Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Adelaide Hills’

I spent my first year of university studying at a castle in England.  Along with 150 other Canadian students, I travelled around the country for school-organised field trips and spent a great deal of time soaking up everything London had to offer.  In February of that school year, my friend Erin and I decided it was time to spread our wings a little and travel independently.  Flights to Europe were dead cheap and it was not uncommon for the castle’s population to diminish significantly on weekends when groups and pairs of students would take off on adventures.

When it came time to select our destination, did we decide on somewhere exotic and take off to Barcelona?  No.  Did we consult our bucket lists and fly to Roma to see the Colosseum?  No.  We went to Ryanair’s website, sought out the cheapest flight and booked ourselves a weekend in Frankfurt with a day trip to Köln.

Years later, I can’t tell you exactly what was on our minds when we planned that trip.  I can recall vividly, however, the looks on our friends’ faces when we announced our grand destination.  There was more than a little confusion from the masses and I couldn’t blame them, I was uncertain myself.

Never ones to pass up on the adventures in even the most obscure locations, Erin and I did our homework and prepped for our trip, researching walking tours and hidden gems.  We booked ourselves into a hostel (our first!) on the river Main and set off to conquer the city with confidence.  And we did!  It wasn’t the most glamorous holiday we’d ever take but I remember it fondly because Frankfurt am Main was a lovely surprise.

With Erin and the Frankfurt skyline in 2004

For the most part, Frankfurt is a modern city.  It was bombed heavily in the second World War and we found great post cards showing us pre-war images of a once beautiful medieval city centre. While effort was made in some cases to recreate the city’s splendour, reconstruction was often simple and modern; this resulted in severe architectural contrast in some parts of the city.

These homes in the Römerberg were reconstructed between 1981-1984

Destroyed in WWII, Frankfurt's old opera house was a ruin until 1981

We found great art galleries to tour and had a lot of fun at a film museum.  We visited Goethe’s house, stumbled upon an outdoor market and took ourselves on walking tours of the city.  On our last day we rode the train not to Köln but to Mainz where we walked until our feet ached.  The people were friendly, the food and drink excellent and I fell in love with Germany.

Mainz Cathedral suffered damage in several battles between 1792 and 1942

Maybe it’s the line of German blood running through my veins, but after living abroad or travelling for some time there is something about Germany that feels to me like coming home.  Several years after our first trip to Germany, Erin and I stopped in Köln (we got there eventually!) and Berlin while backpacking through Europe.  We remarked then that Germany felt more like Canada than any other European country: streets and crossings are familiar; food is hearty and simple; people seem down to earth and even the weather is pretty well matched.  We didn’t have to think about too much when we were in Germany and when you’re travelling a lot, this can be an unexpected relief.

So, if you know anything about my travel history, you know how fond I am of Germany.  And if you’ve read a bit of this blog, you know how much I enjoyed the drive through the Adelaide Hills.  Imagine my delight, then, to discover a German community in the Hills.

When European settlers came to South Australia, many found land to settle in the hillside.  As in any city or region, cultural groups stuck together and a number of towns in the Hills remain German communities to this day.  This is pretty clear when you’re visiting the area as there are many Lutheran churches and schools; German shops and restaurants are plenty.

Our first stop on a cloudy, gloomy Saturday was Lobethal. When we discovered that the market we’d set as our destination closed in the fall, we wandered over to Lobethal Bierhaus: a micro brewery with excellent beer (Andrew strongly recommends the Red Truck Porter) and a to-die-for menu.  We intended to find a German pub for schnitzel later and didn’t want to ruin dinner so we limited ourselves to a sampling of Bierhaus’ home made dips and watched enviously as our neighbours’ tables filled up with delicious looking fare.

We spent a couple of hours people watching and enjoying our wine and beer while we sat by the Bierhaus fireplace.   Thanks to my days working in seasonal resorts, I recognised a group of weather-worn and weary cycle tourists when they trickled in to warm up, rest their bodies and sample the local beer.  They’d ridden from Adelaide all the way up to Lobethal in their first and toughest day of the tour  and we spoke them for a while before a bus load of rowdy cricketers arrived and we made are good-byes.

Inside Lobethal Bierhaus

It’s a short but pretty drive from Lobethal to Hahndorf, the more touristy German village in the Hills.  I’d was prepared for a bit of camp and was pleased to find a sleepy little town with local food shops and galleries.  As we walked up and down the main street, window shopping and admiring art, I was reminded of St. Jacobs, Ontario.

On the streets of Hahndorf

The White House

It was a bit early for dinner and the German Arms Hotel was empty and less than inviting so we wandered over to The White House for a drink.  Not at all German-like, The White House is after a French café feel and while they’re not quite there yet, it was a comfortable spot.  I ordered a mojito that was almost too strong to drink  and we lounged about until finally deciding it was time for that schnitzel.

We’d parked outside the German Arms but while we were walking around the town we passed the Hahndorf Inn and decided its atmosphere was more appealing.  It reminded me of some of the beer halls I visited in Germany.   Servers brought around platters of meat and steins full of beer and the restaurant was full of laughter with friends and family talking over each other.  We took our time soaking up our surroundings and dining on traditional German fare.  Metre-long bratwurst, anyone?  It was a lot of fun and a lovely end to another wonderful afternoon in the Hills.  It didn’t feel at all touristy and, true to form, I felt right at home.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 As it turns out, Adelaide is a beautiful city…what a relief! just as I knew it would be.  I haven’t yet decided which Canadian city it most closely resembles but I am enjoying discovering the highlights in my quest to pin one down!

On Good Friday, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  I’m sure that my readers in Ontario will have little sympathy for me given the miserable spring they’re enjoying at the moment, but I have been having a hard time coming to terms with winter approaching here in Australia.  It’s very odd to be stepping through crunchy leaves in April.  So, I’m taking every spring-like opportunity I can and last Friday we ventured into the Adelaide Hills for a picnic with a view.

A twenty minute drive East of Adelaide takes you to the hills – a completely charming, rustic collection of hillside villages and country properties.  Once you’re through the tunnels and off the freeway, the windy roads are an awful lot of fun to drive and the views are spectacular.

Mount Lofty marks the hill’s summit with a lookout area and restaurant, a fire-spotting tower and Adelaide’s television transmission towers, of course.  I took exactly two photos of the view as it wasn’t the clearest day for pictures but in person it did give a sense of the area, Adelaide and the coast in the not so distant distance.

There are several parks and sights to see but we ventured into the botanical gardens to find a spot to enjoy our picnic lunch.  By now, the wind was picking up a bit and we’d felt a few rain drops but I was determined to eat outside in the open air. 

So we did.

We settled in the shrub garden and while the grass was a little damp it was beautiful.  I’ve had some fairly spectacular picnics in my life (inside the Colosseum, for example) but I’ve never picnicked surrounded by gum trees full of laughing kookaburra. I couldn’t help but sing the “Kookaburra” nursery song as they laughed around us.  

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!

– Marion Sinclair, 1936

Andrew was surprised this summer when he discovered that the entire Poole family was quite familar with this tune.  An Australian song, “Kookaburra” made its way to Canada and the United States through the Girl Guide movement.  Marion Sinclair was a teacher who worked with her school’s Girl Guide company and “Kookaburra” was first performed in 1934 at an annual Jamboree in Frankston, Victoria.  The Baden-Powells, founders of the Scouting and Guiding movements, were present.

In recent years, “Kookaburra” has been the subject of much controversy in Australia.  Questions about its copyright status and infringement resulted in lawsuits in 2009 and in 2010 Australian primary school director, Garry Martin, asked school children to replace the line “gay your life must be” with “fun your life must be”.  After an outcry that Martin was banning the word “gay” from his school, he stated: “All I was doing, relatively innocently, was substituting one word because I knew if we sing ‘Gay your life must be’ the kids will roll around the floor in fits of laughter.” Right.

When we were finished lunch we walked through the gardens a little (though not extensively… there looked to be a beautiful gully and lots of surrounding hiking trails) and then headed to the car for warmth and a bit of a tour.  Vineyards decorate the Adelaide Hills and South Australia’s fall colours are lovely.

Read Full Post »