When we arrive in a new port, one of the things we enjoy most is getting the “lay of the land”. Where is the grocery, the laundromat; are there hot showers; where's the chandlery, the hardware, the fishing supply place, the guy that does welding? Depending on how long it's been since our last port, we always need to find some of these places, if not all.
We begin by asking the other yachties, checking Lonely Planet, searching online and finding the local tourist info center. If I can get a map, I can start learning street names and what road goes where. Before long, we have a pretty good handle on where everything of importance is and all the shortcuts.
Some ports have everything you need within walking distance. Hobart Town in Tasmania was a great port in this respect. Things were expensive, but you could find anything you needed.
It isn't quite as convenient here in North Haven. North Haven is a suburb of Port Adelaide, which is a suburb of the city of Adelaide. There is a chandlery, a pub and a few restaurants within a few hundred yards. The closest grocery is about a mile away. Anything else requires transportation. Today, I needed a hardware store, a building supply store, a larger chandlery, and an electronics supply place. Finding a tourist info center was also high on the list.
A new friend here in the marina has offered me the use of her car, but I decided to save that opportunity until I get a better feel for the area. I find it quite stressful trying to follow a map, read street signs, locate the store I'm looking for in heavy traffic, all the while trying to remember to stay on the left side of the road. This is a good opportunity to learn the public transit system.
Adelaide has a good transit system with clean, frequent buses and trains connecting everywhere. They have a good online route planning program, and I can buy an all day “Day Tripper” pass for a few dollars that allows me to ride all the buses and trains I can handle until 4 AM. I spent an hour or so planning all my route segments, and I was ready to go.
Well, as they say here, “it was no drama, mate”. I found everything I needed, didn't get lost, and found my way back home at the end of the day. All told, I rode five buses and one train, and never had to wait more than 15 minutes. The bus drivers were amazingly pleasant and helpful. On several occasions, the driver actually got up to help an elderly person with his or her packages (and no, I wasn't one of them). Once, when a young couple was having a very loud, profanity riddled argument, the driver warned them to lower their voices. When they didn't, he stopped the bus and told them he wasn't having them offend the other passengers with their language and made them get off – which they did without argument.
Once we get to know a port well enough to find everything without a map, it usually means w're starting to get itchy feet, and it's time to move on. I'm not at that point yet. I am liking it here just fine, and looking forward to sharing it with Marcie on her return. I am starting to feel comfortable enough with the lay of the land, however, that I may borrow Dee's car next time.
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