Adelaide - Family, Food and Ferocious Heat!!!

Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
Trip End Mar 23, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, February 4, 2011

It appears time is starting to really fly by at this point in our trip. Can't believe it’s been over a week since my last blog entry. When I last wrote on my blog, I was about to pick up a rental car in Melbourne on Jan 27th and drive the Great Ocean Road toward Adelaide.  Driving on the left side of the road wasn’t so bad. Keeping eyes on the road and not on the scenery a little harder.  The Great Ocean Road was spectacular.  We saw many beaches and cliffs and the famous Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles are remnants from eroded cliffs leaving islands of towering rock in the ocean.  Another very Australian experience was seeing our first Koalas in the wild.  While walking along a road near Port Fairy, we spotted a Koala bear feeding high up in a Eucalyptus tree.  Then about 100 metres away we came mere feet from another Koala.  This one was just walking on the front lawn of a home, as I got closer to it (I was not more than 3 feet away from it), it very slowly made its way up a small Eucalyptus tree,then posed for me to take a close up picture of it.  They are so cute, so cuddly and seemingly so tame and calm.  A definitely memorable experience!  Went to bed in our Port Fairy Hotel with a feeling of having fulfilled one of the mandatory feats of an Australian vacation – seeing a Koala in the wild.

 On Jan 28th, we drove to Adelaide to visit with my dad’s three cousins and their families.  Though I had met some of them in Canada, there were many more that I had yet to meet.  Didn’t know what to expect really, but got a very hospitable reception from all of them. Bruno and his wife Angela had put us up in their motel in the city.  It was a very comfortable large room and most importantly, it was air-conditioned!!!  Our 6 days in Adelaide were characterized by strong sun and strong dry heat.  Multiple days with temps over 40C (105F), including one day where the temp hit 46C(115F)!!!  Insanity, but yes, it was a dry heat, so really didn’t sweat all that much.

We were invited to each of Bruno’s, Ossie’s and Alex’s homes on different nights for dinners and drinks. They sure do like to drink in Australia.  I guess with such strong dry heat, one can never have too many cold beers… or glasses of wine, or scotch, or… I just couldn’t keep up!  Not to mention the large spreads of food that seem to mushroom on the dinner tables everywhere we went.

On Saturday evening, Bruno Jr brought us to his good friend John’s 40th birthday party.  It was no simple birthday party.  It was a masquerade party to be held in John’s backyard on what is usually a grass tennis court.  They had set up a marquee (huge tent) with a sit-down lounge area, stand-up cocktail tables area, dance floor with DJ and a bar.  With the beautiful décor (chandeliers, lights, curtains) in the marquee, it felt like a hip downtown club.  The piece-de-resistance of the evening was the food.  Menus had been printed and put on each of the cocktail tables. The food for the evening was being provided by reputedly one of Adelaide’s best chefs and his team of what appeared to be almost a dozen staff.  Other than the fact that everyone was dressed to the hilt - sequined cocktail dresses, stiletto heals, suits – making us feel like total schleps in our jeans (Thank God for the anonymity provided by the masks), the evening was a lot of fun. Got to talk to and meet many interesting Australians.  Many of whom had travelled extensively, some that had many interesting business ventures and others that were plain old fun!  I was told that this was "the" party of the summer in Adelaide.  Very well could have been as I’d never been to such an elaborate party in my life!

On Sunday, Bruno and Angela hosted all the relatives over for a BBQ.  It was great to meet everyone and talk with each of them throughout the afternoon. It quickly became obvious to me that we were most definitely related when upon seeing my dad’s cousin Ossie, I immediately remarked upon the striking resemblance to my dad.  Not only the appearance, but the gestures, posture, mannerisms, gesticulations, etc… And I wasn’t the only one that thought this. 

On Monday, Ossie and his wife Angela spent the day with us.  After a home-made lunch at their place, they took us to some of the beaches outside Adelaide, including some where we drove right on the sand.  The beaches were beautiful.  Water extremely calm, very clear, warm and a nice blue/green colour. Had a typical fish and chips dinner on a picnic table overlooking the ocean at sunset.  The fish was King George Whiting, a fish caught in local waters.  It was delicious.  Way better than cod!

On Tuesday, Bruno Jr, took us on a wine tasting tour in the famous Barossa Valley.  We stopped in and tasted wines at the Penfolds, Yalumba and Wolf Blass wineries.  Between the cold beers, all the wine tastings and the wine at lunch, I was feeling no pain ;-)  Wished I could have bought more wine to take home, but with so many flights left to take, just wasn’t possible.  I found the wine tasting experience here to be much more personal and more sociable than my limited experience back home (in the NY Finger Lakes region). Wine tastings in Australia are free!   Of course,the wine tastes so good you will inevitably purchase at least one bottle!

On Wednesday, Alex and his wife Maria took us out to Victor Harbor an hour south of Adelaide), where we had a picnic lunch on the harbourfront and hiked around Granite Island trying to spot little penguins in their holes.  We actually saw 2 of them.  Cute little shy things.

On Wednesday night, after dinner at Alex and Maria’s, everyone came over to wish us well and to say good-bye… oh and to have some of Maria’s amazing desserts!

I should mention one little noteworthy item here.  On Wednesday morning, it became evident that our planned trip to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef was going to have to be cancelled due to Cyclone Yasi - which as a Category 5 storm was estimated to do a lot of damage.  It was due to hit Cairns on Thursday, the exact day we were to fly into Cairns.  Given this foreboding news, we spent most of Wednesday morning changing our plans. We decided to fly to Brisbane instead and drive 2 hours north to Noosa Heads. Not the Great Barrier Reef, but a nice spot for a 5 day beach vacation.  Who would have thought 2 weeks ago that I would change my plans to go to Brisbane?  But our visit in downtown Brisbane showed no flood damage.  They did an amazing job cleaning it all up so quickly!

Early Thursday morning, after a really nice surprise visit by Belinda and her 8 month old bundle of joy (Sophia), we left Adelaide.  A great visit indeed.
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