Thursday, 19 December 2013

"Advent, Advent, die Sonne brennt" - The Advent season in Adelaide!

G'day people,

after a while of travelling, I'm now back in Sydney with the latest photos, stories and news!

Two days before I wanted to leave for Adelaide - I was just sitting down on the couch and moved one of the cushions - I felt quite a sharp pain, similar to the bite of a big mosquito. So I took the necessary measures and thought everything was going to be fine. Instead, the area around the bite started to swell up, turned bright red and started to harden as if something had been planted under my skin. Knowing of a classmate of mine who had been bitten by a spider, I called the 24/7 Poison Information hotline, described the symptoms (itchiness, skin irritation, dizziness, nausea) and was told I could have been bitten by a white tail spider. Further online research confirmed that white tail spiders are predominantly found in bedding or clothes, usually inside houses, trying to escape the heat. They are venomous but their venom is not strong enough to kill an adult human. The advice of an online web page: keep the bite cool, grit your teeth and get to it. Nothing else you can do. I decided that if the bite got worse, I would consult a doctor but after one day and half a night of cooling the bite, the swelling eased and my hand now looks normal again. I just guess it's part of the 'real' Australian experience.

The Australian White tail spider and its bite (the swelling is not really that obvious
but there was a hard lump right where the bite was)
So in the end, I could catch my flight as planned to travel to Adelaide where I wanted to catch up with Matt, a good friend of mine who I met during my high school exchange in Nelson, New Zealand.
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia. Its 1.2 million inhabitants make it Australia's fifth largest city and a tad smaller than Munich in Germany. The urban area is 20 km (12 miles) wide and extends over 90 km (56 miles) from North to South. Adelaide's urban expansion is restricted by mountain ranges to the east and the Gulf St Vincent to the west; this geographical location is equally responsible for the very hot summers with record highs of over 45°C (114°F) in an area of Mediterranean climate. Landing in or taking off from Adelaide, you will notice another very distinct feature of the Adelaidean cityscape: it is basically one huge residential area with thousands of family homes, neatly lined up along tree-lined avenues that are laid out in a gridiron pattern. The city centre is surrounded by parks along the Northern, Western, Eastern and Southern Terrace that mark the CBD's boundaries. Therefore, it is very hard to get lost in Adelaide - as long as you don't cross any of those four Terraces, you're still in the city centre.

Adelaide Skyline (Photo by
Adelaide from above
One of the prettiest suburbs in Adelaide is called Glenelg, accessible via a tram line from the city centre. The little town has a very particular atmosphere that is a combination of beach culture and open-air shopping centre.

Glenelg Tram
Glenelg Town Hall
Glenelg Beach
The suburb where Matt and his family live is called Seacliff and boasts an equally beautiful beach with very clear water and fine sand:

Seacliff Beach
Beach Access
Surprisingly close to these beaches lie the vineyards of the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. The South Australian wine production accounts for about half of Australia's wines, some of which are exported even to Europe and North America. Names like Jacob's Creek or Yalumba may sound familiar to the European wine drinker's ear along with a wide selection of full bodied Australian Shiraz, Chardonnay or Riesling.

McLaren Vale vines
Checking out the Australian vineyards
Vineyard estate in South Australia
After this seemingly Italian flair, it was time to visit Hahndorf, a small German town outside of Adelaide that was majorly influenced by the German settlers who came to live there. Besides the German (Bavarian!) food that we had for lunch, there were lots of half-timbered houses, beautifully designed gardens (Oma Gerda style - "Oma" means grandma in German), little cafés and grocery stores that sold Knoppers, Lebkuchen, Pfeffernüsse, Duplo, Kinderriegel, Milka chocolate and many more imported foods from Germany. Needless to say I spent at least $50 there.

Lunch at the Hahndorf Inn
"Trio of Wursts" - Bratwurst, Bockwurst and Weißwurst - for lunch!
The taste of... Bavaria =D
"Welcome to Hahndorf - 'Best Kept Village' contest winner"
(literal translation: "Our village is to become prettier")
The local German bakery - note the literal translation of
"Bienenstich" to "beesting".
The café attached to the German Bakery. Without words.
Back in Adelaide, it was time to decorate the Christmas tree - and yes, the outside temperature was about 37°C. But that didn't matter. Because Christmas is coming up.

Driving home for Christmas =)
Oh Christmas Tree...
Not only green when summer's here, but also when 'tis cold and drear... ah screw that!
Little Gin-Germans at the Central Markets... always on the bottle.
Christmas Puppy
As Christmas is approaching - only 5 days to go - I went back to Sydney and am now looking forward to welcoming my friend Jackie from Minnesota in the US to Australia tomorrow for a Christmas that will be about 60°C warmer than what she is used to! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog during the past year and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, wherever you might be! If it is a cold Christmas for you, enjoy the snow. Otherwise - do as the Australians do and relax in the heat ;-)

Merry Christmas everyone!

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