Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adelaide Is Nice

I was thinking of visiting Adelaide merely as an overnight stop, since it doesn't have the "cool" rep of Melbourne. But after the Nullarbor, I was eager for a couple of days in a city hotel, so I parked here for a bit. I'm glad I did. Adelaide is one of the most pleasant places I've been to so far.

The city is small, just over 1 million people, and while it has sprawling suburbs, its center looks like this:

That entire green figure-8 is all parkland. Some of it is grassy and landscaped, while some is naturally scrubby and covered in eucalyptus. It's all criss-crossed with bike trails, waterways, and features like the beautiful Botanical Gardens and the Adelaide Zoo. It's also surrounded by low mountains, which makes for a more pleasing backdrop than the usual flat-as-a-plate Australian topography.
In the Botanical Gardens
A shady lane of fig trees

A fig tree in a nearby park
Bicycle for scale

My hotel was on Melbourne Street, in the heart of North Adelaide (the top part of the 8). I lucked out, landing on a street full of excellent cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Central Adelaide, about 10 minutes away by foot, is an easy-to walk grid, also full of restaurants and cafes and markets. Near the center are the Adelaide Central Markets, which are overflowing with vegetable stalls, bakeries, gourmet stores, and sweets shops, including the famous "Stinky Cheese Shop." I walked around for nearly 15 minutes just being overwhelmed before buying the next month's worth of cured meats, hard cheese, roasted nuts, and produce.

A mix of old and new architecture and parkland in downtown Adelaide.
The "Balls on the Mall," a public sculpture in one of the many pedestrian areas.
When you combine a small, green, prosperous city (in one of the world's great wine regions to boot) with friendly people who all go the speed limit, the result is an almost offensively pleasant place to hang out. I spent two long days just wandering around by foot and bicycle, visiting markets, restaurants, wine cellars, and coffee shops.

Plus, they got cool birds.
A punk pigeon

Rainbow lorikeets are everywhere, but they're fast and they stay in the treetops, so this was the first shot I caught. It's screaming. They do that. A lot.
 I greatly enjoyed my days in Adelaide. While not overly exciting, it was lovely and refreshing. Now, I'm off for about a week of relatively easy camping between here and Melbourne, where I'll have more urban adventures.

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