As regular readers are aware I do not like wind farms so imagine seeing these from a ferry just outside of Amsterdam.

Wind farm Amsterdam

Wind farm Amsterdam

Amsterdam Port

Amsterdam Port

Beautiful Amsterdam

Beautiful Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful city with very friendly people. You just have to give way to the bikes.

With all the old buildings with people cycling without helmets it reminded me of Fremantle albeit a lot larger.

More on LA

One thing that you soon notice as you ramble around Los Angeles is that everything is cheap. Not just that our dollar is parity with the US dollar, food, alcohol, petrol, clothes and cars are all tremendous value here.

For example, the latest Fiat is very popular here and costs about US$17,000 but in Australia is about A$42,000 which is the cost we pay for protecting our car industry, which is highly inefficient. Petrol is $1.10 a litre. Go to a restaurant, and most have bars that you can sit at and have a few cold ones and also eat your meal. Beer, imported or local is about $6 and most meals around $12 to $15 and at a good restaurant you pay about $30 for the best steak. You then need to add a tip of 20% if the service is good which most times it is. But if you don’t eat everything, they pack it up for you and when I queried this the waitress said “doesn’t everybody do that, that’s lunch for the next day.” Eighteen months ago when I was last here a waitress was explaining that she earned $8 an hour, and the other day another waitress said that the rate is still $8 but with tips she earns about $25 an hour, and she was very happy with that.

Yesterday I was at a Vons supermarket and across the board prices were cheaper than Australia. In the US most supermarkets sell alcohol and a 750ml bottle of Absolut vodka was $15 and most wine is $12 to $18. Then there is a great range of food, and I bought a pack of 2 hard boiled eggs already peeled, plus there are tins of canned pumpkin!

Clothes are cheap, and I like to buy shirts and shoes as they are extremely good value and the shop assistants just want to help and when they know you are from Australia they just want to talk. I was in an Apple store at Newport Beach buying some adapters and cracked, I do have some humour, that I had to come all the way from Australia to buy these and the salesgirl, a very attractive African American, showed me their business centre that has a view over the ocean, and she insisted that I take some photos. If you are an Apple business user you can book the room and receive one on one training..

Saying all this, my overall impression is that retail in America is suffering as many shops, including on Rodeo Drive are bereft of customers, but like Australia restaurants and bars are doing good business, and the overall opinion from Americans is that the economy is turning for the better.




Los Angeles

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am in Los Angeles this week.

With all the turmoil going on at the City of Fremantle and after digesting the emails I decided that I would post about LA.

Los Angeles area is 1215 square kilometres and 18 million people live there, and I would describe the public transport akin to Perth so if you want to get around you need a car. When you arrive at LAX and eventually get through immigration you walk outside the terminal and wait for a car rental bus. These buses continually do a loop and each hire car company, Avis, Hertz, National etc have their own buses so it is a matter of waiting until yours arrives, getting on and the driver will crack jokes while transporting you to the yard. There you look up your name on a board, locate your car and drive to the exit, hand over your credit card and licence, get a contract and drive out.

First problem, you are sitting on the left and hoping that the first turn is to the right. Second  problem, where do I go. Several years ago I bought a Tom Tom and they are great, just stick it to the windscreen and dial in your destination and go. My destination, in Long Beach was programmed already but after one wrong turn I was back on track and 30 minutes later at my destination. I usually rent from Avis but this time tried Hertz and they had their own GPS which was difficult to use but the car had its own navigation system, which I have been using and found to be excellent.

I have since travelled about 350 miles, including getting caught in peak hour traffic today, so that a 40 minute trip took an hour and a half. Overall American drivers are very courteous and when you are doing 60 to 80 miles per hour on a freeway  and need to indicate, you just go ahead and change lanes. No one tailgates even in peak hour, you can turn right on a red light if it is safe and when driving on suburban streets you notice only a few trucks as they are on the freeways. In suburbia you come to an intersection with stop signs on the four streets, you stop and then go when it is your turn. Works great. The Highway Patrol look after freeways and Police are responsible for the suburban streets. But don’t get caught drink driving, 0.08 here and then a night in the lock up until you get bailed.

LA is such an interesting city with some great beaches and a host of other attractions to see so a car is a necessity, and with navigation systems so good now, it is easy.


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