The alarm went off at 6am for another early start. We were in the car and moving out of the car park at 7am. It was about a 25 minute drive to drop the car off. I needed to return the car with a full tank of petrol and hoped we would pass a garage on route but didn’t and so had to divert at the end to drive a mile further on to do so. The Apex car rental turning was very poorly signposted and we ended up trying to get into a Park and ride site by mistake. Fortunately it was so was so early and there was no one about and so we were able to reverse out and follow their instructions to a small turning we had missed.
There was a shuttle bus waiting to take us to the terminal and it was all very efficient. We checked in our bags and got our boarding cards before quickly going through passport control and security.
We walked to find the lounge for probably the last time in a while. I will not renew the credit card that gave us the entitlement when we get back and there are no lounges at Perth for our return flight home. It was fitting therefore that this lounge was the best we have ever been in and also the most empty. The hot breakfast on offer was really good. In fact when we left the lounge we were also very impressed with Auckland airport which was large, modern, clean, with loads of shops and seating areas. We were sad to be leaving NZ but excited to on our way to Perth.
We were on another Air New Zealand flight and again I had not been able to pre book our seats. Once on board we found we had 2 aisle seats next to each other which Karen was delighted with. The flight was 6 ½ hours long. I watched a film called Kiwi Christmas that was the type of rubbish I enjoy followed by the rest of the series of Derry Girls that I thought was very very good. Karen watched the first two Lord of The Rings films again for the umpteenth time and that keptd her occupied for the entire flight. The food was rubbish as usual although the drinks service was good.
I had trouble with my passport at the E gate so had to be manually let in Australia but only took about a minute longer than Karen. Our bags were in the last batch to arrive which worried Karen. We then had the fun of going through Bio Security. Australia is hot on what you arena aren't allowed to bring into the country. No fruit, meat or stuff like that, with heavy fines starting as the minimum punishment. On the plane we had been forced to ditch Karen’s little treat boxes of raisins as well as her cereal bars that contained nuts. We were still nervous as we were in a very long queue to get through. In the end we were just waived through unlike others whose bags were being emptied for random searches. Something like this always worries me travelling with Karen, as I never know what she may have slipped into my case without me knowing. She has form at doing this.
The heat hit us as we walked out of the airport to find a taxi. The sky was a deep blue and very welcoming. It was about a 25 minute journey to our Hotel slap bang in the centre of Perth. As we were driven along we went past the WACA and the new all purpose stadium that has just been opened. I had booked a Travelodge Hotel. Karen had not been impressed when I told her this especially as we are staying here for 4 nights. I tried to reassure her that although the name was the same as the UK it was a completely different company and brand. I also knew it had had some impressive reviews.
As soon as we walked into Reception, Karen relaxed. It was very different to a UK Travelodge. We were greeted by the best receptionist we have ever had. He was from France and put Karen at ease telling her that the Aussie brand of Travelodge were of a very good standard and that the location was perfect to get to everything in Perth. He also upgraded us to a room with a balcony. The room was really very good and the balcony a bonus especially as when we arrived it was in the shade which meant we could sit outside of the glare of the full sun.
After chilling for a short while we decided to go and explore as well as find some dinner. The receptionist had warned us that like NZ, most places to eat close early and so we wanted to make sure we found somewhere that was open.
Our Hotel was on one of the main shopping streets which looked rather good as we walked along it. There were several familiar brands and it all seemed quite up market. Our first impressions of Perth was very positive and that only increased the more we saw of the City.
We even came across a Target store which Karen wanted to explore and unsurprisingly found a top that she just had to have as it was on special offer. We walked all the way through the store and coming out the other side found ourselves in another lovely shopping street. Here there was a The Coffee Club store and so we decided to have dinner here again. Thats twice in two nights but over 3000 miles apart. The food was just as good as in NZ.
Whilst we have only been here a short while it was already apparent that there is a homeless problem here. They all seem to have anger issues as there is a lot of shouting at no body in particular. Because of the constant heat, they all seem to have a body odour problem so sometimes you can smell them before you can see them.
After eating we decided to continue our wander. We ended up in in a square that was the centre for the Fringe festival that is currently happening here. It was all very busy with lots of things going on at the same time. We stood and watched a bit where acts were doing taster sessions of their shows to entice people to buy tickets. The one we saw was rubbish. It was a bloke performing with his head stuck through a paddling pool. It was not funny at all.
It was still a lovely evening and so whilst heading back to the Hotel we diverted down to look at the Swan River and the Bell Tower. This turned out to be as delightful as we could have hoped. The sun was starting to go down over the river and famous bridges. It reminded us of Darling Harbour in Sydney but in my opinion even nicer.
The atmosphere was great, the weather even better and it just seemed a lovely City. I was surprised as perhaps my expectations were not that high. After being disappointed in the past by Vancouver and to an extent Auckland, Perth was already ticking all the boxes. Because of the year round warm climate it seemed geared up for outdoor living with bars and restaurants fully set up for people to eat outside. I would love to be able to live in a climate like this. We were excited for the rest of our stay here.
We were back in the room by 8am. We were both now hot, tired and a bit irritable. This was not surprising given our early start and the fact we had lost 5 hours over the timezones. The less said about Karen misplacing her sleeping top the better, other than it was found on the floor the following morning.