Thursday, October 22, 2009
We woke up around 6:30 again, still sore, but not as bad as the previous two days. We got packed - fortunately we didn't need to be as exacting this time around, as the flights back to the mainland have only half as much fuel as the flights heading out to Lord Howe Island (in case they need to turn around and head back). While packing, we watched a bus take a bunch of poor SOBs to the Mt Gower hike - we felt like yelling off the balcony to stop while they still had a choice. Again we had breakfast right at 8, then packed the last couple of items before leaving the room. We talked about it, and we think this was one of the nicest rooms we've ever stayed in - accounting for the amenities, the view, and the service - right up there with Mombo Camp and Xigera Camp in Botswana. The common areas were really nice as well, and we took some pictures at breakfast.
At 10, we boarded an island cruise, which basically went in a clockwise circle around the island, starting right near Settlement Beach in the northwest. We saw Malabar Hill, which we had been at the day before, and saw what a steep cliff we had looked down. It was interesting to see the island from a different vantage point than what we had seen on all our travels the past couple of days.
Particularly eye opening were the views of Mt Gower, where we could see the "saddle" that we had walked up to get to the top (some video here). We thought we saw some people walking up, and when we got back and looked at the photos, it was confirmed. It was insane how steep it looked. Frankly, if we had taken the boat cruise before we had taken the hike, we probably never would have taken the hike. We also got another view at Ball's Pyramid, which looked nice, but certainly not worth the couple hour trip that several companies were charging to take people out there. The view from afar is nice enough, and it takes a long time to get there - the time could be better spent on the island. Some of the nearby offshore islands had Masked Boobies, which to us looked a lot like the Nazca Boobies we saw in the Galapagos. There were chicks as well as adults.
Once we got back on the West side of the island, we could see some of the ropes for the Mount Gower hike, and could also make out of hotel and hotel room (far left in the photo). The lagoon was really nice (some video here) - it was too bad we were out of time. We really didn't get to go out in the lagoon so much. The weather was excellent, the cruise was nice, but it was bout 30 minutes too long. Justin, despite putting on suntan lotion, still ended up red.
We got back just after noon, then got lunch at Thompson's. We headed back to the hotel, then to the airport. We got to see our plane land - it came in from the opposite direction we landed from four days earlier. The plane took off on time, and we got a good view of the lagoon before heading over the open ocean all the way back to Sydney. For such a short flight, the flights to and from Lord Howe had a snack and meal service, plus the flight attendant constantly asking if we wanted more wine. At Sydney, we changed terminals much easier than a couple days prior, and waited to board the plane to Adelaide.
Adelaide is the capital of the South Australia, and the fifth largest city in the country, with just over a million people. It is hemmed in by mountains to the east and the ocean on the west. Thus the city runs mainly north-south, sprawling almost 100 km in that direction but only 20 km east-west. In that regard its fairly similar to San Diego county, which mostly hugs the coast from the Mexican border up to Camp Pendleton. Adelaide is also similar in terms of weather, with little if any summertime rain, few frosts, and high temperatures that are kept in check by the ocean influence.
We got into Adelaide around 8:30 - the sun had recently gone down. We took a cab into town. We had heard that the airport was "well outside" the city, but the cab ride was only about 20 minutes long, with traffic. This seemed to fit with one of the descriptions we heard of Adelaide, that it wasn't so much a city but rather a "large country town." We couldn't tell exactly where we going as our driver made turn after turn, but we ended up in a pretty nice spot. It had been so long since we booked our trip that we couldn't quite remember how or why we had chosen our hotel, the Majestic Roof Garden. From where we were situated, it was presumably for the location. We were on Frome Street, half a block south of Rundle Street, which seemed to be the central restaurant/pub/shopping area in downtown. We decided to eat at Jasmin, which was an Indian food restaurant that had received universally high reviews. Justin doesn't usually eat Indian food, but he gave it a shot. We both really enjoyed our dinners - Crystal got a spicy lamb dish and Justin got Butter Chicken. Both were spicy without being overly hot, and the flavor was excellent. By the time we finished dinner, it was well past 10pm, so we just decided to crash rather than have a late night out the night before wine tasting.