Okay, I am obsessed with breakfast, it is the most important meal of the day isn’t it? Today, we had three gloriously large, perfectly round and the exact thickness I prefer, pancakes served hot with whipped cream and maple syrup. Can you say YUM? This is a treat, not something they have in Hungary.
By 9:00, we were sitting outside waiting for our tour shuttle, it was cooler today than yesterday, but felt like it would get hotter during the day. By 9:25 our shuttle had not shown up yet, so I ran up to the room for my phone and jacket as an insurance policy. As I walked out the door, Ron was walking to the shuttle.
We were so lucky. Our tour guide/driver is also the President, CEO, CFO, and Managing Director of the the company Devilmania Tours. All of this and she reminds me of Bette Midler to boot. Meet Charlene who had Britney riding shotgun. Britney is Charlene’s 6th grade daughter off on vacation. We were a group of two, R to the second power or R-squared, us and only us. Being a small group, we had some leeway, like when Charlene asked if we minded if she stopped at the chemist to pick up a prescription. Although we expected some commentary as we drove, it was more like chit-chat, which was fine with me. Charlene took us to a fruit stand to try Tasmanian cherries and apricots. I have to say, these are the best apricots I have ever tasted; we only bought four, but we are sorry we did not buy more now. The cherries were sweet and meaty, but just as good as California or even Hungarian cherries.
Charlene drove us to the Tasman Arch and the Devils Kitchen, both are natural rock formations formed by the waves continual erosion of the rock. Both areas were incredibly beautiful, but the colors of the waters defy the vocabulary of the English language. There are no words to identify the shades of blues and greens we viewed.
Ron wanted to stop off at the Tasmanian devil reserve, where they are breeding them. As ugly as the little creatures are, they are dying of a rare mouth cancer that is only transmitted through other devils. The object of the reserve is to preserve devils that are not infected, giving them a place to breed so they don’t go extinct. They are ugly little creatures and look especially creepy when they are snarling.
Within the park are other interesting creatures, including a large number of kangaroos and wallabies. They are so nonchalant about people it is easy to walk up to them to take photographs. We found one with a joey leg hanging out of the pouch. We were hoping more would appear to the paparazzi, but no deal. These celebrities can be so evasive.
Our major stop was Port Arthur, the penal colony was established in 1830 as a timber camp. It was after 1833 that it became a “punishment station” for repeat offenders from all of the Australian colonies. Based on discipline and punishment, religious and moral instruction, classification and separation, training and education, the English prison reformer Jeremy Bentham set the rules for his penitentiary. By today’s standards, this places was sadistic in a number of ways; however, the signs and information posted at each building for self-guided touring really makes all attempts to dissuade the tourist from regarding any of the procedures here as anything, but necessary. Even reporters of the time who visited wrote disparaging remarks about the treatment of these prisoners who were supposed to be reformed through being forced to attend religious services amongst other things, but even then they had to stay five feet from the next prisoner, even when ball and chained. Each prisoner had to perform labor of some sort, repeaters had hard labor duties.
There is a guided tour every hour, but we missed one and did not have time to wait for the next one to start. We were also supposed to take a harbor cruise for twenty minutes, but we had to meet Charlene at 3:30, so we basically only had time to go around to view the different buildings. Okay, I saw it. Another human abusing human setting that has become a major tourist attraction.
When you first enter, you receive a playing card with some interesting little pictures on it. At the end, you can look up your card and see what prisoner you were and what your crimes were. I was a sixteen year old who was sent here for stealing a shirt. I was assigned to twelve years of hard labor. After I was released, I stole shoes and was again imprisoned. Hell, I was working on a full outfit. For the initial offense I was sent from England to Australia for reform. One woman was sent from England for stealing a handkerchief.
Charlene was there to collect us at 3:30. The ride back was fairly quiet, so we fell asleep. She left us off downtown where we walked around the pedestrian mall, we had not discovered yet. At 5:30 on the dot, the stores closed, bang, bam, boom, all gone for the evening.
As I was watching the news tonight, there was a special report on the news about Australian restaurants. There seem to be an unusual number of food poisoning problems. It seems this is the same issue in every country and every major city in any country could document the same problems. What I did find interesting was that of the top ten complaints about restaurants, number five was the high cost of eating out, another was wine that is quadrupled in price from the same wine available from a bottle shop. Another one that is common is hidden charges. Some of the lesser complaints were that there was not a pepper mill on the table or it took too look to get a bottle of water.
With a short list of options for restaurants that are open after 6:00 pm, we made the easy choice of returning to the New Sydney Hotel for dinner. The Moo Brew pilsner beer is so very tasty. The spicy chicken burger was well worth the trek back here.
Tomorrow is another tour with Charlene, but she told us she has a doctor’s appointment and an appointment to have the van steam cleaned inside, so there may be a sub-driver. Our exciting life.