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Published: March 25th 2010
Good morning from Adelaide, South Australia.
Last night was a formal night and our table was hosted by two deck cadets, Susan from England and Amy from Scotland. Boy have things changed. They sail six month a year as part of the college curriculum. One day I saw them climbing, scraping and painting the bottom of the lifeboat. They have to do all tasks required of the deck hands so they can direct the crew properly. They are loving it! Amy just celebrated her 20th birthday; Susan is the youngest cadet at eighteen. Stopped in the Piano Bar after dinner but was not impressed at all.
The day is clear and sunny, a perfect day to visit the Barossa Valley wineries. South Australia is the driest state in the driest inhabited continent, Antarctica being the driest. Adelaide, its largest city, was settled by wealthy Brits, usually the second sons, and free men who paid their own passage out. Like Victoria state, it has no convict heritage.
As we drove out to the valley we saw acres and acres of reclaimed wetlands that filter the waters that enter the river and sea. Each drop of water here is precious and while there are some lawns, they are few and far between.
The Barossa had a decidedly German flavor as persecuted Lutherans from Silesia settled it. It retains much of its German heritage in its food. Germans and Italians began growing grape here and in the 1960’s the product took off around the world through a combination of fine wine and great marketing.
I enjoy Shiraz and Merlot from Penfolds in the valley and was looking forward to the tasting. Our first stop was Jacobs Creek. This is an immense corporate winery and it was my least favorite of the day. I, along with 39 of my new friends, was led on a tour through the visitor’s center and then “treated” to a tasting is an area so small that folks had to push their way to the counter. It was a real crush. Our guide Maryann did most of the work and passed through the crowd pouring tastes. None of the wines appealed. My favorite wine was from Richmond Grove where I splurged on a lovely Shiraz. My favorite tasting was at Torbreck. Here the venue was well prepared, the glasses, water and spittoon in reach and the guide had a great personality as well.
My cabin is beginning to resemble a wine shop. I am still enjoying my first Shiraz from the Hunter at dinner and the Sauvignon Blanc for an aperitif. That bottle is still ¾ full.
Tonight I skipped cocktails and dinner for the first time. The large late lunch in Barossa and all the sips of wine were just too much. I worked on the jigsaw puzzle for a while and then read in bed.
The sky was clear and through my window I could see a canopy of stars. The last time I saw so many stars was in the desert of Arizona. I could even pick out the stars of the Southern Cross. It was magical.
The Bight of Australia is a treacherous body of water that is known for it’s rough seas and currents. Today it is calm enough for the pools to be open. I sat on the aft deck reading and listened to the water slosh around the pool. It sounded like waves crashing on the shore.
Out second Cruise Critic port discussion was well attended and I hooked up with Tamara, Suzie and Joe to tour Geraldton together by car and share the cost. After that is was a little Jigsaw, my walk around the deck, visiting with Hazel on the Lido, lunch, Trivia, a lecture about the Tasmanian sedge, more puzzle and then dress for dinner.
I seldom go to the shows but for some reason I decided to go and I was so glad I did. The singer’s name was Annie Francis. Born in Australia, her father is Irish and her mother is from the Philippines. She started off with a couple of upbeat tunes, then as homage to her parents sang the Fields of Anthon Rye (sic) and a popular Philippine ballad song in Tagalong. Then it was the Spanish version of the Doris Day song Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps. Next was a tribute to Vera Lynn, The White Cliffs of Dover, Lily Marlene and We’ll Meet Again.
We then headed to Nashville for Tammie’s Stand by Your Man and Patsy’s Sorry. Next it was Slim Whitman “She Taught me How to Yodel”. Other songs were The Hawaiian Wedding Song and I’ve Got To Be Me. Each song was wonderfully performed; pitch perfect with respect for the lyrics and no vocal athletics. She was GREAT!
After dinner was a great Australian sing-a-long in the Crow’s Nest. It was a packed room and along with Waltzing Matilda and The Kookaburra Song were a lot of Aussie favorites that were unknown to me. One particularly moving one was We Are Australian that tells of the diversity of the people but the unifying strength in being Australian. No star canopy tonight but I can wait.
Wednesday was just another day at sea. Puzzle time, chat time, pool time, trivia time, walk time, nap time, meal time, cocktail time, another formal night followed by the Black & White Ball. But, I actually won the Texas Hold’em tournament today so I’ll be playing with their money for a while. How about that Joe?
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