Some mornings, you wake up on another continent unaware that, by the end of the day, you will have graffitied public property in the city of Adelaide, Australia.
We couldn’t even blame jetlag or our early morning wine tastings, either. This was a completely conscious choice – and one of the best ones we’ve made the entire trip. As we were driving through Adelaide, which quickly became one of my all-time favorite cities with its charming architecture and elaborate foodie scene, we drove under a bridge covered from top to bottom in graffiti. Our guide for the day informed us that it was Adelaide’s free wall, an area completely open and legal to all graffiti artists (including travel agents who’ve never even imagined spray painting public property).
What began as a joke to paint Travel2’s logo on the wall eventually became the day’s goal – but first we had some wine tastings to attend to.
As we drove out of Adelaide, I fell even more in love with the area as the trendy cityscape turned into wide-open vineyards and bright yellow canola flowers. The perfectly formed hills set a backdrop so beautiful that they almost didn’t look real, like a Hollywood movie set that would topple if pushed too hard.
Since this particular itinerary is called “A Taste of Australia,” food and wine have played a large part of our trip, but they truly became the highlight of the day at the Barossa Valley. For those who love of all things viticulture, the Barossa Valley should definitely be on your bucket list – the region annually produces at least 5 out of the top 20 wines in the world!
Our first stop was Jacob’s Creek, a gorgeous setting for a private wine tasting, before we moved onto a sight inspection of The Louise, one of the original Luxury Lodges of Australia (for an amazing 5 star experience of Australia, ask me about these partner properties – Longitude 131, mentioned in my previous post, is also a member of the esteemed collection), which also boasts one of the top restaurants in all of South Australia, Appellation (sadly, we didn’t get to eat here…all the more reason for me to come back).
The Louise’s elegant suites all overlook rows and rows of grapevines, making for a very serene getaway, and the hotel sits incredibly close to neighboring wineries like the aforementioned Jacob’s Creek and Saltram, where we enjoyed lunch and another wine tasting. This particular tasting was hosted by Helen, who showed us the neat party trick of rolling glasses of wine instead of swirling them to release the full aroma. I’m determined to go home and master this trick, no matter how many bottles of wine I pour out on my kitchen counter in the process (sorry in advance, Kayla).
After our lunch, we stopped for a quick bite of dessert and coffee from Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, a staple of the Barossa Wine Valley (according to our guide, Maggie Beer is Australia’s equivalent to Julia Childs). While in Australia, you have to try (and get addicted to) Flat Whites, some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, although I always seem to enjoy coffee more in other parts of the world than I do while in the States.
On our drive back to Adelaide, we plotted our unanimous decision to execute the graffiti idea. I have to hand it to our guide, Mary Anne, for being such a great sport and having the driver pull over to purchase spray paint. When we finally reached the free wall, my fellow agents went to town. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard to see a group of professional women let loose and enjoy themselves like this. In all honesty, I kind of enjoyed it, too – do we have any free walls in Atlanta?
I should also mention that the point of our vandalism was to get one of the best group photos ever to enter into our #amazingaussieadventure photography contest, which you should check out on Travel2’s Facebook Page here. I think we’ve got a pretty good chance with this one:
This morning, we woke up bright and early to leave Adelaide (I will be back) and fly to Sydney, the last leg of our trip. We had a jam-packed schedule that allowed just enough time to grab lunch and head to the BridgeClimb, which was conveniently right down the road from our hotel. We’re staying at the Shangri-La, a phenomenal partner property with breathtaking views of the Harbor. The service, accommodations, and location are out of this world – I’ll be sure to report back on that complimentary breakfast after I enjoy it tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, let me recount the story of the BridgeClimb. I have a tiny fear of heights – but not to the point where roller coasters or plane rides bother me. I really don’t mind heights if someone else is in control of my fate. However, if I am in control of whether or not I fall from a great height, I get a little nervous. I really don’t trust myself not to trip…mainly because I trip pretty regularly.
My family actually has an ongoing joke about how ungraceful we all are – particularly with stairs. Within one year of each other, my mother, my mini-me cousin, Lauren, and I all fell down a flight of stairs and broke the same finger – different flight of stairs, though. But we did all break our left ring fingers, which does not bode well for mine or Lauren’s futures.
Anyway, we all tend to trip up and down stairs. And do you know what the BridgeClimb consists of? 1,400 stairs. Over 1,000 feet into the air. With speeding traffic and an ocean full of sharks below (did you know that the Sydney Harbor is one of the most concentrated areas for marine life in the world? They told us that fact at the top of the bridge with only the water and steel beneath us, which was not comforting). So, here I am, combining two of my greatest fears in the world and the stairs are not just normal stairs – half of them are in ladder-form. Which is just beyond terrifying to me.
I’m proud to say that I held my head up high (not really, I barely stopped staring at my own feet) and made it to the top – which was completely worth every minute of anxiety I endured during the climb up. Unfortunately, because there’s a good bit of liability from dropping things from a thousand feet in the air onto a busy highway, we were not allowed to bring cameras with us to the top. So, since I can’t provide any photos of the view, I think everyone reading this simply needs to come to Sydney to experience it for themselves. I’ll even help you plan your trip now that I’m a certified Aussie Specialist!
I’ll leave you with my current song choice and favorite graffitied wall from Adelaide. Naturally, I can’t get “Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service out of my head, in honor of the Bridge Climb:
They will see us waving from such great heights
“Come down now,” they’ll say.
But everything looks perfect from far away
“Come down now” – but we’ll stay.