Australia We left Blenheim (see the last post) and flew to Auckland and then onto Perth in Western Australia. Here are a few items about that whole part of the trip:
- Domestic flights within NZ or AU are hilariously relaxed. On the Blenheim to Auckland, my ID was not even checked and there was no security screening. It's crazy. When I flew from Perth to Sydney, it wasn't that relaxed, but my ID was never checked and you don't have to take off shoes or belts or jackets.
- Perth is way over on the west coast. Australia is a big country. It's a long flight. Luckily I was seated next to a small boy (2yrs old?) who entertained me the whole time. For real. He was entertaining.
Upon arrival and checking into our hotel, we naturally went out for dinner at Nobu. Of course. I snarkily joked that I had flown all the way from NYC to Perth to eat at Nobu. It was fine.
We didn't spend a lot of time in Perth and the next morning we were up early and in our van headed down to Margaret River. This region, south of Perth, is consistently home to some of Australia's great cabernet-based wines.
What is incredible is how close they are to the ocean – most of the wineries are only 2-3 miles from the ocean, which in many areas of the world might be troubling to the whole viticulture thing but due to the geography (key: there's a ridge that runs down the coast to block a lot of the wind) it all works out well and I spent a whole 24 hours there before I realized how close the ocean was. You don't feel/sense/smell/hear it like you often do in other parts of the world.
(for instance, South Carolina, where I just got back from and you can feel that wall of humidity and salty air many miles before you hit it)
The whole set up in Perth was a bit more casual than the NZ trip. Once again we ate well and saw nice looking vineyards and tasted lovely wines. The highlight had to be the wine tasting of cabernets from 1974-2011 at Cape Mentelle – the second highlight of that night was meeting the founder of the winery who joined us for the tasting. He likes Portlandia.
They didn't produce a 1995 vintage wine because the neighbor's heard of cows escaped on Christmas day and ate all the grapes.
Remember, they are all in the southern hemisphere, and apart from the fact that their vines were all dormant, it was a bit chilly when the sun wasn't out. It seemed like every hotel room had a wonky heating apparatus that would take an hour to figure out. I didn't dress warmly enough.
My last bit on this trip was a flight from Perth to Sydney. Instead of flying from Perth out, I spent the night in Sydney and caught my flight the next morning. I was excited to return to a "normal" hotel that wasn't some cute, local, yet drafty hotel room. The Westin near the harbor is nice. Stay there.
I saw the Opera House at night and then the next morning as the sun was rising.
Pancakes were eaten and then I hopped (kangaroo-style) on my flight back.
I left Sydney at 1:30pm (spent a while madly trying to find a shirt with "Sydney" on it for Sydney that didn't suck (not a lot of luck – they all sucked)). As I was getting on the plane, I texted Mrs. Robot and it was 11:30pm (the day before). Twelve hours later, after a lot of food and maybe a tad too much to drink (and some sleep) I arrived at LAX.
After a three hour layover, I jumped on a flight to Atlanta and then onto South Carolina to meet up with the family who had just started the annual "Family Beach Trip".
It was funny how the planes got smaller and crappier.
- SYD-LAX: Huge double-decker jobby with the lie-flat seats and good food and wine and all that
- LAX-ATL: Fairly large jet, but I didn't get an upgrade so spent the time trying to stay awake in Economy Comfort (Economy Comfort is neither economical nor comfortable).
- ATL-MYR: Tiny jet next to a woman and newborn baby. The baby was, thankfully, sleepy.