Day 1: LOST CAMERA
After yesterday’s relaxing and unstructured day with family and friends on the other side of the world, today we were back to our sightseeing agenda. Only this time, we were going to fly to Adelaide and spend a couple of nights there before flying back here for a connecting flight to Tasmania.
With all our stuff packed and ready to go, we checked out of the Mercure Grand Hotel Melbourne and lugged our belongings over to the familiar QV structure. From there, we paid for parking and drove off towards the airport.
Having received some helpful directions from the receptionist, we managed to get to the airport without much hassle and without having to go through those tolled CityLink roads.
It was about 6am when we got the airport. There was some confusion about where to leave the Hertz car since there wasn’t an attendant where the car hire return should be. In any case, an attendant finally showed up a few minutes later and with that, we took our belongings with us and headed to our terminal checkin.
After checking in our heavy baggage, receiving our boarding passes, and going through security, we patiently awaited our flight at one of the gates. Things went pretty smoothly and we were boarding the plane pretty much on schedule.
As Julie and I were about to take our seats on the Qantas flight to Adelaide, I proceeded to put our day packs into the overhead locker when something didn’t feel right when it came time to take my last piece of equipment.
“Where’s my camera?” I said startingly to Julie. She gasped and her eyes widened.
“Oh no! Did you leave it at the security checkpoint?” she asked.
“That’s quite possible.” I said.
So I wasted no time to squeeze my way back to the front of the plane when I was stopped by one of the flight attendants welcoming the passengers on board.
“Um where do you think you’re going?” asked the flight attendant.
“I think I left my camera at the security checkpoint,” said I, obviously in a hurry.
“I understand your situation, but you have to understand my situation,” she replied. “If we delay this flight because of you, it will cost us millions of dollars.”
“This is a two-thousand-dollar camera,” said I, obviously not caring about the corporate BS I was getting. Besides, if time was so precious, she was delaying me with her run-around spiel.
Finally, she paused and then asked me, “How fast can you run?”
“Very fast,” said I, obviously telling her what she wanted to hear (not that this was far from the truth).
“Go!” she said. And off I went.
So as I bolted as fast as I could back to the security screening, I immediately flagged one of the officers and told him my predicament. He dutifully went on to check through some containers and some log books. But nothing came up.
“You know it’s very unlikely that someone would take the camera in these check points,” he said trying to console me. Of course, my immediate thought next was that I had either left it in the rental car or in the Mercure Inn. But now that I saw I wasn’t going to get the camera back right now, I had to rush back to the gate.
And barely another minute flew by when I was trying to catch my breath back at the departing gate. Unfortunately, the door was locked. There was also another late couple who apparently didn’t make it either.
So now I was beginning to wonder what to do with Julie on board that flight and with me stranded at the departure gate. The plane was still there though.
Finally, an airport employee asked me what was the matter. I went on to explain to her my situation and she immediately phoned the folks inside. But it seemed like before she was done with the conversation, someone had already opened the door from the inside.
And with that, I entered the plane obviously mentally distraught. But there was nothing I could do now and pray that this expensive piece of equipment so vital to recording our experience did not get lost.
So the flight took off pretty much on time. It was a short hour-long flight and before we knew it, we were in Adelaide. We had to set our clocks a half hour back because of their funky time zones.
I wasn’t particularly optimistic about viewing waterfalls on this leg of the trip especially after hearing on Triple J about the possible move of Adelaide due to the imminent drying of the Murray River basin. When we listened to the radio while in Canberra (a week earlier), the presenters were even jokingly fielding phone calls from South Australians about possible alternative sites for Adelaide.
After disembarking the plane, some of the flight attendants greeting us at the airport told me “Good luck with the camera.” Apparently, news travels fast.
Once we collected our heavy baggage, we immediately used the pay phones to call Hertz. The clerk at the car hire desk said the number was toll free, but we ended up having to pay with coins anyways (lest the call not be made). So with that, Julie got someone back in the Melbourne Airport Hertz to check out the car (good thing we remembered the license plate number).
It was already a pretty warm morning when we collected our luggage and our Hertz Rental Car. We ended up getting another fuel-efficient Toyota Camry.
So off we went into the nearby city of Adelaide and by around 8:30am, we were able to check into our accommodation at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel (unusual that we could check in so soon before 1pm). No problems getting our room here though it was kind of basic but clean.
Since I had left this today to be pretty open-ended, Julie wanted us to check out the Penfolds Winery. She told me that Nicole recommended doing one of their wine-tasting tours. Of course with the camera issue still worrying us, we made another call on the pay phone before returning to the car to drive into the Barossa Valley.
When we got in contact with the Melbourne Airport Hertz Rental Car, the person on the other side of the line informed us that they found our camera!
Obviously relieved, the conversation ended and Julie turned to me and said, “You’re very lucky!”
Hey, no argument there.
It was now 11am. We thought we could go to the Penfolds Winery in Barossa Valley for a lunch as well some wine tasting. So we made the nearly hourlong drive into the brown rolling hills of the Barossa Valley.
We had expected something more of a Sonoma Valley experience back at home, but when we got to the Penfolds address, it looked rather unassuming and humble. The car park was sitting on the other side of some railroad tracks. There was a wine-making school next door, which was where we parked at first, but after talking with someone who was doing some construction work there, he was saying the Penfolds winery was next door.
Once we got to the correct place, we walked in and noticed there was no restaurant and hardly any cars. We started to get the sense that this wasn’t the place we had in mind.
Then someone behind the counter asked us, “Can I help you?”
“Is this the Penfolds Estate?” asked Julie.
“Nope, this is the winery. The place you’re looking for is in Adelaide.”
My eyes opened up widely upon hearing this. Does this mean we drove all the way out this way for nothing?!?
Julie knew I wasn’t happy and she apologized. Still, she was perplexed by the information (or lack thereof) in the literature we picked up about the Penfolds wine tasting tour. It turned out to be the Magill Estate in the outskirts of Adelaide. And that place was a five-star fine dining dinner/wine tasting experience at night. I guess we’ll plan for the wine tasting tomorrow. Forget forking out triple-figures on a dinner. I’ve had enough of that, especially after the crappy experience at Grossi Florentino.
The guy behind the counter sensed our disappointment and asked us, “Would you like to try some wine?”
“How much does it cost?” Julie asked.
“Nothing,” he said, shaking his head.
So we ended up trying a couple of wines. Not being much of wine experts, we honestly couldn’t tell one from another.
And with that, we drove back to Adelaide.
By the time it was 2pm, we were back in the city. Now we were quite hungry and we looking for something to eat. So after parking the car back in the garage of our accommodation, we walked around town. First stop was the visitor center.
After picking up some free literature, we walked around looking for suitable dinner spots. Eventually, we realized that now it was too late for lunch. Instead, we went the other way into the mall district of the CBD and did some window shopping while munching on milk shakes and smoothies.
After the meal, we walked around towards the north side of town near the Torrens River. There was a park area as well as some memorials and an interesting-looking church. Basically just a walk in the park and just a relaxing time doing nothing on this day.