Friday, October 25, 2013

Adelaide .... and the start of our Barossa Valley Tour

Here in Hyderabad, the red-wine situation is... as Amy puts it, "just tragic". There are only about three brands of Indian-made red wines.. There are the "Big Banyan" wines...which are, generally speaking, not fit for pigs. There's another one called "Four Season"s (no relation to the wonderful chain of luxury hotels!) that is quite literally, rotten... the very first glass of wine we tried when we arrived in India in 2010 was a Four Seasons "Cabernet" (I use that varietal term loosely) that honestly looked like the color of gopher-guts and tasted like a batch of raisins had gone bad in the cabinet - mixed with dirty dishwater.

Then there's the venerable Sula Red (they actually make several varieties of red wine, the most common being a Cabernet/Shiraz blend) ... which is grown and vinted somewhere outside of Bombay (Mumbai) , NOT an area known for it's fine, expertly-made wines. The best thing we can say about Sula Red is that you can actually get it down without a gag-reaction...but you do have to hold your nose for the first mouthful!

Then (finally) after about 2 1/2 years, we began to see both red and white wines made by the Australian winery, "Jacob's Creek" ... grown and vinted in some place called the "Barossa Valley" ... so Amy and I were quite thrilled to see that a day on a tour through the Barossa on our itinerary.

We finally got to our hotel in Adelaide only after what is now on the list of "the most frustrating airport experiences... ever" ... When you go to Kangaroo Island... you are severely limited on the amount of luggage you can take on the little airplane. So.... as an extra service (and for a small fee) - the airline will hold the bulk of your luggage in storage and give you a separate claim-ticket for it.... just get your small luggage at the carousel...then go around to another area and they are supposed to have it waiting for you. Needless to say, several people from our little flight were there getting their stored bags...and one-by-one they grabbed their stuff and loaded into taxis and town cars.

But our baggage did not appear. The carousel stopped. No bags. And we are the only two people left standing there. All the rest of our clean stuff... (our Kangaroo Island bags were filled with dirty clothes and were still covered in road-dust from our day of off-road touring...)... was "somewhere". There was a phone on the wall that said "call for service". I called and called and there was no answer. I had to run outside to tell our driver that we would be delayed.... no luggage!! The claim area was quite large...completely empty.... and quiet as a tomb. Well... there was the sound of me ranting-and-raving about our bags.... but let's not dwell on that, shall we?

So I'm outside telling the driver to be patient...and of course, by this time I was long-past running out of my patience!!  I came back in and Amy had gotten someone to answer the service phone and said that they would look for our bags.  And we waited some more. Finally...after what seemed like hours (it was really only abut 25-minutes!)... the old carousel comes to life with a red light and horn and out come all of our bags!!

The driver was quite nice...and he took us straight to our hotel.... a kind of funky, modern place right off the main drag where all the artsy-fartsy shops and trendy eateries are located. It was getting late and it was two-days before Christmas.... (and hot... still a very strange experience, Christmas in summer!) so we thought places might be closed.  Not true. About three blocks from our hotel was a nice steakhouse... that had an incredible wine list from mostly Basrossa Valley wineries. Man, this Australia place is great!! Big slabs of tender beef and great red wine.... these are two of the things that rock our world when we are traveling outside of India!!

We walked back to the hotel to get a good night's rest before our Barossa Valley tour.... With most of our trips, we have been blessed with our own private tour guides.... men and women who we traveled with by car all over he world... just Amy and I ... the driver and the guide. Some of our guides were amazing.... an extremely smart lady-historian in New Delhi who knew so much! Christopher in Africa who was just the sweetest man! The definitive tour guide in Egypt.... the lady that all other tour guides learned their craft from... the one and only Dr. Zeinab Shawki, who we loved... Sunny in Cambodia (sounds like a weather report, but his name really was Sunny!) Some good ones in Vietnam, and some not-so-good ones, too... And a guy in Jaipur, Rajasthan who looked just like Ray Romano !!

So imagine our surprise when we are down in the hotel lobby after breakfast, waiting for our tour guide.... when up pulls a 24-passenger tour BUS .... stuffed full of tourists from all over the world... and we were the last pick-up of the morning before we headed out to the Barossa!! We climbed up and into the bus... under the watchful eyes of 22 other people, al giving us the stink-eye! There were only two-seats left. I guess that traveling over Christmas is a popular idea in Australia !

And off we went... to the Barossa Valley and Jacob's Creek! Just Amy, me, our very entertaining guide...and 34 of our new BFF's!! Lord, have mercy!

Next stop: Barossa Valley!

Here's our Facebook Photo Album from Adelaide ... our hotel, our little steak house, the tour bus...and our first stop at  wild gift-shop filled with cool wooden toys and a snack bar!