One of my new commitments in life is to stop creating endless lists and spreadsheets, so a key element to the master travel plan is to stay flexible. If we like a place, we’ll stay a bit longer. If we don’t, we’ll move on. The only hard and fast criteria for any potential location is weather: We do not intend to be cold. Ever.
So, where does one go in January to escape winter? Oz!
We arrive in Sydney, Australia (Phase I) in late January. After a few days in Circular Quay enjoying the gardens, opera, beaches, and local cuisine (but no witchetty grubs thank you very much), we plan to get busy exploring the Hunter Valley, Canberra, The Snowy Mountains, Melbourne and maybe Adelaide (if we can squeeze it in). A few things on my list of must-do’s:
1.) Cycling and Triathlon: I WILL cycle the Great Ocean Road. If possible, I would love to make The Great Ocean Road Cycling Challenge but given travel plans, this will be a stretch, so I may just bike it on my own. The Cross Tri in the Snowy Mountains is another interesting race possibility (would be fun to see how I do on a mountain bike). No matter what, I will not miss joining the throngs of spectators at Ironman Melbourne in March!
2.) Winery crawls: We are focusing our trip on New South Wales, Victoria and Southern Australia, which are (coincidentally of course) home to some fabulous wine-making. The Hunter Valley is the winery hub of New South Wales, so we will head there after we leave Sydney to taste the region’s Semillon, Shiraz, and Chardonnays. Further South near Melbourne, we’ll enjoy a wonderful tour of the Yarra Vallery thanks to a nice birthday gift from our daughter. I would also like to cycle some of the popular routes around the wineries.
3.) Food: There is no shortage of gourmet chow options in Oz. I don’t have a big list of restaurants and chefs yet, but the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will be a good place to start sampling! In Adelaide (the South Australian Capital) the chefs are world famous, so we will try to squeeze it in if timing permits. I would very much like to do the Adelaide Hills Cheese and Wine trail. I’m keen to try the Heysen Blue and Double Cream Brie made by Udder Delights!
4.) Gardens: Melbourne and Sydney are chock full of gardens and I plan to see as many as possible. Werribee Mansion near Melbourne is high on my list with 10 hectares of gardens surrounding the mansion and The Victoria State Rose Garden very close by. I might also try to get into see some of the gardens included in Open Gardens Australia (sort of like Virginia Garden Week) in March.
5.) Kiteboarding: I’ve been dying to learn to Kiteboard and it looks like there is a school in St Kilda (close to Melbourne). Not sure I will have the nerve to try this in Oz. The sharks make me nervous.
On our way out of Oz, we will likely do a quick stop in New Zealand and perhaps pop into see our friends Lynn and Graham in Singapore.
Phase II: By mid to late April, we will be in Spain. We plan to take a long-term rental along the Costa Del Sol (likely Casares or Estepona) to serve as our home base. We are eagerly anticipating promised visits from friends and family (maybe even our kids if they ever forgive us for not being like normal parents who can be counted on to Stay Put in The House). From our base in sunny Spain, we’ll venture out to the many places we haven’t seen in that beautiful country and take some sorties into France, Portugal and Italy.
The list of things to see and do in Phase II has barely begun, but here are a few things buzzing about in my head: The half-iron race in Malaga, a Tapas crawl (0r 10) in Granada and a visit to the Alhambra, lots of cuttlefish and grilled sardines at the beach-front Chiringuitos, cycling everywhere, but especially keen to experience the rugged terrain around Lanzarote (site of one of the toughest Ironman races in the world), as much time as possible in Barcelona, the Santa Clotilde Gardens, and a trip to the Chagall museum in Nice.
We will almost certainly visit Greece in the fall. When/if it begins to get chilly on the coast of Spain, we will head to South Africa to visit friends and enjoy summer while the rest of the world shivers.
Updates to follow as all plans are tentative….SHARE THIS ARTICLE