Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Showing Off

There is something pretty wonderful about spending time with a friend that you've known for years.  You know a  lot of the old stories, but there are still new ones to be told, and new memories to be made.

Adelaide provided a warm welcome to our friend, Heather Moe, as she left the airport in 41C temperatures.  A stark change to the -25C weather she left in Calgary.  In the next 16 days she would experience extreme heat, record rainfall, and many of the wonderful things Australia has to offer.  Between the two of us, we probably took 2,000+ photos.  Here is a sampling...

The first morning I took her to the Botanic Gardens, which is a stone's throw from our apartment.  Heather loves plants, but it was the lorikeets having a bath in the fountain that really captured her attention.

 Living in Adelaide is like living in a smaller version of the Napa Valley.  Wine is part of the culture, of the landscape, and is home to some excellent wines.

The original Penfolds winery built in the 1800s is a short distance from our apartment.  We went on a tour of the winery and then had a wine tasting.  Our guide liked us and gave us many of the premium wines, although the famous Grange wine that is grown and bottled here, was not one of them. 

This row of Grange wine is worth $10 million.  The Chinese market is snapping up high end wines throughout Australia.

The first of many thumbs up after wine tastings!

The next thing on Heather's wish list was to snorkel with dolphins.  We went on the same catamaran that Roger and I did in December, but this time, the weather was much better for us and the water was a lot warmer.  The Temptation snorkel cruise is very eco-friendly and while we weren't allowed to touch the dolphins, many came very close.

Ready to jump in the water!
We had lots of close up encounters, and could hear them speak to each other when we put our masks under water.

Heather chatted with the marine biologist on-board.  He was thrilled to hear where we came from and stated emphatically, "I've never met a 'shit' Canadian!"  We told him they exist, but he said he'd never met one.  Canucks still have a great reputation throughout the world.
The Barossa Valley is probably the most well known wine region in South Australia and where Wolf Blass, Penfolds, and Jacob's Creek wineries make wine that is sent around the world.  Our favorite wineries though, are the smaller ones like Langmeil.

Roger tasted the premium wines at Wolf Blass, including one vintage right out of the barrel.

Shiraz grapes at Langmeil Winery are more than 100 years old

Pure delight as Heather tastes some Shiraz grapes right off the vine
Adelaide hosts festivals of all descriptions, and this time of year, there are several on the go. We attended the Cellar Door Wine Festival one evening, and tasted wines from wineries throughout South Australia -- fortunately it was held within walking distance of home!
Cellar Door Festival held at the Convention Center

Roger even found a micro brewery at the festival!
On the way home, we sat and watched the Fringe Festival parade staging area.  The Fringe has a mixture of bizarre, bawdy and bodacious!
We had never been to a night parade before -- and we loved it. 

This guy would be awfully dizzy by the time he rolled to Victoria Square

It was really quite magical seeing everyone lit up at night

A wardrobe malfunction seems to be just a big breath away

And what would a Fringe Parade be without a stripper pole?

I've been fortunate to become friends with two wonderful ladies at my deep water aerobic swim class: Wendy and Carolyn.  To celebrate Carolyn's birthday, Wendy and her husband Rowley invited us to their home for a gourmet luncheon.  Heather loved meeting "real Aussies" and the lunch went on for hours and very nearly became dinner.
Clockwise from top:  Wendy, Heather, Carolyn, Roger, John, Rowley. 

Unfortunately, most of the kangaroos we've seen have been dead on the side of the road, and we have never seen koalas.  To make sure Heather saw them alive and well, we went to Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills where kangaroos and emus roam freely.
A joey with its mum

We were able to feed the roos, which was really quite a thrill

A hop, skip and a jump!

Apparently emus like kangaroos food

The kookaburras cackled loudly from the trees
Heather and I went to the Koala Experience, and although at first I thought it was going to be cheesy, when Belle the Koala climbed onto our shoulders, we practically melted in the cuteness of it all.

Koalas are pretty mellow and don't like sudden movement or loud noises.  Could be because they are a little high from chewing on eucalyptus leaves.

We also wanted Heather to see a bit of South Australia, so we took a 2 night circle trip to Beachport to see Craig and Wendy, and then to Mount Gambier and Penola in the Coonawara wine region. 

The coastline around Robe is stunning

The obelisk at Robe

Sunset at Beachport -- great view from Craig and Wendy's

Picture perfect morning walking the beach at Beachport!
Blue Lake at Mount Gambier changes color with the seasons.  It is at its peak of "blue-ness" now.
The Stratfords are friends of Kym and Sue Hooper, owners of Cape Jaffa wines.  We had enjoyed drinking their wines the night before, and were then treated to a wonderful afternoon at the Hooper's home in the Coonawara wine region. 
Kym choosing one of Cape Jaffa's fabulous wines from his wine cellar

Great friends, wine, and food --- the makings of a special afternoon
We spent the night at the most amazing B&B we've ever seen.  Punter's Corner, in the heart of the Coonawara, is in a winery and the house is flat out gorgeous.  It is "self catered" which means they leave you the ingredients to make a full breakfast in the morning, and when you book it, you get the whole house.
Lime trees at the retreat's entrance

The house surrounded by beautiful grounds and grape vines
To those who thought we merely drank wine in different venues throughout Heather's visit...well...you would be right to a certain extent, but I did take her to Central Market, the South Australian Museum, and to the Adelaide Gaol.
Heather and I walked through the jail that was opened in 1847 and closed 147 years later.  There were sections of it that we felt were really creepy, and made us believe that perhaps the rumors that it is haunted were really true.

LOVE this sign.  I think a "reasonable amount of time" would be about...one minute.
The Fringe Festival is in full swing and there are acts performing day and night wherever we go.  While waiting to go into a movie, we saw a guy tattooed like a fish.  Not surprisingly, we saw him the following night at the Fringe announcing an act.

One of the many random signs around the Festival area.  The asylum issue is as complex as is it controversial.
We went to the Festival along with Carolyn, John, and their friend from the UK to see the show, Limbo.  It was held in a circus-like tent, and we had a raised booth that gave us a perfect view of the circular stage.  Limbo just finished a 5 month run in London, and was one of the best live shows we had seen.  It was a fabulous mix of vaudeville, Cirque de Soleil, illusions, circus in an action packed show.
The main festival area just a block away from us
A little something for everyone

Fun atmosphere with prime people watching
Before we knew it, Heather's two weeks in Adelaide came to a close.  Our last night was spent at Sosta's, one of our favorite restaurants.

Heather and I flew to Sydney so I could give her a whirlwind tour of this beautiful city.  We hit the ground running, and grabbed the ferry to Watson's Bay where we had lunch at the famous Doyle's Wharf restaurant which opened in 1885.

View of the Harbor Bridge and city from Watson's Bay

We walked to the other side of the bay to see the rugged coastline

The Sydney Opera House seen from the water
One of our favorite spots was the Queen Victoria Building.  It's a shopping center that opened in 1898 and has stunning architecture, interesting clocks, and beautiful stained glass.

We stayed at a hotel at Darling Harbor and were treated to a fireworks show that we could see from our room.

Darling Harbor has great shops and restaurants
The second day in Sydney was spent on a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour which gave us a great overview of the city.
St. Mary's Cathedral
 This Coca-Cola sign has been a Sydney icon since the 1970s, and is the largest billboard in the southern hemisphere.
The sign is at the entrance of King's Cross --- a suburb of the city that has a vibrant red light district.
We also went to see the world famous Bondi Beach.  A place teeming with "budgie smugglers", bathing beauties, and buff lifeguards.

Some Darwin award winning contenders were jumping into the waves that were crashing against the rocks

After a full day, we went to a seafood restaurant at Darling Harbor and feasted on prawns and Moreton Bay Bugs.
Moreton Bay Bugs taste very much like lobster.  Fabulous!!!!

A final glass of wine before we each hopped on planes going in different directions. 
I think Heather will have to have a vacation to get over this one.  She got sweaty, sunburned, blistered, peeled, and...smiled through it all.  I'm going to miss her. We loved having her, and sharing great times together.  We know there will be a lot more.

"Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends."
                                                                                   Virginia Woolf

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