Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And I have come to the topic I have been asked ever since we came back...

How can I compare Sydney to Perth?

Simple, I can’t... 

Both cities are very different; in their lifestyles, flavours, weather, people and entertainment. On each city you will find opportunities, issues, pros and cons, but the key factor is what kind of person are you?

My mental image of Perth before going there...
Everything was built... no one was there.
Talking to some people in Sydney, we got the odd idea that ‘Perth was a mixture of city, isolated ghost town and Dubai... very small, undeveloped, with lots of money, nothing to do there... really...’ But we found something totally different; it was a nice place where anyone who wants to reside there will enjoy lots of different activities to those who likes Sydney (like me).

Perth is a young city, on its way to become something really great, while Sydney is a city with a bit of history, it has grown already and right now is trying to find its right spot into a bigger world.

So... asking a comparison between Sydney and Perth is like establishing a comparison between young wines (verdelho) versus one that has already matured (Cabernet-Merlot)... Different flavours, different palates, different tastes... just different.

How is the cost of living of Perth in relation to Sydney?

Food, services, petrol... is about the same with the exception of the property market; which is the big, big difference.

Our friends (almost all of them) have bought their homes in the first year (max two) which is a very nice record in deed. Sydney in average will be 50% or 60% more expensive than Perth (or any other city in Australia) which is a huge disadvantage to my favourite place... Sydney.

Was thinking to publish a different image...
But I bet some of my pals will feel id with this one =P
But if you compare the renting market, is again, about the same in term of price. The difference will be the size of it. Sydney will give you units for about 300, 350, 400 or more per week... And Perth will do the same but for houses...

Which city offers me more entertainment options?

Again, is not a matter of comparing both cities and specify which one will offer you more attractions and options. What is really important is to describe which city might be more related to your personality.
Sydney and Perth are cities in which you will be able to express yourself in outdoor activities... You will be able to walk or run to the closest park, enjoy the scenery and take a bit of sun and off to your next activity. The difference will be found in the number and frequency that each city prepares those events.

Sydney's food festival
Sydney is well known worldwide by their food and cultural events, but Perth also has great events and plenty of activities to do. Plus I got to tell you, it feels extraordinary to walk on the streets at 10PM and find yourself watching the stars in a quiet night.

So what I have been blabbing was, Sydney will give more events prepared by the city or the government while Perth will give you the opportunity to make your own arrangements to go and have fun in the wild, near small town or city.
Some of the sculptures at the sea
I had a great fun taking this picture.
Something I did notice... and it might be totally related to the fact that we were escorted all the time by our friends; Sydney gives you gastronomically more options than Perth and I think is also related to how busy the life on each place is, Sydney being more complex and busy and Perth being more relaxed and family oriented. 

Transport system and commuting times.

Most Aussie cities have a series of developed transport system in which you might be able to go from (almost) any suburb to the city or another suburb. The transport system will include trains, buses, ferries, light trains and trams with their different fare system, different rules and different schedules... but at the same time coordinated for the common good.

Sydney's lightrail
Sydney’s system is based mainly in the train, with some areas highly related to bus or ferry or both at the same time. And some minor routes that are covered by light train or monorail (but these last two are more ornamental than functional).

Perth’s system is based mainly in bus lines, covering the entire city and a bunch of train lines going from the north to the south and some lines covering the west coast (currently in development... so is highly possible that upcoming years will bring more similarities between Sydney and Perth).

So... where is the difference?

Sydney’s system is having delays (every now and then); it could be related to lack of maintenance, abuse of their boundaries or lack of commitment of their staff. Anyhow, Sydney’s system needs to improve a little bit, but is still comparable against any first world transport system.

Sydney's double deck trains.
Perth’s system is struggling as well... but against the city. The city is growing too fast and too frequent for its commuters, so is highly possible that your bus gets 5 minutes delayed because it got stuck in the middle of the city while some trucks moved blocks or concrete from one place to the other, or multiple lanes were closed because of the nearby construction, or the actual road is being expanded.

The basic difference is, Perth system is still growing, is a bit young and you will totally need a car to do basic stuff such as going to the market, movies or something like that. While Sydney is a bit more developed even though delays might strike in your schedule (nothing in comparison to delays in Caracas or New York... although I must be honest, I haven’t been in New York for ages... their subway could have improve tons ever since I was there).

Issues and problems on each city.

Each city has their issues and problems, and each city must find a way to solve it for its resident’s sake (even though most politicians don’t give a sheet... mistyped on purpose) and here I am going to try to show some which I don’t like (and I could notice).

I know that I could sit for days writing long descriptive specifications of the multiples issues Sydney and Perth have... And being totally honest with you, I did... in a second though (and reading again my post) I decided to remove it to avoid touchy topics. Instead I am going to give you a small list of things I think each city could improve a bit.

Sydney’s list.

  • The buses need to meet regular schedules.
    I have found myself several times waiting for a bus that never comes... More common though is the one that does appear... 20 minutes later.
  • People’s attitude towards bus drivers, or as the matter of fact, people’s attitude towards someone else that gives you a service... I know my building manager hates some of my neighbours because they treat him as their slave.
  • People’s tidiness.
    I don’t know what happen to people in Sydney... and believe me, is something you would not notice at first. But I have seen people throwing rubbish on the streets rather than hold it for two metres and dispose it appropriately. 
  • Respect to pedestrians traffic lights.
    I have seen lots of people crossing right at the middle of the street or when they shouldn’t do it. Apparently no one cares and it got to the point that I started doing it; Now (and thanks to my wife’s stare of death) I am on my way to remove this nasty behaviour in my day to day basis.

Perth’s list.
I will have very few items to post in here... you know, there are very few things you could catch in a week with lots of people being constantly taking care of you.

  • Transport coverage.
    I know Perth is growing and there are things missing... But at times I felt the only way to travel from one point to the other in Perth was by car... and being honest, I am not a huge fan of cars, in fact, I think a big chunk of our society depends insanely in cars to the point that some people have it as a need more than a commodity. Sydney might suffer issues on its coverage, but Perth low density yet wide residential areas to cover will be a huge challenge to solve leading to bigger traffic issues than any other city in Australia. Hopefully I will be wrong.
  • Little control over some sectors of society.
    Is highly probable this issue is bigger than just in Perth, but I did notice people take precautions when they are walking towards refugees or aborigines because they might act unexpectedly to your presence or even your behaviour. I have no idea if these sectors of society are as worrisome in Sydney as in Perth but a common comment in Perth is that residents feel these sectors are above the law.

Common list.

  • I have come to the simplistic approach to say... In Australia, to get to know a bit more than the city’s basics, you need a car. In Perth is closer to a must than a need.
  • Teenagers respect to others.
    Again, I have come to the simplistic approach to say... teenagers are not people... they are a proto-human being with a total lack of respect... I wish I could pack them all, and send them to Caracas, Venezuela so they gain a bit of appreciation to this country.

    Uhms... Given that a second thought... I shouldn’t send more socially unfit members to Venezuela... The country has enough and I really would like someday to look back and feel proud of the country I have come from. 
    Could I send them in a ship titled ‘Titanic II’?
    How awesome is this????
    Let them feel the kings/queens of the world while the ship sinks to the bottom of the ocean. BUHUHAHAHA
  • People’s respect to others.
    Especially in the train. Some people really struggle with the phrase ‘where your rights ends, mine rights starts’ and I have seen lots of people eating really disgusting things on the train without respect to others noses... And lots of people put their nasty shoes on the seat... 
    I mean, what’s wrong with you people?

But anyway, if you have anything else to add to these points, please point them in the comment section below and we could expand it later on.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

You are probably wondering by now ‘where are the freaking pictures Rod promised?’ and here there are... not... all.

I can tell you, there are many things that you will notice of Perth straight away:


In Perth EVERYTHING is brand new.

There are new buildings, streets, suburbs, houses and parks. Pretty much everything is new just like if the city was built in the last 10 years. I have to be honest with you, most of the pictures I have seen from Perth they show a very nice, clean and new city... and that’s all true. Everywhere I watched there was a new building about to be completed, a house being painted or a road being expanded or improved. The city contains a bit of history, but it has been overtaken by huge business buildings, parks or new constructions; in a way is sad because the city could expose some of its history but instead they decided to obliterate anything kind of old to replace it immediately with something fashion and new.

Perth Skyline
When you drive through a suburb, you find yourself immerse in a well planed suburb, with new houses (or 15 years old tops), plenty of parks (this point I am going to expand it later on), public transport in some areas and small malls nearby... This covers your day to day needs.


There are lots of parks everywhere.

At first I didn’t want to admit it... I have seen lots of parks anywhere in Sydney, but the size of them and how close they are between each other is something totally different in Perth.

They have built parks in almost every block which gives you the crazy impression that Perth wasn’t built on top of a dessert; although that impression is quickly gone when you start driving between suburbs and take a look or two of the sand dunes with small bushes everywhere.

Children walking around

These parks are great to take lunch, exercise yourself, rest, enjoy the city, etc. And thanks to that the people in Perth has come to a permanent state of relaxation. In my personal opinion, that’s the main reason why so many people told us ‘Perth is a family place!’

Those little rascals
I remember when playing or running around a tree was pretty fun...
It is filled up with green open areas with plenty of sun light (almost 12 hours) a day in summer time; the chances to take out your kids, play and do free stuff are extraordinary; super attractive for parents trying to get their kids burning 100% of their energies, riding bicycle, skating, taking lunch or just running around in one of the thousands gardens and open spaces.


Everyone is in total relaxation.

Perthians in general are very, very relaxed. Don’t mind about difficult choices and try to keep it simple.

If you want to go and have a great meal, just drive 10K and get your lunch from your favourite place. You don’t want to eat it right there? Drive couple kilometres more and have your meal at the riverside of the Swan... watch the dolphins jumping out of the water while you are at it and then drive back to work.

The old folks full of stress having a meal in front of the ocean.
I would like to be as stressed as them!
Of course, you won’t do that every day, but every now and then will be an incredible experience.


It has great beaches.

When I stood for the very first time in front of an Aussie beach my thoughts were ‘I can’t believe Venezuelans brag about beautiful beaches... Australian ones are outstanding!’ well... Perth isn't the exception to that comment (if you don't have recollection of my comment related to Sydney's beaches, read here there are more, just follow the beach tag).

One panoramic view of city beach
I am not going to say Perthian beaches are better than those you could find in Sydney, but something I am certain is that Perthian beaches are great. Their soft sands, wide shores and crystalline waters were some of the many things I remember from that experience.

Walking in the dock
I know that I could make the comparison and determine one and for all which beaches I liked the most... but in reality I can’t; both types are great, fun and enjoyable.


The city landscape is pretty flat.

That means, very low population density, giving you the notion (the right one) that the city doesn’t have any building (or skyscraper) till you get to the CBD. Where almost all of them are concentrated in 4 by 12 blocks (joking) and the rest are one to two storey buildings such as: warehouses, houses, town houses, etc.

Another panoramic (click on any picture to get a bigger version)
Something I don't quite like about publishing the picture is
after resizing it looks a bit blurry,
but I have too, otherwise I will be publishing 80 meg pictures in jpeg =S
In a way is nice to drive in a very low populated area, but the city right now is starting to suffer some diseases such as traffic and long commuting time. A common tale in the area is how people commute 30 minutes every day from and to work, because of the long distances, highly related to a growing population in a low density area. That means, if you want to get around, you probably need a car.

But don’t get me wrong... Let buildings means wider, greener areas where you get the chance to breathe pure air; a luxury these days in any modern city of the world.


Perth has lots of expensive houses, known as McMansions.

Is unbelievable the number of mansions you can find in Perth.

Actually, it contains some of the more expensive properties in the whole Australia. This does not imply the land is expensive, is just that the owners had so much money; they could not find anything else useful to do with their money other than investing it in their homes; adding pretty much everything they wanted.

I could not find a single picture of any McMansion that I have taken.
Instead I present to you a photo of some great churros.
You will be able to find residential areas filled up with these types of constructions with houses just getting bigger and bigger... some with two tennis courts in the front yard, separated by fountains with cupids spitting water (other just pissing the water), bushes or just a swimming pool. At that moment you start wondering, when the money is really too much? But at the same time I wonder, if I had that kind of money, what will I do with it?

By the way, the term McMansion is a pejorative term used by some Aussies to id this kind of houses. Don’t use it to describe your mate’s place... Not that I can tell...


Common folk houses in Perth are AWESOME.

And you probably wonder: WTF is a common house?

Well... for me a common house is the type of properties most of the folks can afford to get. Housing in Perth is accessible in comparison to the price of any property in Sydney... Which means, lots of our friends had done the arrangements to buy their own places, and most of them would be places were any Latin American would dream to have (I am talking to those whom are not stealing money, doing odd businesses or do not own their own companies).

Houses in Mandurah. 'Close' to Perth.
Beautiful view, isn't?
Just to give you some maths:

A house with 450 square metres of construction: three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms, two parking spots, entertainment area, home theatre, living room, kitchen and patio, with front and backyard and some services around the corner will cost you a$450,000.

Do you think the price is sky high? What about if I tell you the same house in Sydney will cost a$1.5 millions, if you find it at a good price?

In other words, Perth is more budget friendly if you want to own your place quickly... and probably if you want to invest in the Australian economy as well... But prices keep going up and with bigger demand for space in Perth, the number are starting to get difficult for them.


Perth is BLOODY HOT or at least, hotter than Sydney.

I know that I was there for a week... and probably it was the worst week of the entire summer... but every single day (with the exception of the last one) we were above 34C, including nights.

Even the poor roo was hot that day.
Some of our friends told us that a good air conditioning system is required if you want to live there, otherwise you will be living in a 24/7 sauna but we didn’t believe it till we were there. So hot that even the water from the ocean (which in Australia seems to be taken straight away from the freezer) gets horribly warm.

These were many of the things that stood out for me; obviously there were many other that stood for us... but I think the one, the more important of all... were the presence of our dear friends, this element, and this element alone made the entire experience a hundred times better that we could ever get by ourselves.

Thanks to all of them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We flew from Sydney to Perth with cheap tickets that we bought from Virgin Blue website at least three (3) months ahead; the difference (in price) was huge when you purchase your tickets weeks ahead.

Why was I trying to get a cheap fare?

Making the story short, Kathy wanted to go there for Christmas and the cheapest tickets we found started at $1200 per person; to which I wasn’t willing to pay it. But the story is a bit different when someone plans an event based on your schedule, cheapest fare and availability... To which if I wanted to say no, I would have become the meanest person alive.

At first I thought that cheap tickets are great season to travel! And I couldn’t understand why the bloody hell is cheaper to fly to China or Los Angeles than flying within Australia?

Cheapest air fare fight!
Virgin or Jet? Who knows?
But anyway, I think I used the correct phrase ‘I am not going to spend more than $800 for the both of us to get there!’ when Kathy and I were having the argument of spending thousands of dollars to grab a glimpse of our friends versus spending it in more important biz. Kathy felt compiled to dig into the websites to find the best deal till she got it... A $650 deal within our schedule to meet our friends and assist to the event... 


The 26th of February, we got to the airport very early (because cityrail, Sydney’s train transportation system, was track working again!), checked in and went to get some food when Kathy asked... ‘Why are you going to buy breakfast? Aren’t they supposed to give us a meal or something once in flight?

How can I describe it? 

Have you ever had the feeling when you are about to commit to something in which you are going to be squeezed out? Well, in this case, I had the feeling that my wallet was about to go through a money black hole... Everything was about to be sucked in and nothing good will come out.

His belly is jolly...
Mine... not so much.
I remembered previous experiences with airlines in the US were very nice prices were related to very small portions or just snacks like one bag of pretzels or peanuts and just one (small) glass of water or juice (very few cases)... and I had a vision of the future in which, Kathy and I were arriving to Perth starving and with headaches with those few peanuts filling up our bellies.

Even still, I wasn’t quite ready for the sinister money sucking scheme Virgin Blue was about to perpetrate on us, once we were defenceless and confined in the plane cabin at thousands of feet above the ground...

An angelical, yet robotic voice, called us to board the airplane using the malevolent phrase

‘welcome to our dear customers... the aircraft ABC123 is ready to board... Virgin Blue is delighted to have you as our customer and we can wait to give you first class services as only Virgin Blue can...’

But if you play it backwards it will say 
‘Virgin Blue is going to remove your skin very slowly while some of our assistants will try to tempt you into bankruptcy offering you sweet soft drinks, some sandwiches, maybe wine and leaving you no choice but to pay even for the air, stealing everything for you have being working for... BUHUHAHAHAHAHA.... BUHUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (I am having chills as I type it...)

Took Kathy’s hand as hard as I could and said “Honey... you know that I love you very much... don’t you? Remember to take your sit... close your eyes and open it when I tell you to... Don’t worry... God will protect us... I think...”

They are beautiful...
But their uniform is red as everything else in hell...
We started walking to take out seats and one of the assistants told us “Hello? How can I assist you today?” I was trying to be strong, for Kathy.... for us... and I said “nothing, thanks...” and as we walked by I think I felt the forked tongue moving close to my left ear while she said... “Ok sir, have a nice flight”... But I know she really wanted to say 
“damnation is waiting for all of you... there will be no escape... BUHUHAHAHAHA!!”
The plane started moving, the speed was incrementing rapidly and some people started noticing winged angels flying outside the aircraft; they were crying... crying for us... there was nothing else god could do for us... we were doomed. We were totally defenceless in their absolute and sinister power and it was at that precise moment when the horror took control of our lives...

“Are you thirsty or want a bite? Well... keep those credit cards ready because in few minutes we are serving with the trolley cold beverages, snacks, great sandwiches and delicious dishes”
And I thought 
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not ready for $5.50 a bottle of water... NO GOD... WHY??? WHY GOD WHY!? Are we worth it of your mercy???”
While one of the assistants was walking around saying to one of our fellow martyr neighbours:
“Yes sir... a sandwich is $9.90...
No, is not a subway sandwich and it doesn’t include a bottle of water... If you want something to drink it will be $3.50 extra for soft drinks or $3 for the water... $15 if you want a cheese and crackers with a bottle of wine... a 50ml bottle of wine... sir...
... Don’t be silly, sir... we don’t serve tap water...”
But something worst was about to happen when the entertainment system displayed
“The entertainment system is a premium package not included in economy class... if you want to enjoy our outstanding program and TV shows or watch first class movies you will have to pay just $9.99!*

*The entertainment system might be turned off at any time (especially at the most exciting part of it) and it will last 3 hours... at the end of which you will be forced to pay again to keep watching.... Muhuhaha!

All of the sudden came to my mind the scene acted by my mate Frank saying...

“We provide really low prices!!! By the way, if you want your seat belt... you will have to pay $15
In case of decompression, oxygen masks will be deployed... if you payed $20 extra. The oxygen will flow naturally after your credit card payment has been processed.
In case of landing in the sea, remember to pay an extra fee to open the emergency door.
Your money safety is important to us.”

As the flight went on... more and more people fell on the temptation... Kathy was shocked and horrified because of the bloodshed... it was like watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest release
“Slaughter plane...
You do not know what’s waiting for you up in the sky... your wallet won’t be the same“

All of the sudden the time seems to be stopped... People was watching the monitors with a look “it can’t be!!!!” and we started hearing our captain

“Ladies and Gentlemen... Sorry to interrupt your entertainment system. We are getting closer to Perth city, the weather is a lovely 34 degrees outside... probably more at the time we land... I would like to thank you all for being a terrific cabin crew and in the name of... John, Mary, Shawn, Eddie, Michael....” (People were starting to get mental because they were cut off at the best or more intense part of their movies, shows or whatever they were watching...) “... Mary... yes, Mary again... Paul and the chef... of whom I don’t remember his name but it doesn’t matter... Did I tell you guys the weather outside is very warm??? Well... now we are getting even closer to the airport...” (And the guy kept talking for 15 more minutes...) “... anyway... cabin crew get ready for landing... entertainment system will be suspended now.”

Worthless to say... some... couldn’t watch the end of... “How I meet your mother” marathon... Some stood there... waiting to get the final results of Parramatta’s game... did they win? Did they lose? They will never know...
Maccas... I'm not loving it.

Some stood there... waiting as someone who paid to go to the cinemas, watched the trailers and watched 90% of the movie and at that moment the power went off...

The plane landed and taxed to the port... where people, was still in shock, trying to watch anything in the screens of Perth airport.

As for us, we found our friends... and they carried us to the glory of the next Maccas (McDonalds in Aussie slang).

In conclusion

If you are going to fly in economy class with Virgin Blue get the stuff you are going to eat with you... They are going to try squeezing the money out of you in every single possible way. And try to get your own entertainment system to keep you busy as long as for the flight.

Or just try to use a different airline, which is more concern about their customers instead of how much money they can suck at once.

PS: I did not take pictures of Virgin Blue air plane or the airport. So please, forgive me the lack of my pictures... I know that I said I wanted to publish just my pictures... but sometimes is just not possible =P

Actually, we went and came back... two months ago...

The next paragraphs will be “I am going to give you excuses so you don’t get mad at me because it was my fault”.

I am really sorry... that took me such a long time to post this compilation of posts... 
It was just... just...
I was missing my muse...
I was lacking of strength...
I could not express myself efficiently...
I could not find the inspiration and...
I was really not in the mood to write (even though that I wanted to share something) or look for the right images to publish. 

But anyway, I am back to the biz and ready to post pictures! 

My first idea related to the ‘Off to Perth we go’ blog post series was to publish a post per day (maybe two) related to our holidays in Perth. But those days were extremely busy and I didn’t have time to take a sit and write down everything. Being totally honest, I was delighted with their lifestyle; I will talk more about it later. 

The content of the following series is a post-mortem (or should I say... post-‘eo ire itum’... or post trip) and digested story of our holidays in Perth.

Cranes everywhere...
For those of you who doesn’t know... Perth is the most important city of Western Australia, known on recent years as the ‘crane city’ because of its permanent state of construction in the CBD, city infrastructure and transport, and new suburbs. In general, Perth is home of lots of professionals working for the oil and mineral extraction industry, which is the main reason why this city is in constant motion of expansion in late years.

Yeah... Why???

But, why did we go there?
Well... we have dear friends living in that wonderful city, some almost family, and we wanted to come visit and get the full understanding of the ‘Perthfection’ described in blog posts, chats and conversations with them. Also there was an event to which we needed to assist... but that’s not going to be covered in these posts.

As usual (and to avoid long/unreadable posts) I am going to split it into different topics as listed below: