Adelaide = chocolate, donuts, and little bitty penguins

Adelaide Travel Blog

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Tuesday, August 25

We get ourselves up and out to the train -- about 4 blocks -- in the wind and rain. The wind has died down a little but the rain is clearly going to be an on-again/off-again presence throughout the day.  We caught the train pretty quickly. It's a surface train, which means it runs along the road and crosses it often (stopping traffic). It's a comfortable train and suprisingly about half empty at 9 in the morning.

The train station is much more multi-purpose than the metro stations in DC. There are coffee shops and newsstands and carry-outs. Best of all? There's a shop that not only sells donuts (yuuuuuuum) but will make them fresh for you while you wait! Three little hot sugary donuts starts my day with ultimate perfection.

I use my little compass (thank you Karen!) to help us figure out which exit to use out of the train station.
Cheese, glorious cheese!
We pick up a map of the tram system at the info office and stop in a coffee shop to decide how to proceed. We decided to start with the central market, which is just 2 tram stops away.

I love markets. So colorful, so full of possibilities and new things. The colors and sights and sounds in this one do not disappoint. We see meats we've never seen in our markets, new and lovely cheeses, huge mushrooms and vegetables too beautiful to resist. Oh, yeah, and candy stalls!  :)  I bought some loose tea -- Australian Breakfast (to join my English, Scottish, and Irish Breakfast teas at home).  We took lots of pictures (which got us some strange looks) and just generally loved walking around.

And then decided we were hungry. We opted for the Italian pasta shop.
More glorious cheese!
Jeff and I had pasta with bolognese sauce (and I didn't even get any on me!) and Kitty had a fabulous mushroom pizza. 

We've been lucky to arrive at a lot of places just in front of the major crowd and today was no exception. People were definitely circling around, waiting for tables to free up. We didn't dawdle.

When we left the market by a different door, we discovered we were also in the middle of Adelaides' Chinatown. Tons of Asian restaurants up and down the streets. What a blessing!

We, however, needed to scurry to get to our next and most important stop -- the Haigh chocolate factory and tour.

Everywhere we've been, we've heard about Haigh's chocolates and how they are just about the best in the world.
Guess what they sell.
  They are made only in Australia and are not exported, anywhere. In face, you can only find Haigh stores in 3 cities in Australia -- Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. Clearly, we need to check this out.

It's a bit more of a walk to the factory than we expected.  In the US, numbering starts over every new block.  So you have the 100 block, followed by the 200 block, etc. Here, like in many countries in Europe, you keep numbering sequentially. For example, in the US you might come to 150 at the end of a block. When you cross the street to the next block, the next building number would be 200. In Australia, the next number would be 151. Throws me every time.

We also forgot that everything we read about their tours strongly suggested you make a reservation.
The Kangaroo Island coastline.
So when we got there, we had no reservation and all their tours for the day were full.


However, there had been such an influx of people looking for the tours, they were creating a new tour and there were exactly....three spaces left. <phew!>

It's a short tour. 20 minutes. But in those 20 minutes you get a quick history of the company and a quick look onto the factory floor. It's a small factory so you can see a lot of it and much of it, especially the forming of the chocolates or the decorating, is done by hand. It is so cool to watch people forming chocolates by hand.  I want that massage job -- massaging people who spend their whole day on their feet making -- and smelling like -- chocolate. You know what I want to be tipped in and it ain't cash!

Of course, you enter and exit through the gift shop and of course we had to buy some.
More emu!
They have us samples of the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate during the tour and I have to say, it's some of the best and smoothest chocolate I've ever had. I'm not a big dark chocolate fan but I even liked the dark chocolate.

After the tour, we wanted to spend a little time on the internet, so we headed back into the center. The city center is surrounded by a band of parkland so we strolled across the southern band. It's such a civilied thing to do, have heaps of parkland. Adelaide is not quite a planned city like DC or Canberra but it didn't organically grow up like Boston either. They did have time to do some civic planning when the city was growing up so there is an orderliness to the city that is.....soothing for someone like me.

After a little internet time (me, Kitty) and beer time (Jeff), we caught the bus to the airport. It was easy and quick and we all had a very small overnight bag because we were headed to Kangaroo Island!  We had debated whether to take the ferry (cheaper but a much bigger time sink) or the plane (about 25% more but hours faster) and in the end chose to fly. It was a good choice. It was still quite windy and had rained off and on all day. The wind was enough that most of the ferries going to KI had been cancelled on Tuesday and, from what we heard, the people who had taken a ferry really regretted it. Seasickness reigned.

When we went to check in, we got the usual quick friendly questions about how we were enjoying our vacation and shock at the length of it.  Many Australians in the travel business are aware that the standard American vacation allotment is 2 weeks, which just apalls them. When they hear of Americans taking 5-8 weeks of vacation, we often have to explain how that can happen.

In the process, Kitty and I usually explain that we are self-employed massage therapists. Turns out, our check-in agent was a part-time MT too!  So we spent about 20 minutes yakking it up about massage (there weren't hardly any other customers, it was OK). Then we went to a wine shop inside security that someone had recommended to us.

We tried a flight of wines with cheese and got to yukking it up with the girl at the counter. Just as we were finishing up and considering getting to our gate, we heard a call for gate closing and our names cited specifically!

You never really want to hear your name over the PA system at an airport.

We had already paid, blessedly, so we scrambled our stuff together and went hoofing and huffing and puffing through the airport. Of course, our gate was the farthest away and after some wine and cheese, I don't run so good <urp>. Jeff actually beat me to the gate, as did Kitty (despite dropping articles of clothing as she went).

The gate agent was quite curt with us. We were confused. As far as we understood, we were well within our time. What we discovered is that it's a very small plane and everyone has to board at exactly the same time because they have to assign seats to balance the load. So they really would prefer people be early and having three people not show up really screws up their seat arrangements.

Which, of course, we didn't know.  There was much harrumphing by all involved -- us and the flight crew.

It's a short  flight, however. 20 minutes. But with all that wind, it got pretty bumpy.  We were glad to be down on the ground.  The owner of our motel picked us up and took us to the local sports club for a spot of dinner (it was one of the only options and really the best for the evening). It was schnitel night after all!  :) 

Unlike Alice, this was a very small club. Kitchen, bar, pool table. And the TVs.  But we got our schnitel, chatted with some locals, and had a good time. We then dropped our stuff at the hotel and got picked up for the nocturnal tour. Some of the most unusual Australian wildlife is nocturnal.

Aside:  Kangaroo Island is just off the coast of South Australia. Because of its isolation, it hasn't had the problems with imported species of plants and wildlife (rabbits, for instance) that have been such a problem elsewhere in Australia. So it functions kind of like a wildlife preserve even though it's not officially that. Lots of people live there and it's a popular vacation destination for the beaches and for wildlife viewing.

There's only one other couple in the van and we set off. The driver takes us to some of his favorite spots for catching wildlife. We seen mobs of kangaroos and wallabies. They inhabit the fields like rabbits! We even get to see two kangaroos "boxing". It's a young male thing, sort of testing themselves and practicing for the real thing when the mating season kicks in. Yes, kanagroos kick but they also have some pretty viscious long nails and can, if aimed well, eviscerate you.

Still looking cuddly?

The highlight of the (really cold windy) evening is the little penguins. That's their actual name (Aussies have a strong tendency to name things as they are). They're maybe 1-2 feet tall. They swim all day and come into their little protected burrows at night. And they are not found of having a big light shined at them.  Nothing gets them scurrying into the burrows faster, or at least get them to turn their backs on you.

Still, it's cool.

Our room is basic -- double bed in one room, bunk beds in another, with a shower and kitchenette. And cold. They keep the windows open to keep the mildew down. And, as usual, without central heat. A little space heater that even the owner admits probably won't help much. But they do provide plenty of blankets and we snuggle down in, happy for the heaps of blankies.
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Cheese, glorious cheese!
Cheese, glorious cheese!
More glorious cheese!
More glorious cheese!
Guess what they sell.
Guess what they sell.
The Kangaroo Island coastline.
The Kangaroo Island coastline.
More emu!
More emu!
photo by: shirlan