We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon yesterday in McLaren Vale, thanks to our friends Ross and Jenny. After a stop at one of the larger wineries, d'Arenberg, for some sampling, we had a magnificent lunch at The Barn, our best meal of the trip thus far. Brian in particular was impressed by the way they describe themselves:
We're not the hot guy but more the slightly chubby guy who always makes you laugh that you end up falling for.
After a long and leisurely meal, Ross rushed us back efficiently to the Hilton, where we picked up our bags and headed for the airport, ADL being a relatively short drive from city center. Another Flyer Talk friend, Greg from IAD, hitched a ride as well.
They hosted us into the Qantas lounge, but we basically only had time to say our goodbyes before heading toward our own Virgin Blue flight on the other side of the terminal.
Our flight back to MEL is best forgotten, the hottest airplane we've been on in many a day. Brian even spoke to a flight attendant, who explained that the back of the plane was cold, requiring them to turn the heat up. Somewhere between our Row 8 and the back of the plane it must have been, like Baby Bear's porridge, just right. Fortunately, it was only a one-hour flight.
We took the Sky Bus to its terminus, only to find out that the free hotel shuttle wasn't running at this hour. A short and not-too-costly taxi ride later, we found ourselves at the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf.
It appears to be just as magnificent a property as our Flyer Talk friends universally suggested. It's quite new, and sits in a newly developed area of the city. The rooms are large and comfortable, the view are fabulous, and the lounge, where we're currently taking advantage of the free Internet, is both huge and welcoming.
We'll soon be jumping off from the South Wharf (now you understand the catchy title above) to pick up our rental car and to wander around the area for the next couple of days. We hope to stop by Sale and visit with our friends Bill and Sue before returning to Melbourne for the final few nights of our trip. Ross has kindly lent us a Garmin Australian GPS virtually identical to our own, so Brian can concentrate his efforts on driving on the other side of the road.
If only the GPS will save us from having to attempt the notorious Melbourne Hook Turns, a turning-right-from-the-edge-of-the-left-lane maneuver to avoid blocking the tram tracks, life will be good.