16 December 2010

Newcastle & Hunter Valley

The beautiful YHA hostel where we stayed
Our penultimate stop before the big smoke of Sydney was Newcastle. Coined as a sister town to Port Macquarie, we were pleasantly surprised with this quaint coastal town.

After trudging from the bus station with our heavy bags, our jaws dropped when we arrived at our YHA hostel. It could have passed for a grand hotel somewhere in the Scottish countryside. There was a big Christmas tree next to the grand wooden staircase which was set just off from the plush ballroom - the setting instantly made us feel more Christmassy.

This festive feeling didn't last long, though! As soon as we stepped out into the sun and set off for the beach, we time-warped straight back to that warm August feeling that we have been floating along in for the past three months!

Nobby's Head in the distance
Our three days in beautiful Newcastle passed by in a flash. We soaked up some sun at the beach, attempted (and failed) to try surfing on our own and wandered around the weekend market, but the highlight had to be our day trip to the famous Hunter Valley wine region.

Wine tasting in Hunter Valley
As most of you will know, James doesn't particularly like the taste of wine so it was an unusual destination but he was up for the challenge! The weather was perfect for the trip: blue sky with wispy clouds - the perfect setting to enjoy wine and spirits - 25 different varieties to be exact!

Hunter Valley is a really beautiful part of Australia and it was a nice change to see mountainous landscape as we drove towards the famous valley that is home to hundreds of vineyards.

On our first stop, at the refreshing time of 11am, we learned how to 'properly' taste wine and then the drinking (I mean tasting) began! After two vineyards, at least a dozen different wines and a quick lunch stop, we were delighted to further line our stomachs with chocolate and cheese tastings before heading off to another winery for more samples.

Who needs wine tasting when you have beer?!
We both liked the Semillion, Hunter Valley's Pièce de résistance, although I can't say our taste buds were quite ready for the Dragon Breath chilli liqueur! Thankfully, this was not to be the last drink we tasted as we had one more stop to make - the brewery. Beer paddle in hand, James duly tried the six local beers before choosing his favourite for a full size version - a fine end to a fine trip!

Our next stop is to a city we are both excited about seeing - Sydney. James is looking forward to a full week of boy time with his brother... and I to some retail therapy!


1 comment:

  1. this looks fab......day out at hunter valley must have been fun....would have loved it myself!!!


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