Saturday, February 15, 2014

Barossa Valley

February 4th: Day left for Adelaide

In the morning, we went back to Jak + Hill for breakfast before heading out to the airport once again. That morning I had my first encounter with the infamous Vegemite! I would describe it as follows: the texture was much like Nutella, while tastes and smells like eating a whole vegetable bullion cube (extremely salty).

The security to get to our  domestic flight from Brisbane to Adelaide was surprisingly easy! While there are some precautions in Australia that weren't there before 9/11, they are definitely more lax about getting into an airport.You don't need to show your passport OR plane ticket! It's a lot like 20 years ago in the US when family would walk in with their loved ones to say goodbye before getting on the plane instead of before they went through security. We didn't have to take out liquids or take off our shoes. My Dad said Australia is the most relaxed airport security he has seen in all his global travels. Although, it's the first time they had asked him to pull out his bottle opener to make sure it wasn't a weapon. And as our trip continued on, Dad got pulled to the side every single time for an individual, "random" search. I don't know what makes him look so sketchy.

February 5th: Wine Tour

We were picked up a little after 9am from the hotel by a bus to travel through the Barossa Valley for our wine tour. Dad was a little worried they weren't going to be on time, yet they promised to be there between 9 and 9:10; they were true to their word.

The first thing I seem to notice about a new environment is whatever music is playing. The song was Blame it on the Boogie by Micheal Jackson, which from then on has become a reoccurring theme song for me as it cropped up twice later on in two different cities! It reminded me of the comedian, Boy with Tape on his Face's, routine.

Then, on the way out of town, I noticed my favorite modern composer was performing at the Adelaide Festival Center, Ludovico Einoudi. And there was an area of town that had decorated the trees with knitted sweaters just like Raleigh, NC had done recently.

The only others on the bus  when we first hopped on were three people about my age. I later learned that two were from Germany, Isabel and Felix, and the other was from Canada, Jackie. They all were staying at the same hostel, yet they had only met the day before and just happened to all be going on the same wine tour the next day.

I think I had the most fun on the tour just because the three younger aged people were on the trip. I probably would have enjoyed myself without them all the same, but that gave variety to the group dynamics, and gave me someone to talk to whom I could relate more.

All three of them were on work holiday visas, backpacking through Australia. I have a lot of respect for their bravery in doing it alone like that, but I know I would never do the same. My travels are little more set in stone, so the comfort of being in a campus community makes me feel secure.

We had multiple stops, and along the way our tour guide and driver, Russel, discussed the geography and history of Adelaide and the Barrossa Valley. He himself had an interesting story. He is originally from South Africa, and on his holiday travels to Greece he met an Australian woman. They fell in love, and the rest is history.

We made a stop at the Whispering Wall, which is a damn that unintentionally made a perfect curve that someone on one end could hear the people on the other end as if they were speaking right beside them.

Russel was the first person to point out the Australia would have been the most boring named country in the world if it were not for the Aboriginal names for things. Everything else was just some word like "Great" or another flourishing adjective in front of the basic name of the geographic location.

I learned a myriad about grapes and wine that I'd never known before. One of the faces I liked the most was that grapes do better when they suffer in arid soil because they go into survival mode and make more seeds and thicker skin. Those two characteristics of grapes are what make up the wine's character over the amount of juice the grapes produce.

Another factoid is that many German Lutherans left Germany when the Lutheran faith wasn't as accepted. They brought their knowledge of making wine with them to Australia. They ended up doing very well, only because during the same time Europe's vineyards began to suffer from an infestation of bugs that could only be eradicated by burning entire fields and starting from scratch.

Much more was said on the tour, but these were my two favorite trivia.

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