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  • Writer's pictureswedishvikingprinc

Planning the impromptu way

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

I'm a Town Planner by profession. You would never know that by my inability to take planning seriously. Maybe that's why I didn't last in that profession... I'm more of a free spirit. I think my husband both loves and hates that about me. I drive him crazy. He is the planner, and my 'devils' advocate'. He loves a thought out schedule, with all the issues ironed out before they can rear their ugly heads. "Prepare for the Worst"... tough call for me - I always look for the silver lining and expect everything to be just fine!

Having said that, the most of the bookings made in our short lives together, have been done by me. Often with disastrous (I'm exaggerating) consequences!

We decided to go looking for the best possible place to settle into retirement. Bearing in mind, I'm a sun lover and he is a red head, this was an interesting concept!

Our lists of wants were:

  • Culture

  • Great food

  • Friendly people

  • Warm weather

  • Coast - or decent water body of some sort

  • Reasonable cost of living

  • A language (if not English) we could learn

  • Decent medical services

  • Politics that weren't too extreme

Seems like an easy task, but it's not that easy! We started with a list of places we could imagine (possibly) living in. Some we had been to before we met. Others we had heard of and thought they might be interesting. Some were thrown in for the sake of being curious and others eventually were added through hearing about friends' experiences. Our list started something like this. It's not in order of preference.

  • Greece

  • Italy

  • Portugal

  • Spain

  • Morocco

  • Thailand

  • Indonesia

  • Philippines

  • South Pacific

As I said, more have since been added and one (at least) may already have been removed. That's another story for another day! The general plan was to stay within the tropics, or as near as possible. We also wanted to follow summer, but that turns out to be another problematic issue. We will tell you about those as we go...

After the trauma of selling up (so much to tell about that too - another story for another day), we packed up and headed to Queensland to see friends and family. The things were were keeping were heading there as well. We figured that if, as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home", we would have our stuff in the place we would live if we decided Australia was the best place to live in.

Queensland is probably the place I should have gone to instead of coming to Perth, Western Australia, and my husband loves it too. After what we had endured to this date, we needed friends and family.

Our first night away from home was in a Motel near the airport as we were flying from Perth to Brisbane the next day. We still had the house, but no bed. That last piece of furniture had been collected that morning. The Country Comfort Motel* was clean and very well equipped. The Firehouse Restaurant* served delicious meals, great staff throughout, even if it was a little on the utilitarian side. There was even a free airport shuttle the next day! The receptionist showed us to the room which was miles away, and told us she would leave the luggage trolley in the downstairs area for the morning.

Things went well until the next morning. We had booked breakfast to the room. In hindsight, we should have gone to the restaurant. It arrived way too late and cold. We ate what we could (my husband had to eat around some hard plastic on his plate) and ran down to collect the luggage trolley, which had moved overnight. My husband went to get another and we rushed to the shuttle. Bear in mind, we had four suitcases in tow, plus hand luggage. Moving around was going to be an issue. How I manage to reduce to one bag remains to be seen. I'll tell you how it goes when I do! My husband loves to tell people only one bag is his. The receptionist gave us breakfast free, which was very nice of her.

The bus was packed, and we looked at each other with trepidation. Here we go... Off to Queensland. This part of the journey wasn't planned. It was hurriedly put together when the house finally sold for a cash sale. We didn't have anywhere in Perth to stay and our friends in Queensland really wanted to see us, and of course, we couldn't wait to see them!

Besides my Mother and Sister coming up from other places on the coast, we hadn't planned anything in Brisbane. We were only there a week after all. My sister arrived a day early due to a train strike forcing her to do so. She was there the next morning when my husband woke feeling dreadful. We left him for the day to rest while we went out. Mum's trip was cancelled - we didn't want her to get sick....she's in her 80's and I didn't want to risk it. My sister also headed back early as she too, didn't want to get sick. So, the first plans had already gone to seed. It took the whole week for my husband to start feeling better,

When I said earlier that I made the plans, that's not quite right. We both planned, however I'm in charge of logistics. Most of the time, I'm pretty good at that. What I hadn't mentioned is that, before leaving Perth, we sent our car to Queensland. We were giving it to our friends in Queensland who needed another car. This meant that we had to collect it from the depot - somewhere between Brisbane and Surfers Paradise. I had to go alone as Mr Sickie was feeling so dreadful. He told me to take an Uber, but I'm cheap, so I took a train most of the way, then got an the time we found the place I was already frustrated. The instructions on how to get there were vague, and when I called I was connected to someone who was in Victoria (for those who don't know Australia, that's a long way away). Someone called me back and talked us through. The Uber driver got a good tip that day! I asked about how to pay the road tolls and was told there was "some number to call", but no more help. Eventually I collected a filthy car and took off.

I like to drive. Usually. I didn't enjoy driving in Queensland. My maps app wasn't responding and the roads and exits it told me to take didn't match the signs. I eventually found a petrol station, and they couldn't help me with tolls either. When I left I ended up on the wrong road.... With all the trucks, traffic and crazy roads, I was fast becoming angry and frustrated. My husband was calling and I hadn't managed to make the Bluetooth work. By the time I found a place to pull over (I needed to call to let him I was alright and I needed to cool down) I had sorted out what I needed to do. I still had no idea about the tolls, but I figured I'd wing it. My usual planning strikes again.

Once we hit the road to Caloundra, where our friends live, we were still stressed and tired. It seemed we would never settle. While writing this, I'm still not relaxed - even though now, we're both not working and shouldn't have a care in the World. Seeing our friends was the plan here. Seeing them and surprising them with a nice present!

Made it in one piece!

On a side not: I saw a sign on the Freeway, near the City that told me to call 133331 to pay any tolls due. Apparently you have 3 days to pay.

*I do not endorse, nor reject any web pages or businesses I mention. Our comments are only based on our experiences and people's opinions differ. I will not take responsibility for any experiences on the contrary.

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