We survived our first weekend on Waiheke Island! Yesterday our hosts, Dave and Sue, invited us over for a Sunday roast with their friends Ben and Kim. It was a great afternoon playing cards with Zion and Kai (Dave and Sue’s kids), eating lots of good food, trying out mulled wine and Dave’s home brews (both of which are quite good), and chatting it up about everything from music to traveling to politics. And yes, Bobby even threw in a little singing and dancing to some punk music to show the Kiwis and Brits how we roll in the States. Definitely a night to remember. And so cool to receive such a warm welcome from Dave, Sue, Zion, Kai and their friends. Cheers!
Tag Archives: Global
Sorry everyone, We are just getting to a steady internet connection since we have been in New Zealand. Yup, we are in New Zealand now! Without getting into too many details of Melbourne, which is one of the coolest cities we have seen in Australia, I will attempt to outline the last couple days.
One suggestion for Melbourne was to look out for back alleys and if they look cool, jump in. That was the best advice we could have gotten. The city is chalked full of cool back alleys with awesome cafes, shops and bars. Cool atmosphere, chill people and even cooler specials. Melbourne is the city of low key / chilled out restaurants. Period. We’re a big a fan.
On Sunday we met with Garry and Ruth (Ernie’s sister’s family in Woodend, Australia). The family welcomed us with open arms and showed us around. It was great to see where Ernie grew up and the outer city area. We were also invited to Lloyd and Pat’s daughters birthday party. It was awesome to meet the family and talk with everyone.
Our first day in Auckland, New Zealand was Tuesday. The area around the city was much greener than Australia. As we took the bus form the airport to city, the hills and rural area was more “euro’esk”, with a warmer / cozier feel. The city itself is something to see in a day, no need for 2-3 days, unless you want to do the crazy adventure tours.
********************************Bobby is handing over to Debra to complete the entry**************************
We wandered around Auckland for a couple days exploring the city. We checked out a few good restaurants (and a few blah ones too), the harbor and the NZ Film Festival. We saw The Guard, which was hilarious…go Irish humor. It is a bit of a strange city in that it hasn’t decided if it is a big city or not (hence the nickname the big little city). There is a ton of construction as the place gets ready for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in October. Should be interesting to see how it ends up and whether it graduates into a little big city.
Today we took the ferry to Waiheke Island where we are volunteering at an eco-lodge for a few weeks. The island seems pretty chill with some great scenery. And there are yoga and zumba classes so I’m a happy girl!
So we’ve been enjoying this beer in Australia brewed by Coopers. It’s their pale ale and is pretty good. Finding really hoppy beer in Australia is like finding a locksmith in Canada. It’s a thinker kids. Apparently Australians like light beers, whatever. Well we found out the Coopers is made in Adelaide and they have tours, well you can image what I said. Yippy skippy, or something like that.
At $22.00 a person, we were kind of weary, but then found out that ‘almost’ all of it goes to charity. I say almost as the brewery takes the money and you all know how much trickles out at the end. Well, let me allow negative Bobby to take over. The tour was one of the worst tours I have every been on, to date in life.
The guy picked to do the tour, Frank, spoke about the brewery / beer making processes as if he were the micro-machine commercial from the 80′s talking about the new tax code being implemented in 2012. He started the tour with this ground rule and I quote, “don’t ask me questions about the process before we get to that part of the tour. I don’t have time to answer things out of order”. Really? As if everyone on a brewery tour understands the brewing process to wait?
As he raced us through the factory, which more resembled a Miller beer lab, the co-workers watching us all seemed to have smiles on their faces. Not sure what that was about. After the tour he lined us up and we took a shot of each beer, I’m not kidding. There were 10 beers and we slammed a shot of each in a matter of 15 minutes. At this point Debra and I can’t hold our laugher in as he continues to refuse questions. My favorite was; “hey Frank, how many kegs vs. can / bottles does Coopers sell in a year?” Answer, “I don’t know, that’s not a question I care about, so why would I know that answer”. Yup, that about sums up Coopers. We have decided to boycott the brewery moving forward Cheers, Kids
Monday we had another full day in Adelaide. We started with the Botanic Garden, which was a great way to kick off the first sunshine in four days. There is a waterlily pavilion which is a greenhouse with tons of Victoria amazonica waterlilies in the center of the park. It explains the biology of the waterlilies but beware if you bring your kids along – the description of pollination says it is a night club for the bees and gives a play-by-play in night club terms of how the mating and pollination work.
A local Adelaidean (James Metz) told us about Vego and Lovin It – a fantastic vegetarian restaurant tucked away on Rundle Street. There is only a small mosaic sign above an unmarked doorway telling the world this place exists. As we ventured up the narrow staircase we came to a small door and inside was packed. It was an apartment with 200 sq ft holding 25 people with real retro (not manufactured to look retro) posters and clippings covering every surface. Walking in, we knew the food had to be good. All they really serve is veggie burgers and they are by far the best burgers we have ever eaten. And that includes any of the Aussie beef burgers I’ve been eating lately (which are kind of gross but in a good way with ham, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, beetroot and sweet chili sauce).
After that we checked out the South Australian Museum for a little culture. A very cool exhibit on Aboriginal culture that included a few honest discussions about the past, which was refreshing to see.
Then we caught a train to Glenelg (that is a palindrome for my grammar savvy friends) to check out a brew pub we had read about called Holdfast Hotel. But the place was out of its own beer – yup, I said a brewery out of its own beer. It would be like going to Rock Bottom and they had none of their beer so they served Summit instead. After that we quickly headed back to the city to meet James and his friends to see where the locals hang out. And they definitely did not lead us astray. We hit up the Colonist for a few beers and a little Chinese restaurant that we knew had to be good because they greeted Marty, one of our new friends, by name. Always go where the locals go and you won’t be disappointed!
Rob wanted me to post about Port Augusta where we visited the Australian Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, which were pretty cool with the birds and flowers. Other than that, this town is basically just a stopover on the road to Adelaide so that is more than enough said about it!
Now that we made it through the outback and back to the coast, we have rejoined civilization and are back to city life. We took a wine tour of the McLaren Vale with Bums on Seats today, which was a blast. Our tour guide Paul was a riot with all sorts of jokes that reminded me of things my Uncle Larry and Dad would crack together on a family trip. Our first stop was Hahndorf, which is an old German town with lots of historical buildings and character. The free tasting at the cheese shop was awesome. After that, we headed to the vineyards for a day of vino (not to be confused with goon) and some good food with our new friends on the tour. My favorite vineyard was Foggo where Herb, the wine-maker, taught us all about his good ol’ boy approach to wine-making. Rob liked Hugh Hamilton’s Black Sheep vineyard with its scenery and history. Definitely glad we listened to the silver foxes in Port Augusta that suggested McLaren Vale over the more commercial Barossa Valley!
Today we hit up the oldest underground home in Cooper Pedy. For all the U.S. Kids ‘pedy’ is pronounced ‘peedy’. Rinnie will completely kick me in the leg for how I explained that, but the web page will not let me add characters above vowels to show that in the right way. Sorry Rinnie! Nonetheless, the home was cool, in a kind of creepy way. The older couple that runs the tour lives in the home and we arrived at 8:30am as they were having breakfast. The home is decorated in 1970 decor and well lets be honest, is a home underground. The story about Faye is very cool and well worth a look, but be ready for a bit of creepy.
Debra and I have begun a social experiment on the silver foxes of the caravan parks throughout Australia. As we meet people, as we have each night, we ask them if the area is ‘safe’. Three out of the last three have responded with…….wait for it……..“I’m not racist, but…”. Really? You should see Deb and my mouth as they continue with their sentence. One part of me wants to stop and the other wants to see how far these people will take it.
After the tour we drove the 560km drive to Port Augusta and I’ll keep our description for Debra later. Cheers
Today we conquered Uluru to Coober Pedy, about 730km. Funny how we have traveled around Australia for the last 2 months and had to find a desert to experience rain. Over the past three days we have had rain for most of the day and during the night, but hey, it’s a desert they could probably use it. We’re hanging out in CP for the night and will be doing some tours during the morning and then inching our way to Adelaide.
Today we hit the 8,000km mark on the van (that’s about 5,000 miles for all the U.S. kids). We had originally targeted 8,400km for the whole trip, but we have a good 3k to 4k more given our plans. We’ll see where we end up, but let’s be certain we are both looking forward to when we can say goodbye to W.A. (a.k.a. the van). We met a very cool couple from Plymouth, MN (the Carlsons) at Uluru yesterday. Yup, the MN population really does congregate at world heritage sites around the world. As we left Uluru we grabbed some gas and had this bird chill out on the mirror of the car. I pumped the gas about 8 inches from this bird and it (he/she) could care less that I was there. I’m coining this little guy as ‘grease lightening’ – it’s a reach, but very cool indeed. Cheers from the now becoming cold southern hemisphere.
Today we hung out at Uluru (Ayers Rock). As you approach the rock, it presents this sheer size / presents that is really hard to capture in a photo and even harder to describe. You drive through a relatively flat desert and out of nothing comes this huge rock. The walls of the rock have been weathered for so long the surface is nothing we have seen throughout Australia. Debra wanted to have an MN moment and did a little ‘Laverne and Shirley’ jump once we saw it. As we drove closer, the walls were littered with waterfalls and tree.
Given the colder weather and rain, we opted to drive around the rock instead of the 10km walk around it. Tomorrow morning we plan to walk if the weather clears up. We’re staying at a ‘resort’ that is something straight out of Mexico. There is an exclusive resort that anyone staying within 100km from the rock has to camp / stay at. One company owns a chain of hotels (that can accommodate 5,000 people), 4 bars, a grocery store, etc, etc. The prices are crazy high given you are 1,000km from any major city. For us to park the van in an unpowered parking lot it costs $30.00 a night, crazy. Nonetheless, well worth the trip. Uluru was a sight you just have to see. We have about 60 photos of the rock, so if you want to see more, e-mail us. Tomorrow, its on to Cooper Pedy. Cheers.
Yesterday was a very fast moving day. We woke up in our beds (oh how nice to have a sleep in a real bed) and hit up the Alice Springs Desert Park, which is kind of like a zoo of sorts. We listened to an aboriginal woman speak about living on the land, from how to get water and what foods to eat. Very cool! The park has a nocturnal building that housed some very neat-o animals. Well worth a look in. Can you find the preying mantas in the photo?
We decided to then make the 430km trek to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and chill for a couple days. Made some awesome dijon chicken and sweet potatoes in the camp kitchen and ended up chilling with three local dudes over a couple games of pool.
This morning we left Tennant Creek to make our way to Alice Springs. A fairly easy drive at 508km (316 miles for the Americans following along) versus the 763km from yesterday. Keep in mind kiddos Chi-town is about 657km / 409 miles, but here there are no signs of lights, people, direction, or any other aspect of life outside the wandering cattle by the road and a WWII rest stop each 80km in AUD. This place is crazy outback. We have done zero night driving given the level of huge road kill (cattle, donkeys, and/or 200+ lb. animals) sitting on the side of the road, which we firmly stand behind. So given we have a limited amount of driving to do in the day, we wake at 7:00am and stop driving at 4:00pm.
During the hike to Alice Springs we stopped at the Devils Marbles, not to be confused with the Devil’s Marbles which would represent possession. As you can see from the photo (above), they are these huge rocks that are very out-of-place given the surrounding area is completely flat and void of any life.
As we drove through the desert to Alice Springs, we approached a crazy smokey area, that from a distance looked impassable. Given some inhuman-like maneuverability, we passed it. Yes and I quote Debra, “Bobby drove like a crazy driver that was sent directly from the heavens of driving school to get us out of this driving issue”. (Debra interjecting – Rob actually drove today without having to turn the wheel for hours – real rough stuff ) Oh ya…… we made it people. Stay tuned for more amazing driving events from this guy, Bobby.
Last but not least, we opted for a night outside the caravan (RV) tonight. Yup, 3 weeks and Bobby needs a bed that doesn’t turn into a dining room table. We’re crashing at the Diplomat Motel in the “heart” of Alice Springs. The caravan, dubbed WA, is safe in the lot and we are painting Alice Springs some colors tonight. Not sure what color that is Cheers kids (here’s a shot of the extension we have done to the van).