Posts Tagged ‘wineries’

African Vino

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The distinctive taste of the full bodied South African red wine slips across the pallet as the sun descends slowly in the southern African skyline. The stunning mountain range to the north towers over the Stellenbosch wine region and we soak it all up at the Rust En Vrede winery’s cellar garden.

We have spent the day touring the Stellenbosch area – the pride of South Africa’s wine industry.  Hundreds of wineries are dotted throughout the spectacular landscape and visitors to the area could spend days here soaking up the delights which the area has to offer.

Tasting Rust

Whilst Stellenbosch is known for its spectacular wines, it is also home to a large university and a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Indeed, one could stay in the region for a week and not get through half the wineries and activities.  We just might have to come back!

As our wine tasting comes to an end we reflect on the fact that “life is very good indeed”.

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Tollway F1, Northern IT Magic, Lienz Luxury

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Tollway F1, Northern IT Magic, Lienz Luxury

Lienz, Brixen

Friday, 3 June 2011

Despite having the three window shutters down and the ear plugs firmly inserted, we woke before the iPad alarm and the church bells. This was a good thing because it allowed us to lie in bed and listen to the 7.30 bells from the church – 7 long bells and a different sounding chime for the half hour. Very special.

Despite the sumptuous meal that we had last night at Caffe Posta (a return to this delightful restaurant) we were both up for a leisurely breakfast in the dining room. It was a good opportunity to say goodbye to the staff that we had “shared” breakfast with over the past four days. We were also able to bid farewell to an Australian couple that we met yesterday here at Hotel Miralago.

With our stomachs relatively full we negotiated the staircase to the first level and returned to our room to pack for the trip to Austria – today we were heading for Lienz.

It didn’t take too long to pack our things or to sort ourselves out for the check out. Indeed, we were so efficient that we were downstairs before 9.30.

After checking out I went and retrieved the car whilst The Princess waited in the lobby. On return to the hotel (the car was parked a short distance along a side road) I was able to secure a park outside in the very narrow street so we didn’t have to carry the luggage too far. Happy back!

With the car packed we connected up the GPS and iPad (trialling it for use in the car on this trip) and sat waiting for the magic of technology to warm up before starting our guided trip to Austria.

Fortunately, the GPS took a little while to cage its brain because one of the staff in the hotel spotted us waiting and came outside to present us with a copy of a photographic book with pictures from photographers in the local area. What a thoughtful gift! It will take pride of place on our coffee table back in Hong Kong.

With “surfer dude” ready for some action (read – the talking GPS had warmed up) we pulled away from Hotel Miralago and set off for Austria.

It wasn’t long before we were entering the motorway south to Milan and onward to Lienz.

The first part of the trip went well despite having to negotiate a few toll booths without any cash (they took Visa). Between two toll booths (the Italian government must be making a packet from the many toll ways that seem to cross this part of Italy) I stopped at a service centre but came away only with a couple of coffees and no cash. Further down the highway I pulled over for some petrol (thinking that this might help to withdraw some cash) but again, came away with more coffee and still no cash. Note: If you are planning to drive through Italy and you intend to use the tollways then make sure you have plenty of Euro in your pocket or buy a telecard – it will make the trip a little quicker and stop you incurring the wrath of the locals when you can’t work out which way the Visa card is inserted at the unassisted tollbooth!

Fortunately the scenery along the way made us forget about our lack of toll booth experience and we enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery and changing landscape as we headed further north toward Austria.

Driving through the seemingly endless acres of vineyards that lined the motorway and experiencing the sights of this region was very special.

The proliferation of churches with their brightly colored steeples set amongst the vineyards was like viewing a moving postcard. The terrain also started to change as we headed further north. Indeed, the towering Dolomite mountains rose out of the northern Italian plains quite sharply after we turned north off the motorway that headed east toward Venice.

We observed two interesting things as we motored along in the hired Ford. 1. If you can’t drive at 140kms/hr + then you should not be on the motorway. Either that or start driving a truck! 2. Several hundred years ago the population of norther Italy/Austria must have done nothing other than build spectacular churches and vineyards. At least that was all that we saw for mile after mile in this incredibly beautiful part of the world.

Of note, as we neared the Austrian border, was the change in the style of houses and the increasing number of road signs written in German. I was telling The Princess about some history I read about how Europe was divided up post World War Two and this story was confirmed later in the day when we arrived in Lienz. In short, Austria was much larger than it is now and the northern part of Italy (as it is known today) was once Austria. This explained the Austrian looking houses that were appearing suddenly at one point in the trip.

We drove for around 5 hours with minimal stops before our stomachs reminded us that it was time to eat (not sure why they thought this given our body clocks were probably still on Hong Kong time – meaning that it was around 3.30am!)

We pulled off the motorway at no particular exit and placed ourselves at the mercy of the travel God. When we travel we often just “go with it” and know that we will be guided to where we need to stop. Today was no exception.

We drove through a small town called Brixen and, despite being “knocked back” at the first restaurant, (lunch was finished) the staff assured us that we would find something open in the center of town.

Little did we know that the centre of town was the site of an ancient town that was home to the most beautiful churches and narrow winding streets. The atmosphere in this historically rich “hamlet” was magical. The temperature was around 25 degrees, the crowds were light and the air was full of a relaxed holiday feel. Perfect.

We walked the narrow streets and took some video and photo’s and paid a visit to the interior of two of the most stunning churches (cathedrals). Had it not been for letting go of the need to eat or stop somewhere in particular we would have driven straight past this amazing town and never seen the glorious sights it had to offer. It is always best to let go of defining how something should look and letting what needs to show up become the reality.

We left Brixen around 5.00pm and headed for Lienz. The 86km trip to Lienz took a little longer than expected due to some tight roads and quite a bit of slow traffic (camper vans). However, we were very happy to drive slowly and take in the stunning scenery along the way. The architecture of the villages and, in particular, the church steeples changed dramatically as we neared the Austrian border and some of the scenery was representative of a movie set. Beautiful!!

We approached Lienz around 6.30pm and found Hotel Haidenhof without any problems. We were checked in by Tamara, the beautiful receptionist on duty, and given excellent service from the time the doors opened.

With the check in formalities over, we unpacked the car and headed up to our 3rd storey room.

The room is bigger than our apartment in Hong Kong and the view from the balcony is spectacular – sweeping views over Lienz with the snow covered Dolomite mountains as a back drop! Wow.

On arrival we were given a couple of free drink vouchers for the in house brewery in the hotel cellar. After freshening up we ventured down to the cellar and sampled some of the excellent bier from the tap. The barman gave us a tour of the brewery before we tasted our first bier and knowing that we were drinking “freshly brewed” beer made it taste even better.

With beer (biers) in hand we went out onto the lower deck balcony and took in more of the spectacular view of the Dolomites before having a long chat with the manger’s wife. We spent around 20 minutes learning more about the area and the hotel and talking about Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.

With the second beer complete we walked upstairs and found the dining room – we had decided to “eat in” tonight. We were seated at a window table that allowed us to watch the sun set on the mountains – a very nice way to see out the daylight in southern Austria!

For dinner we ordered a white asparagus soup, two sumptuous mains (a pork dish and a ravioli) and a bottle of Austrian white. Needless to say, the meals and the wine were memorable and we were both very happy with the choice to “dine in” tonight.

With a full day behind us we are now ready to collapse into the very comfortable beds here in Hotel Haidenhof.

Tomorrow we are intending to take a walk around Lienz before driving across the Austrian Alps and into Innsbruck. We will keep you posted!

Until tomorrow!


Brixen Delight
Ancient Streetscape
Entering Lienz
Bier Garten Balcony

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Perth Map

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I recently created a map of Perth on Umapper and I have added some of the places we visited and some photo’s that were taken in these places.

Check it out by clicking on this link.  When you see the map you can click on the circled numbers on the map or navigate your way around it by zooming into each spot.

Hope you enjoy this little addition to WGT.

[umap id="89015" tp="6" size="t" alignment="center"]

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Swan Valley, Wine and Sun

Friday, December 10th, 2010

We ose from our lovely slumber around 8:30 and dined out on the balcony again. We are eating light breakfasts – some Weetbix and fruit with some mango yoghurt over it. Very nice indeed. Sitting out on the balcony in the fresh morning air is a real treat. The views are stunning and the company is delightful. We enjoyed a lazy morning around the apartment before packing our camera gear, water and wallets and heading out the door around 11.30.

Today we decided to take in a tour of the Swan Valley – a wine area that is about 20 minutes from the city centre. We stopped at The Boathouse coffee shop (the place we went for morning tea yesterday) and bought a couple of takeaway coffees and a very tasty melting moment. Mmmmmm. With coffee in hand and melting moment melting in mouth we drove north along the Canning Hwy toward Swan Valley Information Centre in Guilford.

The drive was over in 20 minutes (light traffic here in Perth!) and before we knew it we were being helped by the friendly tour guides in the info’ centre. In addition to the local touring maps, we walked out with a few Xmas gifts for the family – reminder to self – make sure The Princess brings her wallet! The Swan Valley wine trail is quite short so it didn’t take long before the first winery on our list came into view.

Our winery of choice was the Sandlford winery – one of WA’s oldest wineries. We took a look through the cellar before settling into the tastings. We were served by a German girl named Julia and a Scottish guy named Ricky. Both of these servers were on working visa and they obviously enjoyed their jobs. They knew their stuff and we really enjoyed the tasting and non tasting discussion we had with them. We sampled the full range of Sandlford wines and complimented the tasting with some cheddar cheese and crackers – a great way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon. A few of the wines left their mark on our pallets so we made sure we purchased a bottle each of the ones we enjoyed.
After whetting our appetites with cheese, crackers and some delightful wine we took a few photos of the stunning grounds that surrounded the cellar area then rejoined the drive north. Our aim was to find a place to have a late lunch however after stopping at some of the delightful eateries that were recommended by the tourist info staff we learnt that most of the kitchens close around 3:00pm. Our late start to the day plus our extended wine tasting resulted in the day getting away from us so it was closer to 3.30 by the time we were ready to dine.
Fortunately one of the boutique breweries in the Valley, Elmars, was open and it was here that we sat out under the verandah of the building and dined on some sumptuous German sausage meals. The rather large meals were just what we needed to compliment one of Elmar’s beers. The potted citrus plants, white river gums and noisy native parrots provided the perfect backdrop to the outdoor dining venue.
We rolled our full bellies out of Elmars around 5.00pm and went in search of a local honey producer. However, time beat us again so we continued our drive and paid a short visit to the Midland’s shopping area instead – an interesting experience that included The Princess witnessing a local native kid stealing some food from one of the closed dining outlets. Needless to say, we didn’t stay in the complex too long.
The short drive back to our apartment meant we were home in time to witness the beautiful sunset from our balcony. A great way to wind up a wonderful day out in the Swan Valley.
After unpacking the wine and some of the other goodies we purchased we took a walk down to the local pub – The Windsor with the view to listening to some live music. However, the queues were rather long so we changed our minds, bought some take away coffees and returned to the apartment for some port and a lazy holiday evening at “home”. In reality this was far smarter choice and just what we needed after a long day out.

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Blowing from the west. Yellow fields to the north. The skill of galee chefs. Tippsy monks. From the Knapp of Tim.

Friday, September 11th, 2009
We woke this morning to the sound of a rather strong westerly wind blowing against the windows of the house.  This is not an unusual event in Adelaide given its geographical position and the weather streams that prevail in southern Australia.

The strength of the wind provided some interesting discussion over the breakfast table and we all agreed that it would not prevent us from enjoying our planned trip to the Clare Valley  – about 1:30 drive north of Adelaide.

After showering and packing our camera gear the four tourists and one very knowledgeable local settled into the very comfortable interior of the Statesman and started our drive north.

After leaving the northern suburbs of Adelaide the drive takes you past the town of Gawler and into the beautiful farming and wine regions north of the city.

The rape seed  fields are in full bloom at this time of the year and this meant we had plenty to look and enjoy during the trip.  KP gave us a wonderful commentary on the area during the drive.  KP grew up in and around this area so he was able to answer the variety of questions we had for him.

The wind didn’t ease as we drove north however the small hills and valleys  took some of the energy out of it.

KP promised to take us to a very special place for lunch and he didn’t disappoint.  Just prior to arriving in the town of Clare we turned off the main road and took some picturesque back roads to a beautiful winery called Skillogalee.

After parking the car on the side of the country road we entered the beautiful old building (circa late 1800’s) and enjoyed some wine tasting while we waited for a table.  KP highly recommended the 2009 riesling (Clare is famous for its riesling wines) so we ordered a bottle for lunch.  We were not disappointed!!  The food and wine complimented each other perfectly and the choices from the menu impressed us all.  What a way to spend lunch – a beautiful old winery, the latest vintage, great friends and the Australian countryside.  Ah, we are blessed!
The Princess and I took quite a few pictures in and around the cellar door area before purchasing a couple of bottles of the 2009 riesling to take back to Hong Kong.

From Skillogalee we continued our drive north to the small town of Clare, enjoying KP’s commentary as we went.  After a short time we arrived at Sevenhill winery.  Sevenhill is the oldest winery in the Clare region – it was established by an order of Jesuits in 1851.  The grounds of the winery are home to a beautiful church, the vineyards and the cellars.  We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures and looking through the cellar before driving into the town of Clare.

Our final stop on today’s tour was Tim Knappstein’s cellar.  We enjoyed a short tasting session (they were about to close), purchased some of Tim’s recently introduced range of beer then started our drive south back to Adelaide.

Day turned into dusk then night as we approached the outskirts of northern Adelaide.  The traffic was light so we made good time back to KP’s house.  We arrived home safely and very pleased with the day’s tour.  Great job KP!!

We were not particularly hungry after we arrived home however, we did enjoy a light meal and more wonderful conversation before it got too late.

The Princess and I are leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow so we packed our suitcase and prepared ourselves for the flight before saying our “goodnights” and climbing into bed.

We had a wonderful day soaking up the delights of being with fun people and taking in the sights of country Australia in early spring.

We hope you enjoy the small selection of photo’s that we have posted.  We will certainly review them often and relive the memory of another fantastic day in the life of Roey and Princess.

We hope your own day was just as much fun!

Roey and The Princess

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