Subject: Re: Australian Car Rental
Hello Candice,

Sara and I are back from our Australian sojourn. We did rent a car both in Melbourne (for the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island, and on to Adelaide) and in Tasmania. I had made reservations with Thrifty on the Web long before our departure. So I can't speak in regard to any smaller Australian rental companies. We did rent a car for a day in Auckland, New Zealand from a local company which we arranged from the central Tourist Information center. Simple and painless.

We were generally pleased with Thrifty with one exception# their

insistence on a contact telephone number. As we see it, one of the benefits of renting a car is the complete freedom with regards to where one chooses to stay each evening. Therefore, we don't book ahead for these portions of the trip. We also don't carry a mobile phone preferring the primitive method of parking the car and

interacting with the local culture while purchasing a phone card and seeking a payphone.

Unfortunately, the Thrifty Auto Rental agents could not grasp the idea of traveling incommunicado and were hesitant to release one of their vehicles to us. In Melbourne, our friend who dropped us off at the agency was quick to pipe up and offer her local phone number and the telephone number of her sister in Adelaide (the agent absolutely

had to have two contact telephone numbers). In Launceston, Tasmania

the agent was satisfied as I read the telephone number off a hotel ad on the wall directly behind his right shoulder. This agent was

flustered as his recalcitrant computer refused to accept the input codes for the little known (and highly exotic) foreign country known as the United States. Finally, after 45 minutes of human-computer

negotiations they struck a deal allowing Sara and I to exit the long vacant Launceston Airport.

A quick note regarding your request about Adelaide accomodations. We stayed in a bacpackers/hostel (actually their guest house) in the city center. Knowing that this is not your style of accomodation I kept an eye out for something that would be more suitable. The best I can do is suggest areas. The Hilton is on Victoria Square right in the center of downtown and adjacent to the Central Market (a very good market,BTW) as well as the restaurant-filled streets of Gouger and Grote. Other hotels, such as the Hyatt, you'll find up off of North Terrace adjacent to the Torrens River and the surrounding

parklands. A little further north is North Adelaide which is

surrounded by the parklands and I note has at least one hotel, the Royal Oak. We did not step into any of these hotels but just noted their surroundings. Therefore I can't comment on them. I know others have mentioned the Adelaide Hills, which is a very attractive locale, but keep in mind that you'll be at least twenty minutes from the center of the city if you stay in that area. The same holds true for the beach town of Glen Elg.

John in San Diego