Second Time Around travel blog

Hey, that's not Ringo

The Spheres, aka Mall's Balls, Adelaide

Coffee break

I managed to get the rental car and its occupants back to Perth airport unscathed. Then we had a mere 5 hours to enjoy at the airport.

We flew to Adelaide on JetStar, a budget spinoff of Qantas. It offers low fares offset by fees for everything but using the toilet.

I had the aisle seat, across from Mo. The poor fellow to my left in the center of my row was over six foot and had to be well over 300 pounds. When he got settled, I had to list 30 degrees starboard to avoid sharing sweating arms. Just before takeoff, I noted an empty seat a row ahead, and got permission to change once airborne. It was an aisle seat on an exit row, so I got my own private safety briefing.

Now I had ample room. Too bad I shared the row with two fashionista women who talked non-stop for 2+ hours at volumes rivaling engine noise. Thank god for ear plugs.

As we arrived late, we opted for a cab to get us to our lodging. I wondered if Aussie cabbies take a vow of silence, as this was the third cabbie in a row who said nothing to us during our ride - total silence.

When we arrived at our lodging, we both wondered what I has gotten us into. Bars across the street, strip clubs on the next block. Our building could have been a repurposed Hotel 6 from 1972, cinder blocks and all. The man checking in before us kept asking, "Where's all the girls?"

During our check in and the walk to the room, Mo kept asking why I had booked three nights sight unseen. Because it got good reviews on was my defensive reply.

Once safely in (a chair placed in front of the door as a precaution) we found our room to be clean, quiet enough, and comfy.

We slept well. I woke with cravings for International House of Pancakes.

We signed on to a free walking tour of downtown Adelaide. On the tour, we discovered enough urban charm to make us feel better about being here.

It seems our neighborhood was a run-down bogan-infested no-go zone just a few years ago. Now it's an up and coming scene. Respectable restaurants, coffee galore, and the University of South Australia decorate the neighborhood. The strip clubs are holdovers from the bad old days, though I suspect a few coeds may still find tuition money there.

The Adelaide main train station looks normal from the outside, but it turns out that a casino operates in all but the basement.

Australians gamble more than any other population in the world. Betting halls are common for punters chasing horse and dog racing, sports outcomes, and pokies.

Pokies are of course video slot machines. Pokies are the most common form of gambling. They are, to say the least, controversial. Gambling causes all sorts of social ills from domestic violence to suicide. Yet government gets significant revenue from gambling. Major corporations make big profits from gambling. The vast majority of gamblers lose. I was told last year gambling losses were on average about A$1600 for every man, woman, and child in the country

I'm a former craps shooter and occasional poker player. I don't like slot machines. Still, I may take a wander to the train station for a real Australian pokie experience.

The only thing missing then from the Aussie experience would be attending a game of footy.

Back at the ranch, I was rummaging through an Adelaide entertainment guide and saw an ad for a restaurant called The Original Pancake Kitchen. Not quite IHOP, but I'm treating Mo for breakfast there tomorrow.

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