I love exploring a new city, and Adelaide is particularly easy
to figure out. That starts from the original city plan, with
straight streets that meet at right angles the way God intended.
The city centre is relatively compact, and includes a pedestrian
mall and several blocks of restaurants within a short walk. And
then there are the free bus routes, which by a nice coincidence make
a stop right in front of my hotel. Being across the street from the
railway station, now partly occupied by a casino, doesn't hurt
Rundle Street Mall is a great place to wander. In addition to shops
both at and above ground level and at least a couple of indoor
shopping malls, there are a couple of wonderful shopping arcades
that wouldn't be out of place in London's Piccadilly. Just right
for a confirmed collector of
knickknacks like me. The Mall becomes a mob scene on weekend
nights, with crowds moving between pubs, restaurants and clubs.
Unlike other cities, Adelaide has managed to keep downtown from
becoming a ghost town after the sun goes down. (I don't have
anything to say about the pig sculpture grazing in the trash bin.
It's cool, though, isn't it?)
Some cities are determined to bulldoze their past. (Atlanta springs immediately to mind.) Adelaide shows better judgment than that. The old produce market at left is now a modern apartment complex with shops out front. I like the mix of old and new styles, although I wonder what the locals think. The new central market a few blocks south and west is a must see. Especially if you have a couple of hours to spare. And if you're hungry. An excellent place for shopping and grazing.
The repurposing job at right took me by surprise. It's not every
day you see a church that advertises pokies (slot machines) and beer
on tap. Although I bet attendance would be a lot better if they
did. Of course,
St Pauls isn't a
church any more. These days it's available for weddings, bar
mitzvahs (In a church? That is so wrong) and corporate functions.
If their meetings are anything like the ones I've been through,
there's a lot of praying going on. "Please, God. Please make
While riding the free bus, I noticed mention of a tram station on
the map I'd picked up before leaving the hotel. I have a particular
weakness for trains and trams and had to find out about this one.
The tram, which dates from 1929, runs from Victoria Square to the
beach community of Glenelg. It's a thirty minute trip on the
original rolling stock. And at the end is a wonderful collection of
shops, restaurants, bars, gelato shops, all manner of good stuff to
do on a hot day after enjoying the sand and the surf. But only
after application of many coats of sunblock to deal with that
unfortunate little hole in the ozone layer. But I digress.
I learned on my winery tour the next day that the tram cars are scheduled to be replaced with nice new ones with modern suspension. Yeah, the ride won't be a boneshaker any more. But to give up those vintage cars? What a travesty!
One of the pleasures of living in the
Bay Area is the occasional jaunt
up to Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino for wine tasting. I'm no wine snob;
wine slob is a more apt description. I enjoy wine, but don't take
it so seriously. Still, how could I be so close to
Australia's premier wine
region and not pay a visit? The Barossa Valley's a picturesque
hour and change drive northeast of Adelaide. Or at least it would
be, if the coach's gears hadn't decided to misbehave. But no
matter; forty-five minutes and a change of vehicles later we were
back on track and visiting some of the best wineries in the world.
Not counting Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino, of course.
Winemaking has been going on almost from the beginning of settlement in South Australia. Langmeil Winery goes back to the 1840s. The winery is housed in their original buildings, although they've had to do some adding on over a century and a half. And they still make wine from some of their original shiraz vines.
Wolf Blass is a relative
newcomer to the valley, dating back to 1966. Their tasting room is
all light wood and glass, airy and modern. Personally, I preferred
Langmeil's wines, as well as their decor. But as the auto makers
always say, your mileage may vary.
Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California