Great Escapade: Things are shaping up

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Jabba, Deb and Trig, things are shaping up well for the first half of the adventure. There’s a theme developing, at least for the parts where I’m travelling solo, see if you can spot it….

Accommodation for the two nights in Singapore are sorted in the form of the Ibis on Bencoolen. As well as winning on price, its location looks good, being within case-wheeling distance of the Metro from Changi Airport. Singapore will be a real adventure for me in that it is furthest removed from my ‘comfort zone’ – in so many ways! Even so, it will be an interesting couple of days, I’m sure. I’ll do my best to stay out of McDonald’s, I promise.

On to Perth, and another Ibis (I keep wanting to type the name with a lower case initial i and capital B,  Apple style.). I’ve been tipped off by Graham McDonald who has recently returned from Perth that it’s an expensive part of the world, so I’ve mixed feelings about only having a brief stay in Perth. The Indian Pacific only runs  on Sundays, so it was out of my hands in any event. 

Carl has done me proud with a crowded calendar, including a road trip which takes in Good Beer Wheaty at the Wheatsheaf Hotel his former local in Adelaide, and Good Beer Week in Melbourne. There’s an impressive itinerary of events showcasing the best of Australian beer (I can hear Carl’s voice saying that not all Oz beer is ‘piss’!). I’m looking forward to confirming his  assessment! When Carl returns home to put a bit of work in, I remain in Melbourne for the weekend. Then I’m taking the Spirit of Tasmania ferry over to “Tassie” for a couple of nights in Hobart. Just for once this won’t be an Ibis, as I’m stopping at the Fountainside Hotel which looks like a promising place.

Reuniting with Carl and his family for a last weekend in Canberra; not to mention his current local, the Wig & Pen. Then it’s off to New Zealand, with a short connecting flight into Sydney, thence Auckland. Here we’ll be meeting up with Dave Townsend and, we’re hoping, enjoying his hospitality (and home brew!) for a couple of nights. Later in the week, I’ll be leaving them to it and taking the KiwiRail Scenic ‘Northern Explorer‘ from Auckland down to Wellington.

This remarkable, ever-changing daytime journey between Auckland and Wellington takes you into the heart of the North Island,  through lush green farmland, native forests, over stunning river gorges and across New Zealand’s Volcanic plateau. Highlights include Tongariro National Park and the Raurimu Spiral, an amazing feat of railway engineering.

Yet again the good people at the local Ibis will be looking after me, before I fly the short (but otherwise not easy) hop to the South Island and Christchurch. I’ll leave you to guess where I’ll be staying there! Of all the places I’m staying, the Trip Advisor reviews of this place are most negative, with the cost being the main sticking point. I take the view that as the city recovers from the earthquake, one of the knock-on effects is always going to be higher prices.

Other than my afternoon flight back to Auckland on the Monday, to enjoy Air New Zealand’s Business Class hospitality prior to the late night (23:30) departure to LAX, that’s the extent of my planning to date. Looks pretty good so far, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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