World Trip, Part 7 - South Australia

Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
Trip End May 02, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Friday, November 14, 2008

It was sad to leave Australia's Northern Territory. It was an awesome experience, and I would recommend this state to anyone and everyone, especially the Red Center. But, it was time to move on. The next flight with spectacular views over desert, arid land and water would bring me to my next destination.

Welcome to South Australia!

The Place:
The plane arrival into Adelaide - South Australia's capital - over the beaches and the downtown core was excellent. And, the airport was excellent too - so modern, appealing and windows everywhere.
A 20-minute bus ride brought me to my first stop, Glenelg - Adelaide's fantastic beach neighborhood. Alain, the coolio English backpacker from England who I met in Tokyo, recommended this place and staying here. The backpacker here was a mere block from the beach, is in an old mansion, with no bunkbeds, and would be the best bed and sleep i have had since Dallas.
I spent the afternoon walking around this small beach town, making it out to the pier to watch locals fish, and ended the day with an amazing time playing frisbee with three other Germans up until the phenomenal sunset over the ocean. Wow!
Glenelg was great, but I do like a little more action, so the next day I moved directly into Adelaide. This day was also great because I met up with Alain for the day. It was great to catch up with him and hear what he has been up to since Tokyo. We went to the Haigh's chocolate factory for a tasting (we missed the tour), the local farmer's market, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Museum of South Australia, and we walked around.the university grounds. Alain's studies are now over in Adelaide, but hopefully we will meet up again in the future somewhere in the world.
The following day I took advantage of Adelaide's free city tours from Rundle St. Mall. This tour is insignificant in the locals eyes, but never underestimate what you can learn from something deemed "insignificant". Pam, my senior volunteer guide, took me around for a mere 30 minutes and pointed out buildings and things I would have otherwise missed, and history that didn't even made it into my guidebook (shame, shame, Lonely Planet!). Little did I know that Adelaide was not founded by convicts, but rather by rich English who wanted to try a new life in a new place, and who brought over reliiously-persecuted Germans to help them run things. Interesting, indeed!
After this great tour, I completed the Lonely Planet's walking tour of Adelaide, which brought me to more historic buildings, and then to probably Adelaide's highlight - the Botanic Gardens. Simply spectacular. And, the rose gardens were the best you could ever imagine!
Always a sucker for decadence and indulgence, I headed back to the Haigh's chocolate factory for my tour. On the tram I bumped into a cool Australian I met at Glenelg who was moving to Adelaide. As I hopped off the tram, he quickly stuffed 5 bucks into my pocket and told me to buy some chocolates. How is that for hospitality. I didn't even have a chance to give it back. At the factory, it was more chocolate. Of course, i begged, pleaded, and received double sample portions. :) Oink! Oink!
The tour would also be great too for another reason as I befriended Dan, an English backpacker. With no real plans after porking out on chocolate, Dan suggested that we head to Port Adelaide to check things out. Alain had also mentioned that it might be worth a visit, if I had the time. We arrived by train just as the town was closing up shop, so we quickly headed to the brewery hotel for a pint of the famous Ginja beer and a walk around the pier and old town. It was pretty cool. The day ended with Dan and I heading back to Glenelg to go to a house party at his friends.
After these few days, I was all set to move on, but Dan and I talked about renting a car, hopefully with others, and going to the popular Barossa Valley wine region, an hour north of Adelaide. Pam, my lovely tour guide, had recommended some wineries to me, and a circle route from/back to Adelaide to maximize the scenery, etc. As good luck would have it, I met Dan the following morning, who was staying at a different hostel, and he found three others that wanted to go with us. Dan, Mattieu, Nicholas, and another guy from Hong Kong and I headed off for a most excellent adventure, and what would be one of my best days travelling ever!
We visited four wineries: Chateau Yaldara, Jacob's Creek, Chateau Tanunda, and Saltram for some great tastings. Thank goodness Dan was our designated driver! Ha! The winery hosts were incredibly sweet and informative. And, the scenery was as impressive as it gets. We all had a silly, yet memorable time. The day ended with a drive up Mt. Lofty for an incredible view of Adelaide and surrounding areas.
The Food:

Yummy chocolate at Haigh's chocolate factory, great pub food, more meat pies, great Chinese food and the best giro ever!

The People:

Alain is the nicest guy, and some of the backpackers were just awesome. Super-friendly and excellent Australians were everywhere!

Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Australians in South Australia:

* You people rock too! Friendly, friendly, friendly!
* Adelaide is truly Australia's best kept secret!
* Your Botanic Gardens are incredible!

Photos: On blog.

Next Stop: A city that everyone says is the best, altho I still don't know why! (Oops, I am already long gone!)
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