OK, I wasn't going to do this at all originally but having started a long letter to my Mom my OH suggested that I also post it here - his opinion is that its a bit cheesy but someone might be interested!!:D I'm sure there's lot more that could be said but this is more than enough for the moment. Oh and a disclaimer - these are all entirely my own thoughts and not those of anyone else (each to their own and all that!). Here goes:
Friendly. I think this sums them up! Everyone seems to have time to say hello and ask how you are and to actually listen back. Obviously there are a few that are a bit grumpier but on the whole there’s a positive attitude towards meeting people in whatever the circumstances (even the car park attendant was cheery).
Mixed at the moment. There has been some sunshine with temps getting up to 17 degrees. Coats are required and early morning/evening it is a lot cooler and remember that the houses aren’t geared up to winter – central heating doesn’t happen! There’s been a fair amount of rain the last day or two – 17mm in 24 hours I think, plus severe weather warnings (some trees have been uprooted causing damage) and high waves at the coast. This isn’t a moan because the state needs the water!
Adelaide City Centre
The city centre really isn’t that different to any other biggish town centre in the UK in terms of the fact that there is a central shopping area with a few big department stores and then the smaller boutiques. These are all centred around Rundle Mall, Grenfell Street etc.
By “central” Adelaide I mean beyond the shopping streets but within the bounds of North, South, East and West Terraces. Its all very well set out in a grid system with lights controlling the flow of traffic. This does give rise to a stop start way of driving so after two weeks of a manual hire car we’ve bought an automatic car.
There are a fair few buildings being built up in the centre although its not a skyscraper city. There are lots of park areas around the centre of Adelaide and at the moment its very green. By the way don’t park your car under a tree as the blasted parakeets will twirp “all mine” with glee.
Cars, Roads & Driving
Lots of cars are automatics probably because of the reason mentioned above. The cars are also big beasts – its common to see a 3.6L Holden (Vauxhall) and bigger on the road. The drivers have no road courtesy and so not only do you have to worry about your own driving in a strange land you’ve got to think about theirs too!
Roads are wide - it can be confusing at first to know which lanes to get into – you might find it strange to have 3 lanes of traffic in each direction so close to the centre of town as well as out of town. It’s easy and common to do a “U” turn. There are big dips at the edge of the road so when turning from one road into another you have to take it slowly to avoid scraping the car bumper (well you do if you’ve got a crappy little tin can of a hire car!).
There are fewer road signs to let you know that you need to go right/left to get to a particular suburb. Of course there are some but not as common as in the UK. Also, most roads are known by the name rather than e.g. A7.
As with the UK there are good areas and not so good areas. What is “good” depends on what you personally are after. You might want to be close to the city, in the country, by the beach or in the hills. The suburbs that we had identified in the UK and viewed some properties online were not what we expected – smaller and closer together (and with very very old fashioned furnishings). Where we will be living is perhaps more money than we anticipated (but certainly not more than what we paid in the UK) but we are getting more for it (i.e. three bedrooms compared to two and a separate lounge and dining room compared to a combined lounge/diner, plus utility room and second bathroom).
Some suburbs further out of the city appear to be a collection of lovely houses at reasonable prices but seem to have little by way of shops or local pubs – which is something that we definitely wanted at this stage.
We were surprised by the American style of shops – you get malls here, a collection of a few stores around a parking lot, which for the bigger malls include a supermarket akin to what we expect. Taking the American theme further, if you drive down the Brighton Road there are lots of shops with large banners and advertising in bright colours. Going down Marion Road there is mall after mall after mall – hundreds of bed/mattress stores, furniture stores etc etc, whereas if you go up Main North Road there is car dealer after car dealer – I guess at least similar shops are grouped together! There is at least one European style shopping centre at Westfield Marion – this is a bigger, better version of Merry Hell (oops Merry Hill).
In two words – hard work! Although to be fare once you get into the swing of things as other folks have said you can have a bit of a laugh but be prepared for the time it takes to go shopping – no easy way of doing internet research to check out prices first.
Whether its furniture, white goods or cars the price tag on the item is not the real price. Now for those that are unaware of the Aussie culture of haggling it would be very easy to pay the advertised price – we would have if we hadn’t seen a thread on this subject. If prompted the sales assistant will offer to “see what I can do” in relation to the price and this usually includes a spiel about how they don’t have the authority to give a big reduction so they’ll have a chat with the boss. The trick (or one of them) is to tell the assistant that you are looking around and want to go away with their best price so that you can do an accurate comparison. The next stage is to go into the competitors shop and say well at the place up the road they said they could do this price “can you beat it?” Once you’ve got a lower price go back to the first guys and see if they can beat it – and remember – b*llsh*t is essential!
Supermarkets are a bit more shabby in appearance than in the UK and don’t sell as wide a range of goods, however, there are plenty of local brands to choose from and if you look around you can generally find something equivalent to what you are used to. Vegetables are not uniform in shape and seem to have more taste. To keep costs down its good to buy veg that are in season and not greenhouse veg. Meat, at least beef is cheaper and generally much better quality (haven’t tried lamb yet but hope its similar) and as for the seafood, well, I need to stop drooling when I see the prawns. We had some big beasties the other night and they were fab and cheap! I can hear Nick shouting “throw another shrimp on the barbie” come the summer!
You quickly get used to a supermarket selling just groceries – unlike Tesco etc you don’t also get your electrical goods or even alcohol. You have to go to an electrical store or to a “bottle shop” – there are drive through bottle shops (I’m sure this is great for preventing drink driving) which we have yet to experience. The selection of wines is amazing but perhaps more expensive than at home? I still have to explore this more fully!!!;)
Its great that there are so many cafes in the city and in the suburbs. They stay open late too which means that you can go out for a drink (coffee, tea, non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic) with ease – and watch out for the amazing cake counters! There are a lot of cafes that have outdoor seating which obviously is expected for the summer but even in the winter there are outdoor heaters on the go for the dry days. Not having kids I’m not really sure about this but my impression is that the café culture is also great for families as we’ve seen plenty of kids about with parents – perhaps not late into the night but certainly at a reasonable time.