saturday was all about the wine country! knowing how much of a food/wine lover i am, my trip would not be complete without some exploration into the Australian wine country.
7:45 am we headed north with Rae to the Hunter Valley wine region. about 3 hours north of Sydney, Hunter Valley is known primarily for their Semillion’s. white wine is really not my thing, but it was an opportunity to learn something new!
“cellar doors” is what Aussies call their tasting rooms, and there is no fee to taste. the tastes are very small, and the education about the wine is pretty basic. because there were a few really new wine drinkers in our group, i listened to the “how to make wine” schpeel a few times. the biggest difference that i could pick up through tasting is the whites of australia can be VERY VERY light, so if you’re looking for a crisp cold – water like – glass of wine, AUS Hunter Valley is perfect. there were a few reds, which were very good. i learned that these bigger bolder reds come from the southern parts of West Australia – Margaret River, and South Australia – Wrattonbully. i was underwhelmed by the Hunter Valley, but i know more about wine from this region than i did when i arrived!!
dinner back in sydney was at a recommended singaporean chili crab restaurant, and boy was that an experience! mud crabs are enormous, their shells thick and very hard to crack, and this restaurant charged us $75 a kilo for the “golden crab” we ate. i have never heard of a $200 crab, let alone had one for dinner. OY!!! mud crab will always be the crab made of gold.
the work meetings are over and a lot of our team members are making their way home. two of us stayed on to explore a little more!
we met up with our guide – Rob – at 7 am to make our trek to the Blue Mountains. they are located about 2 hours west of sydney and the drive out gave us a lot of history of the area. got experienced new south wales’ very bad infrastructure planning with 5 lane highways turning into 2 lanes in places that 4 lanes would be better to support the crush of cars. there are tolls along the main “loop” that will cost you over $30 to do the entire route, and their speed cameras come with 3 warning signs before the actual camera – yet they make a ton of money from speeders!
once we reached the blue mountains we could see why they have their name. there is a blue haze that is emitted from the millions of eucalyptus trees there. the mountains are high and flat, with sheered off cliff formations. created by nothing more than wind and water over millions of years they are spectacular.
rob also supplied us with a lot of facts about his country – the plagues, prisoners, and a major effort to boost the population back in the day by importing whores from england. there is a new effort to increase their population happening today — $5k bonus to a mother at delivery!!
the blue mountains are a must see – and I give Rob @ Sydney Great Escapes two thumbs up!! It was a rippa!!
these next three days were filled with meetings – the reason I am here. the apple offices are very nice, and the people were lovely! we met with the AUS team, as well as teams from KOR, JPN, and CHN. I can only say – we have kickass people in all of these geo’s!!
we had dinner after work on tuesday at a great italian restaurant – again the no heat thing was apparent with the patio heaters indoor to break the chill. on wednesday a handful of us did the Sydney Harbor Bridgeclimb. If ever in Sydney it’s a must do!! 1,390 stairs to the top, and lots of nooks and crannies to climb up and through that make you feel like you’re in a movie! we met up with the rest of the team at the OperaBar for drinks and dinner. extremely fun night and probably that highlight of the trip!
thursday night we went to a very cool speakeasy type bar/restaurant modeled after an Argentinean man. food was delicious and the “old fashion” club was born. lots of bourbon flowed…good times, good times!