26. Take Me To Church

As much as my bank account loves cheap flights around Australia, my body clock is less enthused by the early morning alarms they demand and I cursed my thriftiness once again as we very un-gracefully sludged ourselves out of bed at 5.30am for a flight to Adelaide. 

After a whispered goodbye and thank you to Tracy (everyone else being asleep), we jumped in our uber to the airport. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but Australia is infested with Brits, and true to form our uber driver was originally from Warrington – 20 minutes down the road from my house.

The journey then flew by with us discussing Manchester Airport’s many and varied flaws – a topic I could happily write a dissertation on were it not for the fact that a) I have to fly through it to get anywhere, so probably shouldn’t start insulting it and b) the anger about the cacophony of failures would probably induce a cardiac arrest.

A measly 2 and a half hour flight later and we landed in Adelaide, apparently known as The City of Churches, to the view of rolling hills outside the airport and mercifully, actual public transport to the city in the form of the JETBUS.

I know, it sounds exciting doesn’t it. What wonders could this maverick and mysterious bus behold inside? Perhaps superspeed, hypersonic luxury travel or an actual jet engine to zip you through those pesky trafficky streets.

Regrettably, it’s just a bus. Which is not only a disappointment, but also a bit of false advertising. However I am willing to forgive all that for the simple fact it costs a reasonable $4 each to get to the city, and not the absoloute rip off that Australian airport transport has a habit of being (Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane – we’re looking at you here). 

After dropping our backpacks at our hostel Backpack Oz, we ventured to Adelaide and to the Central Markets. Originally just something to do after a long days travelling, this turned out to be a dreamworld of cheap fruit and veg. And yes, that was me saying dreamworld and fruit and veg in the same sentence. With no income since October, the offer of red peppers at $4 per kilo instead of the usual $9 was music to my fajita loving ears. Yes I know it sounds like we’ve gone mad. We kind of have.

Anyway! Day 2 in Adelaide took us to the South Australian Museum – renowned amongst experts for its Pacific Islander collection, renowned amongst me for being free entry. After perusing some stuffed animals (they’d just had a massive lunch you see) and the aforementioned collection, we meandered through the sea life section which was interesting enough. Soon though, after seeing our 567th indigenous mask of the day, we came seen as much interesting stuff as we could see and headed out to see more of Adelaide. 

Our next and final stop of what was evidently a very short days sightseeing was the Himeji Garden – a tranquil, very picturesque Japanese garden just outside the centre of Adelaide, where you feel entirely removed from the 6 laned roads nearby. It was a fantastic spot to chill, read a book or just relax. 

We had no books, so went for the chilling option for a little while, before realising we had done rather a lot of chilling on this trip already. We set off back for the hostel keeping our eye out for the churches that were mysteriously hidden. We still hadn’t seen any, but put this down to probably jetlag from the jetbus (makes sense, right?).

The long term guests in our Adelaide hostel were much friendlier and provided some great entertainment – mostly through their odd but loveable desire to feed ducks in the city’s parks. At one point they were so desperate as to consider their $7 loaf of garlic bread as a viable option. I’ll be honest, their concern for the ducks stomachs was admirable and almost moving. Their choice of food was less so, but you can’t have everything. 

Adelaide continued to be a very pretty city over the rest of our time there, though still with a persistent lack of churches. It was probably as green a city as we had seen, from the Botanic Gardens where we managed to while away the best part of a day, to the riverbank which felt reminiscent of Oxford and Cambridge. My only memories of those two university cities are very beer hazy, as I was visiting friends at the respective universities (I might not be clever but my friends sure as hell are, and they’re the best kind of friends to have). Anyway despite my alcohol goggles I’m still around 60% sure they were lovely.

Another highlight was the Adelaide Oval and the Donald Bradman exhibition inside. Free to look around, the exhibition is a really interesting and well presented look at Donald Bradman’s life and career. Bradman is also a figure with one of the most unwanted statistical stories ever – going into his final first class game against England with a batting average of just over 100, he needed to score just 4 runs to cement a final batting average of 100 and prove himself as possibly the greatest player, and certainly the greatest batsman of all time. 

He got out without scoring a single run, being now forever stuck with a 99.96 average. 

As an Englishman, may I just say, Ha!

Our final day in Adelaide was spent at Glenelg Beach, which was a pretty vibrant place but the beach itself reminded us a bit of Spain and a Brits abroad kind of vibe. To cap it all off, it didn’t have any churches either. Slightly disappointed, we headed for home. Bidding farewell to our duck feeders, it was time to move on. 

Sadly I quite liked Adelaide, ruining the chances of me using my excellent ‘Badelaide’ pun. Before you could say ‘Alex that wasn’t an excellent pun’ we were on our way to our next destination and the most raved about city in Australia, home to coffee, laneways and Neighbours (the show not the concept of people living next to you). 

We saw exactly one Church in Adelaide. It was quite nice. And in the words of Forrest Gump; that’s all I have to say about that.

Alex Odlin would like to stress that no ducks were harmed in the making of this blog. A couple might have woken up with bad breath the morning after a heavy night on the garlic bread, but that’s as bad as it got. 


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