March 16, 2013


Often when I move to a new a city, or when I stay in one place for an extended period, I quickly fall victim to what I like to call "Act-Like-A-Local syndrome".  Give me a week and I'm too proud to ask for directions, too stingy to pay admission for silly tourist attractions, and already trying discover that perfect hole-in-the-wall cafe where I can sip my chai and silently scoff at anyone who enters the nearby Starbucks/Tim Hortons/Dome/Insert-large-national-coffee-retailer-here.

Sometimes this happens unintentionally.  In Montreal, in the frenzy of my undergraduate lifestyle, I never took the time to visit Cathedral Notre-Dame, explore Basilique St. Jean-Baptiste, or even stop by Musee McCord right across the street from my university.  While I've regretted those oversights in some ways, I still have a whole host of fond Montreal memories that suit me just fine.

Perth, however, is another story.  Here I have a partner in crime, a true local, accent and all.  He makes it that much easier to feel at home and ease into the twenty-something scene in the city.  We go to concerts.  We watch old movies at outdoor cinemas. We go to chinatown for Friday night Thai takeaway.  Here I have a job contract, a yoga studio, even a liquor store cashier who knows me by name.  Cool and all, but this leads me to wonder... when it's all over and Australia is just a sunlit memory, will I remember Perth for PERTH, or will it be just another city I've lived in?

To make sure I celebrate my current hometown for all it has to offer, me and my partner in crime decided it was time to play tourists for day! We planned to take our bikes on a long loop around the city, from East Perth, across the bridge, along the South Bank of the Swan River, and back to our place in West Perth.  We tacked a fair bit more distance on to the final trip, but only because we were enjoying ourselves so much!  

And guess what?  I even brought my camera.

After a series of unfortunate events- involving a haphazard tire inflation and a pit stop for a hand brake repair- we hit the pavement and rolled down to East Perth.  The riverside there is beautiful and the center of the suburb is planned around the water with a large canal and pedestrian suspension bridge surrounded by charming (and pricey) cafes.  

The architechture is completely different to the rest of Perth, and while the neutral colours and Tuscan feel were a welcome change from the uninventive modern cubes I frequently see,it still had the pre-packaged feel of a deliberately planned area.
If there's a tree, Tom will be in it.

Of course, being Perth, the weather was 32 (thats 88F) and sunny the entire day.  A bit muggier than most Perth afternoons, but you know what?  I'll take it.

Over the bridge and down the river took us to South Perth, another quiet corner of the city.  The main drag there had a few busy cafes and bars, as well as the Perth Zoo nearby.  A ferry runs from downtown to South Perth and I'm beginning to formulate an amazing date night in my mind (trains! boats! riverside dinner on a balmy summer night!)... keep an eye out for that post in coming weeks.

We crossed the river and looped back to the city, stopping at the touristy Bell Tower for a quick breather.  

Jellyfish off the docks of the Barrack Street Wharf
We could have cut in and gone home, but the other bank was so pretty we just had to keep riding!  So instead we cut left back through East Perth and made our way to Northbridge for lunch.

I had been wanting to try Little Willy's for some time - if only Perth had a winter, it would be the cutest nook to cozy up in.  Still, I've heard good things.  When we got there I was a bit dissapointed to find that the only non-brunch veggie fare (I'd already eaten eggs for breakfast) was a wrap with the usual Aussie suspects: pumpkin, spinach, and tomato.  Yawn.  But one majestic bite later I was fully won over.  I've had veggie wraps in Perth ranging from tragically bland to absolute crap, but NONE that I'd ever, happily, eat again.  Until now.  I tried to pinpoint the difference and I think I found it in the crisp toasted wrap, the gooey cheese, and the creamy, not cubed, pumpkin.  (Btw, to North Americans pumpkin is pretty much the equivalent of butternut squash, which makes it even more devastating that it's ruined so frequently...)

I left a happy customer.

We got back to our place sweaty and exhausted but thoroughtly satisfied at completing such an eye-opening, heart-healthy tour of the city.