It was by pure chance that we met Claire Fuller, owner of the Sticky Rice Cooking School Villas. We’d noticed the interesting logo on her car and introductions were made. Claire invited us to visit Sticky Rice Cooking School and have a look at her newly opened luxury villas. Seriously folks if you want to get away from the big city bustle of Adelaide and you’re looking for something a bit unique, then take a 25min drive to the pictuesque Adelaide Hills at Stirling. Once you arrive, just look for the Buddha (not that other guy):
If you opt to take the asian cooking classes at the school, you’ll be learning from guest chefs all around Australia. On the day of our visit, we met the lovely Chef Yukiko Anschutz from the award winning Shiki restaurant at the Hyatt Regency hotel – her Japanese and Thai classes are legendary!
The cooking classes are optional and you can to stay in the villas and be totally independent. All 3 villas have that wow factor, influenced by Asian architecture and comfort with beautiful designer furnishing and standalone stone baths.
….and Jag kitchens:
Each villa is individually styled to reflect the luxurious options often found in Bali, Thailand and Japan and each provides it’s own private walled outdoor courtyard and individual gardens.
Seriously, it’s a real oasis from the city……wish we’d known about this sooner.
This has to be one of the most styly and elegant breakfasts we’ve ever had! The award-wining Rigoni’s Bistro is centrally located at 28 Leigh Street with european interiors and service to match. Definitely NOT a gobble-and-go place. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, gentle music and complementary newspapers. The breakfasts are just a bit different where presentation is an essential component. Definitely recommend Rigoni’s to serious travellers:
At least 80% of tourists are looking for a day tour they can pack into an already busy itinerary – although these tours merely skim the surface, they do give travellers time to relax and view magnificent scenery while someone else does the driving. The Murray River Day Tour is NOT a small group tour but you’ll see a lot from the comfort of a modern and comfortable coach.
We were collected by coach from our hotel at 8.45am sharp and whisked away to the bus station where all the various tour buses are waiting. It just so happened that the pick-up bus was actually the same one doing the Murray River Tour. So we stayed on board. We had a fabulous driver/guide. Tony was informative, relaxed and very funny in that dry Australian way. With a coach full of people, you’ll always get one who talks through the driver’s commentary. Tony handled it well. He stopped his commentary and said “oh, sorry, am I interrupting again”? It was a strategy that worked. Just before this photo was taken, Barry did a monkey pose, but refused a repeat performance:
The “Proud Mary” is a boutique cruising vessel which also operates 2-5 day cruises where guests stay in their own cabin. It has 3 decks and an intimate lounge and dining area with its own bar. The lunch buffet was more than adequate and constantly replenished. And we had a chance to socialise with other diners and share experiences.
The Proud Mary provides scenic views of orange coloured cliffs and various wildlife including a fabulous display of Pelicans swooping very close around the vessel. Believe me, these birds are built like freight planes!
After about 75 mins we disembarked from the Proud Mary to board our coach and travel to the historic river town of Mannum. For those interested in hiring their own state-of-the-art river houseboats, these can be viewed and hired in Mannum – an affordable option for families sharing expenses.
Meanwhile, back at the coach, there was the usual 10 min wait for the stragglers and then we were off again, driving through the beautiful Adelaide Hills, via Tungkillo and Mt Torrens. (We’re returning under our own steam tomorrow for an independent explore).
The only disappointing part of this tour was the stop at a Toy factory at Gumeracha. Given there were no children on the tour, we felt this choice of venue was inappropriate, except to doting grannies. Perhaps a better option would have been e.g. a winery or chocolate factory where you could actually see the process of production. The giant toy horse was pretty impressive though.
All in all, this was a good option for timestrapped tourists and we enjoyed it.
Maybe it was a one-off situation, but after landing at Adelaide Airport to start our 9-nine day trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, there were no taxis to be seen – only queues of weary travellers 5 rows deep. Eventually the taxis did arrive but it was a hellishly slow process. Stress brings out the queue-jumpers and there were plenty of em! Next time we’ll pre-book a taxi!
The Adelaide CBD has a slight grimy edge to it, however I did find an inner city oasis within it’s superb botanical gardens – great place to pack a picnic and head down with the kids, especially after a long and fraught international flight and it’s only a short walk from most inner accommodations:
Handy for travellers to know that the The Adelaide Zoo is pretty much nextdoor to the Botanic gardens
We enjoyed the Adelaide Central market. The atmosphere was incredible – such a buzzy place and really nice people – both sellers and buyers. The variety of food was colourful, aromatic, authentic and VERY affordable. The City to Bay Tram stops right in Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga. We used the Free Adelaide Connector Bus Our driver was very quick to spot Michael waving his map around and stopped especially for us.
By the time this photo was taken, Michael had eaten a whole Italian Pizza and a massive piece of this magnificent Lemon cheesecake…
….yet couldn’t quite rid himself of the feeling that he had missed out on something. Must be a ‘man’ thing.
We’ve decided to have breakfast at Rigoni’s Bistro tomorrow…heard it’s the best brekkie in town. We’ll see…
Would you consider a motorhome vacation in winter? You can in New Zealand. From May onwards. motorhome prices plummet! Just imagine snowy-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky with fewer people around and you’re halfway here. New Zealand has a high quality of motorhome parks, the majority of which provide power points. Handy Hint: In winter, it’s essential to choose a quality state-of-the-art motorhome. The rates are low anyway and it’ll be worth it to get those double insulated windows and a great heating system.
The beautiful West Coast of the South Island has the best weather during the winter months to see glaciers and rainforest. You’ll get to enjoy winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing, glacier walks, glacier helicoper rides. See what I mean?
…it’s about the stuff you see on the way:
…like exploring vineyards and tasting great wine:
…relaxing in quaint historic towns with fabulous cafes:
Another Handy Hint: If you’re a skiing fanatic and this is all you want to do, you might want to rent a 4WD. Many of our ski fields are accessed by twisting gravelly roads and most motorhome companies will not permit entry to these. (However, shuttle bus services to ski fields are provided.)
Chains may be required in some areas and if so, familiarise yourself with how to fit them and when it is advisable to remove them. Remember, Kiwis are used to this stuff so don’t be afraid to ask the locals. We love helping!
Travel Insurance – don’t travel too light!
Michael and I are planning our own overseas trip! Time to air out suitcases and argue about the practicalities of taking the kitchen sink. We’ve also been a couple of sick people for the past week or so, having caught a flu bug. So what happens when you’re sick and very far from home? Many travellers don’t bother with travel insurance. They see it as an unnecessary cost, but it is? The first time I travelled to Europe to meet Michael’s rallies, I made it as far as Auckland before I was rushed to an emergency medical clinic with a suspected annuerism. Fortunately it was just a vicious migraine. However, we had to cancel our connecting flight to Singapore and rebook – our travel insurance covered this unexpected cost. Peace of mind can be a costly business but then again, so is an astronomical hospital bill.
“Do we need proper hiking boots?” Well, unless you’re going on a recognised tramping trip, the answer is no – just good sturdy walking shoes for our many carefully laid walking tracks. And for goodness sake, if you’re buying new shoes for your trip, wear them in well in advance of your travel. Blisters are not fun!
The checking-behind-you habit
Get into the habit of checking behind you as you leave the plane, car, boat, bus…and yes, even bathrooms. I-pads and cellphones have a way of blending in with the decor. Had a client a few years back who left the country before remembering the $1000 carefully put away in the wall safe of her suite. Fortunately we managed to contact the Manager and their honest staff who retrieved the money and returned it via the guest’s bank account.
What to wear?
Remember, that in our blessed little country you can experience 4 seasons in one day! Pack accordingly, but keep it light. New Zealand is a very casual country and people don’t dress up for everyday living. There are one or two high end lodges in New Zealand where men are expected to wear formal jacket and tie to dinner but most of the time tidy and casual are the only guidelines.
Check the house rules
Unless you’re in a self-contained accommodation (with cooking facilities), cooking in your room is definitely NOT permitted. You may also notice that toilet and shower facilities work differently to that of your homeland. Good hosts are expected to explain these matters to guests but they don’t always. Don’t hesitate to ask the hosts about the bathroom facilities. Save yourself the awkwardness of having to explain the accidential flooding in the bathroom, especially on your first night’s stay.
Genuine complaints should be aired immediately at the time of your stay. Give the service provider a chance to put it right and make you happy. A good host should NEVER respond with childish comments such as “well, nobody else has ever complained about that before”. If they do, then shame on them! We stayed at a beautiful luxury B & B in Akaroa a couple of years ago. I mentioned to the hosts that the toilet seat in our ensuite was loose. By the time we returned from dinner a few hours later, the seat had been fixed.
Check seasonal availablity:
Your friends may have told you about a great boutique vineyard or a tour of a birdlife breeding colony. Not all attractions are opened all-year round. Many vineyards close for wine tastings and some tours only operate in the sumner. Also be aware that there are sometimes age and weight restrictions especially those relating to adventure tours.
…remember that Kiwis (the two-legged kind) will do anything to help a traveller and you’ll never be without a helping hand. Have a great New Zealand holiday!