Wine and wi-fi…doesn’t get better than that!

Posted: December 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

We’re enjoying lunch (and a 3rd tasting session!) at Wairau River Wines. We’ve been to Nautilus and No. 1 Family Estate, where we had some amazing sparkling wines.

Got wi-fi here, so here’s my blog from this morning…

OK, here’s a visual for you…the only place I can write quietly this morning without waking my girls up is on the toilet. We’ve arrived at the Marlborough Vintners Hotel in the town of Blenheim, which is right in the middle of the famous Marlborough wine region of New Zealand. The hotel consists of suites that make up a small neighborhood, and you drive to your little home, surrounded by growing vineyards.

Despite getting room 13 and finding a dead bird at our door as we arrived, I’m trying not to be superstitious about this place. The room itself is spacious and ultra modern and super clean…the beds comfortable (Ava gets the sleeper sofa)…and it has a nice kitchenette area.

Our trip yesterday, from Tom’s Cottages in Havelock North to this place in Blenheim was the longest day trip of our entire vacation, by my calculations, and we were all extremely fried by the end of it: over four hours driving through somewhat mountainous roads…four hours waiting for the ferry (we got here early and found that restaurant with wi-fi to kill some time)…and then another four hours total for the ferry ride itself plus the drive to Blenheim.

We will have long driving days of five hours still ahead of us, but it will be all driving and nothing else.

One of Kelly’s biggest complaints about this trip so far (and she’s right) is that the distances between places are so huge–and we’re trying to see everything–so we’re just blasting through the countryside without being able to leisurely stop and take a lot of pictures, soak up the scenery, whatever. I’m hoping we can take it a bit slower here on the South Island.

We also have not had the greatest weather. Cloudy, windy days have been common, rain threatening sometimes. Only Christmas Day was perfect, with blazing sunshine all day. And so I think that also reduces the photo opportunities we’re looking for. For example, the ride into Marlborough Sound and Picton, the port on South Island where the Interislander ferry lands, is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Instead, we had heavy clouds and even heavier winds that beat me up as I tried to take some video on the top deck of the ship. I’ll post one and you’ll see for yourself: it was nuts. Of course, standing on the top deck of that ferry means I was about eighty feet in the air…the wind whipping all around me, and spray hitting my camera lenses.

A quick note about the hugeness of these ferries: this is not your basic car ferry.
It holds hundreds of cars on one level, railroad cars on another level, trucks on another level, and hundreds of passengers on two more levels, including cafes, bars, a kids’ playground, a nursery room, a movie theater, even a luxury lounge for those who paid the big bucks for a ticket.

Our ferry had no railroad cars aboard, so they used that level for cars as well, and we actually drove onto the ship via a railroad bridge on railroad tracks to get to our space! Crazy. This was no small boat…and no surprise here, the ride was really quite smooth.
Back to driving, even though we just had that long day of travel, the original plan for today was to jump back into the rental and drive to the “nearby” town of Nelson, about an hour and a half away. It’s known as New Zealand’s playground in many ways: its beaches, art galleries, amazing restaurants, wineries and more. But wisely, we decided that we would stay in the Blenheim area today and try Nelson tomorrow…to get a break from a lot of driving.

We literally have several of the best wineries next door to us here, so we plan on checking them out today. One of those wineries, Herzog, has what many critics call the best restaurant in all of New Zealand, and we’ve managed to get reservations for dinner tonight! Looking forward to that. The Herzog story is an interesting one: they established a beautiful vineyard and Michelin star-winning restaurant in Switzerland, and then at the peak of their fame, packed it all up and came here! That’s some set of balls. Apparently, they know what they’re doing because they’re getting rave reviews here as well.

As you’ve seen, I got a chance to post a bunch of photos from our trip now. I did that last night, as fried as we were, after our long day’s journey. I also have video that needs to be uploaded. That will be next.

But right now, my legs are going numb from sitting on this toilet bowl! Gotta sign off!

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