Swan valley is only 30 min or so from my campus and within the valley there are many wineries and breweries. Throughout the bike ride we stopped at a local coffee house and at an olive oil “farm.” The coffee house was a fantastic and “cute” little place with some potent coffee…one of the best lattes I have had in quite a while…similar to European coffee with even more kick. The olive oil farm was really neat…it was run by just one man who simply grows olives and presses them into oil. Hands down it was the best olive oil I have had…he had many varieties based on different olives and pressing techniques, all of which were delicious. Following the 3 hour ride or so…we held a really slow pace…we stopped at a local winery for an 8 course lunch where we ate and drank amazing food and wine until we were all fat dumb and happy. I believe the winery was Lemont…a 4th or 5th generation winery. I am not a wine snob by any means but it was some great wine and the best food I have eaten in weeks…gotta love a college diet.
Following lunch we all piled back into the van that drove us there and stopped at another winery and a chocolate confectionary. The second winery was a really old place that was set in a really cool underground cellar (see photos). We all sampled around 7 different wines from reds, pinots, and whites. Again, it was really really good wine and to buy a bottle was only around 15-20 US dollars…so not bad…but expensive for a poor college student…I picked up two bottles. It was a great little afternoon and I got to see another new part of the country
I have spent the last couple of days pretty much exploring the cities, beaches and my uni. Of all the cities, Fremantle is my favorite and I see myself spending the majority of my time around there. Freo is a very lively city that is pretty much encompassed with one long main strip where all the action happens. There are many really cool pubs, places to eat and places to shop. The shopping in Australia is quite different than in the States in that everything closes by 5pm and it is pretty pricy too…a simply t-shit will set you back close to 44 (aussie dollars) and a swimsuit seems to run around 90 (aussie dollars) here. Freo is real laid back…as is all of Australia.
One thing that has become real clear to me is that people love to drink here…not that I did not know that Aussies enjoyed a cocktail…but it’s a little crazy. The pub on campus has a steady constant flow of people stopping in for a middy or a pint starting around 11am and carrying on all day. Sunday is an all day drinking holiday where Aussies will grab their best mates, their favorite 10+ beverages, go to the beach and drink all day. As our orientation leader put it…Australian uni students are trained athletes and their sport is drinking.
I am really loving just about everything here. The beaches are the best I have ever seen, everyone is really laid back (which fits well with my lifestyle as you all know), most people are really nice (with the exception of the aboriginals who are all quite rude disruptive and constantly try to get is scuffles with people). We have already had a few run in’s where they have been confrontational and disruptive but so far nothing too serious. Apparently they can get pretty violent so after dark it can get sketchy around Perth.
Some of the most memorable times so far have been the beaches, exploring the cities, watching the sun set with a quality brew and good people, being in a new culture, working through some bumps that have happened in the past week, and food shopping (imagine walking into a grocery/market where you don’t recognize any brands and you have absolutely nothing in your house…makes it a little overwhelming).
School starts on Monday and I am looking forward to getting an actual routine going again. Currently I am taking intro to aboriginal culture, abnormal psych, and drugs and dependence. I will have to change at least one of those around to a different class due to scheduling conflicts but I’ll figure that out after a day or so next week.
The plan for later tonight looks like we will be heading to Freo for some live music and a little pub action at Sails and Anchor and maybe a stop at Little Creatures (top rated pub in WA supposedly).